Author Archive

July 26

Save More Money on Your Vet Bill

Posted by on July 26, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Save More Money on Your Vet Bill

Last year, Bargainmoose shared 4 Tips to Save Money on Your Vet Bill, and it focused on preventative care like brushing your dog’s teeth to avoid tooth decay and shopping around with your veterinarian for quotes.  Pets are expensive so you should think twice about whether you can afford a pet before you get one.  However, if you are planning to get a pet, check out this Bargainmoose post on how to save money on a new animal.

This year, my article will focus on another way to save more money on your vet bill, and it is related to the dispensing of medications. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 25

Save Money on Real Estate Commissions

Posted by on July 25, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Real Estate Commissions

With the hot Canadian housing market in full force, many Canadians are thinking about selling their home and cashing in on the high prices from the real estate market.  The average price of a detached Toronto home in 2015 has recently hit $1.052 million (a record so far) and the average price of a detached Vancouver home in 2015 is $1.27 million.  For many people, they believe that it certainly makes sense to find a good realtor. Read the rest of this entry »

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July 19

6 Ways to Repurpose Wine Bottles

Posted by on July 19, 2015 at 8:00 PM

6 Ways to Repurpose Wine Bottles

Most women have a few wine bottles hanging around (either to be recycled or to be diligently returned to the liquor store for a deposit refund).  I love the way wine bottles look- so elegant, the glass is so smooth, and it just looks classy.  If you’re on a DIY kick, here are some ways that you can have that elegant wine-bottle look without it just being localized to your wine rack.  If you’re looking to also repurpose the wine corks alongside the wine bottles, check out this great Bargainmoose post on 9 Fun Ways to Repurpose Wine Corks.

Here are six ways to repurpose wine bottles: Read the rest of this entry »

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July 12

Save Money on Emergency Preparedness by Making Your Own Kit

Posted by on July 12, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Emergency Preparedness by Making Your Own Kit

Preparing for emergencies is not something that most people do, but is something that definitely should be done.  With the exception of a emergency preparedness kit in my car (that was already pre-packaged), I, like most people, am guilty of not preparing myself if an emergency were to ever happen.  According to a survey done by American Family Safety (unfortunately with American data, but I expect that this data can be extrapolated to us Canadians) over 80% of Americans would be worried about their family members in the event of an emergency, but only 13% of Americans surveyed have an emergency preparedness kit of some sort with essential supplies.  Here are some ways to save money on an emergency preparedness kit.

Pre-made Emergency Preparedness Kits

Of course you can save the time and hassle of preparing your own emergency preparedness kit by simply purchasing a pre-made one.

The Canadian Red Cross has a lovely emergency preparedness kit that is very well stocked in a red backpack.  It however costs $59.95, which is pretty reasonable considering it includes a backpack and a first aid kit, not including shipping.  It provides enough supplies for the first 72 hours of an emergency for you and your family.  Unfortunately it doesn’t include all the food that would be necessary.

In addition, Costco.ca has an emergency preparedness kit suitable for four people for just under $150 a kit and it includes shipping and handling.  The cool thing about this one from Costco is that it has a colouring book and crayons for your kids to keep them busy.  The other great thing about this is that the food and water rations have a 5 year shelf life (which means less work for you to upkeep the kit).

If you don’t have $59 or $150 to spare for something that you will use “in case” (well, better never used, I suppose), here is what you can do to make your own emergency preparedness kit.

What You Need to Make your Own Emergency Preparedness Kit to Save Money

Get Prepared (a Canadian government website) has a great checklist that you can use to check off the items needed in your 72 hour Emergency Kit.  The main things that you need are water (at least 2 litres per person per day in your family), food (non-perishable such as canned foods, energy bars, or dried fruit and nuts), and a flashlight (ideally one that does not require a battery to operate or one with batteries), a can opener, a battery powered wind-up radio, a first aid kit, and an warm lightweight blanket (the ones that reflect light to keep you warm e.g., mylar or emergency foil).

For the food and water portion of your DIY emergency kit for four people, it is important to remember to replace these annually.

  • 20L Gallon container $9.50  (Canadian Red Cross)
  • Canned meat (Spam or Corned Beef may be a good option here) for those who eat meat ($10 worth)
  • Dried nuts or trail mix in a sealed bag ($10 for a bag)
  • Granola bars (something with protein, Clif bars may be a good option $12 for 12 bars)
  • Canned pasta or soups ($10)
  • 4 thermal blankets ($1.80 each from Canadian Red Cross)
  • 8- 12 hour hand warmers ($1-2 each)
  • Flashlight with batteries (can be bought at your local dollar store)
  • Can opener (at your local dollar store)
  • First Aid Kit (main things to include are gauze, normal saline, alcohol wipes, tweezers, band-aids, gloves, antiseptic towlettes, and a sling bandage/ compression bandage)
  • 4 dust masks (can be found at your local hardware store)
  • Garbage bags, Ziplock bags
  • Waterproof matches, emergency whistles, nylon rope can be found at your local camping store
  • Hand sanitizer (local dollar store)
  • Rain ponchos (your local dollar store may have some)
  • Hand crank radio- this is the most expensive item ($40), check out the Canadian Red Cross for some of these
  • Personal hygiene items (like sanitary pads)

These are just some of things that you might want to have in your own 72 hour emergency preparedness kit.

The above DIY kit will cost you about $100, but you can just omit things that you don’t need, like for example, a dust mask or hand warmers, or rain ponchos.

Not Only Do you Need a Kit, You also Need a Plan

Emergency contact numbers, a plan of where to meet and how is also important to discuss with your family.  The kit should also have a photocopy of your family’s important documents  and some cash in small denominations.

Bargainmoosers, do you have an emergency preparedness kit?  Did you buy it or DIY?

Photo credit: Matthew Rogers

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July 4

6 Ways to Save Money on Dry Cleaning

Posted by on July 4, 2015 at 8:00 PM

6 Ways to Save Money on Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is expensive but there are ways to save money on dry cleaning without “being taken to the cleaners” (pun intended).  The main way to save money is to have awareness of what needs to be taken to the dry cleaner and what doesn’t.  There are also ways to extend the life of your clothing between dry cleaning cycles.

Here are six different ways to save money on your next dry cleaning bill.

Read the Label and Take it With a Grain of Salt

By taking with a grain of salt, I mean don’t read the label and follow the instructions to a tee.  According to Good Housekeeping, if a label says “dry clean only” then it means that you really should dry clean that item only.  If a label says “dry clean” it means that you don’t need to dry clean but it would be preferable, but it is not a necessity.  If it says “dry clean” you could either wash it by hand or wash it in cold water on the delicate cycle and then tumble dry low in the dryer.  I have a cashmere sweater that said “dry clean” on the care label (I bought the sweater at Old Navy years ago for under $30) that I routinely wash in the washer and dryer and it has held up well.

Spray Water to Remove Watermarks

According to Frugality Magazine, the two most dangerous fabrics you should be wary of when you purchase are silk and linen.  Oftentimes even if you take these to the dry cleaner, the stain will still appear as it did before you spent the money taking it to the dry cleaner.  If you do buy silk and you end up getting watermark stains on your silk clothing (be it from rain, sweat or whatnot), dry cleaning won’t necessarily remove them and washing them in the machine will likely ruin them.  Instead, Frugality Magazine suggests that you hang it up, spray it with a houseplant mister (full of water) and let it be.  Usually the water mark disappears or it improves greatly.  For other ways to remove watermark stains on silk, check out this Wikihow article.

Curtain Call

Instead of taking your curtains to the dry cleaner to remove dust and pet hair, Good Housekeeping also suggests that you can put the curtains into your dryer for 10 minutes under the air only option and then remove and hang up again.  Although I don’t have curtains in my home, this is a great idea to save money on dry cleaning your curtains when you do that spring cleaning.

Prevention is Key

Readers Digest dispenses sage advice by recommending that the earlier you treat a stain before it has time to set, the better.  Be vigilant about stains on your clothes during meal times and try your best not remove it as soon as possible.  Also, never iron your stained cottoning or it will cause the stain to set and be likely difficult or impossible to remove.  Keep a Tide to Go pen always handy and make the effort to remove the stain before it has time to set in.

Home Dry Cleaning Kits

About.com suggests that home dry cleaning kits are a great alternative to dry cleaning and can make your clothes last longer between dry cleaning trips.  I have a friend who swears by the dry cleaning kit Dryel that she bought at London Drugs.  The Dryel starter kit is $9.99.  I personally have not tried using this yet.

Know What Fabrics are High Maintenance

According to Popsugar, there are certain fabrics that can do relatively well being washed by hand.  These fabrics are cashmere, wool, silk, cotton, and satin.  Contrarily, there are certain fabrics that usually have to be taken into the dry cleaners to be cleaned and these are suede, velvet, and leather.

Hopefully these six tips save you money on your next trip the dry cleaners (or will save you money from having to go to the dry cleaners, period!).

Bargainmoosers, do have other ways that you save money on the dry cleaners?  How often do go to the dry cleaners?  Have you tried Dryel before?

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

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June 27

4 Ways to Save Money on your Mortgage

Posted by on June 27, 2015 at 8:00 PM

4 Ways to Save Money on your Mortgage

The mortgage is singlehandedly the biggest investment and biggest fixed cost in our lifestyle (if you choose to have a mortgage instead of rent, that is).  Mortgage, rent, and shelter constitutes the largest part of the household budget for most people.  When we have a mortgage, we are bound to work to pay the mortgage, of course.  Most of the time, people pay their mortgage according to the bank’s schedule and think nothing more of it.  However, if you think about the tens of thousands of dollars that end up going to the bank as the form of mortgage interest, you might want to think about different ways to pay off your mortgage earlier so that you and your family can reach financial freedom faster.

Make Two Half Payments instead of a Monthly Payment

According to Bankrate, making two half payments instead of a monthly payment can shave as much as 6 years off of a 30 year mortgage loan.  The accelerated biweekly payment is a great way to pay off your mortgage and take off a few years from the total mortgage.  It works especially well with those who get biweekly paycheques from their employer.  With the two half payments, you’ll barely notice that you are paying more to pay off your mortgage.

Re-Finance your Mortgage

This might be an option for you depending on how much time you have left on your mortgage term.  If the mortgage savings outweighs the inevitable mortgage penalty for refinancing your mortgage, refinancing might not be a bad idea, especially in the absolute low-rate  environment that we have had for the  past couple of years (and more so recently).  The low mortgage interest rate environment is not going to last (however, that’s what the financial experts have been saying for the past couple of years).  Yahoo Finance estimates that on average, people have refinanced their homes twice since 2009.

The key aspect to refinancing your mortgage to the lower rate is to ensure that you are paying the same amount of monthly payment per month.  So with the lower cost of the mortgage, you should pay extra to knock down the principle and reduce the time you have to be paying the mortgage.

Make a Pre-payment

Pre-payments can take many different forms.  For example, you could make a lump sum payment, or you can pay up the total amount of your mortgage payment (check with your mortgage’s financial institution to see what your terms are).  On the Financial Consumer Agency website created by the government of Canada, they give an example of a man with a $150,000 principle mortgage at at 5.45% rate over a 25 year amortization.  With his pre-payment maximum, he was able to contribute up to 10% of his original mortgage loan, which is $15,000.  With that, he was able to reduce his total mortgage by $33,000.  One thing to be cognizant of is to make sure you don’t pay more than the lender allows, otherwise, you will be subject to fees and fines of course.

Put your Tax Refund into your Mortgage

Finally, if it is difficult to find money for a pre-payment, one option is to use your tax return money towards your mortgage.  Of course, most people like to treat themselves with the tax return proceeds, but if you divide it up into money for your ‘splurge’ and divide it up into money towards your home, that helps you use the money effectively for both ‘fun’ and ‘mortgage pay down’. Doing this on an annual basis will save you thousands of dollars over the course of your amortization.

Although it might not seem like much, paying any little bit towards your mortgage saves you lot of money on your mortgage. This is because mortgages work with an amortization- that means that even though the mortgage payment stays the same every time you pay a mortgage payment, you are actually paying more interest than paying down the principal.  That’s why when you pay down your principal, you are actually chipping away at the base of the iceberg, rather than attacking it from the top (which is obviously less effective).

Bargainmoosers, do you have any other ways in which you saved on your mortgage?

Photo credit: The Truth About

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June 21

How to Save Money on a Bathroom Remodel

Posted by on June 21, 2015 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on a Bathroom Remodel

They say that the best bang for your buck in terms of renovations and increasing the value of your home are to focus on updating the kitchen and the bathroom.  Personally when I first bought my apartment a few years ago, I decided that the motel-esque bathroom had to go and I re-modeled the bathroom with the help of a contractor.  I did this before I moved into the apartment and it didn’t take very long to renovate.

The average cost of a mid-range bathroom remodel (in the United States) is, according to Remodelling magazine’s 2005 cost vs value report (as mentioned by HGTV), approximately $10,500.  According to Porch.com it is even higher. In 2013, the average cost of a bathroom renovation was $16,000 (I suppose inflation had something to do with it).  I was able to remodel the bathroom for about $3000, however I do have a smallish bathroom.  I added a shower door, changed the sink and countertop, changed the light fixtures, changed the shower head, and added glass subway tiles in an aquamarine blue/ aqua blue (my favourite colour) instead of the square white ceramic tiles that were previously there.  I could have just spent less but I wanted my bathroom to have a spa-like feel with the glass tiles.  About two years later I still look at my glass tiles and smile because the colour makes me happy.

Here are some ways in which you can update your bathroom on a budget.

Don’t Gut It

Just like with a kitchen remodel (for tips on how to save money on a kitchen remodel, check out this Bargainmoose post here), the major costs are incurred when you decide to rewire or redo the plumbing to the room.  If you are able to keep the configuration of the bathroom (e.g., the sink where the sink currently is and the toilet where the toilet currently is) then it will save you a lot of money on your bathroom remodel.

Like I Said…Don’t Gut It

Going even further, if you are able to keep certain aspects of the bathroom, then you will save even more money.  For example, with my bathroom renovation, I keep the tiles on the floor, I kept the cabinetry for the bathroom vanity (it was made out of wood, not MDF so it was good quality) but just changed the countertop from a granite to a light coloured Corian countertop.  I even kept the bathtub.  The bathtub was slightly chipped in one spot (the black was showing through a bit) and instead of buying a new bathtub, I got my contractor to paint over it with a white paint so it covers up the chip that was previously there.

Furthermore, I could have saved more money on the bathroom remodel by using a glass tile accent instead of just having the entire bathtub area tiled with glass tile.  The glass tiles cost me about $1000 by itself, which is pretty price (not including the labor).  You can choose a focal point for the more expensive tile (e.g., a long horizontal line on a white subway tile background) to save money.

Be Lavish on the Accessories

U.S. News suggests that if you spend a little more on the accessories (e.g., things that can be updated without needing a wrench), then it will save you money to update your bathroom without spending too much.  For example, they mention getting a nice shower head (like a rain shower head) to update your bathroom.  Or gett nice bamboo towels.  Or change the bathroom hardware.  Updating to stainless steel from gold coloured and nickel coloured accessories do a lot for updating your home.  For your accessories, you can save money by going to places like Winners to look for nice bathroom accessories at a discounted price.

A Coat of Paint Does Wonders

Just like with the rest of the home, an updated coat of paint can do wonders for your bathroom renovation, according to Bankrate.  For around $50 for a can of paint and some do it yourself eagerness and elbow grease, you can also paint your bathroom and update the look easily.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any other tips on how to save money on a bathroom remodel?  How much was your budget for your bathroom renovation?

Photo credit: MWMS1916

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June 20

How to Save Money on Checked Luggage

Posted by on June 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Checked Luggage

With summer holidays coming up, many people are taking to the skies and traveling up in the air.  Much of the time, when you book your flight, you have to pay extra for checked luggage, depending on the airline that you are flying with.

Before discount airlines (for example, Allegiant Air) were available, the idea of paying for checked luggage was not something I thought about regularly or routinely.  I remember the days of traveling that you could have two pieces of checked luggage.  These days, you’re lucky if you can get one piece of checked luggage.  Nowadays, with increasing fuel costs increasing the cost of flying, more and more airlines are charging for your first checked luggage, including Air Canada on domestic  flights.  The checked luggage costs (not to mention the additional ‘select-your-seat’ costs) really add up and tend to make that discounted ticket something that isn’t much of a steal of a deal anymore.

According to CBC, Air Canada has already begun to charge $25 for your first checked piece of luggage.  Obviously, this will naturally cause an increase in people wanting to stuff everything into their carry-on, but Air Canada is training officers to enforce the size restrictions and asking you to check your luggage if they deem necessary.  So far, this has only been  happening at the Toronto Pearson airport.  At present, there aren’t any limits asking for your carry-on weight but it might be something they enforce in the future.

Here are some ways on how to save money on checked luggage.

Know Your Baggage Rules

Each airline has different baggage rules and carry on allowances, depending on the size of their aircraft.  That means, the carry-on luggage that you bought at the department store might not meet the requirements of the airlines.  That’s why it is important to do your research on the carry on and check-in baggage rules before you fly and preferably, before you book your flight.  For example, Air Canada’s baggage information is listed on this page.  For Air Canada, you are allowed one standard and one personal article, each weighing up to 22 lbs, and there are specific size restrictions.  Nerd wallet has a great link to an online web tool that tells you the carry on luggage allowances for American airlines.

In addition, knowing your baggage rules also means reviewing what you can pack as carry on, and what you cannot.

Pack Light

Of course, one way to save on checked luggage fees is to only use carry on baggage and pack light.  Invest in a good carry on bag that will fit on the airlines that you most frequent and make sure you weigh the products you pack into your bag.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can bring as a carry on.  The Independent Traveler goes so far as to suggest investing in a luggage scale to check how much your luggage weighs in at.

Bulk Up What You Wear

Another way to save money on checked luggage is the wear your luggage on your sleeve!  Bulky down jackets, coats, and sweaters are probably not the most comfortable on the plane, but it drastically or significantly reduces the amount needed to put in the carry on luggage so the trade off can be worth it.  Therefore, wear that jacket on the plane if you can.

Get a Credit Card that Allows Free Checked Bags

Finally, if you have a credit card associated with an airline loyalty points program, it offers additional protection for airline fees such as baggage fees (depending on the airline and the credit card, for example).  With the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card, if you book your flight from an Aeroplan reward, you will get the first checked bag for free (only if you book your flight via them of course).  A lot of credit cards have baggage perks like this and it’s a good idea to spend a little time reviewing what your credit card can offer you!

Hopefully these tips will help you save a bit of money on your next flight with or without checked baggage fees!

Bargainmoosers, do you have any tips that you want to share on how to save money on checked luggage?

Photo credit: Reinis Traidas

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June 14

How to Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel

Posted by on June 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Your Kitchen Remodel

Many Canadians spend a lot of money renovating and updating their homes, especially the kitchen and bathroom, where most renovations usually give the most ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of updates and increasing property value.  Renovating and remodeling the kitchen can be very costly, I have a friend who spent well over $50,000 renovating her kitchen, however, it did involve knocking down a portion of a wall to open up the kitchen to the living room.

Keep the Cabinets

New cabinets and re-doing the cabinets are the reason why most kitchen renovations are so costly.  If you have a way to keep your current cabinets and just update the paint or change the cabinet doors, that will save you a ton of money in the long run.  According to Houzz (one of my favourite renovation websites for ideas), custom cabinets can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 and $250 to $2500 per linear foot.

Stainless Steel Stick On

Stainless steel adds a sense of contemporary charm to most kitchens and is probably the most preferred colour of appliance currently.  If your kitchen appliances work perfectly fine, this is a good option for you.  If you have black appliances and want the updated look of stainless steel, think about adding a stainless steel stick on! I would love to use this for my own kitchen because I love the look of stainless steel, but unfortunately I have white appliances.    You can find these stainless steel stick on sheets on Amazon.com for around $60.  It’s an actual soft metal stainless steel film, it is not simply a sticker.

Keep the Layout

One of the other highest expenses for kitchen remodels is if you want to change the layout of your kitchen.  Changing the plumbing and the wiring requires an extensive job and is much more costly as you will have to hire a plumber who specializes in renovations etc.  Therefore if at all possible, consider keeping the layout of your kitchen to save money on your kitchen renovation.

Update the Knobs

Another frugal way to update your kitchen without spending too much money is to just update the knobs.  If you have round knobs and want a more modern look, updating the knobs is something anyone can do (if I can do it, you can!) without hiring a contractor.  For example, on Amazon.com you can find a pack of 25 knobs for cabinets for around $10.  There is a hardware/ upscale discounted dollar store that sells modern looking knobs for cabinets for around $1.25 a piece which is still a steal in my opinion!

Remodel Slowly if Necessary

If you have the luxury of time, remodel slowly if necessary.  Houzz states that you can put your backsplash up any old time and it doesn’t need to be done when the cabinets or the countertop is put in.  You can sell your old appliances on Craigslist before you buy new appliances.  This way you won’t have to dip into your emergency savings fund or into your line of credit to remodel your kitchen. Getting into debt for a kitchen remodel is not the most ideal way to start off your kitchen remodel!

Buy Scratch and Dent Appliances

To save money on your appliances, look for scratch and dent appliances and look for places where you can buy a package deal (for example, the fridge, stove, and dishwasher can be bought together).  Make sure that the scratch and dents are only cosmetic (and preferably in a spot where you can’t really see it).  This will save you hundreds of dollars in appliances.  There are many scratch and dent appliance dealers that only sell scratch and dent appliances and nothing else.

Skip the Recessed Lights

Recessed lights, or pot lights, look nice but they don’t really add that much to the look of your kitchen remodel, but they do add a lot of expense!  Each recessed light can cost around $150, and if you want two to four recessed lights, that really adds up.  This Old House recommends that you opt for track lighting or surface mounted ceiling light instead, which will save you the labour of someone cutting a hole in your ceiling and labour to make sure the electricity wiring works.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any other tips on how to save money on a kitchen remodel?

Photo credit: Sherwood CC

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June 13

How to Save Money Eating Gluten Free

Posted by on June 13, 2015 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money Eating Gluten Free

For people who have celiac disease (gluten sensitivity) eating gluten free foods is a necessity.  For others, eating gluten free foods (foods without wheat flour in them, namely common foods such as pizza, cookies, bread, pancakes, pastas, and many cereals) is a choice that improves their health.  Eating wheat free has become not only a fad, but a very popular diet that encompasses avoiding wheat products such as pizza, cookies, bread, and things like pancakes.

Although I do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, since reading the book Wheat Belly, written by cardiologist Dr. William Davis, I have cut down on the amount of wheat that I eat in the day.  On days that I have wheat, like pasta or a pizza, I do find that I feel more bloated, more fatigued, and more lethargic.  Therefore, I try to avoid too much wheat, but I’m not super strict as I really enjoy the taste of pizza and pasta from time to time.

Just like going with the Paleo diet, eating gluten free can be more expensive than a typical North American diet full of convenience foods that make you full.  According to Yahoo Finance, the gluten free industry is set to be a $1.7 billion industry by the year 2017.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  Here are a few ways to save money when eating gluten free.

Don’t Forget the More Economical Grains

For many that avoid gluten, they opt for expensive alternatives to wheat, such as millet, quinoa, couscous, and buckwheat.  According to Today’s Dietician, many people forget about other alternatives to quinoa it is  good ol’ rice, corn, and gluten-free oats.  These are more economical than the more ‘ancient-grains’ type of carbohydrate.  I have oatmeal every morning for breakfast and make my own granola from the 100 days of real food granola recipe.

Be Friends with the Freezer

As with how to save money on the paleo diet, one of the best ways to save money on a gluten free diet is the plan ahead with your meals (remember, organization is key!) for the week and freeze them.  Instead of gravitating towards fast food after work, grab a meal out of your freezer so you have a weeknight meal ready to go.  Invest in a chest freezer if your freezer in your kitchen is tight on space.

Learn to Cook

According to Huffington Post, gluten free foods can cost anywhere from 76% higher to 518% higher than non glutenous foods.  The prepackaged gluten free food is what really adds up in terms of cost at the supermarket.  If you learn to cook a lot of the gluten free foods yourself you will save a lot of money.

There is a lot of gluten free junk food out there.  Just because it’s gluten free that doesn’t mean that it is healthy or good for you because essentially it is junk food disguised in a sheep’s clothing.  Pre-packaged gluten free foods are definitely more expensive.

Instead, if you want to have snack foods on hand, prepare them ahead of time:  kale chips, brussell sprout chips, and even homemade Larabars (see this homemade Larabar recipe from the hundred days of real food blog) are great ways to stave off the urge to buy packaged foods.

Look for Gluten Free Recipes

There are many places that you can find gluten free recipes that are practical and can easy to replicate.  For one, there are a few recipes posts in the Wheat Belly blog website and at the back of the book if you’re ready.  In addition simply googling for gluten free recipes is also effective and the search engine will find you some more gluten free recipes, of course!

Know Where to Shop

The places that offer a wide selection of gluten free foods with the best price is at Trader Joe’s.  I bought some brown rice pasta (gluten free) for really cheap and it tastes delicious (I think it was under $3 Canadian) and I think it is reasonable for the price and the effort it takes to get to a Trader Joe’s.  Also, Superstore has a health aisle/ gluten free organic section now for very reasonable prices.

Bargainmoosers, how do you and your family save on gluten free recipes and meals?

Photo credit: elana’s pantry

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May 31

Save Money and Time on Hair Removal

Posted by on May 31, 2015 at 8:00 PM

Save Money and Time on Hair Removal

This has been quite the topic for my friends and I lately, perhaps because two of my close friends decided to get laser hair removal and love it.  They tell me “If I were able to have a conversation with my 22 year old self, I would definitely tell her to get laser hair removal.”  I personally have not taken the plunge yet due to the cost and the permanent nature of it (perhaps I am somewhat of a commitment-phobe).  Hair removal is unfortunately a necessity for me, and I have tried waxing, shaving, epilating, and other hair removal modalities.

Here are a few options of hair removal and ways to save money and time while removing your unwanted hair.  The prices mentioned are estimations of cost based on my own experiences.

Shaving

The costs involved for shaving include having to buy disposable razors regularly or buying an electric razor.  You would also have to buy shaving cream ($3-10) to ensure you do not knick yourself when you shave.  A pack of disposable razors can cost anywhere from $7 to $23 (which will last you a few weeks) and an electric razor can cost at least $100.  When you factor in the time spent shaving (almost on a daily basis) and the risk for ‘stubbly’ legs when you don’t shave on a daily basis, it makes one wonder why we shave so regularly.  For me, I have been shaving for years, mainly because it is convenient (to just shave while I am in the shower on a daily basis) and also because I can’t be bothered to take out my Epilator to remove my unwanted hair.  It’s also pain-free which is an added bonus for  a lot of people.  This is probably the cheapest option about $100 on an annual basis, but it requires remembering to shave regularly!

Waxing

Waxing involves going to the salon regularly (on an every four to six week basis) to have your hair removed.  The cost can be high, especially after you factor in gratuity and tip to your aesthetician.  The lack of convenience involved is also a factor (having to make an appointment regularly).  Waxing can cost anywhere between $25 to $50 per area depending on the area you need waxed.  This can definitely add up over time.  Over a year, this can be $300-600 on an annual basis.

An alternative is to use a home waxing kit, however you’ll have to be comfortable with pulling the piece of fabric off to remove the hair yourself!

Epilating

I have an old Epilator from years ago that still works perfectly fine.  An Epilator is like multiple broad based tweezers that remove hair simultaneously.  You don’t need shaving cream but you just need a plug to plug in your appliance.  Using the Epilator, you will have hair free moments for at least 4-6 weeks without having to maintain it.  The hair will grow back thin as well because the Epilator removes the hair at the root. You can get one for example, from Wal-mart for around $100.  Some people find the pain of an Epilator too much to bear, however after a few hair removal episodes, the pain isn’t as bad for sure.  The cost of an Epilator is anywhere from $50 to $100, which will last a while of course depending on the quality of your Epilator.

Lasering

Finally, laser hair removal might be an option for you if you have darker hair that you want to remove on a lighter skin tone (my friends who went through laser hair removal state that if you have this complexion you are more likely to see successful results).  The cost can vary dramatically and the quality of the laser hair removal can vary dramatically too.  My friend was able to get her underarms lasered for $400 (normal price $800 at that laser hair removal salon) when she used a Groupon and she has been more than pleased with the results.  They have not seen any hair regrowth and she has been to only half of the sessions.   The main thing is to ask for recommendations and look for a reputable laser hair removal salon.  Many places offer you a free patch test as a consultation.

Instead of going for laser hair removal, you could also buy a home-laser kit, for example, Tria, which there are discounts on the Bargainmoose coupon page.

If you think of $400 over the course of many years, laser hair removal definitely beats paying for waxing regularly.  One thing to be aware of is that apparently hormones during pregnancy cause the hair to regrow necessitating further laser hair removal after birth.  Laser hair removal definitely sounds like a good option, however, at this point I am going to stick to my Epilator for now.  For further information on laser hair removal, you can check out this informative post by twenty something living.  Also, if you prefer to DIY at home, check out this Beyond Talk post on how to get rid of unwanted hair in the comfort of your own home.

Bargainmoosers, what have you tried and what have you found was the most money and time-saving choice for hard removal?

Photo credit: Kate Sumbler

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May 30

5 Ways to Upcycle Pill Bottles

Posted by on May 30, 2015 at 8:00 PM

5 Ways to Upcycle Pill Bottles

After the antibiotics are all taken from the pill bottle for your child’s ear infection, what’s there left to do with the empty prescription pill bottle?  Of course you can recycle the pill bottle (though if there are any pills remaining- which there shouldn’t be- then you should return them to your pharmacist so that they can be safely disposed of).  Another option with the pill bottle instead of recycling it is to repurpose it!

Of course, there is one thing to ensure that you do before your recycle or repurpose your prescription pill bottles.  You should make sure that you remove any personal or identifying information on it and clean it thoroughly before you upcycle or repurpose your prescription pill bottle.

Here are five ways to upcycle or repurpose that pill bottle that you don’t know what to do with, other than to put it in the recycling bin:

Toothfairy’s Tooth Saver

This is a perfect way to upcycle the pill bottle for your child who is first starting to lose their teeth (meant for children four and up).  This cute craft idea comes from the ever-crafty About Home.  Your children can store their tooth safely in the tooth saver bottle if their tooth falls out at school, or they can store it nicely under the pillow for the tooth fairy when she comes to visit.  Not only is this a great idea to plan for the tooth fairy, this is a great craft that you and your child can work on together too!

Make Up Brush/ Make Up Holder

5 Ways to Upcycle Pill Bottles

This idea is so neat because it looks great and is so simple to make.  The idea comes from the Laura Thoughts blog and she shows you step by step instructions on how to make your own make up brush holder with an empty pill bottle.  In addition, she was also able to craft up a magnetic make up board for eye shadow palettes so that they are easy to access.  The black empty pill bottle looks sleek and chic- it will house your  make up brushes really well.

Mini First Aid Kit

5 Ways to Upcycle Pill Bottles

This comes from the blog One Good Thing by Jillee.  The mini first aid kit can be kept in your purse or in your glove compartment.  Stock it with some band-aids, alcohol swabs, Q-tips, even some Tylenol or Tums.  Decorate it with washi tape to make it look nicer and make it look less plain orange.  For a more thorough and well stocked Mini First Aid Kit, check out the the step-by-step guide by the Instructables Blog.  Their version of the  mini first aid kit is formal and well thought-out!

Purse Trash Can

5 Ways to Upcycle Pill Bottles

I think this is a great idea but of course it would probably work better with a larger pill bottle (e.g. the ones that store Tylenol extra strength) rather than a prescription pill bottle.  Receipts, candy or gum wrappers, and anything that would normally collect at the bottom of  your bag will make great candidates to be put inside this purse trash can.  This great idea on upcycling your pill bottle comes from Modge Podge Rocks.

Mini Ice Packs

Finally, according to Huffington Post, empty prescription pill bottles make excellent ice packs (who knew?). These will be perfect for last minute picnics or lunch packs that can’t fit a regular sized ice pack.  All you have to do is to fill the prescription bottles with water and freeze them.  Of course it’s a good idea to keep the cap on, but the mini ice packs are a perfect solution to an ice pack, if you don’t have a regular sized ice pack to put into the bag.

There you have it, here are five great repurposed ideas for your pill container.  As you can see, repurposing your prescription pill bottle is extremely easy to do and it doesn’t require too many skills in order to complete the pill bottle craft.  Hopefully you won’t need to make more prescription pills for the rest of the year because that will mean you and your family are in good health!

Bargainmoosers, do you routinely recycle or upcycle your prescription pill bottles?  If not, what do you usually do with them?

Photo credit: The Javorac

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May 28

4 Tips to Save Money on Alcohol

Posted by on May 28, 2015 at 8:00 PM

4 Tips to Save Money on Alcohol

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not talking about saving money on alcohol when one is drinking on a regular basis, or at-risk drinking, or problem drinking where addiction might be a concern.  I’m talking about saving money on alcohol when you are spending time chatting over drinks with friends, or saving money when you are out for dinner with your friends, saving money when you are headed out for a night on the town at the local hip bar, or even saving money on the bottle of wine you share at the dinner party you host.

Here are a few tips on how to save money on alcohol:

Have People Over at Your Place Instead

According to Huffington Post, drinking alcohol is something we all waste money on mindlessly.  The average person spends $75 a week on alcohol, which equates to over $3500 a year.  Huffington Post suggests that there are ways to save, including having people over at your place and sharing a bottle of wine.

Instead of paying $10-12 for a glass of wine or $40-60 for a bottle of wine, grab a nice bottle of wine for $25 and share it at home with your friends.  The fact of the matter is, when you drink alcohol in a restaurant, you are paying at least 2-3.5 times the cost of the wine.  To put it into perspective, a nice bottle of white wine would cost $25, but at a restaurant, you will be paying $50 to $85 for the same bottle of wine.  Globe and Mail states that the mark-up in the wine covers the beautiful linen on the table, the cost to the restaurant to store the wine, and the cost of the server to serve the wine, of course.  Nevertheless, the markup is very very high on something you can enjoy for much less.

Opt for Happy Hour

If you would like to spend some rest and relaxation time with your friends over drinks (and are okay with the high markup for alcohol), there are a whole list of of options available.  Instead of meeting after dinner, why not meet before dinner?  Fabulously Frugal has a great list of happy hour meals before 6pm in Vancouver.  I’m sure if you google “happy hour + your city” you should be able to see a list of happy hour establishments that were recently confirmed.  The list is also great to narrow the eating choices available when you as a group can’t decide where to go.

Pick a More Wallet Friendly Wine

Brokepedia suggests there are certain wine regions where the wine is not as expensive compared to other regions. She found this out from a food blogger who asked the opinion of 14 sommeliers.  These budget friendly regions are the following:

  • Greece
  • Southwest France
  • New Zealand
  • Loire Valley, France
  • Austria
  • Portugal

Personally I am a big fan of Malbec wines and I find wine from Mendoza, Argentina to be very rewarding for my wallet.  However, I’m by no means a wine expert!

Stock Up in the States

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, you are allowed to bring back 1.5L of wine (which is 2 bottles of wine) when you are out of Canada for 48 hours or more (anywhere from 48 hours to 7 days, or more if even!).  Every time I come back from a trip or if I’ve gone to the United States I make it a habit to bring back the maximum allowed alcohol with me.  Wine is much more economical in the United States because of the high taxes in Canada.

Even better, Popsugar recommends that you stock up in Costco (Costco in the States of course) because the wine is decent and it is very decently priced as well.  Trader Joe’s wine is also very reasonable and personally and I like it (yes, the Two Buck Chuck)!

Just a friendly reminder that no matter where you enjoying alcohol, please remember to drink responsibly!

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on alcohol when hosting or dining out?  

Photo credit: Tim RT

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 22

How to Save Money Cleaning your Home

Posted by on May 22, 2015 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money Cleaning your Home

There are certain aspects of cleaning my home that I like, and there are some that I really dislike (like cleaning the bathroom and kitchen for example).  I must admit that I am guilty of buying different cleaners for different areas of my home.  I have an arsenal of cleaning supplies from CLR cleaner spray that I just bought, to Scrubbing Bubbles, to VIM to clean my stove.  I have even contemplated hiring a cleaner to help clean my home for me just because I feel like I can’t get it to be as clean as I would like it myself, however, thankfully it has not come to this stage yet because that would be serious lifestyle inflation.

Even though most of us probably do not enjoy cleaning our homes, it is something that just has to be done.  So it makes sense to save money doing it because it’s a need not a want!  Here are some ways to save money cleaning your home.

When Cleaning Your Home, Stick to the Basics

Like I mentioned above, I am guilty of buying new-fangled cleaning supplies in hopes that it cleans better than the rest (when usually that is not the case).  Vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice can get you through most of your cleaning. Check out the post on three household must haves that will save you money.  Not only will it be better for the environment (less packaging, less toxic chemicals in our water system) but it will be better for your pocketbook.  Vinegar (less than $2 for a container) sure beats buying $7.99 CLR spray that is on sale!

Here are 8 more frugal and fabulous uses for vinegar if you’re interested.  In addition, if you are interested in being a frugal and organic cleaner, check out this post.

Clean Out the Stuff that You Tend to Ignore

Sometimes it’s hard to remember regular maintenance on certain things.  However, neglecting to do these regular checks can cause your energy bill to be higher than is necessary.  For example, Wisebread recommends that you clean the dust off the refrigerator coils on the back of your refrigerator.  If you let the dust accumulate, it acts as an insulator and causes your fridge to work harder than is necessary (meaning your energy bills will be higher than is necessary).  All it takes is for you to unplug your refrigerator, move it so you have access to the coils, and dust the coils off.  If your fridge is in an area where it is hard to accumulate dust, even better… but it wouldn’t hurt to check it out once in a while.

Declutter Your Home

AARP highly recommends that you declutter your home and get rid of junk.  The less stuff you have the less you’ll need to clean.  For me, that may mean decluttering my desk.  I have a lot of things that I am too lazy to move off the shelf and dust, so one idea might be to remove all those things and get rid of them so I won’t have to move them to dust the shelf!  The best part is that you can sell these things at a garage sale.  Here’s a post on 4 tips to make money at your next garage sale to get you started.  At the last garage sale I was at, we made over $800.  I’ll definitely be trying to arrange a garage sale again this year.

Prevent Those Water Spots from Building Up

MoneyNing recommends that you wipe down your faucets and fixtures with WD40 and then polish the faucets and shower doors with wax paper to repel water longer.  Personally I use a squeegee after I shower to prevent those water spots from sticking around and it has worked wonders for me.  It saves me from having to clean the bathroom shower doors.

Don’t Buy Brand Name

Instead of buying a Swiffer container of wet Swiffer wipes for $20 (or however much it costs), I go to Dollarama to stock up on my cleaning supplies.  I buy a package of wet wipes for their “Swiffer” for $1.25, bought their Swiffer type broom stick ($2 for the stick and $1-2 for the actual piece that touches the floor) and use that instead of an actual Swiffer to clean my apartment.

Bargainmoosers, are there other ways you  like to save money on cleaning your home?

Photo credit: Jaymie Koroluk

Moose Rating (3 votes)
May 17

3 Kitchen Appliances that Will Save You Time and Money

Posted by on May 17, 2015 at 8:00 PM

3 Kitchen Appliances that Will Save You Time and Money

My kitchen is so small I’m not the type of person to have every kitchen appliance under the sun, although that would be nice, because the Aqua Sky Kitchen Aid mixer has always had my eye.  There are a few kitchen appliances that I am a huge fan of that I already have, and there are a few kitchen appliances that I am thinking for a future purchase of adding to my kitchen appliance collection.  Most of these aren’t very pricey and really give a good bang for your buck.

There are a few ways to evaluate whether a kitchen appliance is worth it.  I remember my family had an apple peeler (it cored the apple and peeled it in a spiral fashion, it was fun to watch actually) but it unfortunately just collected dust and was never taken out of its box except for a handful of times.  LifeHack has a great post explaining which kitchen appliances people on a budget should have.  Learnvest also has a great post entitled “Are These Kitchen Appliances Worth It?” detailing the number of times you need to use the appliance before it is “worth it” in terms of the price you paid.  Obviously the more times you need to use it to ‘break even’ the worse the purchase that kitchen appliance is to add to your kitchen arsenal.

Here are three kitchen appliances that, in my humble opinion, are worth the money and the kitchen counter space (or cupboard space) because they will save you money and time (time is priceless, isn’t it?):

Slow Cooker or Crock Pot

I am a huge huge fan of the slow cooker and honestly, that feeling you get when you finish the 6 to 10 hours of waiting for the food to cook, when you smell the intoxicating smell of the slow cooker meal, and when you open the lid is to peer in at what you threw into the pot without much effort… is priceless!  Slow cookers or Crock Pots (kind of like the tissue paper and Kleenex analogy) are very economically priced, you can get a decent one for about $50 and they last for a long time.  You can make all sorts of things with a slow cooker.  When choosing one, look for fancier options like one that automatically switches to ‘warm’ when it is finished cooking, or one that can extend the cook time to 16 hours or longer (for those who are interested in making the new health craze, bone broth, this is a great option).  The slow cooker is perfect for busy people who don’t have time to cook at the end of the day, or perfect for batch cooking and freezer cooking.  Personally I make something in my crockpot on the Sunday and have leftovers throughout the week.

Here are a few great easy and cheap slow cooker recipes to get you started.  Also, Bargainmoose often posts some great deals for slow cookers through Amazon.ca, Walmart, or Lowes.  Check out this recent Bargainmoose deal from Walmart for $33!

Dehydrator

I personally haven’t purchased this yet but have been doing some research.  The costs are anywhere from $75 to $200 and it definitely takes up a large portion of your cupboard space (I personally would not want something like that sitting on my counter).  Here is an example from Canadian Tire and one from Amazon.ca.  If you are someone who camps often, this is definitely an investment worth making.  Dehydrating your food instead of buying the $9 per two servings of dehydrated food at your local camping/ outdoor equipment store will save you money.  Also, beef jerky is expensive so why not make your own?  In addition, my dog likes sweet potato chews (he has lots of allergies) and these chews cost $20 for a about 18 slices.  A dehydrator would shave a lot of money off that regular expense.

A French Press or a Nespresso

For all you coffee drinkers, a home brewed coffee costs much less than $1 a cup compared to a $3.95 + tax latte.  Over the course of a year, that daily latte right before work adds up to $1000.  Personally I would rather go on an all inclusive trip to Mexico or Cuba for that annual cost, but to each their own!  Here’s a post from TheKitchn on how to make a latte without an espresso machine.  A Nespresso machine is pricey, but there is a $100 rebate to offset some of the cost currently.  A Bodum French Press costs anywhere from $25 to $50.

Bargainmoosers, do you have a kitchen appliance that you are a fan of?   Do you recommend buying a dehydrator?

Photo credit: Mario Spann

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