Saving Money

September 21

The Pros and Cons of the Share Economy

Posted by on September 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

The Pros and Cons of the Share Economy

Recently, we did an article surveying what’s out there in the share economy and detailing how you can save money by taking advantage of services from TaskRabbit, Fiverr, Uber, Elance and more.

While it is certainly true that you can save money and time with these websites, there is a bit of a dark side to the share economy that everyone should be aware of before wading into these new waters. Bargainmoose is all about saving money, but sometimes you need to use caution when doing so and its important to get the full picture.

With that in mind, we present the advantages and disadvantages of the share economy. This list will hopefully mean you’ll always know what you’re getting into with this new way of making and spending money.

Pro

Freedom and Flexibility

These two tenants are often touted as reasons to become a tasker on TaskRabbit or to complete a job on Elance and they are very true. Working any job as part of the share economy largely means you can set your own hours and work with who you want, when you want — all while setting your schedule from the comfort of home. Plus, the extra money you earn can be put towards your own financial freedom.

Con

Unpredictable Wages at Unpredictable Hours

Along with that freedom and flexibility comes unpredictability. No one should try to make a living solely on gigs garnered from the share economy because often the wages are a mere pittance compared to what a worker would get for the same service if they worked for a professional company. This is because bidders often undercutting each other with bids well below minimum wage. In a recent New York Times article, author Natasha Singer pointed out that those with no stable full-time job are turning to the share economy and trying to cobble together some semblance of an income without much success.

“They often work seven-day weeks, trying to assemble a living wage from a series of one-off gigs. They have little recourse when the services for which they are on call change their business models or pay rates. To reduce the risks, many workers toggle among multiple services.”

One economist source told Singer: “If you did the calculations, many of these people would be earning less than minimum wage. You are getting people to self-exploit in ways we have regulations in place to prevent.”

Pro

Insurance and Peer-Review

One of the great things about the share economy is that most sites like TaskRabbit and RelayRides offer insurance to protect you against damage or theft when someone else is driving your car or inside your home doing a chore. Perhaps more integral to even the necessary insurance in the shared economy is the peer-review system that ranks and reviews tenants, guests, taskers, drivers and more after they do a job or stay in your home. Those who do well get recommended, promoted to the most viewed parts of the site and get more jobs or offers, while those who end up providing a bad experience are harshly reviewed and ostracized by their peers on the site. It’s the number one homegrown system of checks and balances in the share economy.

Con

The Share Economy is Largely Unregulated

Across North America the share economy means that millions are renting out their homes like hotels or using their cars as taxi cabs and still these practices remain largely unregulated, but lawmakers in the U.S. are trying to change that.

This particularly true in larger urban centres like New York City and Chicago. In New York, legislators are trying to regulate the operations of Airbnb by charging their in violation of New York’s Illegal Hotel Law, which makes it illegal for New Yorkers to rent out their homes for fewer than 30 days unless the resident is living in the apartment at the time. Car-Sharing service Lyft was also banned in New York for what regulators called “disruptive” and “personally dishonest” business practices.

Of course, these regulations look like they’re just in place to protect already entrenched industries like hotels and taxis, but Micah Lasher, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Chief of Staff, told Freakonomics Radio that regulating the share economy actually protects people.

“One of the big issues is the question of externalities and external impacts. In other words, if my next-door neighbour is using their apartment as a hotel room, they’re not just running a risk of their apartment getting trashed, they’re having an impact on me. Similarly, in the case of Lyft, if one of those drivers gets into a car accident, doesn’t have appropriate insurance, that can have an impact on a whole bunch of folks who did not sign up for that.”

Pro

The Democratization of Luxury Services

One of the best things about the share economy is that services previously reserved for high class individuals like chauffeur services, maid services and professional consultation services are now available and affordable to the masses. Plus, now anyone can do them. If you have initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit, you to can be a hotelier by renting out your home for a few days or a taxi cab driver by driving people around in your car. In the past, it used to be that these services were only available to those who could afford it, but now these services are available from regular people at a variety of price points – most of them affordable to the average person. These services used to be extras reserved for special occasions, but now they could be affordable enough to be enjoyed on a regular basis.

Con

Limited Safety and Corporate Oversight

Whenever you’re sharing your personal belongings like your car and your home with a stranger you just met online, the question of safety is always an issue, especially for women. Sites like CouchSurfing.com offer safety tips, but many of the companies in the share economy put the onus on you, the individual user, to keep yourself safe and take very little responsibility for your safety as a business. For example, these companies could make background checks of participants mandatory instead of optional if they wanted to.

According to an article on Sharable.net, When a female Air BnB user identifying herself as EJ found her home ransacked and identity stolen by a renter named DJ, she noted that even though AirBnb responded swiftly and appropriately after the fact, (despite not having a 24-hour emergency helpline and not responding until 14 hours later) they made it difficult to research her potential tenant until the reservation was bought and paid for. She wrote the following in a blog post detailing her ordeal:

“By hindering my ability to research the person who will rent my home, there is an implication that airbnb.com has already done the research for me, and has eliminated the investigative work that Craigslist requires. In effect, the friendly, community-based site with its Golden Rules creates a reasonable expectation that some basic screening of its users has occurred, and speaks little to the risks involved, primarily within the very small print of the lengthy Terms of Service. Thus by the time this reservation was confirmed and I was given Dj’s email address and phone number, I was on a plane heading East, and he/she was armed with my welcoming instructions on where to pick up the keys to my apartment.”

Photo credit: Alex:

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September 19

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

Posted by on September 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

In a recent survey, the average woman spends over $700 a year on hair cuts and hair maintenance (not including shampoo and conditioner or other hair products) alone.  I personally consider my hair routine low maintenance.  I have long hair and get it cut twice a year along with highlights twice a year.  Usually this sets me back around $500 a year.  The hair cut and highlight usually costs me around $200 after tax and tip at the salon I was going to for a long time.  With the haircut being around $60+ for a simple haircut and the highlights being over $100+ the average cost was around $200 each time I went.  That is why I was only able to go twice a year because I refuse to spend more than $500 a year on my hair.

Since then, I have changed what I do for my hair and things are much more simpler and less costly with frankly, not too much difference.  I know that hair loyalty is important, but if you don’t find that your hair stylist is being innovative, or if you do not have as much loyalty as you thought you did, it might be a good idea to think about jumping ship and doing something different with your hair to save a few hundred dollars.

Here are a few ways for you to save money on your next hair cut:

Try a Student

One surefire way to save money on your next haircut is to look for the beauty schools in your city and inquire when the next hair cut is.  They will have discounted hair cuts but with brand name salons.  Oftentimes the hair stylist teacher will be present so the chances of the student making a mistake is quite minimal.

Use Groupon or the Daily Deal Sites to your Advantage

Recently, this is how I save money on my hair cuts.  I check out Groupon or other daily deal sites for my hair salon ghat I am a favourite of.  The price of a cut and colour can often be at least 50% off from the usual price.  This allows me to go to hair salons that I would not normally go to because of the reduced price.  So instead of the $200 cut and colour (highlight), I pay about $100 less than what I would normally pay.

Go on Craigslist

If you are flexible, have time in your schedule (especially during the day) and want a new style and are open to different ideas, check out Craiglist and look for salons who are looking for hair models.  Oftentimes the students need to do a hair cutting technique that needs a cooperative model, such as a hair bob.  I think this is a great idea for those who are open to new hair styles and want a free haircut.  The only downside is that the meetings are during the day and you have to be agreeable to basically the hair cut they are trying to do for that day (which is often a bob style cut or a pixie cut).

Get a Blowout Instead

Moneycrashers suggests that most people who feel like they need a new style or some change can try having a blow out from their stylist instead of getting their hair cut.  Blow outs are significantly less costly and can give a sense of newness and change without the prices of a hair cut and colour.

Find a Freelancer

A few years ago I used to go to a freelance hair stylist who worked out of her own home.  I was able to skip the salon price (the middle person, really) and have a cheaper cut and colour that way.  It was a great win-win situation.  MSN Money agrees with the idea of seeking out a freelancer.

I have personally tried pretty much all of these ideas with the exception of getting a blow out instead of a hair cut and all of these have worked well for me to reduce my cost from $500 a year for haircuts to approximately half that amount and frankly, there isn’t much difference in my hair style and colour.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your hair cuts?

Photo credit: Gemma Bou

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September 18

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

Posted by on September 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

I have already started going through my fall and winter clothing with the cooler weather fast approaching and I have noticed something.  I have way too many sweaters that I never wear or are outdated or don’t fit anymore.  Sometimes I donate old clothing, sometimes I give it away to friends and family, but this time I wanted to see if I could tap into my creative side and do something with these sweaters.  I could not believe the fun ideas I came across for old sweaters.

I actually came across hundreds of ideas as to what to do with old sweaters so I picked out the top six that I found the most useful and the easiest to do.  Not everyone is the craftiest person and these six ideas are something anyone and everyone can do.

1. Make Mittens

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This idea is most likely the easiest one I have found.  All you have to do is trace your hands onto your sweater and cut out the mitten shapes then sew it together. How simple is that!  This idea can be found at PinLaVie.

2. Make Leg Warmers

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This legwarmer (or faux leg warmer) can be found over at Listotic.  You can make either a full legwarmer or just a faux one to go under a cute pair of boots.  These leg warmers tend to cost a lot in stores so making one yourself is a great option.

3. Make Christmas Stockings

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

I am a huge Christmas nut so this crafty idea is right up my alley.  You can take any old sweater and make it into a beautiful stocking to hang on the chimney. This idea can be found on Extraordinary Day.

4. Make a Quilt

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

This is one of the harder re-purpose ideas to do but not impossible for the non crafty person.  With this idea, you can take a few different sweaters and make a giant quilt.  You can use your kids baby sweaters for a personal touch and more of a memory quilt which is a great idea as well. Check out Newly Mynted for the design.

5. Make a Pillow

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

Making a pillow is much the same idea as the quilt but a lot easier and less sweaters.  This particular style of pillow can be found displayed on Infarrantly Creative but there are a ton of different designs if you want to check out Pinterest.

6. Make a Purse or a Bag

6 Ideas to Repurpose Sweaters

What woman doesn’t love purses and bags, especially when they are free!  This is such a great idea to take an old sweater and fashion it into a great bag.  One design you can use can be found on the blog Duwop Designs.

What do you do with your old sweaters Moosers?

(Main image credit to TheUglySweaterShop)

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September 15

Does Buying in Bulk Save Money?

Posted by on September 15, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Does Buying in Bulk Save Money?

We’re constantly told by big box stores like Costco and Walmart that buying in bulk will save us money, but is that really true or just clever marketing-speak?  Well, Bargainmoose Canada has always wondered that too, so we took it upon ourselves to investigate and we found that yes, buying in bulk can save you money, but it’s not a forgone conclusion that it will.  To make sure you don’t misstep on your quest to keep as many dollars as you can in your pocket, we’ve laid out this checklist of dos and don’ts to maximize your savings when buying in bulk.

 Do

Take advantage of sales and coupons – If it’s possible to stack coupons, (use multiple copies of the same coupon on one item or use different coupons that both apply to the same item) do so on bulk items the moment they go on sale. This way, you’re able to reduce the price your paying per item as far as it will go. Make sure you present your coupons before you pay. Also, make sure that the sales don’t have a limit and that the coupons can be combined with other offers.

Figure out the price per unit – The only way you’ll know for sure if you’re truly saving money is if the price per unit is favourable and you should only buy in bulk when the price per unit is low. A unit is an actual measurable amount or quantity of whatever you’re buying. All you need to do to figure out this crucial piece of information is to divide the cost of the item by the quantity. A reporter for CBN.com found that for the right price per unit you could save up to 31% by buying bulk at American big box store Sam’s Club. Think about it, saving 20 cents on a bowl of cereal or a can of soup may not sound like much, but, as CBN points out, it can amount to a savings of $208 a year for a family of four who eats cereal everyday.

Make sure you have the storage – There’s no point buying in bulk if you don’t have the storage to keep the many items you buy or if it will cost you more to store the item than you’ll save by buying it in bulk. If you do have the storage though, make sure you rotate the stock and check the dates on perishable items so that you’ll be able to eat them before they go bad. Remember, even canned goods have dates on them. If you’re storing things in the freezer, make sure you date them, so the older food gets eaten first and always separate the perishable items from the non-perishable ones. If you find an item you simply can’t pass up thanks to the price, but you don’t have enough room to store it, why not split it up between friends so that you can use it faster and you’re also able to share the wealth. For more tips on organizing your stockpile, see this Bargainmoose article from a few years back.

Don’t

Don’t buy an item in bulk that you’ve never used or had before – What if you buy lots of garbage bags in bulk, but every bag rips? What if a particular soap irritates your skin and what if that new foodstuff you thought sounded so good, tasted like dirt? Now, imagine buying those craptacular items in bulk and inadvertently sentencing yourself to having to use them for the next few months or worse, the next few years. This is why you should never buy items in bulk that you’ve never tried before and made sure they are what you really want. Anything else is just a waste of money.

Don’t bulk binge – When people start exploring the wonders of bulk buying, they usually can’t help, but go hog wild and buy everything they need in bulk in one trip. This is a good way to spend yourself to the poor house. Instead, Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar recommends raising your grocery supply budget by 25% and using that extra 25% to by some bulk items when they go on sale. Eventually, your stockpile will mean you don’t need that 25% increase anymore and when you do buy more, you’ll simply be refilling your supply or taking advantage of the best discounts available, which means the grocery budget will be even better than before you started because you’ll be buying fewer items way less often.

Don’t let your bulk stores get too scarce – Even a stockpile of bulk items can run out and suddenly, you may find yourself taking an emergency shopping trip and dropping lots of money to refill your stores when it’s not advantageous economically to do so. Instead of having to scramble at the last minute, when you see you’re running low on a particular item, start looking for sales, deals and discounts for that item. Some items go faster than others, so a good rule of thumb is making sure your good for the next month on every item you have. If you have too much of something, you can always donate it to friends or the local food bank.

 More bang for your bulk!

Follow these simple dos and don’ts and you’ll never get ripped off or overspend when buying bulk items. There’s a fine line between marketing and money saving so be smart and strategic about your bulk purchases.

Photo credit: Jonathan Dueck

Moose Rating (2 votes)
September 11

Pay Yourself First vs. Save What is Leftover

Posted by on September 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Pay Yourself First vs. Save What is Leftover

When it comes to personal money management, there are two main ways to save money, the traditional stalwart of Saving What’s Leftover and the newer method you’ll read many personal finance experts recommending – Pay Yourself First.

They usually explain how each method is done: Saving What’s Leftover requires you to wait until the end of the month, after you’ve paid all your bills and expenses, to save what’s leftover. Paying Yourself First means exactly that – putting money away at the beginning of the month when all your income is still in your account and you have not had to spend the money on bills yet.

What they do not tell you is which savings method is better, so trust Bargainmoose to settle this burning question so you don’t have to.

Saving What’s Leftover Takes Discipline

People have been saving the money left over after expenses for years — it is a common method for building a nest egg. The problem is, saving what is leftover takes discipline. Not many people have the self-control necessary to make sure there is actually anything left in their account at the end of the month. Our capitalist, consumer driven society plies us with too many temptations to spend our money on and there are always so many unexpected expenses that crop up that often you look at your balance sheet at month’s end and see a big fat zero, as all your money has been spent.

Paying Yourself First Makes Saving Your First Priority

Paying Yourself First changes your savings from a luxury to a necessity and calculates it as the first ‘expense’ you pay, thus ensuring that you do put aside money each month. It is a much more realistic strategy for growing your savings, according to Dan Sutton, managing editor of MoneySense Magazine. He says:

When things are automatically channeled away on payday, you’re less likely to miss or spend the money

Such a strategy also forces you to cut expenditures that are more frivolous in order to keep your savings growing when your budget is a little tighter. You can make sure the money goes into your account automatically, so you do not even have to think about doing it. All you need to do is tell your employer to take a certain amount off your pay cheque for your RRSP or transfer a designated amount into a high interest savings account every month. Some banks will even automatically transfer money from your chequing account to your savings account each month.

There is No Law against Doing Both

If you are super gung-ho about saving money and you consistently have money leftover at the end of every month anyway, why not employ both strategies to maximize your savings? Sutton recommends paying yourself first with whatever amount you can afford (perhaps $100 a month) and then, if there is any money left over, just sweep the remainder into a High Interest Savings Account.

Remember, it’s Your Money

Paying yourself first also makes logical sense as well as financial sense because you should remind yourself why you go to work every day. After all, you are not earning money for someone else – your money is yours. So, you should always make sure you get your money before anyone else gets it. This is why paying yourself first makes more sense than saving what’s leftover. However, you should avoid at all costs carrying a credit card debit. It does not make sense to pay 19.99% interest on the money you owe someone while only making a couple percent interest on the money you are saving. Pay off your debit first, and then start building a nest egg.

It’s Easier to Get Rich If You Pay Yourself First

It’s very hard to save and plan when there’s no guarantee that there will be any money at the end of the month to put away. But when a certain amount of money is deducted from your monthly income automatically, you’re basically saving money in your sleep. Think about it, if you have $200 from each of your biweekly paycheques deducted and put into your investment account from the time you are 25 to when you are 65 – you will have $1 million. You can get to $1 million with only 7% return on investment, according to MyMoneyCoach.ca. This means the average person can become a millionaire with this strategy without winning the lottery and with a little sacrifice when it comes to spending. With diligence, it is possible and all you have to do is arrange one automatic money transfer every so often.

Pay Yourself First Wins!

Everyone wants to make money in their sleep and when you pay yourself first, you ensure that process actually gets done. If you just save what is leftover, you are counting on leftover money that will not always be there. Money management can be stressful, so making a nest egg your first priority when you are paid instead of your last priority will help reduce the stress and ensure that your savings continues to grow even during the more difficult months.

Moose Rating (1 votes)
September 5

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Posted by on September 5, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Paying monthly for Internet can be costly, and these days it is becoming more and more of a utility, or need, rather than a ‘want’.  The big Internet service providers in Canada, like Rogers, Telus, Shaw, and Bell have a big hold on the pricing of the monthly Internet fee that you pay.  Canadians pay an average of $45 per month on Internet (according to Financial Post).  When you add taxes and fees that adds up to well over $50 a month.  Some people pay even more for this for fast Internet, Internet “25″ (high speed Internet that I use) starts at $65 a month regular price and on promotion sometimes you can get it for $35 a month.

If you are just paying for Internet (no cable) it is easy to say, switch to an alternative Internet Service Provider to save money, however, this is easier said than done.  We are all attached to the security that well-known companies such as Telus and Shaw give us, and we pay for the around the clock (or more reliable at least) customer service.  I am one of these people as well.  I have always used either Shaw or Telus Internet here on the west coast.  Although a foray into the alternative Internet Service Providers is alluring, I have found a way to continue to pay reasonable prices for Internet without having to go to an alternate Internet Service Provider.  If I am forced to pay a lot of money for Internet then I will probably switch one day.

So, if you are interested in saving money on your Internet bill, here’s how. It just takes a bit of organization, polite manners, some research, and a phone call.

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

I have been paying $30 for my Internet “25″ regularly.

First, find out how much you pay for your Internet and what your speed is.  You can find this information out easily by looking at your bill.

Second, find out if you are on contract or not.  Here in western Canada, Shaw and Telus pride themselves on not tying their clients down to contracts.  So I am not in a contract and this allows me to stop or cancel service on my whim and whenever I want.

Third, look for promotional pricing.  For example, both companies are having a promotion for Internet “25″ for $30 for the first six months.  Sometimes I find that they have more promotional pricing closer to the September season when it is time for students to go back to school.

Fourth, call the company you are with and ask to cancel your subscription to their Internet (you have to do this close to the period that your promotional pricing ENDS).  Keep organized, jot it down, write it in your calendar.  I personally set a reminder to myself on my iPhone.  Call them within one week of your promotional pricing expiry (please note that your Internet usually will be in service one month after your billing date).

Fifth, be nice, polite, your pricing is really at your CSR’s (customer service representative) mercy.  The more polite (but perhaps assertive) you are, the more they will accommodate your needs.  It’s easier to catch flies with honey right?  Tell them that *the other company* has promotional pricing and you would like to cancel your Internet and switch to the other company.

At this point, the CSR usually offers you a deal to match the price of the other company for the same duration (e.g. 6 months).  You should not have to sign a contract or anything.

Write the new date in your calendar or set a new reminder to yourself, and in about six months (sometimes three months), repeat steps 1 to 5 again and you are good to go!

Of course, it goes without saying that if you don’t have cable (I just subscribe to Netflix) you will save more money, however Internet by itself is usually more expensive than when in a bundle.  This strategy (making a phone call) should save you money so you do not have to pay for a bundle!

Bargainmoosers, how much do you pay for your Internet?  Do you have a bundle or do you just pay for Internet itself?

Photo credit: Stian Eikeland

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September 4

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

Posted by on September 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I love the idea of taking something that is old or broken and making it into something beautiful and useful again.  Something that a lot of people have replaced on their homes are doors.  Inside doors, outside doors, small and large doors and you never know what to do their the old junkie ones.  Instead of taking them to the dump (and actually paying to get rid of them) you can turn them into something awesome and useful.  We have six different ways you can take an old door and make it very useful again.  All of these ideas are inexpensive and fairly easy for the DIY Moosers.

1. Headboard

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This awesome idea is from Thepaperblog.com and you can find the instructions there.  This picture features two old doors side by side but you can also put on door horizontally as well.

2. Table

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

The picture above is of a coffee table but you could really make any type of table with a door. I love the idea of a kitchen table made from an old farm house door personally.  These table ideas can be found on Adoreyourplace.com.

3. Front Porch Swing

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I love this idea found on Huckleberryfurnitureblogspot.com. All you would need is some extra wood, some chains from your local hardware store and you could paint it anyhow you would like to match your house.  It also looks like they just used an old seat cushion from an outdoor recliner which is perfect!

4. Mudroom Picture Display

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

I absolutely love this idea.  You don’t have to display your picture only in the mudroom or hallway like this but I do like the idea of adding hooks for some organization and storage.  This idea can be found on Adoreyourplace.com.

5. Bookshelf

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This is a great idea from Dishfunctionaldesigns@blogspot.ca. You can cut our the squares on the door and add some wood to it to make bookshelves.  It is very rustic and a great way to reuse an old door.

6.Garden Archway

6 Ways to Repurpose Doors

This idea from Hometalk.com is a pretty simple way of reusing a couple of old doors.  Throw some paint on them, add some trim and you have a beautiful garden archway. You could also use it for an outdoor wedding and then put it in your garden afterwards.

Have any of you Moosers tried some of these ideas?  Do you have any others you would like to share with us?

(Top image credit to Darko Kec)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 30

Save Money On Home Organization

Posted by on August 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Home Organization

The leaves are changing; fall is coming, and there’s nothing better to get you ready for the school year than a little bit of home organization.  Sometimes when we are not organized we end up spending more money because we can’t seem to find anything, feel more stressed, and accumulate more clutter.

Why is it important to organize your home?

First off, it’s important to organize your home in order to save money because you’ll be less inclined to buy duplicates. When we do not take stock of what we have, we are unaware of what we have, and then we end up buying more items and wasting money.

Apartment Therapy also suggests that when you organize your home, you’ll feel less clutter, you’ll feel more happy in your home, and ultimately you will feel less inclined to redecorate. It is this restless energy that comes from a cluttered home that may prompt people to redecorate and change things up.

Finally, Apartment Therapy also agrees that when you have a place for everything to go to, you will save time finding things (not to mention frustration). This frustration and stress is a cause of medical bills, sick time, and according to Life Hack, stress is a factor and cause in 80% of our medical bills, so it makes sense to reduce stress as much as possible.

Here are some ways to save money on home organization. Doing something to help you feel organized and allowing you to save money simultaneously? It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers can be created easily and probably provide one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ fixes in terms of home organization. After all, it is Murphy’s Law, things just naturally get messy in your drawer the more often you open and close it, right? According to HGTV, all you have to do is grab some strong cardboard or plastic, and divide it up. Alternatively, you could spend a little bit of money at the local dollar store to find some drawer dividers. Gone will be the days of mess and disorganization in your drawers!

If you’re hard pressed for time to make some drawer dividers, another thing that works well is using ice cube trays for small knick knacks that add clutter, such as rubber bands, paper clips etc.

Re-Use Jars with Lids

Who needs fancy Mason Jars? Premeditated Leftovers, a blog about natural and frugal living doesn’t think you need fancy mason jars to organize your home.  Just reuse the jars with lids that you have. Mayonnaise jars, food jars, pasta jars: they are free Mason jars in disguise. Besides, you are helping the planet by reducing and re-using.

Printable Organizing Lists

A Cultivated Nest (a great blog about inspiring frugal ideas for your home and garden) has a great list of ten printable organizers from other great blogs that will help you save money. Describing everything from a printable sales cycle planner, coupon binder pages to a monthly budget chart, this is a great post to keep bookmarked.

Cheap and Easy Organization Tips

Check out this post on A Cultivated Nest on inexpensive home organization ideas that can be easily implemented without having to spend a fortune on an expensive home organization place like The Container Store. One great example that I love is the cracker box container lid holder. It easily stores your Tupperware or Glad container lids and keeps them organized. One thing I would do is to cover it up with some wrapping paper or paint to make it more elegant looking.

I would personally love to see my home more organized than it currently is and I think that I need some shelf dividers and some more baskets to hold things, because I am finding my place a bit cluttered. I am a huge fan of the Ikea dish divider (I use it as a shelf for my clothes in my Expedit shelf) and plan to get more. Time to make a trip to Ikea!  Also, it is time for some late summer/early fall cleaning if you ask me.

Bargainmoosers, do you have ways in which you save money on home organization that you can share?

(banner image credit: Becky Wetherington)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 29

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Posted by on August 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

You know the old saying, “Two heads are better than one?” It has always been more true than not, which makes us think, what happens when you get three heads, four heads, five heads or more? Then you really could get things done.

That’s the magic of crowdsourcing. It’s soliciting services, goods, ideas and more from the brain trust of a large group of people and you can use it to save money through the following websites.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Fiverr

On Fiverr people with various skills, — writers, artists, graphic designers and more – tell you what they’re willing to do for a mere $5.00. As the potential customer you can see the seller’s rating, look at their average time frame from the job and decide if you want to make an offer. At only $5.00 a job it’s hard to go wrong, especially when professional creatives normally charge hundreds of dollars for some of the jobs on this site.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit allows you to outsource those necessary but menial tasks to people in your community, so you don’t have to do those things you don’t want to and can reserve your time for something more important. Simply post a task and TaskRabbit will show you their most professional taskers in your area for what you need done and what they charge per hour. Often, you’ll find that taskers offer cheaper rates for tasks like landscaping than a professional lawn care services even with the company’s own 20% service fee. Plus, its safe to trust your tasks to a stranger because every task is insured to $1 million and every tasker must follow TaskRabbit’s strict marketplace guidelines or risk being barred from ever working through the site.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

RelayRides

RelayRides takes the carpool to the next level by allowing regular people in your community to rent out their car for you to drive for as long as you book it. As a potential renter, all you have to do is pick the perfect car for you, make a reservation, pick up the keys from the owner, refill the tank, return the car at the scheduled time and review the experience. Car owners don’t have to worry because the car is insured by RelayRides while it’s in use. As a consumer, everything but gas is included and all prices and requirements are self-explanatory, so there are no surprises like there are when it comes to dealing with a rental company. On RelayRides, 24 hours with a 2010 Toyota Prius that traveled 150 miles cost $38.00, ($3.80 per mile) plus premium insurance protection for $15.20 for a grand total of $47.00. I have to say, that’s pretty reasonable.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Elance and Odesk

Like Fiverr and TaskRabbit, Elance and Odesk use crowdsourcing to help you get things done at a reasonable price. However, on Elance and Odesk you’re not buying a specific job or outsourcing a specific task, you’re hiring freelancers and those freelancers are applying for your job on spec. Of course, you’ll want to offer the lowest price possible, (hence, the money saving) but don’t undercut. Among the grossly unqualified applicants that do exist on these sites, there are some truly professional diamonds in the rough who know what a particular job is really worth, which means if you offer too little, you won’t get quality work from the people who truly know what they’re doing. We recommend doing a little research on typical industry rates for the position you are trying to fill, so the freelancer you hire is not insulted by the rate you offer and actually does the job to the best of their capabilities.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

99Designs

Say you want a logo, but you’re not a very good artist. No problem, at 99designs you simply write a description of what you want and your assignment gets turned into a design contest where you provide the prize money. The bigger the prize, the more designs you can choose from drawn by professional designers. As the designs come in, you can provide feedback on the designs you like, so they can be refined, but after seven days, you must pick a winner. Once you crown a champion, 99Designs gives out the prize money to the winning designer and you get your logo that you can use (copyright included) for whatever you want. It’s great for the consumer because you can get from 30 to 60 designs to choose from for relatively little effort on your part. Prices range from $299 for the Bronze Package of 30 designs to $1,199 for the Platinum Package of 60 designs from the best designers on the site. So, if you can afford it, 99Designs might be your best option for a professional illustration.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

Airbnb

Perhaps the original destination for crowdsourced accommodation, Airbnb still makes it easy to rent a room in someone else’s house or apartment in most countries you could be traveling in. Cheaper than a hotel and, at its best, a more local perspective than you can get as a traditional tourist, Airbnb is still the go to for many who utilize the share economy.

Crowdsourcing To Save Money

DesignCrowd

DesignCrowd works similarly to 99Designs without the design contest aspect. Instead you simply have access to a certain number of designs to choose from depending on the tiered pricing model you select. There is still that aspect of designers competing to win your business but it isn’t overtly modelled like a contest. Plus, as a Bargainmoose reader, you have access to an exclusive offer giving you access to 50 free designs within five days as soon as you post a project. Oh, and if you don’t like the designs, you receive your money back for the initial design package you purchased. Use the offer code BMEXCLUSIVE for this deal.

Final Thoughts

Before we conclude, it should be noted that as much as crowdsourcing could be cheaper for the consumer, it relies on a great deal of trust between the parties involved and some people aren’t going to want a stranger traipsing around their house or using their car no matter what safeguards are put in place. It should also be said that many of these sites that outsource jobs, while cheaper for the consumer, take advantage of the service provider by cheapening their skills and putting the economic bar so low that other professionals in the field are unable to compete or make a proper living. So, when you use services like Elance, Odesk and 99designs, think about what is fair, not just what is cheap.

(banner image credit: Dvya Thakur)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
August 28

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

Posted by on August 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

I love to find uses for older items and furniture around my house. I had two babies back to back, which means I needed two cribs at the same time because they were so close in age. What are you supposed to do with two cribs once you are done with them? I don’t plan on having another baby, and I know we won’t get much back if we were to just sell them online second hand, so I took to the internet with a mission to find some other uses for them.

I couldn’t believe how many awesome ideas I found online for old cribs, and almost all of them were fairly inexpensive. I chose seven of the best and inexpensive ideas to share with our Moosers who may have a baby crib in storage as well and just don’t know what to do with it.

1. Kid’s Desk

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

I just love this idea because the crib basically grows with your child. It stays in their room for a little desk or art center and it looks so cool and unique. I found this idea on www.babble.com. Just take off the one side of the crib, paint it, and add some hooks and a chair. Very simple and looks great!

2. Kid’s Sitting Area

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

How awesome is this idea to turn a crib into a kid’s bench and table for a fun corner sitting area for kids? You will find the step by step details posted on Myrepurposedlife.com.

3. Storage Bench

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

This idea was featured on the blog MyRepurposedLife and I just love it.  You can use it for the entry way of your house to keep shoes and items hidden away.

4. Chalkboard Easel

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

This idea is probably one of the easiest ideas, and I would have never thought of it myself.  Take the ends of the crib, paint them with some chalkboard paint, add some wheels and a chain and voila- an easel! This idea from indulgy.com is perfect for any household with kids.

5. Jewellery and Hair Organizer

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

This is another idea I wouldn’t have thought of but I will be doing. It is so simple and easy to make a hanging jewellery or hair organizer for your bedroom or closet. You can even hold items like belts and scarves on it as well. All of the instructions are posted on Cottageinstincts.blogspot.ca.

6. Front Porch Swing

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

This is probably my favourite idea because I have always wanted a front porch swing, but they are just so expensive.  All of the details on how to make it can be found at www.decozilla.com.

7. Laundry Room Dryer

7 Awesome Ways To Upcycle Cribs

This idea uses just one side of the crib (or more if you want to hang more clothes I guess). It is very straightforward to set up, and so practical as well. This idea can be found on the website www.lifeinapinkhouse.com.

Moose Rating (7 votes)
August 27

Save Money On Your Child’s Extracurricular Activities

Posted by on August 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Your Childs Extracurricular Activities

The New York Times states that the average family spends about $601 annually on summer activities for their child. This does not include the rest of the year. Now that summer is almost over and school is back in session, it is time to think about the extra-curricular activities to put your child in this year.

In Canada, the situation isn’t any brighter (especially with high cost of extracurricular activities such as hockey). According to Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan, a non-profit organization that helps families save for post-secondary education, the average Canadian family spends about $1500 on hockey related expenses and can spend upwards to $10,000 a year on hockey. This is more than the average a Canadian family saves for post-secondary education on an annual basis, which is $1455 a year.

Even more interesting is that The Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan also found that 38% of Canadians have (or have known someone who) borrowed money to put their child in extracurricular activities and even deferred their own retirement in order to put their child in extracurricular activities.

Obviously we all want the best for our children, but perhaps it should not be at the expense of our own retirements and post-secondary education savings (or post-secondary “something” whatever they want to do, perhaps it is a gap year studying abroad or traveling abroad). This is especially true since children often change their minds with certain activities and one thing they like this year might not be the same thing last year. Or even one thing they like this month might not be the same as last month (especially relevant if you spend the aforementioned $1500-$10,000 on hockey that year only to find out your child does not like it after two months).

In any case, here are some ways in which you can save money on your child’s extracurricular activities:

Limit Activities

Fox Business recommends picking and prioritizing extra curricular activities.  Find out what your child is interested in and pursue that, instead of trying to juggle three to four different activities at one time. They suggest that you discuss with your child and get them involved in the decision making process (especially if they are older) that you cannot pursue three to four different sports or activities for them at a high level due to cost. Getting your child involved in the decision making process helps them feel empowered and also helps your wallet feel empowered because they can choose what they really want.

Buy Used or Rent

The Centsible Life recommends that if you are putting your child into music lessons or music classes, look at buying used musical instruments or renting.  The same goes for sports equipment, buy used or rent if possible.  When I was a child, my mother rented my musical instrument and I was always very cognizant of that and appreciated it. I later on ended up buying it (it was a rent-to-buy program) and was happy that it was a used instrument instead of a perfect new instrument.  It gave the instrument more character.

Check Out your Local Community Centre

Additionally, Money Crashers also suggests that you say no to expensive activities and set a limit. The local community centre is a great choice because it allows your child to try an activity for three months or less (sometimes even just eight weeks) in order to ascertain if there is enough interest to commit to a year of the same activity. Even better is that the local community centre is usually close to home, which means less commuting and driving to and from activities, which is another source of expenses. I took swimming lessons at my local pool and took ice skating lessons at my local community centre.

Sign Up for Free Activities

If there are free activities available at school, sign up for these. Lots of places offer introductory classes (such as karate) for free. It is a great way to get your child exposed to different activities and to see if your child has any interest.

Extra curricular activities are an essential part of being a well rounded individual and part of a healthy childhood; however, they shouldn’t cost your retirement!

 Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your family’s extracurricular activities?

(banner image credit: USAG-Humphreys)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
August 24

Avoid Spending A Fortune At Your Next Visit To Ikea

Posted by on August 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Avoid Spending A Fortune At Your Next Visit To Ikea

There’s a reason why Ikea is so popular.  Ever since I was a child, I used to be obsessed with looking at the Ikea catalogues. I’m still amazed at the beautiful layout and design ideas that the catalogue pages depict.  From the marketing design to the free children’s playroom (which I loved as a kid, by the way) and very economically priced hot dog and soft serve ice cream, the trip to Ikea is designed for you to invest your time and money. I think that most people agree: it can be very hard to get out of Ikea without spending any money.

Here are some ways in which you can save money during and after your next trip to Ikea:

Go With a Plan (and a List)

One of the easiest ways to spend money is through the slow meander through the display area in Ikea.  According to the Globe and Mail, the average shopper spends about two hours wandering through Ikea.  This is not surprising since the average size of Ikea is akin to roughly six football fields. The strategically placed items are meant to make you buy on impulse (all those cute things near the cashier are meant to make you impulse buy).  I found it very interesting that on average, 50% of customers who shop through Ikea purchase something, which is much higher than the average women’s wear boutique, per the Globe and Mail article.

If you head to Ikea and plan your purchases beforehand, you could head through those six football fields with less temptation and more direction. You will head straight to the warehouse section, find your aisle and get out of there without buying a lamp, a terrycloth stuffed animal, or some kitchen utensil that you probably do not need.  This article from The Consumerist concurs that the Ikea business thrives on add-on sales.

Take Advantage of Sales

If you sign up for their mailing list, you will get to know firsthand when the bedroom collection or bathroom collection goes for 30% off.  Unfortunately it’s a little bit of spam, but considering Ikea stuff rarely goes on sale, this might not be a bad idea.

In addition, Ikea has Wacky Wednesday sales where they have an item that goes on sale for a very reasonable price. It does mean making a trip out to Ikea during a weekday, and sometimes the items are not necessary (meaning it would also be an impulse purchase if you bought it).

Finally, head to the As-Is section of Ikea.  The mark downs tend to be very generous and very reasonable.  Best yet, the As-Is section is full of items that are already assembled for you (that Allen Key is the bane of a lot of people’s existence, I’m sure). One person’s dislike is another person’s treasure, isn’t it!

If You Live in the States…

In the American Ikea stores, you can sign up for a $25 coupon if you spend more than $250 and are planning to move. In addition, if you sign up for the Ikea Friends and Family Program you can get a free cup of coffee and get information on the special discounts just for members. It is free to join. I don’t think we have any great deals like this in our Canadian Ikea stores, but hopefully in the future there will be.

After Your Visit

After your visit to Ikea comes the dreaded task of assembling the furniture with the aforementioned Allen Key.  I found that it was useful to pay someone (I found someone on Craigslist) to do it because it saved me time and frustration. For me, I could spend my time being more productive as opposed to spending hours trying to assemble something properly.

However, asking your friends to help out (handy friends, might I add) is a great solution too!

Get Some Ikea Hack Ideas

If you are bored with your Ikea furniture and want to make it a bit more unique, especially since everyone is buying the same furniture, head to this great website called Ikea Hackers.  It is filled with creative and easy ideas to make your Ikea furniture a bit more unique.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money at Ikea?

(banner image credit: kaktuslampan)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 23

Top 10 Life Hacks that will Save You Money

Posted by on August 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Top 10 Life Hacks that will Save You Money

A life hack is any trick, shortcut, skill or unorthodox way to increase productivity and efficiency in any part of your daily life. Instead of finding a work around in a computer program like a traditional hacker.  A life hacker does the same thing for their everyday life. Online you’ll find a large number of life hacks for anything you can think of, including saving money.  Below you’ll find some of our favourites in no particular order:

1. Pay with Cash – It’s so simple, but most people never give it a second thought. Next time you go out, leave the debit or credit card on the kitchen table and only bring cash. A Dunn & Bradsheet study showed that people spend 12% to 18% more when using credit cards compared to using cash. The fact you can see what’s being spent makes people consider more seriously what they’re doing before they part with their hard-earned money.

2. Buy Cars at the End of the Month – If you’re tired of being given the run around by sly car salesmen and feel like you’re overpaying, then may we suggest buying a car at the end of the month? This is when a car dealer is trying to make their quota and according to AutoTrader, it’s the best time to get the best deals because dealers are trying to meet their monthly sales goals and get their bonuses.

3. Put a Brick in Your Toilet Tank – When your water bill is too high, or your community is asking you to conserve water, don’t sweat it and just put a brick in your toilet tank. It sounds bizarre, but it will save you a brick’s worth of water and your toilet will still flush normally.

4. Use a Banana to Fix Scratches on Cds, DVDs and Blu-Rays – Anytime a product lasts longer and you don’t have to replace it, you’re saving money. Try this banana trick for minor scratches or smudges on your discs. It won’t work for multiple scratches, but for one scratch you can rub the banana on the disc and then rub the inside of the peal over it. Clean it with water, dry it with a soft cloth and voila! It should be good as new.

5. Use an Old Chapstick Case as a Clandestine Money Pouch – Hiding money in your sock is so last year. Besides, most thieves know it’s a common hiding spot and will look there or demand you empty them. To make sure you don’t lose it all, hide your emergency fund cash in your empty chapstick container. Pop off the bottom, clean out the excess and then glue the bottom back on before rolling up your cash and stuffing it inside and putting on the cap.

6. Paint Your Roof White to Expel Heat – Some people go to extreme lengths to save money and if you painted your roof white to save on your heating bill, you’d be one of them. However, all the people who were laughing  when you were climbing up the ladder will eat their words the moment you show them all the money you saved.

7. Clear Your Browser History When Booking Flights – Airlines know when you’ve been searching for the cheapest flight, thanks to the cookies that monitor your browsing history, and they’ll actually charge you more on the flights listed (They smell fear!) So wipe the slate clean before you start doing your research because that will make your options all the more inexpensive.

8. Hit the Library for Free Stuff – Nothing beats all the money you save at the library. Just ask Bargain Moose contributor Avigayil Morris, she told us the money-saving wonders that come with owning a library card. These include, but are not limited to, free internet, free movies, free tv shows and of course, free books.

9. Save on Prescription Drugs with Honey – Not only do you catch more flies with honey, but you save money too. Toast is not the only thing it’s good for, you can also use it as a topical ointment for burns and as a disinfectant that kills bacteria. So, next time you have a zit, burn or infection, hit the hive.

10. Reduce Your Cell Phone Data with an App – Say goodbye to data overage charges. That’s because there’s an app out there that will reduce your data plan consumption without reducing how often you actually use the phone. It’s called Onavo Extended and it will compress your data usage by running in the background of your phone. (Another version, Onavo Count, simply tracks how much data you use.) So, when you’re browsing the internet, watching a video or streaming audio on your phone, Onavo makes sure you never take up more data than you have to by making the file smaller. This means you can do twice as much with the same amount of data, which translates into big savings on your cellphone plan.

Photo credit: Auto Trader

Moose Rating (4 votes)
August 21

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

Posted by on August 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

When we first moved into our house, we bought a bunch of book shelves for one of the walls in our basement for storage because it was all we could afford at the time.  Now that we have lived here a few years and have decorated the way we want, we are left with these book shelves that I just don’t need anymore.  I though about selling them second hand but to be honest, they were pretty cheap to begin with and I wouldn’t really get anything for them.  I am a crafty person so I decided I would use them in other ways around the house.

I was searching online for inexpensive ways to up-cycle these bookshelves and came across some really inventive and fun ways to turn them into something more useful.

1. Child’s Sandbox

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

This idea came from the blog TheHomesIHaveMade.com. I have a 3 year old and a four year old, so this idea was perfect for us.  All you have to do is turn it on it’s back, give it a quick coat of bright paint and fill it with sand.  You may want to weather coat it so that it last longer and last in the rain, snow and other outside conditions.  I love this idea!

2. Planter Garden

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

I was looking on Helpfulgardener.com and found this idea. This idea I have already done myself and it turned out great!  It made perfectly lined rows for my herb garden.  Just like the sandbox idea, you will want to weather proof this garden bed to make sure it lasts through watering and rain. I have gotten so many compliments already.  I also did this with an old filing cabinet, as well the exact same way.

3. Desk

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

Over at AtThePicketFence.com, they had a great idea for a bookshelf to be turned into an office desk. They have all of the instructions to carry out this simple up-cycle project for your office or even for your kids bedroom.

4. Bench

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

If you have a tall skinny bookshelf, you will want to think about this refurbished project.  Flip it on it’s side and add some paint, fabric and some stuffing to the top of it for an awesome bench! You can find this idea over at RefurbishedIdeas.com.

5. Mud Room Organization

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

I love the idea of taking an old book shelf, and making it into an organizer for a mudroom or hallway.  This is perfect if you have a cluttered entryway or you don’t have storage space.This idea came from LivingMSN.com and I bet is very popular.

6. Mini bar

6 Ways To Repurpose Your Old Bookshelves

How can you not just fall in love with this idea!  Turn a smaller bookshelf into a great mini bar for entertaining.  It is so simple and easy and all of the details for it are posted up on the website IdeasAndSolutions.com for you to follow.

Do you have some other repurposed uses for an old bookshelf?

(Image credit to Sharon Drummond)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 18

Save Money By Preparing Your Own Back To School Meals

Posted by on August 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money By Preparing Your Own Back To School Meals

Back to school… for some, these words are a Godsend, and for others they represent their last baby going to school (I’m the latter, sniff sniff). Back to school will be an incredibly busy time with new jobs, kids in school, fall activities starting for everyone, and the general business of life starting after the summer. It’s easy to eat out for meals when you’re on the run, but just think about the excess money and decreased health benefits in take-out dinners. Michael Pollan is a food authority in U.S.A, and he is a proponent of eating whole foods, and most importantly cooking those foods at home. He says the best thing that North Americans can do to improve their health (and reduce the cost of our health care) is to make our meals at home, even if they are not the healthiest meals possible.  Easier said than done, right?  Especially with the time constraints we all face, like a busy career and children.  How can we save money by preparing our family’s meals?

Crock pot cooking

It seems like crock pot cooking has become a recent internet sensation.  I see crockpot recipes, links and pictures everywhere on facebook and pinterest. I am a huge crockpot fan as it is a super easy, quick way to get tasty, melt-in-your mouth meals together.  Check out Who Needs A Cape for a simply amazing 40 meals in four hours crock pot recipe list.  Wow, I am amazed that people actually do this, hats off to them.  I can never seem to get my stuff together to cook in large batches or chunks of time.  How about some recipes you can throw together on a week day or weekend?  There isn’t a recipe much easier than this one for Pineapple Salsa Chicken.  This looks so easy and delicious.  Make a side of rice to go alongside, and you have a pretty nutritious and easy meal.  We love Indian meals at our house, and this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala is an easy, delicious weeknight dinner for kids and parents alike. These Crockpot Chicken Fajitas are super easy to make, and really, how can you screw up making chicken fajitas in the crockpot?  As you can tell, I really like making chicken, as it’s so versatile and I love having leftovers.  As much as I love chicken, I also adore a beef roast in the winter like this one.  My mom wasn’t an adept chef, but I have vivid, happy memories from my childhood when she made any crockpot beef dish.

Batch cooking

I used to be a batch cooker, but abandoned it once I had two kids. I just couldn’t give up a few hours every Sunday to hang in the kitchen, unless of course I had copious amounts of wine to drink while cooking. If you have the time, the patience and the love of food, maybe batch cooking is for you. Chatelaine has some awesome tips for batch cooking. In particular, I really think that preparation is the most important step, so you aren’t caught missing an ingredient or two at the last minute. Here are some simple Batch Cooking Recipes to try. I have seen this idea a few times in the past, and I love the idea of preparing your weeks’ worth of Lunch Salads in advance using mason jars. Although I don’t tend to batch prepare my lunches, I do prepare some staples like hard-boiled eggs, chopped raw veggies and individually packaged hummus so I’m not stuck at the last minute for lunch ideas.  Preparing your own lunch and snacks is probably the best way to save money on food.  I am amazed at the amount of people I work with who purchase their lunch on a near daily basis.  When you combine that purchase with the daily coffee they are buying from Tim’s, those costs really add up.  It literally takes me 20 minutes to pack my lunch. I have to pack my kids’ lunch anyway, why not add mine to the list?

Make homemade school snacks

Sure, those $2.50 packages of goldfish crackers are tempting to buy, but I can’t even imagine the food colourings and preservatives in those crackers. I would much rather spend an hour or so on the weekend preparing homemade school snacks for my children. Many schools are now nut-free, so that is another reason people are tempted to buy pre-packaged snacks. But don’t fear!  As long as you aren’t using nut products in your homemade snacks, they are safe to bring to school. What are some of my favourites?  These granola bars from Weelicious are an absolute favourite with everyone in my house, including my picky husband. They aren’t that difficult to make, although it can be a chore cutting these off my baking sheet.  The results, however, are totally worth it.  I individually wrap these in little plastic bags and put them into a school snack drawer which my kids dig into to help make their school lunches. Although I have never tried it, this fruit leather is a healthy alternative to fruit rollups. If my kids were into candied fruit I would totally make this.

Preparing and planning your food prep in advance is beneficial not only for your pocketbook, but also for your mental health. Why bother with the stress of not knowing what to make every night for dinner when it’s easy to make a menu at the beginning of the week for your meals? Take it a step further and plan your meals around what’s on sale at the grocery stores, and you will save lots of money!

Bargainmoosers, do you prepare your meals in advance?

(banner image credit: Melissa)

Moose Rating (1 votes)