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.