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#CentsAbility Check-in

As part of the Manulife 30-Day #CentsAbility Challenge, I’ve been snapping photos of my daily efforts to save money and cut splurges for the month of October. Along with my fellow #CentsAbility challengers, I post my pictures along with a money saving tip to Instagram and Twitter (are we following each other?). Here are some of the ways I’ve saved money and lived a more “CentsAble” lifestyle since October 1st ….

October 1st: Saved $25 on Luggage Fee when flying with Porter to Blissdom Canada Conference

Saved $25 on luggage fee when flying with Porter by packing empty bag in my suitcase for conference swag

Oct 2 No Taxi Fare

Saved $80 on cab fare by taking advantage of conference perks #ChevyBliss

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oct 3 No New Dress

Saved $100 by wearing the same dress as last year to Blissdom Canada Social Media Conference 

Saved $40 on Thrift Store #ThrowbackThursday party costume

Saved $40 on Thrift Store #ThrowbackThursday party costume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved $25 with manicure

Saved $25 with DIY manicure

Saved $75 on cab fare by taking Go Bus to Union Station

Saved $75 on cab fare by taking Go Bus to Union Station

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will save $23 on next Via Rail trip thanks to late train claim

Will save $23 on next Via Rail trip thanks to late train claim

Saved money by biking to swimming lessons at the Y!

Saved money by biking to swimming lessons at the Y!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved $7 parking fee by validating stub with grocery purchase

Saved $7 parking fee by validating stub with grocery purchase

Saved money on baths & laundry by taking showers & using towel service after swiming lessons; included in our YMCA membership

Saved money on baths & laundry by taking showers & using towel service after swimming lessons; included in our YMCA membership

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved $2 by using jar of applesauce instead of single serve cups for daycare crew

Saved $2 by using jar of applesauce instead of single serve cups for daycare crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved marriage by unplugging phone for Thanksgiving weekend with family!

Saved marriage by unplugging phone for Thanksgiving weekend with family!

Saved $6 by price-matching fruit at Walmart with Flipp app

Saved $6 by price-matching fruit at Walmart with Flipp app

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved $4 on this battery powered toothbrush by stacking coupon with clearance price #stockingstuffer

Saved $4 on this battery powered toothbrush by stacking coupon with clearance price #stockingstuffer

Saved time & money by  carving this watermelon into 11 lunchbox servings

Saved time & money by carving this watermelon into 11 servings for daycare crew & lunchboxes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved $10K this year by not not sending our kids to daycare.

Saved $10K this year by not not sending our kids to daycare

Saved $45 by serving DIY bugs 'n cheese from Bulk Barn when the kids requested a trip to Boston Pizza

Saved $45 by serving DIY bugs ‘n cheese from Bulk Barn when the kids requested a trip to Boston Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saved time & money by pouring leftover tea kettle over eggs for next day lunchboxes #HarnessTheHeat

Saved time & money by pouring leftover tea kettle over eggs for next day lunchboxes #HarnessTheHeat

If I add up all these savings ....

If I add up all these savings …. (ok, ok, Oct 17 post is a bit extreme. but it IS the biggest part of my Save-at-Home-Mom story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are still 11 days to go in the challenge and so far I’ve done well with resisting the little splurges that can really add up over the course of time. Our Hallowe’en costumes aren’t complete, and we’ll be attending a couple of Hallowe’en parties – let’s see if I can get through it all without blowing the budget! All in all, #CentsAbility has been a fun way to keep track of all the little ways we can save money, and I’ve been inspired to trim our budget even further with the creativity and savvy of the other #CentsAbility posts on Instagram and Twitter.

How do you save?

Drop a line in the comments below, or better yet, snap a photo and join in the Manulife 30-Day CentsAbility Challenge by posting your picture to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with the hashtag #CentsAbility!

 

Couponing is 75% fun, 25% necessity for me. Not true for all.

christa in dairy aisleI love free stuff. Plop me at the International Plowing Match or a good Trade Show for a day and I`ll float home with half a dozen new cloth bags filled a joyous array of new pens, post-its, and sample size products to try, usually with coupons attached.  It`s fun!

When it comes to snagging FPCs (free product coupons) through facebook offers, I`ll play along and “sell my soul”* for a FREE pack of bacon or full size bottle of body wash. If I can match a sale to a $1 or $2 OFF coupon and get a product for FREE, I`ll do it, even if it means driving a bit out of the way (within economic sense) or spending a few extra minutes at the checkout while the cashier scrutinizes the coupon and the flyer I`m price-matching with. It`s rewarding!

We don`t NEED to coupon in our family. I could easily return to my professional career as a teacher trainer but we`ve decided to adjust our spending habits and make-do on one and a half incomes so I can be here with the kids before and after school. And so, I spend at least a couple of hours each week ordering, clipping and organizing coupons and carefully planning my shopping trips, consistently saving 50-80% on our grocery bills and maintaining a small stockpile of dry goods and household products so that we`re never caught having to pay full-price. This is the 25% necessity for me, and even at that, it`s still a lifestyle choice for our family.

My heart bled today when reading Jennifer Pinarski`s post on the Today`s Parent blog about The emotional truth of grocery shopping on a budget.

The pent-up emotions of having to make difficult decisions at the grocery store, plus envisioning the disappointed faces of my children when I come home without their favourite snacks, breaks my heart.

My children have never wanted for anything (except a trip to Disney.  We`re reminded weekly that time is running out since 8 year olds don`t likely care about seeing the Princesses).   They don`t get everything they want, though, and just recently we`ve started to hear requests like “Can you get this cereal when it`s on sale?” or “Do you have a coupon for those yogurt drinks?”.  I`m pleased that our children (5+7) have a sense that we choose the timing of certain items, especially seasonal fruit, and that we try not to waste money by buying things that will be less expensive on a later trip.

I was blown away by the raw and naked emotions that the author shared in her article and more than ever, am determined to keep spreading the Save-at-Home-Mom story, keeping in mind that couponing, savvy shopping, and frugal living are not necessarily hobbies for everyone who might be reading.

That, and dropping more items that I get for FREE into the food bank bins at the grocery store:  items that will reassure families who are peeking in not knowing “whether or not our meal next month will come from that bin.”

Thanks for sharing your story, Jennifer – we all needed to hear it.

*selling one`s soul on facebook: 1) like the page 2) give permission for the brand to access your friends list 3) allow the brand to post on your behalf. The latter borders on `deal-breaker` for me, but I always change my settings to Only Me so no-one will ever see the spammy auto post should the brand ever decide to act on their new permission to “be me”.

 

No Laundry Weekend: 5 Day Laundry Challenge without a Dryer!

 

 

 

ImageOur dryer has died.  We’ve managed for about a month now without it and I’m considering NOT replacing it at all.  So far so good, but I have been spending more time on weekends doing laundry than I’d prefer.

But with spring weather finally here, I’m determined to keep up with my eco-friendly laundry habits and try to squeeze it all into the work (at home) week.  On top of our regular clothing, bedding, towels/tableclothes, and floor mats, I also need to give our snow gear a final wash this week before getting it ready to pack away for consignment/donations in the fall.

Getting the loads during off-peak or mid-peak hours should be easy, and with a couple of days of sunshine in the forecast, I might even get away with a few days with no dryer racks in the house (yay!).  Washing and air-drying is the aasy part for me.  I quite enjoy my time on the back deck.  It’s the folding and putting away that’s the hard part for me.

Will she be able to do it without a dryer? Laundry Towels

Can she get everything folded and away by Friday night?!

Diary of a Dryerless Dame:

Monday Morning:

9 am:  I filled the washing machine with cold water, detergent and fabric softener in the downy ball (luv that thing!) and put in first load to soak.  I started with jeans and heavy knits which take longer to dry.  Hydro costs drop from On-Peak to Mid-Peak rates at 11 so I’ll leave them to soak until then.  Not only will I save on hydro by waiting, I can use a shorter wash cycle since soaking will have loosened the dirt and the clothes will be fully saturated in soap.  Set oven timer to remind me to start the machine at 11.

11:01 am:  popped down the lid to start the shortest wash cycle.

11:30ish: take out first load and start water/soap for load #2.  Shake and hang load #1 as quickly as possible to avoid wrinkles.  I’ll be airdyring on the back deck today using our portable clothes racks today since they’re calling for rain and I might need to bring them all in quickly!  After finished hanging load #1, add clothes to machine for load #2 (I like to give the soap enough time to dissolve fully and avoid blotches on clothes: yoga pants in particular show detergent sheen easily).  Load #2 is clothing that take a little less time to dry (sportwear, light knits, dress shirts) and I’ll use a little longer cycle since they haven’t soaked.

12:15ish hang load #2.  Rotate dryer rack with load #1 to maximize sunshine and avoid fading on jeans!

12:30ish put load #3 (bedsheets) in machine with soap/fabric softener to soak.  Set oven timer to remind myself to star the machine at 2.

2:00ish start machine, rotate dryer racks outside.  Bring in anything that’s dry (the dress shirts and quick-dry clothes will likely be ready.  Taking off dry items will increase airflow and allow the sun to hit the clothes that are still damp.

2:30ish hang load #3 outside.  Our bedsheets fit perfectly over the deck railing and only need a little wind and some sun to dry within an hour.  Luv it!

3:30ish start folding and loading drawers

Stay tuned for my progress report!