Archive for Frugal Tips

#CommonCents Ways to Save: Day1-Menu Planning

Commoncents-Day1

Commoncents-Day1

Over the years one of the easiest ways for me to save money each and every week was to menu plan. For me menu planning makes common sense. Have you ever menu planned? do you do it now? For years I was a regular weekly menu planner but then I  got busy and well I often found myself  simply designing a meal last minute from whatever was in the house. This is not always the best bet especially if you are trying to eat a healthy well balanced diet. So what am I doing now? How can one use menu planning to help them save money?

Why menu plan?

Most of us are last minute meal planners and I can’t tell you how many nights I turned to my phone and ordered in simply because I didn’t like what was in the house. By knowing what is ahead you save money on ordering in, make less trips to the grocery store and you actually eat healthier meals. For me that is a win.

How to menu plan?

For me I start with taking a quick look at my favorite Pinterest boards, my cookbooks, and my Flipp app ( it is a great app that puts all my flyers on my mobile device), I clipp what I want to cook that week, grabbing the best deals I can on fresh and frozen items. I do also check my Checkout 51 app and my Zweet app to see which coupons are available as well that week.

I also make sure I check my fridge and cupboards to see what I still have on hand and what items I may need to add to my shopping list. This way I both make sure the leftovers get used up and that I am not missing any ingredients when it comes time to make my dish.

Now in the store if I do spot a really great deal, I can sometimes substitute for a more expensive item on my list. Got to love a great managers special just make sure you aren’t over buying.

After you get home, have your meals planned post it to your fridge, that way you are always ready.

By menu planning you cut your overall food costs and often you eat much better. Let me know do you menu plan?

If you need more tips or want to read some great blogs that participate in Menu Monday head over to my friend Laura’s blog. She has been hosting a great Menu Monday round up for years now.

 

 

A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

Through out the month of February, I am bringing back a 4 week blog series on how to save on absolute everything. It is all about finding and using common sense to save more money each week, each day in simple ways so we can  live richer lives while not breaking the bank. I will be using the hash tag #commoncents to share all the tips and tricks this month. It is a special 28 days series so you will want to come back to check out new tips that go live every morning.

Some of the topics I will be covering include:

  • Menu planning
  • The Right Money Attitude
  • Bulk Cooking
  • Transportation
  • Using Tech to Save
  • Tackling Wardrobe Costs
  • Entertaining on a Budget
  • Extreme Couponing Canadian Style ( I will have some tips for my US friends as well)
  • The Shopping List
  • Cutting Cable Costs
  • Making Homemade cleaners
  • Saving Money on Romance
  • How to save Money for Valentine’s Day
  • Wants vs Needs
  • Saving Money on Banking fees
  • Group Buying: Yeah or Nay
  • Using Social Media to Save
  • Educational Spending
  • Saving Money on Your Health
  • Learning to Say No

These are just some of the topics I will cover over the next 4 weeks as well as some surprises I have in store. Join me on this journey and lets see how we can save more so we can have rich lives while spending less.

Have a topic you want me to cover let me know.Leave me a comment.  Have ideas of what else works your comments and insight are always welcome.

7 Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

One of the goals I am working on this year is continuing to work on being a healthier me, the lifestyle changes continue. One of the things I am working on the most is eating better, making better food choices. I even gave up Diet Coke, which was a struggle, believe me.

So how can I eat healthier on my limited budget:

Eat Real Food

Trust me I was eating way too much processed food, even if it has a healthy label it is often better to eat the real thing. Guess what? The real food is cheaper, and another thing to note you can even price match real food on sale making sure you get the best deal.

So avoid the boxes and prepared stuff and you are well on your way to really eating healthier.

Buy Proteins on Sale

I like to stock up my small freezer especially when I spot a sale. We stock eggs, chicken, tuna, ground turkey and even ground beef. I also have a thing for game meat and love when I can find some bison.

Buy Frozen Fruit and Veggies Especially Off Season

You can often get these at half the cost of fresh especially off season and guess what by choosing frozen you are making the healthier choice. They are healthier because when packed right after being picked they are full of nutrients. Yeah!

Visit Your Farmers Market

I have been getting some great deals at my local farmers market, now it is not always the cheapest but I have been able to find some great organics and at the end of the day they sometimes even drop the price so they do not have to take things back.

Use Technology in Your Favour

We all know I love to price match if you are a regular reader of my blog. Did you know you can even price match on things like apples and meat? Apps like Flipp let you do just that. If you also use Checkout 51 you can check for additional sale items that can leave money in your wallet and that makes sense.

Drink Water

Since January 1st, I have had Diet Coke twice. For me that is a huge win right there! Now I find myself actually drinking water. I bought a Brita Water pitcher and it filters my tap water which is a good thing. It’s cheaper than bottled water and soda. When I crave the carbonation I use my Soda Stream to carbonate the water, and I add lemon or line or both to my glass just for taste.

Be Prepared

One of the things that has me ordering in, or turning to fast food or processed meals is not being prepared, when I menu plan I am better prepared for everything meaning I eat better healthier meals. Menu planning is part of it and it needs to be done to keep me on course.

What about you what tips and tricks help you eat healthy on a budget? How did you transition to eating healthier?

 

 

 

How to Price Match in Canada

How to Price Match in Canada

How to Price Match in Canada

 

 

 

Last week I was talking with a girlfriend about how to save money. She was all excited as she had downloaded the Flipp app but wasn’t sure how it could really save her time and money. I thought everyone knew about price matching. Here she loved being able to grab the flyers on her phone but she wasn’t getting the best value for her dollar so I told her I would do a complete guide to Price Matching in Canada. Now if many of you are like my girlfriend who really does want to save more time and money this year, this is one simple way to do so.

So How Do You Price Match in Canada? 

 How do You Define Price Matching?

 A definition- When  a retail store agrees to match a lower advertised price from a rival store and sells you the same product for the lower price, that’s the simple definition of price matching.

Many retail stores have couponing and price matching polices and guarantees. It is all about adding value for you the customer. Get to know your favorite stores price matching policies.

Price matching policies often don’t just apply to items you are going to purchase, they can actually apply to items you’ve paid for recently. Cool, right?

Example 1: I just bought a dress from retail store A.. I walk into retail store B, see the exact dress (brand name dress and bar code are the same). I can then check and see if it is advertised, if it is, I can return for a refund of the difference.

Example 2: I just bought a new tv at my favorite retailer and they lower there own price with a set amount of time (normally 14 days), you can request a refund of the difference.

If you check your flyers using an APP like Flipp you can really keep track of your favorite retail stores prices.

There are Different Types Of Price Matching Policies

Every retail store has a different price matching policy. The stores I frequent are Walmart, Target and No Frills. I have also price matched at Future Shop and Canadian Tire, but there are many more retailers that have a price matching policy. Check out your favorite store’s policy. Many of them can be found on the store’s website.

The Simple Price Match

The simplest  price match means a retail store which match the price you can receive the same price advertised from another store. For example Target’s Price Match Guarantee states that they will match a lower price if a customer finds the exact same item for less in a current and locally printed flyer.

Example A: I see an item price at 25.00 at a Canadian retail store in their flyer, I can clip it on my Flipp app (yes, Target is one of the Canadian retail stores that allow apps to be used when price matching), and then show that clipping at cash register at the store. Because I am also a  Target Red Card holder, I save another 5% on top of that as well. Now if I happen to have a coupon for the said item I can also use that as well, further reducing my costs.

The Beat By a Percentage Price Match

1. Another way retail stores price match is by beating the price by a percentage of the difference, usually 10% and that can rack up on big ticket items. For example, Best Buy’s Lowest Price Guarantee guarantees that they will not only match the price but beat it by 10% of the difference.

Example: I find an item I want to buy advertised in a flyer for $450.00 that sells at Best Buy for $500.00. I would not only be price matched at the $450 but be given an additional discount of 10% of the difference. Making me save more, in this example since the difference is $50.00 we would get (50.00×0.10)=$5.00 so we pay $445.00

2.You will find a lot less policies like Home Depot’s Price Guarantee specifies that they’ll beat a competitor’s lower price by an additional 10%.

Example: If an item sells for $500.00 and you find it advertised for $450.00 at another retail store then you get a an additional 10% off the lower price. So instead of paying $450.00 we will pay (450.00 x0.10)=$45.00.  so we pay $405.00

Price Match With Rewards

Some retail stores like Canadian Tire want you to be a loyal customer so they  choose to match lower prices and  offer loyalty reward incentives. Canadian Tire’s Price Match Guarantee notes that they will match competitor pricing and give 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire money. Canadian Tire money can be used to purchase other items in their store. It is their loyal reward program.

So all of this sounds easy peasy, right? Well sometimes it isn’t. So how can you make life easier for your self.

How to Have the Best Price Matching Experience

 

First things first, make sure the items you are trying to price match are identical. They must be the same. This is the first rule of thumb. Barcodes, model numbers, quantity, size of packaging all must match.

Some retailers make you bring in the advertised flyer, others will gladly accept a clipping from an app like Flipp. Know your favorite retailer’s policy.

Sometimes even the cashier does not know the store policy, so if I ever have an issue at a retailer I print out the store policy and have it with me.

At the store it is normally fairly simply.

Let the cashier know that you would like to match a competitor’s lower price. Have your price matches ready. I do this by opening my flipp app or having my flyer in hand.

Show the cashier or app or flyer. Remember they can always check any price match so be aware some cashiers will or they might be new and not know their own store policy. I have found kindness works in these situations.

Once you have shown your cashier they match. With Flipp it means tapping your clipping so it goes back to the retail flyer so they can verify an active ad then you have completed a price match. Time to Celebrate!

What if they say NO? Ask why?

I actually ran into this on Black Friday and found a clause in the store policy that exempted days like Black Friday and Boxing Day. If you think they should be matching it ask for a store manager. Show them their policy or ask to see theirs if you have not printed one off. If speaking to the manager doesn’t work I have even called a head office while in store.

Sometimes You Can’t Price Match

Remember this simple rules, if you don’t you simply can’t price match.

  • Products must be identical in brand, size, weight, colour quantity and model number.
  • Product must be in stock
  • A  copy of the competitor’s flyer or ad must be provided. Some stores do not accept photocopies or flyers printed from online others do not, check the policy.
  • Some retailers accept price matches from across the country, others do not.

There are often Exclusions.  Some normal ones:

  • Online prices can not often be matched
  • Goods from a store like Costco that requires a paid membership.
  • Clearance Sales
  • Limited Time Sales like in Boxing Day.
  • Display merchandise.
  • Bid pricing or volume discounts.
  • Item cannot be combined with any other offer.

I have learned over the years that price matching can save me time and money. No more long lines at stores that have that one great deal when I can walk to a local store that offers a great price matching policy and has the same item in stock. Over the years I have saved thousands of dollars and been able to stretch my budget especially my grocery budget by price matching on a regular basis.

What stores have price matching policies?

These are just a few I found online. These are in alphabetical order.

There are also many other ways to save money besides price matching. Want to save more at the grocery store try couponing, use apps like Check Out 51, Zweet and Changio to save more and always watch for for opportunities to use SCOP (Scanning Code of Practice here in Canada). Overall, once you have experienced your first price match and see how easy it is you will kick yourself for not starting sooner.

* this is not a sponsored post, however, I am the Community Manager for the Flipp App. This post gets me no monetary gain, just wanted to share some great info.

 

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How to Be Happy on a Budget

Happy on a Budget

Happy on a Budget

 

Recently I have been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which got me thinking about money and budgeting and happiness. I also just wanted the documentary Happy on Netflix. So happiness has been on my mind. Really there are so many ways to have peace,joy and yes even happiness on a budget. Money has never bought happiness and it never well So how can we be happy on a budget?

First we really do need to remember that Money does not buy happiness. You can not buy the things that bring happiness in the long run.

So what can you do today to be happier on a budget?

Count your Blessings

Gratitude is a very powerful thing. Once we get grateful we tend to see things more clearly. We tend to be thankful for what we have been blessed with even on the days when that is very little. I remember in the days and weeks after the fire, first and foremost I realized how insignificant  things were. My daughter and I were safe, I was happy with that.

Friendship is Important

Friends on the journey that is life makes everything ok. Make time for friends, enjoy each others company. We can all get caught up in the grind of the day, but when you stop for a moment and simply get caught up it makes you smile, it makes you laugh and sometimes it even makes you cry. But all the time my friends have brought the greatest joy into my life. If you have just moved, if you find yourself lacking friends, step outside yourself and go and get to know some new people and remember friendships take time to cultivate.

Serve Others

Some of my happiest moments are when I am giving to others. Helping others over the years has taught me many lessons. It has taught me that even when I have been struggling I have something I can contribute. When we serve others even in simple ways it brings joy not only to them but to ourselves. Serving others rarely costs you anything but time and a smile.

Take time to Laugh

My father taught me one of life’s big lessons, how important laughter is. There were very few days in his life that he did not share a joke or a smile. He loved to tease and laugh. My father was not a rich man in the material sense but he was very rich in the happiness that existed in his life.

Worship

I know not all my readers believe in God, but for me I have found prayer and even hearing the words of Allah (God) bring a peace and joy and real happiness to my life. Getting together often inside a faith community often brings contentment, peace, joy and even happiness.

Learn Something New

I have always loved to learn new things and over the years have had several hobbies from photography, to reading, to learning new skills including how to even set up a blog. Learning something new always brings a smile to my face. It’s like getting a light bulb moment on demand.

I have learned I do not need much money wise to be happy. I have learned that peace, joy contentment and happiness are a matter of a thankful heart that is reaching out where and when they can and taking time to enjoy and laugh with those I care about. What about you what brings you happiness?

 

 

 

 

Holiday Prep 201-Tech that can Help Your Holidays

Holiday Prep 201

Holiday Prep 201Tis the season and last week for the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter we were talking Holiday prep. Whther it is Christmas, Hannukah, or some other major holiday with it always comes lots of prep, from the budgeting, to the list making, to the shopping, to the travel there is always lots to do.

So how do we get it all done today? I know for me my tech gadgets and gizmos and apps keep me sane? I work off both Android and iOS operating devices. We have an ipad mini, a Samsung tablet, and a Samsung phone and an iphone in the house so I think that leaves us open to having the gadgets we need to help make this the most organized cost efficient holiday season.

So how do I use my gadgets and gizmos to help me this season?

I load them with apps that serve a purpose.

For list making and receipt keeping I use Evernote. Evernote I find to be a wonderful organizational app.

To keep me on budget I use Mint to track my budgeting, and spending.

To price check and find the deals that save me time and money at the grocery store of course I use my Flipp app. I have shared it here on my blog several times.

To find my car, there is Find my Car. Who hasn’t forgotten where there car is in an overcrowded parking lot.

Making a Road trip to visit family at this time of the year, Gas Buddy is definitely a friend telling you where you can get the best prices.

Have kids? Then you will also want to have a great Santa Tracker on your device as well, after all we have to keep track of Santa, don’t we.

Best thing about all these apps, they are free.

Do you have favorite apps that are making your holiday season easier? Join my friend Christa and me for the #cdnmoney chat on Tuesday, December 09th to talk the tech that makes the holidays easier this season. We will be on Twitter with the hashtag #cdnmoney. This is our last chat of 2014.

Becoming the Christmas Shopping Ninja

shopping all done

Twas weeks before Christmas and this girl is almost done shopping. Why? I became a Canadian Black Friday shopping ninja. Yes, I was that mom up super early to get in line to get a free $50 gift card at Yorkdale and shopped till I dropped.

black friday waiting

Really when it comes to holiday shopping I am learning it is all about the prep, the planning and shopping early. My teenage daughter gave me a list. There were 5 items she really wants. None were all that expensive, but then as I flyer shopped, I got an email from Danier and one of the thing my teen wanted, dreamed of was a fur trimmed leather coat. She was told by me she can buy her own leather coat when she becomes an adult- I saw it as a non necessity, but when I got this email with a price under $100 for a Black Friday special, I got excited and I knew this would be my first stop.

What did I do to be a holiday shopping ninja?

Fist step was check out the flyers as normal, I always use my Flipp App to do that.

Second, I made and list and checked it twice. I knew what I wanted to buy, this wasn’t a browsing trip. I was prepared.

I even mapped out where the stores were in the mall and knew of any special promos like the first 100 at the doors of Hudson Bay got a $20 gift card. I also knew where I wanted to be at 7 am when the doors opened..for me it was about being at Danier and getting my teen what she had only been talking about for 2 years! A leather fur trimmed jacket.

I got to the mall at 3 am, fueled with drink and snacks to last me till opening time, at 5 am we were to get wristbands–this actually happened closer to 5:30 am. Then Breakfast Television was on site so we would not be able to actually pick up our gift cards till the first segment was done at 6:45.

By 7 am I was a the doors to Danier where there was a small crowd waiting to get into the store, I headed straight for the rack where the jacket my teen wanted was on, found her size(the only one in the store), got it, and picked myself up a pair of leather gloves that were on sale for $29.

From there I headed to The Bay to find the Sorrel boots that were on sale, but there was a flyer and stock issue and they had none. I headed to my next stop The Source where I got a Samsung blue ray dvd player to go along with my new tv, then headed to Old Navy to checkout the 50% off everything in the store sale. I did pick up a few items and then headed to Chapters Indigo to pick up some reads that were on sale, along with a few other items.

Also knowing the services available at the mall helped me to have such a successful shop. The Avion Holiday Boutique was the perfect place to check my coat and parcels as I shopped and I even got gifts warpped after all was bought. Really they are the prettiest gifts under the tree. I especially loved the porter service when it was time to take all those parcels to the car. That itself was a lifesaver.

shopping all done

I managed to spend $350 including the gift card and came home with $860 in great gifts for the holiday season. I now have over 80% of my holiday shopping done and can really declare myself a shopping ninja.

 

Let’s Celebrate Flipp’s First Birthday #celebrateflipp

fb-1year-flipp

My absolute favorite money saving app is having a birthday. It’s hard to believe that Flipp has only been saving people money and time for a year, but what a great year it has been. So, let’s celebrate Flipp and it’s birthday with a blow out Twitter Party.

2014-08-05 11.04.44

 

 

 

Never heard of Flipp?

Flipp is an app that is saving people money and time on every shopping trip. I first wrote about the app last year as we helped them launch during the #cdnmoney chat.

How?

Flipp brings all your flyers to your smartphone and with an easy to use search function you can find sales, and price match with a few simple swipes.

How will we celebrate?

fb-1year-flipp

Marc Saltzman is known for talking tech and he will join the conversation on Twitter as Flipp’s special guest about tech for the holidays.

Have you used Flipp in the last year then this is the party for you. You can even win an iPad mini or a $100 gift card from Flipp. Also joining me as we host @Marc_Saltzman will be @mommykatandkids who was a moderator for that first party and @simplystacie who also loves Flipp.

* I am the Flipp Community Manager, but how did that happen? I fell in love with Flipp it’s first week out and have been a Flipp ambassador ever since..I genuinely love helping others save money and time each time they reach for their app.

 

Here is How I Save More thanks to #TargetREDcard

targetREDcard

target-redcard-debit-card

 

 

After living in the USA for several years, I was so excited that Target was finally come to Canada and was honored to be even invited to the Grand Opening of their first Canadian store. My daughter, Rachel is even is the opening night video with celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker. That first night I noticed a sign for the Target RedREdcard. I loved that it not only had a credit option but a debit option as well that would allow me to save even more every time I shop at Target Canada. Here is how I save more month after month  thanks to the Target REDcard.

I applied for the Target Redcard online. It was easy to apply for. After spending 5 minutes online and choosing the debit card option, I simply waited for my card to arrive. It didn’t take long to arrive, and after it did I simply use it to pay for my purchases month after month since last spring.

Every time I shop at Target Canada do I not only pay using my Target REDcard saving myself 5%, but I price match, stack coupons and watch for sales. Think of it as stacking savings, it is easy to do with Target Canada.

targetREDcard

So last year when I did that huge Christmas shop at Target Canada, I saved. When a new store opened just blocks from my house this spring it became a weekly stop as I could price match easily with Flipp ( and when I had coupons it was just bonus). Rachel’s back to school shop was done at Target and so was our Halloween shop, and we saved on it all. Every single time I saved that extra 5%.

Now some important facts to know as you decide if you want a Target REDCard:

* Target REDcard offers the option of a credit card OR a debit card! You do not need to apply for another credit card, something this frugal mom is very happy about.

* The Target REDcard connects to any existing Canadian bank account. It works just like your debit card would at the cash register.

* As soon as you go to pay by swiping your card on the machine, the 5% comes off your bill. Sweet, right?

Now, don’t have a Target REDcard? New Target REDcards get a one time coupon for an additional 5% off if you sign up for the card before November 10th, 2014. Nice! It’s the perfect time to start saving more each time you shop at Target.

Target-Canada-coupon-1024x460 (1)

Now if you want to smile even more this weekend Target is doing even more! Everyone can print off this 10% off coupon for October 25th-26th, 2014. Just print off your coupon and you can shop and save! Remember to stack those savings, and price match!

So where could you spend that money you save? Perhaps you might want to invest it in a sweet vacation account like I am. Hope you get a chance to save this weekend. Have to say this I am glad that Target Canada has arrived in my neighborhood.

Disclosure:  This post was sponsored by Target Canada and Shes Influential.  All opinions are strictly my own.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Keep your Important Files Safe Online without Breaking the Bank

files-and-folders

files-and-folders
Cost and quality are the two variables that change most when procuring business services. You can often secure a low-cost, low-quality solution or a high-cost, high-quality solution. Finding that low-cost, high-quality solution is near impossible. The same is true with online storage solutions. This article will outline some of the strategies to cut down on costs while still implementing a high-quality online storage solution.

You’re Already Saving

If you’re on the cloud, the chances are that you’re already saving money. A 2012 report found that cloud adoption could lower operating costs by a quarter and capital expenditure by half. The significant savings are in the reduction of onsite server systems and the corresponding maintenance.

Identifying Security

Finding a low-cost cloud provider is easy. What’s more difficult is finding a low-cost provider that takes security and privacy seriously. A simple indicator of a provider’s commitment to privacy and security is whether they meet the global standards. At a minimum, ask to see your provider’s certification for ISO 27001 and ISO 27002. These two standards certify that the provider is implementing best practice controls and data centre security. If this is of the utmost importance, there are providers like Your Digital File that put significant focus on security, incorporating encryption, digital signatures and other innovative features into the platform.

Fully Explore the Fee Structure

A lot of vendors compete by advertising really low costs per gigabyte of storage. Don’t base you decision on this figure alone. There can be other costs and charges, usually hidden as fees. These fees can cover anything – the license, uploading, downloading, account enquiries or even billing. Ensure you read through the contract to identify every cost. In most locations, the provider is legally required to provide an estimated overall cost if requested, which must take all the fees and charges into account.

Only Pay for Storage you Use

How much storage are you paying for with your plan? Have you ever looked to see how much of that allocation you actually use? A recent review of Microsoft’s cloud platform found that only 1% of users had exceeded or even come close to reaching their storage limits. If you’re in the 99% of users who are paying for storage capabilities they don’t use, consider whether you can scale down to save some money. Many providers are very flexible with their plans and can scale the storage capacity up or down depending on your needs.

Consider Partitioning Data

You will have some files and data that should be kept in the highest security setting possible. But do all your administration and process documents need to be stored in the same high-cost, high-security environment? To reduce costs, partition your data based on its risk profile and store it accordingly. Your low-risk process and administration documents could be stored in a low or no-cost platform. High-risk, confidential data should be stored in a more-expensive cloud platform that offers multiple security features, such as encryption and digital signatures.

A highly secure, reliable cloud storage platform doesn’t need to take up a large portion of your IT budget. Keep these tips in mind and shop around to implement a low-cost, highly effective solution.

What’s the biggest cost with your online storage solution? Have you employed any strategies to reduce the costs? Share your experiences in the comments section below.