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.