Category Archives: Budget Hacks

#CentsAbility Challenge Complete-ish. Financial Literacy Tune-Up Required!

#CentsAbility Mission Complete-ish Christa Clips Save-at-Home-MomMy goal for the Manulife 30-Day #CentsAbility Challenge was to measure my monthly successes and savings, down to the penny. I happily snapped photos of my savings strategies and frugal lifestyle hacks and shared them on Instagram and Twitter, then celebrated the tiny daily achievements of the other #CentsAbility challengers with hearts, thumbs & stars (that’s how us bloggy-types operate!).

  • I saved money by using coupons and price-matching with Flipp at the grocery store
  • I saved money by washing our laundry in cold water during off-peak hours and hanging it out to dry
  • I saved money by working from home and thereby avoiding daycare fees, the cost of commuting, having a professional wardrobe, etc,
  • I made extra money by selling our stuff on UsedOttawa.com

Saving was a cinch! Measuring all of those savings, however, turned out to be a very unmanageable goal …. and almost impossible to calculate!  Turns out there isn’t an app that says “Way to go, Christa, you just saved $4 by showering your kids at the YMCA after swimming lessons and taking advantage of the towel service included in your membership!”Instagram Collage Christa Clips Save-at-Home Mom #CentsAbility Challenge

Something that became glaringly obvious to me, when I lined up all my Instagram photos in my mid-challenge blog post with $2 saved here, and $6 saved there, was that my savings are on a really SMALL scale. And while I’m a firm believer in “it all adds up”, the #CentsAbility challenge has reminded me that I need to take a second look at some of the bigger pieces in our monthly budget.

It’s time for a Financial Literacy Tune-Up

October was a month of #CentsAbility and monitoring my day-to-day spending habits.  I’m devoting the next few months to assessing and changing some of the services we’re paying for each month in our household so that I really understand where my money is going. The fact that November is Financial Literacy Month is perfect timing!  There are oodles of resources and #FLM2014 reminders floating around to help me make sure that I’m not wasting money on these bigger budget pieces, and that I’m tapping into the right resources to stretch my savings even further.  As such, it’s time for a Financial Literacy Tune-Up!

My Financial Literacy Tune-Up to-do-list includes:

  • trim our satellite channels to the bare minimum
  • research Netflix and online streaming as an alternative to satellite in  2015
  • check my internet & home phone bundle to find possible savings
  • research options to cut home phone land line in 2015
  • touch base with Insurance Broker to find possible savings, including bundling life insurance
  • touch base with Mortgage Broker to find possible savings
  • connect with a financial advisor to review longterm savings strategies
  • research credit union or change of bank to save on fees
  • increase  automatic savings contributions
  • research tankless water heaters so we can cut our monthly hot water tank rental

I’m not sure how long it will take me to get through the entire list, and I suspect the list will grow as I discover other monthly charges that have been coasting under my radar over the past few years. I’m grateful to the #CentsAbility challenge for inspiring me to dig a little deeper into my Save-at-Home-Mom strategy to make sure that I’m saving on all levels and stretching those savings as far as possible by tapping into resources available.

So as the 30–Day #CentsAbility challenge comes to a close, I’m ready to start my next challenge, to make sure I’m #DiligentWithMyDollars.  Any words of advice? Or at least a catchier hasthtag?!  Drop a line in the comments below!

Make your own Healthier Lunchables – Today’s #CentsAbility Tip!

Christa Clips compares the cost of pre-made lunchable kits to a healthier DIY version. It's all part of the 30 Day #CentsAbility Challenge!

Christa Clips compares the cost of pre-made lunchable kits to a healthier DIY version. It’s all part of the 30 Day #CentsAbility Challenge!

I’ve packed a homemade version of lunchables once a week in our childrens’ lunchboxes for the past 5 years. I know without a doubt that it’s a healthier option, and I’ve always wondered how it compared price-wise.  As part of the  Manulife 30 Day #CentsAbility Challenge, I’m tracking how much money I’m “saving” each day and finally took the time to calculate what it costs to make a healthier DIY lunchable.

Here’s what it cost me to make a DIY lunchable for our school lunchboxes today:

  • $1 worth of ham (1/8 of a whole ham on sale for $7.99)
  • $.05 worth of carrots (half of a carrot from a 2 lbg bag on sale for $1)
  • $.17 worth of Wheat Thins crackers (1/10 of a box on sale for $1.77)
  • $.55 worth of marble cheese (1/8 of a bar on sale for $4.44)

Total cost: $2.22

I’ve never seen the pre-fab lunch kits on sale for that low. In fact, I’ve seen them full priced as high as $3.99 for a much smaller portion.  The #CentsAbility challenge has reminded me that eating healthier doesn’t always have to cost more!

How have you saved money today?

BBQing on a Budget! #CDNmoney Twitter Chat May 20th 7-8pmET

#CDNmoney is a weekly twitter chat co-hosted by Christa Clips: Save-at-Home-Mom and Common Cents Mom Hollie Pollard. Join us 7-8pmET for money minded tips & tricks!

#CDNmoney is a weekly twitter chat co-hosted by Christa Clips: Save-at-Home-Mom and Common Cents Mom Hollie Pollard. Join us 7-8pmET for money minded tips & tricks!

Join @CommonCentsMom and I as we co-host this week’s #CDNmoney twitter chat with tips & tricks on how to BBQ on a Budget!
Hollie has shared some of her favourite BBQ tips in her blog post on Common Cents Mom, and I’m all about “harnessing the heat” as seen in this Instagram post last spring:

This meal used 5 minutes of propane with one burner on medium heat. Christa Clips shares easy steps on how to "harness the heat" and BBQ for less!

This meal used 5 minutes of propane with one burner on medium heat. Christa Clips shares easy steps on how to “harness the heat” and BBQ for less!

May 2013: I know me. And “me” isn’t likely going to cook tomorrow night. In addition to our family meal, I cooked a second meal on the BBQ tonight, almost entirely after turning off the burners.

  • Broccoli with butter and spices wrapped in foil took about half an hour, turning once.
  • Chicken breasts directly on the grill about 7 min/side while the BBQ was still at 500 from the first round of cooking.
  • Sliced sweet potato and onion basted with Soya sauce on each of 3 flips needed an extra little punch of flame to crisp up since I’d lifted the lid so many times.
  • Total propane sent on this meal: 5 minutes medium on one burner.