I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.
~ Lao Tzu
~ Lao Tzu
It has been a very long time since I made a post about what I've been doing to save money lately. The last post in August, was about curbing my impulse buying and doing without. If you'd like to read it, you can find it here. Curbing impulse spending is one of the best ways to save money and ensure you don't rack up more credit. I know this isn't always possible and some of us are more disciplined than others. I am an impulse buyer and if someone in my family needs something, it is always my first instinct to try and provide it. I still try to do that but now I carefully consider the purchases and timing of them. I also have an instinct to purchase something when I know it is a really good deal. These days I still do that but only after I've considered all the angles.
In my August post I had a list of "to dos" that could provide me with some cash. I've managed to follow up on all of them but one. I hope to do that soon. The last one is a receipt for health insurance which I forgot to submit over the summer months. I have to hunt around for my receipt as well as two items of paperwork that need to be submitted. I do have the paperwork but the receipt isn't in the obvious place. I have one more place to look.
Other ways I've saved money this summer:
- Reduce: Rather than purchase books I borrowed 7 from the library this past month. I don't purchase books very often these days but when I do I try to get them used on Amazon or for very cheap at the thrift store. I then give a lot of them away through Freecycle when I've finished reading them. I only keep the odd one that I might want to re-read because I already have so many books and don't need to add more to my shelves. This summer I purchased one book off of Amazon for the cost of shipping. The price was for a used book and the cost for shipping was a dollar more than it would have cost me to take a return city bus trip to go and buy the book in person. In fact, it would probably cost me more on a bus because first I'd have to try to find the book somewhere. Through Amazon, I didn't have to leave the house so I not only saved money but time.
- Reuse: I made two bib type garments with pockets for my mother. The bibs are not for clothing protectors when eating but are made with pockets so she can carry her telephone and wallet as she travels around in her wheelchair. I used fabric I had inherited from her for one of the bibs. I had gotten rid of a lot of her fabric that I knew I wouldn't use and saved some I thought I could use within a reasonable period of time. It has come in handy despite not really having a place to store it all. I also had a worn out sofa slip cover that I took apart about 2 years ago. It still had a lot of reusable fabric and I used it for the 2nd bib.
- Recycle: I put together some kitchen items and books for recycling. There are always locals who are ready to pick up almost any kitchen, reading and bathroom item.
- Watch the flyers: I purchased lots of toilet paper and paper towels for less than half the regular prices. When these items are very inexpensive I stock up on them and store them in my laundry closet. I know many people don't use much toilet paper at all and only allow themselves 1 or 3 squares maximum per use. I don't subscribe to this kind of savings. I would rather feel clean and comfortable. However, I would make reusable cloths to use in place of paper towels. At this point I don't use enough paper toweling to warrant it but it is something on my 'to do' list of frugal practices that are also good for the environment.
- Browse discount fabrics: From time to time I do browse the fabric at quilting shops and purchase fat quarters or smaller yardages that are put on clearance. I then try to purchase a few pieces of coordinating fabric along the way. Getting enough fabric to use to make a quilt is something I'm learning to do by trial and error. Crafting can be expensive so whatever I can do to save funds to help me continue crafting, is a good thing. I've learned too that not all materials are created equal. For example, at Wal-mart, one has to be careful about the cotton fabric you purchase. A lot of the fabric is virtually see through because it is so thin and it isn't the best quality. No doubt they purchase in bulk from the cheapest sources to give the best prices to the consumers. But you get what you pay for and this kind of fabric won't stand up to a lot of washing. Sometimes you can get some better quality cotton there. You just have to be careful. The same is true of any discount fabric store. Unfortunately, where I live, we only have one fabric store handy and two quilt fabric stores. We don't even have a Wal-mart. I have to go to the next suburb to shop there so I don't bother. I only go to Wal-mart when I travel.
- Grow the garden: This year my floral garden didn't do well. But the garden did grow hot peppers, large and miniature tomatoes and a small bit of kale. Next year I will grow the same things. Hopefully we won't have all the rain we had at the start of the growing season.
- Use points: I collect all kinds of points. It is a job you have to stay on top especially if you want to make sure you have your points cards with you when you are shopping at a particular place. You also don't want to buy things just for the sake of getting points. I always try to purchase on sale and very seldom ever pay full price for things. Sometimes I double up on things if there are bonus points but only on things I actually need. A few weeks ago I got $85 credit at my local drugstore. This enabled me to stock up on laundry detergent, dish washing detergent (I make it when it isn't on sale), butter, bacon and various household needs. I also got a $60 credit on clothes shopping at a place where I often buy clothing items for my mom. The credits were mailed to me at the right time since it was during end of summer sales and many things were 50% off or less. You can't make things with new fabric at those prices. I was able to purchase a summer dress, a dressy sweater, 2 summer shirts and a jean capris for myself; all within the $60 credit. I got brand new clothes for less than the price of many thrift store purchases in town. I was very happy.
- Travel bargains: This summer I took a trip to the Province of Quebec and to several eastern states in the USA. I was able to convert a lot of my air miles to get accommodations at one hotel for two nights in New York. This was a huge savings in terms of dollars out of pocket. It took me years and years to save those air points but when I needed them I was able to use them. Other travel bargains included taking chances on where to stay as we drove along the freeways. The places that had comfortable beds and a huge, varied breakfast were the best bargain. For the most part these tended to be Best Western Hotels. Not only was the price right (in the USA) but the breakfasts were very nice and for two people a fantastic savings on daily spending. On top of that we got 10% off every time we spent a night through BCAA membership. Since we were on the road non-stop, I also went to places like Wal-mart and purchased snacks like ready made sandwiches, salads and drinks for the road. One thing I dislike about travelling is having to eat fast food all the time or dining in restaurants that are far too expensive to eat in three times a day, not to mention the health issues that come from dining out. Another big expense of travelling is gas. Gas in very expensive in Canada. Much of our road trip was in the USA so we felt like we were saving money every time we fuelled up since gas across the border is much cheaper than where we live.
- Flowers: For a long time I gave up having fresh cut flowers due to the expense. Lately at my grocers they have been discounting floral bouquets as new ones come in. I've been fortunate enough to find flowers I like and buy them from time to time. Fresh cut flowers are one of my favourite things and bright ones with a scent do lift my mood and give my days some beauty. I just purchased 3 bouquets of snapdragons for $3. total. I think that is a great bargain. I don't buy flowers every week. I change their water often, use disinfectant, discard dead stems and try to make the bouquet last as long as possible.
- Food: This summer I was fortunate to be able to buy 8 wild salmon (whole fish) at a huge discount (total cost $52. Canadian). These were Pink salmon, not Coho which is very expensive. Nonetheless it was an excellent bargain especially since most of them were cleaned of their scales. I didn't buy 8 whole fish at once because they wouldn't fit in my freezer at the same time. But I was able to purchase the fish on 2 different occasions and cut most of the fish into portions. I saved one big one for a dinner with friends. Another way I've been saving money is to purchase in bulk when an item is on sale. I drink coffee and I'm not a coffee snob. So when the big cans of coffee come on sale for half the regular price I buy 3-4 at a time. For some time now I've been adding more grains and pulses to my daily diet. I've also added a lot of greens and even more vegetables than usual. It has allowed me to cut down on the meat so that is also a big savings on the food budget and a benefit to my health. I do still use milk from time to time and I use butter instead of margarine. I get both of these on sale at my local pharmacy where I save about half the cost of a pound of butter and about $1. off a jug of milk over the regular price at the local grocery store.
Well there you have it my dear readers. I didn't actually tally my savings over the summer but it was easily within the hundreds of dollars. Despite all the savings it has been a more expensive few months for me than usual and it will continue to be so for at least the rest of this year. The challenge is always to find the best deals possible and to save wherever I can and s-t-r-e-c-h each and every dollar. Whatever I can save in one area is applied to another high priority need.
If I can, I am going to do some no spend weeks between now and Christmas. That should help a lot. For the year 2013, I have had several financial goals. I've done well on them for the most part and will give a report on the progress at the end of this year.
What about you dear reader?
Have you been able to save money this summer?