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Monday, December 29, 2008

End of the Year Planning

This is a sunrise picture taken from my in laws window on December 26. They live on the Kamloops River.

2008 has only 3 days left. I have a personal habit of reflecting on the previous year. I journal pretty much daily so I have a pretty good record of what's happened. I always find it amazing, how much I forget and how quickly I forget it.
Also, at this time of year I plan our finances for the next year. To do this I grab my records from the year prior. This past year was our first complete year in B.C. and I kept a record of our monthly expenses on a lined page from my day timer. I know this picture isn't the greatest but it gives you an idea. I listed the regular bills that had to be paid and then entered the amount monthly. Our power and water bills only come every 2 and 3 months so this helps to figure out what it will be monthly. At the end of the year I just add up all the columns and divide by 12 and I can easily budget for 2009.

Next, I gather my periodic expenses. Things like property taxes, life insurance, house insurance, vehicle insurance and my VOIP bill which I will pay only once a year as it saves me significantly to do so.

My day timer comes with these forms, but it would be easy enough to just make yourself some. They are handy for several reasons.

1)I can see when big bills are coming up

2)I can plan to save for them monthly by dividing the yearly amount by 12.

To save yourself from having to do too much math, you can just use Rainy Day Budget.
This is a great, free tool that will figure out your budget, annually,monthly, bi-weekly and weekly. Once I have everything entered we have a family meeting(Terry and I) to be sure things are in the right amounts in the right categories. Part of this planning happened when we made a list of big expenditures coming up in the year and then we prioritized them according to the steps outlined in Uncommon Cents(see recommended reading on side bar of blog).
Having a plan helps us to stay on track.
Once a week I input our receipts into an Excel spreadsheet. If you are computer challenged like me just send me a comment to send you a copy. What I like about this sheet(thanks again Heather!)is it gives me a running tally of where I am at in each spending category. Happy Planning!!!Sue

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Airfare and Chicken Wings!

Merry Christmas all! Two more sleeps!
In the last post I told you about buy one get one free chicken wings at Cooper's and Save on. I went to Cooper's and paid $14.99 for 2! You need the coupon from the flyer and it's good until tomorrow! I am assuming it's the same price at Save On.
Need to fly and save a little? While it's not as good as the deals a few posts back, here's a savings passed onto Air Canada email clients. It is for one step up from economy and higher fares. Don't forget to compare what it would cost to go just Tango.
Save an extra 15% on our on Tango Plus and Leisure, Latitude and Executive Class or Executive First fares for travel until May 31, 2009. Fly within Canada, to the U.S, and to popular Sun and International destinations!
To get your discount today, simply enter this promotion code when booking: GF6V9EW1Offer ends December 26, 2008 at midnight from the city of departure.
All the best for your Christmas celebrations!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Week's Sales

This week at Shopper's Drug Mart

Life Brand Tissues .49(limit 4)
Life Brand Toilet paper 20 2ply $3.97
Christie Crackers $1.49

Coopers and Save On Foods

There is a coupon for buy on get one free Chicken Wings I am going to go check it out to see if it's a good deal.


No Name Sour cream is $1.48 for 500ml
No Name Frozen Vegetables are $1.88 for 1Kg(they go as low as $3.48 for 2Kg) Yams are .47/lb Brussels Sprouts are .96/lb and Cabbage is .38/lb

Chapters has a 25% off coupon... If the first link doesn't work try the second one.

My oven is fixed!!!! I went to go get the part yesterday, as you may remember from an earlier post, I have been waiting a long time. The woman at the appliance place said they would make it up to me on the price, as it was their error that delayed things so much. Well, it should have be $163, and she charged me $100 and said Merry Christmas!!! I will definitely go back to this business for all my appliance needs!

Yesterday we went to see the orthodontist for our 13 year old. While in living in Alberta we had been going to the University of Alberta orthodontics program. This can save you lots of money but you need to have the time as appointments are longer. Anyways, we had started with them years ago with our oldest. They said her case wasn't hard enough and so we needed to see a regular orthodontist. Marissa, however was a different story. Her case was very interesting and complex, so they took us. They started with an appliance and the promise that braces were in our future. When we moved to B.C. she was almost ready to be finished with the appliance. Long story short, there isn't a University orthodontics program here and we headed off to a regular orthodontist. He had completed the xrays, molds and measurements and was ready to talk treatment plan. He said she won't be ready for braces for probably 3 years but we could start with headgear. We aren't covered for orthodontics with our insurance. I looked into Blue Cross and you need to pay into it for 3 years before you can be partially covered. For a family the website said it would cost us $1357/year. So, it seems we would pay almost $4000 before we could claim $500!! Anyways, that doesn't seem like it will be a good plan for us. We might as well save it ourselves and make interest! With the headgear we were told if we prepay we get a discount of almost $50, so that helps.
Ways to save: 1) see if there is an orthodontic program at the University near you
2) save up to be able to pay up front and take advantage of a discount
3) use whatever insurance coverage you have
Merry Christmas!!!! Sue

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Saving during December

It's been a bit since I posted last. I neglected this week's sales, because there aren't many good deals. As a rule I try to buy more in November and very little in December. Prices overall, in the grocery department, are higher. My suggestion? Use what you have. Go through your freezer and pantry and fridge and menu plan from there. Try to shop Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday. Our Superstore regularly has 50% off stickers on random, juices,milks, meats, and vegetables. This week I picked up 2 different kinds of ham at 50% off, one at .94cents/lb(bone in) and another at $1.92/lb(boneless).

My friend and I have faithfully menu planned for almost a month now! It has made a huge difference for both of us, monetarily as well as nutritionally and in time saved.

Need a gift for a lady on your list? Superstore has pajamas starting at $6.94 for a pant and shirt set!

Merry Christmas!!!Sue

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Savers

Toys R Us

We were Christmas shopping this week and found out at the till that Toys R Us has

Get a FREE $10 Toys R Us gift card when you spend $50 or more on LEGO products - excludes all Lego-branded video games.

They also were having buy 3 Ds,Wii,or Xbox games get one free. I'm not sure if that was just our store or if it's over this weekend. The selection in our store was picked over, but there were boxes of stock everywhere, so maybe they'll have more out?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Budget Saver

Buy $10 get $10 off! Here's a fun Christmas saver from Mark's Work Warehouse. The ad from Red flag deals is as follows.

Mark’s Work Wearhouse: Coupon for $10 off $10+ (Hot!) Mark's Work Warehouse has a Super-Hot $10 Off $10+ Coupon up right now -- and it's good through December 24! There are a couple exclusions: the coupon cannot be used towards the purchase of socks, gloves, underwear, headwear, or gift cards. Other than that, it's open season, so hit print and head to the nearest Mark's Work Warehouse. Use the store locator here to find the closest one.


Good Deals

A quick update on the Citizens Bank deal. So far so good. It took all of a minute to fill in the online application. Then a few days later the bank called to give us our account numbers. They will send us a stamped envelope to send our cheques in. The cheques are for $100 written out to ourselves. They must have our names and correct addresses on the cheques.
The bank will then deposit them and in 90 days from the deposit they will put in another $50/account! They have a savings account giving 3% interest, or a chequing account with no fees.

Free Skate sharpening!

If you need some skates sharpened, Sport Chek will do it for free. Just go to and print off the coupon. Here's the ad as it appears on red flags.

Looking to get your hockey skates sharpened? Use this coupon (PDF) from Sport Chek and get your skates sharpened for free! It's valid now through June 30, 2009 at all Sport Chek locations (excluding Quebec). Use Sport Chek's store locator to find the store closest to you. Here's the fine print: one coupon per pair of skates per sharpening. Limit one per customer per visit. This promotion cannot be combined with any other skate sharpening offer.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Cinnamon Buns baked in the toaster oven!

Frugality is about a lot of things, the hardest of which is patience. Often times getting things immediately means paying a lot more for it. I hesitated as to whether or not to share this as I want to encourage you in your frugality, not discourage you. After some thought I decided it would probably be more helpful than not.

In September my husband's aunt and uncle stopped in for a visit. The kids and I made cookies for our time with them. As the oven was preheating it made a very loud bang noise! I opened up the door and watched as the convection fan slowly stopped. Those of you who know me are probably wondering what's up with her and ovens?? In my other house I went through three in a very short period of time! Anyways, long story short it turned out it was the control panel. The stove is only 5 years old. It's a Kenmore and I had really felt I had received pretty much new appliances when we moved in here last year. When I called Sears it turned out the part new was $300 plus dollars. We had already explored fixing it ourselves, which wasn't an option as it needed an electronics person, so I started calling around for used. I found an appliance store in town that fixes things and they thought they could get one for me. Turned out the cheaper way to go was send mine away to be fixed. This would cost $163. So, I took it to them and they said 2-3 weeks. My sister-in-law was kind enough to lend me her toaster oven(she uses it in the summer on the deck to cut down on the heating of the house). It is a bit larger than your regular toaster oven, you can fit a regular size pizza in it, it just hangs over the edge a little, so you just have to turn it once and awhile. For burners I use my plug in hot plate that I use on the deck in the summer. I learned(the hard way) that it does not heat as well as the burners on my stove! We were making a dinner of fried fish and chips and it just couldn't get the oil to the right temperature. Long story short, I am compromising with my cooking. We use the crock pot often and think about whether or not the toaster oven will work for our planned meals.

It is now December. A few weeks ago I phoned to find out why my part was not in yet, it had been a month. They said they'd call the suppliers to see what was happening. Later, I got a call from a mortified, very honest woman, telling me she found it on their back bench of the shop, it had never left! She said they'd send it right away as a rush and make it up to me in the price....
So, that long story to say what? Yeah, sometimes it's a hassle to only making 6 cookies at a time. The compromise? I babysat for my sister-in-law one night and she let me bake my heart out! Yeah, it's a hassle using the hot plate that doesn't heat up. The compromise? We don't do things that need that kind of heat. What have we learned? Again, we see it's about patience and creativity. My kids, my husband and I learn about delayed gratification. We get a small glimpse(very small as we have back up) as to what it might be like to not have an oven. We become more grateful for things we'd normally take for granted. In the end it's a happy story.
Cherry turnovers in the toaster oven!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Sunset tonight!

Do you need to get somewhere? I just found this fantastic flight sale as I was searching for a January flight. It's for West jet. Go to on the book flights page enter this promo code 6L256R55. From Edmonton to Kelowna I found tickets for $49!!!! The code gets you $25 off one way or $50 return. To see all the details go to Combine it today with West jets sale on until midnight Dec 4.

Happy Flying!!!!Sue

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Straight talk about Menu Planning

The sunrise this morning!

So today I thought I'd touch on menu planning. To be honest it's still one of the hardest discipline for me????The question marks are because I don't get me. A few minutes of planning feels like a week off. Therefore I did what others do when they are struggling with an issue...I found an accountability partner! Every Monday(mostly) we'd meet for a coffee and nobody leaves until menu planning is done. My friend didn't move when I did, and so I have spent the last year floundering in the planning department. Sometimes doing it and sometimes not. Recently during a phone conversation with this friend we came up with an menu planning!!! You are probably wondering how this works. Well, on Monday I phone her and we arrange a time that day that works for both of us to be on the phone. At said time we pull out our cookbooks, having already done the dreaded fridge clean out, our schedules, and we are off. The conversation is one of each of us talking to ourselves about what we think will and won't work, with an occasional,"Oh, your having that?I could have that on Friday." Every so often we will ask for an easy recipe for something. I'll quickly check out .They actually have an ingredient search where you type in what you have and they show you what you could make! I usually use a magnetic, erasable one week calendar, but just recently I found some very inexpensive paper calendars. I thought perhaps I could keep these menus so that in the future I could look back for ideas! I had hoped to put a picture here, but for some reason it only throws it at the top of the page? I will start a new blog with the calendar picture, sorry! Happy Planning ! Sue

Monday, December 1, 2008


Costco has a picture deal right now.

Receive 5 free 5X7 photos. Follow this link go the photo bar at the top. Click get started and then express. Upload your photos and use promo code CWAN1124, don't forget to push apply. Voila free photos! This promo can be read at it is for Costco members. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This Week's Sales

Here's a picture of some snow in our part of the country! It is above zero, so it won't last....

Well it's almost December and grocery prices can be higher this time of year. There are, however, still deals to be had. Here are a few...

Today only(Nov 30) at Dominoes $3.99 pizzas for one topping 12 inch pizza. Pick up only.Call your Dominoes for details.

Shoppers Drug Mart Nov 29-Dec 5

Delissio Pizzas are $4.99 for the 840g-927g

Armstrong Cheese is $2.99 for 340g


Pineapples are 2/$5

Parkay Margarine is 3/$7.95

20lbs of Russet or red potatoes is $5.98


Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast $2.78/lb!!

Walmart(probably only at the Super centres)

Great Value Cheese 907g $7.98

Imperial Margarine 907g $1.47!!!

10lb Russet Potatoes $2.97

I have been following a fun blog. Someone decided to cook with the crockpot everyday and give the recipes and reviews. Happy Shopping! Sue

Friday, November 28, 2008

Free Credit Report

Now a days it's a good idea to check your credit report once a year. To do it for free go to . In very small on the right click on free report by mail. Print out the form and mail or fax it to the Equifax address/ fax provided on the form.
Equifax CanadaNational Consumer RelationsP.O. box 190, Station Jean-Talon,Montreal, Quebec H1S 2Z2Tel. (toll-free): 1-800-465-7166Fax: (514) 355-8502E-mail: consumer.relations@equifax.comWeb site:
For Trans Union go to .Print off the form and mail it in.
TransUnion Canada
All provinces except Quebec:Consumer Relations CentreP.O. Box 338 LCD 1Hamilton, Ontario L8L 7W2Tel. (toll-free): 1-866-525-0262Fax: (905) 527-0401
For Quebec Residents:TransUnion (Echo Group)1 Place LavalSuite 370Laval, Quebec H7N 1A1Tel. (toll-free): 1-877-713-3393Fax: (905) 527-0401
Web site:
Northern Credit Bureaus Inc.336 Rideau boulevardRouyn-Noranda, Quebec J9X 1P2Fax (toll-free): 1-800-646-5876Web site:
To order a free copy of your Experian Canada personal credit report, please write and include the following information:

o Your full name

o Your current mailing address

o Any previous addresses if you have moved within the past 2 years

o Your date of birth

o Your daytime telephone number in case we need to contact you for further information

o Please provide your signature to denote you requested your credit report.

o Experian Canada also requires photocopies of both sides of two pieces of personal identification. Together, these combined pieces must contain:

Your name
Current address
Date of birth
And signature
Happy Free Credit Reporting!!!!!!!!!Sue

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

$50 to open a bank account?

$50 to start a Citizens Bank Account

Wow, this looks like it might be worth your time. I am going to try it out. Looks like both Terry and I can get an account. $100 for a couple of minutes online? Not bad... Here’s a hot offer from Citizens Bank—any new member that applies for their first Global Chequing Account and/or Ultimate Savings Account between November 24, 2008 and December 22, 2008 will receive a free $50 gift deposit.
The important conditions are as follows: To qualify for the $50 Bonus, a minimum initial cheque deposit of $100 into the account is required by December 22, 2008 and the initial deposit is maintained in the account for a period of three months from the date of the deposit.
The bonus will be deposited into the member’s account within 30 days after account opening conditions have been satisfied and it will be held in the account for three months from the date of the initial deposit.
If you fail to maintain initial deposit in the account for a duration of three months, Citizens Bank will withdraw the $50 bonus.
This promotion is open to all individual residents of Canada outside of the Province of Quebec who have reached the age of majority.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Grocery Savings This Week

Last night I went to Superstore to buy some presents and groceries. I had almost reached the $350 budget I had set for myself when the gas coupon was in the Superstore flyer. The coupon is available by clicking on the link below. Be sure to read the dates to purchase by. You'll need your grocery receipt and this coupon.
We have been making some long distance trips and so I knew we would definitely need the gas. The minimum savings is 10 cents a litre plus 5cents gas bucks. Then if you pay with your President's Choice MasterCard you get another 10cents, so that's a total of 25 cents a litre. On a 100 litres that 's a $25.00 savings! I realized that $100 of groceries and presents wouldn't be hard to do. I went while my kids were at their activities and I had an hour and a half. I took my time and stumbled upon several deals. The picture above shows the key things. The Weetabix cereal shown comes with a try me free in Canada peel off tag. You need to have your grocery receipt, I asked the teller to do the cereal first and separate, and the UPC code and the little rebate form from the front of the box. For the price of a stamp, you get a box of cereal! Also, at Superstore, the Kotex brand has $1 off coupons attached to the front of the product. The regular price is $2.99 less the coupon and you are allowed to combine other coupons! I had another $1 off so I paid .99 cents. The crackers shown are .99 cents. Salsa is $4.48 for the 1.89L. If you are keeping a PriceBook this is the lowest price for salsa. Milk was $3.98 limit 2 for 4L. Pears were .77/lb. Casa M. Tortillas were 3/$5.97. No Name Flour is $7.98(I might be off by a few cents here, I didn't buy any)it's cheaper right now at Costco.10Kg $7.59. Chocolate Chips are at a good price(not the lowest) for Chipit brand, 2Kg $9.49(No Name is cheaper). I was shopping on a Wednesday evening and they were marking lots of bread and bakery products down to 50% off. We love bagels, but they have gotten very expensive. At 50% off they worked out to .24 cents a bagel! There were lots of meats marked 50% off. Superstore seems to do this Monday-Wednesday. I hope this helps. Be sure to email me any deals you find!
Happy Shopping!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Stopping the Big Leaks in your Spending Plan

In an upcoming post I will explain about the turnover to the left. Let me just say it's apple!

There are lots of spots in our spending plans that are hemorrhaging. Places that could easily be closed up. I thought I'd share some. First of all, PMI or Private Mortgage Insurance. I'm not sure if that's the right name for it in Canada, but it's the insurance your bank charges you to insure your mortgage is paid out in the event of you or your spouses death. The trouble with this insurance is that it is much more expensive than straight term, and it doesn't decrease as your mortgage balance goes down. For example: $50,000 costs about $22/month or $264/year. That same $50,000 covering both husband and wife, in straight term costs about $100! Immediately that saves you $164/year!

To read in detail about this here's a link . These definitions have been taken directly from this government site.

What is Mortgage Insurance?
Mortgage insurance (which is sometimes called mortgage default insurance) is a credit risk management tool that protects mortgage lenders from losses on mortgage loans. If a borrower defaults on a mortgage, and the proceeds from the foreclosure of the property are insufficient to cover the resulting loss, the lender will submit a claim to the mortgage insurer to recover its losses.
Role of Mortgage Insurance
The law requires federally regulated lenders to obtain mortgage insurance on loans where home buyers make down payments of less than 20 per cent of the purchase price of the home (i.e., high loan-to-value ratio loans). Lenders generally require high-ratio borrowers to pay for the premium for the mortgage insurance, which can be added to the mortgage balance.

Check your mortgage and see if you could save yourself hundreds of dollars every year!

Life Insurance: This again is another area where you can save. I didn't realize how varied the rates were until I took a Good Sense Budgeting course. They suggested I shop around and when I did I immediately saved almost $200/year! While searching the net for a comparison I came upon this website. I do not know what they are like, but I do see a Better Business accreditation.

Term Insurance is the best kind to have and experts say you should have enough to cover 10 times your wage. At minimum it is important to cover all your outstanding debts. Every 5 years, as you get older, it gets more expensive. The goal is to pay off debts and eventually not need it.

It's a good idea to keep track of the next increase year and then shop around again. At present we are with Manulife.

Car insurance and House insurance are often cheaper when they are all with the same company. Again it's a good idea to shop around. If your vehicle is older and not worth terribly much maybe you can look at not having collision. Raising you deductible can save you lots, just remember to use your savings to have the deductible saved so that you have it when you need it.

For years we have only insured one vehicle and that has saved us not only in the insurance department, but also in maintenance and repairs. We found ways to make it work, and it meant huge yearly savings.

Bank Accounts: It may not seem like much, but if you are paying bank charges of $15-20/month that's $180-$240 that's slipping out of your pocket! There are lots of free bank accounts out there! has some links to banks offering free accounts.

At President's Choice they have free chequing and savings plus if you deposit money before Nov 30/08 you get 3.75% interest. Here's the link

Royal Bank has a savings account deal right now. Put $500 into a savings account by Nov 30th and get $25!

To see a list rating the banks and their charges go to the link below, it's an awesome many page document doing an in depth comparison of all the banks out there.

Gas: Vehicle fuel is falling at present and that sure helps the pocket book! Did you know you can find prices for your city or any city your going to visit, Canada or USA? Just go to . They have a fuel logbook(free) that you can use to track your purchases for the year. This can really help you to determine how much to allot to your monthly gas spending. If you want a permanent record remember to print it before the end of the year as it resets. It also will tell you your vehicles gas mileage and has tips to reducing your fuel consumption. We use it whenever we are going out of town and find the price variances quite large! In Edmonton I used it a lot because there were more price differences from area to area.

Internet: For years we used Netzero for our Internet. It was a free limited dial up service provider. At present we use Shaw as we have to have a high speed connection for our home learning. I recently learned that you can get your rates lowered when the competition has a special deal. Not long ago Telus offered a discounted rate for 6 months(plus one month free) I called Shaw and they matched it! If you are interested in free Canadian Internet(or less expensive anyway) here's the link.

Cable: This is one expense that is sometimes a touchy subject. Cable isn't a necessity( sorry I know that it feels like it is) and if you are really struggling financially consider cancelling it or even going down a package size. On average cable costs $50/month. That's $600/year! We have lived without cable for many many years and I don't think we are suffering. Look closely at the different packages and bundles to see how you could lower this.

Phone: Having a land line is pricey, but there are ways around it. We switched to Internet phone shortly after we moved to B.C. and it has been a good move! We pay $33.60/month and get all the calling features, call answer(which can also be retrieved online as well as from the phone), call waiting call display, call forward, etc.. Unlimited long distance in Canada, the USA and lots of other countries. Now of course to have Internet phone you have to have a high speed connection. The regular price is $39.95/month but we pay once a year, thus the extra savings. Our land line before was $42.00 with only 3 features and no long distance. If you want to try it they offer a free month. Email me to get your free trial, I'll send you the referral link.

Cell: There are lots of companies out there offering all sorts of different options. First, figure out why you need a cell. If you don't actually need one don't bother. If you do figure out which features you need, how many minutes a month, free incoming or not, long distance or not. Then shop around. I recently changed companies and saved myself a bundle! I searched online and found the company that seemed to have what I needed, then I visited some of their stores when I was in the area. I ended up finding the best deal at Costco, they have a kiosk in the store. Be cautious about signing for a long period of time if you think your needs might change.

Please be aware that I am a fellow consumer like you, not an expert. Be sure to check into your insurances and such carefully before changing anything.

I'd love to learn all the things you do to save in these or any other areas! Happy Saving!!! Sue

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


As I have already mentioned, I love books! So this post I thought I'd start a book list. Please feel free to send me your great finds! First, a word about the library. I try not to buy too many books because: one, it is expensive and two, I don't often read them if I own them!!! There's something about having a time limit that gets me reading! That said, you who know me know I own a lot of books! I try to buy my favorites, ones that I know I'd like to read again, and ones I'd like to share, and references type books. I look for them in thrift stores, Value Village, at garage sales, or one of my favorites, library sales.

We recently moved from Alberta to British Columbia, so I can comment on these two library systems. Edmonton's library online site is fantastic. What I love about it is the pictures that accompany most books. The title is on the left and on the right there is a thumbnail of the book cover. I am visual so this works for me. A yearly membership costs $12, $1/month is pretty cheap! You can't even buy one book for that price! I still use this site to "see" the books I want to request at my library. Did you know that if there is a book you'd like to read and the library does not yet own it you can request they do? I do this all the time. Then, when it comes in you get to read the brand new copy! One of the other advantages of the Edmonton library is you have access to movies! Think how much it saves you on renting! I would search through the DVD category and put holds on things we'd like to see. They would arrive sporadically and we'd have an evening's entertainment. My kids really enjoy anticipating what's waiting for them and when the library calls we are excited! We watched quite a few seasons of Little House on the Prairie in the winter months! Entire seasons of shows are available and they are commercial free!

In B.C. the library system is a little different. It costs nothing to have a library card! The website is , it does not have the thumbnail pictures. The library does not have movies, unless they are educational, but I've noticed lots of entire seasons of TV shows(24,The Waltons, House,Little House on the Prairie, Corner Gas, Stargate,etc.) We do not have cable, or even peasant vision(channels that come in with rabbit ears) so the library works well for us. There are endless, very entertaining, educational DVDs available at the local library. Book and CD and DVD suggestions are welcome in B.C.also and every time I see something interesting I order it! To order things just click on the Suggestions for Purchase button. To find the books ISBN and author and publisher, I use .

So, after all of that intro here are some books I have found helpful.(I wish I could copy and paste from google images on this page, because I could put on the front cover pictures!)

The Tightwad gazette: Promoting thrift as a viable alternative lifestyle by Amy Dacyczyn: I don't love the title, as it sounds negative. I don't think living beneath your means should stop generosity, and I don't think the author meant this in the titling of the book.This book was very influential in helping me figure out ways to reduce our spending. It helped teach me to think creatively. There are 3 separate editions or all 3 plus a bonus edition in the complete edition. I own the Complete Edition, as well as the separate editions(several of some). I have found them at garage sales and Value Village and I enjoy being able to lend them out! It is a reference, type book that reads easily, but is very helpful to have on hand.

Uncommon Cents: Benjamin Franklin Secrets to Achieving Personal Financial Success by Lynn G. Robbins, Lisa Vermillion, and Dennis Webb is a great book, but the library doesn't have it. I do not know where I got it from, but it's a very helpful book for planning how you spend your money. I have asked the B.C. library to get it. I can't do that in AB as I no longer live there, if you are so inclined, please do!

Debt-Proof Your Marriage: How to Achieve Financial Harmony (Debt-Proof Living) by Mary Hunt. Mary Hunt's books are all great, but one of my favorite's is Debt Proof Your Marriage! She has lots of good ideas and reasons to live within one's means!

The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. In this book he outlines the 7 steps to taking care of your finances. He also has a free podcast if you are interested. Just go to to itunes and enter his name or go to his website.

Your Money Map: A Proven 7-Step Guide to True Financial Freedom by Howard Dayton. This is another step by step guide to getting our finances in order. There are several free podcast from crown financial, again go to itunes and look under money life or go to .

Saving Money Any Way You Can: How to Become a Frugal Family by Mike Yorkey

Living on Less and Liking it More: How to reduce your spending and increase your living by Maxine Hancock

Living More With Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
There are lots more books to comment on and I'll add them periodically.

Options for people who don't like to read: there are many titles available on audio. Maybe, you'd rather listen to a book on your way to work or while you clean up around the house. I have done this and it is great when I have a boring day of kitchen work. Happy reading!Sue

Sunday, November 9, 2008


This is what it looked like outside this morning! It was absolutely gorgeous! I went for my walk and breathed deeply of the fantastic fall smells. It's quite warm, about 7, and I am reminded again of why walking is important for me.
As I think about how I can help you save money, I think of groceries. It is one of our biggest monthly expenditures, besides our rent or mortgage, and one of the least thought of ways to save money. I was recently told that if you want to lose weight, one way was to just start keeping track of what you eat. Without dieting, just the keeping track helps you eat less because you have to write it down. I immediately thought what about grocery or any other spending? I know for me that when I keep track I'm conscious of it, when I don't it seems to get really out of hand. You can start by tracking your grocery spending for one full month. Once you've done that, or if you already keep track of what you spend, you can look to see ways to decrease this number.
Some ways to lower your grocery bill are: 1)try buying less convience foods: prepackaged premade things usually cost more
2)plan your menus:the way I do this is a little different than the decide what you want to eat then buy it approach, I'll explain
3)track the prices of the things your family buys:I use what's called a Pricebook and I'll tell you about that
4)try to cook some things from scratch:not only is this healthier for you, it tastes better
These are just a few things, we'll touch on many more in future posts.
My Story
Now, before I go on and you wonder where I'm coming from, let me tell you a little about me. I am a work at home mom. My kids are 21, 13 and almost 9. It's always been my dream to be totally at home with my kids and after my third child was almost 2 my dream came true. I say work at home because my job at home is work, I just don't get paid. My 21 year old is on her own now, she's a beautiful woman and I miss her. My 13 and almost 9 year old and I learn at home together(dad's in on it when he's home from work). We live on a carefully constructed and followed spending plan. It's tight, but it's a choice we made as a family. I have a small business on the side, where I go and teach people how to save money. Sometimes I get paid, sometimes I don't, but I love it. My goal is always to do better with our household spending so that we are always living beneath our means. I am not a great cook and I'm not passionate about cooking, but I'm trying to cook easy things well. I absolutely love to learn and love to share my new discoveries. Books and I are inseparable, if you've ever visited my home you've seen the books everywhere, they are like friends. I love to write and this blog is part of my disciplining myself to write regularly. I welcome your comments and I look forward to conversing with you. I always learn so much from what other people do.
So, back to the groceries. The Spending Plan I have in front of me shows groceries in a category called Household/Personal. This category is supposed to consist of 15-25% of your take home pay and includes groceries, dry cleaning/clothes, gifts, household items, personal products and other, which includes miscellaneous. The Rainy Day Budget I referenced last post, breaks down each category for you with % amounts. Our total spending is this department is 16%, our groceries(which include all personal as well as cleaners,etc)is just under 13%. We spend $450.00 per month on groceries, cleaners, personal products,etc. I am wanting to further challenge myself to lower this. I have an extreme goal of $350.00 which would be 9.99%! This reduction would help us reach our pay off the mortgage in 3 years goal! This blog will be hugely instrumental in keeping me on track!
Let me encourage you to try new things one at a time. If you are new to tracking and planning your spending, do that and allow yourself time to adjust to a new habit. If you are just learning to menu plan, find a buddy who wants to get it this habit too. I have a wonderful friend who would meet with me every Monday to menu plan the upcoming week. We moved away and I don't have that anymore, it's a great way to stay on track and to get ideas! Remember, I am going to write down things as I think of them, and so there will be a deluge of ideas coming at you each post. Use the ones that are a fit for you and toss the ones that aren't. Share any ideas you have, I'd so appreciate it! Well I think you probably would like some time to process .....Talk to you again soon.Sue

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Free Things

Do you like free stuff? I do. To check out a great website that is actually for Canadians go to . Right now there's free ouchless elastics just click on this link and fill in your address Also, check out for free coupons.

Free computer stuff: Need a word document program or powerpoint or excel type program? Don't want to pay huge dollars? Try it's all free! Or use google docs, which is a free program if you have a gmail account, which is also free. Gmail is a great email site because there isn't all the picture ads everywhere. I am hoping to get my contacts imported to gmail from hotmail and just use gmail.

Anti-Virus: I use the free version of AVG There are quite a few out there, but my computer guy likes this one best.

Website Hosting: Want to start your own website? Want to do it for free?

For really free things sign up for Freecycle in your area. You not only get and give things, you are helping the landfills stay cleaner!

Ready to start tracking your spending? Need some free tools? or if you don't want to download anything you can do an online system .

Do you know of some free things you'd like to share?Please comment. Thanks. Happy Shopping Sue

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Organizing Your Freezer

What a way to save money!!! Stop wasting stuff in your freezer! I was menu planning and digging through my freezer this week and thinking I have got to get this organized. I've tried those cute charts, you know where you fill everything in one day while you are feeling in the mood, but you never add or subtract things after that.....So, I did what I always do when I'm looking for a new idea, I googled it! I came across an organizing tip that's sooo exciting. Food fridge magnets! The website said you could just cut out pictures of food you have in your freezer out of flyers then buy sheets of magnets at your craft store. The magnet can be cut to size and the cut out picture taped to it and voila! Your very own food fridge magnet! Want to do this cheaper? Reuse those useless fridge magnets! ( if you are like me, have tons of!!)I used these emotion magnets in the upper right corner. Now the front of your freezer has the pictures of the food inside and the side is where the magnets go when things are taken out! How hard could it be?? You are now saving electricity, as you no longer need to stand there with the freezer door open, wondering what's inside! I am hoping this works!