Monday, 8 April 2013

Week 15

Finding it hard to find time to blog lately...between potty training our daughter and getting ready for bany. However, I do have some totals to update. Hard to find coupons for things lately.

YTD Grocery Total: $
Coupons To Date: $361.43

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Week 10 & 11: Cheap Cleaning Supplies

I know I haven't blogged in a few weeks...lots to do, birthdays, prepping for Baby #2 (only 8 weeks left). I couldn't think of a topic to write about and then I saw a post on about cleaning. So this week i'd like to talk about ways to cut down on the cost of cleaning supplies.

Believe it or not, you don't need to buy chemicals to clean, in fact I don't keep ANY chemicals in the house, not even bleach. I've always hated cleaning supplies for a couple of reasons; the way they smell, the cost and the fact that if one day IF I accidentally left something in reach of my child - the fear they would put it in their mouth or try to drink it. For those reasons I started looking for alternate methods of cleaning effectively without dealing with the above.

Sure, there are LOTS of coupons out there to get cleaning supplies for cheap, but why use them at all if they aren't good for our health. Baking soda and vinegar are my 2 favorite things to clean with. Here is a great article written by mrsjanuary on just some of the uses of Baking Soda. I purchase mine in a 5kg bag at Costco for around $5!

Total Spent Weeks 10/11: $230.25
Total Coupon Used Weeks 10/11: $56.69

YTD Grocery Total: $1287.27 (average $117.03 per week spent)
Coupons To Date: $302.03 (average $27.46 per week saved)
% Savings to Date: 23%

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Week 9: My February Local Purchases!

So its time to show you what I purchased for the month of February. February was all about organization for me. Shelving and toy organization that work for one child may not work for another. Since our daughter turned 1 I have discovered some things that we own that just do not function properly in our house 1. being her bookshelves and 2. her toy we purchased some new bookshelves made from pallets and 2 handmade toy trunks:

Total Spent Week 9: $271.78 (Birthday week!)
Total Coupon Used Week 9: $14.00

YTD Grocery Total: $1057.02 (average $117.45 per week spent)
Coupons To Date: $245.34 (average $27.26 per week saved)
% Savings to Date: 24%

Friday, 22 February 2013

Week 8: Budgeting!

After thinking about what I wanted to blog about this week I realized i've encountered A LOT of people in the past month inquiring about how to make more money.

Something i've come to realize this past year is its not all about how much you bring in, but what you are doing with the income you already have. I'll give you an easy example. When my husband and I were both working we were bringing in about $70,000 a year. After about a year we realized that we weren't paying off our debt at all and it felt like we were always broke and living paycheck to paycheck. How could that be? We took a course at our church about money management and it challenged us to keep track of our spending for a few months (just like how Gail does it on Till Debt Do Us Part!). WOW! Were we shocked to find that we were spending $400-$600 eating out, $100+ at Starbucks and over $1000 a month on groceries. Of course we were feeling broke, because we were!

At that point we were thinking about starting a family which meant that I would be going on maternity leave. We realized we had to rein in our spending or we would have no money to pay for essential baby items. After 3 years of refining our budget I am happy to tell you that our household income is HALF of what we made when we were both working (yes that's $35,000 a year take home) and still comfortably go on 2 vacations a year, have a brand new car, a toddler (who requires copious amounts of stuff (more than a baby)) and another baby on the way and I am now a stay at home mom. We don't sacrifice any of the things we love to do we just altered where we spend our money and how much is allocated to specific items. When you think you have no money sometimes its just about cutting out things you don't need or creating a specific budget and sticking to it.

Here are some of things we budget for every month:

Rent: $975
Food: $400
Tithe: $300
Utilities: $100
Cell Phone: $100
Car Payment: $265
Life Insurance: $50
Gas: $100
Internet: $45
MSP/Medical: $200
Credit Cards: varies

My husband works a half salary/half commission job, so some months we have a little leftover, some months a lot. Notice there are a few things I haven't budgeted for such as Eating Out (restaurants/coffees) and Cable (project free tv), Insurance, Vacations and there is no Savings or RRSP allotment either.

Most of you know the reason I started this blog was because my husband was laid of in 2011, which is why we moved. Due to that we are still fine tuning our budget. Eventually we would like to be able to put money aside each month for savings and start our RRSPs again. Insurance we typically pay out right and just find the cash and we pay for vacations via whatever we get back from our annual Tax Return. Cable, I believe, is a completely unnecessary expense. We use Project Free TV and watch all up to date tv episodes for any show that is currently on TV and we eat out ONLY on Sunday's after church, this way it becomes a treat and not an every other day occurrence.

How to get started:

So all that information is great but how do YOU get started making the same changes.

1. Figure out what your Monthly Income Is:
-This can sound like an easy thing to do, but even for us it can sometimes be difficult. My husband works a salary and commission job so our monthly income is different EVERY we took his average monthly income from last year and that is the number we work from every month.

2. Keep track: 
-I'm going to give you the same advice from Gail and the very advice that got us started. Keep Track...every penny, of what you spend. Do it for a month, 3 months, 6 months and see where all your money is going. Sure there is money you have to spend, like rent/mortgage/utilities, but then there are varying expenses such as groceries/gas/cell phone which can be lowered.

3. Start a Spreadsheet:
 -The easiest way to start is to create an excel spreadsheet. Put your income at the top and list all your expenses with the budgeted amounts underneath. Every time you pay a bill or spend money minus it from your total. When the money is gone its gone. This way is also a great way to never miss a payment as you will be able to visibly see whether or not you have spent the money you budgeted. It is dangerous to just pay bills as they come in and not list them on a piece of paper as you may find at the end of the month you have forgotten a bill and have no money left in the bank to pay it. Gail suggests the following numbers (% of monthly income):

Housing (mortgage/rent/repairs/utilities incl. cellphone) = 35%
Savings = 10%
Transportation (Car Payments/Gas/Insurance) = 15%
Debt = 15%
Groceries = 15%
Other = 10%

4. Make Adjustments:
After you have been keeping track you can start adjusting numbers.

-If you are finding you have lots of money leftover in a specific area, allocate it to an area that has been tight for making payments.
-Maybe you need to start couponing and meal planning. If you have been reading my blog for a while you'll know I saved $2300 last year just by using coupons. Coupons can be for all sorts of things, online purchases, groceries, movie tickets, restaurants...they are out there and they can save you a bundle.
-Perhaps you need to limit where you eat out or how often like we did
-Do you drive a lot, perhaps you and your husband need to share a vehicle. I get the car 3 days a week and my husband takes it the other 4 days.
-Get rid of cable

There are lots of tiny adjustments that can be made to save you money. You can even 'google' Budgeting or How to Budget for some great ideas and tips. 

Total Spent Week 8: $33.85
Total Coupon Used Week 8: $57.74 (SAVED MORE THAN I SPENT!!!)

YTD Grocery Total: $785.24 (average $98.15 per week)
Coupons To Date: $231.34 (average $28.92 per week saved)
% Savings to Date: 28%

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Week 6&7: Under $110 per week for groceries!

Very busy and that means I haven't had time to sit down and blog, however I will update my grocery totals:

Total Spent Week 6&7: $133.08
Total Coupon Used Week 6&7: $29.23

YTD Grocery Total: $751.39 (average $107.34 per week)
Coupons To Date: $173.60 ($average $24.80 per week saved)
% Savings to Date: 19%

I've been getting some great deals on handmade things for our place. Next week i'll show you what we got :)

Monday, 4 February 2013

Week 5: Frugal February and an Update

 Frugal February

Frugal February is a new concept for me, but in the couponing world A LOT of people talk about it. As puts it "For some people, Frugal February means trying not to buy anything, they stock up before Feb 1st and spend money only on bills and essentials like getting to work etc but that is a little extreme for most people.  The true essence of Frugal February is about shopping only for essentials and not all the extra consumerism that our society has become.
You would buy only groceries, brown bag it rather than buy lunch out, have fun at home rather than go to the movies etc.  Frugal  is about trying as many money saving ideas as you can, such as spend-free days, not eating out, etc., and live as cheaply as possible. Try to eliminate all non-essential spending and only spend money on necessities and put the money you do not spend towards debt or savings – not blow it all on March 1st."

I had a super hard time coming up with a goal since I already do a lot of things to save money. I decided that instead of $400 as my budget for groceries I was going to knock it down to $300 and put an extra $100 towards our credit cards.

On the topic of goals; one of my goals (resolutions) this year was to purchase more handmade goods. I really want to start supporting families who create/make and grow things to earn a living. My goal is to purchase 1 thing a month for a full 12 months that is either local or handmade (

January's Local/Handmade Purchase

My first purchase of the year I choose to support someone across the globe. Tahel Sadot lives in Israel and has a shop on called 'Mariposa Handmade Handbags' ( She produces the most gorgeous wallets and handbags out of leather and yes they are all made by hand. My wallet broke just before Christmas and I was getting frustrated with buying cheap ones to get me by for a few months, so I decided to look around on to see if I could find a handmade one that I liked and would suit my needs. I knew from past purchases that leather lasts a long time, so I definitely wanted a leather one. I found her shop and decided to splurge on one of her wallets ($76) for my birthday. I received it within 14 business days - really fast! The price may seem high, but when you consider where it is made, the quality and that it is one of a kind - totally worth it! Here's some pictures of the wallet I chose:


I choose the 'rough' leather look in brown. It holds 16 cards, which I love and has 2 large pockets and a zippered one inside and a change pocket on the back. This wallet has the most card slots and room out of any I have ever purchased and could easily be used as a clutch. I also love how flat it lays, most wallets are big and bulky and this one is very sleek and stylish!

Total Spent Week 5: $112.87
Total Coupon Used Week 5: $47.36

YTD Grocery Total: $618.31
Coupons To Date: $144.37
% Savings to Date: 19%

My challenge this week is for you to find 1 thing to cut down spending on for the month of February. Maybe it's eating out or maybe it's paying an extra $50 towards some debt.

Friday, 25 January 2013


In relation to last week's post I wanted to quickly give you a link and video to watch called "Hunger for Change". The video is an hour and a half, so best to watch when you have some down time. It's all about why diets don't work and what happens when we eat sugar, which mainly comes from corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup. A lot of the information I already knew, but some stuff was very eye opening. It's one of the best food documentaries I have watched to date. Watch it for free here:


I had a hard time coming up with what to blog about this week. Mrs. January ( did an awesome snippet this past week on stockpiles, how to create one and why they are important in order to save money, so I thought I would expand on this topic a bit more:

A stockpile is where you keep excess items you purchase when you buy more then you will use.

Benefits to Stockpiling:

-The biggest reason to stockpile is to spend less. You may have to invest more money at first (by purchasing more than you normally would), but in the long run it will save you money (as you won't be purchasing these items at full price ever again). Only buy items you will use when they are on an INCREDIBLE sale (lowest you have ever seen). This way you won't have to purchase that item again until another great sale (thus saving you money in the long run).

-You will never run out of the things you use a lot of. Stocking up on things like toilet paper, paper towel, diapers etc. ensures you will never run out and have to purchase these items at full price when they are NOT on sale.

- You'll always have food to make into meals.

There are a few points you should keep in mind when creating a stockpile:

1. What to Stockpile - Determine items that you use on a day to day or weekly basis. Those are the items you should stockpile a lot of. Items you use only once in a while are still good to stockpile when they are on sale, however you may decide to only purchase 10-12 of that item, rather than 40.

2. Expiry dates - Only buy enough of an item that you will use it up before it expires. Purchasing 40 cans of beans that expire in 6 months is probably a little unrealistic (unless you love beans!)

3. How Long? - Typically I stockpile enough of my items for a year. For example, if pasta sauce goes on a really good sale I typically will buy 12-15 jars. We only eat pasta about once every 3 weeks, so those jars will last me a year and I won't have to buy anymore sauce until it goes on a really good sale again.

Stocking Up:

1. Use Coupons on items that are already on sale:

Look for items that you use that are on sale that you ALSO have a coupon for. For example: This week Walmart has Royale Toilet Paper and Paper Towel on sale from $7.78 for $4.78. There was a $2.00 coupon for both that they released at Christmas making them $2.78 each, which is a steal! I'll definitely be using up all my coupons this week to get them for next to nothing and I won't have to purchase again until another great sale!

2. Look for Reduced to Clear Items:
There are always meat items labeled with reduced to clear stickers or 50% off labels. This meat is fine to purchase and eat as long as you freeze it right away and take it out only when you need to use it.

3. Buy a Chest Freezer

This is one thing my husband and I purchased this year. The Brick had a small chest freezer on for $175 during one of their monthly sales. We scooped it up and have it already stocked with frozen blueberries and pumpkin.

4. Buy in Bulk/Vaccum Sealer

We have a Costco membership which has been a lifesaver for our growing family. Some things are definitely NOT good deals at Costco (such as toilet paper and paper towel), only because I can get those items cheaper by couponing. But, for some food items that I cannot get coupons for buying in bulk in cheaper. For these items, such as hotdogs/bacon we have a vaccum sealer. We portion out the meat and use the freezer vaccum bags to freeze them into portion sized meals.

My challenge to everyone this week is to find one item on sale that you use regularly and buy a bit more than you normally would, thus starting your stockpile!

Total Spent Week 4: $153.68
Total Coupon Used Week 4: $43.48

YTD Grocery Total: $505.44
Coupons To Date: $97.01
% Savings to Date: 16%

Friday, 18 January 2013

Week 3: Food for Thought...What are you eating?

One of the biggest things I am trying to change this year is the fact that it is sooo easy with couponing to eat processed food. Don't know what processed food is? It's the stuff in the middle of grocery stores, down the aisles. Things that sit on the shelf and don't spoil in a matter of days/weeks.

Couponing last year allowed me to get a lot of things for free or next to nothing, 90% of it processed. Popcorn, Chips, Crackers, Cereal, Coffee, Tea...etc. Processed food in case you didn't know, is NOT good for you The additives and the way they process the food to keep it from spoiling is not to be desired.

Due to this and the fact that I will still ALWAYS buy processed food I decided to research healthier alternatives. I am in the process of switching out my entire pantry for organic, all-natural processed foods. I thought this week I would share some of my favorites, some I already use and some I can't wait to try.

Pasta Sauce: Newman's Own (Walmart, Safeway, Save On Foods, Superstore). The best price I have seen this sauce on for is $2.00 at Walmart. There are $1.00 coupons that do appear every year, making this all-natural pasta sauce a steal for only $1.00 a jar! The other thing I love about this company is all profits go to charity. (They also make all-natural Salsa, Salad Dressing and Extra Virgin Olive Oil).

Tortilla Chips: QuePasa (Save On Foods, Coopers, PriceSmart and Superstore). I score a bag of these chips for $3.50 when they go on sale. Made from 75% organic corn that is stone ground and cooked in Non-GMO canola oil. Haven't seen any coupons for this product yet.

Snack Chips: Hardbite (Save On Foods, Superstore). Kettle-cooked potato chips with all natural ingredients, Non-GMO, no trans fats, no MSG and the best yet they are made right here in BC! At only $2.00 for a 150g, you won't feel so bad about eating the entire bag yourself!

Yogurt: Olympic Organic Yogurt (Superstore, Save On Foods). Pretty pricey, but nothing beats the taste. There is NO potassium sorbate, gelatin, gluten, preservatives, fillers or artificial sweeteners in any of their products = 100% natural ingredients. You can buy a large tub of this yogurt for under $3.50. There are lots of coupons for this yogurt, making it pretty cheap when you can find it on sale.

Milk: Earth's Own Fresh Almond Milk (Superstore, Shoppers Drug Mart, Walmart). Our favorite flavor in this house is Chocolate. I always keep at least 2 cartons on hand. Regular price is $3.97 and again there are lots of coupons out there for this product. I typically never spend more than $1.99 on any 2L carton I buy making it essentially the same price as milk, yet way healthier!

Baking: Wholesome Sweeteners (Costco, Save On Foods, Pricesmart, Coopers). LOVE this line of sugars and sweeteners. Cane sugar, agave, honey, syrups, molasses. All natural and organic. We use nothing else. Prices range from $5.99-$12.99 depending on the size of the bag/product.

Pasta: TruRoots (Save On, Costco). This line of whole grain products are completely made from quinoa and brown rice. All of their products are natural, most are organic and gluten free as well. I can't wait to try their pasta. Costs range from $3.99-$9.99 depending on the size of the bag/product you purchase. Sorry folks, no coupons for these products.

Cereal/Granola Bars: Nature's Path Organic (Walmart, Save On Foods, Superstore). The name pretty much says it all. Healthy, all-natural and organic grains. They make cereal, granola bars and oatmeal. Prices range from $3.99-$9.99 depending on the size of the bag/product you purchase. $1.00 coupons have been seen from time to time.

The more I switch out my pantry the more I realize that it isn't that expensive to healthy. You buy less since its more expensive, but you don't need a lot of unhealthy processed foods in your house to feed a family. Healthy processed foods are also more filling, since they don't have a lot of msg and additives, making the need to buy more of it not necessary.

My challenge to you this week is to pick 1 unhealthy thing in your pantry and find a healthier alternative to purchase.

Total Spent Week 3: $155.96
Total Coupon Used Week 3: $21.50

YTD Grocery Total: $351.76
Coupons To Date: $53.53
% Savings to Date: 13%

Friday, 11 January 2013

Week 2: No Food in my Fridge...or Is There?

So how did everyone do on last week's challenge? I made about $100 this week by selling some old clothes, books, and some household goodies. I even gave away a whole box of $1 items that I didn't want to bother selling. I spent a lot of what I made on some shoes/clothes for the new baby were expecting in May and some "used", but new to me clothes. Most of the money I made went towards groceries for this week. Which leads me into this weeks saving money topic:

January is a super tight month for us. My husband is part salary/part commission and earns almost none of the latter in December, which means his New Years paycheck pays our rent, car payment and life insurance right down to the penny. For me, this presents a challenge - namely groceries, since thi means I have no money to budget for groceries until the 16th, when his mid-month advance comes in. Sure there is always the credit card, but we don't like using those unless we have to, so this week I put myself to work meal planning to see what kind of yummy things I could put together. Amazingly I put together 16 different healthy meals all with what was in our fridge/freezer and pantry. The saying is true that you always have more than you think you do. Here is just some of the meals I made this week:

Chicken/Bacon/Avacado Wraps, Tacos, Salmon/Rice/Veggies, Potato/Bacon/Leek Soup, Roasted Chicken/Potatoes, Homade Chicken Noodle Soup, Chili, Burgers, Beer Battered Cod and French Fries and finally we had Appie Night!

So this weeks topic is about using up what you have. I'm sure i'm not the only one that finds themselves tight on money at times. I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the meals that we typically pair together to save money. The leftovers from the previous meals are a main staple for dinner in the next 2 days:

1. Roasted Chicken Dinner with Potatoes- use extra chicken and carcass for - Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
2. Bacon/Eggs/Hashbrowns (Breakfast for Dinner) - use leftover bacon and chicken from above for - Ranch Chicken/Bacon Wraps or BLT Sandwiches - use extra bacon and potatoes from above for Potato/Leek/Bacon Soup
3. Tacos - use leftover hamburger for - Chili or Spaghetti - use leftover chili/pasta sauce for - Chili Dogs

Here are some other great ideas for cheap healthy meals to help you get by:

- Tuna Melts
- Fish and Chips (we picked up 5pieces of wild cod this week at the Superstore for $5.98!)
- Appie Night!

For those of you who followed my blog last year, you will remember that I cook and froze 30 bags of pumpkin (yes it was all FREE!). I also made 2 yummy Pumpkin Cranberry Loaves this week as well, which only cost me the cranberries (a great deal at $1.28/bag during Christmas at the Superstore).

Challenge: This week my challenge to you is to see how many meals you can create with just the stuff you have in your house. You may be surprised at how much this can save you on groceries..I figured I saved at least $100 this week alone (which is typically my grocery budget for 1 week).

Total Spent Week 2: $107.27 (remember my totals includ. diapers!)
Total Coupon Used Week 2: $8.00

YTD Grocery Total: $195.80
Coupons To Date: $32.03
% Savings to Date: 14%

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Happy New Year!...Week 1: Every Man's Junk is Another Man's Treasure

So this year I thought i'd try to blog about ways to save money.

As most of you know I started couponing because my husband lost his job 18 months ago. Our only source of income for 3 months was my maternity pay, and so when life becomes tough you find ways to scrimp by, make money and pinch pennies. I've become really good at it and the thought occurred to me that I should share some of the ways I make extra 'moo-lah' to get by or buy those things that I really want.

January is one of my favorite times of year. In with the New Year and out with the old. This is the time of year that many people make New Years Resolutions in the hopes of starting something to make their life better. I don't make New Years Resolutions, probably because I never stick with them past a week and then it just seems like i'm failing at life 1 week into a New Year - how depressing. Instead I choose to purge. Yup January is PURGE month for get new stuff at Christmas so why not get rid of the old stuff that you no longer use.

The one thing I find fascinating is how much 'stuff' people collect. You can ask my mom (yes I know you are reading this :))...I have never been one to keep things UNLESS it is sentimental. I used to throw out pieces of paper, artwork, etc that I know longer needed and it would drive my mother bonkers when I was younger. I'm still that way today. I do keep a lot of things; pictures, art, a nativity set my mom bought me, baby blankets, cards, letters, photo albums...etc. Think about what the things you would gather up and take if your house were on fire; those are the sentimental things. Then you have your everyday things; clothes, a hair dryer, the toaster...they are useful, but they probably wouldn't be the first things you grab if you had to. Then there are the 'other' things; all of us have things in our houses that either just sit on a shelf collecting dust or aren't functional anymore or maybe we got a new one and the old one now sits in the corner somewhere.

One of our families biggest sources of income is selling that last kind of item. Last year alone I think I made $500 selling odds and ends that we no longer used; clothing, a coffee table, extra couch, toys, tools, etc. We replaced things we got for free, such as a couch and a coffee table with a beautiful new sectional. We made a $200 profit on those 2 items that were acquired for free!

This week I want to encourage you to take a look around your house...are there clothes you don't wear anymore, shoes perhaps? Linens that are worn out that you could get $5 for or some appliances in your kitchen you no longer use? Furniture? Try selling them on swap sites, in the paper or hold an indoor garage sale. That extra income could be used to pay down debt, to buy this week's groceries or even be put towards that year end vacation you are saving for this year.

Every man's junk is another man's treasure!

YTD Grocery Total: $88.53
Coupons To Date: $24.03
% Savings to Date: 21%