Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”- Mark Twain

Monday, March 15, 2010

Discount Vacations - Go on two for the price of one!

I'm a travel junkie. I love traveling, love lying on the beach, and love seeing new places. If I could travel every month, I would be the happiest person ever. Being on a tight budget makes you get creative when you've been bitten by the travel bug.

First, it all depends on what you are looking for in traveling. If you have your heart set on a specific resort, location, date, room or large number of people going with you then it will be harder to find a bargain. Luckily there are usually only 2 of us traveling, but sometimes 4.

We've had great success with booking "last minute" deals. Usually I know if I am going to go down south that year, so can have some money set aside. We usually have a time frame we'd like to travel, such as mid February, and plan for that. A month or two before, we start looking for deals. There are so many options! A number of times I've taken vacations for $1000.00 per person (all inclusive ,including taxes) that have cost someone who didn't book last minute $1700.00. We were there for the same days, the same type of room, etc. The only difference was, I booked the end of Jan, and they booked in October. They knew they would get that resort, and I found a resort with an opening.

I've just discovered discount cruising. I have been on a cruise before, years ago with my parents for Christmas. So this time I decided to research into the cruise companies to see who offers what. I've found that Royal Caribbean has a policy that if you book at one rate, and find the price for your cruise has gone down (unless it says for new bookings only), you can get the cruise at the lowered rate!

We've recently booked our first ever "large vacation", We booked a cruise about 10 months before sailing. I check the rate everyday. A few weeks after we booked, our cruise price was dropped by $500.00 per person! That saved us $1000.00 in one simple phone call. Now they tell us that it most likely will be lowered again, since we are still 6 months out from our sailing date. I find this new policy to be incredible. I've seen some cruise last minute deals, and they are a phenomenal rate. As long as this cruise doesn't sell out, we can get it for the lowest rate advertised, up to a few days before sailing. I'm loving this policy. I'm told Celebrity Cruise has the same policy, but I don't know that for certain as I've never looked.

This move on Royal Caribbean's part most likely just increased our cruising trips! I love when large companies give a break to their customers!

There are some really great travel companies out there that sell off last minute vacations. If you do a quick Google search for some in your area, I'm sure you can find some good deals!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finding Deals Online - One of the best tools!

There are some REALLY great websites out there for finding great deals on pretty much anything. I know I have learned so much about saving money from various internet sites. It was also surprising that there were so many people out there looking for the exact same thing I was - to save money!

I personally started my online deals chatting on a website called Smart Canucks. It's a Canadian based website that has blogs, deals postings by members, great coupon links, and even contests. There is a wealth of knowledge on there. I've been able to save quite the chunk of change on items I would have bought regardless. They also quite often have a list of coupons to use with flyer deals, which can save you some time from sitting down and figuring this each week.

There is a new website that was just recently started called Flyers Coupons Canada. In my opinion this is going to be even better than what Smart Canucks is now (if that is possible), because everything seems so organized. Rather than looking for a deal under "Deals Section", there is a category for pretty much every chain store you can think of in Canada. It does make it a lot easier to find deals for my grocery store this way. There is also a blog page, and a reviews page, where customers can review products and stores they've tried. I'm very excited for this website!

Both websites have a community of like-minded friendly people. There is a chat forum for misc. conversation where you can even make online friends. or discuss whatever you feel like. I encourage anyone who is looking to start trying to stuff their piggy bank to check out both of these websites. I'm sure you'll find them very useful!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Staying Out of the Red

Being on a tight income, I can completely understand how some people can get their selves in trouble with credit cards and lines of credit. The one thing that has been a life saver to me is that I've never "gone to town" with credit, which then results in debt.

Now of course when I bought my new car, it was purchased on a bank loan. I am currently only 2 years into my 5 year loan. I do in the near future hope to have a mortgage for our own home. This isn't the type of debt I'm talking about.

Purchasing shoes, clothes or even TVs on the ol' Visa IS what I am talking about. I've found if I need these items, I can budget them in. Paying in cash is oh so much better than throwing down the credit card, signing and forgetting until 30 days later when the rude reminder comes in the mail.

I found if I budget $100.00 per month for "Extra Shopping", I can still buy what I want, without feeling deprived. If I want a new pair of cute shoes for $50, I buy them. I'll still have $50.00 left that I can spend on something else, or save for next time. I REALLY wanted a LCD TV. I saved 7 months of my "Extra Shopping" money, and bought exactly what I wanted at a boxing day sale. Not something I could have done before my budgeting days had started.

Easier said than done I realize, as I too once in awhile would purchase things on credit and forget about them until the bill came. However, once I started budgeting for them, and even saving my budgeted money for bigger items I may want, I was able to get things easier than I thought and there was no bill in the mail as a reminder.

One less bill is one less stress! :)


Selling or Buying on Kijiji or Yardsale Group = $$

I'm not talking about a yard sale here. Well maybe I am, as those generate some income for unused items as well, but I'm talking about selling larger things on Kijiji or even Yard sale groups on popular networking sites (Face Book for instance).

I decided I would try to sell some items around my house that were in good shape, but just sitting around collecting dust. I found an old MP3 player that I had before I discovered the Ipod world, a bookcase, a TV stand, some jackets, some boots, a car cover that I've never taken out of the box, etc. I listed all of these items, and within one week they were all sold. Like I've mentioned before, I live in a small town, so there are less people close by to buy my stuff, but still everything sold. The least amount I sold an item for was $10 for a pair of boots.

Not only did I get to have some much valued closet space back, I made some extra cash too!

Now on the other hand, I have purchased some really good things here. When it came time to buy a new living room furniture set, we found a beautiful beige leather sofa & love seat on Kijiji for $350.00, without a scratch on it. Before we had found this, we had planned on purchasing a similar set new for $1200.00 (plus tax). For us, this was a savings of $850.00.

Also, my antique claw foot dining room table set cost us $200.00, and just needed a bit of paint on the legs. There are some amazing deals from people who just want to update their furniture, so sell what they have for VERY good prices. It's well worth checking out in your area if you are in the market for any large or even smaller house hold items.

I find online yard sale shopping can be very addictive, so I only allow myself to go online and look if there is a specific item that I need (I.E. Living room furniture). Otherwise, by buying items I do not need, just because of the great price defeats the savings.


Using Coupons WITH Flyers. Lightbulb on!

Coupons. Little pieces of paper I had walked past in aisles of stores, and flipped past in magazine's for as long as I can remember. My mother, (who as I mentioned earlier is an avid coupon clipper), came to mind when I was trying to figure out how to crop my grocery budget.

I decided it was worth a try and gathered some coupons here and there. I began using them on items I bought regularly on the grocery list. $0.50 off of bathroom tissue here, $1.00 off of paper towel there. A few cents off crackers or cleaning products. It was a help no doubt, but it didn't really add up to that much of a difference on the weekly grocery bill. I decided to go directly to the pro, my mom, for advise.

Apparently, unbeknown to me, the secret to coupons is using them on products that are already on sale! Ahh, that makes sense! When the flyers came that week I sat down and did some math with my coupons in hand. So many items! Our local grocery store quite often has a Buy 1, Get 1 Free sale. So, you can actually use two coupons. Paper towel goes on sale for $3.99 Buy One, Get One Free. You have two $1.00 coupons, so you now get two 6 packs of paper towel for $1.99, or $0.99 a pack! To add to my excitement, there really are some high value coupons out there if you know where to find them. My latest coupon excitement was finding a pile of shampoo in a discount cart for $1.00 each, and I had a coupon that said Buy 2 save $2.50. Not only did I get the shampoo free (except for taxes), but I also got an extra $0.50. At this moment I understood why coupons are such a great thing!

Now, finding good coupons can be hard. Most grocery stores, drug stores or even some department stores will have coupons on the shelves or by the entrance. This is where I get probably 25% of the coupons I have. Newspapers, magazines and weekly flyers often have coupons in them as well. Signing up for email newsletters directly from company's can sometimes score some good coupons through email. However, the best coupons I've been able to find come from online. There are a few great websites that you can sign up with. They allow you to choose which coupons you would like, and they mail (snail-mail) them directly to you. One of my favorites websites is

I do live in a small town, so the choice of stores here is limited. However, I average a savings of about $20.00-$30.00 per month on coupons. Some months are better than others depending on the current sales in the flyers. Living in an area where there are more stores to choose from, would defiantly increase the savings. Sometimes when I'm going out of town, I'll do some shopping at a differnt grocery store and score even bigger savings.

The hardest part for me is to only buy what I need. It's very tempting find out that I could buy baby lotion for next to nothing with a coupon. But unless I am going to a baby shower, I have no use for baby lotion. Sticking with what we need and/or will use can be challenging.

Say my monthly coupon savings is $25.00 per month. This will give me $300.00 per year to stuff into my piggy bank. This number is most likley going to increase for anyone who has a larger family to buy for, as more of the coupons could be used. My coupon savings is based on a household of two adults.

Happy clipping!


Cell Phones

I had originally started to discuss this in my last post, but the more I wrote the more I realized this should have it's very own spot.

When I had my original sit down to go over my budget, I really thought about my cell phone. For years, I had paid a monthly contract cell phone bill. My bill had been around $60.00 each month. I did have two extras on my cell package, Caller ID and the smallest text messaging package. I'd never used internet, bought games, or anything else extra on my cell.

I know to some people, their cell phone is like an extended body part that they can't live without. I am not one of those people. I sit beside a telephone all day at work, and then have a lovely well working home phone. The main reason I have a cell phone is because I do live in Canada, and it does snow here. I have a 20 minute commute to work, and if I happen to find myself in a snowbank I'd like to be able to call someone to get me out. Other than that, I may only use my cell phone once a week, and it's usually a 15 second conversation that is similar to "Do we need anything at the grocery store before I come home?".

I just could not justify spending $60.00 a month on this. Again, something I'd paid for for years, and I just started to question this when writing out my budget. From my experience, I have yet to find a cell phone provider who treats it's customers well, so why was I forking over all of this extra cash?

I went to my cell phone provider, and switched my monthly contract to a pre-paid package. I admit it took quite awhile for this to actually happen, and many not so polite phone calls. But after a few months, it was switched. I didn't get any extras at all on my new package. I can now make a $25.00 pre-paid card last two months, if not more. This is over $90.00 every two months, or $540.00 per year, stuffed into my piggy bank!

PS: I LOVE this Zack Morris cell phone picture! Too funny!

First Thing's First - Discover Your Budget & Shave Off Extras!

Although this seems like it would be a given, writing out your exact monthly budget can really be an eye opener and a great starting point to stuffing your piggy bank. I thought I knew my budget before I started my money saving journey, but truthfully I didn't know it as well as I thought I did until I seen it written out in front of me.

I started by writing out my monthly after deductions income. I get paid every two weeks, the same amount (salary). Next, I listed my re-occurring monthly bills. Car payment, rent, telephone bill, power bill, cell phone, gas, groceries, etc. This was really an eye opener as to how much I have left over. To be fair, I do live with my boyfriend, and we split living expenses right down the middle.

My next step was to shave off what I could from my monthly bills. Do I really need the long distance plan on my home phone? I rarely ever call anyone out of my calling area. Answer, no. One less monthly charge. Do I really need super-ultra-amazingly-jet-like wireless high speed internet? No, not really, regular high speed internet is just fine for me, considering between my boyfriend and I, we might use it one hour a day. Many monthly bills have little extras that can be shaved off, if you sit down and look at them. Any savings off of these bills will result in more money in your piggy bank rather than in the piggy bank of a huge company.

By downsizing just these two bills, I've saved $10.00 per month on my home phone bill and $20.00 per month off of my internet bill. Total savings of $30.00 per month, or $360.00 per year!

I then tallied up all of my bills, many now lower than they had been since I'd gotten rid of the extras I didn't need. I realized that I can pay all of my monthly living expenses in one (whole) pay cheque. This leaves the second monthly pay cheque all mine. Funny how I'd never noticed this before. It seemed like I was always strapped for cash, but come to find out I just wasn't spending wisely. The first thing that popped into my mind was Scotia Bank's slogan "You're Richer Than You Think". LOL!

By doing this simple step, it brought me back to reality of my spending budget. Now that there is a good starting point, working on other areas of the budget can take priority.


Welcome to Stuff the Piggy Bank!

I've decided to start a blog on simple everyday tips on how to grow the piggy bank. I'm a late twenties female, and I live in NS, Canada. I works full time as a Sales Assistant in a manufacturing company. My income is not something to brag about believe me, but my income pays my bills fine. I did really have to struggle and save for any extras I wanted, so one day I decided to sit down and do something about it.

I come from a back ground of "Penny Pincher's". For as long as I can remember, my mother has clipped coupons and shopped for on-sale items, like a vulture. It wasn't until I moved out onto my own that I really learned to appreciate the skill that I once considered silly as a teenager.

I've discovered many valuable tips on how to save money. Mind you, I've only started my money saving journey a few years ago, but I am now starting to reap the benefits.

I am by no means a professional in the finance industry, but merely sharing easy money saving tips that have worked for me, to make my tight budget a little easier. I look forward to sharing some tips I've learned, as well as more I hope to discover in the future! :)