Planning for the Future

I have been thinking alot lately about the future I want and dream about for my daughter and I. I have decided that as she enters junior high and high school I don’t want her here in the city. It is very expensive to live here especially doing it on $1200 a month.  So where do we go, I am investigating several possibilities.

While doing this I am trying to also make sure I am prepared for whatever the future might hold. I am doing my will, and learning all I can about fiances here in Canada. There is FREE help out there for us Cannucks. The Canadian Financial Security Program offers free downloadable books that can help us achieve our goals whatever they are. There is the Will Preparation Kit, Shopping for Life Insurance, Starting a Home Business and Investing Wisely. Why not take a read? For us cheapies out there knowledge equals power and the ability to do more while being prepared.

Getting Dental Work Done the Cheap Way.

Well today I am off for to the dentist. Since mid December I have been in dental pain and too chicken to go to the dentist. First here in Toronto there aren’t many dentists who will take an Ontario Works client. When you are poor and live in the city it is harder to access dental care at least it is here in Canada. But luckily I found one who will do the emergency treatment that I need. But for the long run she was telling about some programs that are here. Since then I have found that many major cities across Canada and even North America have options similar to this. So why not take care of your mouth?  For a long time for me it was a fear factor. Don’t know why or where it began but I feared the dentist.

So where to go here in the city first to get my teeth cleaned there are several options George Brown offers free cleaning, as do many other private colleges here in the city that train dental hygienists. So no more excuses for teeth not being cleaned, you do however have to be available for about 5 appointments.  For things like needed fillings, root canals and like there is the University of Toronto and there is a cost. The cost is 1/3 what you would have to pay at a dentist’s office.   In Hamilton they have the Dental Bus for emergencies and a local dental hygenie college so i do remember what is there.

So after many years of hating my mouth it is time that I attack the issues of poor dental care. If you are anything like me you can do it too just search out your local programs.

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!

Toronto Life and Cheap Finds

Living in the big city there are so many ways to save and find things on the cheap. We have a local magazine called Toronto Life that celebrates all things To and in this month’s magazine there is an article on Good Stuff Cheap, but they aren’t cheap. They are merely good deals for those with decent pocket books.

Now for really going cheap ( well actually frugal) in this city read what I have to say instead of the magazine. As a mom living on less here in the city there is much you can do to do almost everything on a way that keeps your money where it belongs in your wallet.

So first for clothing finds: I love Value Village ( the ones at Danforth and Woodbine and the one on Queen Street both have great selections-thanks to good donors from the Beaches)! I have found so many great finds here. Designers even with tags attached for under $15. My beautiful leather purse that gets lots of compliments was $3.99.For Roo I also love Ages and Stages on the Danforth. It is a great small consignment shop that does a brisk business. This week I saw a wonderful in new condition Gap winter coat for $18. 50

 If you have to have new we have so many warehouse sales through the year by almost every company, the Toronto Star always lists these every week. As well I shop the end of the season this way I can get what I want and well save some. I also try and buy mostly classics but have one or two funky for fun days items in my closet.

For furniture: Yes I dumpster dive, well not actually dive but I have picked up pieces that others are throwing out, as well here again Value Village comes in handy, but so do garage sales and Craigslist and freecycle. I can get any piece of furniture that I need here in this city for under $100, and it be a good piece not the stuff sold at Walmart. Roo’s cast iron day bed cost me $100 in like new condition with mattress. Her dresser was a freebie, as was my leather love-seat from the 60’s. Can you say our place is vintage!

Once you get to know neighbourhoods here in Toronto you can do anything and everything on the real cheap. As for you who live in other cities well all these skills and transferable to where you live.

Works for Me Wednesday Part 2-Fix It!

Shannon wanted us to post this week what we FIX it a hurry for dinner. You know those days when you are too tired to follow that menu you planned on Monday..well since I try real hard to stick to the menu so I can stay on budget..I wasn’t sure what to put but there are days when I do change things up….so what does this cheap mom do?

Okay once a week in my house is breakfast for dinner anyways so often I will swap days with another, if I have already does breakfast for dinner. Then it is leftovers, and if that don’t work then I use : grilled cheese and soup, which is also a standard cheap and healthy meal in this house.

So there now go and if you are a Cannuck read Part 1 of what really is working for this frugal mom.

Planning Our December

Do you find that this time of year seems to be about hustle and bustle and so much of what is really important gets forgotten. For us it kind of creeps up on us and then from the beginning of December till the new year it is a time of busyness. So this year we came up with a Holiday plan…each weekend there is 1 thing that takes out of of the house besides church no more.

This weekend Roo and I will hit the mall for the last time. I have $75 in free Shopper Drugs shopping to do with my Optimum points. With it I am getting Roo some small presents and stocking stuffers. Then on Sunday Roo is singing at church–a solo, and taking part in the children’s presentation.

Next weekend we have been invited to a party so that will be fun, and on Sunday Eve we will be watching a holiday movie on tv.

Then the weekend before Christmas is about getting down to what is really important, the reason to celebrate. We will go to a live nativity pageant downtown, and to church.

On Christmas Eve it is company coming over, and then Christmas Day will be our traditional pj day..Christmas (my birthday) is the one day I can stay in pjs if I want to and I do!

I find by having a plan there is no longer the need to get caught in the bustle. Roo and I can relax and enjoy things like the pile of Christmas stories on her shelf, a Christmas special or just some time together. So do you have a plan or do you get caught in the bustle?

Part 2 of Living on Less: The Food Budget

Often we have to stretch when we choose to live on less. For me the area I find me stretching in the most is my food budget. Gone are the days of ordering in or take out so how do I stretch my money in a city where food prices are well lets put it this way: in the US I fed a family of 5 on the same amount.So what are my strategies:

1. Shop flyers for the loss leaders. These here in Canada seem to cycle about every 8-12 weeks. So that means I know I can get 24 rolls of toilet paper for $3.99 after my dollar off coupon every 8 to 12 weeks so I get it when it is at that price.

2. Collect and share coupons. I use both and Frugal Shopper for coupons and if you are really a good collector you can trade or even get on a coupon train.

3. Menu Plan: I like to plan on Monday mornings for my week, using what I have in the house..things bought from flyer’s or my staple list.So how does $200 get spent:

1 have 4 basic areas

  • Meat and eggs: here I spend no more then $50 a month and it stretches for about 20 meals, and includes deli meat for lunches
  • Fruit+Veggies: here I spend about $40 for a mix of fresh and frozen( I usually buy seasonal and on sale).
  • The Basics: or as some would call them dry I spend about $60
  • Leaving $30 for the fillers: cookies, chips, baking supplies etc.

With $20 left over for milk!

So that is how I live on less in the grocery store.

Today I am thankful that up here the school week is over and I get some Roo time in yeah!

Save Money on Your Holiday Grocery Shops

Okay did anyone else notice that right after Halloween, not only the malls pulled out their Christmas finery but so did the grocery store!

Since when is the local grocery store the place to buy presents?

Here are some suggestions to save money in this season that seems to grab for your wallet…

 1. Plan your Dec meals NOW! Menu planning and then shopping with a grocery list of needed items only has helped me so very much. It hinders that impulse buy of that box of chocolate that is so conveniently located at the end of an aisle.

2. Bake and freeze now for your holidays needs it will stop you from the mad dash to pick up something to take or have on hand when guests stop by and we all know this is the month for visiting right..

3. Continue your flyer shopping for those loss leaders( hopefully this is something we all do), but only buy what you normally would and can and will use.

4. Shop during the week and day if you can, if you cant shop early in the am after a good breakfast. This stops the tiredness of the holiday line ups.

5. Only shop once or twice for your Dec groceries..I for some reason find December a hard month on my grocery budget so this helps me keep things in check.

6. If you can shop without kids…

7. Use what you have on hand: empty out that freezer because we all know that January brings better food prices right..

8. If you live in an urban area like I do here in Toronto I love to use certain food/treat warehouses. This too helps me to save. First I always hit the Peek Freans warehouse outlet on OConner, and did you know there is a Lindt/Lindor one now on Markham Road as well. Both of these will keep my chocolate spending in check!

With all this said and done hopefully we can keep some of our loonies and toonies in our wallets where they belong! Consider this my Christmas tip of the day!

Today I am thankful for a sister who I love to call my friend who is turning the big 40 this week!

Works for Me Wednesday

Another of the news stories that got me yesterday was one about going green…we are all trying to do our part right? Now do you purchase green products? This is the part 2 of yesterday, and since it is Works for me Wednesday let me tell you what works for me in regards to this news story.

First the story was this. Ninety nine percent of all GREEN products that are on are shelves have some sot of falsehood or misleader attached….99% what a figure right?

How do they lie? Lets use paper products produced in a sustainable forest, yes the forest was sustainable but the milling practices were very bad for the environment so they forget to mention the trade off. Others lie about what they can do..Others are a good thing put are packaged in stuff that are bad for the environment.So what are we as good consumers and people want to do leave a lesser carbon footprint? Well here is what works for this cheap environment friendly mom:

  • We get meatless twice a week or more…this is not only good for the environment but good for our health and our pocketbooks.
  • We use CFS light-bulbs…..again helping the environment and my pocketbook.
  • I clean with natural products alot that I can make myself no need to buy green here when I can make it at home
  • We recycle and use freecycle as much as we can, this includes shopping at second hand stores..( again I am being a good cheap mom)
  • I walk everywhere I can get to within 30 minutes otherwise I take the TTC.( again good for the environment and the pocketbook). I may use a taxi about once a month.

With these things done I save money, and my environment and all without having to go near the “green” goods….so you might want to try one or two…and check out what you are buying before you do…

Now if you are looking for more Work for me Wednesday posts go over here to Shannon’s…and read..

Christmas Tip#13–Got someone on your naughty list? I really liked this idea from Organized Christmas for Snowman Poop…so get your baggies ready to pick up this yummy stuff that is a favorite of Roo’s.

This morning I am thankful that the rain has stayed away this morning as dear Roo has an outdoor field trip all day…so let it be gone till at least 4 pm.

Inconvenient Truths

Today there were two news stories that caught my eyes and ears this morning. Both have to deal with inconvenient facts..

First was a shameful story I think for all Canadians. We are living our children in the dust. We were rated 12th out of 21th western countries in how we treat children. Too many of our children live in poverty. One in 4 has a child in just like mine.We live we below the poverty line and live off less then $1300 a month in Canada’s largest city. ” Compared with other industrialized countries, our children are suffering from unacceptable rates of poverty, obesity, mental illness and violence that have persisted or increased since Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991,” Unicef Canada President Nigel Fisher said in a statement. So what do we as Canadians think is important? Right now federally we are running at a surplus. Can not some of these funds go to what is really important: our children? I will give some concrete example of where we fall short:

1 in 4 families will at some point use a food bank

Wait times in Ontario to get a child diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD run between 18 to 28 months( meanwhile they fall further behind on school work and it is often difficult for these children to get caught up).

Wait times to get OT assessment in the Toronto District School Board average one year.

To get a pscho ed assessment in the Toronto Board can take 2 years or more.

To access mental health programs for children in Toronto you wait over a year even after diagnosis. Roo has been on a wait list for such a program for 10 months now.

 Sports programs are offered for free to all who qualify for Toronto’s Welcome program but when people go to sign up classes are often already full, so there child goes without.

Educational Assistants and Special Needs Assistants are in short supply( in fact the Toronto board layed off lots of these this past year) and these are the people who help our kids get the education they deserve under the law.

As a mom who is cheaper than cheap I am always on the look out for ways I can save money so I can spend it making sure Roo is getting what she needs…that is why I became such a cheap mom. I supplement where I can, enter contests, volunteer etc..I try my best to give her a typical childhood but I know I am lacking in so many ways and if funds were there so much could be done to better increase her chances for success later on. I am fortunate though I know how to find ways of doing things that can help her be the best her, I feel for those who haven’t figured out the how to’s yet and there are so many of those.

Now as for the other story it is about going green so I will right the second half of this post tomorrow.

Christmas Tipp#12-So many charities come looking for money this time of year and there are so many places were we can put our giving dollars–can I recommend you live to help the poor locally in your community: here in To I recommend both the Salvation Army and Scott Mission for the amount of work they do to help the homeless as well as feed poor families..

Gratitude for today: I am thankful that I met with Roo’s teacher and found out behaviorally over all she is having the good beginnings I dreamed of and we now have a plan on how to work on some goals we set for her.