Frugality Wise

Tips, ideas, and resources for living frugally

Moving Tips That Will Save You Money

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Moving is one of life’s stressful activities that we all have to go through at some point or another; some more frequently than others. I moved 8 months ago, and between the seemingly never-ending packing of all my possessions, trying to research and compare the infinite amount of professional moving companies out there (I eventually settled instead on a friend of my father who would do it at a reasonable rate), transferring my utilities from one address to another, arranging to have my mail re-routed by Canada Post, and all the other tasks involved with moving, I was feeling overwhelmed. Although moving is never a joy (I certainly have never heard anyone say that it’s their favourite way to spend an afternoon), moving doesn’t have to be costly. While some people can really rack up the expenses for their move, it is actually one of those activities where you can save money with a little organization, strategy, and common sense. The following are a few tips to save money on your next move.

Create lists.

Take inventory of all your possessions that need to be packed in a box and create a list of which items will be packed together and how many boxes are required. Do not plan to move with junk and things you no longer want or need. Instead, give away things that are still in good condition to a secondhand store, or have a garage sale. Also create an itinerary for your actual moving day so that you know what you’re doing and when, in order to keep on schedule as best as possible. Lists will keep you efficient, and it costs nothing to keep organized!

Scavenge everywhere for boxes.

There are moving supply and office supply companies that sell boxes, but buying boxes is a complete waste of money. Free boxes can be obtained by asking the staff/manager at your local grocery store, liquor store, large retailers such as bookstores and hardware stores, or in the mailroom of your workplace if you work in an office building. Don’t procrastinate and leave collecting boxes until the last minute. It may take a little time to collect all of the boxes that you need in various sizes. For me, collecting boxes became like my second full-time job!

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Frugality Friday: Castor Oil – The Ultimate Oil for Frugal You

In addition to my usual posts listing money-saving tips for different types of expenses and aspects of life, starting today I will be experimenting with a new weekly feature called “Frugality Friday”. On Fridays I will post and discuss one item that you can probably find lying around your home that can be used in multiple ways. Why spend money on different items for different purposes, when you can save money by using a single item for multiple purposes? With this feature, you may discover a certain way to use an item that you hadn’t ever before considered. Or a lightbulb might go off in your head and you think “Oh yeah, I used to do that years ago. I don’t remember why I stopped. I need to start doing that again!” So without further ado, this post is dedicated to what I consider to be the ultimate oil. I’m talking about good ol’ castor oil, of course!

Kicking Acne to the Curb

The first time I used castor oil was after I did some research on the internet, looking for ways to get rid of the adult acne that was affecting my self-esteem well into my mid-twenties. I figured at that age, I should no longer have to be dealing with the skin problems of adolescents. Even though we know that acne is a common occurrence in adults, we still associate it with the hormonal see-saw that is puberty. After years of buying over the counter topical treatments that either did nothing, did something but without significant results, or made my skin look worse, I bought a bottle of castor oil and did the following regimen in sequential order:

  • Washed my face with an oil-free cleanser
  • Gave my face a 10-minute steam with my electric facial steamer to open the pores, putting a towel over my head to trap in the steam
  • Rubbed about a loonie-sized amount of castor oil all over my face (For those not familiar with Canadian currency, a loonie is our $1 coin!)
  • Went back to the steamer to steam my face for another 10-minutes
  • Massaged the oil over my face some more before rinsing off with warm water, then a splash of cold water to close the pores; then pat dry with a facial tissue

Afterwards, there was still a little residue of the oil left on my face (it is a thick oil), but it didn’t make my face look like a shiny oil slick. Surprisingly, despite it being an oil, it doesn’t clog pores. (Otherwise, that would be counterproductive as a treatment for acne, now wouldn’t it?) After doing this regimen for a while my skin finally got smoother and my acne problems were finally behind me. I know not every solution works for everybody, but it doesn’t hurt to try if you’ve never used castor oil for acne before.

Here are some other good uses for castor oil:

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Fun Frugal Fitness

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Years ago I joined a gym. I can count on one hand how many times I actually went to the gym after joining. It was a waste of money. Fast-forward to today, and while admittedly I have an amazing fitness benefit through my employer ($500 per calendar year, which allows me to get reimbursement for gym membership fees, exercise DVDs, workout equipment, and workout clothes and accessories) I have no desire to join a gym. I guess I am not a gym person. You don’t need to spend money on an expensive gym membership to get in a good workout and stay fit. All you need is a little space, not much, to workout at home; or you can workout in the great outdoors. I exercise in my living room, and specifically bought a coffee table on wheels so it would be easy to push out of the way to give me more space to move when I do my exercises. So rather than paying for a gym membership and exercise classes, here are some frugal alternatives to staying fit.

Workout to exercise DVDs.

There are a variety of genres of exercise DVDs from step aerobics, to pilates, to yoga, to cardio dance, and pretty much any style under the sun. You will find something that suits your interest and fitness level. Personally, I love my cardio dance DVDs because it’s a fun workout without feeling like a chore, since I love to dance. I particularly enjoy the Pussycat Dolls workout, the Cardio Striptease workout, and my hip-hop dance workout, in addition to my beloved yoga. On the Amazon website, you can find good exercise DVDs for $10. In my opinion, it’s unnecessary to spend over $15 for an effective workout DVD.

Go for a brisk walk or a jog.

If it’s a nice day, put on your running shoes and go outdoors for a brisk walk or jog around your neighbourhood. The sights and sounds will keep your interest more than a treadmill. Bring an MP3 player and listen to your workout playlist to get you going. If you like company, bring a walking/jogging buddy with you – your spouse, a friend, or even your dog.

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How to Keep Costs Down on Your Utility Bill

Image courtesy of ponsulak /

Image courtesy of ponsulak /

Since moving into my own place, I’ve become hyper aware of my energy consumption. I used to be the kind of person who would run the water faucet just a little too long, or leave the light on in a room I was not occupying, or turn up the thermostat to a “tropical” setting because I couldn’t bear to be cold in the slightest…and the worst part is I didn’t give any of these actions a second thought. Funny how when your living situation changes from being a double-income household to a single-income household, as it did for me, you start thinking and caring about such things now that the onus is 100% on you to pay your monthly utility bill. Regardless of how much income you have as a household, we can all be more efficient in our energy consumption. The following are a few tips on keeping your utility costs down.

Turn off the lights.

There’s no need to keep a light on in a room that you’re not in; even if you were occupying a room and leave it with the intention to return to it in 5 minutes. You should be getting into the habit of turning off a light as you leave a room, regardless of how soon you will be returning to it.

Use energy-saving lightbulbs.

Replace your incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. In Canada, this decision was made for Canadians by the federal government, banning incandescent lightbulbs as of January 1, 2014. LED bulbs are more energy-efficient and last a very long time — we’re talking years here — and use up less electricity while providing you with an equivalent amount of illumination.

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Money-Saving Tips for Grocery Shopping

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Image courtesy of Ambro /

Food is a necessity of life. We’ve all gotta eat to nourish and fuel or bodies. However, the cost of food is ever-increasing. Groceries make up a significant amount of the monthly expenses for many households. While we may not be able to do anything about rising food costs, we can do something about the way we shop for food. The way you shop for food can have an effect on how much you end up spending on this expense. The following are some money-saving tips for grocery shopping.

Use coupons.

I wish I had the time to devote to extreme couponing, but that seems like it would be a full-time job! You don’t need to quit your job to devote to couponing, though. Even if you have a little time to spare, you can find some coupons that will save you a little money the next time you go grocery shopping. You can find coupons by going to online coupon sites, finding tear-away coupon pads in grocery stores, and by checking your local newspaper inserts. Sometimes a product will have a coupon available directly on or inside the packaging. Make sure to keep your coupons organized and in one place, and to keep track of the expiry date of your coupons.

Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach.

In the past when I’ve done so, I am so ravenous walking up and down the grocery aisles that I’m practically drooling at all the food I see! When you’re hungry and grocery shopping your cravings kick in and you think something along the lines of, “I need these cookies; they look soooo good! I think I’ll get a box or twenty!” Don’t step foot through those sliding glass doors without having eaten first. That way you will only spend money on items you need, not items you’re craving.

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How to Save Money When Shopping for Clothes

Image courtesy of stockimages /

Image courtesy of stockimages /

I love to shop! Especially online shopping. Nothing’s easier than typing in the web address to my favourite online clothing retailer, browsing for things to put in my virtual shopping cart, and checking out with my credit card or PayPal account…all from the comfort of my couch. No walking up and down crowded malls with tired feet and increasingly heavy bags, dodging and weaving through slow-moving people and going from store to store endlessly browsing through racks. (Although, years ago when I was younger this is exactly what I did, and could do it for 3 hours, and love every minute of it!) Of course, the biggest advantage of shopping in person at a mall is being able to try on the items before purchasing. However, I digress. This blog entry is not intended to talk about the pros and cons of online vs. in-person shopping. Regardless of what shopping method you choose, as someone who is embracing the concept of frugality, you need to shop wisely in order to save some money on this type of expenditure. Here are a few tips for frugality wise clothes shopping.

Make a shopping list.

Just like you would when you go grocery shopping, create a list of the clothing items you want to buy. Be specific. A list will give you focus and purpose. If you go to the mall and you see something that’s not on your list, don’t buy it! It obviously wasn’t a true need in the first place; otherwise it would have been on your list.

Take stock of your existing inventory of clothes.

If you have things in your closet that you haven’t worn much in the past or at all, and for whatever reason you know you really won’t be wearing them in the future, then sell them. I am guilty of having clothes in my closet for ages, never worn and with the tags still on. Sell these clothes online at places like eBay or Kijiji, or have a garage sale. With the extra room in your closet and the extra money you make from selling your unwanted items, you will have the money to spend towards that cute top you’ve been eyeing that’s now on sale!

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