the expense of it all

Life is expensive. I ramble about inflation and taxes and cost of living in general, but you all already know what it is, what it means and how it can influence your day-to-day existence. I also know that I’m not the only one who checks to see if gas is going up or down in order to strategically plan my trip to the pump.

A recent online conversation with friends and fellow bloggers turned to the cost of kids’ footwear (my friend Heather wrote about it here). Kids’ boots and shoes are expensive and kids are hard on equipment — sneakers barely last a season, rubber boots leak, feet grow out of one size and into another in a blink. I have learned, like Heather has, that it doesn’t pay to cheap out on these items because you’ll only be on the hunt again before you know it.

I’m a super saver. Always has been. It’s in my blood. Yesterday, my mum texted me to say that she’d found a gift for me that was regularly $100 and she only paid $7. For real. I don’t even think I care what the gift is — I’m more excited by the deal. And we are the kind of people that leave both price stickers on when we wrap our gifts — it’s a badge of honour and we’re quick to congratulate each other on these achievements.

On this train of thought, I decided to jot a list of some of my favourite money-saving tips.

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Stock up: Our kids are invited to birthday parties regularly, so if I had to go out and spend $20+ for each kid, I’d have to start skimping on groceries. So I keep my eye out everywhere I go for great items for cheap. I watch for clearance sales and stickers on items featuring the kids’ favourite characters, popular book titles, fun T-shirts in the appropriate sizes, etc. then I hide them away in a tote in the bottom of my closet. I can either gift these items to my own kids when occasions arise, or I can let them choose from my tickle trunk of items when they are invited to attend a friends’ party. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t cheap out on gifts. The value is always generous, but the out-of- pocket cost doesn’t have to be.

Flyers & price matching: The stocking up logic works for food as well, as long as you’re only buying the items that you really use. If you buy six jars of Nutella because it’s only $1, but your family doesn’t really eat Nutella, then you’ve wasted $6, even if it is only $6. I comb the flyers (the paper versions because I’m analog like that) each week and cross reference the sales with my grocery list (advanced meal planning and list making is key). Then I go to my Reebee app and click on the items I want from each flyer, which puts it on a list. I then use that list to price match, ensuring I get the best price for the items I need.  The best is when an item is on your list, it’s on sale and you have a coupon. I don’t coupon as vigorously as I have in the past, but I do grab any I see that relate specifically to my family’s favourite product, but I only use them if I’ve compared prices and am sure I’m getting the best deal.

Thrift and DIY: It helps that I’m crafty and I love to DIY, but if I can make it myself, that’s what I’m going to do. You don’t have to be Martha for this, you just need a free account to a little site I like to call Pinterest. The kids are being Mario and Luigi for Halloween and while the details are still to come in a future post, I’ll tell you that my out-of-pocket cost for both costumes was significantly cheaper than the $40-$50 (each!) costumes we saw in a seasonal Halloween store. Part of the savings on our handmade costumes was thrift shopping. I’m signed up to receive emails from local thrift stores, like Value Village, and I only go on sale days. That may sound cheap, but if I’m buying something pre-owned as it is, I want it for the cheapest price possible.

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Do you have some go-to money saving strategies? Jump over to Mama’s Manuscript on Facebook and leave your ideas in the comments. 

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