Today while at the farmers market I ran into Cathy and her husband. We chatted about what was new with respect to the school cafeteria business. Then she mentioned again I should really blog about saving money, using coupons, getting loyalty points etc. In other words she wants me to tell you all just how cheap and frugal I can be! Now that I have admitted to the blog world that I am cheap, where should I start teaching you how to be cheap as well?
1) Want to save approximately $100.00 a month. First of all cut the cable/satellite from your TV. You can get a antenna (looks like a mushroom) and have hubby install it on the roof. With your antenna you will get about 10 Canadian channels and if you have the new HD box you should pick up another 5 American channels. Before you cut the cable first log what channels your family watches on a regular basis. Also look at the shows you and yours enjoy watching then chart it and see if these channel are ones you would normally get free anyway. Also with the shows, are they on channels you would normally get free anyway. Here in southern Ontario Rodgers basic cable is close to $40.00 month and you get a few more channels than what you would normally get with out Rogers. Spend a month or two being honest with yourself and tracking your TV habits. We have not had cable TV for 13 years now and every once in a while I think maybe we should get it. But then I look into the prices and think No Way! Also with the Internet and the library you can watch what ever you want if you are willing to be patient.
2) Use your library! In our city you can borrow movies for a week and complete TV show seasons for two weeks FREE. Yes, you may have to wait your turn depending on when you have placed the hold, but if it is not important to you to be the first one to see a movie or show then this is a great way to save money. Also,use your library for the traditional book borrowing. I am a regular at Chapters, but I very rarely purchase a book from them. What I do is take a pen and paper and write down the title of books that interest me and then in the comfort of my home I request these books on line from my local library. When my turn comes I then have three weeks to read the book FREE! I also will borrow magazines from the library all for FREE. Another place for books is garage sales, but I don't ever pay more then a $1.00 for a hardcover!
3) Get yourself another email address. Most Internet providers give you numerous email addresses with your package. Create an email address and use this one to give to companies when they ask for your email address. Just recently Old Navy (Canada) asked for my email address and in return they sent me a $10.00 off coupon. By having the second email address you avoid the junk mail clogging up your personal stuff. I haven't done this yet but will be doing it soon, so family and friends look out for an email address change from us soon. Also sign up to different companies (if they are brands you use) web sites. Use your new email address and most of these companies will send you coupons for products you use and they are normally pretty good coupons.
4) Most stores have loyalty programs and if you are regular shopper at the store then it is worth signing up for the program. Now some stores make you pay for the loyalty program, with those ones be very careful and make sure you will get your money's worth. I am hesitant to pay for the loality program cards as I find I never seem to get my moneys worth. The free programs, I say join, join, join! I am a big fan of the Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum rewards program. I have received thousands of dollars in free products since the program started. Firstly, I go into the store and buy a gift certificate for the store, as you get points for the GC purchase. Then I do my shopping I try to only buy what is on sale and what I have coupons for, also I do my SDM shopping only when they have 20 x the points events. Now that a lot of the SDMs also sell food like milk (one of the cheapest places to buy milk), butter (when on sale they even have unsalted for the sale price) you can do a bit of grocery shopping as well. And also SDM is one of the cheapest places for eggs. Once you have saved 75000 points (really is not hard) you can cash them in for $150.00 worth of SDM products. There are some restriction but very few and I have never had a problem. What I do is save my points all year long and then before Christmas, I watch the flyers for the Saturday they have their points upgrade day. At this time you can cash in 75000 points and get $200.00 worth of products. I then will do all my Christmas stocking stuffers, and any other gifts I need. It is not unusual for my husband and myself to spend two hours at SDM and we will come out with $600.00 worth of stuff and only have had to pay the taxes! What is nice, especially at Christmas, is the stores have a lot of neat and different gift ideas and you can get products that you might not normally buy because of the cost. It's a time to splurge, we have bought ours and the teenagers camera's at SDM and it didn't cost us anything. We are saving our points this year and hoping to get a Wii for the family Christmas gift.
I also have a Master Card that lets me collect points on every purchase and then when I want I can cash them in for free groceries. This is another point system I save for the Christmas season and then I can buy the nice fancy cheese's, chocolates, and some grocerystores carry more than just food. All this is free for me. And as a added bonus I even earn points on my free purchases. Keep an eye on your monthly statements as sometimes they will have bonus points coupons you can use.
It seems now of days companies are desperate for our business and there are all kinds of loyality programs. My advice is to look for the ones at the stores you regularly shop at and join them. Be careful with the ones you pay for. Also when it comes to credit card loyality programs (like air miles) only get a card that you don't have to pay a yearly charge for. I know the CIBC Visa has a air miles card but it will cost you $100.00 dollars a year for the card. And with air miles you need so many points for even the smallest thing, it might not be worth it. I do have an air miles card and collect points when I can but I don't normally go out of my way to get the points. The corner grocery store near me has a air miles program so it does come in handy. Last year when we went to Disneyworld we were able to cash in the air miles for one child and one adult 5 day disney pass. And of course that was free but it had taken me over 5 years to save for those points!
My advice to all of you cheapskates like me is you must be organized and patient. Stay tuned to part two when I share some of my grocery shopping tips.