Goals for 2008

So what are you doing this first day of the year? For many of us it is a time of reflection and goal setting and YES that is what I have been doing. Last year one of the goals I had was to get by on less and this I did all year long. I had to get creative, and smart but I managed to live off $1240 a month in Canada’s largest city. I coupon collected, I contested, I looked for freebies and cheapies and I got good at it!

This years goal is to really track it! To track my freebies, to note when I really do save, and what I win. My goal is not to spend a penny for birthdays or Christmas this year and with Roo’s birthday being tomorrow here is how I am doing her special day.

Her dad sent $50( not my money his for making her day good) so dad’s present to her is a keyboard($18) and I am taking her to Montana’s (her favorite restaurant for dinner$30-she loves the mini ice-cream cones that come with  the kids meal). I got her a Sankso MP3 player( just had to pay for the taxes($3)-got it FREE with my Optimum points from Shoppers Drugs) and 15 song downloads…all from icoke( another freebie). I made her birthday card and am recycling wrapping paper. On the 19th she gets to have a sleepover, at which we are going to have homemade birthday cake, and FREE pizza from a gift certificate that I won. We are going to do beauty makeovers and play board games –all things we have in the house. For breakfast we will do pancakes and syrup and OJ( and yes I have coupons for all of those). How is that for planning on the cheap?

To track freebies and wins at the end of my posts you will find a add-on where I report and track how it is going this year.

What sites tools am I using to make this an even cheaper year?

If you want to save $$$$ this year and are a Canadian may I recommend these sites:

1. Frugal Shopper Ca – I love love love this site! Kimberly the owner has provided a great forum for learning how to save, coupon, and contest all in a great community. I love the friendships I made there in 2007.

2. Shoppers Drugs– I have their Optimum card, and shop the bonus days and flyer’s..I can accumulate enough points that even with only 2 of us in this household I can walk away with about $300 in free stuff every year!

3.Pigsback-This site is new on the market here in Canada and is a shopping portal site where you can earn points. But wait you don’t have to shop only to gain points, do the daily quizzes and watch you maybe having a cup of Tims on them! So far I have 2 gift cards coming from them.

4. Contest Girl– a great site for keeping track of all my daily contests. Between using it and Roboform this gal is ready to contest.

5. Netwinner( not only for us cannucks)- but play Banko enough and you do get some great gift cards.

6. Craigslist and Freecycle and 2 sites I really rely on when I do need to buy-my as well try and get it second hand.

My other 2 major goals for this year.First to become a working mom and the other to move out of this basement apartment. Anyone know a good landlord in Toronto with a decent clean apartment in the East York area under 850? With that said and done I think that I have set some goals that I can really work toward. Now if you set health goals for yourself may I reccomend www.sparkpeople.com . It really is a great weight loss tool that happens to be FREE. May you have a blessed 2008! So tell me what are your goals or dreams for the year ahead?

Highlights and Lowlights of 2007

Well the year is quickly coming to a close. It has been a year full of many good things. But with the good comes the bad right? So what where the highlights for this cheap mom and her daughter?

First this was the year we finally got an IPRC done for my daughter, and she has had educational assts in the classroom. I really do thank God for Diana especially and her work with Roo early in the year. Roo has come a long way! She is coping well with being a spectrum child. I am a proud mom! It was the year that Webkinz became her toy and site of choice, although with Christmas bring an e-pet and a be-bratz we will have to see which will rule–but she does have as of now 8 of the Webkinz. She also went to summer camp and had a great time. She took trips to Black Creek Pioneer Village, Casa Loma, the Science Center, and High park all without mom. So they are her highlights truely!

This was the year I got both cheap and smart. I started contesting and couponing for real this year. By March I was on a lucky streak! Got to love the concert tickets, movie passes, Argo tickets,music downloads, restaurant GC’s, t-shirts, flip flops, magazine subscriptions, and attraction passes.

It was also also a highlight when I got to visit with family this summer when my sister and family came to stay and play here in Toronto for 10days. I loved having them in the city!

We also got to attend and get to many great events here in the city. One of our favorites was Luminato back in June. What a festival of the arts it was! Roo and I so enjoyed it. In July we were amongst the crush of people down at Bay and Bloor for the launch of the last Potter book. We also loved going to White Christmas in November.

For the lowlights: there were two winter storms-one on Feb14th that stopped me from seeing Keith Urban live because there was too much snow out there at that time in the morning, then in December our city saw the most snow on a day that we have seen in 44 years! I also broke my ankle in Feb and this really laid me up for about a month. This year I also did not work as I had wanted too so this made me become more creative with my money.

So what will the new year bring? I am not sure but I am sure there is an adventure ahead! So come along for the ride.

Battling the Cold

 Roo has been sick for a week now, and I really came down with it on my birthday..so for us it has been a week of battling the common cold. Battle is the right word too, and so far the Cold is winning!

Here are our attack methods for getting rid of this pest, well it feels alot more then a mere pest. Roo and I have ate more chicken noodle soup this week then we had in the last 2 months, we are drinking lots of fluids: OJ, water, peppermint tea with honey, and gingerale or gatorade for Roo. We have also been getting lots of rest. How many times can you watch a dvd? Let me tell you-too many. But so far the cold is winning…anyone have a spare lung?

Well let me get back to the comfy couch, my pillow and blanket…Oh, and have I mentioned I am tired of being sick.

A Very Ill Holiday

Both Roo and I are both sick. We got sick on Christmas Eve, and have been in bed ever since. We got up to open presents ysterday and then went back to bed. So I mostly slept through my birthday and Christmas… I hope you all had a better one then we did. I am up for about an hour to make some soup and then we are going back to bed….

Christmas day and Boxing Days have been basically days of bed and tv watching in this house. We did open presents though. Roo was SPOILED! She got a be bratz( another website for her to interact on), an epet, another Bratz doll, Cranium, an Art Kit, Uno, Cinq-o, a purse filled with lipsmackers and Mary Kate and Asley perfume, clothes, socks, and of course candy. Me I got pjs of couse, bath and body products, aloe socks( these are very soft), earrings, a top, mp3player, and a journal.

The Golden Compass Debate -Part 2

Well it seems that we really do have narrow minded school boards in a land of diversity! The Halton School board not only decided to pull “The Golden Compass” off the shelves but also all of the trilogy that the book is part of!

They did not decide to follow their own board’s book review committee either. They went out on their own stating it didn’t match with the values the board is trying to teach. Okay they maybe their libraries shouldn’t be paid for out of tax dollars if only one point of view is taught. If we are not going to encourage thinking children across the boards here in Ontario maybe we need to rethink what children in PUBLIC school should have access too, and who makes those choices. Should narrow thinking trustees rule?

There own committee said the books were suited for an audience of grade 7 to 10 and I agree, as that is what it is written for.

I will write more later tonight so expect this to get edited..

Works for Me Wednesday- Holiday Viewing

Tis the season of rush and do, so for me and Roo we like to take time outs of snuggle and view nights. We love these nights and own a pile of movies that come out only for the month of December. Then we also watch the tv listings for some of our favorite TV movies. So what are we watching this holiday season and what do we recommend:

Roo’s List of Christmas Movies She Loves

Santa Clause 1,2, and 3( we own 1 and 2 and rented 3) for a marathon night of ppjs and popcorn and cuddle time

Home Alone

Polar Express ( on tv this year)

Miracle on 34th St(own)

Charlie Brown Christmas(tv)

Shrek the Halls(tv)-Roo laughed so hard at parts of this I thought she might have an accident!

Frosty the Snowman(tv)

Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer(tv)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town(tv)

These are all Roo approved and great kid watching!

Now for my favorites:

Mr. Kruger’s Christmas- a wonderful story

The Holiday-I can so relate to wanting to get away sometimes

White Christmas-after seeing the musical on stage I am looking forward to the movie again too

The Nativity Story-this is becoming a classic in our house for Christmas Eve

Its A Wonderful Life-gets watched on Christmas Afternoon here

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Elf- we watched this on Sunday, and laughed all through it!

So in this season of rushing why not stop and sit and watch a good movie to put you in the holiday spirit! What are you watching this holiday season? This list will work well for me and Roo this year! Now if you are looking for other works for me post go and visit Shannon.

Freebie Alert- Ebook of Poems for Scrappers

If you are a digital scrapbooker like me this will excite you. It is for a free ebook of poens that they are giving away as part of their countdown to Christmas.You put the item in your shopping cart and proceed to the checkout. You will NOT be asked for credit card info. After transaction is complete you can download your book on the last page.

But you must be quick because the offer expires today at Midnight EST! I have mine!

Go Here to shop for your free ebook! Thanks Computer Scrapbook!

Menu Monday- The Easy Week

This week with the holidays fast approaching it will be a very busy week. There is the school Christmas Concert and  2 holiday parties! This is the week that we are out of the house the most before Christmas so I wanted to keep this week’s menu easy and quick!

Monday-Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup with Veggies and rolls( this is already in the crock pot)

Tuesday- Breakfast for dinner- eggs, toast, bacon, mango slices

Wednesday- chicken nuggets and french fries, corn

Thursday- Cowboy Pasta( made with TVP and hamburger) and salad

COWBOY PASTA
1 1b. ground beef (or like me half meat and half TVP)
1 onion, chopped
1 can ( 14.5 oz) Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1 cup Salsa

Dried Basil
Worcestershire sauce to taste
1 pkg wagon wheel pasta

1/2 cup of grated cheese

1.Brown meat and combine TVP and onions and basil and sauce

2. Cook pasta to directions

3.Combine in oven safe pan, top with the grated cheese, cover pan

4. Cook for 30 minutes, uncover for the last 10 minutes for a crispy cheese top
 

Friday-eating out -Party #1- I am bringing veggies and dip

Saturday-eating out-Party#2-I am making Shortbread Meltaways

Shortbread Meltaways

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Skor(or other chocolate bar) bits

Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Stir half of dry ingredients into butter mixture. Stir in Skor bits and add remaining dry ingredients.

Roll into small balls. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on pan. Dust with more icing sugar (if desired).

Sunday-roast( bought on sale for $5.49), carrots, potatoes, onions( all done in one pan and cooked on low while at church)

Now you can all head over to my friend the Organizing Junkie  to see what is on everyone’s menu this week!

Shopping with Points in Canada

We are in the day and age where companies in an attempt to keep customers coming in the door have taken to point cards and cash back type offers.

I use these to benefit me! I collect airmiles and if you don’t I highly recommend them especially when you can use the Fresh or free guarantee and shop at Dominion . Collecting airmiles you can shop at many stores and you have one redemption place. I love there bonus offers and it makes collecting a snap.

I also shop at Zellers and the Bay so I do have their Club Z card. For me because of pricing it hardly gets used unless they have a really good sale on.

The one I do use the most is my Shoppers Optimum. I love the fact that you can go to the ATM machine and get bonus coupons right in the store! I often shop the loss leaders here. Today they had a bonus redemption day and I walked out of the store with $114 in goods and paid $14. I was able to get Roo a few Christmas gifts for the cost of the taxes.

At Canadian Tire you can collect Canadian Tire money. I have done this but my collection always goes to Roo at school where it is collected for a local charity.

If you are careful in how you collect and redeem your points you really can make out well. I know I have and I am loving redemption days! Usually it makes it so everything I buy at Shoppers I get for about 40% (by the time I figure in redemptions, and the like) off by combining points and coupons-that is why so much of my shopping is done there now.  

A Great Contesting Story

I haven’t blogged about this yet and really I wanted too! I wanted to wait though till cheques where out there. That happened last week. Now I can share the story of the school community here in Toronto that could and did win big for our school!

Back in August Please Mum hosted a contest. Parents could fill an online ballot and vote for their favorite school. The school by September 15th with the most ballots won, and10 parents across Canada would win too. Parents won $500 in a Gift Card for Please Mom which I am sure helped make a dent for several families and their back to school shopping.

When I first saw the contest it was post on the Frugal Shopper forum, I filled out my ballot and voted for my daughter’s school: RH McGregor here in Toronto. The more I thought about it I thought hey our school could use the money and we are always looking for an easy “fund raiser” so I sent off an email to the co-chairs of our school advisory and home and school committees. Well the home and school chair took it to her executive meeting that was happening the week before school started and ran with it. On the first Friday in amongst the hand outs was one telling of the contest. Parents basically had a week to get online and enter and enter they did! The parents all have a we can do attitude!

Well almost a month later our dear principal who really didn’t pay attention to all home and school was doing to enter this contest got a call from Please Mum, our school won! So how would he decide to spend an extra $5,000? He could choose from a huge dance party, books for the classroom, gym equipment, or art supplies. What would you of picked for your child’s school? I think he did well when he choose books. So our wonderful librarian now gets to shop for the classroom libraries.

Now the story of the contest win doesn’t end there. You see my daughter’s school is one with a great home and school organization that does have the ability and does raise thousands for the school. So a decision was made to help out another school locally who isn’t as lucky as we are right now. So another school is getting $1,000 to help with their libraries.

For me a mom I thought the win was great but what a great lesson to instill to the kids: when you are blessed, bless others!