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Featured/ Frugal Tips/ Life & Motherhood

Christmas Shopping 2018

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I am addicted to online shopping. This addiction started during my first mat leave when it was just easier to order things online and have them delivered to my door, instead of bundling up the baby and heading out to the stores or to the mall. I started off ordering books, baby items and household items from Chapters Indigo; then I graduated to ordering household items off The Bay; and then after a few trial and errors when it came to proper sizing, I’ve now started ordering clothes and shoes off of The Bay, Banana Republic, The Gap and J.Crew.

I’ve been back at work for over a year now and I am downtown 4-5 days a week so I’ll sometimes walk to the mall during my lunch hour. However, I find that there are better deals to be found online. Also, I hate trying things on in stores. I’d rather order clothes online, and then return them if they don’t fit! Most stores (like Banana Republic or The Bay) have really easy return policies where you can just send the clothes back or even return it in person in the store.

So with the Christmas shopping season upon us, 90% of my shopping has been done online. I mean, there are always a few items that you can’t easily buy online, like wine, but for the most part, I’ve scored some amazing deals on great presents online. The majority of the purchases were made on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so if you’re on my Christmas gift list, you’re getting amazing, quality presents that I managed to get a great deal on!

Another reason why I love online shopping – Ebates!!! I mean, you guys have probably all seen Ebates commercials on TV where the actors say “get paid to shop online” or whatever, right? I know I’ve seen that commercial a million times and I’ve always just written it off and never looked into it. But then my sister told me all about it and she started getting cheques back from Ebates, so I signed up as well. I mean, you all know how I love Checkout 51 and getting cheques from that, so I thought I’d give this Ebates a try.

It’s really easy – you just sign up for an account at Ebates. And then before you shop online, go to the Ebates site first, and then click through to the online vendor that you want to shop at. Most of the online vendors that I frequent are linked on Ebates (Chapters, The Bay, Sephora, Banana Republic, etc). Then you just proceed to shop as normal, and once your order is confirmed, the vendor sends a confirmation to Ebates and you’ll get an email telling you how much cashback you’ve earned on your purchase! The cashback percentage will vary, but I’ve gotten up to 8% cashback on my purchases before. And when you spend hundreds of dollars at Sephora or Banana Republic like I do, that 8% really adds up! The cash accumulates in your Ebates account and every quarter, they’ll send you a cheque for the amount in your account! The last cheque I got was for about $35!

It is so easy. Honestly, the hardest part is to remember to go to the Ebates site first before you start shopping. I know I’ve forgotten a couple times, and I kick myself whenever I calculate the cashback that I could have earned!

If you’re ready to earn cashback on your online purchases, use my referral code below to sign up!

Click here to sign up for Ebates! 

 

(Cover photo: Free Stock Photo courtesy of picxclicx.com)

Featured/ Frugal Tips/ Life & Motherhood

Starting a Diaper Stockpile

Well, I’m about 21 weeks pregnant with my second child now, and I’ve already started working on my maternity leave stockpile. One of the things I implemented prior to my first mat leave was a stockpile of household items. Knowing that I would be on a reduced maternity leave income for a whole year, I spent most of my pregnancy buying household items on sale, using coupons and Checkout51, and creating a stockpile so that I wouldn’t have to spend money on these basic household items during my mat leave. It was a huge success and for the entire year, I did not spend a dime on toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo & conditioner, and body wash.

But the biggest cost savings that I achieved was creating a significant stockpile of diapers ahead of time. Using Checkout 51 and watching for sales, I was able to buy diapers at less than half their regular price! For example, Pampers at Safeway are usually $34 regular price, but often they go on sale for $19.99. Checkout 51 also often has cashback of $2-$3 for Pampers products. When I combined the sales with the Checkout 51 offers, I got these diapers for $17 for a big box!

My stockpile numbers were pretty on point, but there was one time where we ran out of size 3 diapers and I had to go out and buy a box at full price. Let me tell you, it really hurt to buy a box of diapers for $34+tax. I tracked what my diaper stockpile numbers were and what my daughter used and this is the guideline that I’ll use to build my stockpile for my second child. Keep in mind that these numbers are for Pampers products for a baby girl, born at 7lbs, consistently measuring in the 100th percentile for height and at the 60-70th percentile for weight.

Pampers Size Stockpile Number
N (Newborn) 336 diapers
Size 1 600 diapers
Size 2 1472 diapers
Size 3 2184 diapers
Size 4 1392 diapers
Size 5 2340 diapers
Size 6 N/A – my daughter is 2 years old now and just recently transitioned to size 6 diapers.

We used Pampers Swaddlers for the newborn size, size 1 and size 2. At size 3 and 4, we used a mix of Swaddlers during the day and Baby Dry at night. This was around the time my daughter was 4 months old and we had sleep trained her so she was sleeping 11-12 hours through the night. We found that Pampers Baby Dry with their 12 hour protection were perfect for bedtime.  At Size 5, we used a mix of Cruisers and Baby Dry, as she was more mobile and the Cruisers were designed for babies on the move.

There was one size (I think it was size 1) where I had an extra box so I just sold it on VarageSale for $10. There are always other moms on VarageSale looking to buy diapers or trade diaper sizes.

For all you moms-to-be out there, I highly recommend you start a diaper stockpile! Either use coupons and watch for sales, or start having family and friends gift you with diapers!

 

Featured/ Frugal Tips/ Meal Planning

Keeping a Tight Grocery Budget

Earlier today I was interviewed on the CJME Morning News radio show here in Regina on how I am keeping my grocery budget in check despite rising food costs.  A study out of Dalhousie University is predicting that the average Canadian family will spend $420 more a year on groceries next year as food prices are expected to rise. $420 a year may not seem like much, but let me list all the discretionary fun things I bought this year for $420 that I would have to give up next year if the $420 had to go to food instead:

  • a pair of Ugg AND Sorel winter boots (I bought these online on Black Friday)
  • a Scotch advent calendar (I bought this for my husband on his birthday)
  • a Peg Perego car seat for my baby
  • a newborn photoshoot

 

Personally, I would rather try to be frugal where I can so that I can spend some of my hard earned money on fun things and enjoy life once in awhile.

To elaborate more on some of the tips that I shared on the radio and in the news article on how to control your grocery budget:

  • Meal planning – for the majority of us, the protein is the central focus of every meal so I recommend meal planning around what protein is on sale. Buying steaks when they are on sale and planning to have steak that week or freezing it to have steaks later is more economical than having a craving for steak one day and running out to the grocery store to buy the meat and all the fixings at full price.
  • Eliminating food waste – Meal plan to use up leftovers. There are so many times I’ve made a roast chicken for dinner one night and had a couple of drumsticks leftover that ended up sitting in the fridge for a week before I had to throw them out. Now, I meal plan for a couple meals in advance – if I’m making a roast chicken tonight, then I’m planning ahead that I’ll be making chicken caesar wraps or chicken salad sandwiches tomorrow using the leftovers.
  • Having a repertoire of “go to” recipes – Make note of what meals your family loves to assist with your meal planning. For example, if I see ground beef on sale I know I can make my shepherds pie or meatloaf.
  • Loyalty programs – Most of us are creatures of habit and usually shop at the same grocery store, so take advantage of whatever loyalty program your favourite grocery store has. Most grocery stores have some sort of points accumulation program that you can redeem for discounts off your bill. And most will also have loyalty cards and digital offers that track your spending and give you specific discounts for items that you purchase the most!

A little time and attention can help you save both time and money at the grocery store. I probably spend an hour every Thursday evening with the flyers for the coming week and plan my grocery shopping and meals. However, that one hour upfront saves me from wandering aimlessly through the store as I go with a detailed list and a plan of attack. Also, because of my careful planning, I only grocery shop once a week. I’m saving time as I rarely have to head to the store to pick up that one thing that I need right away. As for money, I used to spend $600-$700 a month on groceries. Thats just insane for a family of two adults! Ever since I started paying more attention to my grocery bill, meal planning and sticking to a cash grocery budget (no debit or credit for groceries), our grocery costs are now $500 a month. That’s a tangible $100-$200 that I’m saving!

I could talk about meal planning and frugal tips all day! If you have any questions or ideas to share, please leave me a comment, email me at culinarycents@gmail.com, or find me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (links to my social media accounts are on the top left corner of this site).

Here is the link to the article: http://cjme.com/article/1033101/new-regina-mom-uses-strict-budget-sacrifice-combat-concerning-food-prices