Thursday, May 19, 2011

Saving Money 101

Happy early long weekend!! It’s Victoria Day weekend and I couldn’t be more excited!! Not that the weather has been great or anything, but I feel like I need some time to relax.
I don’t have any big plans, but I would like to go up to look at my “house” in Bradford. Buying a brand new house is so exciting and nerve wracking at the same time! On the one hand, I have all the freedom in the world when it comes to design! It’s like having a blank canvas and I can create whatever I want! But on the other hand, you don’t have a clear exact picture of what everything is going to look like in the end. What if it’s not as big as I imagined? What if the colours looked better in the samples? Why didn’t I opt for the siding instead of the brick? It’s these kinds of things I worry about when talking about the house. But I have a good feeling that we are going to end up with something really awesome and I am excited to see the final product. (Even though it is 8 months away!)

So as most of you know, to help save money with the house I have decided to move back in with my parents starting in July. Living in a condo with my best friend Shannon for the past year has been wonderful and I can’t believe how fast the time flew by. I am so sad to be leaving, but sacrifices need to be made on my end to help afford the house.
With that being said, I have taken it upon myself to be extra frugal and dollar savvy these days. No more frivolous spending!! It’s going to be easier once I start living at home again, but I want to save as much as possible so that when it comes to moving into the house, I will have more than enough saved for furniture, household items and d├ęcor. So needless to say, it’s going to be a pretty tight few months. So with that I have implemented some rules and tips to help me save more of my money, and hopefully you find these tips useful as well!

Tip #1
Go Shopping in Your Closet
I don’t know about you, but every morning when I wake up and wash my face, brush my teeth and head over to my closet to pick out the day’s outfit, I never seem to have anything to wear! Or I do, but I have nothing to wear my items with! It’s a vicious cycle…I buy the cutest pieces but then I have nothing to pair them with. So I have decided to actually go through my closet before I move and MAKE outfits with all my pieces and if I can’t…toss them! There is no use having a beautiful printed skirt if I don’t have a matching shirt to wear with it! I know I have tons of items in my closet, and some of which I forget I even own! So before heading out to the mall, I will shop in my own closet first and see what pieces I can use to help build an outfit. Who knows? Maybe my long dress shirt just needs an inexpensive belt, instead of buying a whole new outfit!

Tip #2
Leftovers…Learn to Love Them
Oh this is going to be a hard one for me!! But I must learn to make dinner at home and take the leftovers to work as lunch the next day. As much as it annoys me to pack a lunch, it’s a definite must. A better idea is to make it at night, so that way I don’t feel so rushed in the morning. I will feel better getting it out of the way, perhaps doing it right after supper! I am not the greatest cook either, so hopefully Mom and Katrina have some delicious meals for the summer that I can easily learn.

Tip #3
Groupon It!
Have you seen all the deals those coupon websites have? It’s incredible! I can find almost anything on there for at least a half the price off or more! From manicures to haircuts, and from dance lessons to bowling, these sites have a lot to offer for a great price. This will be a good way to find inexpensive ways to do social things without overextending myself. So far I have purchased coupons for running gear, facials and even ballroom dance lessons. There is a world of activities and fun out there to try and this is a great excuse to give them a whirl! I like this website, it pools all the deal sites together and lists them all conveniently on one page: You’re Welcome!

Tip #4
I’m The Winner!
Contests! Contests! Contests! I love contests!! Especially ones where I don’t have to do anything except write my name and contact info!! Just fill out a ballot, because you never know!! I like this website, it has links to various online contests for things like trips, cash, makeup, clothes and more! If they ask to refer a friend, you can always refer me, then you get an extra ballot entry.

Tip #5
Be a tourist in your own city
As most of you know, I love vacationing! I love a good old getaway!! Travelling is always a luxury, as everything adds up! From flights to food to accommodations, one vacation for me can cost me upwards of $1500!! That’s my hardwood floor cost right there!
But travelling doesn’t always have to mean going far. Staycations are perfectly good ways to take a break and enjoy the city you actually live in. I don’t think I have ever tried being a tourist in my own city, but I would certainly love to this summer! Maybe I will do one of those Toronto Bus Tours or check out some museums and parks. Because let’s face it, we are always too busy to actually sit down and appreciate our surroundings. The Toronto Hippo Tour looks pretty amusing to me. I mean just check out the bus/boat we get to travel in!

Tip #6
Remember when you were a kid and everytime you got some change, you put it straight in your piggybank? Well, I do! I remember having many piggybanks as a kid. There was my ladybug piggybank that was fuzzy that was really cute and my Disney Princess piggybanks that were shaped like Ariel and Sleeping Beauty. But as I got older, I stopped using them and it wasn’t until recently when Eric’s mom got me another Disney princess piggybank that I started using one again. And I must say it’s really fun putting in my loose change everyday, trying to guess how much I have in there. It’s one of those banks that you have to break in order to get to the money, so this way I can’t touch it until it’s full! I think this is a great way to save up some extra cash because really, who likes having pennies and nickels floating around their wallet anyway? Not Me!!

Tip #7
New Books at the Library
Not that I don’t love Chapters but sometimes their books can be a bit pricy! Recently I found a ton of good books at the library. It’s almost overwhelming to go in there and see everything they have on those shelves. I am a big fan of biographies on how to books so I am never at loss when I browse these aisles. Reading is also a good way to pass the time, especially in the summer. There’s nothing like a good book, the sun and a nice cold drink. If you get overwhelmed with book options, ask your friends what good books they would recommend. I am sure they wouldn’t mind lending you their copies of favouties.

Tip #8
Holler for a Dollar!
Everyone loves the dollar store! But have you been to one recently? That place has everything! And I mean everything! I find going to drugstores, items such as toothpaste and shampoo are overpriced, but stopping in at the dollar store I can find these items for a buck or two. And birthday cards from Hallmark are always nice, but I have seen just as nice ones at the dollar store too. Tupperware, showercaps, gum, toothbrushes…lots of little household items that you normally see at retail stores can be found at the dollar store for a fraction of the cost.

Tip #9
Hair Schooling
Hair can be quite the expense…cuts, colours, highlights and styles are never cheap. I am probably the biggest spender when it comes to my hair so this will be hard for me to do. But I have been thinking about trying out some hair styling academies to go for my highlights and cuts. I have been to the Aveda Institute in downtown Toronto before for highlights and they did a good job. Most people would be afraid to go to a student to have their hair done, but I trust the salon because a teacher is always supervising. The only downfall is that the hours of availability are limited and sometimes it takes a long time to get done. I have also been thinking about the Fiorio hair academy in the north end of Toronto. With these prices, I am almost feeling stupid paying full price for hair services. Fiorio Hair School: Aveda Hair School:

Tip #10
Take the Train
Gas is expensive and for most of us, we have to drive cars. But for a lot of people, public transportation is a good way to save money on gas as well as help the environment. I am a big fan of the GO bus and train (except for when there are delays!) I feel more relaxed knowing I will get to work at an exact scheduled time than being stuck in headache induced traffic for god knows how long. Paying for a monthly transit pass saves me money in the long run when you factor in gas, parking, insurance and other routine car maintenance. May be something to consider if you drive into the city everyday!

And those are just a few tips I have been trying to practice. Stay tuned for more!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Beach Volleyball Season!

Today was my first day of my beach volleyball summer league at Ashbridge's Bay in the Beaches of Toronto. I would have never thought to sign up for such a sport...I am more of an individual sport type person: dance, running, yoga...but beach volleyball sounded like so much fun that when my coworkers asked me to join their team, I immediately said yes!
*Sidenote --saying Yes is always harder than saying No, but saying Yes is always more fun :)

Anyways, today was a nice day to start, no rain, clear skies...just a little bit cold though. As soon as my feet touched the sand I could feel them start to freeze! Cold weather is not ideal for volleyball! When the ball hits your bare skin it really hurts!
Today we were a team of 5 out of 7 but we made the most of it. It was quite funny. I am kind of a priss when it comes to sports, watching the ball fly by my face, or dip down in front of my nose "Was I supposed to get that?" were words that often left my mouth. But by the end of the 3 games we had played, I had gotten us a few points and gave a few good bumps and spikes. Not too shabby for someone of my athletic calibre.

It was nice being on the beach, wind blowing in my hair, kites flying by and sand on my feet. To be honest, it's the first time I have felt alive and happy in a while. Maybe it's these winter blahs that had me down and dumpy, but I felt a bit refreshed and excited to be trying something new.

I think also what helped was that I was AWAY from my blackberry! I have developed a love/hate relationship with that thing and to be honest, I think it causes a lot of my anxiety. I feel like I am always waiting on a message/call/BBM. I can't walk anywhere without it. But today, when I left it in my coworker's car for 2 hours, I felt almost free! Sounds weird, I know. But I do believe that the blackberry device makes me anxious. Perhaps I should try leaving my blackberry off for portions of the day and see how my stress levels change. Or maybe get rid of it altogether? Nahhh!!! :P

Well now that my arms are bruised and my hands are swollen, I think I am going to go to bed. I hope everyone is doing just splendid :) :)


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Beginnings

Hello folks,

Yes it's been awhile...but I have been pretty busy!! Okay maybe not that busy, but pretty lazy :) It's been a good month though, lots of exciting things happening including the purchase of a brand new house! As most of you know, my boyfriend Eric and I had been looking to move this summer and had been looking at houses for a few months in the north end (Barrie area). However, after doing the commute to work, I realized a 2 hour commute to work would not be ideal for me. Feeling a little hopeless and defeated, we assumed we would have to lower our expectations in terms of price and size. We were keen on getting a detached home, but the prices in the GTA for anything detached is way too high for our budget. Even condos and townhomes in some of the areas we liked were above our budget. I was about to give up hope, assuming we were never going to find anything until we found out about a new subdivision being built in Bradford (just north of Newmarket). After looking around the model homes and taking a drive around the community, we knew we had found our new home! Thankfully we found something in our price range and thankfully there is a GO train right nearby! It just seemed so right! We signed our papers a few weeks ago and are now official homeowners :) The home won't be ready until earliest January 2012!! It's quite a ways away, but this gives us some time to save money for upgrades,furniture and closing costs. I am really excited to have a brand new house!! We get to pick all our colours, designs and finishings!! We are going this weekend to pick the colour of our brick and garage. This is what our house will look like (not exact colours). Ours will be brick:

With this house will come a lot of sacrifice in regards to spending money. Buying a house is obviously not cheap, so I will have to use the next 9 months to save like crazy!! This means I will be moving out of the condo come July 9th. *Sad face!

While this upsets me greatly, it is one of the biggest sacrifices I am making. I will either be living back home with my folks or at my grandmother's again. It's going to be tough, but worth it in the end! Living back at home with Mom, Dad, Katrina and Beau would be ideal. I haven't lived at home full time since before university!! That is a long time!!

The house purchase is probably the most exciting thing that has happened this month, but another exciting event also occurred this past weekend....The Sporting Life 10km Run!! This was my first ever race that I have been training for since early January. It was probably one of my proudest accomplishments. You see, I have never been a great runner. Dance? Of course! Soccer? Okay! Skiing? Sure, why not? But running?? No! I always had terrible endurance and would get bored very easily. But thanks to my good friend and avid runner Sio, me and five of my other closest friends were able to finish the 10km race together!!

My time wasn't the greatest...1 hour and 4 minutes! I was really hoping I would be under an hour, but I feel like I was poorly trained with my Nike Plus Trainer!! As I was running on Sunday, I wasn't feeling too well, I had some cramps which caused me to walk a lot more than I had planned. Once I started feeling better, I felt my pace was picking up. When I looked down at my Nike Plus, it said I was halfway done the race (5km), so you can imagine my surprise when I saw the 3km sign at the same time. My Nike Plus Trainer was way off! By the time I had completed the race, the Nike Plus had clocked me in at 12.77km!! That is almost 3 more km than I had trained for. It was a little discouraging and I felt lied to almost! How could that little gadget mislead me in such a way? The same thing happened to my roomate Shannon. We were quite upset at the time, but we realize that it was only our first run and we should be proud at how far we have come in regards to our training. This run has now got me hooked and determined to beat my time...I instantly signed up for the Toronto Zoo 10km which happens in September! Exciting!!

Below is a pic of my girls and I with our medals. I am so proud of us!!!