How to save $7,171.20 a year

How to save $7,172.20 a year

I thought it would be good to discuss the topic of budgeting. As a young couple starting out its difficult to get caught up in the hype of decorating, entertaining and owning the latest and greatest IPods, TV’s, phones, etc. I know, because it happened to us. When we moved in together we wanted everything to be perfect right from the start; we didn’t want to wait to get new…everything. We wanted it now. New TV, new touch screen computer, new DSLR camera, new furniture, you get the drift. We went overboard! We had everything you could imagine but was it worth it? I’m going to say no. We had a vision of starting our life together that included all of these wonderful things, we somehow believed these ‘things’ would make life more enjoyable and maybe the euphoric stage did last for a week and yes, i’ll be honest, we loved every second of it. But after that week came the realization that this new ‘thing’, whether it was the new computer, a trip dwn south or the ‘I had to have it’ iPad, cost us a lot of money. See, the problem was, we didn’t think it was a problem because we justified it to ourself, we worked hard and deserved these things and often paid for these items up front meaning, to us, we could afford it. I’ll tell you this, just because its in your bank account doesn’t mean you can afford it. Unless, of course, you’ve already put money into savings, RRSP’s and your emergency fund. We didn’t do that. And now, here we are at the end of the year with tons of stuff, a beautiful home, and didn’t save a penny. Well, 2013 will be different and this is why:
1. We’re only spending cash. Each week we’ll be withdrawing a set amount of money to spend on our variable expenses; transportation, food, entertainment, clothing and gifts, and other.
2. I have set up an automatic withdrawal from my chequing account into a ‘planned spend account’. This will be for vacations and big purchases. No more oh a whim trips down south or new electronics. Anything over $300 will be paid for using our planned spend account.
3. You know all that change in your car, in your pockets, etc? It adds up. I asked Tony to get all the change in his car plus empty our wallets of change and I put it in a bowl and every time we get home we add change from the day into this jar. Guess what? That change in our car and wallets totalled a whopping $72! In nickels, pennies, quarters and loonies and toonies. Every few weeks we’ll be rolling that money, bringing it to the bank and adding it to our planned spending account.
4. Contribute to work RRSP’S! My company matches my contribution so the fact that I haven’t done this yet and I’ve been with the company for almost 3 years makes me so angry with myself.
5. We quit smoking! That saves us a whopping $3700 a year!!! And I feel GREAT!
6. Bring your lunch to work. I go with my friends to buy their lunch and they typically spend about $8-$9 on lunch EACH day! That’s over $2000 a year. I’ll be honest, there have been days I have forgotten my lunch but if I do, I make my way down to Ethernet work cafeteria and buy a soup. It’s $3 and very satisfying. If you don’t like making lunch the night before or in the morning just make extra dinner and set aside your lunch BEFORE you put dinner on the table. If I see food in front of me, I eat it.
7. Make your coffee at home in the morning. Tony and I got coffee every morning totalling $3.62 a day. I did this because I hated home brewed coffee and thought buying discs for a Tassimo or Keurig was going to get pricey. Guess what? That Tassimo is saving me TONS of money. I got mine on sale from Sears for $68 and buy my T-discs from Costco (84 for $29=$0.35 each) and the coffee is delicious. If you feel you need a pick me up after lunch try bringing some tea bags and using the hot water machine at work. The caffeine will give you the same effect that a coffee will. Want to see how much your saving? .70/ day is $182+(one time fee)68=$250 a year. 3.62/ day is $941.20 a year. Total savings =$691.20!!
8. Pick up a container of almonds or trail mix and leave that at your desk. Everyone knows about the 2 o’clock sugar rush. Keep your money in your pocket and open your drawer for a healthy, filling snack. If nuts don’t satisfy you try bringing a box of granola bars (or cookies) to work. If its the walk that your missing, then take a walk to the cafeteria and fill up your water bottle. Total savings on a coffee and treat at an average of $3/ day is $780 a year.
So far we’ve saved $7,171.20 a YEAR!!!

My Home – An Introduction

A year and a half ago, Tony and I made the life altering decision to buy our first home together. After months of searching for the perfect place to call home, we came across a little bungalow in Toronto with a backyard that backed onto a ravine. I was sold. It was a small bungalow with only 2 bedrooms but had the added bonus of having a self contained basement apartment. Considering this was our first home, the security of knowing we could rent out our basement was comforting. We proceeded with an offer. Once it was time for the home inspection we made sure the important (and often expensive) elements of the home were up to par. Newer roof, good windows, waterproofed and updated wiring and plumbing. The only problem was it was dated. Very, very dated. That’s no problem for a couple of DIY dorks, in fact, we were so excited to start ripping the house apart and transforming this little guy into the beauty she is today.
Here are some pics of our home today but dont get too attached, we change things a lot around here

This is the outside of our home; we cleaned it up a bit by painting the porch($30), laying new grass($200 for materials), adding a walkway ($20 for grout, the pavers came to us free from a family friend who had extra after a big job) installing a new door(Gift from my mom) and adding in a small flagstone garden($0 for flagstone, $40 for plants).
Grand Total $270
Practically Made A Mini Home Tour

This is our living room, all we needed to do here was paint ($40) and add new curtains ($50). I’ll get into greater detail about the DIY projects in another post.
Grand Total $90
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Our dining room has changed about 150 times. We’ve had too many themes to list here but one day I’ll tackle a “dining room evolution” post. Today, the room is white ($0 because I used leftover paint) with a fun paisley wallpaper ($25/roll =$75)
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Oh the kitchen! This is one of my favourite transformations, I can’t wait to post the before pics in a post dedicated to the kitchen itself. In a nutshell, we ordered the cabinets for $1500 and put this guy together ourself, bought new appliances on sale for a grand total of $2000 (including the hood range!!) and the island was something my mom was throwing out that I knew would add a great element of distinction between the living room and kitchen. In a future post I’ll show you what a difference this little guy made in making the room feel much more “complete”.
Practically Made A mini Home tour

Here’s a shot of the whole enchilada
Practically Made A mini Home tour

I hope you enjoyed this mini home tour. I can’t wait to share with you all the details that went into making this house the perfect little home.

xox,
Vanessa

Kale Pasta

Practically Made {Kale Pasta}
Today is the third day I’m posting about a kale recipe and I’m happy to announce that one bunch of kale got me through three healthy and hearty meals.
Day 3 is a hearty kale pasta recipe I whipped up with my remaining kale. I figured another broth based recipe would not go over well with Tony so I gave the man some carbs while still adding to our daily veggie intake. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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Ingredients
1bag orecchiette
1/3 a bunch of kale, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
Zest of half a lemon
1 teaspoon butter

Directions
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add 1 bag of orecchiette pasta.
In the meantime, add your olive oil and garlic to a skillet until hot, about 1 minute, now go ahead and add your chopped kale.
Practically Made {Kale Pasta}
The goal is to get the kale nice and crispy but not burnt! Stir periodically for about 5-7 minutes then add bread crumbs and combine until well coated. Remove from heat.
Practically Made {Kale Pasta}
At this point you should be ready to drain your pasta but be sure to keep 1/3 cup of pasta water to help thicken our kale sauce.
Practically Made {Kale Pasta}
Once drained, combine your kale mixture and pasta water together and mix while adding in butter and Parmesan. Once mixed, add a drizzle of lemon to taste an serve immediately.

Kale and Quinoa Soup

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I’ve been on a soup binge lately. I am loving it during these cold winter days and the health benefits are sure to promote glowing skin and a happy gut.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do

Ingredients
1/3 Cup dry Quinoa
1 Box vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 onion (chopped)1 cup carrots (chopped)
1 Cup Celery (chopped)
1 can Red Kidney Beans (drained and rinsed)
2 Cups raw Kale (chopped large)
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Salt

Directions
Add your celery, carrots cumin and salt to the vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your quinoa, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add your red kidney beans and kale and cover for another 3-4 minutes.
Viola! Easy, healthy dinner that you can cover and store up to 3 days. I even put mine in a spill proof container and brought it to work and ate it cold. It was delicious!!!

Every Girl Needs Pink Napkins

I’ve been feeling really crafty lately, even more so than usual. This burst of energy brought me to this latest project; Pink Napkins! I plan on DIYing a fun pattern; maybe polka dots? Chevron? Perhaps I’ll even try my hand at a Moroccan pattern. Before I share the final product I wanted to share my first Dying experience.

I chose to dye my napkins Fuschia and used Rit brand in Fuschia #12. I purchased mine at Michael’s for around $3 but you can purchase them online in packs of 6 for around $2/pack.

What you’ll need
1 Package Rit Dye
100ML Salt
1500ML HOt water
4 Cotton (or other natural fiber) napkins
1 Plastic tub
Rubber gloves

Directions
Prewash your 4 napkins to remove any residue on your napkins.
Once you’ve washed and dried them (I tossed mine in the dryer to let them to thier shrinking thing) wet your napkins and prepare your dye
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I made my dye in a dollar store tub and added 100ml of salt, 1 package of dye and 500ml of hot water (300ml boiling, 200ml hot). using your hands or a paint stick, mix your solution until disolved and add in your napkins.

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Slowly add another 500ml of hot water and stir around for about 10 minutes.
Add the remaining 500ml and let stand for another 15 minutes while you pinterest/text/instagram.

Once your napkins are ready you’ll notice they are slightly darker in colour then waht you would probably expect fuschia to look like. That’s normal. Once you begin the rinsing step all the excess dye will wash out and you’ll be left with fabulous hot pink napkins.

One by one, rinse each napkin, ring out and set aside in one part of the sink (I used my stainless steel sink and didn’t ahve to worry about it staining).
Once you’ve rinsed each napkin to the point the water runs clear I suggest running the water on all the napkins. It will look like this:

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Let dry and tada! Pink napkins! I suggest tossing them in the dryer to see your results quicker but I rent out my basement and have made an agreement with my tenant here we each use the laundry once/week. This turned out to save us tons of money and we plan to follow this routine even if we are not renting out our basement.

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What I learned from my First exerience
■Some fabric takes the dye differently. I used 100% cotton and have fairly happy with the final result. What I did learn was that finding 100% cotton napkins for a decent price can be difficult. Before reading about dying I purchased 8 napkins from Wal Mart for $8 (4/pack @ $4 each). Then I realized polyester doesn’t take dye…I realized this AFTER I prewashed them. Now I have an extra 8 poly napkins. Doh. I began searching the internet for some options but could only find them in bulk. I found them at The Bay (8 for $32) by Gluckstein Home but wasn’t planning on spending that much money. I found mine at The Superstore by PC brand for $8 for 4.

■If your fabric is not as dark as you want it to be, dye it again.

■ Wear rubber gloves! I wore rubber gloves for the duration of my project. Until it was time to rinse. As I type this post I keep looking down at my Hot Pink h

■If you put your fabric in the dryer, clean out your dryer with bleach and vinegar. If you wash your fabric after you dye it, don’t wash it with any other piece of clothing. After it’s done, run your washing machine twice with nothing but vinegar and bleach.

■Clean your bucket and materials with bleach after you’re finished unless you don’t care about leaving dye residue in them. I bought my tub for $1 from the Dollar Store so I wouldn’t be bummed if it got ruined.

■Your thread isn’t going to dye. That’s because it is typically synthetic. Dont fret, my friend. It’s all good.

Posted in DIY

Fluffy Coconut Muffins

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Last night we went to my moms house for New Years Eve which became a great excuse to bake up some special little treats to ring in the new year. I wanted something quick and easy so this Martha Stewart Recipe was perfect since I already had all the ingredients at home. I started out by fluffing up the egg whites and slowly added in the condensed milk and once combined, folded in the coconut. My mixture was all wrong. It was liquid with no substance to hold it together. I’ve never made macaroons before so I went ahead and put dollops of batter on my cookie sheet. Fail. They came out of the oven looking like a deflated cookie gram. I’m not into wasting food so I added a cup of cornstarch to the mixture to try and fluff it up. This still didn’t work so I decided to line some muffin tins with pink polka dot liners and added the batter 3/4 of the way. I didn’t have a recipe to work off so I kept them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or until they looked brown and slightly crispy. I took these baby’s out of the oven and hesitantly took a bite and to my surprise they were delightful! The outside was perfectly crispy but once you take a bite the moist inside is so perfectly light and airy. I gave one to Tony and he loved them as well! Success! Give these guys a try…I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised and make sure to bring a copy of the recipe with you! Believe me, people will want to make these tasty little treats themselves.

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Ingredients

2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 bag shredded sweetened coconut (200g)
1 cup cornstarch

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites and salt until frothy, about 2 minutes. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold in coconut until well combined. Fold in 1 cup cornstarch just until well combined.

Line muffin tins with nonstick liners. If liners are not non stick use an any stick spray such as Pam and fill up 3/4 of the way

Put them in the oven until muffins are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.