A Thank You

Here I was cruising my blog stats and I came across a link from Blogher. A lovely lady named Nordette had quoted me not once but twice in her contributions to Blogher. I would like to say thank you to Miss Nordette and I am honored that you would find my blog and my post on Balancing Babies and Bills interesting enough to quote.

So, in turn, I return the favor amicably.

Nordette has been blogging about the econimic times and crisis we find ourselves in. How can one cut the budget to survive these times. It’s difficult to say the least. Here’s a few more tips for budgetting and pulling in the purse strings.

1. Utilities

Phone

Do you really need all those features? Voice mail? Call forwarding? Call waiting? You pay up to 7 dollars a feature after the promo freebie of three months. If you package it together you are still looking at anywhere between 15 and 20 dollars a month for the package deal. The only thing you really need is a basic phone line, if the person desperately wants to get a hold of you, they’ll call back and keep calling until they get you! If you need an answering machine, get an old style analog machine. Our phone is cordless with a base that has an old style analog answering machine – I just saved myself 7 bucks for the voice mail service, 7 bucks for the call waiting services and 7 bucks for caller ID services on my bill by changing it to remove those features. That’s 21 dollars in savings on my phone bill already and I haven’t even spoken about long distance yet!

Long Distance Services

Think about how often you call long distance. Is it within the country? International? How often? We don’t call the United States at all. We call long distance at least once a day within Canada and that’s only my mother’s work place if I am returning her call or my sister’s phone number. Instead of 12.99 a month for anywhere, anytime in Canada and the USA we chose to change it to 5 cents a minute in Canada only. That’s a 5 dollar a month service compared to a 12.99 service a month. Savings: A penny shy of 8 bucks.

Still keeping score with me? That’s 28.99 or almost 29 dollars in savings on a phone bill. Our phone bill was all the bells and whistles at 80 dollars a month now it’s a basic line with no bells and whistles for 23 dollars a month plus 5 dollars a month in long distance. That is a 52 dollar savings on a phone bill a month. Over a year – 336 dollars  compared to paying 960 dollars a year. That’s an extra 624 dollars a year to put toward something else.

Electric & Gas Heating

Turn off those appliances, use a clothes line to dry your clothes, use your power hungry appliances in low peak hours (usually between 8pm and 11pm). Buy energy saving light bulbs and appliances. Turn off that television when not using it. Turn off the lights when leaving a room. Make it a habit! Take showers instead of baths – even the kids. Couples, pair up with your showers at night, hey it’s couple time!

Water Bills

Would it pay you forward to pay now to fix running and leaky toilets? You bet, a toilet can run you anywhere from 200 to 400 dollars in water bills if it is not maintained. A leaky faucet? Just as much. Keep those toilets and faucets well maintained. A leaky water heater? You’re looking at a 500 to 700 dollar water bill spike if you don’t do something about it now. It is better to pay 50 dollars to fix a relatively easy problem to fix now in a toilet or 300 dollars to fix a leaky water heater now then it is to get shocked at your mail box with an 800 dollar water bill later.

Utility companies don’t care if your toilet was leaky or your water heater. They want their money, they are for profit companies and to them bottom line is all that matters.

Television – Cable Services

Do you really need 300 channels? Have you ever sat there on a Friday night and flip through those 300 channels saying with an exasperated sigh “there’s nothing on” Why not cut the bill literally in half and say it with 100 channels instead? Bells and whistles don’t mean a darn thing if you can’t pay for them. Go basic, or go without – You have an extensive DVD collection you say? Hey, favorite movies make for favorite family nights! Games? Kids love parent’s attention, any way they can get it! Game night and going back to basics based on family quality time might satisfy little Billy’s or little Bailey’s cravings for mama and papa time with them.

If you are like us though, can’t go without your Dr. House or Fringe once a week and don’t have online services that cater to Canada yet or your area, get the basics and stick with the basics. If you only watch television an hour or two a week like I do, go with basic cable. That’s a savings that can’t be beat at over 100 dollars a month.

2. Groceries

Oiy, you have a household like mine? Grocery bill depressing when it can hit 300 a week? No name brands, dollar stores, bulk buying. These are your saving graces. No name brands cost exponentially less than name brand and food is food. No one ever keeled over eating no name brand food. Dollar stores are now carrying both no name brand and name brand for a buck a buy. Hit up the bigger dollar stores to find your favorite brand names that you just can’t go without.

Buying in bulk gets you the best amount for your dollar. It’s work it and you don’t have to hit up a Costco to do it. There’s places like Bulk Barn and fresh market grocery stores (ie: Oceana, Asian Markets, ect) that sell meat, of all things, at almost a quarter of the price that grocery stores and deli’s sell them at. They make the cuts in front of you like a traditional butcher would and you can see how fresh they are. You are likely to find some pretty interesting new foods at an Asian Market as well.

Remember that fruits, veggies and anything healthy for you is not taxed. Anything that comes in a box, can or bag (except your fresh produce like apples and veggies) or is “convienence” food are taxed. High amounts of sugar? taxed. Believe me, I know, I worked for a grocery store. They also place the product in a way that entices you to buy more of the taxable products, it’s business not pleasure for them. Go with a full stomach, never ever go grocery shopping hungry! The mind plays funny tricks on a grocery shopping person when you are hungry – it causes more impulse buying.

3. Clothing

With kids, it can be difficult when they are growing out of their clothes so quickly. Start a clothes swap with the other parents in your kids schools. Not in school yet? Start a neighborhood clothing swap! Put the word out there, look at freecycle yahoo groups within your areas! Craigslist, Kijiji, online\offline. Church swaps, Salvation Army…plenty of resources out there. Can’t find a freecycle in your area, contact the organizers and ask to start your own chapter with them for your area!

Thrift stores are your best friend, you can find just about anything there if you take the time to do so. Outlet stores are much cheaper for brand name than Big Box clothing stores in the malls. You have to go looking for it, it’s a lot more work but in the end it’s easier on your wallet.

Essentially, saving money is about priorities. What do I need compared to what do I want. In this day and age society is hungry for bigger, better, faster, more – it’s never about us as individuals, it’s about what can I present myself to be accepted by society material wise. Keeping up with Jonses can destroy families and finances. Should you care that your neighbor has that sub-zero fridge? Why? No, it’s not about what the person next to you has material wise, it’s about what you can do to make your life comfortable, your family’s life comfortable. The neighbor with the sub-zero fridge – can he pay your bills for you? Would he want to with a brand new, on credit 2000 dollar fridge (or more) sitting in his kitchen? Don’t think so, does your utilities companies care if you have other bills other than theirs? Does your bank with your mortgage or car loan? Do they care if you WANT a sub-zero fridge? Or do they care that you can’t pay your bills with them? Priorities, it’s all about priorities. Groceries before car payment, car payment before cable…and so on.

If you don’t have a house, you don’t have a place to pay utilities for, if you don’t have electric, you don’t have a stove or fridge for those groceries, if you don’t have water, you don’t have a means to keep tidy home and self. What’s the point to having an expensive fridge if you don’t have groceries to put in it or electric to power it?

Nordette’s article on Blogher can be found here: BlogHer Article

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