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?