Paper or e-bills? My tips on how to reduce the volume of paper in your house

I lose many battles in this house, but no battle irritates me more than the endlessness of incoming paper.


The paper that enters my, and most everyone’s house includes, but is not limited to: Continue reading

The trouble with coupons

Do you want to save money when you shop? How do you go about saving your money? Do you look for sales, shop at thrift stores, don’t shop at all, or clip coupons?

Shopping with coupons is one way of getting a better deal. The challenge however is to remember that you have the coupon handy when you need it.

I am eternally challenged with this coupon clipping. But I am also optimistic that proper coupon clipping and shopping will save me money. We’re looking at a pro and con situation here. Continue reading

Creating a cash budget for summer vacation

The topic of money is kind of like a synonym of parenting, isn’t it? Money, or in my case, lack of (ha) infiltrates every parenting decision in one way or another, it seems.

Frankly, the expense of having kids, especially athletic kids in competitive sports, is taking its toll on us. How are we going to keep this up for the foreseeable future?

Up to now, we have only followed a loosely-designed family budget of how much to spend on what since by nature, we are pretty frugal. We don’t love shopping, nor do we shop as a hobby. We don’t own a lot of fancy clothes or shoes, we don’t eat out much, we don’t have the latest and greatest electronic gadget as soon as it comes out. We each have cell phones and computers that are minimum 3 years old and they all still work fine. Our biggest expense, outside the house, cars and associated expenses as well as Ben’s hockey, is probably food. We spend money on whole food which, ironically, isn’t always cheaper than processed fake food. We buy only reputable meat (not factory raised) which usually is more expensive. I also invest in an organic produce delivery service for reasons I’ve mentioned here which is part of the [unofficial] food budget and gets eaten, and not wasted.

The rest? Well, there isn’t much left after all that. Which is why for this summer, I have not booked the kids in any camp.


Instead, I am going to set up a cash budget.

summer weekly cash budget Continue reading

Backed-up sewers, home renovations, and assorted hoopla

So while many people deal with real tragedies you hear about in the media, like Newton, or murder-suicides where mothers kill their children and then themselves, or my sister’s friend who has a 5 year old with cancer, I deal with what may seem rather inconsequential, relatively speaking. I mean, it’s kind of annoying and bothersome and I have to hang around and put my life on hold all day to wait for people to show up at the house to deal with all the crap around here, and when they don’t show up and I have to go get kids in school or drop kids off at activities, it adds to the annoyance factor.

But they’re small issues compared to the big ones out there.

Still. Backed-up sewage and contamination requiring semi-major renovations after serious disinfecting activities, it’s not fun. Continue reading

Pocket money for tennis balls

Well I don’t know if that’s what he will be saving for, but that is something he will be able to afford should he actually earn his pocket money in the way we introduced this topic.

incentive money jar for children

Money jar for 7 year old

A few years ago I started mentally clipping every article or blog post or opinion about allowances for kids. Should they earn it? Should they be given it? What is the amount, the limit, the purpose? How should they (or you) keep track of it? Can they spend it on anything they want, even pop and candy (which is allowed but limited in this house)?

So many questions.

Then I started the school money jar. And a few days later I started Ben’s money jar.

Ben’s money jar is tied directly to earning cash for household jobs well done. I came up with the idea without my usual planning, organizing, researching and other time-wasting activities I find myself engaged in with my technology toys. Partly because I haven’t had time to play with my technology toys (except the blackberry, what would I do without thou?)…

The idea is simple: Continue reading

Loose coins

Doesn’t everyone keep a jar, or a bowl, around the house where loose coins get dropped into?


The kids have various piggy banks that they like to play with. Two are pigs, one an airplane, and one a plastic peanut jar that peanut butter used to come in. The mom of an old boyfriend saved it for me back in my university days, and I still have it. It’s full of coins!

If you pour out the coins and start sorting, and counting them, it is actually astonishing just how much money you have. This is legal currency, cash flow, and there is no reason why you can’t use these coins on your next shopping trip.

We counted out the coins and placed them in two snack-sized ziplock bags. One contained $1 coins (loonies here in Canada) and 5 cent pieces (nickels), and the other contained the twoonies and dimes. ($2 pieces and 10 cents). All together, we probably had over 20 bucks! Perfect for the farmers’ market.

This was Benjamin’s big opportunity to buy, and pay for, carrots, cherries and chocolate-drizzle pecan tarts. And he did so with pride and joy.

The next step is to teach him the value of money…

Where’s the money?

♪ Money money money
must be funny
in the rich man’s world… ♫

That’s an ABBA song…

Many of my peers delayed having children until they were well into their 30s. Money, or the perceived lack of, was often at least one significant contributing factor for this delay.

Most people are consciously aware that children cost money. There’s food, shelter, diapers, education funds, toys, stuff.

And all that stuff costs money. But it’s not until well after the offspring has integrated himself into your world that you begin to realize just how much money you spend on his well being.

Or on his entertainment.

This is because in today’s western society, batteries are a part of this entertainment.

Sure we used batteries before the kids were born. But we never used to be big battery consumers.

But now we receive things, toys in particular, requiring batteries from all kinds of people.

Some of these people do not have small children themselves, or have grown children. They do not realize that certain toys come without batteries included in the package. So when the child unwraps the toy, and wants to play with it, and can’t because of the missing batteries, it’s usually daddy that has to make a quick trip to the local convenience store to pick up some inflatedly priced batteries.

We try to be responsible battery consumers. We keep the used ones in a jar, save the jar for Environment Day, and dispose of them in the environmentally proper way as is recommended (and should be enforced in some way if you ask me). We usually had two mason jars to bring to the hazardous waste depot, which I thought was still a lot for a year’s worth of batteries.

Today, I replaced the mason jars with pickle jars. Pickle jars are much bigger. Especially those that we get at the Polish Deli.

Most toddler toys that are battery operated are crap. But some are not. Either way, we have them in the house. Gift-givers who provide the batteries with the toy may save us some initial cost, but if the toy is well-loved by the child, chances are sooner or later mommy or daddy have to go to the store to pick up more batteries.

I have now reached a point where I am reading Canadian Tire (or Walmart, or Zellers, etc) flyers more thoroughly. I am looking for a battery sale. I need some. Lots actually. And of different sizes.

I can’t control what gifts the kids receive, I can only make suggestions. And I will need those batteries anyway at some point. For things like flashlights, or digital cameras.

So perhaps the next time one of the children will receive money from a well-intentioned relative as a gift, I will take a portion of it away and put it into the battery-saving jar. And place that jar next to the pickle jar with the dead batteries in it.

Start ’em early, I say.