Saving Money

July 1

DIY Doodle Pillow Case!

Posted by on July 1, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Over on Instructables, I found this super-cute and budget-friendly idea for a kid’s room – the DIY Doodle Pillowcase! I’ve seen these items for retail online at various shops around the world, but in that post, it shows you how to make one for yourself, at a low cost.

All you need is a blank pillowcase, some fabric paint, and some washable markers. Here’s what it looks like:

DIY Doodle Pillow Case!

It is a cute idea, but I was personally thinking of the risk of when you hand your kid a pack of washable markers. Because they are allowed to draw on this pillowcase, wouldn’t they perhaps think they’ve got the green light to draw on every other item in the house?

DIY Doodle Pillow Case!

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June 30

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Move

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

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Move

I am no stranger to moving. In the last ten years, I have moved five times. Just typing that is exhausting, but I have moved on average every two years with several of those moves being cross-country moves. One in five Canadians moves for work according to the Canada Post. The number of Canadians using the change of address service with Canada Post was 850,000 in 2012 alone. Our family is part of that number, and we have moved several times because of jobs. The number of movers also doubles in the summer compared to wintertime throughout Canada. If you are in Quebec, the number of people moving quadruples in July due to the longstanding July 1st moving day tradition.

Price Compare Professional Movers Versus DIY

When I was in university, I moved even more often than I do now. Often I would gather a few friends, a friend’s truck and shell out money for pizza and beer. Those days it was much easier to throw my stuff in my friend’s truck as my moves were much more compact.

Now that I have three people to consider in this move, it starts to make more sense economically to bring movers into the picture. According to The Star, on average movers can cost $1000 for a one bedroom move and $2000 for a three-bedroom house. When you are looking for movers, get recommendations from friends and family. When looking over online reviews, look for reviews that specifically mention how quick the movers were. Many movers charge by the hour and one tactic to wring more cash out of you can be dragging their feet. Make sure you get more than one quote to compare as it gives you the ability to haggle a little. Once you have settled on an estimate, getting everything in writing can help ensure that you are protected.

I have personally had a few great experiences with movers. I have tried hiring a friend’s well-intentioned teenager and ended up with a mattress dragged on the ground and multiple broken items. When we hired movers, we had much less breakage and the move went much quicker overall. Weigh your costs for DIY versus movers depending on the amount of stuff you have and how far you are moving.

Purge

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Move

Moving is an optimal time to cleanse your space. I start by trying to sell anything I do not want and think will sell. I now use Varagesale for these types of sales, but Craigslist is another option. You can also post to garage sale groups on Facebook. I have had great luck selling kids gear to others moms. Just check to make sure you know the rules of your group, and use common sense such as bringing someone with you for the sale.

At some point, I start giving and donating items that I do not want to move. It may seem counterproductive to give things away free, but many of these items would cost me more to move them then to rebuy or do without. Cheap holiday decorations, broken furniture, half-used bottles of cosmetics or lotions, clothes that are worn out, unused gift sets and many temporary fix items I have bought at the dollar store fall into this category. Do not pay to move these items that are cluttering your space.

One of the biggest projects I did before my last move was to digitize my book collection. Any book that I had both in an electronic format and paper, I donated or gifted the paper copy. I also traded paper copies with some friends for electronic format versions. Books are heavy to move, and changing to electronic versions cut out quite a few boxes I did not have to pay to move.

Scavenge For Boxes

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Move

Moving supplies costs add up. The tape, the sharpies, the bubble wrap and the round of beers you inevitably need after the fact. Cut your costs by scavenging for moving boxes ahead of time. U-Haul charges $186.85 for a one to two bedroom kit of boxes. For a three to four bedroom kit, you will shell out $354.70. That does not include when you discover you have twelve more boxes of books that need to be boxed up. If you start scavenging early, you can usually gather plenty of free boxes in advance. Here are some suggestions of places to look.

  • Check the local wine or beer store. These boxes are generally exceptionally sturdy and usually are clean.
  • Ask friends and family
  • Tap into your social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Watch for free boxes on Freecycle
  • Bring home printer paper boxes from your work.
  • Ask the manager at your local grocery store. I find if you ask ahead, they will sometimes save them or tell you what day their shipment is so you can swing by for boxes they were getting rid of.

You can use coffee filters as cheap packaging materials for glass. They are cheap and a nice substitute for newspapers which leaves ink on your glassware. I do recommend using extra sheets, blankets or towels as packing materials in boxes, but make sure you leave a set out for each bed in your house. I like to use them in boxes that are within the same room. For example, I use kitchen towels to help pack glassware and blankets to help pack bedroom items. This makes it easier to find everything once I am unpacking boxes.

Move Next Year Or Renovate

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Next Move

I know this point may seem counterproductive, but the reality is that moving costs add up. Being a person who has moved mostly for jobs, I was surprised to read in the Financial Post that 16% of repeat home buyers move because they are bored with their house and that the average Canadian will own 4.5 to 5.5 houses. That does not even include rental units where people commonly move in an out of units as if there is a revolving door.

If you are bored with your space, you can save much more money by staying put. Change up your space by painting, moving the furniture around and making other smaller changes to freshen up your place. If you need a little more space, you may want to consider renovating your place. If your kitchen or bathroom is not modern, these are both great places to add value to your home through renovations. Consider adding a deck or sunroom to expand the amount of living space you have. If you still want to move, take the time to consider your options, needs and wants before making the leap to a new home.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money when you are moving?

(Image Credit: Eddy Van 3000, Thomas Galvez, Matt Cornock, Vida Dimovska)

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June 29

How To Refill Bunch O’ Balloons Without Spending A Fortune

Posted by on June 29, 2015 at 7:00 PM

How To Refill Bunch O Balloons Without Spending A Fortune

We wrote a post last week about where to buy the ever-so-popular Bunch O Balloons, and a lot of you are asking: “How do we refill the Bunch O’ Balloons?”

We decided to take on the task of researching how to refill this item that seems to be flying off the shelf. While the balloons are biodegradable, the plastic stems are recyclable. If you are trying to be green, then you may be interested in refilling your purchased Bunch O Balloons – if you were lucky enough to find any in stock in the first place.

This task looks like it can be quite frustrating. Personally, I would just purchase a new set of Bunch O Balloons. Especially considering the self-sealing balloons themselves are almost as much money as the original tool and balloons. If you are interested in trying this route, take a quick trip to your local Walmart or Dollar store and get started!

How To Refill Bunch O Balloons Without Spending A Fortune

Use Cheap Balloons and Loom Bands

I have looked everywhere for Bunch O Balloon brand refills, but so far no luck. You can always grab some regular water balloons and Loom Bands or other small elastics for a cheaper approach anyway. This seems like a tedious task if you ask me, but it will save some money and still get the job done faster than filling and tying each balloon yourself. Follow these quick and simple steps to get your water balloons set up again:

  1. Set up your new water balloons on each stem from your original Bunch O Balloons tool.
  2. Wrap the Loom Band (or other similar elastic band) around the stem of the balloon once it is attached to the plastic straw/stem. You will want to wrap the elastic at least three times, depending on the size and thickness of the elastic.
  3. As the balloon fills with water, the elastic Loom Band will hold it closed and contain the water (in most cases). Some balloons will fail of course, just as they do with the original Bunch O Balloons set.

I have yet to try this personally, but I have heard it works. There are also tutorial videos on YouTube that show this trick works if you want to give it a quick watch. This method of refilling will cost you as little as $3, as opposed to buying another Bunch O Balloons set for four or five times that cost. You will just have to put a little more effort into filling your water balloons this time around.

Let us know if you refill your Bunch O Balloons and how you do it in the comments below.

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June 28

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

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

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

I love making holidays feel special for my family. With summer finally in full gear, I am more than ready to kick up my feet, enjoy the sunshine and deck myself out in red to celebrate. I rock a red shirt at the fireworks, just saying. The problem is while I am a crafty person, I have no patience for spending tons of time or money making the holiday perfect in summer. I want to be at the pool or beach, not decorating a dozen adorable cupcakes to look like beavers the night before my BBQ. If I head into the stores, I will pay premium prices for that same fun adorable treat because it is a holiday.

Save time and money by creating these quick DIY treats. The treats I found below are perfect for the holiday whether you plan to BBQ, go to a parade or just hang out poolside. Some of these treats are food, others are just fun. All of these treats will give your Canada Day a little effortless fun without dropping much cash.

Canada Day Marshmallow Pops

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Jell-O and marshmallows are not something I normally think to combine. Over at Noshing With The Nolands, they have created some tasty red and white marshmallow pops. These pops come together in no time for a fun and easy treat. These are perfect for your BBQ, to take to a party, or just to nosh for a special treat.

Canada Flag T-Shirt

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Looking through your closet, you may discover you do not own a patriotic shirt to wear for Canada Day. Make these adorable Canada Flag Shirts for the whole family. Check out this post from Becoming Martha for all the details. Normally I am not one to tackle a t-shirt painting craft, but this one looks like it can be made quickly without looking wonky or buying many supplies.

Timbit Cupcakes

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Are you looking for a truly Canadian Treat that is original? Check out the Timbit Cupcakes over at C&C Cakery. Shh, there is a secret surprise in this treat. Hiding inside the cupcake is half a chocolate Timbit. You can save yourself time by picking up store-bought frosting (and even boxed cake mix) if baking is not your thing. Set these up at the BBQ and watch as they disappear. These will cost you much less than the themed cupcakes at the grocery store or bakery.

Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Here is a quick and easy appetizer that adds a healthy pop of red and white colour to any party. Check out these tomato and mozzarella skewers over at The Kitchn. This quick and easy appetizer is delicious. I have personally made this recipe several times and it is always a hit. These skewers are especially delicious right now while tomatoes are in season. You can also make smaller versions on toothpicks for a bite-sized version.

Canada Day Ribbon Wands

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Have you ever gone to a parade just to discover they are selling silly swag for high prices? I always seem to get roped into purchasing something. This year you can be ready with these fun Canada Day streamer wands from One Time Through. The tutorial is amongst several other Canada Day activities, so you will have to scroll down a bit. Bring these with you to the parade and be the ultimate cheering section. These wands are also lots of fun to run around the yard with. If you do not have dowel rods, raid your silverware drawer for leftover takeout chopsticks.

Maple Leaf Watermelon Pops

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

These treats may look like they are for kids, but these maple leaf shaped popsicles are flavoured with a sweet alcohol drink mix to make the ultimate adult popsicle for your party. Check out the details at Once Upon A Cutting Board. You can soak the watermelon in any sweet liquid for the perfect popsicle. Use some juice for a quicker (and cheaper) alcohol-free version.

Canada Day Party Printable

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Nothing makes a party theme come together quicker and cheaper than a free printable. Over at Catch My Party, I found a full set of free printable that includes a banner, water bottle sleeves and various adorable tags to give your BBQ a party vibe. This free printable is adorable, and no one will know you stuck them together the night before!

Canada Day Pinwheel

8 Last Minute DIY Treats For Canada Day

Over on the website Gold Canyon University, I found a free pinwheel printable complete with patriotic maple leaves. All you need is a pencil, a pin and some cardstock to make your very own free pinwheel. Skip the dollar store version and make this pinwheel from items that are probably already around your house.

Bargainmoosers, what are you making for your Canada Day celebration?

(Image Credit: Andreas Ivarsson, oshokim)

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June 28

DIY: Homemade Face Wipes

Posted by on June 28, 2015 at 6:00 PM

DIY: Homemade Face Wipes

Bargainmoosers, I spotted another quick and easy idea that I just had to share. How many of you out there love using disposable face wipes to remove makeup and oil? I love them! They are quick, convenient and I have yet to find one that irritates my skin. I am fussy about what I use to wash my face. Though I am always open to new products, I have had many products go awry and leave me with clogged pores.

The problem with these miracle wipes is they are not exactly budget friendly. Most packs on Well.ca are $6 to $12 per pack and only contain 25 to 30 wipes. If you wash your face twice a day, that is two packs a month you will need to purchase.

Cut your costs by trying these homemade reusable face wipes (idea by Frugality Gal). For this project, you will need:

  • Two tablespoons of your favourite foaming facial wash
  • Three cups of warm distilled water
  • Two containers with lids
  • Minimum of seven washcloths
  • Large bowl and whisk from your kitchen

Warm the water until it is just warm to the touch, I recommend using the microwave over a kettle to avoid scalding. Pour half of your water and your facial wash into your bowl. Whisk together the soap and water so they become bubbly, then add your washcloths. (I would suggest using clean hands for this part!) After the wipes are saturated, squeeze out the excess liquid then stack them in one of your containers with a lid. The second container will be for face wipes that you have used and need to be washed.

Seven wipes should get you through half a week. You could make a double batch last a full week if you use them twice daily. Use these wipes for a quick wipe to remove all of your makeup and clean your face. Then run some water over the wipe to rinse any excess soap off your face.

This blogger suggests that she has no issues with mold. She mentioned that she keeps the lid open for air circulation purposes. It is also important that your water is distilled to avoid bacteria contaminating your wipes. I also highly recommend adding a few drops of tea tree oil into the mix. Tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic that kills bacteria, is found at many health stores and is often used in beauty products. It can be strong in concentrated form, so add sparingly. I recommend starting with a small amount such as three to five drops into your solution and adjusting until you have a balanced amount for your skin. After you have used your wipes, simply throw them in the wash and then make the solution again for the next week. Not only is this solution much cheaper than the commercial wipes, it is more eco-friendly also.

Bargainmoosers, would you try these face wipes in your beauty routine?

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June 28

DIY Spice Blends: Save Money By Making Your Own!

Posted by on June 28, 2015 at 9:00 AM

I saw this cute little infographic on Facebook, and thought I would share. It shows you how to make 9 popular spice blends, from other more common spices in your cupboards. For me, I’ve got almost all these spices in my cupboards (with the exception of ground cardamom or hing) and it would be easy to combine the spices!

DIY Spice Blends: Save Money By Making Your Own!

Instead of spending a couple of bucks on a jar of blended spices, make your own. Keep this image as a handy guide if you need to blend up some spices!

(Expires: Never!)

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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 27

DIY: Make A Kid’s Pillow Bed From as Little as $32!

Posted by on June 27, 2015 at 9:00 AM

DIY: Make A Kids Pillow Bed From as Little as $32!

I have hardwood floors in my house, and they are not super comfortable. My daughter loves to sprawl across the living room with her collection of library books. Anna showed me a great project inspired from the UK Company Bed In a Bag. This is perfect for my daughter’s reading nook! If you can sew a straight line, you need to check out this pillow bed from Pink When. Bellow I am going to break down how you can make this project for as low as $32!

DIY: Make A Kids Pillow Bed From as Little as $32!

To make this project, here is what you need:

  • Four to five pillows
  • Four to five pillow cases
  • A sewing machine with thread
  • Optional Velcro

Sew the pillowcases together along the longest edge, and then stuff the pillows into the cases. Voila, you have a comfortable new cushion. You could then either close the pillowcases with Velcro for easy washing or sew the pillowcases shut. Pillows are available in three sizes. Make sure you match the size of your pillows with the size of your pillowcases correctly. Most pillowcases designed for children are “standard size.”

Pillow Sizes

  • Standard: 20 in × 26 in (51 cm × 66 cm)
  • Queen: 20 in × 30 in (51 cm × 76 cm)
  • King: 20 in × 36 in (51 cm × 91 cm)

Finding cheap pillows and pillowcases is the hardest part of this project. Luckily for you Bargainmoosers, I have done some of the hard work for you.

Pillows:

Pillowcases With Kid Friendly Prints:

Using the lowest prices above, you could buy four cushions for $12 and 4 pillowcases for $20. That puts the grand total of this quick project at only $32!

DIY: Make A Kids Pillow Bed From as Little as $32!

If you are handy at sewing, you may want to try this alternative method from It’s Always Autumn. This version teaches you to build the same project with pillows and two inexpensive flat sheets. You might consider looking at Giant Tiger for pillowcases or sheets though you will get a better deal if you buy at the store. You could also pick up some fabric at IKEA Canada, who sells fabric for as low as $1.99 a meter.

You might think you could just head out to the store to purchase a similar piece of furniture for your kid. I found a similar flip chair at Walmart Canada for $55. This flip chair from Sears.ca retails for $79.99 and is essentially the same project. I had friends who used these cheap foam beds at university as furniture in their dorm rooms. Our nickname for them is not safe for little ears!

This project would fold down well for a sleepover at grandma’s house. I can also see throwing this cushion in the grass for a comfortable outside nook to lounge in. You could also pile up the pillows and sit on it like a chair for video game time!

Bargainmoosers, what would you use this fantastic pillow bed for?

(Image Credit: Donnie Ray Jones)

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June 23

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

Posted by on June 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

Most of us have spent a little time fixing, pruning and planting in our outdoor spaces. My yard, after several weeks of work, is now a functional space to both relax and play. If you are looking make your outside space more fun for your kids, that can mean big price tags for the large outdoor toys that tend to have more playtime. Refresh your backyard with one or all of these amazing projects your kid will enjoy all summer, while still keeping most of your cash in your wallet.

Hula Hoop Hiding Nook

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

You might now need a rest from all that zipping and climbing across the yard. Maybe you prefer having an outdoor oasis vibe in your yard. I would suggest you start making these Hula Hoop Hiding Nooks pronto from The Craft Nest. This would be perfect to encourage summertime reading, or for a picnic on a sunny day. I am considering making this for my daughter to give her a place to bring her favourite stuffed friends.

Backyard Zip Line

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

Over on How Does She, they made this awesome zip line for around $10. If you have some space and two sturdy trees you could attach this to, your kids soon could be zipping across the yard! What fun this project would be, and this one could be great for bigger kids too. Make sure if you are making this for big kids that your pulley and rope are a little more heavy duty than the zip line featured here for little kids.

Car Track From Rocks

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

I love this track for cars that Playtivities created. A little paint and a few walks around the neighbourhood to collect rocks should provide everything you need for this fun playset. This set is so easily customizable and you can add as many pieces as you have the patience to make. You could also apply this same idea to whatever theme your child is currently interested in be it fairies, monsters, trains, superheroes or more. This is a fantastic idea!

Backyard Tight Rope

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

I have plans, big plans for my backyard this summer Bargainmoosers. Those plans now include this awesome backyard tight rope idea from Kids Activities Blog. If you have kids who love to climb, this tightrope idea is a genius idea and should get a lot of playtime with very little out of pocket cash. I am so making this project, I just need to add sturdy rope to my shopping list. Consider it an early introduction to the slacklining trend!

Water Blob

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

I have had this project on my list since last fall and intend on making one for my kid over summer. Check out the water blob at the blog Clumsy Crafter. Grab some heavy-duty plastic sheeting, some duct tape and the hose. Soon your kids will be bouncing, sliding and giggling. Your kids are sure to sleep well after a day playing on this giant water blob. This is a nice alternative to the pool, as that water in the outside pools is still quite cold!

Tire Swing

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

This is a classic outside toy, do not overlook making one for your own backyard. I love the whimsical style that Grams has put on this tire swing. A little bit of paint and hardware turned this swing from an old tire to whimsical and fun with only a little effort. If you do not have extra tires, try searching some out at a garage sale, or calling local tire shops.

Giant Ker-Plunk

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

Have you ever played the game Ker-Plunk? If you are a bit handy, you need to make this awesome oversized version for your backyard featured at All Parenting. This game will be so much fun for the whole family to play, and is certain to be the centre of your next BBQ. Take turns pulling sticks, and each person collects the balls that fall thru on their turn. The person with the least balls at the end of the game wins. This is an awesome backyard game that all the kids can play together no matter their age.

Tire Rockers

8 Backyard Play Projects To Make For Kids

If you made a swing with one of your old tires, it is likely you still have a few extra tires floating around. Use an additional tire to make these fun rockers from According To Boyle. These cute bouncers will brighten up any backyard. The blogger also recommends adding a handle, which they did after this picture was taken.

For more great ideas check out this past post, Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family. Bargainmoosers, what are you planning on making for the backyard this summer for your kids?

(Image Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg)

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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 18

9 Clever And Free Printables For Father’s Day

Posted by on June 18, 2015 at 8:00 PM

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

I would like to think I am good at picking out gifts for my husband and dad. Neither of them is very easy to buy gifts for, but I always manage to come up with something fun and funny. If you are looking for a clever idea this year, check out some of these amazing free printables below. Best of all, these printables are free for you to download. Take the hard work out of your gift this year, and use one of these ideas for your favourite Dad!

Dad Glasses

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

These glasses will take you a little bit of time with a sharp utility knife, but will be well worth the effort when you are finished. Check out Mr. Printables’ dad glasses. Print these glasses on any colour cardstock you choose. I would pair this with a superman shirt for the ultimate Father’s Day Clark Kent disguise! These glasses will make some adorable and memorable photos.

Dad’s Zombie Survival Kit

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

This is a fun twist on a gift basket for Dad. I know both my Dad and husband would laugh hard to discover a Zombie Survival Kit waiting for them on Father’s Day. Check out the free printable labels over on the Popsicle Blog By Sandy Toes and Popsicles. This gift set is customizable, you can use as many or as few of the labels as you like. I also like that you have a lot of flexibility to include some of Dad’s favourite treats, and this kit is hilarious.

A&Wesome Dad

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

My husband loves A&W Rootbeer though we do not often have it in the house. He would love to find a surprise six-pack waiting for him as part of his Father’s Day gift. Expand this gift into a rootbeer float kit by adding a special mug, ice cream and a scoop. You can download your own tag from Creative Party Ideas By Cheryl. Even better, this blogger included tags to thank Grandpa, another Father figure in your life or an A&Wesome teacher.

Tiny Tie Banner & Card

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

This tiny tie bunting (say that three times fast) is so cute, I could not resist including it in this roundup. Over at hazelfly, she has created adorable printables that take breakfast in bed up a notch for Father’s Day. This cute idea just takes you a few minutes with some scissors and includes a matching free card printable.

Super Dad Personalized Card

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

Let your favourite dad know just how super he is. Set the kids to work colouring this awesome Super Dad free printable card. Print out a picture of Dad and you can add it to this custom card from Alpha Mom, complete with a Mad Lib style superhero story. You may want to frame and save this fantastic card.

Moustache And Bowtie Printable Wrapping Paper

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

I cannot tell you how many times it is the day before Father’s Day and I realize I forgot to pick up paper to wrap my husband’s gift. A scan through my wrapping paper stash reveals holiday paper or pink glitter. Save yourself the trip and look like you had a plan all along. Print this adorable Moustache or Bowtie Wrapping Paper from Design Is Yay, and your gift will look so cute.

A Book About Dad

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

I have seen many cute printables where you ask a child to fill in information about Dad for a sweet keepsake. Over at Eighteen25 you can download several pages for children to fill out and write what they love about Dad, and even draw a picture of him. If you have multiple kids, you can expand this book so there are pages from each kid. There is also an equally cute printable book for Grandpa.

Video Game Coupon

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

This free coupon and tag from Tori Grant Designs is perfect for any Dad who loves video games. I like the included coupon for an afternoon of uninterrupted free play. I know my husband does not end up with much time to play adult video games until the kiddo heads to bed. This pairs perfectly if you plan on picking up a new video game for Dad.

Strong Dependable Socks

9 Clever And Free Printables For Fathers Day

Over at Hello Lucky, they have created free printable labels to gift Dad an amazing… pair of socks? No really, this funny printable has me considering giving socks to my husband as part of his Father’s Day gift. You need to check out this awesome printable. You know your favourite Dad has at least a few pairs of socks with holes that need to be replaced. Please note that the wine and beer labels printables also in this post do not have the correct date on the printable, but the socks are timeless!

If you are looking for a few other Father’s Day ideas, Anna recently had a great post you should check out. Whatever you choose to do for Father’s Day, I am sure the Dads in your life will feel loved and appreciated!

(Image Credit: Gil)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
June 16

3 Tips To Save Money Hosting A Backyard BBQ

Posted by on June 16, 2015 at 8:00 PM

3 Tips To Save Money Hosting A Backyard BBQ

The weather has been quite finicky lately. It is frustrating when I desperately want to host a few BBQ parties in my backyard. We usually have people over multiple times throughout the summer. The kids can play, the adults can relax and it can be a great way for everyone to get together.

Last year it was all over the news, the cost of beef and pork went up at a very significant rate right before summer. Prices increased between 11 to 12 percent according to CBC.ca. That is six times the current inflation rate, which is hovering around two percent. Macleans.ca has a nice little graph that can show us a little but more about the rising cost of food, specifically for a BBQ. They looked at eight BBQ staples including ground beef, hot dogs, cheese slices, bread, onions, tomatoes, ketchup, and pop. These eight staples have gone up from costing around $18 in 2004 to now costing closer to $30. Very few people will host a BBQ party and only buy those eight items. If you choose to serve meats that are more expensive and add some alcohol, the price of your BBQ parties is going to add up very quickly over the summer. Here are three tips to help you save money on your next backyard BBQ party.

Be Selective With Meat

Meat is one place to watch the sales carefully as the prices can a lot from week to week. My husband and I enjoy fish on the grill quite a bit, but the cost of fish can be pricey compared to other types of meat. We carefully scan the ads of our local grocery stores to see who has the best price, and we jump when the price is good. I have a secret weapon, have you tried the Flipp app? If you are an apple user, you can download it free on the iTunes store or Android users can download it free at the Google Play Store. This app allows you to search local grocery ads around you. Since meat is one of the priciest items for a BBQ, you can quickly search your local ads and decide which store to shop at and what to buy. For more great grocery apps, check out this past article Save Even More Money With These Convenient Flyer Apps.

Another option if you are cooking for a crowd is to cook a mix of meats, which can cut down on cost. I like throwing smoked kielbasa from my local butcher on the grill. I find it is an unexpected treat for most guests when I serve it.  You can also cut costs by including cuts of meat on the bone. My husband makes amazing grilled chicken thighs by cooking them on low indirect heat, and chicken drumsticks are usually a hit with kids. Cooking meat on the bone also helps to add more flavour.

Add Extra Vegetables To The Grill

3 Tips To Save Money Hosting A Backyard BBQ

While the cost of meat is pushing upwards very quickly, the cost of vegetables is not rising quite as fast. In the summertime, produce costs tend to go down. Watch for sales on vegetables that are in season and then feature those vegetables on your grill. I suggest investing in a grill pan such as this Webber, which will make sautéing veggies quick. You can also cook veggies in foil packets or on skewers to ensure your vegetables do not fall through your grill. Here are some ideas of vegetables (and fruit!) that can be thrown on the grill easily.

  • Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Bell Peppers
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Corn: Soak in a little water before you grill for a better result.
  • Green Beans
  • Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Pineapple: This is hands down my favourite thing to grill! You must try it!
  • Peaches

Any sauce you would add to your grilled meat, you could also put on veggies. Make sure you do not cross contaminate sauce that has touched raw meat with your veggies. You can also use almost any oil-based salad dressing for a quick sauce on your veggies. Most vegetables cook up quickly, so save them for the end when your meat is almost finished. Eating Well has a great list of tips for grilling vegetables so they are delicious.

Offer Drinks In A Pitcher

3 Tips To Save Money Hosting A Backyard BBQ

Many times I have attended a BBQ where wine, beer, juice, and soda flow freely. As the host, you want to ensure your guests are comfortable. You can cut back on the total amount of drinks you offer by ensuring that you have a nice large pitcher of ice cold water available alongside your other offerings. Most of us will pace ourselves with the sweeter drinks when water is also an option. You can make your offer more enticing by slicing an orange or other fruit into your water pitcher.

While we are talking drinks, you can mix up a pitcher to make your alcohol go a little further. My pitcher drink of choice for summer is Sangria. We buy quite a bit of fruit throughout the summer, but any leftover I throw in a bag in my freezer. That bag has raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and peaches that are perfect for smoothies, homemade popsicles and throwing in Sangria! You can also puree the mixture from the freezer to add to your pitcher if the fruit ugly. No one will be the wiser. Buzzfeed also has a fantastic list of Sangria ideas, many of which are very inexpensive to make.

I generally mix up a pitcher of something without alcohol also, such as lemonade. I might buy a small pack of beer depending on who is attending the party. If a guest brings a bottle of wine, I will often crack that open to share.

Bargainmoosers, what tips do you have for saving money on a backyard BBQ party?

(Image Credit: Dan Conley, Michela Simoncini, Steven Labinski)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
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

Moose Rating (2 votes)
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

Moose Rating (2 votes)