"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Beware of 'Buy X, get Y Free' offers

In my last post, I mentioned a 'buy beer, get free oranges' promotion at my local IGA. I arrived there and was given a bag of pathetic oranges, most of which were rotten. Needless to say, I didn't take the offer. The price of the beer wasn't worth the two or three decent oranges in the bag. Yet, I know some people who would have bought the beer anyway just to get that mouldy bunch of oranges, unable to resist something 'free' and not realising what it's actually worth.

Then, there are free offers that actually make sense.

I went to Payless yesterday to get summer footwear. I don't buy my everyday footwear there because their shoes don't hold up to the amount of walking I do, but I do like to get special occasion shoes that I'll only wear once or twice, as well as sandals. No matter what price I pay for sandals, I wear them through in one season, so I prefer to 'stock up' on a bunch of cheap sandals at places like Payless, Walmart, and Zellers and have some variety for the summer than to buy one really expensive pair. At any rate, this week there was a BOGO sale (buy one, get one free) and an additional promotion I was not aware of until I got to the cash.

I browsed the offerings and found two cute pairs for 5$ and 10$ each, reduced from 25$. They weren't worth 25$, but at 5$ and 10$, they were definitely worth it. I also picked out two pairs at a full price of 35$. I figured that with the BOGO offer I'd pay full price for the two most expensive pairs, then get the cheaper ones for 2.50$ and 5$. Nope! One of the 35$ pairs was given to me half price and also the 10$ pair! Then I was told that by buying four pairs of shoes, I was allowed a free pair of slippers. Skeptical, I gave the clerk my size and then she came out with two pairs of furry sequin-covered monstrosities, one in hot pink and one in black. I decided to take the black pair without examining it too closely since I needed slippers and figured that if they turned out to be a dud, I could toss them out. As it turns out, the slippers are extremely comfortable (heavenly comfortable!) and I love them!!! There was a price tag on them of 25$. There's no way I would have paid 25$ for these things, but I'm glad I have them! At any rate, I got 115$ worth of shoes I'll actually wear for 68$!!!

Finally, I replaced my wig this week and received a generous package of quality bath salts. I wouldn't recommend that anyone buy a 350$ wig in order to get free bath salts, but they were a good compromise for the fact that this year they weren't giving me 10% off my wig because of my medical condition. I use bath salts, hence why I'm satisfied. If they'd offered me, say, hair styling products for my wig, I would have said no thanks.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Interesting Promotion...

Here in Quebec we get a weekly 'Publi Sac' ('advertisement bag') filled with flyers from local merchants. I've never paid much attention to them, but resolved to make a change now that I've decided to do some conscientious grocery shopping.

Inside the bag, I found flyers for five grocery stores: IGA, Loblaws, Maxi, Super C, and Metro.

IGA has for a long time been my store of choice for price, quality, and selection. I also like that I can rack up Airmiles with each purchase. Loblaws/Provigo is okay for the odd grocery trip, but I tend to find it more expensive and the stores are just too big with too much miscellanea. Shopping there is always an expedition. Maxi and Super C have decent prices on what they have in stock, but you can't get everything there. I have no idea where the nearest Metro is, so no opinion on that store.

All that to say that I will continue to focus on IGA. It's still the most convenient for me and I'm most familiar with their prices.

As I went through the flyer, I noted on the back of an envelope the specials for products I used that seemed to be good bargains. The few that required coupons (to get extra Airmiles), I also cut out the coupon and put it in the envelope.

At the back of the flyer was the most interesting promotion I've ever seen at a grocery store: by a 12 pack of beer and get 4lbs of oranges free.... I'll definitely be taking them up on that one!

I did flip quickly through the Maxi flyer and found 398mL cans of Del Monte fruit for 1$ each, which is a real bargain. Since Maxi isn't a detour on the route home from IGA, I might stop off there when I'm done at IGA.

Monday, which signals the arrival of my fridge, so I can finally go grocery shopping, can't come quickly enough!!!


One of the very first things I did after taking possession of my new home was to complete a purification.

I began by inviting and welcoming my gods into my home and asked them to overlook the purification and bless my new abode.

Then, I adapted Scott Cunningham's four elements purification as described in his book The Magical Household. I will obviously not reproduce the spell here (get a copy of the book, it is excellent), but I will describe the slight modifications I made.

My new home has three stories, which include a hard to access basement. So, I did the purge on the two levels to start. With each pass, the 1st and 2nd stories felt brighter and more homey, while the basement began to feel sinister. When I was done purifying the two levels, I then used a bit of each of the elements to do one pass through the basement. I carefully shone a light into all the dark corners of that creepy place until it felt like my own private dungeon. When I was done, the whole house seemed new and clean and my own. I then tossed my used supplies out the back door to purify my outdoor space. I should point out here that the 'supplies' included some salt water, a bit of burnt candlewick, and some incence ashes, nothing that is too environmentally damaging.

I cannot over emphasize the importance of spiritually purifying your new home, and updating that purification whenever you feel that negative energy has settled into neglected corners.

Tomorrow, I will do a sort of reverse purification at my old home as I sweep it clean of all the residual energy from my old life to prepare the home for new owners.


Water is my beverage of choice.

One of the most common pieces of frugal advice that I encounter is 'don't pay for something that comes free out of your tap.' What if what comes out of my tap tastes bad?

Except for the very occasional purchase of beer and 100% fruit juice, I don't buy liquid calories. I'm happiest drinking water all the time, so I made the decision many, many years ago that the water in my house was going to taste good. Anyone who says that 'water is water' doesn't know water. Some water tastes like absolutely nothing, some has a slightly mineral taste, some tastes mouldy, some tastes like chlorine, some tastes like sewer pipes, some tastes earthy, some tastes peaty....

So, for years the answer has been Brita (TM) filters. At my last house, which was in the country, the tap water (from a spring-fed well) tasted great about nine months of the year, so I only used filters in the spring when the water wasn't so good. I've never calculated how much Brita filters cost me, but guesstimating here, one filter costs about 15$ and lasts about 3 months, so I'm looking at a 'habit' that costs me less than 100$ per year. Then I have to add in the bottles of water that I buy. I get a lot of comments for buying bottled water, sometimes at 2$ a pop. I made a decision a long time ago that a) I wasn't going to go thirsty and b) I wasn't going to drink something I wouldn't give to my cat. I don't drink bottled water because it's supposed to be healthier or whatever the manufacturers claim; I drink it because it doesn't have that nasty tap water chemical/sewage taste and aftertaste.

All that to say that I used to buy juice and milk, as well as my Brita filters. When I started to trim my budget, I started with juice, then milk got cut out naturally when I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. To me, being frugal doesn't mean cutting out everything but making conscious spending choices. Having tasty water is important to me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


My initial plan was to organize myself as I unpacked, basically to put everything away 'perfectly' as I unpacked. Working on the kitchen, I'm seeing how unrealistic that plan was.

Having lived in mild to total chaos for about seven years, I'm desperately craving a Martha Stewart-style house. I know that's not realistic, but believe that a compromise can be reached.

So, my revised plan is to put things where they should go, neatly, and to organize later. My yearly schedule includes reminders to 'organize/clean/declutter' three drawers/a closet/a shelf on a regular basis.

With that in mind, I've folded all my linens and put them away in the linen armoire, but in no order whatsoever. As for the kitchen, the tricky spot is the plastic containers (a classic problem, apparently). What I'm doing is matching containers to lids. Once I have a container with a lid, the lid goes into a basket and the container gets stacked with similar-shaped containers. Finding a lid won't always be easy, but I'll know for sure that there's a lid for whatever container I'm holding. (Personally, I believe that plastic container lids disappear to the same place as do lost socks....) This way, I can find everything in relatively short order and I'm not embarrassed to open the linen armoire or the kitchen cabinets.

Another thing I'm doing now that shops are so close by is to get my organizing items, like baskets, on an as needed basis, instead of listing them and buying everything at once. This means that a) the cost is spread out and b) I'm dealing with a trouble spot as it shows up. This might not sound frugal in that the items might not be on sale at the moment, but I think it's best to buy things you need than things you might need... Also, there is a huge scale of prices in organizing products. For example, I wanted a three drawer plastic tower to put in the upstairs hall closet to hold overflow bathroom products. I found a whole row of them, priced 19.99$ to 49.99$ until I found some simple, non 'design' ones for... 9.99$. Perhaps if the tower had been out in the open I would have been tempted to splurge on a 'nicer' one, but for the purposes of this exercise, the 9.99$ tower was perfect.

Another thing is to keep an open mind. On that same trip, I was looking for rectangular baskets into which I could store my dish towels, rags, and dish cloths. Normally, I would have these in a drawer in the kitchen, but drawer space is limited here. So, I thought of commandeering space in the pantry or out on an open shelf. I looked at baskets and couldn't believe the prices. The best bargains were for nested baskets, but I'm not crazy about those since I'm usually trying to get several baskets in the same size. Deciding that I wasn't ready to spend 20$ per basket, I resigned myself to getting a plastic bin, but I couldn't believe the prices for those, too! I wandered around the Canadian Tire some more and suddenly stumbled on two lone 'sea grass' baskets reduced to 6.49$ each from 13.99$ each! They weren't exactly the shape I'd wanted (rectangular with sloped sides rather than straight sides), but the size was suitable, they were much prettier than plastic bins, and they were a bargain! I snatched them up and haven't regretted it!

The Ikea unit I purchased in 'like new' used condition for 75$ instead of 125$ was also a great purchase. It fits in the other half of the upstairs closet and leaves me horizontal room for my laundry hamper, vertical room for my longer coats, and plenty of bin storage for hats, mitts, shoes, and all sorts of other odd bits.

Since I'm only renting this place, I'm trying to avoid buying things that will fit absolutely 'perfectly' into a specific place here but which will translate well to another home. So, I'm splurging on a lot of organizational products for the furniture I own and will be taking with me to Manitoba... something I should have done a long time ago!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The last week and a half has been pure delight. My new home is so beautiful and clean and it's wonderful to set up house in it.

I've been working at it progessively since I don't have all my furniture and things yet (the hurricane lands on Monday). I've managed to set up most of the bedroom, bathroom, and bedroom, with some just a few things left to do for each of those rooms.

Moving is not a naturally frugal event for me, but I've managed to somewhat balance desires and thrift this time around. For example, I wanted a specific over-the-toilet cabinet, which was a full 60$ more expensive than the 'plain' version of the same cabinet. Still, I shopped around and found it for fully 30$ less at CDN Tire than at Zellers (!) so the difference between 'plain' and' fancy' was reduced by half.

I also need new bookcases (a real necessity in this case) and had my eye on specific Ikea bookcases that would have set me back 800$-1,000$. It's money I'll have in a few months, but not now, so I resigned myself to laminate. I thought I could go with 'Billy' bookcases, but at 75$ a pop, they, too, were more than I was ready to commit to at this time. Well, I lowered my standards of looking for brown 'Billy' bookcases and started to look at offers for other colours. Imagine that I found 3 for 75$ in black and 3 for FREE in white! Now, I have more than enough bookcases AND they're being Ikea means that I'll be able to recoup some, if not all, of the money I spent to buy them and lug them home when I'm ready to upgrade to the bookcases I want. Six 'Billy' bookcases for the price of one! Now, how's that for frugal?!