4 Money Saving Tips That Blows My Mind…Every time!

IMG_1990

I must have read “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach at least two times. He has some pretty good money saving tips like foregoing that “Grande, Non-fat Cinnamon Latte with Soy Milk and a Caramel Drizzle” from Starbucks or having an automatic withdrawal from your bank account directly to your retirement savings plan so you pay yourself first. If you haven’t read it, pick up a copy.  It is worth your while to read it.

Once my family started on the road of saving money, it was hard to stop.  We became mindful of our spending habits and it made us realize that we can save money and in some circumstances, help in our global fight to save the environment.

Here are just 4 money saving tips that just blows me away.

1.  My “Latte” Factor

I love reading.  That is my “latte” factor….books made with real pages, made with real paper that makes a sound when you turn the page, and pages you can write on or highlight with a pen when you come across a “eureka moment”.

Unfortunately, brand new books are expensive.  So, to save money, I got myself a library card.  It’s FREE.  I am lucky that my local library carries books from a whole array of disciplines and new books are ordered regularly.

Unfortunately, you cannot write on the pages.  So, to further save money, I go to the local goodwill store.  In Canada, we have a local non-for profit thrift store called “Value Village”.  They accept donations including gently used clothing, furniture, electronics and previously enjoyed books.  A portion of the sales is donated to a local charity.

A book that is $30 brand new at the bookstore only generally costs me $7.  That is almost 75% off the cover price and it is almost always in mint condition! It also helps that these books are diverted from the landfill and helps our local charity.  Win-win, don’t you agree?

2.  My love affair with credit

Wait, what?  Yeah, you read right.  If you use credit the right way, it actually pays off for you…and not for the bank.

I got my first credit card when I was in university. That was almost 20 years ago. I was given $500 as my spending limit and I thought that was a lot!  Of course, I did not know how to use it properly (perhaps a Credit Card 101 course would have helped). I blew the limit almost immediately and incurred hefty interest charges. For an accounting student, very disappointing indeed. But, on the other hand, having a credit card also allowed me to rent my very own place close to campus.  Fast forward to today–you really cannot live without some form of credit in this day and age but you have to be mindful of what and how you use it.

First of all, make sure you pay the FULL balance on your credit card.  If you miss the payment date even for one day, you have to pay interest for the whole month.  Banks love it when people just pay the minimum $10 and carry the balance forward…you pay more interest which translates to more profits for them.  Feeling cheated, yet?

If you don’t have the money to pay off your credit card , use a line of credit to pay it off. Generally, lines of credit (whether secured or unsecured) would have interest way below the average 20-25% interest rate that credit card companies charge.

It does bring a good question to mind “ARE YOU SPENDING MONEY YOU DO NOT HAVE?”. I’ll give you a moment to think about that.

Another way of using credit to your advantage is if you have a mortgage (which is a good type of credit!) that has an interest rate that is higher than your line of credit rate.  Talk to your banker for options and perhaps you can save a little bit of interest by prepaying your mortgage through your credit line.  While you’re at it, ask your banker to waive any credit card fees, you might get lucky and save $100 annually.

Last but not least, always ask yourself before you whip out your credit card to make that next purchase–“do I have the money to buy this right now?” If not, I would return that pretty little top back in the rack and come back when you can actually afford it.

Yeah, tough love.

3.  Grocery shopping–there’s an app for that!

It is a well known fact that when going to the grocery store, always shop in the outside aisles which are the produce, meat, eggs and dairy sections. Wholesome food, as my husband calls it.  There will always be sales going on for those perishable items.  But of course, sometimes, you do have to venture into the middle aisles for items that are not so perishable.  For example, we have to have detergent, toilet paper, or shampoo.

Most of the grocery stores I go to have a “price match” policy and this is where an app called “Flipp” is awesome at saving money.  Search for what you are looking for, say, Pampers diapers, and it will check all the big stores that have Pampers diapers that are on sale. From there you can compare prices and save! No more clipping coupons–I just show my phone.  It is as simple as that.  As an added bonus, you also help the environment since you wouldn’t need to jump in your car to go to the other store!

4.  My love affair with wine

I must admit, I love winding down with a good glass of wine at the end of the day.  In Canada, a good bottle of wine is not cheap.  A good bottle of Italian wine, say an Amarone, a lovely Italian red wine, would fetch about an average of $40-$50 per bottle.  That is a pretty steep price to pay for something that will be gone in an hour if paired with a good friend and a bowlful of chips on a Friday night.

So, this tip is going to be a shocker.  You can get a good bottle of Amarone wine for $8.  The drawback is that you have to buy a batch (30 bottles–although, it makes for great Christmas presents!) and you have to wait to age it.  It’s called “craft winemaking”.  I found a great winemaking place close to my house and is run by two ladies who definitely know their wine.  So, with a little patience, I am supporting a local business while enjoying inexpensive but very good wine. I also get to reuse old wine bottles when bottling! Win-win!

Oh, and for an Amarone, I would suggest you age it for six months at the very least before you pop it open…

Do you have other tips that save you money and good for the environment?  If so, let me know!

Debbie.

 

 

 

 

Making a difference…

My daughter came home from dinner over at a friend’s house and the first thing she said was “We had moose steak for dinner.”

Oh…quite exotic, I must say.

Then she said that Julia (the middle child of the family) created quite a discussion over dinner by saying “Dad, you had kill a moose for dinner.. how could you?”.

“Dad” hunts deer, moose, and goes fishing in the northern most parts of Canada once or twice a year…takes the kill to the butcher who magically transforms it to steaks, ground meat, filets, etc. to be consumed throughout the year.

…Julia’s dad, being the smart aleck we knew him to be…said “Well, we spared a cow’s life  by eating this moose.”

Julia is only 11 but my daughter says Julia has decided to go vegetarian when she is older. She says “animal lives matter”…

But, right now, she has to eat moose steak for dinner.

My daughter concludes “Julia is passionate about animals but I believe we have to think bigger…we have to take care of the planet we live in. What good is saving animals if we kill Planet Earth?”

Fighting words indeed.

My daughter then went on a rant of her own about how Man has completely destroyed the environment and showed me a Youtube video of a rapper named Prince EA. In his Youtube Video “Man vs Earth” he shows us what we have done to Mother Nature including global warming and deforestation of the Amazon.  Check it out…it is quite compelling.

My daughter has resolved that minimizing our carbon footprint is a good way to start. So, in the coming weeks, we are making sure recyclable items are recycled in the blue bin, compostable items go into the compost heap in the backyard or in the green bin, minimize the use of plastics including bringing our own bags when grocery shopping,  and maybe plant a tree in the backyard.

I am so proud and extremely happy to see her passionately support a worthy cause. Actually, it is a similar feeling when I see in the news about our future generation supporting causes to end poverty, women’s rights, access to clean water, etc.

“You are going be quite an activist when you are older…” I said smiling.

“I would need lots of money to make a difference though…” she said sadly.

“…no, no, NO!!”, I silently screamed.

Has this world really gone to hell that money is necessary for things to happen? To make a difference?

That is actually quite distressing if you really think about it….that only the rich can make a difference? Could you imagine a world full of Donald Trumps who turns a blind eye to global warming or thinks climate change is a myth?

…by the way, I never really understood why Donald Trump is considered a “billionaire” when he has declared “corporate bankruptcy” four times (the fact that The Donald deliberately distinguishes that from “personal bankruptcy” is really ridiculous….it is eerily reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s infamous “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky..”)……Right.

Anyway, I digress.

At any rate, I refuse to believe that to make a difference in this world that we really NEED money. It would be helpful, but it’s not necessary, or is it??

I think that if all of us reduce our own carbon footprint (for even just a little), it will make a big difference over time.  Recycling more, using less plastic, and mindfully thinking about our impact to our community are all…..FREE.

I think we just need a little jumpstart of the “hidden activists” within all of us.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Debbie.