Archive for Frugal Tips

Arm & Hammer™ Has Your Back For Spring Cleaning

Arm&Hammer

ArmHammer Arm & Hammer™ Has Your Back For Spring Cleaning 

Spring is finally here!  It’s been a long winter and as we move into spring it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with tasks to get our families and our homes ready for the warmer weather.  The makers of Arm & Hammer™  would like to help make the whole process easier on you with these tips for getting everything from your kitchen, to your laundry, to your patio sparkling clean, all while saving you money!

Make a list – Start by listing out every room of your house, without forgetting places like the utility room, laundry room, garage and closets. Then, think about cleaning tasks for each room. It’s satisfying to cross things off your list as you complete them.

Work from the top down, inside to outside, to make sure you don’t get what you just cleaned dirty again.

For clothes, do your washing in cold water. Using a detergent specially formulated for use in cold water like ARM & HAMMER™ Coldwater Laundry Detergent, not only gets out dirt and odours in low temperatures, but saves you money on your energy bill at the same time, compared to using hot water. At busy times like this when you’re likely doing multiple loads, it can make a big difference.

Clean one room, or even one area of one room, at a time to avoid unfinished jobs. The satisfaction of seeing one room sparkle will make the hard work feel like it’s worth the effort.

One of the most powerful and effective kitchen cleaners available today can already be found in most Canadian households.  Did you know that baking soda has more than 101 uses around the home and is inexpensive and can be used safely around the whole family? Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

o   Keep your fridge smelling fresh all season long with odour-eliminating products such as ARM & HAMMER™ Fridge Fresh™.  For best results, replace every three months. Helpful hint: change with the change of the seasons – like right now for spring! Baking Soda helps eliminate strong odours in both the fridge and freezer to help foods taste fresher longer.

o   Instead of harsh chemical cleaners, use baking soda as natural and food-safe surface cleanser on your kitchen counters. Sprinkle it onto a damp sponge or cloth to wipe surfaces clean.

o   To restore the shine in your sterling and silver plate serving pieces, make a baking soda paste with 3 parts ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda to 1 part water.  Rub onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge till tarnish disappears.  Rinse thoroughly and dry for a sparkling clean shine.

o   Before you pull out your patio furniture for the season, give it a thorough cleaning with baking soda. You can also keep your outdoor furniture fresh by sprinkling a little baking soda underneath cushions or inside the storage bag.

Last but not least, start early! When it’s cold and dreary outside, it’s the perfect time to get those spring cleaning chores done. Then, when the sun beckons from outside, you’ll be ready to jump right into spring, guilt-free!

Do you have any tried and tested spring cleaning tricks?  Tell us!

 

Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

TipsForEatingHealthy

TipsForEatingHealthy 1024x680 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

If you’re like most people today, a good portion of your monthly budget goes towards purchasing food. There’s no shortage of options; from creating meals from scratch, purchasing ready-made meals from the market, eating out at restaurants, or hitting the drive thru window there are associated costs, both physical and financial involved. If you’re looking to eat better while still keeping your budget on a diet here are five ways to do both. I have been definitely trying to get healthy on a budget.

1)      Meal Plan.

How can you be sure you’re staying on track with your eating and your budget? By making a plan! Everyone can use a road map to help them be successful. Meal planning is a must for anyone who wants to eat better and watch their spending. Some people choose to only plan dinners, while others map out each meal and snack. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. You’ll be sure to purchase only the food you need – or to plan your meals better based on the budget you have available. When I am meal planning I use my Flipp app to make my list. 

2)      Get in Your Kitchen!

You’ve heard it before, but one of the best ways to save money while eating healthy is to get in the kitchen and make the food you’ll be eating. Don’t rely on processed foods for your family meals. This allows you to control the ingredients that are being used and whole ingredients are less expensive than purchasing meals. The trade-off is that it will take some of your time – but probably not as much as you think. Keep your meal options simple, use fresh whole ingredients.

3)      Eat in Season.

The price of strawberries in December is staggering. Today, thanks to a global marketplace, we’re fortunate to have access to almost all fruits and vegetables year round. The further your food has to travel the more expensive it will be. If you consciously make an effort to choose produce selections that are in season you will see a major cost savings.

4)      Cut Back on Meat.

Meat is expensive to purchase, and if you want to buy free range or organic products you’ll see an even higher price tag. You don’t have to completely turn away from meat but cutting back on the amount used in recipes or swapping for a less expensive option can save you money while still enjoying the taste and health benefits found in meat. A swap example would be to choose a locally caught lake fish instead of an imported ocean fish. Just like produce, meat and fish also have seasons. Take some time to learn when your favorites are in season and stock up. Freezing meat for later is a great way to take advantage of sales.

5)      Look at grocery store alternatives.

One stop shopping is attractive for the convenience however it might not save you money. Seek out other sources for the items you enjoy. Some gas stations sell produce like onions, potatoes and bananas for a fraction of their grocery store competitors. Investing in a Good Food Box ( here in Toronto)  is another way to try out great, local produce. People pay a flat fee up front  then weekly or bi-weekly get a box of produce that has been harvested mostly locally. If the cost and amount of produce is too much for your family you can pair up with a friend to split a subscription. Have you checked out a local farmer’s market lately? 

These are just a few ways you can save money and eat better. What other tips do you have? Do you do any of these things already?  Join us on TuesdayApril 29th for the #cdnmoney chat from 7-8 pm EST. 

9 Tips for Organizing Your Fridge

Fridge_Organizing

Fridge Organizing Text1 9 Tips  for Organizing Your Fridge

With me trying to get healthy this year I have been learning how important being organized is.

One of the most often used areas in the kitchen is the refrigerator.  So, it makes sense to organize this space just like you would your pantry and cupboards. In this post, I’ll share 9 tips to better organize your refrigerator to best utilize the space you have.

Basic Arrangement

Start by grouping similar things together, such as lunch items, snack items, fruits, vegetables, dinner items, leftovers, and condiments. Put all of your cheese together, vegetables and fruits in crisper drawers and so on.

Use Adjustable Shelving

If your refrigerator has adjustable shelving, use this to your advantage and organize your refrigerator to your individual needs.  If you end up with one tall section and only a couple items in it, use stacking bins to take up the rest of the room so the full height and width of the shelf is utilized.

Lower Shelves

Often people use the bottom drawers for fruit and vegetables. These are typically the coldest part of the refrigerator, making them perfect for storing raw meat.  The drawer will catch any possible drips making cleanup easy. By lining the bottom of the drawer with paper towels, you can easily mop up any leakage and dispose of it.

Use the Door

Take full advantage of the shelves on the door.  Condiments usually fit great on the door, and if wide enough juice containers or juice boxes can fit neatly. You’ll want to take care not to make the items on the door shelves too heavy, or risk the shelf giving way and sending all your bottles to the floor.

Roll Out Caddy

It seems inevitable that you end up with lots of little things pushed deep to the back of the fridge. Instead consider a roll out caddy. This makes it easy to see what you have and makes everything easier to reach.  You can find inexpensive caddies that are made for cabinets but will work just as well in your refrigerator.

See Through Plastic Bins

Rather than unloading everything out onto the kitchen floor to find that packet of taco sauce or piece of cheese, keep small items grouped together in clear ‘see-thru’ bins. This will help you save time as you’ll be able to see what’s there at a glance.

Built In Egg Holder

Most refrigerators come with some sort of built in egg holder, whether it is a permanent part of the door or a tray that fits in the door shelf.  Put your eggs in the holder! This saves space (the egg carton you purchased your eggs in won’t be taking up space) and helps prevent broken eggs.

The Not-So-Lazy Susan

If you still have small items that won’t fit in your see through bins and are too small for the shelf, a turntable or lazy Susan might do the trick. Put a ‘Lazy Susan’ in an open space in the refrigerator and set the small bottles or jars on it. Now with one spin you can see everything without digging around.  You’ve also freed up that door space for taller, bulkier items.

Leftovers Storage Area

The dreaded box of leftovers wedged in the back corner with a layer of unidentifiable fuzz on top – we’ve all been there. Instead, designate one shelf or part of a shelf just for leftovers. Alternately consider freezing leftovers for a meal later on when you don’t want to cook. Use containers and you’ll easily see everything you have to eat.  The key to using leftovers is keeping them handy and visible.

Organizing your refrigerator will take some work to begin with. However, once it’s set up you’ll only need to spend a little time keeping things in order. Make sure you check your leftover bin every few days and review what you have on hand.

How to Be Frugally Formal

rent frock repeat

It is that time of year. We all have wedding invites, proms, special parties to attend and nothing to wear. So how can we be frugally formally dressed for all these important events and yet not break the bank. I know as a blogger I attend several conferences a year and several of them have parties that you dress up for. I also have nice outfits for those important holidays and then last year Rachel even needed a prom dress.

So how do we stay on budget and yet look good?

1. First we have a budget. Have you set a budget if you are going shopping for that one event and feel you need to shop?

2013 06 01 20.56.59 764x1024 How to Be Frugally Formal

2. Have classic pieces in your wardrobe. I have 2 nice dresses in my wardrobe. A simple black dress, and a sweet grey frock. When I get invited out or have celebration to attend these often come out of my closet. When you are shopping, think about when and where else could I possibly wear or use this item. Can you wear that dress to multiple events?

3. Think about your accessories.  New shoes, new jewelry, new handbag and you have a completely new look. Sometimes it is not a new dress or new suit that you need but new accessories. Again think about how these can be reused.

4. Swap. No longer use an item in your closet and you are looking for something new, attend a local clothing swap. Here in Toronto there are several that are open to  the public.

5. Check out your local thrift stores. Over the years I have found some very cool items, including my sweet black dress, some favorite accessories including shoes and a great clutch.

  1. 2013 10 04 14.11.52 764x1024 How to Be Frugally Formal

6. Rent your frock. If you are looking for a very special dress for a very special occasion you can always rent a dress. I did this last fall when I wanted something very special for the Blissdom Canada party. I rented my dress from Rent Frock Repeat ( a great Canadian company), that has a wide selection of dresses for every formal occasion.

 

Now on Tuesday April 22nd, for the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter @ChristaClips and I will be talking about being frugally formal with our special guests @RentFrockRepeat.

Rent Frock Repeat has even donated a prize for the chat~ $100 towards a dress rental.

Fill out this RSVP for the chat and at the end of the chat those who have participated in the chat using the hashtag between 7-8pm EST and have filled out the linky below will be eligible for the prize. (Open to Canadian residents only.)
 How to Be Frugally Formal

 

 

 

 

A Quick and Easy Easter Snack

pretzel_bunny1_mix[1]

This fun mixture is a quick and fun Easter snack.

 

Pretzel Bunnies and White Chocolate Snack Mix

pretzel bunny1 mix1 A Quick and Easy Easter Snack

 

Ingredients:

1 bag pretzel bunnies (Found at Target)

1 bag white chocolate pastel M&M candies

 

Directions:

Toss together the bunny-shaped pretzels and M&M candies.  Serve in a large bowl as a party mix, or package in individual bags for party favors or Easter basket treats or leave in a bowl on the coffee table to snack on as you watch your favorite movie.

The Spring Purge-Tips for Closet Cleaning

The Spring Purge

springpurge 1024x1024 The Spring Purge Tips for Closet Cleaning

If you are at all like me your closets are packed full and it is time to do a purge. For me it is definitely time to get closet cleaning. It’s time to pack away the heavy winter items and bring on spring, really we have had a long harsh winter it is time to get our closets in order to we have that favorite spring outfit at our finger tips.

So what to do first?

The Prep Work

Closet cleaning can be a major headache, it can be stressful. So get ready before you start that killer purge. Are you going to need new organizational items? a new storage container? hangers? shoe boxes? Be prepared is not just a motto, it is a great way to be ready for a good purge. Know what you need.

As well I know for me to keep me motivated while I work, music is solace for my soul. So I have on You Tube my favorite songs. I listen to these while I work.

With my music chosen, and my organizational tools at hand I am ready to attack my closet.

2014 04 14 16.03.551 768x1024 The Spring Purge Tips for Closet Cleaning

Dump It

When cleaning a closet and doing a real purge, get it all out. When you take everything out of the closet you can really see what you are working with. You can look at the space you have with new eyes. Really when you see how much stuff you have you might be surprised.

 

The Three Bag Rule

 

Got it all out of the closet? Now it is time to get sorting. You will want to have 3 bags for this portion of organizing. One for trash(stuff you want to throw on), one for donating and one for the things you want to make some money off of.

Once you start sorting you will find you have plenty for each of those 3 bags. If you have not touched an item for over a year does it really need to have a place in your closet?

 

Organize

Now that you have sorted things out, time to organize. I have a number of storage bins that I do use. I also have a hanging 3 basket organizer that hangs near the middle of my closet to keep all my scarves organized. If you need practical organizational items I always get mine at Walmart or Target ..Now it the time to put that closet back together.

2014 04 14 17.54.52 1024x576 The Spring Purge Tips for Closet Cleaning

 

What to do with you 3 Bags?

You should have 3 trips to make: one to the trash can, one to your local charity that takes donations, and one you have that you can make some money off of. What’s the best way to earn some cash with your gently used items? You could take them to a local clothing swap ( this one involves no cash transactions but you come home with items that are new to you), or a consignment store in your neighbourhood, or even try an online service like Trend Trunk.

With all the work done now it is time to celebrate, with that extra bit of cash why not by a special treat or put it towards savings.

We will be talking all about the spring purge on Tuesday night for the #cdnmoney chat. Join us from 7-8pm EST, and you could win a gift card to Trend Trunk. No RSVP needed.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Tips to Starting a Frugal Garden

scraps

A couple of weeks ago I attended Canada Blooms ( a great show here in Toronto that not only features gardening but the best in outdoor living). I came away inspired to garden. Now I live in a very urban area, no yard, no balcony. So for me I have to get creative in how I will garden. I am very thankful here in Toronto we have community gardens and did you know through some of the local food banks and organizations you can often find those who are willing to give you garden space for perhaps a wee bit of yard work? There are many ways to take up a gardening habit even in the big city if that is your desire.

Now for the starting the frugal garden some things I learned a long time ago from my mother and grandmothers who were and are avid gardeners:

1. Start small

verticalgarden 5 Tips to Starting a Frugal Garden

You do not need to have a huge garden, my mom’s current garden consists of planters on her porch these days which is a long cry from the acre garden I grew up with. At Canada Blooms I did see many examples of great ways you could create a garden with limited space. You could canister garden or even think vertically if you want to get creative.

2. Read and Learn

Never gardened? Don’t worry there are several ways to learn. There are gardening groups in every city that are rather friendly, as well I am thankful for Google teaching me a thing or two about gardening. I also have a Frugal Gardening board on Pinterest, that I pin articles that teach and inspire my gardening. Run a search on pinterest and I am sure you will find plenty of inspiration

3. Use Leftovers or Clippings to Start you Garden

scraps 5 Tips to Starting a Frugal Garden

Did you know you could use your food scraps to start your garden? How about clipping from one plant to start another? Both are great ways for the beginning gardener to get started on a budget. For fruits and veggies you can regrow: fennel, celery, garlic, leeeks, lettuce, pineapple and more.  There are many plants you can clip from as well. Often on sites like Freecycle you can find people who are will to share their clipping or gardening leftovers as well.

4. Be creative, Think Outside the Box

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to what materials you will use in your garden. That tire might make a perfect planter. The plastic jug that was going to get tossed into recycling could be used to save space in a large planter (keeping the costs of soil lower). Use things from around the house. One idea you know all those plastic knives you get when you order in, they make good stakes and garden indentifier, use a sharpie and label the knife with the plants name, saves money on garden stakes. What about using natural elements in your garden. Use the rocks, shells, twigs and other items you can think of.

5. Get your Materials for Free or Cheap

Grow simple fast growing plants. Start your own seedlings. Use sites like Freecycle or Facebook Groups to find free plants, seedlings and clippings that are being given away. In may in Toronto I often see people selling seedling for cheap at local garage sales even. For your decor think recycled and if you need to paint it. There are many ways to cut you costs and do it on the cheap.

What are some of the ways that you have created a frugal garden? Will you be gardening this summer, if so what are you planting?

Remember on April 8th from 7-8pm EST, you can join the #cdnmoney chat to talk frugal gardening with myself and Christa from ChristaClips.

 

Frugal Easter Ideas

Easter

Easter is around the corner and next to Christmas it has been the most celebrated holiday by my family. When I was young there was always a new outfit or two, some Avon, and a basket filled with goodies, and an egg hunt Easter morning followed by and egg filled brunch on a table decorated for spring. Later in the day there was always a traditional ham and scalloped potatoes dinner. Did you have any of these traditions at your house?

Easter Frugal Easter Ideas

 

Times have changed a bit, but Easter still is a very big time of celebration in many homes across the globe. So how do you save money at this time of year? How can you cut costs and be frugal? I saw many great ideas and suggestions as i hung out on Pinterest. Several of them I pinned to my  Easter Pinterest board.

How to Save on Decor

When decorating for Easter think about what you can reuse, or borrow from what you already have in the house. You could fill a mason jar with jellybeans and fake flowers from the dollar store. Or my friend Stacie came up with a very creative idea with Duct tape and a plastic container, use one as your spring or Easter vase.

ducktapevase11 zps06f098f9 Frugal Easter Ideas

 

Easter Crafts with Kids

I think most of us have made bunny ears at one time or another, they are a fast and easy craft. Another frugal idea is Easter Bunny Playdough Carrots. Several more great craft ideas can be found on my Pinterest page from coloring pages, free printables, painting with eggs to egg sculptures the ideas are flowing.

bunny Frugal Easter Ideas

 

How to Save on the Easter Baskets

First of all in our house we recycle the Easter baskets from one year to the next when we can. Some years I have made things to go into my daughter’s basket..such as bubbles, which is super easy to do and you can even make the blowers in many shapes and sizes. I have also hit the dollar store for simple easy gift ideas. At Dollorama this year they have Webkinz bunnies for $3 ( a value in my mind, as my daughter used to love playing with hers for hours online). We often have bought things like nail polish, hair bands, and nail files for my daughter’s basket. For boys some great dollar store finds include small bouncing balls and jacks or marbles.

Buying candy for the basket if you shopped early enough you could of gotten Valentine’s Day candy on sale..we love checking out the Lindt outlet store here in the GTA. Another way to save on the candy costs are making some of your own.

Saving on that Big Meal

Whether you are serving brunch or a big Easter dinner there are lots of ways to save at meal time. First of all when grocery shopping remember to use your  app to save and price match your shopping list. In our family we often make each person responsible for one thing. Potlucks are a great way of saving.

What are some of the other ways you save at Easter? Let me know in the comments.

 

 

 

Peace of Mind

retirement home Peace of Mind

The responsibility for older loved ones is a big deal. Whether it is caring for them directly or helping them make decisions. Not only is their physical wellbeing in the front of your mind but also their emotional and financial care as well. Staying in their own home as long as possible is great for keeping a sense of independence.

Often there comes a time when being independent is no longer possible. It is a tough decision to make or advise someone about. The need for continuous specialized care has become more than friends and family can provide. Leaving decisions like this to the last moment can make things worse in rush to get the care someone needs.

The responsibility for finding the right fit in a care home is not something the take lightly. It is more than just the money. Making sure they have the care and comfort is as important as the financial. This is going to be a new home for a loved one.

It is good to get help and advice for big decisions like this. Check in with friends for recommendations. When someone you know has recommended Abingdon care homes or found the staff to be exceptional it is more assuring than picking up a glossy brochure. The tour staff will always have good things to say so it is important to look for other sources.

Some people may not want to talk about their experience with care homes because it can be a sensitive subject. Online has plenty of feedback on what people experience at different homes. The internet search is always with a wary eye to filter reasonable from unnecessary opinions. It can also be a great place to start for putting together the right questions to ask before looking at possible homes.

Tough Decisions

retirement

retirement Tough Decisions

It happens sometimes. You have to make a tough decision. It might be for yourself or for someone you love but the decision must be made.  You worry about the options. You worry about what will be for the best in the long run. That is exactly what it feels like if you are faced with choosing a residential care home.

Making decisions for yourself can feel easier because you will live with the consequences. To decide for a family member or friend feels harder because you want to get it right. The move to a residential care home is usually accompanied by some loss. Loss of mobility, loss of freedom or something worse like the loss of mind.

Choosing for someone who has become vulnerable is difficult. You want the best for them. You want them to be well looked after. You want to be responsible with their money. It is not easy.

Tough decisions are made easier when you can separate out what is important from what is just bells and whistles. There are things that are necessary to consider. The level of care or treatments needed. What can be afforded. A location near people that love them. Maybe even the fact that happy hour happens everyday. Yellow versus green walls is probably not something to worry about unless yellow will make you angry.

When looking around at different properties it is a good idea to keep in mind that the very helpful staff are sales people. They aren’t used car salespersons but they are still trying to sell you something. Like any big purchase, this decision is best made away from the sales people. Get some objective information. Look for reviews about the different homes. Looking for information online will quickly show if there have been any issues and which homes have rave reviews and fans.