Tuesday, June 24, 2008

No Clothes for One Year??

Ok, so just because I'm AWARE of my shopaholic issues, or even RECOVERING on my shopaholic issues, does it follow that I'm strong enough to really challenge myself? After reading an article a good friend sent me (Bless you Hez, I loved it-and yes, it's worth the read) I asked myself "can I do this??" In where I am right now, I highly doubt it.

I hold onto clothes with sentiment. If I'm afraid it would be the right thing to get rid of something I barely wear, I make a point to put it on in the next couple of days, as a justification to hold onto whatever the item may be. I love travelling memories behind my shoes and sweaters, and it seems the more worn they are the more firmly I hold, like if I get rid of my Rwanda skirt the lessons and memories of Rwanda will fade. It's riduculous and true.

My girlfriends and I laugh about retail therapy when our bosses give us a hard time or our husbands are playing video games more than hanging outwith us. We actually do it while remarking that it's an unhealthy way of making ourselves feel better. Swipe and smile. Did it come from ads? I don't know, probably. Curse those subliminal messages hidden in kids t.v. shows and cereal boxes. They're easier to blame than my own weakness anyway.

My sis in law said something that has stuck with me so deeply. She said "Als, you don't even need to try, but you need to try to try." Some people would see that as an excuse for half hearted attempts, but it didn't affect me that way. It reminded me that even if I'm not succeeding at something, attempting it is better than letting my failure get in the way of trying.

Am I going to try to give up clothes for a year? Probably not. Am I going to THINK about trying to give up clothes for the year? That's more realistic to where I am right now. Maybe from now on I'll NOT swipe and smile.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shopping List-saving my life

I used to be an impulse buyer.

When Ted and I got married it was all about what we felt like in terms of groceries. I'd get a mix of groceries with little concern for cost or deals, and I'd cook meals based on what we had in house. Mealtimes stressed me out. I was nervous about experimenting, unsure of what flavours worked together, and I had a stand by list of things I had grown up with and knew how to make that I used. All of a sudden a light went on, and I realized that I would thrive in a schedule of meals, planned in advance, going off recipes that I had learned from friends and knew we would like. (As an aside, one of our best Christmas gifts this year, my sister in law gave me a recipe book of her and my brothers staple foods, things they loved and made all the time. How she knew what I needed, I'll never know, but it was the turning point in the meal making process)

All of a sudden, I enjoyed cooking. It wasn't just the execution of the meals that felt better, it was knowing exactly what we needed to get when we go to the store. I love making my list each week, with items broken down into where in the grocery store they are. I have a whiteboard that lives in the kitchen, and the days of the week are on it with corresponding meals and sometimes ingredients. I love my system, I am passionate about my system, and it is the only way that making a budget for food is possible.

That's something new for this month. My new project. We always know APPROXIMATELY how much will be spent, but this week I'm going to make an excel chart (don't judge me, it's the best program ever) and find out in advance how much will be spent on different sections of the house (food, cleaning, hygiene) and work out a template for the month, so that I can see where we can save, and if it's better to stock up on deals, or buy things as they're really needed.

As I learn more about our spending, I can adjust where need be. I already know some of our weak spots. (Pop is expensive enough, but the $1.20 deposit our here, of which we only get half back doesn't help) I can work on those weaknesses, and cut down wastefulness with a budget. I had no idea how much structure suited me til marriage. Live, learn, change where it's needed. That's what my budget lessons are so far.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Budget Busters

So, Jessica tagged me in this Budget Buster Challenge. Basically you get tagged, and you reveal 5 things that despite being on a budget, you still splurge on. Admit, what challenges your budget?
The rules are simple: you have to tag 3 people to carry on the challenge and link back to the person who tagged you. Please also use the graphic at the top of this post. You can link to it or copy and paste it.

My Five Budget Busters are:

1. Books. Granted, Ted and I buy most of our books used, but still we CANNOT resist picking up a few when we go. Our bookshelves are protesting under the weight of our indulgence, but I cannot resist the thrill that comes with taking home a new book and cracking the cover for the first time!

2. Coffee. Whether it's buying Starbucks during the work day or Tims before a road trip, I need my daily fix....four or five times over. Most of the coffee I drink I do brew at home, but if I'm out, I cave to the caffeine addiction.

3. My Rachael Ray magazine. It may seem a splurge, but in actual fact, it has saved my sanity as a part time housewife. She outlines whole shopping lists that are quick and healthy, and I can keep dinner new and imaginative. Without her, my health and husband would suffer.

4. House stuff. I LOVE when I need something new for the kitchen, it makes my week. Walking into the household section of any store makes me salivate. EVERYTHING from baking dishes to utensils to appliances I love. I would have no room to cook if I could afford all the shiny stuff I love admiring! I've been lucky so far-most of my "indulgences" have come in pretty handy. (ie, salad spinner....HOW did I do without one again??) Some...haven'.t (Vases, lots of vases...)

5. Cabs. It's hard admitting to this one. You see, where we live, the bus comes once in the morning...and usually that time is at least 2 hours before I have to be at work. So, most mornings, rather that get up two hours early, I sleep in..and call a cab. Bad bad bad. It's an indulgence that I am striving to break.

The three people I will tag are:
And....Ashleigh?? Even tho she doens't have a blog...I need more bloggy friends

Sunday, June 1, 2008

High Interest Savings

Since I recently started an online high interest savings account I thought I would share what my research has found. Pretty much all regular savings (through any bank) have negligable interest rates, so even if you're steadily putting money in, or just maintaining a reasonable balance, you're getting nothing from it.

High interest savings give you a minimum of 3% interest, without a minimum balance to start earning it. (A lot of accounts require a minimum of $1000 to generate any growth). With high interest there are generally no or low fees annually, and you see returns on what you put in.

The downside? Any transactions not done online get dinged with a 5$ fee. So if you don't do online banking, it's not for you. If you do all your payments, transfers, ect online, the payout is worth your while.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Save on Groceries

As I was doing my weekly shop a couple weeks ago, I was stopped a PC Financial employee. Ted and I are champion power shoppers, we split up, get moving, and get our shops done in record time. I don't like interruption.

He asked if I wanted a PC Mastercard....I tuned out after that, until I heard $20 free groceries. Hmmmm??? If I get accepted for a card I get $20 in free groceries. Why would I want another credit card? Because for every dollar I spend, I get points toward my groceries. The guy did a good job selling, I'll give him that.

Standing in the grocery store my rational was: I can spend 10 minutes applying, and I will have earned $20, to spend on things I would've bought anyways.
I'm in.

Coupon Clipper

So, I've found a pet peeve about being a Canadian. A (very) small one in comparison to all the upsides, but in my money saving quest it is a thorn in my side. On American budget savvy blogs a lot of people share freebies, coupons, and favourite deals of the week. It's hard reading a lot of great deals, and not being able to really use any of them!

I therefore was overjoyed, when I found a great coupon site for CANADIANS. save.ca posts coupons that change all the time, for items usually on a weekly shopping list. You pick which coupons you like and they mail them to you the next business day.
New favourite!

An intro is required

I’ve been thinking about a blog for over a year. When I was prepping for my wedding and marriage I thought it would be a great way to share ideas and discuss what goes on in the weeks and months leading up. Then, once I was married and moved 13 hours away from friends and family, I thought it would be a good idea to use a blog to keep everyone informed on what Ted and I were up to. What I felt I was really lacking was a central theme for my blog. I wanted to talk about everything, but when I have that much creative space I usually end up talking about nothing.

I finally figured out something that is specific, yet broad enough that I’ll never run out of things to say. Money. Specifically, managing finances. After getting married I’ve become really enthusiastic about budgets, shopping lists and high interest savings, things that before I was married really didn’t matter to me. After doing some casual research, and talking to friends and family, my eyes are open as to how much I have to learn and how much discipline I lack when it comes to money habits.

I read somewhere that there are two ways to improve your finances: make more, or spend less, but there’s a lot of creativity and wisdom people put in to saving and spending. I’ve read blogs where stay at home moms make money stretch farther than I could possibly hope to, and articles about money tips that are common sense to most, but not so much to me.

So as I learn, I’ll share. And hopefully ask lots and lots of questions.
And of course, I’ll include the obligatory share from life, work and marriage.