Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paid in Love

It's official. Seeing as how the Canadian government has stopped sending cheques, *sob*, it would seem maternity leave has expired and I have crossed over into official "stay at home mum" territory. Since my new title doesn't come with an expense account, we're learning strategies in how to stay ahead knowing that me being home is paramount. Of course, this makes #26 on my 28in28 list a must rather than a mere goal. I'd thought I'd share some of the ways we're cleaning up our monetary diet.

What makes an enormous difference for us is meal planning. I sit down every Friday, create a list of our dinners for the following week and our family heads out to the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning seeking the ingredients necessary to create the dinners on my plan. Eating a clean diet free of preservatives, hormones and chemicals is very important to us - especially now that Ember eats what we're eating. I'll spare you my rants and passionate spewings on food, but I've become quite passionate about eating a clean, responsibly grown diet. As it can be a little more costly to eat this way, eating seasonally and going vegetarian a couple of nights a week makes a big difference. This means we can eat the way we want without compromising the budget. Bonus: We still get time out as a family by going to the Farmer's Market and walking around one of the city's older neighbourhoods. Economical day out!

Thankfully, we already cloth diaper and breastfeeding continues to be a success story so we don't have to worry about extra weekly expenditures. Even if you're not cloth diapering, try switching over to cloth wipes. Just purchase some inexpensive baby washcloths and use those to clean baby's tushy at each diaper change. You will do your pocket book and the environment a favour. Over your baby's time in diapers, you can save approximately $1500. (I still use disposable wipes for travelling and errands, but home we are all cloth, all the time. It's an especially easy switch to make if you're cloth diapering, just wash everything together.)

I make our cleaning supplies. It's amazing what you can do with baking soda, lemon and vinegar. From scratch, I make disinfectant spray, laundry detergent, creamy scrub and more.

We live in a condo so many of your typical household expenses are covered in our condo fees. However, we are on the hook for hydro. We have plugged the majority of our electronics into power bars and before going to bed each night, we switch off the power bar. In doing this, you eliminate the phantom power being drawn. Those little lights on your Blu-ray player that are on all night, the clock on your microwave, the blinking light on your cell phone charger - all phantom power. My in-laws put their electronics on power bars, began switching them off each night and immediately noticed a savings on their electricity bill within the first month.

After studying where our grocery money was going in the way of pre-packaged foods, I have began to make a lot of it from scratch. I'm putting all those wedding presents to use: I bake bread, make granola cereal, pasta and our yummy indulgent treats. This was an easy one as I love to spend time in the kitchen and I'm home during the day. I love how we don't have so much garbage in the way of packaging and I can control the quality of ingredients.

Some of the above are easier for us to implement since I am home, I realize that. I imagine whether a home has two working parents or one who stays home, budgeting is a reality for all of us. I would love to hear the creative steps your family has taken to curb spending.


  1. Hey Sarah!!!! I love your blog by the way! And my husband and I are pretty much doing all the same things you and your family are doing! Meal planning is what I tell everyone to do, it really helps decrease cost and waste in the fridge. Come Friday our fridge is pretty empty! I could go on and on about all the stuff your doing, but really it just makes me happy that we're not the only ones! Jackie King

  2. I am a budget freak and always have been, but recently those far off goals of buying a house and having kids became... less far off. ;)

    That in mind I have become even more diligent. I sat down and figured out the basic- what do I make, what are my fixed expenses (the only thing that fits in this category are things I have NO control over. They come out of my account each month at the same amount each time)

    The difference, I take out in cash. I use that cash for groceries, gas and spending money. (For me gas is not ALWAYS the same for how many tanks per month, so I consider it variable, not fixed)

    I can't say how helpful this has been for me- to be able to look in my wallet at anytime and see if it's feasable to go for lunch with a friend... or if that might mean I don't have enough to buy the groceries I need for next week, or not be able to fill up my tank of gas.

    Speaking of groceries- YES! Meal planning! You buy only what you need and end up eating healthier. Win win! :)

  3. Jackie, Thanks so much for the blog love. I love to hear that you and your hubby are doing the same. So many economical choices are beneficial to the planet which makes me so happy. Thanks again!

  4. Melissa,

    Thanks for the comment.

    Switching to cash is the first thing we did for our variable expenses. We do have a fixed budget for groceries but we carry cash to purchase them. That way, I exercise control and only buy what we need. (I can get carried away in a Farmer's Market...)

    Additionally, we write down how much we spend each day and what we purchased. In doing this, we can see exactly where the cash is going. If necessary, we will clean up our spending.

    ps. Aww, less far off goals. Yay you!!!

  5. Darn. I am reminded that I need to get on a budget of some sort. I am officially "paid in love" now too, and spending the love as quick as the smiles and hugs come in! Yikes!

    I struggle with the menu plan, its a love-hate relationship for me, but I manage to save some money be cutting back on the meat too. I am not exclusively using cloth, but 25 diapers per week makes a dent in the landfill and reduces the number of times I need to get diapers from the store. I have made my own wipes since day 1 so that has been a huge savings.

    You've got me thinking about this phantom power deal. Hmmmmm....

    I use Sapadilla All-Purpose cleaner for EVERYTHING (its has to be s(c)ent from heaven, I am sure. I craved the scent of it when I was pregnant and cleaned EVERYTHING with it). One $10 bottle has lasted me almost 18 months!

    I reuse ziplocks, i am tupperware lover and I buy bulk rather than single serving items..... some of my other savers.

    Let me know if you've got a good granola recipe. Its on my list. We eat way too much and I keep saying "I'm gonna make it" but just haven't taken the time to find a good recipe.

    Oh and I also try not to make an excuse to drive to Vancouver because that just spells SPENDING to me. Staying home means saving money in so many ways!

    ; )

  6. Kristin, I'm looking into Sapadilla. Do you just buy it online?

    Uh, Vancouver is seriously dangerous for me, too - so much temptation! There are times I really appreciate the limits of Edmonton.

    I will email you the granola recipe - it's really delicious and flavourful. :o)

  7. Sapadilla is actually made by my friends' sister! Its her company. Its sol in stores out here because she is local. But I know that you can buy it online and that they are trying to get into stores across Canada. Maybe the website has links to retailers in the area? If not its TOTALLY worth it to give it a try. Both "flavours" are amazing, but I prefer, Rosemary and Peppermint.
    ; )
    Thank you so much for the recipe! It looks yum!

  8. Since I left my comment, I've actually discovered that it's a local eco-boutique. I may have to try it out. So cool that your are within six degrees of it. :o) The Rosemary & Peppermint sounds yummy. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.