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Personal Finance

  • How to Get Married Without Going Broke

    Did you know that the average wedding in 2012 cost $30,000? You read that right – thirty thousand dollars. I got married in 2008 for a grand total of $5,000 (including a 1-week vacation to Cuba). This is not as good as my friend Kerry’s $239 wedding, but I still think we did pretty well, considering what the average wedding cost.

    Wedding on a Budget.

    Get Married Without Going Broke

    How to Get Married Without Going Broke


    One thing my husband and I decided before the wedding was that we would pay cash for everything. We would not go into debt to get married. We paid for the wedding (and honeymoon!) by ourselves and and did not go a single cent into debt to get married – which we are so proud of ourselves for.

    If you’re looking for ways to save money on your upcoming wedding, please, let me teach you how to get married without going broke.

    The Date

    • Don’t get married on a Saturday. It’s the most expensive day of the week.
    • Get married during the off-season (November – April is cheapest).

    The Invites

    • Make your own invitations. Instead of including an RSVP card, ask guests to RSVP by phone or email.
    • Don’t invite every single person you know. Cut your guest list back as much as possible – only invite those that are closest to you.

    The Location

    • Have a backyard wedding. It’s cheaper, less formal, and more familiar.
    • Have the ceremony and reception at the same place to save money (and time) on travelling.

    The Dress


    Wedding Dress

    • Buy used. Most dresses have only been worn once and with some dry-cleaning and alterations (if necessary), you can save a bundle.
    • Rent your wedding dress. It’s not like you’re going to wear it again, anyway.
    • Shop sample sales for a wedding dress. These dresses are only used in the stores as samples and will cost much less than brand new.

    The Decor

    • Shop Ebay, Craigslist, Kijiji, consignment shops and yard sales. Buy used wedding decor whenever possible.
    • Borrow decor items from your friends and family.
    • Use something other than flowers in centerpieces. Flowers are expensive.
    • If you must buy flowers, make sure to only buy flowers that are in season.

    The Food


    Wedding Snacks

    • Have a buffet dinner instead of serving multiple courses by the plate.
    • Have your ceremony in the morning and serve lunch afterwards, instead of dinner.
    • Have cupcakes instead of a wedding cake. They are cheaper to have made (make them yourself to save even more money).
    • Skip the champagne toast. Rarely does anyone drink the champagne.
    • Buy your own booze (if your venue allows it, or you are having a backyard wedding). Return the bottles to get cash back.

    The Photographer

    • Hire a student photographer that has a good portfolio. Check references.
    • Book your photographer early. Many offer discounts for booking in advance.

    The Entertainment

    • Hire a DJ instead of a band. They are much cheaper. Plus, you only have to feed one person, as opposed to a group.
    • If you must hire a band, hire students. Oftentimes, they are very talented and will cost you much less than an established group.


    Please don’t spend $30,000 on a wedding. You don’t have to. There are a ton of ways that you can get married without spending copious amounts of money – and you can have an enjoyable, memorable (in a good way!) wedding to talk about for years.

    Please share your money saving tips for weddings in the comments!

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  • How To Save Money On Transportation

    Save Money On Transportation.

    Save Money on Transportation

    The price of gasoline is as high as it’s ever been, but there are still many ways you can save money on transportation.

    Here are just a few of them:

    Use Public Transportation

    Public transportation costs much less than owning a vehicle and is also better for the environment.

    This may not work for people who do not have easy access to public transit, but if you do, it might be a good idea to check out how much it costs to use that, rather than owning a vehicle.

    Maintain Your Vehicle

    If you do have a vehicle, it is very important to maintain it properly so that it lasts as long as possible.

    Routine oil changes are important, but there are also other things you need to do – check your owner’s manual to see the maintenance schedule and follow it religiously.

    Shop Around For Insurance

    It takes a bit of time, but it may be worth it to get insurance quotes from a bunch of different companies instead of just going with the company everyone else seems to be with. You could potentially save yourself hundreds of dollars (or more) every year.

    Buy a Fuel Efficient Vehicle

    Don’t buy a big gas guzzler if you can’t afford it. Invest in a vehicle that is the most fuel effecient. This will save you a huge amount of money in fuel costs over the long term.

    Empty Your Trunk

    You shouldn’t keep anything in your trunk except an emergency car kit. The more weight that’s in your trunk, the more fuel you are using. Remove everything from your trunk that is not essential.

    Combine Errands

    Combine all of your errands into one trip, if possible. This will not only save you money in fuel costs, but will save you time as well.

    Carpool

    If you work with people who live near your home, consider carpooling to save money on transportation? One week you drive everyone to work, one week someone else does it. This is a great way to save some cash and also get to know your co-works a bit better!

    If you’re not careful, getting around can be expensive. Sometimes the cost of owning a vehicle is just not worth it. Take public transit, walk, ride a bike – do what you can to save.

    Just because the cost of gas has increased doesn’t mean you are destined to stay home forever. Be creative and make sacrifices to get your transportation costs lower. It’s worth it.

    Do you have any tips for saving money on transportation?

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  • Rebate Revolution – Get Paid For Sharing Your Rebate Nightmares

    Get Paid To Share Your Bad Experiences!

    Rebate Revolution Nov 2013

    Have you had a terrible time trying to get a promised rebate? Rebate Revolution would like to pay you to share your experience on their website! They’ll pay $50 for a video or $25 for a written story. Cash is awarded as a VISA card.

    And, for a limited time only, share and promote your story on Facebook, get the most Likes and Shares, and you’ll be entered to win one of three grand prizes!

    See their site for more details and to join the Rebate Revolution!

    Thanks, Valerie!

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  • How I Save Money On Produce

    Save Money on Produce

    When people see photos of all the deals that I get when I go shopping, they often ask how I live on shaving cream, deodorant, soup and pasta.

    I do buy produce and perishable items – really! So, how do I save money on produce?

    I do two things – buy sale items and freeze.

    Shop The Sales

    They very best way to save money on items such as fresh fruits & vegetables, milk and eggs, is to only buy them when they are on sale.

    Eggs and milk don’t often go on sale, so I usually just buy them at the cheapest place possible (which, in my area, is Shoppers Drug Mart).

    When it comes to vegetables and fruit, I plan my menu around the items that are on sale.

    For example:
    This week broccoli is on sale for $0.79 cents and cauliflower is on sale for $0.99 cents. That means we will have those particular veggies with our meals this week.

    Below is a list of what I consider to be good prices for a variety of different produce items:

    Beans – $1/lb
    Peppers – $1/lb.
    Lettuce – $1
    Spinach – $1
    Tomatoes – $1/lb
    Cucumber – $1
    Bananas – $0.59/lb.
    Apples – $0.79/lb.
    Grapes – $1/lb
    Strawberries – $1.50/lb
    Pineapple – $2
    Blueberries – $1.50/pint
    Raspberries – $1.50
    Oranges – $.79/lb
    Milk – $4
    Eggs – $2/dozen

    The items that are on sale in your fliers are often those that are in season. So, by buying those items, you will not only be saving money, you will also be eating the freshest food.

    Buy In Bulk & Freeze

    You can easily freeze most perishable foods, as long as you do it properly.

    Broccoli, Cauliflower – Chop into bite size pieces and blanch in hot water for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for about 30 seconds to stop the cooking. Freeze in freezer bags or containers for up to 6 months.
    Carrots – Peel and chop into bite size pieces. Blanche in hot water and a pinch of sugar for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for 30 seconds. Freeze up to 1 year.
    Beans – Blanche in hot water for 3 minutes. Dump them in an ice bath for 30 seconds. Freeze up to 1 year.
    Onions, Peppers – Chop and freeze for up to 6 months.
    Spinach – Wash and then steam spinach until it wilts. Remove to a colander and once it is cooled, add to freezer bags or container and freeze for up to 1 year.
    Tomatoes – Although you cannot freeze tomatoes, you can make your own homemade pasta sauce and freeze that instead.
    Bananas, Pineapple, Strawberries – Chop into bite size pieces and freeze for up to 3 months (1 year for strawberries). Use these in fruit drinks and smoothies.
    Blueberries, Raspberries, Grapes – Freeze for up to 1 year.
    Oranges – Peel and freeze individual orange slices for up to 3 months. Use these in fruit drinks and smoothies.
    Milk – Freeze individual bags only for up to 1 month. Let thaw in refrigerator for 48 hours and give the bag a good shake before you use it.

    Freezing items that you can not consume before they go bad is great way to save money. Don’t forget what you have frozen by sticking a freezer inventory sheet to the front of your freezer.

    How do you save money on produce?

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  • Saving Money on Starbucks K-Cups – Reader Question

    Starbucks Verdana K-Cups

    Today’s Reader Question is from Mandy,

    One of my splurges is Starbucks Veranda Blend K-Cups. They are rarely on sale at the grocery store.

    Where can you get the best deal on Starbucks Keurig K-Cups – either online or in a ‘brick and mortar’ store? -Mandy

    Do you have any ideas for Mandy? Please share in the comments!

    Have a question you’d like to ask the readers of MrsJanuary.com? Send an email.

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  • Can You Afford Retirement?

    Recently, a friend and I were talking about retirement and how much each of us would like to have saved before we decided to retire. My friend said she would be very happy with one million dollars in savings. She was shocked when I told her I would only be comfortable with ten times that amount.

    And really, it’s all a personal choice. Whether you want to have a million dollars, ten million dollars, or 500,000 – everyone’s answer will likely be different in terms of how much money they would need to have in order to retire comfortably.

    Can You Afford Retirement?


    How Much to Save for Retirement

    When it comes to saving for retirement, the golden rule is a retirement income of 70% of your current income, but some people may need more or less than that to live the life they want during retirement.

    How much money is enough?

    First off, you need to decide what you want to do when you retire. Do you want to travel? Spend more time with family? Take up a new hobby, such as gardening or golf?

    Figure out how much those things will cost you, and also take into account your housing, entertainment, groceries, clothing, and anything else you will need money for in your life.

    Personally, I want to live a very comfortable life travelling the world. This will not be cheap – hence why I want to have so much money saved before moving into retirement!

    Everyone’s savings goals are going to be different, but try to stick with [at least] the 70% rule of thumb, and assume that you will live in retirement for at least 30 years, to be safe.

    What about debt?

    In my opinion, going into retirement with any type of debt whatsoever, is just plain stupid. I’m sorry – but it is. Retirement will be much more enjoyable without any debt resting on your shoulders.

    Work for another year or two (or more) to get your debt paid off completely, and only then should you consider retiring. I know of someone who retired with over $50,000 in debt – she she is still struggling to pay that off with her retirement savings, more than 10 years after she retired.

    Trust me – you’ll be much happier retiring with zero debt to your name.

    Helpful tips for retirement

    1. Find out about government help – Visit the Government of Canada website to determine how much money you will receive from Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan if you retire at a certain date.

    If you don’t have a pension, and are saving money for retirement on your own, you really need to be strict with yourself and make sure you are indeed saving the necessary amount of money.

    2. Find out about employer help – Ask your employer if they have a group RRSP or pension plan that you can be a part of. This is a great way (and an easy way!) to put some money away for your retirement.

    Figure out how much money you would receive if you retired at a certain date.

    It’s never too late to start thinking about retirement and to start planning for the life you are going to have when you are no longer working.

    In order to live freely in retirement, you’ll need to have saved a considerable amount of money. Start saving now. It doesn’t matter how little money you save in the beginning – just start.

    How much money would you like to have when you retire?

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  • Over 200 Ways To Save Money On Just About Everything

    Save Money On Just About Everything.

    Ways To Save Money On Everything

    Saving money is great. Saving lots of money is even better. Knowing how to save lots of money can be a challenge.

    Thankfully, you’ve stumbled upon this post, which lists over 200 hundred ways to save money on just about everything. I hope you find it helpful.

    Utilities

    1. Install a programmable thermostat.
    2. Insulate your attic.
    3. Turn off the lights in rooms you are no longer using.
    4. Don’t turn on the heat/air conditioning until you just can’t take it anymore.
    5. Don’t leave the water running while brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
    6. Take quick showers.
    7. Install low-flow toilets.
    8. Use white curtains/blinds to reflect heat away from your home in the summer.
    9. Use a de-humidifier to reduce moisture in your home and make it feel cooler.
    10. Install an energy-efficient dishwasher.
    11. Clean out the lint trap in your dryer.
    12. Install an energy-efficient washer and dryer.
    13. Install CFL light bulbs.
    14. Use ceiling fans, floor fans and space heaters.
    15. Turn the oven off during the last few minutes of cooking. There’s still enough heat in there to keep stuff cooking.
    16. Cook in batches. Only use the oven once per day, or less.
    17. Use your dishwasher, washing machine and dryer at non-peak hours.
    18. Use cold water when you run the washing machine.
    19. Use a toaster oven for baking small meals.
    20. Install a low-flow shower head.
    21. Line-dry your clothing.
    22. Use a slow cooker.
    23. Unplug appliances that are not in use.
    24. Insulate hot water heater/pipes.
    25. During the winter months, leave your oven door open when you are done using it to help heat your house. Don’t do this if you have small children around.
    26. Fill empty spots in your fridge and freezer with jugs of water. This saves on operating costs.
    27. Clean refrigerator coils a few times per year.
    28. Use power strips.
    29. Caulk around doors, windows and baseboards.
    30. Install weather stripping.
    31. Install storm windows and doors.
    32. Only run full loads (laundry machine, dishwasher).

    33. Close the vents in rooms you are not using.
    34. Open your windows for fresh air.
    35. Air-dry your dishes.
    36. If you must use sprinklers for your lawn, use timers.
    37. Wear clothing twice before washing, unless they are very dirty.
    38. Wash hoodies/sweatshirts a few times per month, unless they are very dirty.

    Groceries

    1. Use coupons.
    2. Make your own cleaning products.
    3. Shop once a week and with a list.
    4. Stock up when things go on sale.
    5. Save your receipts. Watch store sales a week or two after you shop and get a price adjustment when able.
    6. Carry a small calculator in your bag.
    7. If you purchase a product that is defective in some way, contact the manufacturer. They will likely send coupons, sometimes for a FREE product. (Please don’t abuse this.)
    8. Send away for mail-n rebates.
    9. Use cloth napkins.
    10. Cut dryer sheets in half.
    11. Make your own jam.
    12. Use hair conditioner as shaving cream.
    13. Add water to your hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap to make it last longer.
    14. Clean windows with newspaper instead of paper towels.
    15. Make double of a few of your favourite meals, then freeze half for the nights you don’t have the energy to cook.
    16. Cut dish detergent tabs in half.
    17. Understand price matching and scanning code of practice.
    18. Quit using fabric softener all together, you don’t need it.
    19. Use plastic containers instead of plastic bags for storing leftovers.
    20. While shopping, look at the top and bottom shelves. This is usually where clearance items end up.
    21. You can also find clearance items on the very ends of aisles, farthest away from the flow of traffic (also known as endcaps).
    22. When it comes to buying dairy, meat and produce, pick the items at the back. Older items are moved to the front, and the items in back are often fresher.
    23. Ask for a raincheck if a store is out of an advertised special.
    24. Chop, slice and shred foods yourself.
    25. Bring your lunch to work.
    26. Eat at home.
    27. Make your own pizza.
    28. Don’t buy bottled water (use a filter).
    29. Stop wasting fruit. When your fruit is ripe, if you know you wont be able to eat it all before it goes bad, pop it in the freezer and use it later in fruit drinks and smoothies.
    30. Use powdered milk for cooking.
    31. Use a dish towel instead of paper towels.
    32. Use half of the recommended laundry detergent.
    33. Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store to avoid paying for plastic ones.
    34. Buy produce in season.
    35. Make your own bread.
    36. Cook from scratch.
    37. Make your own coffee.
    38. Shop at local farmers’ markets.
    39. Buy store brands.
    40. Plan meals according to what is on sale.
    41. Eat less meat.
    42. Make your own baby food.
    43. Grow your own produce and herbs.
    44. Make your own chicken broth.

    Transportation

    1. Carpool.
    2. Walk whenever possible.
    3. Use public transportation.
    4. Get your oil changed every 4 months instead of 3 (if you don’t drive often).
    5. Combine errands.
    6. Wash your own car.
    7. Fill your vehicles’ tires with air.
    8. Pay a higher deductible on your insurance.
    9. Remove anything unnecessary from the trunk. The more weight that’s in your trunk, the more fuel you are using.
    10. Buy a fuel efficient car.
    11. Keep up with routine car maintenance.
    12. Use your air conditioner on the highway and roll down the windows on the main roads.
    13. Use cruise control.
    14. Replace dirty air filters in your vehicles.
    15. Don’t warm up your car by letting it idle.
    16. Park in the shade.
    17. Do not accelerate or drive fast.
    18. Buy a used vehicle instead of new.
    19. Pay for gas at the pump, to avoid temptations in the store.

    Entertainment

    1. Borrow books, movies, and CDs from the library.
    2. Read your favourite magazines online instead of buying the actual copy.
    3. Use a service like Netflix to watch movies.
    4. Eat out less.
    5. Go to restaurants that offer a free meal on your birthday.
    6. Play board games.
    7. Use an Entertainment Book.
    8. Go out for lunch instead of dinner.
    9. Go out for dessert instead of dinner.
    10. After eating at a restaurant, bring home leftovers to have for lunch the next day.
    11. Watch movies at home instead of the theatre.
    12. Eat out at “kids eat free” restaurants.
    13. Have a few drinks at home before going out.
    14. Go to a bar/club that doesn’t have a cover charge.
    15. When you have people over for dinner or lunch, make it a potluck.

    Clothing

    1. Instead of shopping for maternity clothing, consider buying regular clothing in a size or two larger than you usually purchase.
    2. Shop at thrift stores.
    3. Don’t put bras or underwear in the dryer. The heat breaks down the elastic and wears them out that much faster.
    4. Avoid ‘dry clean only’ clothing.
    5. Stay away from trends. Their life is usually very short. Stick to basic lines that will look good forever.
    6. Remove stains as quickly as possible.
    7. Shop out of season for the best deals.
    8. Check the clearance racks at stores.
    9. Never pay full price for clothing, there are always sales.

    Babies, Kids & Pregnancy

    1. Cut pantiliners in half to serve as breast pads. They are just as absorbent, but cost much less.
    2. Don’t buy breast milk storage bags. Just pour breast milk into ice cube trays. Once frozen, pop them out and store them in freezer bags.
    3. Don’t use lanolin creams for cracked/dry nipples. Just rub some breast milk on the nipple and let it air dry for about 10 minutes.
    4. Using formula? Join formula manufacturers’ mailing lists to receive coupons and free samples.
    5. Purchase store brand formula instead of name brand.
    6. Don’t buy burp pads. Just use a dish towel or small swaddling blanket.
    7. Wash and reuse swim diapers for small children (unless they have been peed or pooped in). Just don’t put them in the dryer. Air dry only.
    8. Instead of using teething rings for baby, use a wet wash cloth. The cool water feels good on their gums.
    9. If you plan on having more children, buy high chairs, strollers, car seats, etc. in neutral colours. The same goes for certain types of clothing such as shoes and jackets.
    10. Diaper bags can be expensive. Use a backpack or a large tote bag instead.
    11. Instead of buying a traditional high chair, consider buying a booster seat that straps to a dining room chair.
    12. Instead of purchasing a changing table, consider using a dresser with a thick, portable change pad on top.
    13. Don’t use character backpacks and lunch boxes that you will just have to replace when the next new character favourite comes along.
    14. Take advantage of all the free clubs, teams, and activities that are offered through your public schools.
    15. Use cloth diapers.
    16. Breast feed.
    17. Use a garbage can instead of a Diaper Genie.

    Reuse

    1. Reuse the rubber bands and plastic bags that newspapers/flyers are delivered in.
    2. Reuse tissue paper and wrapping paper.
    3. Reuse scrap paper for lists and little notes.
    4. Use re-chargeable batteries.
    5. Reuse baby wipe containers and facial tissue boxes for storing plastic bags.
    6. Use plastic grocery bags for garbage, soiled diapers, cat litter.
    7. Make curtains out of bedsheets.
    8. Make a rain barrel to collect water for your garden.

    Other

    1. Learn how to sew.
    2. Visit scratch & dent warehouses for appliances.
    3. Send invitations to events via email to save on postage.
    4. Buy holiday items the day after the holiday. Stock up for next year.
    5. Buy store brand/generic medications, they are just as effective.
    6. Save your receipts. If an item falls apart or is in rough shape when you open the packaging, you can return it to the store a lot easier if you have a receipt.
    7. Negotiate all large purchases.
    8. Sign up for rewards programs.
    9. Shop around (car insurance, cable companies).
    10. Switch to a no-fee bank.
    11. Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees.
    12. Borrow from friends and family.
    13. Shop at the dollar store.
    14. Have a monthly budget.
    15. Cut your own/family’s hair.
    16. Don’t sign up for a gym membership.
    17. Shop for holiday and birthday gifts year-round.
    18. Sell stuff on ebay, craigslist or kijiji.
    19. Have a yard sale.
    20. Quit smoking.
    21. Use up flexible spending account (FSA) money.
    22. Pass on extended warranties.
    23. Check over all bills for mistakes.
    24. Pay yourself first.
    25. Get out & stay out of debt.
    26. Use Swagbucks.
    27. Learn how to negotiate.
    28. Use Freecycle.
    29. Stop buying cookbooks. There are many FREE recipes online.
    30. Don’t use bank machines that are not part of your bank’s system.
    31. Shop at factory outlet stores.
    32. Give the gift of time. Car washing, baby sitting, cut the grass.
    33. Keep a cooler with snacks & drinks in the car if you will be out for awhile.
    34. Instead of hiring a company to clean your carpets, rent a machine and do it yourself.
    35. Sign up for freebies.
    36. Look for free stuff at the side of the road.
    37. Save all of your change.
    38. Pay bills online to save on stamps.
    39. Use a digital camera instead of film, and only print the really good photos.
    40. When you stay at hotels, take home the little toiletries.
    41. Call your credit card company and ask them to lower your interest rate.
    42. Learn to say no.
    43. Maintain the minimum balance in your bank account to waive monthly fees.
    44. Don’t gamble.

    Pets

    1. Don’t own a pet.
    2. Bathe your own pets.
    3. Buy flea protection online instead of from the vet.
    4. Make your own pet toothpaste.

    Home, Phone, Cable & Internet

    1. Refinance your mortgage.
    2. Get rid of your house phone if you have a cellphone.
    3. Cut out the cable, or just get basic cable.
    4. Buy/rent a smaller home.
    5. Cut unnecessary services like caller ID and call waiting.
    6. Get a roommate.
    7. Call cable/phone/internet company twice per year to see if there are any special promotions available.
    8. Bundle cable/phone/internet, if possible.
    9. Buy home and auto insurance from the same company.

    Do you have any money-saving tips to add? Please share in the comments!

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