Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thrifty Thursday + Giveaway!

While this won’t be a wegular weekly wite-up, I thought I would take advantage of the available alliteration, perhaps planning to perpetuate its popularity in posts to come.

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How do you save a few pennies in your day-to-day life? While we can always do more, here’s a list of some of the things we do around the house to keep more of our money in the account, and less down the drain.
  • Vinegar. I’ve recently discovered it’s brilliant powers of cleaning—and deodorizing—just about anything. From windows and mirrors, to stainless steel sinks and appliances, chrome fixtures, bathrooms, stovetops, and more. Most applications require a simple ratio of 50:50 water:vinegar. I keep mine in a spray bottle, accompanied by a microfiber cloth. Wonderful.
  • Menu Planning. We try, try, try to keep a weekly menu plan. I’ve posted my design freebie for a fridge menu planner/shopping list here, and we do use a variation of this by the very clever and witty Knock Knock company (until their pad runs out, then I’m switching to my wayyy more efficient design). Coordinating our menu and grocery list for the week means fewer trips to the grocery store and more deliberate choices, resulting in less waste of food and money.
  • House Brand Products. Today, most grocery and department stores have their own house brands: no name, President’s Choice, Master’s Choice, Equality, Life, Great Value and more. I have been buying no name and President’s Choice products for at least 15 years. In my experience, the savings in costs far outweighs any discrepancies in quality and in most cases, we prefer the house brand to the national brands anyway. Don’t be afraid to try house brands. I’m always amazed at the grocery carts just filled with brand name products. I’m sure over a cart-full of groceries, the average consumer could easily save about $20 by choosing house brand products.
  • Laundry. Two things: ONE: Buy yourself a Spray ‘n Wash Stain Stick. Keep one in every bedroom, bathroom and diaper bag—I also include one in every baby shower gift. This product WORKS. Any time Jake slops his supper, or Quinn rolls in the dirt, I smear the stick on the spot, roll up the garment and throw it in the hamper for up to a week. This prevents me from having to make up a load just to get to that stain right away. TWO: I wash everything in cold water. Everything. And everything comes out just tickety-boo. Clean, fresh and I’ve saved a good load of coin.
  • Heating and Cooling. Yes, we have air conditioning, and we use it. But we keep the thermostat set relatively high at 26°C, which is just enough to keep the house cool and free from humidity. The sun pours in the back of our house, so we do tend to keep those blinds closed on hot days—Sorry, Julie! We also turn off the pilot light of our gas fireplace when not in use, not only to keep Jake’s wee fingers safe, but also to save money on our gas bill. In the winter, we wear sweaters and socks, and we crank those blinds up high to let in every available minute of sunshine.
  • Hot Water. If we’re planning to be away from home for more than 48 hours, we turn off the hot water heater. I’d love to know exactly how much this saves. It’s gotta be significant. And although I haven’t started yet, I like an idea I read recently that suggests bathing your little kids in a smaller ‘storage bin’ type tub, inside your bathtub to catch splashes, to save even more water on a daily basis.
  • Rain. I have just acquired a rain barrel and I plan to use it just as soon as I decide on the best downspout. I love the notion of collecting what Mother Nature provides to water both indoor and outdoor plants, wash cars, windows and more. How absolutely perfect.
  • Digital Photos. We take a lot of pictures. And now with Quinn becoming an avid photographer, even more. We rarely print them, choosing instead to email favourites to friends and family, create an online gallery or even a DVD. We print only the most special pics that we know will end up in an album or frame to be admired. Despite popular assumption, I am not a scrapbooker.
  • Gifts. Over the last several years, we have really tightened our belts on gift spending. This past Christmas, we chose to give our parents (and we have a lot of them, thanks to adoption and blended families) the gift of our time. I designed a gift card containing several dinner dates, and I am pleased to say we have stuck to just about every one. Leesa and Bob still need to come over for their May 11th meal, but Bob has been out of town and unavailable. He is forgiven. I digress. When we do give gifts, I wrap them in Kraft paper tied with jute. We sometimes choose to decorate the paper, and we always make handmade cards.
There are so many fun and clever ways to pinch a few pennies in your everyday lives. Go ahead—share a few with me by posting a comment before midnight EST on Friday August 1st. GIVEAWAY ALERT! The idea I like the best will receive either a pair of original bead earrings in the colour of your choice, or a 6-pack of original handmade pen and ink note cards—your choice—delivered to your door. All designed and crafted by me.


  1. Weddings, birthdays, graduations, baby showers....the list of cards needed goes on and on. So, instead of buying cards I will get out the construction paper and have my daughter color a picture. Then we just write Happy _____ on it. Everybody thinks it is so cute that she made the card and we save ourselves a ton!

  2. i love the idea of this post. i am definately on the money saving war path. the ideas you had were just great! I am going to post something about your give-a-way for my readers if you do not mind...

    I ride my bicyle to work every day, unless it rains. I work a part-time job about a mile and a half away, so the sacrifice is not huge, but i stayed on a half tank for almost 2 weeks one time. My hubbie got a motorcycle {such a sacrifice right?} to ride for hsi commute, he drives 40 miles each way 5 days a week. that is the expensive part. So, I guess you could say that is our major $cash$ saver. We literally have cut $250 of gas spending out since we started this. I know when the cold weather comes we will not be able to as much, but hopefully gas prices will have gone down by then...

    One more thing, we are trying to keep the lights off- i have to follow my hubbie around turning things off behind him...

    Also, thanks so much for the comment you made on my blog. You were so awesome with the paint choices you gave me. I am definatley going to go out tomorrow and see what i can find. I hope you will keep reading my blog, readers like you that have such great comments are a great find in the blog-o-sphere!

    i think this is the longest comment...

  3. I needed this post. The ideas you gave really got me thinking and I need to follow many of these! Our biggest issue is eating out. With no kids it's so easy for us to just pick up and go out. It makes me sick to think of all the money we spend on food each month. I love the menu planning ideas I've been getting since starting to blog and something I'm setting up this weekend. Monday will be week one of our menu!