Saving money is great. Saving lots of money is even better.
While I was laying in bed sick a few weeks ago, I binged watched the TLC show Extreme Cheapskates. It’s an American reality tv series that profiles the lives of those who take frugality to an extreme.
Now, let’s all be real here and accept that a lot of it appears to be staged and scripted. It may be real, but I’m just offering my personal opinion. However, there are definitely take aways … and I’m wondering how, if at all, we can incorporate some of these penny-pinching methods to our lives. Now I wouldn’t consider dumpster diving, reusing/sharing dental floss with my partner, workout at a sports store with their equipment to avoid paying for a gym membership or feed my spouse cat food instead of tuna.
But some others are interesting and things I’d consider at our house … this comes on the heels of discussions we’ve had lately about retiring as early as we possibly can … I mean do I really want to be working 5 days a week until the age of 65? Hell no! It also goes to the minimalistic lifestyle we are going for and trying to be eco-savy/friendly.
Below are some of the ways that we try to be mindful and save on cash at our house:
BUY IN BULK: Lots of money can be saved by bulk-buying items. It’s common to save more than 20% on the total cost of items if you opt for this alternative. We stock up mainly on breads, spices, meats, baking ingredients and loose leaf teas. We shop a lot at Bulk Barn, considered to be Canada’s largest bulk foods retailer with stores located in every province.
RE-USE TEABAGS: I didn’t used to re-use tea bags. Then I found out that you can typically reuse teabags up to 3 times before losing its flavour.
RE-USE COFFEE PODS: Coffee pods are sold with the intent of being single serve. I figured since I started reusing tea bags why not see if my Keurig will re-brew another cup of my fave Tim Horton’s coffee … it did! A bit weaker, but, it was tasty nonetheless and worth the 2nd brew.
FIND FREE ENTERTAINMENT: Find cheap ways to have fun. Entertainment often ends up costing a lot of money. The average person spends about $1,800 a year on entertainment (not including eating out). Before we head out on any trips or excursions, I always take the time to look online to look for free events in the area while we are there
GROUPON: Groupon is an an e-commerce marketplace connecting millions of subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods and services in more than 28 countries. It’s a Web-savvy spin on the boring old coupon. We have cashed in on tons of deals via Groupon and have saved hundreds of dollars by doing so — on things from dining out, events, pampering etc.
SELL YOUR CLUTTER: This is not so much saving money as it is making it. I don’t like junk and I don’t like clutter. I am constantly decluttering, so why not make a few bucks doing it. Hold a garage sale or sell it on eBay, Kijiji, Craigslist, or your local online selling site. It’s amazing what some people will buy.
COUPONS: There’s no such thing as “extreme couponing” in Canada, not like there is in the U.S.A anyway, but do I ever wish there was! I get nerded out just watching the money these people save! We just watched an episode last night where a family paid something like $130 for $2800 worth of items! OMG! In the USA some stores allow what they call coupon stacking. Another difference is that in the US some stores have special days when they will double or even triple your coupons. They also sometimes have a frequent shopper card. Although there aren’t insane ways to save $$ in Canada, there are still ways to save a few dollars.
- Remember to ask for rain checks when certain items are on sale but out of stock.
- Price Match one store to another- bring your flyers and have the store match the best advertised price (keep distance in mind, if you’re traveling to the other end of town to save $3.00 it may not be worth it).
- Join coupon trades and trains -this way your can get rid of coupons you would never use and gain ones that you really want.
- Take advantage of Mail-in-Rebates. For the price of a stamp you will get the majority if not all your money back that you spent on an item.
CHECKOUT 51: I just downloaded this app to my iPhone yesterday. Pretty simple idea, Checkout 51 helps you save money on the brands you love. Every Thursday morning, they update the site with a new list of offers. All you have to do is pick the ones you like, purchase them at any store, and upload a photo of your receipt through their mobile app or website. When your account reaches $20.00, they send you a cheque.
DITCH THE BANK FEES: Only a few of Canada’s banks provide a true no fee chequing account for Canadians, other banks require that you meet a minimum balance each month, or sign up for multiple products to qualify for free chequing. Banks such as PC Financial and Tangerine offer a true free daily chequing account, whereas other major banks like RBC, CIBC, Scotia, BMO and TD Canada Trust have some requirements Canadians must meet to qualify for a no fee daily chequing accounts.
USE REWARDS CARDS: Cards like: PC Financial, Air Miles, Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum, Canadian Tire (money or card) or other credit cards/rewards cards are a great way to earn points for things you are already purchasing and places you are already shopping. I have a few rewards cards – for example I have the PC Financial World Elite MasterCard®, the card that averages $300 a year in free groceries. Add that to my PC Financial bank card and my PC Rewards Card – I save tons of money on free groceries annually. You can also use your card for gas purchases at their gas stations.
UNPLUG THE POWER: Unplug all power appliances before leaving the house. If you’re not using it, unplug it! Power companies still charge money for appliances that are turned on, but not necessarily used. According to the Energy Star Web site, the average U.S. household spends more than $100 each year to power devices that are turned off. One of the easiest ways to reduce phantom power consumption is to unplug appliances when the devices are not in use.
CUT OUT THE CABLE: We pay way too much for cable with all the bells and whistles – ridiculous given we watch Netflix and most of our shows stream on the networks themselves. This reminded me to ditch some of the extras and just stick with the basics. We cut our cable bill in 1/2 by doing this! If you have unlimited internet and an HDMI cable – maybe you could cut out your cable bill all together?
DO A FISCAL FAST: I absolutely love this idea and we do this a few times per year. The fiscal fast is when you do not spend any money for a whole week, five times per year. It is an opportunity to use up household items, like canned food that gets pushed to the back of the cupboard or those tiny shampoo bottles you get at a hotel. We do this a bit more often than 5x a year, but, it certainly does work. It’s amazing the amount of stuff you buy, the one time we didn’t have to buy anything for over 2 weeks, we had a stocked freezer and full cupboards.
MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANING PRODUCTS: The key ingredients you need just might be hiding in your pantry. Simple ingredients from the pantry can be used to make cleaning products that are kinder to the environment for a fraction of the cost.
GARDEN: With food prices rising and rising and more people trying to save money due to the economy, home gardening has taken off in a big way in recent years. Burpee Seed Co. estimates that for every $50 a family spends on seeds and fertilizer, they’ll reap $1,250 in produce.
Other things we do/have done are:
- Don’t turn on the heat/air conditioning until you just can’t take it anymore.
- Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
- Use white curtains/blinds to reflect heat away from your home in the summer.
- Installed energy efficient light bulbs.
- Use your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at non-peak hours.
- Use cold water when you run the washing machine.
- Use a slow cooker
- Only run full loads (laundry machine, dishwasher).
- Don’t buy bottled water (use a filter)
- Reuse tissue paper and wrapping paper
- Reuse scrap paper for lists and little notes
- Use re-chargeable batteries.
- Use plastic grocery bags for garbage bags
- Shop at dollar stores
- Stop buying cookbooks. There are tons of FREE recipes online
- Save all of your change.
- Visit scratch & dent warehouses for appliances.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
- Turn off the lights in rooms you are no longer using.
- Share your Netflix account (I share mine with 3 others, aren’t they lucky lol)
Things I’d like to do this year include:
FORAGING FOR FOOD: Chives, mint, purslane, basil, acorns, edible flowers … depending on where you live, foraging for food may be an excellent way to save a few dollars on meals. Note: to find the edible treasures that grow in your neighborhood, you really need to possess knowledge of what you can and can’t eat. Do you research on food foraging before you go pick your own to be sure that what you are picking is edible and not poisonous. Not gonna lie, this one frightens me a bit, but I’ll try to find a local resource to tap into.
HANG DRY YOUR CLOTHES: My last house used to have a clothes line and I loved it. Not only did it save money, but I love the way hung clothes smell when you take them off the line, and your whites get brighter out in the sun! Yes, it’ll take longer to dry your clothes.
PUT A BRICK OR JAR IN THE TOILET TANK: This is based on water displacement. I thought of trying this, but after speaking with a plumber friend, he advised against it. So I’m not gonna try this one!
MAKE YOUR OWN TOOTHPASTE: You’ll need:
- 2/3 cup baking soda
- 1 tsp sea salt (optional)
- 1-2 tsp peppermint extract or essential oil
Mix together baking soda, salt, and peppermint. Then, add a bit of water and stir. Gradually add more water, stirring at the same time, until the paste has reached your desired consistency. Store the paste in a glass container.
I’m interested in hearing them …
Dead! – You’re So Cheap. Shot by Jennifer Dreier, Emma Jemson, George Mills and Dead