Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Potty training kids earlier - saves diapers

We're proud to announce that our son, at the age of 22 months, is fully potty trained.

He says 'pooa' when he needs to pee and poop now.

In fact, he's been pooping in the $3 potty we got him when he was 6 months old (bought the potty in the UK for 1.5 quid). [sidenote: we bought 2 potties - one for upstairs, one for down]

Most kids use 4-5 diapers/day, if not more. After 6 months, we were down to 2-3/day, and for the last year, we were at 1/day. The last 2-3 months, he's been at 1 diaper/2-3days or less. Most of that was from catching his poops (earlier) and (recently) from catching both.

It's amazing how much we've saved. Each diaper is approximately 25c each (100 diapers for 25 dollars). Let's say we average a 4 diaper savings per day... x365x2years.... = $720

It's a bit of change! The rate of return on the $3 is enormous! Plus, our kid is much happier.

You ask how? Just look at 'diaper free' or 'diaperless' on google and find out. Save money, save the planet (these things don't degrade easily), and saves on cleanup (we like the last reason the best).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Make gravy while the turkey is cooking

Just a quick trick. You can take advantage of the heat that comes from baking/cooking in the oven. On stoves that have a 'vent' between the oven and one of the elements - you find this by leaving the stove off while you are baking something - you can cook or warm up gravy on this said element.

The heat will rise through the vent and heat the pot that you have on top. It's a great way to use as much of the oven's energy for heating as possible.

We do that with gravy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A stitch in time saves nine.

While making the driveway and walk safer for the guests we were having, I was reminded of this phrase: "A stitch in time saves nine". Why?

Well, I was chipping away at the ice today in preparation for tonight's guests... but you have to realise that the snow fell two days ago. Moreover, I had also used copious amounts of rock salt as well to try to melt the ice as well as increase traction.

What if I had shovelled the snow a day or two earlier when it was still snow and not ice? It would have taken me less time and less rock salt, and definitely less effort.

So, that's my frugal lesson for today. Shovel snow when it's still snow and not when it's ice. You save time, money, and you don't need to worry about people slipping.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cooking for potlucks: crockpots, saving sauces

If you've ever cooked stuff like ribs in a crockpot, you often find more sauce than you need. Of course, if you are eating at home, that' s okay. The sauce can be used as a base for soups, cooking something else like chicken, or for putting on rice.

If you're at a potluck and you've made your crockpot ribs, often the sauce remains and it's often so gross that you throw it out. It's probably been dug through and is left for

....what if you emptied the sauce out at home and saved it?

So, when we do potlucks and have too much sauce (or sauce that isn't able to be used up), we save it for our own future use.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What is your identity? How do you define yourself?

In the last decade, more and more people have started defining themselves according to how they dress, how they look, what handbag or shoes they have on. Many people are pushing the envelope of their take-home pay in order to look the part.

At our home, we don't really care about any of that. You can drive your 10 year old car if you'd like, we don't care. We drive one that is over 10 years old now.

Anyhow, here's an interesting article about how the psyche is changing.... it's from report on business. The URL is in the link above.

Overall, think twice before you buy. If you are buying because it makes you 'feel' good or gives you confidence, please think again. Take a look at our mantra on the right hand side and stop, pause, and think what you are doing to your life. Are you defined by who you intrinsically are? Are you defined by what name brands are attached to your body? If you are secure with who you are, you don't ever need to show anyone else - vice versa for insecurity.



NEW YORK — A paralegal, recently laid off, wanted to get back at the “establishment” that he felt was to blame for his lost job. So when he craved an expensive new tie, he went out and stole one.

The story, relayed by psychiatrist Timothy Fong at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, is an example of the rash behaviours exhibited by more Americans as a recession undermines a lifestyle built on spending.

In the coming months, mental health experts expect a rise in theft, depression, drug use, anxiety and even violence as consumers confront a harsh new reality and must live within diminished means.

“People start seeing their economic situation change, and it stimulates a sort of survival panic,” said Gaetano Vaccaro, deputy clinical director of Moonview Sanctuary, which treats patients for emotional and behavioural disorders.

“When we are in a survival panic, we are prone to really extreme behaviours.”

The U.S. recession that took hold in December last year has threatened personal finances in many ways as home prices fall, investments sour, retirement funds shrink, access to credit diminishes and jobs evaporate.

It is also a rude awakening for a generation of shoppers who grew up on easy access to credit and have never had to limit purchases to simply what they needed or could afford.

Instead, buying and consuming have become part of the national culture, with many people using what is in their shopping bags to express their own identity, from the latest gadgets to designer handbags.

For those who need to abruptly curtail spending, that leaves a major void, said James Gottfurcht, clinical psychologist and president of “Psychology of Money Consultants,” which coaches clients on money issues.

“People that have been ... identifying with and defining themselves by their material objects and expenditures are losing a definite piece of their identity and themselves,” he said. “They have to learn how to replace that.”

Beth Rosenberg, a New York freelance educator and self-professed bargain hunter, said she stopped shopping for herself after her husband lost his publishing job in June.

She is now buying her son toys from the popular movie Madagascar for $2 at McDonald's, and is wearing clothes that have hung untouched in her closet for years. She said it has been stressful to stick to an austere budget after she used to easily splurge on $100 boots.

“I miss it,” she said of shopping.

Resisting temptation now could be even more difficult, as struggling retailers roll out massive discounts to lure shoppers during the holiday season.

Fuelled by easy access to credit, a housing market boom and rising investments, U.S. household spending accelerated in much of the past decade while the savings rate declined.

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 killed thousands and shuttered U.S. financial markets, consumers were encouraged by politicians and business leaders to spend as a way of saving the economy and proving capitalism could not be crushed.

“We're getting these messages that it is, in effect, patriotic to spend money,” said Stuart Vyse, a psychology professor and author of “Going Broke: Why Americans Can't Hold On To Their Money.”

The United States is deeply dependent on such spending, with consumption generating two-thirds of economic activity. But problems arise when consumers become dependent on buying goods and services to cope with their emotions, Mr. Vaccaro said.

“We have difficulty handling our internal emotional state in other ways when we can't do that,” he said, prompting some to seek out immediate gratification through drugs or alcohol.

Besides an increase in shoplifting, psychologists said retailers need to be prepared for more instances of violent behaviour like that seen at a Wal-Mart store in Long Island, New York the day after Thanksgiving.

“I wouldn't be surprised if we see an uptick in crime, related to stealing,” said UCLA's Mr. Fong. “I wouldn't be surprised if we see more workplace violence and more violence at the malls.”

A throng of shoppers seeking rock bottom prices on flat-screen TVs and computers surged into the Wal-Mart store in predawn hours, trampling and killing a worker in the process.

Mr. Fong said many shoppers have never stopped to think about why they were buying items, and it was easy to ignore looking deeper during a boom that support such spending.

But now, patients that can no longer shop to relieve stress have become anxious or depressed, he said.

Others fume: “'I used to be able to afford that, I should be able to afford that now, I deserve that stuff,”' he said.

But Mr. Vaccaro said the downturn could be a time for shoppers to pause and study what they are attempting to achieve or what void they are attempting to fill by spending.

“We don't buy products, we buy feelings,” Mr. Vaccaro said. “We're buying the anticipation of the feeling that we think that product or service is going to give us.”

Mr. Gottfurcht said he encourages clients to take a walk or do some deep breathing before making a purchase to avoid an impulsive buy. He also recommended that clients keep a journal, noting how they felt when bought an item.

He said clients should then check the list a week later to see if the “glow” of that purchase has worn off, and it only satisfied an immediate want, not a true need.

The greater opportunity of the downturn, Mr. Vaccaro said, is that it represents a chance to move away from “irrational” and “careless” consumerism toward “a more discerning consumer.”

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do it yourself haircuts - at $200/hour

When my wife wanted to learn how to cut hair, I thought she was joking. Actually, my wife reminds me that it started from a bad haircut that I had..... and she had to fix it.... At that time, she was going to take a $70 cutting course through a local technical college but I didn't think it would ever amount to anything more than an passing fancy.

Several years later, and I realise how much foresight she had. She has been cutting my hair ever since and now cuts our kids' hair as well.

How much time has it saved us? My guess is about 1 hour per haircut (travel time) + 30 minutes of waiting time per haircut. If we also take the amount of money she saves (around $20+tax+tips/haircut, after tax dollars), we gather that we've saved at four years' worth. 48+ haircuts, and at least 6 in a foreign country (UK) at twice the price of a CDN haircut.

So, what is the approximate value of this to our family?


Time = 72 hours

It takes my wife 30 minutes per haircut... and less and less time recently.

She cut our son's hair in 9.5 minutes (he's less than 2 years old). Trip time = 0. Money saved = $25.... at a rate of $157/hour. Pre-tax, that's about $200/hour.

Tell me.... how easy is it to make $200/hour cutting hair?

...DIY hair. Find a course, learn to cut, and save yourself a bundle of time and dollars.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick tip for scrap paper

When you receive letters, the envelopes you receive them in can be used as scrap paper. Why not take an extra 5 seconds and split the envelope down 3 sides, flip it inside out, and use the entire inside as scrap paper?

just make sure that afterwards you shred the paper or remove your address so that it cannot be used for fraudulent purposes.

Save some trees, save the environment, and maximally use those envelopes that you get in the mail! If you get manila envelopes, say in an office environment, you can split those into near 8 1/2 x 11 size pieces of paper by chopping down all 4 sides with a letter opener.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ideas to save money on the holidays.

Frugal and Fun Gifts

First Posted: December 10, 2008
By Staff

Before you break your shopping budget (or if you already have), remember that a good gift doesn’t have to be a pricey gift. There are many thoughtful and meaningful ways to spread holiday cheer and gifts that won’t put you into debt. Here are some gift ideas to consider:

* a child’s artwork, framed (this works best if the recipient has kids or grandkids)

* home baked cookies or bread (with the recipe)

* a self-made gift basket filled with the recipient’s favorite chocolate bars and candies

* for "her", a gift basket containing a mix of her favorites… favorite soap, bath products, candy, etc.

* for "him", a gift bucket of things he likes… snacks, a selection of beers, car care products etc.

* for kids, an assortment of childhood favorites like a whoopy cusion, sticky hands, "goo", "surprise" eggs, etc.

* a CD/DVD filled with a well-organized library of photos and memories (great for family and close friends)

* a photo album with pictures and quotes

* warm gloves, socks, and hats to fend off the winter chill

* an "emergency" office essentials kit with items like sticky-notes, pens, a stapler remover they can have to themselves, and stamps for the co-worker or small business operator

* customized calendars with pictures you pick out, and reminders about important dates like birthdays and anniversaries

If you're still stumped for ideas, check with others on what gifts they are giving to the person in question. Skis? Well, they might need goggles, ski wax, and other accessories. Some shiny new electronics like a portable gaming system or a new cellular phone? How about a gift pack that includes handy items like screen protectors and an extra set of cables for the office? A useful gift can not only save you money, but shows you put some real effort into picking out a gift!

(this was taken directly from; see above link) I love that site.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to decorate a tree on a budget.

Found this today (see link above). Not sure if it is helpful, but it gives interesting ideas. We bought a tree on boxing day and are using it every year! We decorate with plastic ornaments that we picked up on boxing day also!

How to watch heating oil prices

We have a little secret at our place for determining the timing of the purchase of our furnace oil.

This website allows us to look at trend data:,39&dummy=#PriceGraph

We also have designed a spreadsheet to track how many litres we have in our tank and how much we use, per day, on a seasonal basis. This tells us how much reserve we have and based on the tank size, we can tell how long our tank will last. That gives us the opportunity to wait for lower prices, assuming the trends are there.

By doing so, we can buy less oil during the peak season (stretch each tank out longer) and wait to purchase fuel during the non-peak seasons when it is cheaper (i.e. summer, late summer).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dead dead dead batteries

We use batteries until they are dead.... not just registering on the battery indicator as dead, but really really dead.

What do we mean?

When batteries (AA, AAA) are dying, they lose their voltage a bit (i.e. drop from say 1.5 to 1...whatever volts). Using this voltage difference equipment, like thermostats, detect that you need to change the battery. We basically take those batteries that have been deemed 'dead' by very 'mission critical' devices (like thermostats) and put them into less mission critical items such as children's toys. We even put "dead" batteries into low-voltage requiring items like wall clocks and find that they still keep ticking along - often for months, without losing time.

So, this is how you prevent AA, AAA batteries from being thrown out prematurely and decrease the environmental hazard. In addition, we recycle the batteries at the local depot so that they don't end up in the landfill. does pay to be frugal, and the benefits can also save the environment.

(Yes, we do have a huge stock of NiMH batteries too. We bought those at firesale prices when The Source had a sale a few months back.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

When you shop, just wait.... to get the killer deal.

We always keep a list of things to look out for when we shop, but we never buy on the first go-round. That is, if I need a poncho, say, we keep looking for a poncho everywhere we go. If we see one, we just simply note its price and decide to return if it is the cheapest.

We never ever just end up buying the first item that we see that fulfills the criteria of what we are looking for unless it is on sale. Certain stores have 'on sale' items that are still more expensive than other stores' regular prices! Beware! As soon as we have priced out the competition (this can take a few weeks, depending on how often we go to the mall/stores), we simply go back to that store with the best deal to pick up the item ONLY if we happen to be in the area. We never make special trips just go 'shop.'

If we're looking for electronic gear, we go to places like or if we are looking for across-the-board deals, we look on the forums at We also take advantage of pricematching that can occur with electronic stores, and say or another online retailer. We always factor in shipping as well.

By using some of these techniques, we get the best prices and we usually know of killer deals out there.

It's the impulse shopping that causes you to spend more than you need to. It's the patience that allows you to get the deal. It's all in the 'hunt'.

Overall, don't buy anything that you would otherwise not need or would toss in a garage sale 5 years later due to its trendiness!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Double check your tire pressures

It's winter time again. Double check your tire pressures, especially on winter tires that you are rotating back on your vehicle. We ended up having our winter tires at 25PSI, which is 7PSI lower than recommended.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bring out the bubbly

We don't drink any alcohol in our household, but we've found a great alternative for those special moments...sparkling juice, or better yet, soda water plus some juice concentrate or with just lemon juice. Makes things more sophisticated yet really good on the wallet! Bypassing all alcoholic drinks also saves tons of $$ and is healthier for your body!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Saving space by crushing things

We discovered an interesting trick especially when it comes time to rake leaves or throw of the recyclables. In order to use less bags, especially in the case of recyclables, we simply crush whatever we can so that it takes a less space and we can jam more of whatever it is into the same bag.

This comes in quite handy every fall and we have to rake copious amounts of leaves. Usually rake leaves over several weeks and store them in piles. When it comes time to disposing of these leaves we compost the ones in our backyard and pack our front yard leaves into our green compost container that the city collects. We simply put everything into the green compost container and then use a shovel to pack things in. That way, we save on clear plastic bags as well as the environment.

Is there anything else that you crush that would potentially save space and prevent waste?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Musings while I walk to work

I walk to work daily and think to myself. What if.....

What if we all ended up just using less stuff and going back to the basics. What ever happened to the simple family life? One car? A house that was appropriately sized for your family?

What ever happened to growing our own vegetables? (we'll do that next summer... and grow some fruit too)

What ever happened to the feeling of satisfaction that you get when you just know that all your NEEDS are met? Why do we chase bigger and better things?

Why do we put children in 4 hours of soccer lessons a week when playing soccer in the backyard used to be the norm? What ever happened to unstructured play?

Why do they design carseats so elaborately so they don't fit in small cars (thus causing you to buy a bigger car)?

Why are we so obsessed with 'germ free'? (it's likely a media thing)

Why do people smoke when they can't put food on the table? (it's an addiction, I know)

Life is so complex and we choose to make it much more so. The recent credit crunch has allowed me to observe a few things, but I reckon it will get even worse before it gets better.

We will be going back to a simpler way of life, whether we like it or not. I heard this somewhere, but I don't know where: Frugal is the new black.

Save those jars! Save the environment!

When you buy some sauces to cook with they often come in jars. You can either through these jars out for recycling or you can keep them-we choose to do the latter.

So what do we use those jars for? Well, we buy ketchup, oyster sauce, and other sauces in bulk because it's much cheaper to do so. We go through so much of those sauces that buying them in small quantity isn't a very smart idea. Instead, we buy in bulk quantities of the sauces and split up the quantity between the various jars. We then put those jars in our fridge. When it comes time to using the sauces, we simply spoon them out.

So what we actually save? Well, it's the price differential between buying many small quantities of sauce versus one large container. More importantly, however, it is the fact that we have a lower footprint on the environment because we don't go through many plastic containers to use the same quantity of sauce. By the way, once the sauce is done we re-wash the jar.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Don't unwrap all your toys at once!

You have to realize that kids nowadays have a certain attention span. This attention span is definitely quite short and it is hard to maintain interest in things.that same concept applies to toys.

Whenever we receive toys for kids or purchase them we don't let them play with them all at once. The reason is that kids will lose their interest in the toys and they will simply sit and clog up space in the house. What we do is we give them a portion of a toy set [say, one car out of a set of five cars] and as we notice them gradually lose interest, we open up portions of other toys.

We've been doing this with gifts and purchases so that the kids stay interested in toys because they're new all the time! It's also good for clutter around the house because we don't have the cleanup multiple types of toys and reassemble things that they've disassembled. Plus, a lot of toys nowadays contain batteries and we really don't have too keep watch of which toys have that are dying.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Those plastic utensils. Save them, reuse them and save the environment.

Have you ever gotten plastic knives, forks, and spoons with your take-out meals? Have you ever gone to grocery stores and taste tested new products and received plastic utensils? Do you sometimes have lunches at work where by plastic utensils are passed out?

Have you ever thought of what type of environmental impact these plastic utensils could be having, and how long it actually takes them to degrade if ever?

Have you ever had a function at home, say a dinner party or another type of party, whereby you had to purchase plastic utensils?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, especially the last one, then a suggestion that we have for you is to keep those plastic utensils and wash them at home instead of throwing them out. You can now use those for your dinner party. That way, you do not have to buy any extra plastic utensils and you don't have to create extra waste. What's even better is that you actually save money in the process and feel good about it. I'm not even sure that anyone else will notice.

As a further note, we often use these utensils in place of garden tools for small potted plants at home.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What if I don't bring lunch to work?

I pack my lunch everyday and haven't deviated from that since I started working. It has saved me countless of dollars and I'm much healthier because of it. But, what happens if I forget my lunch or if there were not enough leftovers from the previous night's dinner?

An easy thing would be to simply go downstairs to the local cafeteria and buy something, but I don't. I resist the urge to splurge.

What do I do instead? Well, there is a local grocery store that is three to four blocks walk away. Actually, it is probably even closer than that. What I end up doing is going there, buying unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and basically having a nice vegetarian lunch. That's what I did a couple of days ago and basically had some fruits for lunch.

Anything that I didn't eat at lunch I simply took home. All of that costed eight dollars including tax.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cheapo Alternatives

With the price of food so high these days, we've found a couple of cheaper alternatives to some staples:

1. Using skim milk powder when you are cooking with milk. ( ie for pancakes, cream soups) It virtually tastes the same as liquid milk after it's cooked. Though it does taste kind of funny when you are just drinking it.

2. Popping your own corn...a $2 bag of kernels and a >$20 air popper can produce a LOT of popcorn!!! We can make probably the equivalent of 10 bags of microwaveable popcorn. It's no-low fat as you control the amount of REAL butter you put in it...along with any other flavor powders.

3. Growing your own herbs can save you truckloads of money!!! We bought our basil plant for $5 three years ago and it has faithfully been producing fresh basil for us ever since! Better yet, you can propagate it easily by pinching the tops and putting it in water until it roots...You can also save green onion tips (the white, rooty end) and grow it hydroponically (how's that for a big word?) and harvest green onions for 2-3 times.

What else have you found?

Simple toys are better for kids' imaginations

Our philosophy when we buy toys is that the toy must be as simple as possible so that the child's imagination can be maximally flexed.

Have you ever noticed this? When you buy a toy that has a small number of degrees of freedom to imagine or play the child seems to lose interest in that toy after a week. It's the toys that encourage imagination that keeps the kids coming back for more.

In our family, we have building blocks, ice cream buckets, yogurt containers, and other items. These toys need not be very complex. We often wait for people to give us toys and often we request that the toys be very simple so that the kids can grow their brains.

Why do I mention this? It's because simple toys are much cheaper than complex and commercialized toys. they also don't need batteries so this is better for the environment in the long run.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An interesting way to spend 2-3 quality hours

My wife had her cookie exchange today and it was a girls only event. So, my older son and I had defined something to do during the 2-3 hour stretch of time.

I was thinking about what to do todayfor the last week and especially last night. Should I go to the museum? Should I walk to the park with him? Or should we just chill out somewhere? Perhaps go shopping? This morning I realized one thing after I glanced over at my bus schedule. I realize that my son hasn't taken a bus in Halifax before, though he had taken some overseas when he was too young to remember.

What a great idea! We ended up taking the bus all the way to the terminal, which coincidentally was a shopping center, and we tried to find a pet store there. Unfortunately, I guess my memory didn't serve me that well this weekend and we couldn't find the pet store. Anyhow, we ended up buying some fruit at a local grocery store and then riding the bus back. My son had a wonderful time as I showed him the bridges, buses, people walking around, battleships, power stations, and other sites while he sat on my lap for about an hour and a half. He even saw someone in a wheelchair and also an act of respect as someone got up to let someone elderly sit down.

This really simple lesson has taught me that it is very important to spend time with your kids, that most importantly quality time arises as a result of quantity of time, and that the best things in life are truly free. Such a simple act of writing a bus together and taking the scenic route was completely free, due to my bus pass, but for my son represented several hours of hang out time with his father and a lot of learning by appreciating the world around him. I couldn't have done this otherwise with a car or by walking around.

Lost art

Cooking and Baking seems to be a lost art these days. Here are some pros to adding some love to you what you feed your body:

1. You know exactly what you are putting into your food.
2. You can tweak your recipes to the way you like it to taste (ie. less/more salty or sweet).
3. It promotes team work and conversation in your family.
4. It's fun to experiment!
5. You can make goodies at all hours of the day/night and have it fresh! (mmm...cinnamon buns...)
6. It stretches your creativity.
7. Encourages your young ones to develop hand dexterity and life skills.

So find a recipe and try it today! If you don't know what certain words mean (ie folding the batter, al dente), you can look it up on Youtube or google it!

Make sure your fridge is level.

Here's a quick tip that can save significant amounts of energy. When you open your fridge door, does it stay open by itself? Do you often have a difficult time closing that fridge door?

If your answer is "yes" then you need to see if your fridge is actually level. If your fridge is level then we can really help you. If your fridge is not level than take the time to level it. Once it's level then doors will close much easier and will stay closed. This will save energy because the cold air has a greater chance of staying trapped inside your fridge because your door will not have a tendency to swing open.

Friday, November 28, 2008

F*ing meals

Tired of cooking everyday? Try cooking more portions and freezing some of it for when you have a lazy day. All you have to do is set the table and reheat in the microwave! You will love saving money and having healthier *near* instant meals while your family thinks you've been slaving all day for a home-cooked meal. As taken from the Knorr commercial, Frozen doesn't have to be a bad word...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Save up those digital photos for deals!

Do you really need to print digital photographs the moment you take them? Why not tag them with Picasa (or another program) and save up all the tagged photos? When you find a great photo deal, print all of your photos in a batch.

That will save you cash as well as a extra trips to the photo lab.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

For the ladies and metromen out there...

Need some TLC for your dry and damaged hair? Try showering and washing your hair every other day instead of daily. Your body's natural oils are the best at repairing your hair. You'll save your money from getting hot oil treatments....better yet, forgo the hair dyes, permanent straightening treatments or perms and you'll have a healthier head of hair! That'll save you at around $100 a month!

Dollar store substitutes

These items are great dollar store substitutes. The items are usually sold for more than $1 elsewhere and nobody really cares how much you bought it for.

Toilet plunger? Why pay >1 dollar for it?
Toilet scrub? Why pay >1 dollar for it?
Dish scrub? Why pay >1 dollar for it?

Those sorts of things can be substituted for by dollar store items. For things like this, it doesn't really matter about the quality of the dollar store item. If it ends up breaking, you can replace it. How often does a toilet plunger break anyway?

Anyhow, you decide for yourself. We don't really buy anything else from the dollar store (i.e. we avoid the food) other than household 'grunt' goods (i.e. scrubs, etc).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Smaller bath towels use less water

When you dry yourself after a shower, have you thought of using a smaller towel? It is just as effective and you will likely not notice things (i.e. you won't be colder) and I would argue that it is probably even faster to towel off with a smaller towel.

A smaller towel uses less water when it comes time to wash it. In addition, you can wash it more often so that you have fresher towels. Either way, you end up using less water in the long run. Try it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Soap dispensers: foam vs. non-foam

We've moved our entire house to foaming soap dispensers. Why? Have you noticed that when you use non-foaming soap, that you sometimes waste soap? (i.e. the soap doesn't get dissolved and used, but instead is flushed down)

We buy liquid hand soap (no antibacterial properties) but dilute this soap with clean tap water before putting it into the foam dispenser. We've noticed that you can make soap last a long time with this change - about ten times longer (10 pumps lasts about 100 pumps).

Getting the most out of toothpaste

You're getting to the end of your toothpaste tube and you're wanting to throw it away. Don't!

Have you ever tried cutting the toothpaste tube? If you do, you will find that you can scrape at least another 10-15 brushings from it! Depending on how many times a day you brush, you could be extending the life of your toothpaste by several days.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Defrosting in the fridge

When you have a frozen food you need to cook (say, a turkey), and you know you will cook it on a certain date, defrost it in the fridge. Be sure, however, to put the turkey on something in case the plastic wrapping has come apart or torn! (that way, turkey juice doesn't get all over the place in the fridge).

Anyhow, it'll save you energy because you won't be heating up something frozen to room temperature. Instead, your turkey will slowly defrost to fridge temperature and keep the fridge cool as well! Instant energy savings.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shopping for food

Don't shop when you're hungry because you'll end up throwing a lot of junk food, pre-prepared foods, instant foods (you get the idea) in your cart....and it'll end up costing you more too. We've found that buying non-processed food items is better for your wallet and better for your body. So eat something before you decide to stock your fridge and pantry.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Storage in the fridge and freezer - the coldest parts

We've discovered, after having some milk go sour, that the best place for things that need to be cold is in the back of the fridge or freezer. Don't put your milk on the fridge door!

It's probably that the temperature is a little less variable the further back you go in the fridge or freezer compartment.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Winter melon substitute

If you are Chinese, and are in an area where winter melon can't be found easily (i.e. the middle east or far eastern Canada) try this. We just discovered this after all these years, and it's amazing.

Take the watermelon. Carve out the red pulp with a knife. Take the remaining skin (green and white part) and trim off the green bit. You'll have that white bit.

Well, that white bit, when boiled in soup, tastes exactly (99%) like winter melon. In fact, when some relatives were recently over, they taught us this. We were thinking to ourselves: "how many watermelons have we eaten in our lives, and how much skin have we wasted?" The answer: a lot.

Enjoy your watermelon/wintermelon soup!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Heating up the pipes

When you have to run the hot water tap to get hot water, you quickly realise that over time you will have to waste a lot of water. If you have to pre-run the water, say to get hot water for the dishwasher or for the baby's bath, run that water into a water pitcher or use it to water plants.

So, now you have the pipes heated up. Why not, then, have everyone take a shower to benefit from not having to run the water again? That's what we do in our family. We coordinate the kids' bathtimes so that the hot water pipe doesn't go cold again. When we shower, we do the same thing... at least we try.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Seasonal sales - if you can wait, then wait until the season is nearly over.

Make use of seasonal sales. If you need a BBQ, don't buy it during the start of the BBQ season - buy it after.

I was able to purchase an el-cheapo BBQ for $99 (50% off) a few days ago. It does the job of more expensive BBQs and I can get the satisfaction of knowing that I saved a bunch on it.

...if you BBQ 10X/year, it's $10/BBQ session. If you BBQ with a$600 grill, it's $60/session.... you need to remember taxes and how much work time you spent to get it too!

Anyhow, the cheaper the better BUT buyer beware - make sure you read about what you are buying in case it's a dud. In that case, cheaper really isn't better. Check out reviews and do a google search to find out more about that product.

What else suffers from seasonality?
- gardening supplies
- Christmas, Easter, Valentines, etc - buy things after the events
- BBQs and garden furniture

Friday, September 5, 2008

Soaps... don't get anything antibacterial.

Antibacterial soaps are purely marketing hype (except for the truly immunocompromised). Regular soap is good enough, and it doesn't encourage the growth of superbugs.

Regular soap is usually much cheaper than the antibacterial kind. Plus, they do just a good of a job in cleaning.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Take a product holiday

Think about this...

Doctors do it with drugs (i.e. drug holidays) to figure out drug interactions and possible drug side effects... perhaps you should do so with products also.

Do you really need to wear deodorant on the weekend? You can make that deodorant stick last longer by doing so.

Do you really need to use hairspray 100% of the time? Not really.

Do you really need to take a shower on the weekends or when you are bumming around at home? Possibly.

You save a bit here and there, and you avoid using all of those chemicals.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Work Hour Factor: think about how hard you have to work.

You need to calculate the costs of working and consuming. Wrap your mind around these few things and see things from a 'work hour' perspective.

1. TAXES - if you work, you pay taxes. If you are in the 50% tax bracket, every $1 you earn, only 50c of that can actually be spent. Half, for argument's sake, goes to the government.

If you buy that expresso for $7, you actually had to work for $14 for it. If you make $14/hour, you had to work 1 hour for that expresso.

2. COST TO GO TO WORK - it's all overhead. Like the secretaries, heat, power, etc in offices, your cost to go to work is an overhead cost. You never really see it back.

If you commute to work, you need to factor in your cost of commute to what you are actually making. Use the $14/hour as an example. If you spend $14 in parking every day (in some cities, this is possible), then you needed to work 1 hour just so that you could park. If you spend $14 for food and other things during the day, then it's another hour. If you fall within the 50% tax bracket, you actually had to work 4 hours just to park and eat. Only 4 hours remain, and two hours of that goes to government taxes.

So, really, you only had two hours worth of pay that day - a measily $28 that you could take home.

....and you can't really recover (most people can't) the lost money for parking/food, etc.

The next time you want to eat out, think about how hard you had to work to get that money, and then factor in the extra effort for taxes. Your $50meal actually costs $100, and at a rate of $14/hour, you nearly had to work 8 hours to get it.

It'll make you think twice.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Avoid vending machines and avoid keeping change in your pocket

If you're like me, I tend to spend money that is clinking around in my pocket. (Not anymore of course)

It reminds me of a big lifestyle change that I made about 5 years ago. I stopped using vending machines and hospital cafeterias. If you pour your money into vending machines, buying lunches, etc, it can be a huge cost. A lunch can cost around $5/day --> 25/week --> $1300/year (give or take a bit). If you multiply that by a coffee, newspaper, etc, then you are looking at around $10/day - around $2.5K/year.

Think of what you could do with another $2500/year - after taxes (if you are in the 50% income tax bracket, you probably had to earn 50% more to be able to spend $2500, given a tax rate of 50%)

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pay attention to leakage, financial leakage

Financial leakage happens, and it's up to you to find it.

Look for pocket change that is lying around. Look for excess bank fees or insurance premiums. Interest charges. Fees for services you don't need or use (internet, cellphone).

Look for ways to decrease those fees (phone the company and see if things can be waived).

You will find that things add up, especially if you look over an entire year. It might not add up to much on a daily basis, but over the year can have significant consequences.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do you need a green lawn?

Do you really need to water your lawn? In Halifax, we are very accustomed to seeing rainstorms or rain showers after days of dryness. We often see people running outside to water their lawns during these dry days only to see that the rains come several days later. It's a waste of water and it uses up a precious resource.

We just water are flowers (using baby bath water) and wait for the rain to come water the lawn. We don't really mind a yellow lawn because it never stays yellow for long.

Of course, you can xeriscape and avoid all of this!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Half Rule

This is something that is very interesting and could potentially alter your habits.

The Half Rule is essentially a rule were a mental game - depending on how you see it- whereby you try to cut back to 1/2 of what you just consumed or did.

That is....

- Could I have washed clothes on half that amount of detergent?
- Could I've only eaten half of that?
- Can I shower for half as long?
- Can I use half as much hairspray?

Try to challenge yourself on that.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kill A Watt-updates

Television - uses 44W on standby! 200W when powered on.

If you leave it on all year....

44/1000*.115*365*24= $44/year

Our computers and server had wattages of between 130 and 103W when running, and around 5-12W on standby. We replaced both of their power supplies with ultra-efficient 80Plus ones, and are now running between 93 and 69W respectively. The server is on all year, 24x7 and we will save approximately 30W - around $30/year. The power supply costed around $50, so in a year and a half, it will have paid for itself. That is good return on investment, especially since the power supply will be much more reliable.

Everything else was fairly standard in terms of energy consumption. The microwave used some phantom powerand has now been put on a power bar.

So, it is definitely very interesting to see how much goes to waste inside your home when you have things plugged in and think that they are not using any energy whatsoever. Go to the library and get yourself one of these energy measuring devices because it will save yourself and your family a lot of money.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Phantom Power + Kill A Watt Meter - free from Library!

Check this out:!1526125~!3100001~!3100043&aspect=subtab431&menu=search&ri=3&source=~!horizon&term=Energy+saving+meter+Compteur+pour+%C3%A9conomies+d%27%C3%A9nergie.&index=ALLTITL

This is from Conserve Nova Scotia. You can get this power meter (Kill-A-Watt) from the library for free. It'll tell you how much energy is running through those appliances even though they're turned off!

Try it! We'll publish our results in a later blog posting, probably.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Open source software

Do you need something to write PDF documents?

Do you need something to encrypt a partition on your hard drive or USB flash drive?

Do you need a lean operating system to run your file or storage server?

Why not try open source software?

Just type "open source PDF document creator" or "open source" anything, and you may find software that is suitable for your needs but is absolutely free. Caveat emptor: open source software is constantly in evolution by its development community, so the bugs may not be 100% worked out. Most software in production also has bugs, so it really isn't much different.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

If you're running the water to get hot water....

There is a Chinese saying that "water is money". Well, that is true in many ways. For those of you with water meters, you see that your consumption of water relates directly to your water bill. In developing nations, water is a sacred resource and clean water is moreso.

When hot water sits in your tap for a little while, it can get cold. If you need hot water, often you run the tap (i.e. your dishwasher needs hot water to help it clean; babies need warm water for cleaning bums) until the cold water in the hot water tap goes warm or hot.

That amount of water, we've measured, amounts to a two litres or four depending on how far away the tap is from the hot water source. The water, nonetheless, is just water.

So, what do we do? We run the cold water in the hot line into a Brita water jug and we use it for drinking or cooking. Conversely, you can save this water for watering plants around the house.

Clean bathtubs with dish detergent powder

We've found another use for powdered dish detergent. You can use it to clean bath tubs (try at your own risk though). We simply wet a cloth, use a light sprinkling of the stuff and then wipe until you hear no noise (i.e. bathtub scum makes noise, as it is rough - once the surface is smooth, it should not make any sound). Then just rinse.

How does it work? We think it's primarily enzymatic in nature (dish detergent contains enzymes) and works on the scum you leave behind (which is primarily protein - skin cells). The other stuff serves to make things shiny.

Careful that you don't get any into your eyes. If you get it onto your skin, flush with water. The enzymes will dissolve your skin somewhat and give you a very slippery feeling.

Good luck

Friday, August 15, 2008

Passports for Kids <1, and replacing it before 3 (in Canada)

We had to get a passport for our son last year and he was very young (<1 year old). You can replace that passport, at no charge, until age 3. Some countries require that passports be somewhat up to date for travel with very young kids.

Here's an excerpt from the Passport Canada Website:

"Children who have been issued a passport in their first year of life (between birth and 364 days) are entitled to a one-time gratis replacement passport. This is in recognition of the rapid change in the features of children of this age. However, the applicant must submit:

  • a new application completed in full and signed by an eligible guarantor,
  • new photographs taken within one month of the date the request for the gratis replacement is received,
  • an original proof of Canadian citizenship,
  • custody documents, if applicable, and
  • the original passport.

The maximum validity period of the replacement passport is three years from the date of issue of the original passport."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sun shields for cars - save on AC

If you ever park your car outside on a hot sunny day, you'll know that their dashboards and rear parcel shelves get quite hot. Invest in a few sunshades and make the heat a little more bearable.

That way, you won't have to turn on the AC for as long to cool down the car, as the car is not as hot as it would normally be.

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick energy saving tips.

We actually have done a lot of this already. In addition to checking to see if your fridge door seal is good, make sure that the fridge is level or a touch towards the doors shutting themselves. That way, if you take something out of the fridge and forget to close the door, the door will shut themselves and tend towards the 'shut' position.

Anyhow, here's the article.

From a recent CNN Article:

By Gerri Willis, CNN

NEW YORK ( -- Cut your energy bills by squeezing another year or more out of the things you own and postponing the day you have to replace them. Here are top tips on what you need to know.

1. Clean your AC

Air conditioners can be big energy suckers. But you can cut your costs and decrease how much energy your AC uses with these tips. First, clean your filter at least once a month. A dirty, clogged filter reduces airflow, can lead to operational problems and it makes your system work harder.

Rinse the filter, let it dry completely, then reinstall it. If dirt and debris have bypassed the filter, you will need to remove the front panel and vacuum dust and debris from the coils. If you have central air, call in your service contractor to make sure there are no leaks and that there's enough refrigerant.

2. Don't leave lint

Make sure you clean the lint filter in the dryer after every load to improve air circulation. And you should periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire.

When shopping for a new clothes dryer, look for one with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.

3. Test your fridge doors

Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don't allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch according to the Department of Energy. And make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight.

Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.

4. Unplug your electronics

The first thing you want to do is to turn off your machines when they are not in use. If you have a laptop you can maximize your savings and prolong the life of your machine by putting the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off. Forget the screen savers, they just waste energy. And do your computing on a hard, flat surface rather than a soft, cushy one such as a bed or carpet. The latter can block airflow to your laptop and lead to overheating according to Consumer Reports.

And to prevent phantom loads - that's when appliances sip power when they're off, but still plugged in - unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.

Monday, June 30, 2008

DIY Haircuts

We save a lot of money by cutting hair ourselves. Our tiled kitchen floor serves as a salon, and we serve as each others' hairdressers.

We save about $20 for every male haircut and about $40 for every female haircut. Plus, there is zero transportation time, zero waiting time, and the cut that we get is better than at the barber/salon.

Why not? Take a course in haircutting and find out how easy it is! It'll pay for itself in a few cuts.

Crush stuff into your green organic containers (Compostainers)

We live in a city that collects organic waste in green 'Compostainers' every two weeks. We often see people throwing out bags and bags of leaves.

Firstly, you can compost everything.

Secondly, if you don't compost, at least you can throw things out without throwing out extra plastic. Just take a big shovel and 'pile driver' it into the green bin. You will be able to fit a lot in there without needing to fill up extra bags with leaves/twigs.

You can spread this over several weeks and clear out all of your organics without ever using a single clear plastic bag for organics.

What is good for the environment is good for your pocketbook also.

You could also compost... more on this later.

Reuse envelopes as scrap paper

I keep a stack of old envelopes on my desk at work clipped together with a paperclip. I use them as scrap paper by writing on the back, provided that I shred anything that has an address (for privacy reasons) on them.

For larger envelopes, I often tear down the edges and flip them inside out. They make great scrap paper that way, but I also use them to line things that easily become oily or dirty.

For envelopes that are pristine and have no address at all (i.e. the kind that you get from credit card companies, taxation people, or alike), I typically use them again for sending out my own mail. We found some labels in our storage that we could stick to the envelope, effectively blocking any unwanted addresses. Voila, a free envelope.

We're saving the environment, one envelope at a time.

Let others take the depreciation hit.

If you don't need to buy new, don't. Let someone else take the depreciation hit on the good, and you can scoop it up (slightly used, or even brand new) without much cost.

We recently purchased a backyard 'Little Tykes" play gym for our son, and others that follow. These things cost an arm and a leg - well over $200. We got it for $20.

It was slightly used, but well taken care of. We don't really care because it's going to sit outside, get pooped on by birds, fade with sunlight, and get scratched up. Why buy it new?

Moral of the story: buy things slightly used or as a 'scratch and dent'. You can often find 'scratch and dent' sections at furniture stores - if it's something that will get scratched and dented while in regular use anyway, then you should be able to save $$ in looking in that section.

Some have asked us "why" we are frugal.

(editorial) Some have asked us "WHY" we are doing this, despite earning a good living. Heck, we could afford pretty much anything we wanted.

There is a greater goal that we have. As Christians, we want to be good stewards of what God has created and provided for us. We want to have a low environmental footprint, waste very little, and ensure that our children and their offspring have something left to enjoy. Plus, we know that we don't need to keep up with the Jones' because it isn't something we value., we can sleep well at night knowing that we don't have to get chased by creditors, have debt up to our ears, and have little financial freedom. We could go out and buy things, but we choose not to because we don't need it.

How we shop for groceries

With the cost of gasoline continually increasing, there is no doubt that's grocery prices are going to increase concomitantly. I'm sure you'd seen the price of bread and other necessities go up over the past year.

Here's how we deal with shopping for groceries in our household.

1. We always make a grocery list and purchase food that is on sale. This encourages diversity of our menu.

2. Always check the store shelves for generically branded products. These products are always found high up or very low down on the shelf. You may have already noticed that a lot of things that are within easy reach of the consumer are usually much higher priced - i.e. those in the middle of the shelf space.

3. We pay off your credit card bills every month so we put our grocery bills onto the credit card and collect points at the same time.

4. Realize realize that the grocery store is a psychological game. What do I mean by that? Have you noticed that a lot of the essential items, such as milk, eggs, and bread are placed in the back of the grocery store? This tour will make you walk through the entire store, placing things in your path that are potential impulse buys, before getting to the essential items. Have you also noticed that various small items are placed near the checkouts or within easy reach of the checkouts and to encourage impulse buying? What we do is we head directly for what is on our grocery list and avoid buying things impulsively.

5. Stock up when things are cheap. We tend to do this on frozen items as we have a chest freezer in our basement. How do you know things are cheap? My wife often has a specific price point in her mind, having visited many grocery stores. This is the equivalent to keeping a "price book" ( a book that features grocery prices across different stores).

6. Always shop in the morning if you can. That way, you are able to take advantage of discount bread or other discounted items before other shoppers do so. At our local grocery store, they often have 50% discounted bread and the best selection occurs in the morning. This bread we often purchase and subsequently freeze.

7. Always bring your stack of coupons wherever you go in order to take advantage of deals by stacking coupons on top of discounts. Do this only if it's possible.

8. Cheap is not always good. For instance, if you stumble upon a box of cookies that seem too good to be true-pricewise at least-just take a look at the ingredients. I'm sure the cookies have significant amounts of trans fat, a highly un-digestible fat that clogs arteries. Anything that contains this type of fat typically has a very long shelf life, as bacteria and fungi do not digest this fat either. I would rather eat something that has been butter and it done something that has margarine or any other hydrogenated vegetable oil. So, buy the ingredients and stay at home and bake rather than by highly processed foods.

9. If you're only going to the grocery store for one item, do not take a basket or a shopping cart.I was reading somewhere that taking either of these two items tends to slow the shopper down and can increase the probability for impulse purchases. We just buy the item and leave the store.

10. Plenty of food purchases to occur together, and with as few outings as possible. We've noticed that one of our grocery stores has the cheapest milk but is located very far away. We try to combine this trip was something else so that we don't have to just go for milk.

Good luck with grocery shopping and let us know if you have any more tips!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why buy when you can rent or borrow?

In today's society we are trained by mass media that purchasing something is probably the best thing to do.

Have you ever thought about renting a movie rather than buying it?

Have your thought of going to the library rather than buying a book from the bookstore?

Have you ever thought of renting a larger vehicle for use on the weekends were potentially renting a truck for moving something rather than buying your own truck and parking in the driveway?

What about power tools? Can you rent a saw rather than buying one? Can you borrow a saw rather than buying one?

There are probably more examples that I have not identified and that you can come up with. Overall, you can easily save money by not buying something that you will only use once and never again. If you use it multiple times, then buying it might not be a bad idea. Conversely, if you want to be a super stingy person than you can also rent it multiple times or even borrow it multiple times.

Sort grocery bags into 'food grade', clean, and garbage (for reuse)

At home, we sort our bags into three main categories or grades:

1. Food grade - bread bags (after shaking out crumbs), cereal bags (after eating the cereal and the crumbs), clean unused produce bags - these will be reused for packaging things like meats for the freezer compartment. Definition of 'food grade' = if food can touch the bag without being wrapped in something else, and that the bag was intended to contain food. Those bags which are clean, but previously had electronics in them, should not be used for this purpose!

2. Clean - something that is not food has been previously put in it, but the bag appears visually clean (i.e. bags from department stores that have had dry items put into them). We reuse these bags for general purpose, and when we're done using them, we classify them into our #3 category, for triple reuse. Triple reuse? [once at the store, once doing something else, and finally to contain garbage]... you could theoretically use them more than three times before their final common pathway, the garbage bag.

3. Garbage grade - these are also 'diaper grade'. We relegate these bags, which are slightly dirty, and definitely not clean or food grade, into a big bag in the closet. These bags are used for throwing out dirty diapers or lining the insides of trash cans.

Why buy garbage bags when you get bags of all sorts at the stores? This basically ensures you have an endless supply of garbage bags for life!!

Flat tire patrol: population frugality

I was walking to work the other day and spotted a car with a flat tire. Firstly, the flat tire can have dangerous consequences, especially if it had blown on the highway and potentially caused one or more collisions.

But... thinking frugally.... what if we kept an eye out for flat tires in cars that drive by? We could save gas for others, eventually reducing our carbon impact on the environment, and potentially decrease consumption? Personally, it's about the safety of the passengers in others' cars, but if we did this as a population (i.e. kept vigilance for people with flat tires), we could save our society a lot of gas.

Just some random musings.

Don't skimp out on insurance

You should never skimp out on insurance. Insurance is for those times that are catastrophic (i.e. house burns down, you hit something/someone in your car, you lose your arm - and you are a surgeon, or you end up dying and leaving your dependents in debt). Make sure you have enough insurance to cover your specific situation.

Being frugal doesn't mean skimping out on insurance for catastrophic events. You need to be frugal lifestyle-wise (i.e. buying normal clothes, having normal 'stuff' - rather than designer), but when it comes to shelling out for the appropriate amount of insurance, you should do so.

When it comes to insurance, shop around and don't engage in high risk activity that could increase your premium. Increase deductibles but keep an appropriate amount in the bank in case you have to pay the deductible. Ask the insurance company how to go about decreasing your risk (i.e. install fire alarms, driving less, etc) and ask if there are any discounts associated.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

If it's disposable, it's probably more expensive

Think: if it something you can reuse, costs will be lower in the future. It's also more environmentally friendly.

- reusable grocery bags
- cloth vs. paper towel for wiping up spills
- diaper cloth vs. moist wipes
- reusable lunch bag vs. paper lunch bag

Can you think of other examples?

Stay at home Vacation = Staycation

This is an interesting concept that probably will start catching on, now that higher gas prices are at play. It's a good way to relax and take a vacation.

It's called a 'staycation' = stay at home vacation. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ten Painless lifestyle changes to save money

These are ten FREE lifestyle changes that could save you money instantly. Just a little effort is required.

1. Keep the tires pumped up in your car (don't overinflate, as this can also represent a danger)

2. Unplug appliances that are consuming power even though they are 'asleep' (i.e. phantom power)

3. Keep showers short

4. Turn the thermostat down 1 or 0.5 of a degree, and wear extra clothing

5. Cool hot items to room temperature before putting them in the fridge (cooling on a tile floor is faster; if you have a window that is cold/drafty, you can cool it there too)

6. Hang dry your laundry

7. Clean garbage and unnecessary items out of the car (reduce weight, save gas)

8. Start a dishwasher when it is full, not partially full

9. Start a compost pile in the backyard

10. Increase the deductible on your insurance (car, home) - but make sure you can pay the deductible if your insurance policy was to be triggered by something.

10a. Make sure your fridge's coils are clean.... okay, this is the 11th.

Lose the costly (and potentially hazardous) habits

This is probably harder than it sounds, but it can be done.

Do you drink?
Do you smoke?
Do you gamble?
Do you buy lottery tickets?
Do you buy pop from vending machines?
Do you have to buy coffee from a coffee shop?

I'm sure there are other habits that are costly, and potentially hazardous to your health. Try to calculate how much you could save, and that may open your eyes to quitting some of these habits.

Cook at home and brown bag the leftovers

In the era of rising prices, it is much easier and cheaper to eat at home. Here's how we pack our lunch for the next day.

Dinner is cooked the night before, keeping in mind the need to bring lunch the next day. Before dinner is served, a portion is set aside and left to cool on the countertop while dinner is eaten. It is then packed in the fridge and eaten for lunch the next day.

We have done this ever since getting married, and it surely has saved us a lot of money. Plus, I get gourmet meals at work!

Reuse those Cereal and Bread Bags!

When you finish eating cereal, you are often left with a box and a bag. That bag can be used for something else!

We use those bags for freezing meat - instead of using cellophane wrap, cereal bags are quite thick and free way of portioning meat for freezing.

Just take the bag, shake out the crumbs, and put a portion of meat into it. Once you are finished with a portion, put an elastic over the portion and put more meat into the bag. At the end of the exercise, you will end up with a meat/elastic/meat/elastic sausage which you can freeze.

You can do the same for bread bags. This sure beats using cellophane wrap.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water...and don't throw the bath water out either

You can wash your baby's bibs, clothing with their bath water after they are finished bathing (provided that it's not contaminated with poopsies). When you are finished with the clothing, you can even water your garden with it!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Use Coupons, and stack sales

Do you throw away those flyer coupons? Don't! Use coupons, as these will save you money, and it is quite painless.

Stacking a coupon on top of s sale increases your savings.

Friday, May 30, 2008

If you have internet at home, slow it down.

If your internet service provider has options to slow down internet, do so. It will save you money, especially if you don't need super high speed internet.

We have slowed our internet down and it really has not impacted us.

Flatten the toilet paper roll

It's an easy way to save toilet paper. Depending on what your toilet paper dispenser looks like, this may or may not work. We have found that flattening the toilet paper roll before putting it on the dspenser gives the user a little more resistance, and prevents the roll from spinning freely. It also prevents kids, kittens, etc from unwinding your toilet paper all over the place

Welcome to Frugality Secrets

Welcome to Frugality Secrets, where you can be learn to be without anyone knowing that you are.

Being frugal should be part of everyone's lifestyle

Where we come from, frugality has been a way of life since we were children. We would like to share those with you, as well as other ones that we've learned, in the hopes that you will learn to live on less, but have a richer life.

We want to remind you that being frugal doesn't have to be miserable.!

Please share with us your tips and tricks also.


P.S. We hope to 'grade' the impact of these by $, $$, $$$ (where increasing $ means more money saved)

P.PS. Also, don't do anything illegal, dangerous, careless, etc. Our tips should be considered as tips, not law, and should be used wisely.