Well, this year just flew by in the blink of an eye, didn’t it?

I’ve been neglecting my blogs most of the year as I’m still getting my groove with this new life, and I’ve been busy with finishing my series of six books (yay, finally!). But as one thing that has been on my heart the last few months is the significance of patience in many ways (inspired by the classic Biblical passage “Love is patient, love is kind…” 1 Corinthians 13), I’ll aim to remind myself to be patient, and kind, with myself and others, as I hope you do for yourself, particularly during this upcoming busy and often stressful season.

A wise woman once taught me that love is a choice, and I’m reminded that all those qualities like patience, kindness, unselfishness, perseverance, etc, that are part of a healthy love don’t just appear magically out of thin air, but are also truly a choice. It’s up to us.

My new treasure of a boyfriend (whom I met in a charity shop) and I have been reading a great book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff in Love” and it is filled with endless positive advice on simple ways to shift one’s focus, be more patient, kind, and so on, and improve your relationships. (Sadly, the author passed away at a young age over a decade ago, but I can only imagine how many people have been positively affected by his words of wisdom.) That book is an absolute treasure, found in great condition for $7 in a second hand bookstore as opposed to the full price of $22, for a savings of $15.

In comparison to the above valuable resources, my advice on saving a few dollars here and there is relatively minor, but at the same time, since we know that money issues can contribute to life and relationship challenges, it never hurts to increase your awareness of how to be smarter with your finances to help decrease one of the stresses of life.

Let’s look at just a few ways that I’ve saved a few hundred dollars on just a few items the last few weeks. Wow, I use the word “few” a lot! But that reminds me how small things can add up significantly.

I’ve always been a second hand shop fan, but my beau is at a whole different level with a great eye for quality deals. As my kitchen has been still lacking some basics, he’s been kindly filling in the gaps for me and picking up a few items. He got me a full 10 piece set of quality stainless steel pots and pans, that would normally have cost at least $200, for $20, for a savings of $180. He found me a big name, barely used juicer, that would have cost over $300, for $8, for a savings of $220. And we’ve been enjoying paninis this week as he also found a Cuisinart Griddler in great condition for $8 vs. $130, for a savings of over $120.

Now that I’m inspired to get back into more cooking and veggie chopping, I have to be on the ball with my overflowing compost. I use a stainless steel container, but since it gets so mucky, I’m now using compost bags within it and can go through a couple bags a week. As I can spend $5 or $6 on them at one store or $3 on a no name brand or at the dollar store, I’ll of course aim to easily save $2 a box. If I buy five boxes of twenty bags a year, that’s an easy savings of $10 a year. Not much I know, but multiplied by dozens of products over the year, that amount will result in hundreds of dollars saved.

But back to the charity shops. For Christmas this year I’m on a tighter budget than previous years so I’m checking out some second hand treasures. There are some great pieces like crystal, glass, ceramic, platters, plates, trays, bowls, and cups that are great holders of chocolate or nutty yummy treats, so I have several friends and acquaintances who will be receiving such items, for $5 each or $50 total, as opposed to easily spending $20 each, for a savings of $150. I grabbed some Christmas cards from there too and spent $3 for thirty cards instead of $15 or more, for a savings of $12. My guy also got me an adorable Nativity scene for $6 that would easily have cost $25 or more elsewhere.

As I’m now farsighted, when it’s time to sit down and write up the cards, I’ve snagged a set of $2 eyeglasses from the dollar store, that are far better than the ones I previously bought from the drugstore for $20, for a savings of $18.

For those stressful nights, or times when a light sleeper like myself awakens (perhaps when Santa lands on the roof?!), I’ve recently discovered an awesome and simple way to sleep more soundly. I’ve been using a hot water bottle on my feet just before bed and within the bed all night, and the magic of vasodilation helps distribute the heat throughout the body, positively affecting sleep. That $10 investment has been saving me hours of lost sleep, seriously! And when you think of the productivity that loss of sleep can hinder, the savings of this or other healthy tools for sleeping well are simply priceless. I now have more time for doing things like saving money, prepping for Christmas, or learning to play the ukulele that is worth at least $120, that I got for $40 second hand, for a savings of $80.

For Christmas I used to always get my ex his favourite – Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Just a couple of years ago they used to be 175 grams, which was probably already a downsize from previous years, but now they are 157 grams for the same or higher cost. Just a minor reverse of two numbers, for a massive savings for the production of the tasty chocolate treat, at our expense. Good for the waistline perhaps, but not for the wallet or for stuffing the stocking quite as full. Alas, I needn’t be purchasing those any longer, and can shift my focus to the endless other products that have downsized. Like the boxes of Pot of Gold that used to be 400 grams but that have over the years magically dissolved into being about 280 grams for the same price, e.g. $8. While I still may buy that kind of item when it’s on sale, I can also look at other options like combining small tins of shortbread cookies with small boxes of chocolates, stacked and wrapped with cellophane and a sparkly tree decoration, all for $4 total, for those easy on hand last minute gifts, e.g. for neighbours or party hosts. If I have those gifts for six people instead of more expensive chocolates, I’ve saved at least $24.

Then it’s off to another of my favourite stores – Winners – from where I’ll be putting together some stylish treats into mini baskets of sorts – e.g. a sweetly packaged pancake mix and top quality maple syrup in a cute bowl, or other similar combos involving teas, shortbread, chocolates, etc. Making up my own baskets for about $15 to $20 as opposed to buying pre-made ones for $40 will save me about $100. And for practical items like top name brand three packs of boxer shorts, I’m spending $18 instead of $28 or more elsewhere.

Admittedly, there are the kind of gifts for some folk that are hard to spend less on – e.g. the ones who are tough to buy for, leaving gift cards as “the option”. But balancing out those larger expenditures with the modest ones can help keep the overall expenses within our grasp. So let’s add up the savings of these few items – over $900. Easy peasy. And over half of those savings were thanks to my guy. Yay, teamwork!

Just like love is a choice, money saving doesn’t happen by magic, but is a healthy choice that we make. Hopefully I won’t need my glasses to see the love that is right in front of me, and hopefully you can see the potential pot of gold of easy savings that’s right in front of your eyes.

So here’s to you, wishing you and your loved ones a magical season filled with patience, kindness, joy, money saving, priceless treasures, and lots of love.

My new book is available at www.amazon.ca/Art-Stretching-Your-Dollar-Part-ebook/dp/B077KL7R33 or check out my author page at www.amazon.com/author/rachelalbang.

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