Legit Ways to Save $

One of the very un-fun things about being an adult is money management. For many, the amount of money in is overcome by the amount that spills out. Add the expense of a mortgage or children and the results aren’t all that fun (Yay Adulting!). So here are some actual ways to cut down on those pesky expenditures:

  1. Do a household budget. You don’t have to be an expert. Budget-of-punjab-2013-2014Simply download a template from the internet, print out the previous month’s bank account statement, and add the information in the required fields. It can be encouraging and sobering to view where you are spending money. The great thing is, a budget gives you a concrete starting point on where you can and cannot cut costs.
  2. Review your bills. This one is monotonous and boring and necessary. Make sure you are getting the best deal. Rework your cell phone, cable (or cut it all together for Netflix or Crave TV), power, electric and hydro. And while you’re at it, make sure you are getting excellent customer service. For example, our house has a cistern instead of a city water connection. We have water delivered to our house once per month. The delivery guy we used before was okay but I would leave him a voicemail when we needed water, then never really knew when he was coming. I didn’t love what I was paying for. We moved our business to a wonderful water company called Fill ‘er Up Potable Water. I can text when I need a load of water and I’ll receive an answering message within minutes whereby the operator gives me a date when he will fill up our tank. I can also pay via e-transfer. So convenient. If you have a cistern or need bulk water, more info about this wonderful company can be found at http://www.filleruppotablewater.ca/
  3. Talk to your investment specialist – this one is also a no brainer. If you don’t have investments, that’s ok but as soon as you think you have a spare dime to put away, put it into some type of account for your retirement. Even a small contribution each month will help offset future living costs.
  4. Second hand stores. A co-worker took me to this wonderful shop called Plato’s Closet just down from Whyte Ave. They have in-season clothing items for men and women. The savings amazed me. Turns out, the sister store to Plato’s is Once Upon a Child. I had never really thought to go there for my kids. Then Connor’s feet grew 3 sizes in 6 months. I went to Once Upon a Child the next time Connor needed indoor shoes. For $8.00 I found him some really cool looking little high tops, which is half the price of the already cheap Wal-Mart or Joe Fresh.
  5. Hand me downs! With 2 kids, that are 2 years apart but nearly the same size, hand me downs come in super handy (get it? I crack myself up). I have a group of gracious friends who have boys that have out grown all kinds of clothes and I straight up ask for clothes when they are done with them.
  6. Use Upcycling Sites! I am a part of the Upcycling Facebook group in my community. This site is for household items that have value, but you’d like to get rid of, so you ‘upcycle’ to someone who could use them. I’ve given away variety of items like kids clothes, kitchen ware, small appliances, etc. on my local Upcycling page. You can also ask for anything you think you might need – remember it’s free – and if someone has it, great, if not, you would have likely bought it anyway. I recently ran out of perfume, which costs around $50-$100 a bottle. I put up a post requesting anyone with extra perfume to pass it on to me. I had 3 women give me bags of perfume that they weren’t using. I sorted through the scents I wanted, kept some and tossed the rest. I scored about $300 in free perfume!
  7. Meal plan! IMG_8292 Not only does it help with the budget, it helps my sanity.  There is no stress coming home from work and wondering what I’m going to make for dinner with two hungry kids clawing at my legs. Each month I print out a calendar and write down what I will make for dinner each night for that month. The plan helps me organize what groceries I will need to buy each week and also what I need to take out of the freezer the night before.
  8. Buy your meat in bulk and freeze! We learned this long ago. We eat a lot of chicken and it can vary between $8.00/kg to $14.00/kg. When we see that it’s around that $8-$10/kg mark we buy lots then freeze it. If you’re going to do this, invest in a vacuum sealer.
  9. Buy your K-Cups at Winners. For real. They usually have a great selection of coffees. Better yet? Ditch the Keurig or Tassimo and opt for a pot. I know it’s not as convenient but hose little cups are costly in comparison to loose grind coffee. I will admit, I haven’t fully gotten there yet – I have a Keurig in my ensuite bathroom so that I can have coffee immediately after waking up.
  10. Stop going to the places you spend money! I love books. Like, I love books so much I want to work in a library so that I can be amongst the stacks and breathe in the smell of musty paper all day long. I (used to) spend a lot on books. I have a Kobo which I load up to read on vacation. I buy iBooks for my phone. I listen to audiobooks when I’m cooking or driving. And one of my favorite things in the world, abet one of the hardest to find time for, is sitting down and enjoying a book, uninterrupted. So, at this time when I am trying to save, I’ve stopped going into Chapters because I know I won’t leave without spending. So whether it’s Starbucks, magazines, house gadgets, etc.- just DON’T GO THERE.
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The Trials of Travelling with Kids

 

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Our most recent trip to Panorama Village. I didn’t write a master list and forgot many things…remembered the snowboards though!

As my good friend says, when travelling with kids “it’s not a vacation, it’s an adventure.” That advice has carried me through a variety of holidays with my littles.

When travelling with kids, you have to take everything with you. And you have different sizes of clothes and diapers for each kid. And you pack every imaginable snack and toy that will keep the crib midgets occupied during a drive or flight or any period of waiting. This involves a lot of packing and a master list so as not to forget anything. (When I don’t do the list, I forget a ton of stuff at home). 

Next, you have to maneuver your day around a nap schedule. A feat in itself is if you can hit the sweet spot of driving away from your house right at the start of nap time. If that doesn’t work, my husband and I know that we can get 2-3 hours out of both kids before they need to stop for a break. Then we just keep on keepin’ on. We know we’ll get there eventually.

Upon arrival at the intended destination there are two major stages: getting the kids out of the car/somewhat settled and unpacking all of the stuff. At least, unpacking enough of the sleeping equipment in order to put the kids to bed. Then there is the elusive vacation sleep. When in a new environment, Bubba wakes up multiple times per night and Connor finds his way into my bed. Vacation sleep is never a restful sleep for us.

And I plan to take my kids camping this year! Tent camping no less, which means no proper beds or Netflix or toys all around. This means a lot of extra preparation for meals, sleeping arrangements, activities, not to mention teaching my older kid to tell us well in advance if he has to use the potty since it may be far away. We’ll have to educate the kids about the camp fire and possibly get through a night of bad weather. It seems like SO MUCH EXTRA WORK.

But – I know it will all be worth it. I know that it will also be a hassle. Some folks might not think it is worth the trouble, especially since the kids are so little that they won’t remember the experience anyway. However, I would argue that these experiences can start at the earliest age. You need to get your kids used to trying new things. So far most of my time raising kids has been trial and error. For example, after some terrible car rides to and from my in-law’s in Saskatchewan, my husband and I opt to travel after bed time. We arrive at 3 a.m. but the kids sleep the entire trip.

The years when the kids are young are formative for learning how to behave in a variety of situations. My littles can sit in a restaurant and wait for their food as a result of our efforts to eat dinner as a family, teach them table manners, and expose them to eating in public. On the flip side, no one wants to dine with a screaming kid next to them so I know when to pack up and leave. The same goes for the grocery store. Cart full of groceries and the kid that won’t stop crying because he wants a toy? No way. He gets one warning then we leave. No fuss or scolding on my part; I simply just take him out of the situation where he is worked up. The pool, hiking, snowboarding, boating, play-dates etc. I am prepared to bail if I have to because, honestly, if the kids aren’t having an okay time then no one is.

It will apply to camping as well. We will camp close to home the first few times, so that I can pack up and leave if everyone is having a terrible time. It certainly isn’t desirable or always feasible but it lessens the pressure on my husband and I if we know that we can cut our losses whenever we need to and try again another time. And that’s the trick: we keep trying. I’m not advocating for quitting; simply, knowing your limits and the limits of your kids. And new adventures expand those limits.

Long car rides and packing for trips and sleeping in strange places and playing outside in unknown lands are all the stuff memories are made of. So bring on the extra work of travelling with toddlers. The good and bad and funny memories are the ones my husband and I will talk about for years afterward. And bonus if the kids have fun too.