Monday, 31 July 2017

Seriously Cool wines to fit your Budget

It's been too long since we've talked wine.

This weekend, I was fortunate enough to get to try a new wine series. I decided I couldn't wait until Friday to share these finds with you.

The Seriously Cool wine series was developed by Southbrook Vineyards (Ontario) to create a high-quality wine that was readily available at a reasonable price. These wines are pretty (Seriously) cool in their own right as Southbrook is working with and supporting local growers as they transition to fully organic practices.

The series includes a white (Chardonnay), a Rosé and a Red. Priced between $14.95 and $15.95 each, the wines are reasonably priced and each one brings great value for the cost.

I'm going to take a quick look at all three today.

Let's work light to dark, shall we?

I love the bottles, don't you?


The 2016 Seriously Cool Chardonnay was the first I tried (with the help of my lovely Husband). There is a lovely, green sweetness on the nose that gave way to a lot of green apple notes.  I also got a bit of peach and pear in the mix. The Chardonnay also has a bit of a citrus "zing" that I smell in most unoaked Chardonnays. It has a very well-rounded flavour with no one taste jumping out and overpowering the rest. It had some nice sweet notes though it is still a relatively dry wine. It also had a nice herbaceous note that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but it added a little extra to the already pleasant mix. When it comes to Chardonnays, I usually drink them only with food, but this would be a fantastic patio sipper as well because of how light it is. If you are cooking, think creamy and maybe a little citrusy. My go-to would be a nice citrus chicken on the barbecue. If that doesn't work for you, you could also try it with light cream sauce (preferably with a touch of seafood).

i couldn't believe how bright this Rosé was!

The wine I found most surprising in the trio was the 2016 Seriously Cool Rosé. I will be the first to admit that I am a bit wary of Rosés. I have had some truly exceptional ones, but at the same time, I have had some that made me outright recoil.  This Rosé definitely leaned toward the former. I was thoroughly impressed with this wine! I think one of the things that made this wine so fantastic to me was that it was different from other Rosé wines I have tried. I have drunk dozens of Zinfandel Rosés and for me, those can be very hit or miss. This wine is made with Pinot Noir and Vidal, two grapes I absolutely adore. It also isn't overly sweet, which is a delightful change. This wine smelled like strawberries and sweetgrass. At times I almost thought I was smelling sweet cream as well. The wine bounces lightly off your tongue as you drink it, giving you the idea of strawberries and again that slightly grassy, herbal touch. This is a glorious summer wine that would not go amiss with a nice goat cheese and strawberry salad or even a gourmet mac and cheese as long as the cheese in it isn't too sharp.

My personal go-to. I was so impressed with this red.


Finally, we get to the Seriously Cool Red. I was not sure what to expect from this wine. It is primarily made using lighter wines (Pinot Noir and Gamay), so what I smelled and tasted was a bit of a surprise. It was heavier on the palate than expected - something I would call medium-light to medium bodied. Even on the nose, it didn't meet my preconceived expectations. I got a lot of tobacco and smokiness with an edge that is almost juniper-y. It smells like plums, dates and a lot of mixed berries. on the palate, the conifer taste faded into the background. The juicy, fruity flavours definitely took the spotlight. It finishes with a nice smokiness and the tiniest bit of bite. Even my Husband, someone who is unlikely to reach for a bottle of red at the best of times, said he would love to have this wine again. This wine is just light enough to be a four-season drinker but is bold enough to stand on its own two legs. On a summer day, I would serve this with a big juicy burger, or if I were feeling a little luxurious, a nice, medium-rare steak.

These wines are all exceptional for their price point and each one managed to surprise me in its own way. I always love a wine with a bit of character and these three definitely fit the bill.

So get outside, gather some friends, and say cheers to some good company (and good wine, of course)!

Have you ever found a wine that surprised you, good or bad? Tell your story in the comments!

~A

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Credit 102 - A credit score breakdown

Used with permission by CreditCafe.com


If you read Wednesday's post, you have already read about credit basics. Today I am going to take a quick moment to talk about how that credit score is calculated.

Credit scores are calculated using multiple sources, all given different levels of importance. In essence, there are five factors that help calculate your credit score.



Payment history makes up the largest part of your credit score. It will look through your entire credit history and see if you have any late payments, missed payments or delinquent accounts. Every time you made an error regarding your finances, it will negatively effect your credit score.

Amounts owed make up the next biggest part of the pie. This takes into account any loans you have currently outstanding. The more loans you have, the worse off you will be.

Credit history makes up only 15 per cent of your overall credit score. The longer you have been building credit, the better.

New credit includes any current requests for credit. Multiple requests for new forms of credit, especially denied requests, have a big impact inside that 10 per cent.

Types of credits used is the final slice of the pie and refers to where your debt is held. It takes into account things like credit cards, lines of credit and mortgages to see where your current debt is residing.

All of this together makes your credit score.

Any questions, please leave them in the comments below!

~A

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Credit 101 - What is a credit score? Why is it important?


Used with permission from cafecredit.com

It's time to talk credit scores.

I know it's not the most fun of topics, but I believe it is one of the most important.

First, what is a credit score? A credit score is a numerical score between 250 and 850 that can be used by banks and other lending companies to see how good you are at paying back debt, whether you maintain a good standing with your existing debts and to assess your overall creditworthiness. A person with a higher credit score represents a lower risk individual. These are the people that get the best rates on large-scale loans such as mortgages.



What represents a good score? Credit is a sliding scale and can be broken into distinct groups from poor to excellent. Fair Issac Corporation (FICO) provides one of the best-known pieces of software used to calculate your score. This little number can make a big difference in interest rates, credit given and even whether you qualify for a loan at all, so it is handy to keep an eye on your credit.

Let me give you an idea of what I mean:

From a relatively young age, I had it drilled into my brain that I had to be careful with my money, always pay debts and take care of my credit score. By 18 I had a credit card and my parents were again telling me to take care of how I used it. I was starting to build my credit and mistakes now could become a problem in my future. I was also told they wouldn't bail me out, so there was a bit of added incentive. Keeping to this strict use of credit, paying off my education loans quickly (almost immediately) and continuing to stay ahead of my payments kept me in (what I thought was) pretty good standing. When Husband and I sat down with our mortgage advisor, he asked if we had any idea what our credit scores were. Turns out all that hard work paid off - we were both in the "excellent" range which allowed us to buy an amazing little starter home (the one in my banner) and get a fantastic mortgage rate.

I will be continuing this series over the next few weeks, talking about what makes up a credit score, common credit gaffes, and credit-building myths.

Is there anything you would like me to cover on credit? Let me know in the comments section!

~A

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Thrift Shop 2: Six Reasons to love Thrift Shops

The thrift shop is a place of untold treasures - and I love it for cultivating my personal style.


Dress - $14.99 CAD

Here are some of the reasons I can't walk past a good thrift shop:

  •  Cost - Of course, when your main goal in life is to get something for less, the thrift shop is a great place to start. Last week, I bought a ton of new outfits for a relatively small amount of money. I did the same thing about a month ago, leaving me with about $85 spent and 20+ new outfits. It doesn't matter how good you are at hunting down bargains; you're not getting Tommy Hilfiger or Silver Jeans for $15 anywhere else. 
  • It lets me play with my style a bit - Clothing is a huge part of how we express ourselves. I know I have a very specific style (Jeans, black shirt, cat hair) and I have had that style, paired with a funky haircut and minimal makeup for years now. Thrift shopping allows me to try something I wouldn't normally without paying an arm and a leg. I don't want to spend $50 to wear something once or twice and realise I really don't like the look. At a higher price, I wouldn't have bought those orange pants. At $15, though, I am so glad I did! They are fun, bright and let me play around with a colour that I normally wouldn't wear.

Capris - $14.99 CAD, Print top - $5.99 CAD, Butterfly shrug - $4.99 CAD
  •  I am hard on clothes - I spill, I sweat and I completely destroy clothing. when I got married, more than one person commented (surprisedly) that I hadn't spilled anything on my very white wedding dress. Buying in thrift means I can buy clothing that I like, but if it gets destroyed (as is my want), it isn't going to break the bank to replace those pieces. 
  • It's a treasure hunt - I love both consignment and thrift, but I always feel more proud when I find something really cool at the thrift store. The workers at the consignment shop have already done the hard work and found the best pieces - it's more a matter of finding something that suits your taste/style and sizing requirements. Don't get me wrong, I love consignment and have found some phenomenal gems in them, but for the true treasure hunt, it's thrift all the way.
Pants - $14.99 CAD, Owl shirt - $7.99 CAD

  • It's another way to recycle and reuse - Husband and I are working hard to live a greener life lately, and thrift is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Your clothing will be unique to you - I have been complimented more on my thrift shop finds (especially my dresses) than any other pieces of clothing I own. I get asked a lot, "where did you find that dress?" People don't believe me when I say it's thrift. I love that I have something completely different from everyone else. If you're handy with a needle and thread, you can even go one step further, do some alterations and create something completely new out of an already cool find! 
 My friend started me on thrift shopping when I began college; since then (eight years ago), I have learned to love the hunt and put together some great outfits!

What are your favourite parts of thrift shopping?  What would you add to the list? Let me know in the comments below.

~A

PS - If you missed part one, see it here.

***BONUS REASON***
 Sometimes you find something really absurd, like...

Unicorn onesie - $4.00 CAD
To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.


Friday, 21 July 2017

Thrift Shopping: Fun and Money-Saving

"Never underestimate the power of wardrobe." - Mary Reynolds

A good thrift shop can make a budget go miles.

One of my favourite things to do is go to the thrift store. We have a couple of amazing thrift (and consignment) shops in my area and it is amazing what I have found by just taking a peek.  A

 I believe that if you put in some time and effort, you can bring home a huge haul from the thrift shop. For example, I paid about $60 and got at least 10-15 outfits (through a bit of mix and match).

Shirt: $5.99 CAD, Jeans, $12.99 CAD (previous trip) Tank top: a relic of mine.



 So how do you go about doing this yourself? Thrift shopping is not like going to a box store and pulling something off the rack. You have to be willing to put in some serious time and effort to find the hidden gems.

Here are three important tips for going thrifting:
  1. Be willing to put in the time - As I just said, thrift shopping is not an in-and-out thing. you have to be willing to go through everything there to hit the jackpot. and on that note...
  2. Go through EVERY single rack, every single size - Things get mislabeled, put in the wrong places, or hidden by people who plan to "come back later." I actually found the cutest owl shirt (to be featured next week) by doing exactly that. And finally...
  3. Try everything on - as I said, it might be mislabeled. I had a heartbreaking instance today where I found the most adorable skirt (reversible with blue polka dots on one side and flowers on the other) but it was about three sizes smaller than labelled. If I had taken it at face value, I would have bought a useless (to me) skirt.
Shirt: $5.99 CAD, Guitar infinity scarf: $1.99 CAD
To sum it up, why do I love this? Well, beyond the massive savings the outfits are unique, they're fun, and they're almost impossible to replicate.

Not to mention they all suit my special brand of crazy.

Do you have any great thrift store finds? Tweet them to @bolognabudget or leave a comment!

 ~A

Update - See part 2 now!

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Credit Card Debt - Don't let it Destroy your Budget


You see the envelope and open it with dread.

It's another credit card bill. 

If you're trying to get back on track financially but are still running into issues with overspending due to the plastic in your wallet,  it's time to make a big change.

Used with the kind permission of www.creditcafe.com


As I see it, you have two options: don’t carry your credit card or cut it up.

I believe that a credit card is an important thing to have in your life. In a world that is going moneyless sometimes you run into roadblocks without it. Some places either don’t take cash (for example, if you’re buying online) or, in certain circumstances, it’s just safer and/or easier to carry a credit card (like on an international trip).

Building and keeping a credit score is also extremely important nowadays. Small purchases that are paid off quickly can do a lot for a person's long term credit. That said, when all else fails, and you no longer have the ability to keep up with the bills, remove the temptation. Put the cards away for a while. Lock them in a cupboard or give to someone for safe-keeping; anything to get them out of sight. It is amazing how much this will help.

If that doesn’t work, and the debts keep increasing, it may be time to say goodbye to plastic altogether. If it’s really bad, it may be time to remove the temptation completely and cancel some cards, but use that as a last resort.


Shared with kind permission from TaxCredits.net.


Try not carrying any cards for a month. Work on a cash-only system with a weekly budget. When we’re using cards, money is abstract. By using actual cash system and setting a fixed budget with no backup (meaning, your cards) it is amazing how quickly we start to see the value of a dollar. In turn, we become more conscious of our spending habits.

I used to overspend, (which led me to this blogging venture, actually). I found a couple months of working on a cash-only budget straightened out my relationship with money. I use cards again, but I am conscious of everything that goes into and out of my account.

Credit card debt is some of the worst due to the massive interest rates and you can easily dig a hole to the point that it's nearly impossible to get out.

Also, think of it like this; is that nice thing you *needed* to have worth missing a rent or mortgage payment?

I didn't think so.

Let me know what you do to keep your spending in check in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

~A

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Summer Potluck on a Budget

It's patio season and that means backyard parties.

Sometimes it's hard to come up with something to bring along. I don't like being the person who brings the soda, so I always try to figure out something unique to make and share with my friends. This weekend was my community band's summer picnic, and I rose to the challenge like a champ.

The first thing I made ultimately didn't make it to the picnic, but they have always been a perennial favourite in our home and the homes of my friends. These are awesome because they are cheap to make (they are mostly bananas and oats), quick and almost completely impossible to screw up.  Believe me, I've tried. They also work best with overripe bananas, so you're using up all the food in your house and eliminating waste!

You will need:
  • 2 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1.5 cups of oats (give or take, depending on the size of the bananas)
  • 0.5 cups of mini chocolate chips, walnuts, or anything you want to use!
  • Parchment paper (ideally) 
These babies didn't make it past the kitchen door.

Preheat your oven to 350F and leave it to heat. Spread your parchment paper on your baking tray. Mash the bananas until they are liquid. Honestly, hands work best. Mix in your oats half a cup at a time until the mixture looks well combined, but almost like it wouldn't be able to hold together if you added more oats. Mix in your mini chocolate chips. make balls and press them on the cookie sheet. One-inch balls are good for group gatherings, but when I make them for home I tend to make them larger. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until firm.

Pennies a person and delicious.

The food that I ended up taking was a batch of coconut flour blondies that were to die for (recipe here at Ambitious Kitchen). I am usually looking for cost-effective alternatives, but sometime it is just too challenging. I have some friends who have food sensitivities so I take special care to try and make things that everyone can eat. You can't get around the fact that coconut flour is relatively expensive but in all honesty, of all the gluten-free flours I have tried, I have had the best luck with it which, to me, makes the extra expense worth it. Also, the recipe doesn't use too much. If you need to go food-sensitive, this is a great option - BUT I would suggest going to your local bulk food store and buying the exact amount of coconut flour you need to cut costs.



These. Were. Delicious.

What is your favourite potluck recipe? I would love to hear from you!

~A

To learn more, click here or visit the Patreon website.



Friday, 14 July 2017

Need vs. Want When Budgeting

We’ve all done it.

We’ve all walked past that little trinket, that lovely something, and decided that we need to have it in our life. The allure takes hold and we buy before we give ourselves a chance to think about our well-planned budgets. I touched on this trap a bit when I wrote the post Everyone Makes (Financial) Mistakes, but today I’m going to delve in a little deeper and talk about how we can avoid making these mistakes in the first place, saving us from some serious buyer’s remorse in the long run.

First, step away from the shiny thing! It is best to remove yourself from the situation. For example, my biggest weaknesses at the moment are probably either wine or journals. I have a very hard time saying no to either of them and as such, have grown a fair collection over the past couple of decades (for the journals, not the wine… it would be challenging to start that collection at 11). If possible, I walk away from whatever I am lusting after and leave the store. When you're not standing and staring at your potential prize, it’s a lot easier to think about it rationally.

These two instruments were good investments.

If that doesn’t work, talk it out. Husband and I have gotten pretty good at talking out our purchases and are not all that bad at helping one another see reason. Now, we both have our blind spots; for me, it’s a good bottle of wine that I plan to keep for a “special occasion” (Note: at this rate, it’s going to be the same special occasion that your grandmother deems worthy of her good china). For Husband, it’s musical instruments. He has a bad habit of bringing home “strays” that just need a little bit of love… and a complete overhaul costing many hundreds of dollars. Again, talking to someone can make you see reason.

Part of my Ontario Collection. I probably won't be drinking them anytime soon.

Finally, look at your budget! You have worked so hard to stay inside your spending limits and you have done a magnificent job up to this point – is that one thing worth throwing off all of your planning and saving? Nine times out of 10, it isn’t.


I can say, with confidence,  that some of these were impulse buys. Also, this isn't even close to all of the instruments.



It’s hard to walk away sometimes. We’ve all been caught more than once going to the cash with a  little extra something in hand, having convinced ourselves we need it in our lives, but taking a step back from that “must-have” item can save us all a lot in the long run.
What are your weaknesses? How do you resist temptation? Tell me in that comments below!

~A

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Why you Budget for your Emergency Fund

Your car just broke down. You know you’re in for a big bill. How do you even start to budget for that?

The answer is, you shouldn’t have to.

My second post on this blog was all about how you should be putting money away in an emergency fund. Today I’m going to show you why.



Happy little Fiat, right?

It all started about six weeks ago. My car (the Fiat) was having trouble starting. This went on for a couple days and I was starting to get worried. Then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Fast forward to about a week ago and the car was dead on its wheels. We tried jump-starting it – nothing. We tried replacing the battery – nothing. I know enough about cars to usually have a rough idea of what’s going on (my suspicions were alternator or starter), but there was no way I was going to be able to get in there and fix it. I managed to eke it to life just long enough to get it up to my mechanic and he told me what I had already guessed – my starter had gone splat. Annoying, but fixable and not too expensive. So one day and a hunk of change later, my happy little car was back and ready to roll.

Except it wasn’t.

On Sunday, Husband and I had decided that we were going to go down to a local cemetery for a walk and spend some time taking pictures. We got about 100m from the house when suddenly, the car stopped shifting. The linkage had separated. I managed to get under the hood and slide the pieces back together but there was no way we weren’t getting away without another trip to the mechanic. Another day without my car and a larger chunk of cash later, I had the Fiat back, much healthier and in its rightful place in the driveway.


The linkage that failed (failed component is top right)
 It didn’t come cheap, though.

Here’s the breakdown for all of the repairs:
  • Battery: $163 with tax ($20 rebate to come at a later time)
  • Starter: $474 with tax (Part and installation)
  • Linkage Cables: $595 with tax (Part and installation)
Total: $1232

If Husband and I didn’t have an emergency fund, we would be in trouble right now. Luckily, we follow our rules and put 10 per cent of all our combined earnings into an emergency fund. It hurts taking the money out of the accounts and paying that bill – but it would hurt a lot more if we couldn’t.

~A

Monday, 10 July 2017

Budgeting while Buying in Bulk

Buying in bulk will save you big bucks in the long run.

Right?

Costco, or warehouse stores like it have been telling consumers that by shopping at their stores and buying larger quantities of food in one go will help your bottom line, budget-wise. As a seasoned budgeter who spends her time clipping coupons and price-matching flyers, I can honestly say it depends how you go about it. I recently made a trip to Costco with my husband and decided to break down the costs of each item and compare the savings.

On this trip, we spent $102 (before taxes). Below I have marked out the Costco price, the average local grocery store price and the difference between the two.

All of the products Husband and I bought while we were at Costco this weekend, numbered for your convenience.

1. Granny Smith Apples – Costco - $8.99 for 6lbs
            Local Grocery Store – avg $6.50 for 4 lbs
            Savings = $0.12 per pound
2. Name Brand Cereal – Costco - $8.99 for 1.4 kg
                      Local grocery Store – avg. $6.50 for 700g
            Savings = $4.01 on equal amounts (1.4 kg) of cereal
3. Dempster’s 100% Whole Wheat Bread – Costco - $5.99 for 3 loaves
            Local Grocery Stores – avg. $2.50 pr loaf (or more)
            Savings - $0.50 per loaf, $1.50 total
4. Pre-bagged Salad – Costco - $3.59 for 1 supermarket-sized bag
            Local Grocery Store – avg. $3.99 per bag
            Savings - $0.40 per bag
5. Organic Strawberries – Costco - $5.99 for 2 lbs
            Local Grocery Store – avg. $5.00 per lb
            Savings - $4.01 on equal amounts (2 lbs) of strawberries
6. Vegan Protein Powder – Costco - $29.99 for 1 tub (34 servings)
            Local Grocery Store – avg. $45.00 per 1 tub (34 servings)
            Savings - $15.01 for 1 tub
7. Nature Valley Granola Bars – Costco - $11.99 for 36 bars
            Local Grocery Store – avg. $2.50 for 6 bars
            Savings - $3.01 for equal number (36) of bars
8. Optico Professional Glasses Wipes – Costco - $11.79 for 144 wipes
            On Amazon – avg. $28.97 for 144 wipes
            Savings - $17.18 for 144 wipes
9. Costco Store Brand (Kirkland) shampoo – Costco - $14.99 for 2  1.5L bottles (salon grade)
            Salon Grade Shampoo – avg. 23.00 per 1.5L
            Savings - $31.01 on equal amounts (3L total) Shampoo
Total Saved on this trip - $76.31


 The savings look great, right?

Well, they definitely are if you're going to use all of the product (this will be covered in a later post). We have spent a lot of time going through both Costco and the grocery stores comparing prices, keeping track of sales, and carefully deciding what we should buy where. The fact is, there are a lot of things we won't buy at Costco. Meat, for instance - We have generally found that we can find meat on sale for better prices at the grocery stores. We don't eat a ton of meat and the bulk amounts don't make sense for us.

Make sure to do your research and don't just take the warehouse stores at their word. There are a lot of phenomenal deals to be found in bulk - if you do it right.

Do you have any favourite warehouse finds you would like to share? Leave them in the comments below!

~A

Friday, 7 July 2017

Weekend Value Wine Vol. 2 – The Refilling


Let’s enjoy some wine.

When I started this blog, one of my best friends challenged me to find him some exceptional wines under $15 CAD. I took up the challenge and gave him two brilliant wines to try, both in his assigned price range (if you haven’t read it, check here). Instead of being thankful for the suggestions, he called me a cheater, suggesting that because one of the wines wasn’t single-varietal, they didn’t count in the bet (he has since admitted that the blend is exceptionally good).

Then another friend asked for a white wine suggestion! How could I say no? I took on the challenge a second time to find them (and you) some great wine.


Source: LCBO Website

The red I chose was an Ontario Gamay Noir by Angels Gate Winery in Beamsville. At a price of $13.95, this vintage (2014) is very affordable and more than worth the cost. I would classify this as a “summer red;” Very light and fruity but still very flavourful. It has a lot of cherry and raspberry notes with a slightly oaky, peppery finish. It doesn’t linger in the mouth but definitely leaves you wanting more. This is a great wine to share on a nice warm evening, sitting out on the patio. I drank it paired with a strawberry shortcake and a nice, rich chicken dinner, but it will definitely stand up to pork or beef very well.



Source: LCBO Website

Next, I had the opportunity to look at the 2016 Santa Carolina Reserva Chardonnay from Chile ($12.05). The winery was established in the late 1800’s and has been putting out a quality product for decades, even winning The Wine Enthusiast's New World Winery of the Year award in 2015. The Chardonnay itself is slightly different from the big, buttery ones most people are used to, but it has a richness and charm that I have not found in any other Chardonnay in this price range. It is surprisingly fruity with peach and pear notes, but it still carries that characteristic Chardonnay smoothness with notes of oak, vanilla and sweet cream. I would actually suggest letting this wine sit out of the fridge for 10-15 minutes before you pour, as keeping it fridge-cold is going to hide a lot of the complexity. This wine is screaming for some seared scallops or would be great with mussels in a wine broth.

I am constantly on the lookout for wines where the value/enjoyment far exceeds the price. Do you have any suggestions? Leave a note in the comments if there is anything you want me to try.

Cheers!

~A

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

You Hungry? Eating well on a Budget Part 2 - The Apps

Let’s pinch some pennies, people!

On Monday we talked about how to cut your overall food costs by planning out our meals in advance and by changing our ideas of what constitutes a meal (starch, vegetables, meat protein). Today we are going to tackle the other half of the equation – shopping smart.

First, make a list. I cannot stress this enough. You don’t want to run back and forth to the store five times for missed objects. Not only is it a waste of your time, it is also wasting money on things like gas or wear-and-tear on a vehicle. I use an app to make my lists for two reasons: It keeps everything organised and compact and I tend to never leave home without my phone, so I never forget my list. My absolute favourite app for lists is Out of Milk by Bonial International Inc. You can either type in your items or scan them in using your phone to create a grocery list quickly. my favourite part of this app you can put notes with each item (like whether you’re price-matching or have a coupon).

Screenshot of Out of Milk
  Next, let’s talk about price-matching. A lot of us ignore the pile of flyers that come through our house every week, but again, there’s an app for that. Flipp is an app by Flipp Corp. that allows shoppers to view all of their local flyers in one convenient spot. You can highlight which deals are worthwhile then go over to Out of Milk and add a note to your grocery list reminding you to price match the item. Flipp is accepted almost everywhere now for price matching, so just make sure you have it with you when you go shopping! Another thing to keep in mind is that Flipp has recently added a coupon section as well. Make sure to check there for more deals.


Screenshot of Flipp

Speaking of coupons, there are some amazing apps you can use to find coupons and rebates. The one I use most is Checkout 51 by SmartSource. This one is fantastic if you are in Canada or the United States. I find it has a huge variety of different things I can get discounts on and all I have to do to get the rebates is scan my grocery receipt. It’s compact and easy to use which makes it a fantastic tool. The biggest drawback is that it’s a delayed payback and you can only cash out once you hit $20. If you use it often, though, you won’t have a problem hitting that goal again and again.



Screen shot of Checkout 51
Do you have any saving strategies you would like to share? What apps do you use for groceries? Share your budgeting strategies in the comments so we can all save some cash!

~A

Monday, 3 July 2017

You hungry? Eating well on a Budget Part 1

As one of the staples of life, we can’t really get around our need for food – and unless you have the knowledge to supply all of your own food via hunting or foraging, you’re going to be making a trip to the grocery store. We need to spend money on food, but that doesn’t mean we have to blow our budget.


There are small tips and tricks that you need to keep in mind when you’re keeping to a budget – and they are actually a lot easier than you think. First, it’s really important to plan out your meals in advance. If you know what you’re eating, you can buy what you need and leave the extras to the side. Making a list of what you need for those meals will make it nice and easy to buy everything you need. You don’t want to buy things that are just going to go bad in your fridge.


Make foods that are delicious and cost-effective! (Source)

Another great way to save cash on your groceries is to think about eliminating some meat from your meal plan. Meat proteins are extremely expensive when compared with beans, nuts and legumes. Did you know you could bake a great chana marsala that feeds four to six people for about six dollars? A meat curry that would feed the same amount of people could easily cost $15 or more. By substituting one or two meals a week you can save a good chunk of cash.

Check in on Wednesday to see my list of free cost-saving tools to help you keep to your budget. Until then, please leave any questions down below!

~A