Quick, Easy Ways to Save Money

HOW TO SAVE MONEY: Quick, Easy Ways

 

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It’s easy to find occasions to spend money but occasions to save money are all around us too.  They just need a little more work because they are not publicized as much.  Here are a few fairly easy ones I used this week.

But first, think about something you really would like to do, either a trip, buying your first home, taking an art class and direct some of the saved money into that special project saving account.  It’s not just about not spending. It’s about putting your money into something that really means something for you.  That’s the reason you want to save money.

Wash with cold water.   Unless you are washing very dirty, oily clothes, using cold water to wash clothes works just fine.  Easier on your clothes.

Use less soap than what the laundry detergent box says you should.   Most of the clothes we wash – except for work clothes and some kids’ just need some refreshing.  Using less soap is also kinder to the fibres in clothes.

Install-use the clothesline.  I washed flanelette bedsheets this week and within 2 hours they were dry and smelling of Spring.  Your clothes dryer is one of the worse energy vampires in your home.

Hem those jeans, sew that button.  If need be, take a basic sewing class. Doing those small repairs saves money and time.  It will serve you well.

Bake that cake.  I baked a Queen Elizabeth cake yesterday.  I figure it cost me about $5.00 including the cream-butter-brown sugar caramel I drowned it in.  Same cake at a fancy pastry shop: at least $20.  As a bonus I reduced the amount of sugar used, so less calories and I added cranberries for some fibre.   Time needed prepare the cake: about 15 minutes.

Go for a walk and do body weight exercises.  I went for a long walk along the river on Friday.  The weather was gorgeous – beautiful Spring day.   Got some vitamin D from the sunshine, walking is weight bearing so good for the bones.  Used free weights at home for upper body strength training.  No gym membership needed.  Exercising in nature is also a great way to boost the mental well being.

Make coffee at home instead of using Tim’, or Second Cup, Starbucks or Bridgehead.  Buy the best coffee and brew it at home.  I save at least $58 a month by avoiding coffee shops, except once or twice a month when I treat myself to coffee on the patio.  If you usually buy specialty coffee and something to eat, calculate how much you could save by preparing your own treats at home (see above: learn to bake).  I know people who regularly spend around $200 a month on coffee and donuts!!!!! That’s almost $25,000 over 10 years!!! In coffee and donuts.  Insane.

Happy Easter

Marguerite

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6 Tips To Make The Best Use Of Your Income Tax Refund

This post may contain some affiliate links.  See my full disclosure here.HOW TO USE YOUR INCOME TAX REFUND

This is income tax season and many of you may be waiting for your income tax refund cheque. (If you owe the government money, stay tuned, I’ll bring it up in a post soon).

Money does not grow on trees – well paper does – but you can make your money grow when you use these tips.

It’s so tempting to think of the income tax refund as play money.  The tighter the budget, the greater the temptation, but I beg you to look at ways you can make that money work for you.

You’ve all heard how it’s not how much you make but how much you save and it’s absolutely true.  Spending more or as much as you make will leave you penniless and possibly homeless.

We women outlive men.  We women usually earn less than 75% of what a man earns.  The chances you will find yourself widowed or divorced are greater than the chances you will win at the lottery.  Women make up a large percentage of the poor after age 60.  Being poor in retirement sucks.

Before you decide where you will allocate your income tax refund, look at your financial picture.  What you owe, what you own, your savings, your investments, your age, your prospect for higher income, or not in the future, etc

This is important because of at least one reason.  If you don’t  expect your retirement income to be very significant, you should probably invest in a non registered retirement plan (Roth IRA (Us) TFSA (Canada) so as not to cut yourself from government supplement at retirement.  Do consult an advisor and inform yourself as to what is best for you.  Knowledge is power.

The first tips is to pay down your debts, but do keep some money to fill up your emergency fund too if you either have no emergency fund to speak of (like if you only have a few dollars saved).  In other words, don’t put all to reducing your debt because that will leave you at the mercy of credit should an emergency happen and it would just add to more debt.

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  • Pay your debts. Pay your credit card balance, your student loans or what you owe to your parents.   Start by paying the debt with the highest interest rate because that’s the one that steals the most money from you.  See paragraph above about saving some too, even if you have debts to pay.
  • Fill up your emergency fund.  First get it to $1,000, and eventually to having 6 months living expenses.  Imagine how free you will feel if you lose your job, or have medical emergencies.
  • Start a saving account or add to the one you already have.  Emergency fund is for emergencies.  Savings is for: a planned trip, a wedding, buying a house, a big celebration, changing your car, home improvements, etc.
  • Start investing for your retirement, add to your retirement fund.  The younger you start, the better for you as you will reap the rewards of compound interest.   Match your employer’s share and invest in a IRA or TFSA. When you can no longer make money you will thank your younger self for having had the forethought of taking care of you.
  • Invest in your education.  Whether in a course to help you get ahead in your work, or classes to prepare for another career.  I invested heavily in my education as a adult and it has allowed me to change career and find work I loved.  It has also allowed me to retire early and have a home business as a psychotherapist and life coach, and finally it is allowing me to continue working with this blog.  I am a big advocate of finding work you love so whether or not you make big money, you are excited to get up each morning.
  • Start the side business you’ve dreamt of for so long.  Retirement can be for 20, 25 years.  If you have the energy and you don’t do much, you will be bored to death!!! A side business can keep you mentally and physically active well into your golden years.

Then, keep a little to:

  • Treat yourself to something you’ve wanted for a long time.  Put a limit on it, like 5% of the income tax refund is for fun, 10% max(that’s if you have a very small refund).  My refund this year is $8.34 so I’ll spend it all.
  • Treat someone you love to a a small gift, a meal.  Limit: 5% or 10% max
  • Congratulate yourself for having done what’s best for you.

Is your income tax refund money free money?  In a way, yes as it can get you to financial “free-dom” much sooner than expected.

I hope I have convinced you to take action now to improve your financial wellbeing.  If so, please let me know, and do share this post on social media to help me reach more women.

Add even more to your nest egg by earning money while shopping

Related posts: http://www.makesenseoflife.com/emergency-fund/

Getting rid of debt

 

 

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Tips For Your Milestone Birthday: You Can Heal Your Past

Tips for Your Milestone Birthday: You Can Heal Your Past and Make Your 40’s The Best Decade Of Your Life

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase through those links, I may be paid a small commission, at no cost to you.

According to research, we are most happy before and after mid-life, or put another way, happiness levels dip at mid-life.  And if this was not enough to cry over, some studies suggest that the great apes, yes monkeys, also experience a dip in happiness around the same time (I am not kidding, there is research on that).

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There seems to be many factors that contribute to this sad state of affairs in your forties, when many people experience “the” middle-life crisis. But because the apes also go through the same “crisis”, it seems that biology plays a role in that phenomenon.

Some of the factors that seem to have an effect on human happiness in mid-life are the many demands of work, children and often aging parents.  It’s often a time when success is defined as having achieved the right job, the right neighbourhood, etc. and when many fall short of the expectations they had for themselves.

And, it’s a time when we realize we are looking at the second half of life and that can be a scary vantage point.

From my work with thousands of women both as a psychotherapist and a life coach, I discovered the three most important steps you can take to help you through those inescapable ups and downs of mid-life.  I call them the 3 Secrets to Make your 40’s the best decade of your life.

Even if biology normalizes a dip in your happiness, you don’t have to take it lying down.  Here is what you can do to build a personal foundation that will make you more resilient to face life’s challenges. Continue reading “Tips For Your Milestone Birthday: You Can Heal Your Past”

9 Top Tips: Stay Young after 40:Tips for your milestone birthtday: Beat Your Genes

Turning 40, 45 or 50 is a huge milestone for many women.  Milestone birthdays are often the time for reflection on the past as well as what you want the future to look like.  It can bring fears about the future and how you find your body is beginning to show signs of wear.   Whatever age you are right now, you are never too young or too old to improve your health and with some changes in your lifestyle, you can turn back the clock.

stay young after 40

Marguerite Tennier (makesenseoflife.com) is a participant in the Amazon.com.ca, Inc. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.ca.”

Some questions you may be asking yourself can be: do you go for one more child or more?  Can you imagine yourself in that same job until retirement?  Has your relationship with your significant other deteriorated to the point of no return or does it just need a bit (or lots) more attention?  Have you stopped doing what interests you?

The average life span for a North American woman is now 84.5.  That’s a lot of days from where you are now.  But it’s not just how long you live. It’s how much quality of life will you have in those later years?

How would you describe your your health?  Do you feel full of energy?  Do you treat your body well or have you stopped giving it the attention it deserves?  Have you let it slide so bad that you now fear going to the doctor or even looking at yourself in a full length mirror?  Do you feel young or do you already feel old?  It is totally possible to stay young, feel and look young well past 40.

Even if you have a family history of less than stellar healthy aging, what you do starting now can change the direction of your life. Studies show that lifestyle accounts for more than 70% of your health.  This means that even with bad genes, what you do can definitely tip the scale in your favor.

 John Rowe and Robert Kahn, authors of the MacArthur Foundation’s study called Successful Aging published in 1999, found that lifestyle accounts for 75% of healthy aging. Healthy aging is diminished by risk factors such as blood pressure, weight, and diabetes and reinforced by friendships. 

Today we will focus on your health, more specifically on your body and some steps you can take now to make sure it continues to serve you well for years to come.  You will be in a much better place to address your other concerns once you have your health under control.

9 TOP TIPS TO STAY YOUNG AFTER 40 (AND WELL BEYOND)

The first thing you must do is stop abusing your body. Continue reading “9 Top Tips: Stay Young after 40:Tips for your milestone birthtday: Beat Your Genes”

Stress: 9 Tips To Prepare And Defeat Stress

This post may contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through those links, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you.

Defeat Stress Like A Pro

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You already know you are stressed.  No need for a stress test. Learning to defeat stress is what you need and it can be lifesaving.  Stess is a fact of life.  The definition of stress is “demand made”.  We feel stressed when what we have or think we have is less than the sum of what is asked of us.

Life will keep on making demands on you and something in your upbringing may lead you to believe you don’t have what it takes to face certain situations.

I don’t want to minimize that some stressors can be totally frightening and yes, you can feel like a scared 5 year old, whether it’s losing your job, a divorce or worse yet, the death of a loved one.  A lot of how you react to stress may have to do with how stress was lived and dealt with when you were growing up and you can learn to be more resilient.

The problem with stress is that if you don’t learn to manage it, it does not go away and the next stressor can be the proverbial Continue reading “Stress: 9 Tips To Prepare And Defeat Stress”

Protect Yourself From The Big Banks

 

bank fraud,

If the astronomical profits banks declare each year and the by no means small fees they charge to make money with your money were not enough to show that banks are not your friends, the latest scandal with banks in Canada will surely convince you that indeed, banks are not your friends.  And if you are living elsewhere, remember, banks are banks everywhere in the world.  This article about the fraudulent activities of Wells Fargo says it all.

Protect Yourself From The Big Banks

The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) aired a program this month which featured bank employees speaking under the cover of anonymity.  The subject of the program was how a certain bank pressures employees to get customers to get more products than they need, can afford or want, and even sign them up without their knowledge.

A few days later, present and former employees of all 5 major Canadian banks contacted the CBC to tell how all banks push their employees to upsell the clients. Those upsells can be offering to increase the line of credit, the credit card limit, to re-mortgage and add other debts to the process, thus increasing the amount loaned, etc.

I personally remember two major issues with banks in the past.  The first one was about my mortgage.  When came time to renew with my bank, I first took some time to compare rates from other institutions to discover I could get a mortgage at a rate 3% lower than what my bank had offered me.

It was only when I talked about the rate at the other institution that my bank offered to match that rate.  Unfortunately for them, I decided to move my business to the other bank.

The other issue was bank fees.  My account gave me a preferential bank fee of $2. a month which was very good (I held my Investments with the bank).  I had the bad habit of not checking my  monthly statement.  Six months down the road I discovered a $14. monthly charge on the previous 5 statements.  When confronted, the bank told me it was an error.   I switched banks right there and then.

Since banks are not your friends, what do you need to do to make sure you protect yourself?

.  Verify your monthly statements

.  Negotiate the interest rate for your mortgage.  Better yet, deal with a mortgage broker who will get you the best

.  Comparison shop for bank fees.

.  Do not accept “extra” services or products from your bank unless you need them and have looked at what they involve.

.  When you shop for a mortgage, look at what you can afford, not what they will loan you.  Remember they do not really care whether you are mortgage poor.  As long as you can make the payments, they are happy to lend.  So make your maximum mortgage amount one that will let you save some money,  pay for your needs and leave some money for life and fun.

.  Investigate the online banks to save on fees, get free cheques and often better savings rates.  Some online banks are Schwartz,  Tangerine, Capital One 360, and PC Financial (as well as many others).   Before signing with any of them, comparison shop according to your needs.

………..

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7 Ways To Be Healthier (and Happier) 10, And Even 30 years From Now

This post may contain affiliate links.  If you buy through those links, I may make a small commission, at no cost to you.

 

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I distinctly remember a day in my early 30’s running for the bus and getting out of breath after a mere half-block run.

 

I was a smoker.  I was a heavy smoker.  Even though I walked everywhere, probably an hour a day, and I was not overweight, I was out of shape.  My lungs were clogged and my heart was in need of some work.  I decided to get healthier.

Fast forward 30 years and I am in better shape than on that fateful day.  I can hike for miles (with some stops on hilly terrain), walk for hours in town, I swim up to an hour non stop at the lake in the summer, dance and I don’t feel tired during the day.

What has happened to create that change? Continue reading “7 Ways To Be Healthier (and Happier) 10, And Even 30 years From Now”

Essential Tips to Outsmart Marketers and Keep More $$$

Keep more $$$ in your pockets

Whether you make $20,000 or $200,000 a year, you want to keep more $$$ in your pockets.

This  post may contain affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through those links, I will be paid a small commission, at no cost to you.

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I could have easily spent $10,000 this weekend.  In fact I (and you) can easily spend that much money every week.  This led me to think of ways to outsmart marketers and keep more $$$ in my pockets (and yours).

It happened as I visited my local coffee shop to pick up some coffee.  After paying I noticed the weekend papers on a table and decided to take a reading break. Well, that could have cost me dearly.

The first thing to catch my eyes was a colorful flyer Continue reading “Essential Tips to Outsmart Marketers and Keep More $$$”

10 Tips to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables Without Breaking the Bank

This post may contain affiliate links.  If you make  purchase through my link, I may be paid a small commission, at no cost to you.

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Fruits, vegetables.  It’s not easy to eat the daily recommended portions of fruits and vegetables but it’s important to find ways to eat enough.  As you move into your mid-forties, the need for even better nutrition is obvious as we struggle to keep our weight in check.  Vegetables become our best friend as they help us keep a full belly with the highest nutritional value and the lowest caloric intake.

With winter in full swing, higher prices and less choices,  I still want to make sure I keep on eating the daily recommended 6 to 10 portions of vegetables (4-8) and fruits( 2 or 3).  But with asparagus often at $5. a pound, I have come up with alternatives Continue reading “10 Tips to Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables Without Breaking the Bank”

Budgeting: A Place For Home Insurance, Whatever Your Age

 

This post could have been titled “How would you feel if you had to come up with $20,000 or even just $10,000 overnight?”

Every once in a while as I watch the news, I hear people of all ages who have been displaced when fire destroyed their apartment.  What breaks my heart every time is when I hear many of them say they have lost everything except the clothes on their back because, horror,  they did not have home insurance

home insurance

 

Yes, No home Insurance!  While you may not need life insurance if you don’t have dependents, you always need home insurance.   This kind of insurance is usually part and parcel of getting a mortgage, but many renters either have never heard of the need for home insurance or have managed to convince themselves they did not need it or could not afford it.  If you rent, the owner’s insurance does not cover your belongings.

What they could not afford is what happens when tragedy strikes Continue reading “Budgeting: A Place For Home Insurance, Whatever Your Age”