Strategic Shopping – Is there such a thing?
Chatting to people about their holiday preparations can be interesting and I often get some really good ideas. Two people have mentioned how they don’t really like shopping and don’t consider themselves to be ‘shoppers’ but they both practice ‘strategic shopping’. I call it that because they take advantage of sales and fully stocked shelves to purchase things that aren’t typically on a holiday shopping list.
I think one reason is efficiency. They are out and about anyway and make the trip worthwhile by picking up things on other lists such as kid’s shoes and sporting equipment. Time spent now taking care of these errands saves their weekends after the season to do other things.
Buying things on Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales can be worthwhile if you know what an item is regularly priced at. Is it really a lower price or has the price been raised, lowered, raised, lowered a bit and it’s hard to know whether you’re really getting a deal?
Shopping on-line can save time as long as you don’t mind paying shipping costs and you are comfortable you will get the quality you expect. Some things are hard to buy on-line. I tend to buy a couple extra of children’s gifts so that I have extras on hand to wrap when the birthday party invitations roll in – it saves me a ton of time.
Do you practice ‘strategic shopping’?
Posted: December 4th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Money & Stress
If it’s on sale, does it have more or less value?
American Thanksgiving is this week and the ads have been on for weeks. Sales, sales and more sales. Sales across the border and sales in Canada too!
The question is: Should you buy it if it’s on sale? What if it’s a really, really good deal?
A great discount can make it very tempting but is it worth your hard earned cash?
I have a couple thoughts:
- Is it on your list? Is it a planned purchase or an impulse buy?
- Is it a need or a want?
- Is the quality of the good or service commensurate or better than the price you will pay?
- Do you really love it?
There are strategies you can use to make sure that you’re buying things that you won’t regret and that you’ll get good value from. Shop with a list, have an idea of the price you’re prepared to pay in mind before you shop and determine your overall budget before going to shop.
I recently saw an ad for a child’s party dress (’tis the season) for $15. It looked great on TV but I imagined one of my girls in it and thought, ‘I don’t think that would last 5 minutes without a rip, tear or seams coming apart’. After I thought about it, I didn’t think it was such good value anymore.
My mom always says that if it’s something you really like, it’s good quality and you’ll wear it often, it’s okay to spend a little more because it will last.
Posted: November 27th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Dear Piggy Bank, Money & Stress
Making a Budget & Checking it Twice…The Holiday Season is Around the Corner
You probably make at least and maybe more holiday lists but do you make a budget? It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the holiday season because between gifts, cards, holiday functions and regular life….it gets busy! And that can mean that attention to details is exchanged for what’s easiest and what’s easiest is almost always more expensive. A treat for yourself or a safe ride home in a cab late at night makes is all part of the season however, indulgences can add up.
I find the best way for me to keep myself organized so that I can enjoy the holidays is to do a little holiday planning which means lists!
- Special food and drinks
- Hostess gifts to take to parties and family gatherings
- Gift exchange items for work or other social groups
- Christmas cards and letters
- Gifts to buy for here and to mail
I also put the activities we plan to do on the calendar.
Once I put dollar amounts beside the items on my list I can plan my spending…this way I don’t have too many surprises on our credit card statement in January.
Posted: November 20th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Dear Piggy Bank, Financial Planning, Money & Stress
More Nutritious Meals on a Budget
Rather than move into Holiday Budgets just yet, I thought I would write another post on nutritious meals that are relatively easy to prepare and won’t break the bank. They make several portions and many freeze well so will be available for meals that just need reheating – fast and easy!
- $17 – Chili and biscuits (8 adult and 4 child portions)
- $2.50 – Pancakes (2 adult and 2 child portions) and only 5 ingredients
- $15 – Spaghetti bolognese (8 adult and 4 child portions)
- $10 – Mac and Cheese (4 adult and 4 child portions)
- $12 – Chicken stew and biscuits (8 adult and 4 child portions)
The chili is loaded with protein with ground beef, kidney beans and baked beans and the biscuits are delicious fresh out of the oven.
A few extra touches such as cheese (cheddar for the chili or Parmesan for the spaghetti and mac and cheese), maple syrup and a touch of red wine for the stew take these from great to fantastic.
The secrets to the chili, bolognese sauce and chicken stew are a crock pot and lots of vegetables mixed in. Great for dinners where you may have an extra guest or two! The chili and bolognese sauce freeze really well and are great for quick meals when you’re in a rush.
On a per meal basis these fit the bill in terms of nutrition and the budget!
Posted: November 13th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Dear Piggy Bank
What is the Value of Gift?
My husband and my birthdays fall within a week of each other, it is Remembrance Day on Monday and the holiday season is around the corner. What do all of those have in common? Gifts and giving. It got me thinking….what is the value of a gift? Is it what you pay, the effort you put in, how much the other person likes your gift or what they do with the gift?
Take fundraising for example, we recently subscribed to the Knowledge Network because we watch many of the shows, appreciate that the programming is commercial free and believe that education is a worthwhile investment.
My thoughts also turn to my grandfathers who both fought in World War II for our freedom. I don’t think you can place a value on the sacrifice of so many. It is the ultimate gift.
Sometimes I think I’ve found the perfect gift for someone but I can tell I’ve missed the mark and other times, I’ve known I found the right little something and it’s a hit. I think buying for children can be the most challenging.
I’m going to have to put my thinking cap on for this holiday season because I’ve learnt long ago that’s it’s not the price tag that brings the smile.
Posted: November 6th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Uncategorized.
Tags: Dear Piggy Bank
On a Budget? Bake a Birthday Cake
I remember the cheesecake my best friend make for my birthday while we were in university. Talk about living on a tight budget. But do you know, it was the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. It was such a nice gesture and delicious too. I’ve since made a couple myself and compared to buying them, it’s much, much cheaper. It doesn’t take very long to make a cake and you can’t put a value on the thought. It’s a special treat!
Tonight the girls and I made a chocolate cake for the birthday boy in the house. He’s turning 39 tomorrow and will be the lucky recipient of a delicious chocolate cake made from a recipe that I grew up with. It originally came from a neighbour who lived down the road. Topped with butter icing, it is YUMMY!
The girls had so much fun making it, they could barely contain themselves as it was baking. There was a lot of ‘checking’ the cake and jumping around. So much for the element of surprise for Dad!
I could probably price out what it cost to make but know intuitively that it was a fraction of the cost of buying one never mind how much enjoyment it will give the birthday boy and the kids.
Posted: October 30th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips.
Tags: Budget, Kids
Yummy Fall Food That Goes a Long Way – Even on a Tight Budget
Fall is a great time of year to enjoy hearty meals that warm your belly and your home but not by breaking the food budget. I recently read in a book that the number of servings that a hotel restaurant plans for from an average size turkey is 15. Now, the book was written in the 50′s and it didn’t say what average is but you get the picture. In fact, only ever having cooked 1 turkey in my life, it crystallized my experience. The roasting went well, really well and we shared the meal with friends but after the 3rd serving of Turkey Enchiladas (what we used the leftovers to make), I was a little tired of it. The point is though, that the 30 pound turkey which we got ‘for free’ by spending $250 at a grocery store went a very long way.
My list of favourite fall meals that are relatively easy to prepare and go a long way:
- Roast Turkey with 2nd run as Turkey Enchiladas, sandwiches and soup (or at least stock which can be frozen and used later)
- Soups such as Butternut Squash Soup or Red Pepper Yam Soup are less than $5 to make a pot large enough for 8+ servings
- Crock Pot casseroles such as Chicken Hunter, Shredded Roast (you can use a more reasonably priced cut of meat but it tastes just as good with long cooking) or Chili (add some Tea Biscuits or Cornbread and dinner is substantial)
- Meat sauce for Spaghetti or as the base for Lasagna
- All the meat from roast chicken can be combined with black beans, vegetables, lime and cilantro to make the base for Chicken Taco Salad (just add rice, iceberg lettuce, taco chips, salsa, cheese and sour cream) and the bones can be used for soup or stock
A few ideas that can go a long way in terms of several servings and nutrition without putting you over budget.
Posted: October 22nd, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Dear Piggy Bank
Birthday Present Proposal – Easy for You and Easy for Your Budget
Our kids are at the age where there opinions are becoming more and more defined. Particularly when it comes to what they prefer for presents and while I think it’s great for family (grandparents, aunties and uncles) taking the kids to chose what they would like or giving an ‘experience’, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found gifts from kids’ birthday parties unused several months or a year later. This bothers me and I’m not sure why.
I also find it amazing how many birthday parties our kids are invited to. I simply don’t remember going to that many birthday parties as a child. What it means for the parents hosting is a lot of planning and organizing. The guests’ parents find themselves buying many presents and wrapping them. I hope they are enjoyed!
Recently a family sent a birthday invite on behalf of their son and I was very impressed. They simply requested that in lieu of gifts, each guest give $5 and their son was going to divide the total into 3 portions to donate, save and buy a gift of their choice. I don’t know what you think of the idea but I loved it! There are so many concepts that they touch on with this proposal – great education AND so easy on the parents!!! I wonder what he’ll choose.
Posted: October 9th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Dear Piggy Bank, Education, Kids
The Value of Your Health
Common sense tells us that keeping in good health is the right thing to do but sometimes, you can’t control what happens. Last Friday I had knee surgery to reconstruct my ACL (due to a soccer injury) and I consider myself very lucky. Granted, going in for surgery provokes anxiety and the rehabilitation process is not going to be a cake walk but my health and mobility is extremely important to me and my lifestyle. Even though I’m on the other side of 40, I still play two sports competitively (well, as much as the Classics Division allows!), ski and enjoy a very active life. Not to mention the activities that we are involved in as a family with two young children.
These are the reasons I feel lucky:
- I got the surgery
- I live in Canada and the surgery is covered by MSP
- I work for an organization that has a good benefit plan which covers the post-surgery medication, a certain amount of physiotherapy and allows me to take sick leave for the first few days when you are to be immobile
Physio is not cheap but it is critical to rehabbing well. It is the care required so I can return to my pre-injury lifestyle and sports and if it wasn’t at least partially covered through work, I would be paying for it all myself. I’m not taking it for granted and am prepared to do the work and have the self-discipline to commit to the daily exercises. The reason I know how much work it is – is because this time, the ACL surgery is on my other knee! The other knee was reconstructed 9 years ago.
It makes me think of the importance in having the right coverage to support you and your family during an illness or injury – at least partially. Illnesses or accidents can happen on a regular basis to any of us. We can do our part by living well through diet and exercise but the other responsibility is financial preparation. This may take the form of benefit coverage through your employer and/or privately and/or a contingency fund. The thing is, when you’re ‘off work’, there’s often less or no money coming in. How will you pay your bills?
We can calculate the cost of such an event after the fact however putting a value on your health in terms of the ability to live life the way you want is more difficult. Better to put measures in place now.
Posted: October 3rd, 2013 under CEO of the House, Debt, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks, Uncategorized.
Tags: Budget, Cash Flow, Dear Piggy Bank, Education, Financial Planning, Money & Stress
Ready to Save? How much is enough?
This is a great time of year to start saving because summer is over and it’s ahead of the holiday season. How much is enough? That is the question. For many of us, we assume we are limited by what’s left over at the end of the month. How about approaching it a different way?
- Decide what you want to save for (retirement, big purchase, holiday)
- Determine the amount you will need
- Estimate how long you have to save
- Divide the amount by the number of months to determine the monthly amount to save
- Do you have enough after your expenses are paid to save this amount each month?
If not, are you prepared to cut down on something else to make sure you save each month? If your budget is simply too tight right now, then start with what you can save and increase it when either you earn more money or reduce expenses.
To make it easy on yourself, set up an automatic savings transfer from your regular bank account to a savings account on a monthly date (mid month?) that works for you. It won’t take long for it to add up!
Posted: September 25th, 2013 under CEO of the House, Money & Lifestyle, Money Savvy Tips, Tips & Tricks.
Tags: Budget, Cash Flow, Dear Piggy Bank, Financial Planning, Retirement