Her name is Shirley. My new awesome bike, that is. Yes, she’s an inanimate object, but she has no objections to being named. And sat on.

She was a fabulous find yesterday by my sweet fella for a sweet price of $80 with tax from the local charity shop. Other than a couple of spots and one tiny ding, she’s as good as new, and has already been for a lovely beach ride which she enjoyed, as did I.

The picture shown (that seems to have accidentally cropped more of itself) is of her new spot, and as I looked at that wall, I realized how affordable that snapshot of my life has been. The antique desk was $175 but I got it for $150, the larger pictures were $5 each from the charity shop, along with a couple garage sale pieces, a couple of new items, and a dollar store star that I painted copper, totaling approximately $300, including darling Shirley.

That vignette could easily have cost twice that amount or more, but if you can keep more of your money for yourself and still get what you want, why not?

Let’s say you currently have $200 left each month after all your expenses but you’d like to double that, increasing savings by 100 percent.

I’ll throw out some tangibles I’m actually doing this year, along with other ideas that come to mind. Let’s aim for 20 ideas, by no means all that’s been or could be shifted, but to keep this blog kinda under control :).

  • Recently, I shifted from Telus to Eastlink cable and internet. Telus kept increasing my monthly fee even though I thought our two year contract meant I’d be charged a certain amount every month. But after the fourth increase in a few months, I decided to say farewell, again. I’m now getting more for $30 less each month at a definite rate for two years, adding up to at least $720 saved.
  • I don’t do much in the way of couponing, but if it’s handed to me, I won’t say no. I got one at Thrifty’s the other day, $5 off if you spend $50. To really “save”, I’ll need to find a good deal, at better prices than elsewhere. I favour their occasional sale on big boxes of frozen fruit, two for one for $20 (for almost 4 kg total). A much better deal than the smaller bags I usually buy and it saves me $20 on a product that will happily freeze, vs. other good deals that may get freezer burn and never be eaten. I’ll also check out cheeses as they sometimes have 700 g blocks for $7 vs. the usual $12, saving $5… What else? Okay, I’ve been diving into chocolate making so I’ll get two bags of cacao butter for $26 total for one lb (not cheap but better than the $40 per pound brand they also offer). So I’ve spent my $50 and I’ll get $5 off along with $25 saved on fruit and cheese.
  • Aside from occasional trips to “regular” restaurants, the local DQ sometimes calls out, and though I’m usually treated, I’ll conveniently add it into my savings :). If cheeseburgers are on sale for $4 each vs. $6, we can save $4. And two small cones vs. medium, saves another $2. Easy, cheap, tasty, and conveniently right next to the charity shop.
  • I’ll stretch out the life of my runners with comfy insoles as my buffer. Two layers of affordable insoles from the dollar store cost less than $5, absolutely comparable product wise with others I’ve tried in the past for $20 from the drugstore, for a savings of $15. And I just snagged a $20 off coupon in the local paper for runners that will patiently wait a couple more months for me until we will venture out on some exciting excursions. At least more exciting than hanging in a shoe box :).
  • This ice cream lover is actually cutting back as I was spending too much on it – I’d jumped to $10 a week… I know! So now I’m making healthy frozen desserts, hello bananas, and spending $5 a week instead, saving $20 a month.
  • I love making healthy shakes and sometimes use skim milk powder but as that can go for a crazy $25/kg, I’m now using soy milk powder for $4/kg, saving about $10 a month. On just a few beverages!
  • On some specialty products, as in things I don’t really need but like to get, I find I save significantly buying them at Winners. Off the top of my head: chia seeds, protein powder, vanilla extract, cocoa, etc. On all those products, I save about $5 each so we could say I save about $10 a month on different products. Plus, I bought a sturdy backpack there for $30 that I easily could have spent $50 on elsewhere for a savings of $20. Oh, and toffees, my favorite! I spend about $6 for a pound vs. twice that price even just at the local drugstore, for another savings of about $10 a month.
  • I’ve gotten back into making healthy veggie burgers also, instead of buying a box of premade burgers, and am spending about fifty cents per instead of $2, saving $12 on eight burgers.
  • The other day I was tickled pink with the time I saved going local for an appointment instead of travelling over an hour each way into town that I’ve done for years. Not only did I save time but I saved return bus fare of $8 for just that one appointment. Can you think of anything you could shift or shave for a time, gas, money save?
  • After a bit of experimenting with homemade toiletries, I’ve been finding that just apple cider vinegar and water work as well as other toners and it costs about $.50 (helping me use a neglected item in my fridge too) vs. $4 at the drugstore, saving $3.50.
  • More and more, I get secondhand clothing, in close to new condition. I’m currently wearing a rather cute t-shirt I got for $3.50 and a pair of never before worn cropped pants that were $4.50, or $8 total, as opposed to easily spending $50 total elsewhere, for a savings of $42, on just two items. Plus the lycra work out pants I wore today, comparable with anything from over priced Lululemon, were found, also in great condition, for $4, so just imagine the savings there.
  • For my kitty I usually just buy a manageable amount of cans but have been increasing that as the more I buy, the more discount I get. For 24 cans (about $2.50 per), I’ll get 10% off, saving about $6. Buying the larger bag of dental treats is also a savings as it’s more than twice the size for $5.99, vs. $3.99 for the small, saving over $2 each time. I also usually buy the smaller size litter but as that’s been jumping up regularly, I’m now buying the bigger bag and saving $4 on the equal amount.
  • When can planning ahead help us save? How about on meals… If we get last minute meals, even from the “affordable” deli at the grocery store, you can spend e.g. $8 per portion. But frozen lasagna for $15 offers six servings for $2.50 each, saving $5.50 per portion. Even just twice a week that adds up to $44 saved in a month.
  • With my reduced ice cream intake and increased consumption of homemade frozen banana cherry dessert, I need to follow my own advice about planning ahead. I was last minute yesterday and so “splurged” on the only bananas that were ripe enough, the organic ones that went for almost twice the price of regular bananas. If I’d planned ahead and gotten the greener, cheaper ones a couple days in advance, I would have saved $1.50 in a week, or $6 a month.
  • Endless items can be compared at grocery stores like getting 600 grams of fajitas with one brand vs. 400 grams with another for the same price. With a savings of $2 a week that adds up to $8 a month. Or a big box of 900 grams of no name pasta for $4 vs. another brand a third of the size for the same price could save you $8 a month. Or how about a bag of loose Easter chocolate treats for $8 for 400 grams vs. $8 for 125 grams of a comparable product, or even the same brand, that is specially packaged for the holidays. How much is the packaging worth?
  • The other day I almost bought mushrooms for $4.99 a pound but decided to walk around the corner to the smaller grocer’s to buy them for $2.99 a pound instead. The same could be said for peppers, $4.99 at one store vs. half the price elsewhere. Or how about buying a litre of olive oil at Walmart for $6.99 instead of twice that? An easy $10 saved on just three items.
  • Buying just one item, a can of pineapple a week at the dollar store saves me about $4 a month, so let’s add in just a few more like crackers, sardines, mustard, chocolate bars. I could go on. But let’s keep it simple and say that just five items at a dollar saved each week is $20 saved a month. So painlessly.
  • For other less regular purchases, what about doing something slightly less often. If you get your hair cut four times a year, but shift to three times, you could save e.g. $60.
  • Being aware of value can be a helper in the savings realm, such as in regards to “points”. Let’s say the offer at the local store is to either get a gift card for $10, or receive 3000 points if you spend a certain amount. Points can vary store to store, but as previous estimates can value this store’s points at being about $1 per 1000 points, the gift card offers much more value.
  • I bought a nice new cabinet for $400 and could have had it delivered for $89, but since I asked for a discount on delivery, I saved $44. Hey, it can’t hurt to try.
  • Along the lines of the awesome bike deal, a good friend of mine got great deals from Sports Replay on all her son needed for ball hockey, like a helmet, pads, gloves, etc, saving a couple of hundred dollars on items that are in great shape.

With over 20 ideas, we’ve covered a few categories including home, transit, food, clothing, toiletries, miscellaneous, sports, and pets, and we’ve easily cut back well over $200 per month in expenditures, even over $300, or a 150% increase in savings. And the only thing we actually cut out was one haircut. Easy peasy.

Thinking of endless easy ways to cut back and save is worth it, significantly. Now off I’ll go in my new exercise pants and t-shirt, and comfy shoes, for a ride with my beloved Shirley.

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