Monday, August 31, 2009

How to waterproof a child's bed...

We have a child who is potty trained but isn't quite fully up to snuff in the middle of the night. Sometimes the bed gets wet and it's tough to change sheets in the middle of the night. So, we've decided to waterproof.

We thought of using the plastic wrap that the bed came with, but what is even easier is plastic cling wrap. You wrap the bed with plastic wrap, put the towel on top of that, and then a fitted sheet.

Voila. Waterproof bed.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scored the minivan!!!

We scored a wonderful minivan - straight out of our dreams and prayer, and into reality. We had been praying for months that the Lord would give us one. We had looked all over. Salespeople said that we couldn't get one for that price. In fact, the probability to score a 7 seater minivan at that price was difficult.

What did we want? Ideally 8 seats... ideally with vehicle stability control and 3 row side curtain airbags. In the price range that we wanted, this was literally impossible. First, 8 seats already put us at an impossible ratio. For every 20 minivans, the salesperson said, there is ONE 8 seater sold. In the 2005 vintage, the other features were next to impossible to get in an entry-level minivan.

...and literally, as I was about to give up, the Lord made me look one last time at An 8 seater sienna LE (yes, one level up from base model) came up. Traction control, stability control, etc? Well.... I called Toyota and got the spec sheet. Sure enough, scored both... and a JBL sound system with DVD entertainment, power sliding door, etc.... we ended up getting this for less than retail.

God is good.

Lessons learned:
1. If you are Christian, commit that to the Lord and he provides on his own time. God does answer prayer.
2. Do your homework and you won't be taken for a ride. Please see below.

How to not get taken for a ride:
1. Know how to look at a used car - look that up on the internet (what to look for - how to pop the hood, look under things, look at certain areas)
2. use for used car prices (they give wholesale and retail pricing, so you know when you are getting genuinely ripped off). Sienna CEs were being sold at $4500 over retail at the dealership, with etching/lein fees, etc. Knowing the value also allows you to JUMP on something that is good. In this case, I knew the value and jumped all over it.
3. don't buy at a dealership (they were charging us fees - and double taxing us on tires that already had been purchased by someone else)...
4. walk away if they won't let you inspect it (we've had several of these)
5. be willing to drive a little further to buy something
6. phone a dealer to get them to search the VIN for you for TSBs and recalls... and to know the packages/options on the vehicle. My seller didn't know the value of the vehicle (he was a dealer but was oblivious) and priced the vehicle lower than it should have been. I asked a few questions and determined that he had not done his homework...
7. Get the collision history of the vehicle. We got ours from
8. A phone call is worth more than an e-mail. We jumped the queue because of this and were first in line to view the vehicle.
9. Get everything in writing, including any promises, on the bill of sale.

Frugalista tips?
1. See above.
2. Have CASH available. We didn't have to arrange financing, get banks to approve anything. It went straight from the bank account to a bank draft within minutes. Plus, we don't believe in debt.
3. Buying used allows someone else to take the depreciation hit.
4. Be satisfied with what you have. Our vehicle has a few dents here and there, but nothing major.

Enjoy your next vehicle purchase!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It never hurts to keep the boxes and it never hurts to ask.

I'm a huge packrat when it comes to boxes that things come in. I ended up buying a server case many months back for a home-built network attached storage device, and for the life of me couldn't figure out why I was getting random errors, particularly under high I/O.

I finally looked, and saw some exposed wiring in the case due to the backplane design... but unfortunately had purchased the case four months ago.

I ended up writing the company, who I will name, since they have AWESOME customer service (, and asked them about this. They told me to ship the case back. I told them the case design was poor and caused interference for my SATA drives under high I/O stress. I was very nice on the phone and had them pay for my shipping back (which would have costed around 50-60CDN). Instead of replacement, they opted for a refund.

I'm glad I kept the boxes and I'm glad I asked the questions. Otherwise, it would have been a very expensive paperweight.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frustrating look for minivan! Soon to give up :)

As frugal as we are, it's tough to look for a minivan for our growing family. We don't want anything new, that's for sure. That pretty much leaves us with used vehicles, which we don't mind at all.

We dropped into a dealership tonight and saw the incentives that were being dished out. Big incentives to move vehicles off the lot. We asked the salesperson how many people, proportionally were leasing. He said very few. Most paid 'cash'.

Huh? Isn't this a recession? Isn't this the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression? ...and people are paying cash for their vehicles?

....not just 5grand, but 30+grand for a vehicle? You have to be kidding!

Anyhow, further probing with the question - "what proportion of those are financing" - tells me the answer. He says that 95+% of people are actually financing the deal and that others are putting it on their lines of credit.


Our family philosophy is to save up for something that depreciates (like a car, or a deck, or another consumable) with cash, and not ever have to tap into a line of credit.

It's weird, the philosophy nowadays. Everyone is buying things like there is no tomorrow. When will it stop?

The shutdown of car factories in conjunction with the Cash for Clunkers program in the US has soaked up all the supply of minivans, and all the incentives, low interest rates, and the hype about the economy recovering has caused buying to become frenzied again. No wonder we can't locate minivans - they're selling like hotcakes!

Our search for a minivan continues, but I think we're going to have to finish looking soon, as we are getting tired! Oh well, the Lord has something good for us in the end.

Where have we looked?
- repossession sales
- new car dealers
- used car dealers
- used car brokers
- have even considered becoming a used car dealer myself....
- lease takeovers
- kijiji
- autotrader
- other provinces, including Ontario, New Brunswick, PEI (we nearly went to see a minivan in PEI, believe it or not, only to find out that the person refuses to get it inspected)

...nothing good so far, but we do have a few leads and a lot of prayer.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Free 5x7 photos (

"It was just a few weeks ago that was offering four free 8X10 prints to its members -- and now there's another photo freebie available! Get Eight Free 5x7 Prints from the Photo Centre when you use promotional code CWFEA817.

This freebie is valid for Costco members only and expires September 6, 2009.

To order prints, an online photo account is required, so you may have to set one up to take advantage of this freebie. Fortunately, opening a photo account is free."

Free wrapping paper

We saw a neat idea for wrapping paper at a birthday party we went to yesterday - the comics section of a newspaper! Zero cost, saves manufacturing, and looks really cool!