Goals for 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s another Wednesday so what has been working for me lately around here? We all know I love a great deal, games and contests right. Well there are two Canadian websites that I want to recommend and no I am not getting referrals, these are sites I use and know by experience do what they say!

First is Pigsback, it is new on the Market, but what a great find it was. You collect points for not only shopping online from major retailers we all know and love but by entering contests too! Guess which I do more of? There redeemable awards are great too ie you can get a Gift certificate without having to have a zillion points. They mail them out too within the time frame given.

The second is for Chapman’s Icecream Kid’s Club. It too has a point system where you play games and can earn rewards. My nine year old daughter loves it and has gotten stickers, activity book, pens, beach ball, and calculator in the mail all in great condition!

These two sites help this mom be a frugal Cannuck while doing what I love..saving money, and having fun! So they both work big time for me.

PS. If you want (or actually let me) refer you to Pigsback, then yes I can get referral points, and they have a contest the person with the most referrals in a week gets $10,000 points and that is 4 $25 gift certificates! Leave a comment and I will email you within 12 hours.

Now head over to Shannon’s for the rest of what is working for everyone!

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!