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 Save.ca 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 goods..here 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.

Menu Monday

Ogranizing Junkie is hosting another Menu Monday so here is mine for the week. It is going to be bit of a quiet week here so I can cook well. So here is what is planned for us this week

Monday-Backwards Night-breakfast for dinner(eggs,toast, bacon)($2.15)

Tuesday-Spaghetti Pie( we love this!), green salad($5.25)

Wednesday-Veggie Soup and Grilled Cheese($1.10)

Thursday-Turkey pieces, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn($7.10)

Friday-Left overs

Saturday-Using GC for Swiss Chalet that I got as a gift

Sunday- Asian porkchops, rice, carrots($2.05)

Coupons and savings for these meals where achieved by flyer shoping and using coupons from the Homebasics Mag and Save.ca, as well as trading on the Frugal Shopper site.

 Christmas Tip #11–Had to recount my tips yesterday and realized that I had 10 out there so here is number 11…Make this season about connections and not presents. Reach out and get caught up with those that you need to..How? Email, Im, Call, Write plan a get together..this is the season where contact is so very wanted.

Today I am thankful that I had lots more energy then yesterday…that wee bit of down time revived me for the week..so today I applied for 3 more jobs, washed the floors and got my grocery list ready for tomorrow.

Busy?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by everything that keeps you busy as you try to be that good frugal mom? Well this morning I am a tired mom with a cold. I think this week with the long list of tasks I gave myself I over did it..After all what did I really get done? Here is my list of tasks done:

  • Finished class lists for about 3/4 of my daughter’s school( school is 600+ students)
  • Reviewed Daughters IEP and test scores and work portfolio in attempt to be ready to meet daughters teacher.
  • cleaned out under stairs storage area
  • decluttered and purged Roo’s bedroom
  • applied for 8 jobs and interviewed for 2.
  • Made 3 Christmas gifts
  • read and reviewed book for First Look
  • scrapped 12 pages for Roo’s scrapbook
  • deep cleaned fridge and stove
  • reorganize coupons
  • attended one day conference on parent involvement
  • researched curriculum for grades  3 and 4 so I can supplement Roo at home
  • Babysat for a friend who really was in a pinch
  • Baked 3 dozen cookies
  • shop for one Christmas pres that I have to mail.

This plus all the normal day to day stuff of being a solo flying parent. So this morning I am sipping ginger tea and trying to get a wee bit of energy. I have already vetoed our trip to the Santa Claus Parade though as I don’t think I could handle it with the how I am feeling. So do we as mom’s ever really over do it? and how do you stop yourself from overdoing it?

Christmas Tip#8: When you are getting busy this season remember to get some R and R time in too! We need down time!

Gratitude: Today I am thankful for a lil girl who loves to be a nurse!

The Grinch Who Loves Christmas

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Can you believe that a mere 42 days( yes that is 6 weeks from now) many of us will be done unwrapping presents? Melanie over at Don’t Try this is hosting a Holiday Carnival..Question up for grabs is this! What are you giving? and where will you shop?

I am the Grinch who loves Christmas! So you all know that I have $175 budgeted for Roo( and I am the only buyer–everyone sends cash.I then have to put names to the presents), right so here is how that is being spent. She will get 2 tops(one bright pink, one orange) from my local consignment store that were new with tags on for$6, black leggings$9, socks from Value Village(free because of the gift certificates won-buy the way at Christmas they have a great new tag section that lets you find stuff on the cheap. Her wow gift from Santa is a Barbie Mp3 player (49.99 at Walmart), it is interactive with their new website Barbie Girls (she is loving this site). She gets pjs every year$16.97 at Walmart( this year she is getting high school musical ones as we are going to see High School Musical on Ice). She also will get the Reindeer Webkinz. I will also hit Indigo   ( right now you can get a book for $1 for the next 3 days, but be quick cause they are limited and they have FREE shipping if you spend over $39)to pick up a great book, their outlet section is a favorite place of mine. She is also getting from me a keyboard that I found for $19.99 ( For me this and Roo is a great match because every time we go to church she seeks out a piano!). At Starbucks I found a great game for under $10, It is part of the Cranium family so that too will be under the tree. In her stocking are going to the High School Musical on Ice tickets that I won. So as you can see I am under budget and she is going to have a good time under the tree.

So do want to know what this Mom would love? Just in case you want to send me anything? Pajamas, socks, Turtles, and of course bling in the form of a lil pink computer that well right now I am trying to win. See that Dell link! If you are up here in Canada you can win one and a trip for the family too! Wouldn’t that make a great present under my tree!

Now My Christmas Tip for today from the Grinch who loves Christmas is this: All they need is this…a wow from Santa, something to read, something they need, and something to grow with. Children don’t need to see oddles of hard earned dollars under the tree for what will that teach them but greed.

Today I am thankful for a temp job even if it is only for today. I am babysitting and the $40 earned gets to go into my birthday fund…or maybe I will splurge on me in December and go and see Keith Urban in concert( he is coming back to Toronto).

World’s Largest Stocking and Tom Brown

World RecordPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketToday at the Sony Center on Front street, we took part in the making of the world’s largest Stocking! Roo and I went out and bought a couple of large unwrapped toys this morning(thanks alot GC’s). Then it was time to head down to the Sony Center. We got there at 11 and already there was a line! I think this speaks volumes to the generous hearts of Torontians. All the toys are headed to the Salvation Army to help families here in To have a better Christmas. When we got there, cookies and hot chocolate was offered up to all of us waiting our turn…Then it was a quick dash inside where Roo struck up a conversation with Tom Brown, yes the CTV weatherman. She ended up doing the lunch time weather with Tom and then they both had there picture taken. Then they both made a mad dash up the stairs to where they could both put toys in the 9o ft  stocking. Soon I had my daughter back and we stood in line for a quick pic gifted to us by the fine folks of Sony and then we headed up the stairs where Roo put our second gift in the stocking. She was so excited that she was on tv. It was funny because when we got home there was a message from my aunt saying she saw her on the news. It was great fun to be part of the action today and all for a very good cause and at 4 pm it was annouced that we had the record!

Christmas Tip#7- Before in with the New, think recycle and get rid of the old. I have Roo clean out her toys boxes and we give her toys that she no long plays with to the local shelter here. As well I use this time of year to get rid of things that no longer fit. You have to have room for the new stuff right!

Today I am thankful for a fun day out with Roo that taught all the right stuff!

Works For Me Wednesday- Backwards Day

  Over at Rocks in my Dryer, she is hosting another great Backwards Day. What is a Backwards works for me Day you ask? It is when I get to ask you a question that I really want to know the answer to… so we all know I am cheaper than cheap right? We also if you are a reader of mine know that I am in the Christmas spirit early. What is you favorite cheap or frugal Christmas tip? I may feature your comments as Christmas comes closer and I feature a tip a day. I of course would give you the credit.

Christmas Tip#6..Start your Christmas Card List now. Getting it done know helps with mail time. Check your country for mailing deadlines. Some of these are fast approaching if you are mailing overseas. Also think outside the box when it comes to your list. Do you really have to mail 100 cards out? Can you maybe do a Christmas Email or Blog?? Think about it…

Today I am thankful the ability to move and feel. This morning I woke up sore and stiff and had to think at least I can feel my limbs and move them all on my own esteem.