It’s Party Time!

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Over at 5 Minutes to Mom they are hosting a blog party!!! It is a great  way to find some new fav reads and maybe win some prizes too!!

Welcome to my lil corner of the neighbourhood, and my blog! Well actually I hvave two this one and The Lucky Cannuck. Can I offer you a cup of hot chocolate or perhaps a cup of herbal tea? Would you like a chocolate? or perhaps a maple cookie? These are some of my favorite food and I really want to be a good hostess! Come on in and sit for a bit.

I am Hollie, a solo mom. I am cheaper than cheap! I have to be. I live on less then $1300 a month in Canada’s biggest city. I have been blogging for years now. I had old blogs on both MSN and blogspot. I really like wordpress!

I write about things cheap frugal. On Mondays I try hard to Menu plan, and post my plans here. I also like to participate in What Works Wednesdays. I also write  about my lil girl who is a unique talented child who walks the Aspergers/ADHD line. Sometimes I will even do an opinion piece if something is on my mind.

I have months of archives here for you to browse…and this week I will introduce some of my favorte blogs and my must reads for help. So glad you came to visit, hopefully you will come back often.

Toronto the Good??

A break from my usual frugal self. A few weeks ago here in Toronto there was a building collapse on the Danforth. Five apartments were destroyed. Several were left homeless and placed in Toronto’s awful shelter system. I can say it is bad because I have first hand experience with it. Last week there was a fire on Queen St..40 were left homeless. This time first stop was a hotel room at the Royal York. Facebook groups, charities, have quickly come to the aid of fire victims whereas support and aid for the homeless from the building collapse have been slow to come.

I know what little support they have gotten, and it has been limited but there has not really helped these families out. One remains in the shelter system, the others are now housed but in places that are practically empty, tools of the trade here too are gone, they have little and no insurance here either.So what should Torontoians do?

First we need better emergency service supports, with centralized help. In these cases churches like the Salvation Armyand others do help out, so does the Red Cross. But people like those from the collapse do fall through the cracks. We need a central office with trained teams that can really meet the needs after such an event. That way help can be tracked, referrals given when needed, and a help up given in times of crisis. Right now in my city it is a hodge podge with the left and right hands not really working together. This really needs to be streamlined.

But what do we do right now?

First immediate needs that I know for one of the families include  a crib, table and chairs, and tools of the trade( sewing machine) would be very appreciated as a 3 month old is part of this family.

Another single young person needs a clean inexpensive apartment as she is on disability.

If You can help with any of these needs email me at theluckycannuck@gmail.com . I know how to get it to them as I volunteer with one of the agencies in contact with the families.

What Works for Me Wednesday: Conservation

Have you heard about Earth Hour? Are you going to participate? I am, and we are planning the how.

We are a pretty “green” house and for the next 4 weeks I will talk about going green.

This week lets talk water. It is a necessity of life after all. So how can we save on the cheap and be green? It is about changing habits. 

Here are some ways we have done it here in the city:

1.Dont run water while brushing teeth

2. Installed low usage shower head and faucet. Here in Toronto you can purchase a kit from the city for $15.

3. We don’t have a dishwasher but when we did we didn’t prewash dishes.  Now we don’t leave water running to rinse.

4.We only wash FULL loads of clothes.

Outside:

1.We sweep our walk we don’t hose it.

2. We water roots not leaves in the garden.

3. We don’t water our grass.

These are just a few ways that we conserve and save money too.

Now I am off to Rocks in My Dryer to see what is working elsewhere this week.

WWFMW: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Save Money

Many  of you may know that going as green (envirment friendly) has been one of my major tasks for the last two years..

This year I stepped it up a bit. I got cloth bags that i picked up for $.99 each at my local  grocery store. No more $.05  a bag each time I shop and I help the enviroment too.

I bought reusable containers at the dollar store for Roo’s lunch, so no more plastic baggies or juicebox garbage.

By doing little things like these I find that going green and being cheap go hand in hand.

Now off to read what is working for everyone else this week over at Rocks in My Dryer .

New Family Member

For the past number of days I have been following a friend who has been blogging from Africa about Compassion’s work over there. The pictures and videos spoke to my heart and my daughters as well . We see how very lucky we are. How even though by Canadian standards we are considered poor by many we are actually very wealthy by world standards. We made a commitment to sponsor a child…her name is Chelsea and she is now part of our family! For the cost of a can of diet coke or a cup of coffee and a muffin a day you could really help a child and their family become self sufficient… I couldn’t help but think of something that was recently by a very wise man.. “we live in a knowledge based world, and the best way to become self sufficient is through eduction”…so my hats and prayers are with the bloggers who went…they really showed us how blessed and lucky we are!

Is Being Cheap or Frugal Costing You Money?

I read this interesting article on Yahoo today and wanted to share my thoughts on how being cheap frugal need not cost us money.

First I never want my cheapness to cost me money over the long haul! That means I do NOT buy on credit. I love Dave Ramsey’s money envelopes..and follow a budget. I would never think to buy a car, or furniture no matter how needed on credit. For me this is a major no no. Why? Because of the interest attached, every company wants your credit purchases it means money in the bank for them, but for you it means paying more unless you pay off your credit card every month- lets be real how many people pay off their balance each month? Very few.

Right now there are 3 what I consider large purchases that I want to make this year- a laptop, a new sofa bed, a trip to Nova Scotia for Christmas…all are being SAVED for, and will not be bought till cash is on hand. Then I will look for deals and compare prices and sometimes I can even go into a store and ask for a cash discount and get it. As for the trip I am saving money each month so that I can buy my tickets in the early fall, I hope to take my Roo by train to finally see the ocean.

I do shop sale flyers and coupon collect but I don’t buy what I don’t need or can not use in rotation, and because our household is just the two of us well buying in bulk does not make sense except for buying packages of meat. This I take home and break down into smaller packages and it works this way I never spend more then $40 a month on meat. I only ever buy enough for 2 months at a max because I know sales rotate and come back.

As for buying the newest and latest well that just isn’t me…I can wait. Do I really need a plasma screen? does Roo need that latest video game? The answer is NO..do we lose out because we don’t have the latest find? I don’t think so.

As for clothes there is no reason for anyone to ever buy these on credit not with the many garage sales, discount stores,  etc offering great buys. I have 3 leather purses all bought for less the$10 and they all get wonderful compliments. I buy GAP, ROOTS, and the like all at Value Village for my daughter and most are hardly worn, which is good for me and the pocket book.  I don’t buy the latest trends and wear mostly classics found at Value Village, other consignment stores or Winners.

There are many ways to that being frugal ie stocking up at sales, could cost us money if we are not careful, but if you are careful use a budget, pay cash, and plan for larger purchases then it need not cost you a penny in-fact you could end up saving many more and isn’t that what being frugal is all about.

How To Do a 4 Day Weekend with Kids

Here in Toronto many of us parents are waking up to a 4 day weekend with our children.  Roo’s school has a Teacher Development Day today so she is off and on Monday we celebrate our new Satuatory holiday Family Day..So What do we do with the kids? Besides argue about computer time that…

Here in Toronto there are a number of things that are discounted especially on Mondaythat are great for kids, or even tweens like mine..

1. Casa Loma is letting kids in free with paying adult

2. If you are like me your child got a coupon for a free admit one child at the ROM. They have a really cool dinosaur display on right now.

3.At the Zoo Admission if half price.

4. There is a Family Day festival in the Beaches –It is scheduled to be outdoor fun but if it is COLD it will be moved indoor..

5. There is always the Bata Shoe Museum which is offering crafts for the kids..and admission is free.

6. Then there is one of our favorite places- Riverdale farm where the admission is free too.

Then there are the things that you can do closer to home….

7. How about going for a skate? All our local rinks have leisure skates and they are free.

8. We will be going tobogganing..with all the snow we have getting lately why not get out and have some fun it, just make sure you bundle up.

9. With this being reading month why not hit up you local library but not on Monday they are closed.

Now if you really don’t want to brave the outside world and want to stay home there is plenty to do inside..

10. You can bake something together–why not break out a recipe and bake together..Roo and I are making muffins.

11. Break out the craft supplies and see who can make the zaniest art piece

12. Make play-dough and create a sculpture of your family

13. Play board games

14. Have a movie marathon of family favorites( we are doing this tonight).

So there is lots to do even for us cheap frugal parents. So take time and enjoy your children this weekend. I know it is something you wont regret!

What Works for Me Wedesday: Valentine’s Day For the Frugal Parent

Yesterday over at The Lucky Cannuck I wrote about Valentine’s day and being lucky in love even though I am a solo parent. Today for me a cheap frugal parent there are lots of ways to make tomorrow special for my daughter and me….I think this year I spent $5 for the day.

1. First shhh..but she will wake up to her favorite breakfast of waffles and at her spot in the table she will find a wee present from mom —I used a left over clay pot, filled it with jelly beans and heart shaped lollipops both bought at the dollar store..it looks like a plant! Also from the dollar store was the cutes lil heart purse so she is getting that too. I made her card.

2.For dinner we will actually be doing something different then I had planned on the menu. We are having one of OUR fav meals —Lasagna.

3. To take care of me and show me some love–after she goes to bed well it is ME time..a nice bubble bath, and a good read are in store.

There are lots of ways to celebrate the day and be frugal at the same time and include the kids. One of the themes we are doing all month so we can really see the love in this house is to document it on our LOVE WALL. When we catch each other being loving and kind we cut out a read heart and write a note sharing what we saw..we then put this up on our love wall( we have one wall dedicated to hearts).

So how are you celebrating tomorrow? Don’t forget that ecards are a great way to show lots of people a little love!  Now off to Dont Try This At Home to see what is working for everyone else today.

Key to Frugalness: Organization

Well this week it has been one of organization. I have been purging big time. I have  bags ready to go- 2 to Value Village and one to the local kids consignment store–so for all the work I will in the end get back a few dollars too. I am finding that the key to being cheap frugal is being organized. What helps me?

1. A Calendar– 4 times a year I do what I am doing this week, each day I am attacking one room of my apartment. This morning it was my under the stairs storage area. While I am cleaning and purging I am also noting what I already have on hand so I don’t dare splurge and buy more of something I don’t need. When I do my daughter’s bedroom I will inventory clothes on hand and what she might need for the up coming year that way as I am out I know what is on that list.( this list is in my purse- in my daily calendar in the back so I am not tempted).

2. Menu planning with flyer’s in hand- for me this works and saves me money. I spend about 30 minutes on Saturday morning looking through them and planning my menu for the week accordingly. If it is a real good buy I try and stock up( but I never by more then what can be used in 8 weeks) Why? Because I find that the sales cycle and will be on sale again within 6 to 8 weeks.

3. A budget- I only have a certain amount that I spend no mater what each week. For me a single mom that budget is no more then $50 for groceries ( and I use coupons when I shop).

By doing this I find I am able to stay on top of things and at the same time be frugal. For me this was one of the biggest challenges to cheapness.