Category Archives: Spending

Saving Money – Part IV

Well I’ll apologize in advance if this post makes no sense. The kid last night decided to wake us up not once, or three, but five times. So I’m barely awake and I’m paying more attention to when my coffee maker will stop brewing so I can make it through the day.

The other day I was talking to a few friends at lunch and the topic of making your food came up. One fellow was eating a brownie that he made from a kit, while another was eating a can of pre-made soup for lunch. When I pulled out my lunch of leftovers they were impressed. It was homemade chicken nuggets and this the conversation that followed.

Friend 1: Ooo, where do you buy such small chicken nuggets?

CD: My wife made them.

Friend 1: Well that’s a lot of work.

CD: No, it wasn’t. Just cut up chicken and coast in breadcrumbs with a few spices and bake for 15 minutes. It was easy.

Friend 2: No making this brownie was easy. Just add water to the mix and bake.

CD: Ok, how much did you pay for your kit?

Friend 2: I’m not sure but about $3.

CD: Well it takes me perhaps five extra minutes and I can make that from scratch for around $0.25.

Friend 1: Ok, but can you make a soup like this?

CD: Yes, how do you think I use up some of my leftovers? I make soup on the weekend.

So this lead me to a thought. People need to get back to their kitchens and remember how to cook (or learn if they don’t know). It’s cheaper, healthier and it is a skill you will use daily for your entire life.

Unlike the rest of the population I have a special motivation. I used to work for a chemical distribution company, so I have seen all those chemical additives to prepackaged foods. Trust me when I say that once you have seen them in their raw form you will try to avoid those additives for the rest of your life. My skin still crawls when I think about it.

Saving Money – Part III

Ok, I didn’t really mean to turn this into a series this week, but I’ll blame the book I’m reading on this (I’ll do a book review next week on it). Today on saving money I’m going to touch on suggestions for housing and what makes up a really great place to live that will save you money.

1) Rent or buy near where you work, if possible. That way if you can walk to work think about all the cash you can save.

2) If you can’t rent/buy near work, can you do it near public transportation. In my case I’m only two blocks from a cross over point of several bus routes of which one runs with in a block of my work building. I currently car pool to work, but some days I still take a bus when the pool isn’t running. (A note for renters, if you always pay on time and have a great set of references ask for extras. I once got an apartment held for me for two months rent free because the landlord really wanted me in the apartment block).

3) Buy in a neighbourhood where you feel comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable when your viewing the place, trust yourself to find something else.

4) Never buy in the ‘best’ part of town. Prices tend to be high and you don’t get a lot more house. Your basically paying more for a home for the name of its neighbourhood.

5) Layout is more important than the number of sq feet. My current house is only 186 sq feet bigger than my first home, but it feels huge all because of the open layout and the smaller bedrooms (where I never spend any time when I’m awake anyway). Also excessive sq feet just cost money to heat and more time to clean.

6) Buy the worst house on the perfect block for you. You can usually get it 10% cheaper than the rest of the neighbourhood and then you can fix it up to what you like for 5%.

7) Use an real estate agent when buying, but avoid one when selling. Real estate agents are very handy for buying a home because they cause you nothing, but don’t forget to check out private deals on your own. Obviously avoiding an agent when selling saves you thousands of dollars in commissions.

8) When you do sell your home. Make it spotless and clean up the clutter. Remember your not actually selling your house, your selling the dream of a perfect show home. 80% of people can’t see past the furniture to realize they are only buying the walls. If you do it right you can sell your home faster and for more money.

9) Also when selling your home don’t get greedy with the list price. A lower list price can spark bidding wars and ensure you house is off the market faster. Remember it does you no good to have a house on sale for a extra month just to get a few more thousand dollars. Your time is worth something.

10) Take your time. Find good housing is difficult, so don’t rush into anything if you can avoid it. Every problem I ever had with a place was due to me rushing in. So now I like to take it slow if possible.

Have a great weekend,
CD

Saving Money – Part II

Today on this little series of saving money I’m going to present a few ideas about food.

The biggest savings of food out there is growing a garden. Yes it has some up front costs, but after that in the middle of summer you are eating fresh herbs/veggies/fruit for nearly free and depending on what you grow you can also freeze some for the winter.

Even if you are in an apartment and have at least one sunny spot by a window you can grow herbs and save a boatload of cash compared to buying them. I currently have a basil and chives plant in my living room. I’m not very good at growing anything, but if I can manage it, it isn’t all that difficult. Another option is to grow herbs in a pot outside if you have a balcony or any sunny spot in your yard.

If your lucky enough to have somewhere in your yard where you can grow a small garden, then I suggest growing things you like to eat (in my case carrots, beans, lettuce and strawberries). Start small and you can always rip up lawn to make it bigger. If your clueless about growing anything, head down to your library and ask for help finding a book about what grows in your area. Another great resource is talking to your neighbours with gardens, which also might prove useful if you over plant something and can trade it off to someone for some other produce.

After growing a garden my next food suggestion is simple: avoid eating out and prefabricated foods. If you cook at home from scratch, you will also be saving money. Obviously this can’t be done all the time, so don’t worry about the rare fast food run or deciding that you make horrible pies and you buy one from the store. It’s the habit of eating out all the time and using prefabricated food all the time that costs a lot.

So those are my suggestions around food. I like to keep this simple and eat well. If you have any other ideas please share.