Sunday, 28 October 2012

Meal planning

Meal Planning

Most people who live on a budget plan their meals according to their budgets. Obviously you wouldn't be eating steak and lobster every night if you were making a minimum wage. I like to try and at least plan my meals for the week in no particular order. I do one weekly shop at my favorite grocery store (where I get all of my airmiles) and write out what different meals I can make with all of the groceries I purchased. I set a weekly limit of how much I spend on groceries and try not to buy anything else during the week unless we run out of one of the staples like milk, butter, eggs etc. I for a family of four I usually try to stay within a budget of $100 per week. I count how many meals I have bought to make sure it will get us through the whole week until next weeks shopping trip. For instance I will write out on the calendar:

Wednesday- Chicken Parmesan with Veggies and Rice
Thursday- Roast with Veggies
Friday- Pizza night
Saturday- Fish Sticks with Veggies
Sunday- Chili and Garlic Toast

My husband usually takes all left overs in his lunch for work so all he has to do it is heat it up for a hot meal and we don't get stuck eating left overs all the time. It also saves us on lunch meat every week too.
Remember this is only a guideline and doesn't have to be followed exactly. It just gives you an idea for planning ideas and tell you what you have in your cupboards. It also keeps you from running out to the grocery store last minute because you can't think of anything to make for dinner. I will also right out what stuff we have for breakfast and lunches too to give people an idea of what what we have. For instance:


Fresh Fruit
Eggs and Toast
Bagel and Cream Cheese


Grilled Cheese

Again, this just gives you some ideas and hopefully will make you stay home and eat rather then going out to grab fast food. It will save you money in the long run. I'm ALL about saving money. If you must eat out set limits for yourself for instance only go once a week or twice a month. Some people eat out almost every day at least one meal and it is such a huge expense. They do it even if they can't afford it and thats bad news. Just because it's convenient doesn't mean it's better or healthier. Usually by eating at home means you will be eating healthier in the long run as well.

Fiscal Fasting

Yearly or monthly fiscal fasting saves you a ton of $$$$ on spoiled food. Every once and a while I go through my cupboards, fridge, and freezer and use up all of the food in the house before I go out grocery shopping again. I make sure I use up all of my produce that will go bad, soups and beans that may be expiring, frozen meats and things that may be getting a bit freezer burnt. The more I use the less I will have to throw out and the more money I save on groceries. It's really amazing just how much people actually waste by throwing out food every month. Also if you didn't buy so much food (only food you will actually eat) it can eliminate throwing away good food. I still do it even though I try not to. I'm bad at forgetting what I have bought in the fridge and letting it spoil. I try and make a list on the wall of all the food we have and some ideas on how to prepare it for my husband and for myself. Hopefully this will help us not throw as much food away. It also gets you thinking of fresh new ideas and lets you be creative in the kitchen. It's kind of fun to explore new ways on how to cook things with different food.

Hopefully you can all find ways to meal plan or do a fiscal fast. I try not to spend ANY money during a fiscal fast if I can. Just by doing this simple exercise a few times a year you will save hundreds of dollars on food. Think about the fact that in third wold countries all around the world, people are dying of hunger every day, yet we seem to be able to throw away tons of food worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It just doesn't seem right to me, doesn't seem fair.

If any of you have great ideas for simple meals by all meals please start posting!

I hope you enjoyed todays read!


Saturday, 20 October 2012

If it's free it's for me!

Everyone likes getting stuff for free but no one want to put in the time. There are a lot of services out there for free as well as ways for getting free stuff. Like I said in a previous post, I coupon and save money where I can. I also try and get things for free when I can as well. There are many ways of doing this:

1. Look in the free ads of your local paper or online resource- you have to be on the ball with this as the  really good things go fast. I know has a free section and they always have furniture, misc items, electronics, pretty much anything you could think of.

2. Look at the curbs when your driving around- In Victoria there has been a mass number of people who decided it was ok to dump their garbage or unwanted good at the end of their curb. Now there are no laws against this yet here but check to see whether their are laws where you live. It can be a great place to find treasures.

3. Sign up to receive free samples- Their are a ton of sites online that you can sign up to receive their newsletter and receive a free gift or sample. I do this and often get little soaps, body wash, feminine hygiene products, etc. Some dry foods companies do this so you can try a sample of their products and you can score some baby formula, cereal, granola bars, etc. Keep your eyes peeled for these deals.

4. For new moms, you can sign up for the Nestle baby program and sign up for a backpack diaper bag full of samples of formula, baby cereals and info on your newborn. They also include a bunch of coupons for future purchases. All this absolutely free. I would definitely recommend this.

5. Some movie theaters of a couple of "free" days a year for families. I know Silver City does this and sells treats for $2 in support of a local charity. This is a great free activity to do with your kids and it doesn't cost anything if you don't get any food or drinks. The movie is absolutely free. Check online about a  theatre near you to see if they do this and make sure to mark it on your calendar.
-Also check Starbucks for free cup of coffee day
-And Seven 11 for free slurpee day

6. Check your local community centers and libraries for free fun things to do with your kids. There is always story time at the library that is a fun an interactive way to engage your child and it's totally free. There are also monthly family events around town that the community puts on as an incentive for parents to get out with their kids that are also free. Each month there are different activities depending on the season.

7. Check out websites such as Canadian Freebies, Woman Freebies and Smart Canuck and subscribe to their e-mails. This is a great way for someone else to do all the leg work and find the deals for you. They then e-mail you with all of the weekly or daily deals/freebies. I subscribe to a few websites and have entered a few contests and received a bunch of free samples and coupons from it.

There are many other ways to get stuff for free. These ideas are only a few of many. If you have any ideas on how to get things for free "legally" of course I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening.


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

To have a pet or not have a pet that is the question!

I'll be honest, I am a big animal lover. I had animals all throughout my childhood and loved the fury, cuddly hair balls coming and comforting me when I felt alone or depressed or just having a friend to play with. Before we moved into our house when we were still living in our condo, that was all I could think about was owning a pet again. Because we would now have a yard we could get a dog for our daughter. Boy was I wrong, the moment we moved into our house I still pondered a pet but the thought of being tied down and not being able to travel as much bothered me. Not only would we not be able to travel but our monthly cost would go up as well. It's not cheap owning a pet and when I put it all together it would cost us a few hundred dollars extra a month. We would have to provide food, treats, pet grooming, vet services, pet insurance, etc. and it was just too much. Another factor was that I was pregnant with out son at the time and I couldn't imagine handling a new born and a puppy or younger dog at the same time.

I'm battling the thought of still owning a pet. Should I get my daughter a small animal like a hamster or guinea pig? Should we go ahead with a dog? My husband is allergic to cats so we can't get a kitten unfortunately. Guinea pigs and hamsters smell and we wouldn't really have a place to put one. We have  all laminate flooring so I would be afraid the dog would scratch the floors and damage our new leather couches. We are trying to to make our house nice and have nice things. We just bought a new dining table and chair set. I know with having two kids how hard it is trying to clean up after them, cleaning up crayon and pencil off the wall and washing and sweeping the floor two times a day. Do I really want to add to the mess by cleaning up hair from a shedding dog and "accidents" because we didn't let the dog outside for a pee. My daughter has enough accidents now and again that I have to clean up.

 I would love to know how other families do it.  Do we wait until the kids are older and can appreciate an animal, maybe even help take care of it? I'm really torn because I want my kids to have the same childhood maybe even better then I did when I was growing up. I didn't actually have a dog until I turned ten years old but I always had cats ever since I can remember. I also had a pet hamster when I was a young teenager.

I think at this point in the game, I will wait. Wait until we can fully afford everything that goes with having an animal as well as wait until my daughter is old enough to really appreciate it and take care of it. That will be her and her brothers responsibility. I hope this is the right choice because sometimes as parents we often second guess ourselves. I feel that for our situation it is the right decision and it gives us more time to do research on what the best animal/pet would be for our family. It should never be a quick decision and you should always make sure that you can provide a loving home for the animal for as long as the animal lives. I have seen too many posts about people giving away their animal after only a couple of years because they can't afford it or can't have animals where they live. People need to really be committed before getting an animal to keep the animal shelters from being overcrowded and keep poor homeless animals off the streets.

Hopefully others will do the same and I hope you enjoyed todays read.


Friday, 5 October 2012

Teaching your Kids about Money

So when do you start teaching your kids about money? The answer is simple.... As soon as they can comprehend the logistics of it. My daughter just turned 3 and I am thinking about going over money with her and teaching her what everything is called, how much it's worth etc. Also as soon as I feel she is old enough, I will give her an allowance once a week and teach her about spending and saving. They say giving your child $1 for every year old is what you should do depending on your financial circumstance. So let's say I start giving my daughter an allowance now. I would give her $3 a week every week. I would also make her save 10% in a piggy bank or open up a bank account to teach her about saving. The rest would be free money to spend on candy or toys etc but I would still instill my good spending habits on her regardless. (I am frugal you know).

So when do I start giving her an allowance? I think I am going to start off by teaching her some basic principles. See how she reacts with the information and if I feel confident she can handle it, I will then start giving her an allowance to spend as she likes.

Kids learn from our spending habits. Hopefully you will pass on good spending habits to them so that they will have the skills and tools needed when they get older to live on their own and be self sufficient.  My parents taught me about living a frugal lifestyle, my mom was always couponing and always had a list while grocery shopping. We never had fancy clothes (usually shopped at a thrift store) and we never had the latest and greatest gadgets but we lived a good life and a modest one. I guess I have just acquired their spending habits and love them all the more for it. I don't care that my husband and I make  "decent money", the only reason we are as well off as we are is because we manage our money wisely.  I know people that make twice as much money as we do yet they are always in debt. Why? Maybe their parents didn't pass on good spending habits or money managing skills. As much as I don't like them for making more money then we do, I kind of feel sorry for them being in debt all the time. Being in debt is never fun.

Now, I'm not saying your kids will never get into financial trouble. Somethings they will have to learn for them selves and from their own mistakes. But at least if you give them the tools, they can get themselves out of trouble. I learned from my own mistakes and got myself out of credit card debt. I did it and will never do it again because I learned the hard way. I didn't go as far as having creditors knocking on my door or phoning my house but have a few thousand dollars in debt at 21% I felt like I was never going to pay it off. That's what I get for paying for a trip to Cuba with credit before I could actually afford it. Lesson learned!

I just hope that both of my kids will learn the value of a dollar early on and never take anything for granted. If they want those designer jeans they will have to get a job and pay for them them selves. If they want to go to College or University I will pay a portion but not all of it. They need to prove to me that they want to be there. If I just hand everything to my kids they will never learn, they will always rely on other people to buy things for them and bail them out. I want them to learn how to be self sufficient. That is my ultimate goal, if I die knowing my kids will be alright on their own I will die happy.

Take your kids to the grocery store next time you go and teach them about buying the necessities, taking a list with you, meal planning, etc. Talk about saving for a rainy day but that you never know what tomorrow will bring. Save some money but not all of it as you still need to have a life and live a little. You never know, you could die tomorrow.....

I hope all of you with kids will instill good habits. Maybe if you're more conscious about it you will think to teach them more often. Even if you don't think they are listening, trust me, they are =) I didn't always listen to my parents, but even to this day I still remember my parents talking about the value of a dollar and thank them every day for it.

Thanks for listening!