Thursday, October 20, 2011

Montreal Deals of the Day




$116 for a 2 Person Local Getaway Including One Night Stay and Ski Lift Tickets at Hotel Le Chantecler ($232 Value)  











$39 for a Haircut, Wash, Blow Dry, Full Colour, and a Scalp Massage at La Nesamarie Salon ($110 Value) click here 








Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Group Buying Sites

Group Buying sites I have been scouring relentlessly looking for bargains in key areas of self improvement or relaxation.   I won't do impulse buys.  I will however buy things at significant discounts that are meaningful for me.

I admit its easy to over do it.  I tend to look at the sites and if I see something I want, I close the web page and think about it.  I'll mule over it for a while.

Recently I thought about getting a month long yoga studio membership, a house cleaning service, lazer hair removal, a day at the spa, and a gift certificate for clothing.

I bought two of the above five items that caught my eye.  They were all reasonably priced and useful items to me.  However each time I think about buying, I close the purchasing window after reading the terms of the purchase and looking at a map at the location.   I see how long its gnawing at me.  I think about how probable it is I could forget about it and not use it.

The most expensive purchase I made thus far (275 dollars) I spoke with three people about before I bought it.  The purchase wasn't in my monthly budget, and the service was further away than I liked especially considering I will be visiting it repeatedly.  However when I look at the cost and the value to me.  I think I can make the additional effort to get there on my days off work in the fall.

My second rule is that I can only have two unused certificates at any one time.  I can't buy any more services until I take my day at the spa and refill my self-improvement cash reserve.  What about you?  Are you a fan of group buying websites?

Here is a link connecting to several in Montreal

http://www.squidoo.com/montreal-group-daily-deal-websites

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Thousand Islands tours

I have been wanting ever since I passed the thousand islands on my first trip the Quebec, to travel to the Thousand Islands.  It just looked so majestic.  I didn't know where to go to do a reasonable tour.  Which is why when I saw wonder tours was running a special of 40% off their bus trips I decided to jump on it and bought two tickets.  I called in advance to be sure my 2 year old could sit on my lap.  They said it was fine.  So I got my family the bus trip for around 70 dollars.  We had to pay 20 dollars each to take the 1 hour boat tour of the US and Canadian islands.  It was beautiful.  I am glad I did it.  It would have been cheaper to just drive there I realized after, but it was nice to just put my feet up and let someone else drive me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Upper Canada

Cheap girl's been very busy organizing multiple days out.  I went to a little town called Upper Canada in Ontario.  It's a running colonial city, replete with old fashion ways of making cheese, bread, and pies.  They operate a small restaurant.  You can go in and see what a house would have looked like in the early 1800s.  I wasn't expecting too much from the trip but was pleasantly surprised by how nicely it was done.

I didn't get a rebate on the adventure sadly.  However I think the 44 dollars we paid in entry fees was well worth it.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

My daughters room makeover

So I posted over a month ago that for my annual spring clean I was trying to make over my house. In particular I wanted to tackle my living area, my daughters room and my front and back baloneys.  I wanted to do it all for 300 dollars, or as much as possible for 300 dollars.  I posted my challenge before I got my new job so I can probably add to the budget.  However for the fun of seeing what I can do with 300 dollars, I will keep to that budget until it gone.

I made over my daughters room via a bedroom set I found on craigslist.  I also bought a very dirty table and chair set from the same woman, which I am using both in the front and back balconies.  I will post that later because I am not done cleaning and organizing the outdoor furniture.

I bought the entire kit for 110 and paid a mover 90 dollars to get it to my house.  I spent 200 dollars total.

My daughters room looked like this before, the dresser was in bad shape when I purchased it.  I covered the paint chips with wall art.  My daughter further destroyed it by ripping wall art off the dressers and pulling off the remaining paint.  The dresser was also a little too big for her room.  Overall it was ugly and thats why it was on my list to redo


Her room looks like this now





I still want to change her lamps, the curtain, and perhaps the wall art.  I'll do that as sales pop up.  However the furniture is the perfect size and that little 3 drawer thing in the corner is a gorgeous antique secretary desk, worth far more than I paid for the entire set.  The entire set is real wood.  I love it and I am very happy with my purchase.  My daughter brags about her room.  What do you think of it?

Now the most challenging part of the challenge is actually getting the living area improved with 100 dollars, which is unfortunately all that I happen to have left in the budget.  I will show you my balconies in the coming weeks.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Using all my resources

I got a new job last month and so cheap girl has spending money again.  It feels so good.  The amazing thing about my three jobs is that each one has its own perks.  I've decided to use all three.

My new job, which I won't talk about in detail is my main job.  My salary pays all my expenses, will allow me to save a little, and in a year will provide matching retirement benefits.  Its kinda a dream gig for me.  It will let me use all my talents on some youth who are struggling.  They also have a gym located on site available to employees at lunch, which is an amazing perk.  I use it every day I can.

My on call job which isn't something I do every week but it pays me a little more than my third job.  They provide a quality free lunch and therapy if I ever need it.  Therapy, which runs about 120 bucks a visit, is not covered by our medical system, and its nice to know I have it available if I feel I need it. The reason they provide it to employees is because it's an emotionally draining job.  I feel blessed to have the option

My last job, which I do 5 hours a week, allows me to relax.  I can also sign up for training on pretty much any computer program you can think of.  I think that's pretty cool.  I start doing photoshop tutorials for free. This job is pretty much minimum wage.  I only do it because I love the environment plus it hardly feels like working.  I look forward to that job every week.

I think I happen to be extremely luck with all the perks I have at my three jobs.  Yet I found that few people use the gym at my work.  Few people take the free time at my third job for self development let alone taking the free tutorials.  I can't say how many people use the therapy at my second job but my guess is that very few actually do.  You see people often over-look whats right in front of them.

What free activity or support can use at work, at school, or in your community to improve your life?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Furniture Upgrade Challenge

It's time to spring clean.  The loveliest time of the year for the bargain hunter willing to take gently used items from yard sales, online classifieds and dare I say: the trash.

University students are moving away. Organized students sell their furniture inexpensively, while disorganized students throw out furniture at the last minute.  You also have people like me who don't have the capability to donate larger items.  If I set something useful out for the trash 9/10, someone comes to take it before the garbage men. Its the neighborhood give away.  I actually got a great bookshelf a couple months ago this way.

I started hunting for free furniture while in university and found fabulous finds like a lovely microwave, a breadmaker, a fabulous three shelf console table, a bookshelf and bags of designer clothing for free.  It was great for me, having had come from an impoverished background in small town that didn't waste.  When I moved to a city of rich college kids who threw everything away, was like a little bit of heaven to me.  It's not great on the environment but for someone without a lot of resources it can be a gold mine.  My college apartments at 19 and 20 were decorated like a designers, mostly with what other students thought was trash.  If you're thinking that's not possible you'd be mistaken.  I mean it wasn't a millionaires apartment but it was the same as any middle upper class college classmate.  No one knew how poor I was, and I preferred it that way.

My personal challenge:  I want to upgrade my daughter's furniture, get patio furniture for the front and back of my condo, and get a nice wall unit or armoire for my entertainment center.  Those are my focuses for this year's spring clean.  I don't have a time frame.  My total budget is 300 dollars including moving fees and taxes.  I have a few other little things I would like to change that aren't my priorities this year but I may end up upgrading if they are available.  I find that buying used is better without a strict plan, otherwise you miss the best deals.

Do you think I can do it?  My timeline to finish is August but I will post pictures when I can.  The first picture is a bookshelf I got free a month ago. It also has one shelf of mystery novels that I got free from craigslist.

What about you is there anything you want to upgrade this year?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The wonders of public transportation

I used to dream about some above ground tunnel that could shuttle me "to and fro" school when I was around 10. I think I was imaging something like the Jetsons tunnel.  While Cincinnati has buses downtown they don't have a good public system.  There wasn't a bus that went from I lived to downtown for example, in fact there wasn't a single public bus where I lived.  They don't have trains or subways either.  You either have a car or you don't get around in Cincinnati.

I live in Montreal now and the are very well equipped with buses, trains and the subway. People want to live close to public transit and having a train or metro station nearby means increased property rates.  Half the people I work with take the metro and the others either taxi or drive.  Driving yourself is quite expensive here, due to parking being both expensive and hard to find.  The city encourages the use of metro and the rates of metro passes are subsidized.

A lot of people don't care much for the metro but I love it.  I live at the end of the metro line and then work all the way on the other side of town.  I average 2 hours a day on public transport.  Normally I get a seat because of where I live and where I work, so this means that each trip I get a chance to catch up on a good book, listen to a pod cast, or my new favorite artist.  It's time I claim for myself.   I get to think and plan my day if need be, and I let the conductor drive.

It's a time saver too depending on where you live and where you are going.

The financial benefits of using the metro are huge.  At the moment my partner and I sharing our bus pass because he is working the night shift while I work the day shift.  A monthly pass costs us 72 dollars.  We use the pass 80-90 times a month on average.  If we bought each pass individually this would cost 3 dollars a trip.  Even if we both worked day jobs and therefore had to buy two passes, we'd still save money with the metro. If I parked downtown the parking would average 15 dollars a day.  I'd have to keep leaving work to pay the meter or move my car.  If I forgot to do that, I would get a ticket that would cost 50-80 dollars.  Plus, I would have gas costs, repair costs, and time lost looking for parking.  I think its simplified my life taking the metro and I know I save a lot of money with it.

Public transport is the great equalizer.  It allows someone with minimal resources to go to and from work everyday.  I can't imagine my life with out it.  I wouldn't work at my current job which is too far away to consider walking. It allows my family to save money to spend on other things.  As an example we'd probably not been able to pay for that cruise we took this year had we not both been able to use public transport.  Its also a great source of entertainment for my daughter, who raves about the bus and metro.  If you haven't tried it you definitely should see what it is like in your city.

If your public transports not safe or you don't have one.  You may want to consider moving.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I bought a sling baby carrier to carry my daughter in, from craigslist before she was born. It got a ton of use. I actually wore it everyday when my daughter was a baby. Slings are amazing. They are the simplest piece of equipment and it really did keep my daughter from crying.



The original one that I purchased was from hotsling. It was crazy stylish. Although I bought it used, the woman I purchased it from never used it. I washed it over and over again and it shrunk a little but luckily I can still use it. I can’t carry her too far now she’s approaching 30 lbs and its tough on my spine to go long distances with her in the carrier. I can carry her on and off the bus in the sling though.  Its handy up and down stairs on metro.

Yet I can’t use my old one with a coat. It’s too small. So I purchased a new sling from seven slings. They were running a special. I paid 14.00 for it with shipping and I think I will get a year worth of use out of it. My new sling is stylish. It works with my winter jacket because I purchased a slightly larger size. 

Have you ever tried a sling?

Clearly Contacts

My daughter broke my glasses last month.

It was a real bummer.  I went down to the place where I bought my eye glasses (which were 400 two years ago) and unfortunately they couldn't be repaired.  I have placed two orders with clearly contacts in the past for my contacts.  I was pretty happy with the order but I never quite felt comfortable purchasing my eyeglasses over the internet.  It seemed too complicated.  I got a new prescription for my eye glasses which cost 40 dollars and then I decided to take the plunge and buy my glasses online.


I paid about 40 dollars for my new glasses, which was 50 bucks total shipped to my door overnighted.  If I add everything up with the eye exam my new glasses cost me 90 dollars.  I compare that to my old glasses which were 500 dollars total and I think this is a better deal.  Plus these fit really well, dare I say better than the eye glasses I paid so much more for.  The hinges of these are somewhat spring loaded, so I don't have to adjust these all the time.  I do really like them and I will probably order a pair of prescription sunglasses from them soon.  What do you think about my new glasses?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Massage



I love to be massaged but I can't afford it often. I tend to go one to two times a year as a treat for me.  I wish I could go more often, by making friends with a massage therapist or finding a school that offers good massages cheap.  Until then I have to pay the usual rate like everyone else.

I've been waiting for the right group discount in Montreal to get a Massage package and I found it.  I paid 75 dollars for a 60 minute massage, a manicure, and a pedicure.  The nice thing about this deal is that this particular spa I walk past every Tuesday and Wednesday.  Its right next to Peel Metro station.  I intend to go one tuesday or wednesday after work.  I bought this via Tuango.ca



 

Hair removal


I can admit it publicly. I have a hair problem.  I have some hair growing in the wrong places.  It makes me self conscious.  I don't want to get into the details but it's honestly a daily struggle for me to get rid of the hair that I find humiliating.  I wax, shave, epilate, trim and have tried electrolysis & lazer hair.   The last two I quit doing early because of the costs. You name it I have done it.  I came across this deal finder promotion valid only today in Montreal for 6 lazer hair treatments for 89 bucks I jumped on it.  I bought two for good measure.  This spa is pretty close to my new job.  I think if it were near my sisters job in NYC I would have bought it too.  I also bought another group buy website deal that was too good to pass up today.  I will share that link soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Furniture Upgrades


I bought a condo last year.  I had a few grand to spend on furniture at the time.  I spent it on a new pull out couch and a kitchen table.  I love the kitchen table.  I am happy the couch.

My bedroom needed a change.  I had an IKEA malm bed which is pretty attractive but it was a little broken on the inside.  It also took up a lot of space around the edges of the mattress and left little room for other furniture.  So I saw an ad for a new bedroom set and decided to go for it.  I bought the entire set of one armoire, a bed, a dresser with mirror, and two side tables for 50 dollars. I hired movers for 65.  I love the set.  It changed my bedroom.  I have room for all my clothing now, and additional storage.  I also gained inches in the bedroom because of a difference in the way the bed was made.  You can't see the entire set in this photo but you can get the gist of my new set.

The set isn't perfect it's slightly damaged with scratches on the bedside table tops and a little dent in the base of the bed that's not noticeable.  I kept my own mattress and don't recommend ever taking a used mattress.

I love my new bedroom set.  It is such an improvement.  What do you think of my new set?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cheap Girl's Got a New Fabulous Job

So I had mentioned that I have been under-employed for some time.  I lost my primary job in June.  My life situation is such that I can't work a 9-5 position.  There is a lot of reasons for this, but I am not able to work that schedule, with my current life needs.  I needed a job with a flexible schedule, that payed a living wage, within my speciality, that didn't require me to write in french.  It took a while but I finally found the right fit.


I am so excited to have my new job and now I can return to being fabulous starting with the buy one get one half off sale at Reitmans.  Keep following me I should be making updates soon.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Its time to shop for winter clothing.

The spring lines are coming into all the stores and so in my opinion this is the time to get new clothing but not the spring lines.  Its the time for winter clothing.

I have a job interview this week and felt like my sweaters are too warn to wear to a job interview.  Yet the position is too informal to wear very formal clothing.  I think a nice sweater and nice pair of pants is the perfect outfit.  So I went to a clearance sale at our local Zellers store, the sale was 40% off already reduced clearance clothing.  Zellers is a canadian version of JcPenny/Walmart in my opinion.  I found 4 nice sweaters and paid a total of 22 dollars for all four of them.  They fit me pretty well and looked nice on.  I then went to LoBlaw and bought two shirts for 10 dollars while my husband was grocery shopping.  I spent 35 dollars with tax and now feel happy about my sweater collection and shirt collection.

So now with my closet over-flowing I decided to sort through the old ones.  I found 5 sweaters to donate to charity.  I try to arrange one sweater in and one sweater out.  It worked.  My closet feels way more fabulous.  I am ready for my job interview.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charging by the Bandwidth : Difficulties using Netflix

I am a big movie fan as many of you know.  However the trouble with netflix, really a problem with Canadian internet supply, is that watching movies can increase your internet bill substantially. I had a 50 dollar increase in my internet bill last month.  Which was just from watching netflix on my computer.

Its super annoying.  It makes me think I need to change my internet provider which is currently videotron.  Its only small start up companies that offer unlimited internet usage.  I'd change my provider right away except that we have a contract and secondly the law is currently up for debate about charging for usage/bandwidth.  The government did approve it so that all companies will have to start charging by the bandwidth, but now after consumer outrage, charging by internet usage is up for review. 

Personally I think its bulking customers for as much as possible.  I know that it can slow down or over-whelm servers.  However the companies are not exactly making a loss right now.  I mean they're ahead by millions.  So why not just upgrade servers occasionally?  I think the world is more and more increasing their operations on the net.  I am all for a strategy to make it fair for everyone.  I am just not sure that the government should encourage the oligopoly we currently have in Canada and let them charge customers whatever they want.

So cheap girl thinks you should let your representatives know we aren't interested in being forced to be charged by usage.  We don't want small internet start ups, who were just allowed on the stage a couple years ago, to go out of business.  We'd prefer choice.  I'd prefer a new contract one that lets me watch movies a few times a week without an extra fifty dollars internet bill.

What do you think about the government legislating with Bell and Videotron dictating?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Realm of Possibilities

I work very part time at a computer lab twice a week. The cool thing about that is that when no one is here is that I am allowed to watch movies.  So while I am writing this post today, I am also watching a movie I have been dying to see.  I love this position, both the fun things I get to do here and the students that I serve.

My position isn't glamorous.   It pays a few cents above minimum wage.  The perks though make this job a lot of fun.  If I had tried to find a job in my field or the closest job to my house, I would never have taken this position.  It's not ideal financially.  However most days I would hardly call my work here, work.

It can not be a long term career plan but it bides my time while I wait to find the right position.

I've mentioned a few times that I am looking for work that provides a little better income.  In the course of discussing my situation with a variety of people from government employment agencies to friends and colleagues.  I found out about several different opportunities from business grants to courses I could take. I am following up on each one of them while applying to various jobs that look like they may fit.

I had a job interview in a total unrelated field, with a job title that's not exactly impressive.  I applied to the position on a whim because it was offering the salary and schedule flexibility I wanted.  I doubted it was a good match but I've not heard back from many of my applications so I figured what the hell?  I was pretty excited to learn in the course of the job interview that the woman whose hiring, does as a consultant what I would like to do, but don't know how to earn enough money to make a living doing it.

I've had two job interviews with her at this point, both of which went very well.  I am a bit over-qualified in so far as degrees required.  However the benefit for me would be, that in a few years, when this woman retires, I could much more easily start my own business doing similar sort of consulting work.  I would know exactly how to do it.  I can't imagine a better way to start my business.  So I am waiting to hear back from her.  I am not totally sure I will get the position.

The interview though got me motivated.  I literally applied to this great position on a whim with out knowing how well suited to the position I was or how much I could learn.  Everything has its advantages you just have to be flexible and willing to see it.  So if your busy job searching like me why not broaden your search and reach out to recruiters or consider starting that side business you've been wanting to start.  It may just pay off.

Friday, February 18, 2011

My minimalistic weekly budget = $0

I got pretty motivated finding my brand new bookshelf and then filling it two days later with about 21 free books gotten from craigslist.  I decided to try to dedicate this week to getting things for free.    I can barter.  I can take items from the curb. I can use craigslist.  Whatever I do this week, I cannot buy anything with cash aside from food.  This week will come to an end next Wednesday, at which time I will share my bookshelf and anything else I manage to find that's of use to me.

I find it motivational because when you make up your mind to sticking to budget, you'd be surprised how creative you can be to get what you would like.  I've done this before actually before I had my daughter I placed an ad asking for gently used children's clothing or furniture.  I offered to pick it up around their convenience and I ended up getting enough clothing and baby items that I really had to barely purchase anything for my daughter her first year of life.  I didn't use a sob story.  I offered them a service free pick up of items they don't need anymore. 

There are sometimes that when I apply to free ads that I offer cookies and that tends to make people offering free stuff very happy.  You give a little and you take a little and everyone benefits.

So hopefully this week goes well, but if not I still have my bookshelf to show off.  I have more storage in my apartment.  I have more books.  We'll see whatelse I manage to acquire this week and what I end up giving back.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

When life throw your lemons make lemonade.

My on call job hasn't called me to work for them in a month.  My lack of work leaves me on a very little budget.  I have been dying to make a few upgrades to my home.  The very top of the list at present is : I wanted to get a few dressers, a couple armoires, and a couple of bookshelves.  We need the dressers for the bedrooms and the rest of the furniture is for our family room.

I wanted my living area to focus on books and games rather than the television.  We also didn't have enough bookshelves for our current number of books.  

I was so happy to see on Thursday night when I took out the trash, that one of my condo neighbors threw out a new looking IKEA billy bookshelf.  I knew what brand it was because I bought one a few years ago.  The bookshelf set out to the curb was small enough that I could carry it in my house by myself.  Yet tall enough my daughter can't reach two of the shelves.  It was already put together too, another plus in my book.

After de-snowing and cleaning our new bookshelf.  I started stocking it.  I think it looks better full. I really needed more books in order to fill both shelves.  I have been waiting to order a few books from my favorite online retailer.  I had promised myself when I had finished reading 3 of my perhaps 8 unread books I could place another order.  I had finished reading the minimum number of books weeks ago, but I kept hoping that Gorilla Marketing would make it to my favorite retailer who sells books way below retail value.  It finally made it.   I placed an order for a couple audiobooks, and 13 books.  My order totaled 52 dollars with shipping/tax which was a bargain in my opinion.  I doubt it will completely fill my bookshelf so I was so happy to see on craigslist someone offering up about 12 mystery novels that I have never read.

I emailed her and she replied.  I went to go get them on Sunday.  They completed my beautiful shelf of books/games and toys.  Thanks craigslist, my book donor, and the local bookshelf trasher you've made the day of this under-employed blogger.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Changes are a Foot

I had a baby two years ago and have been struggling since then with the work/life issues many mothers face.  It's a little more extreme for me because I don't have family near by and I also don't drive.
It's been hard to find meaningful work that fits within my family's schedule.  My partner does shift work that varies week to week.   I cannot depend on him for daycare or transportation.

I thought I had solved my working issue a few months ago when I took an on call job.  My on call work which went well in the fall, hasn't called me in a month.  I'm starting to get frustrating and I am again looking for work.  I'm not quitting but something has to accompany it.  I cannot live off the limited and unpredictable income it provides.

There's a long list of what would make it easier to get a job, in my sector, in my city.   So I am putting together a plan of action.

A couple of days ago I went to office that provides free french classes for new immigrants.  I asked about the french classes, and I found out about the french classes which I will probably do part time in the spring, along with a few other courses that I can take through them that could help me get a better job.  I spoke about my issues with a friend, who explained to me an internships program that I could do, to start a business.   I've been looking at job ads and found one clinic that is offering 3 full time positions.   It's a little far for me and not in my area of interest.  I'm also not looking for full time work mostly because its hard to accommodate it with my partner's ever-changing work schedule.  However this job fits really well with my training, and since there are three jobs, for people with relatively specific training, something tells me if I wanted one of the positions I could have it.  So I decided that I am going to apply and see how flexible the scheduling could be and how well it will pay.  I found a couple of other part-time jobs that I am applying to this week.  I also pulled rank and contacted a director of a government agency, an agency who I would love to work for, that is making me jump through paperwork hoops that will take 6 months to possibly get on their on call list.  Its super annoying because after 6 months and 100 dollars to process the paperwork they require as a formality, they may not hire me. If her contact at work, works out I may be able to get a very ideal on call job and reduce the time frame of the paperwork required to get the position.  I am hopeful that I hear back this week about it.  I am going to go see an employment counselor this week.  Lastly I am applying to go back to school, it's my back up plan. So between the employment counselor, the internship program, several job applications, my contacts, and my upcoming french classes I think something should work out.  If all else fails, I will go back to school full time in the Fall for a two year program that will lend itself to more career opportunities.

I have a serious game plan.  What about you?  Is there anything you need to change to improve your financial situation?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ask and You Shall Recieve - Negiotation at its best!

Negotiating is a really important skill to living a good life. 

If you learn to negotiate with others you end up getting what you want in exchange for what you can offer.

You shouldn't just ask for something and not offer anything unless your really desperate.

I am going to give you a few examples of how I use these principles:

1.) A while ago I went to a spa and wanted to have a treatment done repeatedly.  The thing was it cost like 200 dollars per treatment and I didn't have the money for it.  The place was nearby my work, which had a pretty flexible schedule at the time.  I offered to come in at the last minute if she had a no show.  So she agreed and we settled on a price of 75 dollars per treatment.   Now she only called me twice but to me it was worth  it.  I offered to fill a spot where she'd have not had any customers, and in return I got a significant discount.

2.) I recently got someone to cover an upcoming shift for me at work, but then the appointment that I had, got rescheduled.  I wanted to work my regular shift but to get my hours back, so I offered my colleague first dibs on my upcoming shifts.  In return I also got offered first dibs on her shifts.  This worked out better than I had anticipated because not only did I get my shift back at work but I will also be able to get an extra one.

3.) I need toddler items for my daughter and I have a friend who needs girls clothes so I exchange my daughters gently used clothes for her gently used toddler items.  We both save money here and waste less.

So when you are going to ask for a discount the next time think about what you are offering the salesmen.  When you want an upgrade what can you give the hostess?  When you want an extra shift at work who can you barter with to get one?  What sort of items do you have easy access to that are valuable to others?

What's your best negotiation story?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Great inexpensive gift options.

Have you ever been broke and needed to send a gift to someone?  My favorite way to send gifts to someone when I can't afford to send flowers or use amazon is to send books with bookcloseouts.  Now book close outs is a canadian company but they process orders with the American dollar.  They provide very reasonable shipping costs within canada as well as to the US.  I love their 99 cent sales.  They are having one right now on calendars, including really nice page a day calendars.  If you wanted to send a gift to someone to let them know you were thinking about them, bookcloseouts may be the best (also most inexpensive way).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Netflix for Canadians

I am a movie fanatic. I like all genres of film except for horror.  I am not very interested in seeing movies in the theaters anymore.  If I go I have to hire a sitter, in addition to paying for the seat for me and my partner.  He always orders popcorn which ads another 5 dollars to the bill.  A night out easily costs us 60 bucks. It's too expensive to go out to the movies and honestly I prefer the experience at home.  The question is with all the options which one is best for my family.

I tried zip.ca which sends you DVDs by mail.  While I liked the service I wasn't totally satisfied.  Sometimes I just want to watch a comedy other times a documentary and you have no choice which item you get off your list, when they send you DVDs.  It wouldn't be so bad if Canada Post wasn't as slow as they are.  I was waiting a long time for my DVDs to come by mail.  So this means sometimes I would get a movie I didn't care to watch, return it and wait 1.5 weeks to get a new DVD to watch.  Its convinent but a little long for taste.

I tried blockbuster which I still like quite a lot.  Blockbuster has a movies pass for their favourites selection and its pretty good.  They've got films I consider new releases in their favourites section and I can pick amoung thousands of movies.  Secondly if you have a SPC card you can get popcorn with every rental.  I think thats a bargain for 10 dollars. 

The thing is that in the winter I don't want to walk to the local blockbuster so when Netflix was offering a free trial I was curious.  I waited for the snow and signed up.  Thus far I love it.  I can watch movies no matter where I go and I can always pick up where I left off.  I will probably alternate between blockbuster and netflix.  Blockbuster definitely has a better selection for canadians than netflix right now, but netflix is a lot more convinent.

What do you think about netflix, blockbuster and zip.ca?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Learning to Live without

I know a couple of people who want something different for their lives.  I imagine if you are reading this blog you'd like to live a good life and simultaneously improve your financial situation.  It's a goal that I have and for the most part, its the point of this blog.  I mean living inexpensively is great but I am also mindful of the fact that you never know how long you've got.  So I plan to live forever (investment wise) but live like I might die tomorrow (take time for myself & my family everyday).

Getting back to some of the people I know who want something different for their lives, in all of their cases they want something different to fall into their laps.  The chance of something like the lottery happening is pretty much non-existent. They have a better chance of dying on the road while driving to purchase the lottery ticket, than they do of winning on that lottery ticket.  There are other things that could happen hypothetically, a large inheritance for example or marrying a happy rich person....but again that happening is slim to none.   So the better thing to try is to make small steps to reach your goals and start today.  If you really believe in playing the lottery (don't let me stop you), but just don't put all your eggs in that basket.

If you have financial goals, the easiest thing to do is to learn to live without something.  If you go out to eat three times a week you could go out to eat twice a week a pocket the difference.  If you love coffee and go to starbucks, well make a gourmet coffee at home.  You could buy a timer so that you wake up to fresh roasted coffee and in a few months it would have paid for itself.  Starbucks is ridiculously priced, then again I am a rooibos kinda girl, so maybe I don't know what I am talking about in so far as coffee.  In any event, I still maintain that cutting one regular purchase, can give you a ton of money for your savings and investing goals.  This is something that really became apparent when I took my maternity leave.

While I went to graduate school I was working in a research medical clinic for around 35 hours a week plus I had classes and volunteer stuff I was doing.   Ultimately I found little time to cook, so I ate out a lot.  I don't eat out expensively, my typical lunch was 4 dollars and a typical dinner for me is around 12.  However the food court I went to for lunch was next to a clothing store I liked.  I only shopped in the clearance section so I did not spend a lot per item, but it all adds up, I approximate my expenses on that sort of stuff to be around 450 dollars a month.  Which maybe that is not a lot to you.  However that is like an ipod a month, or a large investment for me.  So even though I took a steep pay cut while out on mat leave, I actually was ahead financially because I had so few expenses.  I also stopped going to movies and comedy clubs.  It reminded me that maybe when I work I should work part time to be able to cook for my family and clean the house.  I don't think we're financially behind with that arrangement.  I learned to live without weekly trips to winners and eating out, which I maintained after returning to work.  Now that I started working at a new job that pays a living wage again, hopefully this means that now I should be ahead financially.

What about you?  What could you try to cut from your expenses to start reaching your financial goals?

Old Navy Sale 25% off clearance

I got an email this morning stating that Old Navy.ca is having a sale with 25% off their clearance merchandise if you use the code ONEXTRA25. Shipping is free if you spend 50 dollars.  At christmas time I had quite the bargain and got 3 sweaters and 4 pairs of pants for 50 bucks using their 5 dollar sale.  I don't really need clothing at the moment as a result, but if I did you better bet that I would use this sale to stock up on what I need through out the year.

My shopping spree

I have been stressed out lately...really stressed out.  My daughter's had the gastro and the breastfeeding which we had cut down on, is now on again at full force.  I have a sick close relative who's hopefully to be released today from the hospital, but we now know they are terminal.  Lastly I dislocated my shoulder again and was in emergency myself at the beginning of the week.  I had to call off work several times this week dealing with what is an over-whelming amount of stress for a young family like mine.

So today I went shopping.  I had a few items to get and I wanted a little time alone from my suddenly very needy toddler.  So I left her with her dad and off I went to our local dollar store.  The dollar store here is called Dollarama and its amazing the stuff you can find there.  I've heard the dollar tree it making it's way into Canada and I think atleast in Montreal they won't do too well. I do not recall the dollar tree offering anything as good as dollarama. 

I spent 20 dollars....got a big back worth of loot (gloves and hats) and relaxed.  You see, you can spend money to relax and not break the bank.