One For the Ladies

*Let me begin this post by saying that this is NOT a sponsored post. I am receiving no money whatsoever for writing about this product, this is simply something that is near and dear to my heart, which I wanted to pass on to those of you who still might not be aware.

Also: Men, you may want to avert your eyes for this one, as it’s a little bit of a TMI post. Or better yet, just send the link to the women in your life without reading any further. They’ll thank you for it.

We ladies kind of get a raw deal in life in some ways. Not only do we have to deal with getting our periods every month, but we have to pay for the supplies to deal with it on top of everything else. And you know what? Pads and tampons aren’t cheap.

It was almost 10 years ago when someone introduced me to the world of alternative feminine hygiene products. At the time I was mostly in search of something that was more environmentally friendly, because let’s face it, on top of being expensive, pads and tampons are terrible for the environment, from the bleaching process they go through to the amount of garbage they create. The fact that these alternative products save tons of money in the long run was just an added side benefit for me.

Whether its reusable menstrual cups or cloth pads, there are alternatives for women out there besides dishing out tons of money every month to take care of this particular need. I personally use The Diva Cup, which I purchased 9-ish years ago for around $40 or so. At the time it seemed like a big purchase, and it is, when you compare it to what I normally spent on pads and tampons every month. But the thing is…that was it. In the time since then I pay out a little money for pantyliners for those heavier flow days, but in terms of the amount of money spent and the garbage created, it’s next to nothing. It’s one of those things that saves tons of money long term — if I only previously spent $10 every month on feminine hygiene products, then over 9 years that results in a savings of about $1,000 or so dollars.

Ah, if only I’d actually started putting that $10 in savings in the bank every month 9 years ago. Live and learn.

diva cupThe Diva Cup is made from medical grade silicone and works exactly like you might think…it is a cup that does the collecting that only requires emptying a couple of times a day. On top of being great for the environment and saving money, honestly, it makes me forget that I’m even having my period at all. And for me, that’s one of the biggest benefits of all.

And you know…saving money sure doesn’t hurt, either.

Does anyone else out there use alternative menstrual products? I don’t know a lot about any of the other products out there, but I’d love to learn more.

If you want to learn more about The Diva Cup check out their website…or better yet, shoot me an email, I’d be happy to tell you all about this awesome money saving product.

 

All Hail the Three Pay Month!

For those of us who are paid on an every-other-week schedule, we are all too aware of the glorious phenomenon that occurs twice every year: months in which we are paid three times.

Wheeeeeeeee!

Now, I realize that this really isn’t “extra” money, but it feels like it is, since most bills are set up to be paid once a month, like rent, cable, electricity, credit card payments, etc. So receiving an “extra” paycheque during the month is a pretty awesome little perk.

For Todd and I, this occurs in January and July of this year. Yes…I looked ahead.

This year, for us, these “extra” pays are going to be used to put larger than usual payments on those credit card bills that we’re working so hard to pay down. We’ll also use this bit of extra to generate a little more money in our savings account, which is starting to build, but hey, it’s always comforting to have more “just in case” money because well, you know, there will eventually come a time when it’s needed for one thing for another. I’m going with the philosophy of better to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Or something like that.

I’ll be honest, though. Knowing that we’re going to have this additional money, it’s certainly tempting to blow it on something fun, which is what we likely would have done in the past. It’s going to be more important than ever to keep our goals at the forefront of our minds.

What about you? What do you when these three pay months roll around for you? Do you use this money for practical purposes, like paying down debt or adding extra to savings, or do you use it for something fun?

Until next time,

~Kelly

How to Save Hundreds of Dollars Without Really Trying

It was just before Easter this past year when I came up with an idea for saving up a bit of money. I suggested to Todd that we start throwing our pocket change into a jar whenever we had it. I had no idea how much it would add up to, but I figured that this would be the start of our “2014 Christmas Fund” and that any small bit we saved up would be a help. So…that’s what we began doing. Every week, whenever we have some pocket change, into the jar it went. And when the first jar was filled, we moved onto the second. We started a third small jar near the end of November, our curiosity growing as to how much we’d actually managed to save up. Last Saturday morning we dumped all of our coins into a big container and headed off to the Coinstar Coin Counter* at the nearby grocery store. IMG_20141206_061725393 The final verdict: $349.39 of what was basically effortless saving. We didn’t notice this money as we were saving it; a dollar here or there is barely noticeable. And hey, an extra $300-ish dollar addition to our Christmas fund was certainly welcome. I expect that our “pocket change savings” will actually go down in 2015, as we’ll be working from a budget and will, quite frankly, be accounting for more of our money. We still plan to put a little extra in the jar when we have it, though, since this seems like a relatively painless way to save up a little extra money.   *In hindsight, this is a service we won’t use again in the future. I mean, sure, it counted our coins, but took at 12% “processing fee”, which in our case, ended up being a rather sizeable chunk of change (Over $40, in fact). I know that there are banks that offer this service for free if you have a bank account with them. We’ll be opening up a savings account with one of these banks before the next time we cash in any change jars. Lesson learned, I guess.

Until next time,

~Kelly

Save It, Don’t Step On It

driving

I’ve always been a guy who drove a certain speed. Of course, that speed was above the limit.

Heck, I remember my first year as a full-time driver. I was 16 and was full of piss & vinegar. I was ready to take on the world in my used Honda Civic.

However, three speeding tickets in six months sent me straight to the bicycle lane. From that moment, I’ve always had cruise control on my cars because I’ve got a lead foot.

Have you ever heard that you can save gas mileage by driving a bit slower on the highway? I never really believed it was that big of a difference until I started tracking my own mileage.

As I’ve mentioned before, I drive a 682km round-trip every two weeks so I can spend the weekend with my son. That, my friends, is a lot of fuel being consumed by my vehicle. I drive a 2014 Kia Forte, which isn’t the most efficient car on the market but is still pretty darn good.

The speed limit on the majority of the trip is 110km/hr (or 68mph). I always used to go around 124km/hr (or 77mph) because the police still didn’t pull people over for going that fast. Usually (and I’m only speaking from experience), police pulled people over if they were going 15 kilometres over the speed limit. I figured if I stayed between 120km/hr and 125km/hr, then I was fine.

What I didn’t realize was the money I was blowing and the fuel I was wasting.

I would fill up my car before I left on my trip. The car would take up about a half tank for the one-way trip (or more…never less).

These days I still drive above the speed limit (I know, I know…) but it’s normally 114km/hr (71mph). That reduction in speed has allowed me to go one way for less than a half tank. I have gone from being able to drive 550kms (342 miles) on a full tank to driving 600kms (373 miles) on a full tank.

That kind of fuel consumption, especially over the course of a year, really adds up. So the next time you’re on the highway and you’re wanting to get there a little faster, trust me when I say that going the speed limit (or even a little bit above it) will not only get you there safer, but it will save you a few extra bucks in fuel, as well.

  • Todd

It’s Sneaky, But It Works

popcornKelly and I wanted to catch a movie over the weekend, but were trying to choose the right time to see it. We had a late breakfast and wanted to catch the movie as a Saturday matinee…maybe around lunchtime.

The problem is that we would want to snack on something during the movie. And let’s face it, any money you save by going to a matinee (it’s about $1.50 per person around here) is long gone by the time you get to the concession stand.

Let’s face it…movie theatres may complain about crumbling profit margins due to illegal online downloading, but jacking up the food prices to compensate does not make me a loyal customer. If you’re going to try to tell me that your bag of popcorn and soda from a fountain are worth $10, then you’re nuts.

I don’t mind paying a bit of a premium for a premium product, but the popcorn costs the theatre about $0.50 and they pop about the same. Sorry, but I don’t like dishing out $15 for a combo pack that includes a chocolate bar or bag of M&M’s.

And I realize that places like sport venues do that all the time. I mean, do I really want to spend $13.50 for a hot dog and a beer at a baseball game? No, but a sporting venue is an entirely different experience than a movie theatre. To me, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.

So when Kelly and I went out to our movie last weekend, we stopped off at the local Dollarama first. I picked up a bag of Kit Kat bites for $2 and a Dr. Pepper for $1. With taxes it came to $3.55. Kelly got a bag of chips, some Junior Mints, and a bottle of water for the same price. We put the items in her purse and walked straight into the theatre.

Now when you compare spending close to $40 in concessions for two people (after taxes) versus less than $10 from the local discount store, it’s really a no-brainer. Do we get hot, buttered popcorn? No, but I think we can survive two hours without it. What we DO get is some snacks for a major discounted price.

We’re not stealing from anybody (the Dollarama appreciates our business) and we’re going out on a date together. It’s sneaky, but it’s a money saver.

~Todd

Food Waste

food waste

Ugh. Food waste. The bane of my existence.

Talk about your first world problems, huh?

As much as I try to eliminate food waste – or lets be honest, here, even just cut down on food waste, this is something that I struggle with. And well, this dirty little secret of mine just doesn’t jive with our new money-saving, living frugally lifestyle, now does it?

A small bit of research tells me that our family isn’t alone in this. According to http://www.davidsuzuki.org, the average Toronto family discards around 275 kilos of food each year. Sure, most of that is sent for composting, but still, that means that one in four food purchases ends up going in the garbage. Wow. That’s a lot of money. I don’t know about you, but I sure would love to save 25% of my current food budget.

If you want to read some more stats about food wastage, the original article I found was here.

Now that Todd and I have been working with our new budget for a few weeks now, though, I’ve noticed something: A distinct decrease in our food wastage going on. Now that I’m food shopping more carefully and sticking to a budget, there is far less room for me to pick up some beautiful-looking fruits and veggies that weren’t on my list, just because they happened to tickle my fancy. Without those additional fruits and veggies, the food that we do purchase is getting used up, rather than allowed to sit there past their prime, until they eventually have to be tossed.

And leftovers? Well, they are also much more likely to get eaten, since this budget and food plan has me accounting for “extras”, so they can be reheated later for work lunches or even dinners on another night. We take our lunches to work every day from home, and Todd’s not much of a sandwich guy. So the more leftovers we have for work, the better, as far as he’s concerned.

Of course, the ideal situation for me would be to have pretty much zero food wastage going on. And while that’s a great goal to have, I’m not 100% sure that it’s completely realistic for us. At this point I’ll settle for a drastic cutting down, which, several weeks into our new budget plan is where we find ourselves. I’m excited by the possibility of being able to cut our food waste down even further in the coming weeks and months.

What about you, friends? Do you have a lot of food wastage in your house? What do you do to cut down on this? Any tips and tricks you’d like to pass along?

Until next time,

~Kelly

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

So…………the holidays are coming up. Quickly. A little too quickly if you ask me. This year we will be having all 4 of our kids together on Christmas morning, which only happens every other year. So it’s an important Christmas. It’s also a more expensive Christmas.

Fortunately I’ve been squirreling money away all year from my modest second job for just this purpose. The Christmas nest egg isn’t as big as I would ideally like it to be, but it is what it is, and we’ll do our best to make it stretch as far as possible.

Our Christmas plans and preparations are being made slightly more complex by the fact that both sets of grandparents (on Todd’s side and my side), elect to give us money instead of buying gifts for everyone themselves. While this makes life easier for them (“Sweet! All we have to do is write a cheque!”), it makes it more complicated for us (“Dang! Now we have to go out and do someone else’s Christmas shopping for them.”). But it DOES make things better for our kids (“How did Grampy Joe know EXACTLY which books I wanted?!”)

Honestly, I think it works out better for everyone this way, even if it does create a bit of extra work for Todd and I.

The last few years that our parents have done this for us, Todd and I have ended up spending the majority of the money on the kids, forgoing gifts for ourselves. To be perfectly honest, neither one of us have huge “wants” when it comes to the holidays, so it just made more sense to spend the dough on the kiddos. And as we all know, the holidays can be expensive.

This year, however, we made the decision to actually use a bit of the money sent to us by dear old mom for something for ourselves: A Costco Membership.

Now, we did have a membership previously that expired back in June of this year. Since then, we’ve been on the fence about whether or not to renew, simply because we don’t use it all that much. Those stories of, “I went into Costco for 3 things and came out $180 later” just never happened with us. Part of the reason is because I’m pretty price-savvy and I know that not everything sold there is actually a bargain. We have come across a few things, however, that we purchased there on a regular basis. But we were never 100% sure if ended up saving us money, once the cost of the yearly membership was factored in there.

This year that’s not going to be a concern, since the membership cost is being gifted to us. Now, anything we save at Costco is going to be true savings. Hey, it may not be an exciting Christmas gift, but it’s a practical one…and sometimes you’ve just gotta be practical. And really I don’t know about you, but saving money is actually kinda fun for me.

Thanks, Mom!

Until next time,

~Kelly