Thursday, February 26, 2009

stock up!

I'm not sure if you've been reading the newspapers are looking up stuff on the Internet but you'll probably notice that inflation is reported to be roughly 1-2%. I don't know if I believe those numbers entirely. Inflation on goods you don't need is low, but inflation on goods that you do need is higher than reported.

The consumer price index is calculated using a basket of goods, including various things like [don't quote me on this] the cost of hotels, food, housing costs, energy, transportation, and other goods like electronics and computers. I'm sure there's others that I have not mentioned.

In case you haven't noticed, car prices are dropping like crazy as our home prices. In addition, other discretionary expenses are also a dropping in price. That is putting a downdraft on inflation. You may have not noticed or might have noticed, depending on how closely look, that grocery prices are actually not going down very much - in fact, not at all. In fact, last week bananas were actually up approximately 15c a pound and we haven't noticed any significant decreases in the cost of any fresh produces since the summertime. Some people may attribute this to the relative weakness of the Canadian dollar in comparison to the US dollar and this also could be due to the increase in the cost to import goods especially in the wintertime.

So, in order to mitigate that inflation, we went on a little binge last week.

We went on a significant grocery trip last week. We went out and stocked up on dried goods, such as pasta. We didn't just buy small quantities of past, but we ended up buying approximately 36 kg of it (in restaurant-sized boxes). We also ended up buying a significant quantity of flour (we usually buy 20kg bags). We've noticed that buying in bulk significantly allows us to save money and we don't need to spend extra time going out if we run out of goods, because we never really do. Ditto with rice and sugar. We used to get 20kg of rice for around $12-14. Now, it's $33. We ended up buying the cheaper rice, which is still $18-19/20kg.

I digress.

All the flour and the past was purchased at a local wholesaler that does not charge a membership fee. Yesterday, we went out and bought some seeds but that is for a later post. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

DIY baby food - save money and it's very healthy!

Of course you can buy baby food in jars at the grocery store, but making your own baby food is not only easy but economical and brings peace of mind (you know the ingredients that are inside).

How do we accomplish this?

My wife simply makes a rice porridge (boil the heck out of rice and maake it gloopy). We freeze cubes of it in ice cube trays. Each cube is roughly 1 tablespoon in volume.

Then, she steams or boils vegetables (broccoli, carrots, shelled peas, cauliflower, sweet potato, squash, and whatever else we can find in either the fresh or frozen food sections), pulverizes them via a blender, and again, freezes cubes of these vegetables in ice cube trays.

We then freeze portions of raw meat (turkey, chicken, beef, pork, fish) on a plastic lid (roughly 1-2 square inch).

So basically, each morning, she takes out different variations of porridge, veggies and meat. (like a 3-5-1 ratio for example). She minces the meat cubes (everything other than fish) when it is semi-frozen and adds some water to make it a "watery meat paste". Or we steam the fish for 2-3 minutes then break it up with a fork.

I heat the porridge and veggies in the microwave until boiling and add the meat slurry....stir and heat until boiling again. (if using fish, just add the cooked fish to the boiled mixture.)

Our son eats half of it for lunch and we just save the other half for dinner.

It sure saves us a lot of money and also saves her children from having to eat processed food. Also, another side benefit is that since the texture is not completely puréed and smooth, they can progress to sell its very quickly.

How to recession proof your finances

I just saw this article this morning and thought I would share with you. Please click on the link in the title of the post.

I particularly liked the line about taking on new debt : "unless your job is ironclad and your financial picture rosy, it's not a good time to take on a lot of new debt." This is especially true in the bad times but also particularly true in the good times.

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Understand the macroeconomic picture

If you need to buy a vehicle or do some major renovations, you need to understand the macroeconomic picture.

What do I mean? basically, everything is about supply and demand. When supply is up and demand is down, prices will inevitably fall. The same can be said about the supply and demand of services and of products.

We are in the market for a vehicle in preparation for a potential family expansion. We realize that the current market for vehicles is still somewhat "hot" in that vehicle sellers will become slightly more desperate once they see that cars pile up in their lots. As such, by understanding the macroeconomics, we choose to wait for vehicles to come on sale. We don't really care about any financing or lease deals, as we will be paying cash for that car, so we can wait.

Likewise, with something like house renovations. We do understand that there are significant numbers of people who have been laid off from the oil sands and will be/have been flooding the Maritime provinces. This is going to significantly drive down labor rates and we're willing to wait. Plus, the federal government is now giving tax credits to do renovations and we feel that this is temporarily inflating the market for renovations. As smart consumers, we choose not to fight for a limited pool of labor with those people who are experiencing low interest rates and can therefore afford renovations based on credit.

So, a thorough understanding of the macroeconomics can also be helpful in a frugal lifestyle because certain decisions can be made in the context of supply and demand and therefore you usually can get lower prices as a result. Moreover, because of the frugal lifestyle that we live, we have no need for credit to the finance any of these major purchases.

That being said, it's always just difficult to predict the future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Know your insurance coverage

When I went to the dentist a few months ago, I noticed that I was getting charged for extra cleaning above and beyond my plan. I initially thought that this was all covered up to 80%.

I inquired, and realised that my plan was based on a rolling year, rather than a calendar year. What does this mean?

It means that if I had some dental cleaning that was done and I booked a new dental cleaning within 365 days of that, I wouldn't have any new and unused cleaning credits it to use. Therefore, if I book the dental cleaning on the 367th day, I have new credits to use.

So, what I will do every year is just keep a mental note of when I had my teeth cleaned and just book the appointment one year and a day later. That way, I can maximize the use of my dental plan.

Note: I actually get seen much more often than once a year, but I'm just simply doing this for illustrative purposes.

Overall, make sure you understand your dental plan so that you can maximize its efficacy. I'm sure the same can be said about other types of insurance.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Make a little bit extra: INGDirect and Angus Reid Forums

There is a way to get something for very little effort.

1. INGDirect is now giving away money if you refer friends. Just quote this number when signing up for an account: 13864325S1. It's our little number, but you can definitely get your own.

2. Sign up for Angus Reid Forums at You get paid money for filling out surveys, it's quite neat!

Just two little ways to make a little extra cash on the side, even though it is quite small (but little effort is required).

Rationing Desserts

Is that even possible? I was born with a VERY sweet tooth and I love to bake all kinds of desserts. I start getting the shakes if I don't have homemade goodies around the house to snack on. :O) Having only two adults in the household, we are usually really spoiled by having an abundance of desserts around (why do recipes always make 1 WHOLE pie or 3 DOZEN cookies??) Simply too indulgent and fattening!

We've been freezing leftover cookies and pieces of pie and cake so that we can take 'em out on a rainy (or in this case, dessert-less) day. Once thawed, they are as fresh as can be...and you can even cheat and put some cookies back in the oven to freshen them up! It's easy as pie!

It makes sense to ration our desserts because we either get sick of them (that rarely happens) or we feel like we need to stuff our faces with them before they go bad.

(...mmm I just finished a piece of homemade pumpkin pie that I made in Oct.)

Here's to sweet eats!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thank you for dropping by!

We've had some significant increase in blog traffic over the past couple of weeks. We just want to thank you for stopping by for a visit. The intention of this website was to empower the common person to take their finances seriously, live within their means and also have a small financial footprint.

It's quite scary now with the ever-worsening economy to think that if you lost your job you would be moments away from financial destruction. By living a life that is frugal, you can save more of the money you earn have a much happier life and potentially get off the treadmill of needing to work to sustain your family.

Right now we've dropped off our blogging frequency just a bit because we are really busy; however, we intend to maintain this blog into the future because we feel this is helpful information for everybody.

The Frugalistas

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wicked thread on

This is a great thread. I had no idea that you could install a device in your car to save insurance.

Perhaps we'll try it!

I walk to work and my wife drives during off peak hours anyway! reading down in the thread, it gets somewhat silly at the end. Nonetheless, there are some great ideas in here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cool stuff before it goes in the fridge

The way we cool stuff before we put warm things into the fridge is by placing the warm container on the tile floor.

Tile quickly takes heat from it, and your fridge consumes less energy to cool the item.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simple bath toys for kids?

It's kind of weird to buy toys for the bath and have them become 'yucky'... filled with old bath water, stuck on with grime. Most of all, they're manufactured somewhere else and you had to use your hard-earned cash to buy them!

We teach our kids skills and the natural properties of fluids subjected to gravity ... or so we'd like to think...

Just take clean yogurt containers (after you've eaten the yogurt) and use them as bath toys. Ditto with plastic cups you get at hotels or even juice or soda bottles.

Better yet, we've drilled holes into them and demonstrated how water flows. Our son loves pouring water back and forth during baths and it has improved his hand-eye coordination immensely.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My wife's haircut: DIY hair

My wife and I cut her hair the other day. Probably saved us 70+ dollars in pre-tax income (gas + haircut + wear and tear on the vehicle). It was slightly stressful, but the 'stress' of cutting hair should wear off once we do more.

Anyhow, where did we learn how to cut her 'victoria beckham bob?' Youtube. That's right.

Youtube is a goldmine for learning to do anything. If you have a question that needs visual demonstration Youtube has it.