Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Top Ways I Saved Money in 2012 & December Budget Results

1. Prevented Food Waste creating ways to use leftovers within a day or freeze them for use later. There has been a conscious effort to reduce food waste here - and it definitely improved in 2012.

2. Used only vinegar as a rinse aid in the dishwasher. I have been doing this for six months now and will never go back to store bought rinse aid. Better for the environment too!

3. Bought in bulk - two weeks ago I bought 8 kg of white rice for $10. Way cheaper than buying small individual bags and now I just have to find a better storage solution for bulk buying.

4. Cherry picked the loss leaders every week from the flyers, stockpiling those items and meal planning around only what was on sale.

5. Maximizing use of frequent flyer and air mile programs. We had nine free flights between Alberta and BC this year - only paying taxes.

6. Continuing to buy used. Clothing, furniture, vehicles. Anything that is required try to find used first. This strategy pays off year after year with someone else paying for all the depreciation. It helps that I love garage saling and thrifting.

7. I finally color my own hair and have found much cheaper options for haircuts. This was the largest breakthrough and my hair care budget in 2013 will be much lower than 2012 as a result.

8. Continued with my paid out phone contract on a month to month basis when it expired in September at a lower rate. I have no need to upgrade my cell phone currently, although in 2013 I may take the plunge and get a smartphone.

9. Cooking from scratch. I now can make homemade pizza crust and pie crust. Hubby has suggested that my cooking has gotten better this year (his has too). In 2013 I would like to dust off that bread-making machine or make dough from scratch. In the past I didn't like the hole the bread-maker makes in the middle of the loaf (does your breadmaker do that?) but there may be a way around that - make the dough in the machine and transfer to oven for baking perhaps.

10. Found free entertainment options and limited eating out to once per month. Eating out is the number one budget buster and I mean anything from grabbing a coffee and doughnut to a lavish dinner. Think of all the groceries you could buy instead! I try and keep our diet varied and interesting otherwise hubby is tempted into eating out more. We occupied ourselves at the beach a lot this past summer and that certainly qualifies as free entertainment. This year hiking and biking is on the agenda.

11. Moved ourselves versus hiring a mover and purged a huge amount before the move. This saved us at least $7000 - it was tough but totally worth it. Only move items that are difficult to replace or mean something to you. Buy furniture when you get there. We filled one cube van and two cars worth - that was all that was moved. We downsized from over 3600 sq ft to 1700 sq foot and love our new home. Now just to get rid of the gigantic home back in Alberta! It goes back on the market in March.

The No More Christmas Cr**p Campaign

If you missed the original post see here. Well, other than the few vintage ornaments I found in November there was one other Christmas Crap purchase this year. One that went over the allotted budget! Hubby insisted we get two more light strands for the exterior of our home as due to the style of our new home we didn't have enough lights. I searched and searched the thrift stores but could find only the older style energy busting lights. After being called Scrooge I caved and we spent $24 at Canadian Tire on LED lights. It was not worth an argument and they look pretty nice. Hopefully they will last forever and we don't need to buy anything new at all next year. I collect vintage glass ornaments so will keep looking at garage sales and thrift stores to find them at the absolute lowest prices.

December's Grocery Budget $425

If you are a new follower the grocery budget includes all over counter medications, grooming and cleaning products.

Actual $667.31. Way Over!
Coupons used $12.65

$200 of this amount was spent on Christmas food/snacks in Alberta, much of it left behind for my stepson to finish. I continued to stock up on items and my stockpile keeps growing. Hopefully 2013 will be easier on the grocery budget as it took a bruising this year due to depleting the stockpile before the move and then starting over once we got here.

Grocery overage for 2012 = $664.57 less money transferred in from hair ($104.01) and clothing ($90.01)budgets throughout the year = $471.55 OVERALL BUDGET OVERAGE. A few months ago the grocery budget increased from $400 per month to $425 so there it shall stay in 2012. Grocery prices have increased and I had to be realistic with the budget since we rarely eat out now.

Annual Clothing Budget $200
I bought an Eddie Bauer Spring shirt for $3 at the Thrift Store this month.
Total Spent on Clothing, shoes and accessories this year was $109.99.
Throughout the year $90.01 of clothing budget was transferred out to reduce the grocery budget overage.

Of the $109.99:
7 shirts
3 pants (2 jeans, 1 capri)
2 belts
bra, socks, nylons

In 2013 the clothing budget will remain at $200 as I need to do an undergarment shop and only purchase those new so need extra funds for that. As well, I will be looking for a good rain jacket. So far I have not found one at the thrift stores so again, may have to purchase it new. We intend on travelling to Washington for a cross border weekend away/business supplies shop so probably will spend some money on clothing there as prices are 40% to 60% cheaper than in Canada.

Annual Hair Budget $400
I had a cut this month for $20.12 which included a $5 tip. Yes, you can get a good haircut for cheap. My hair looks little different than when I used to spend $140 for a cut and color.

Actual spent in 2012 $295.99. $104.01 was transferred out to Grocery Budget overage. The Annual Hair Budget in 2013 is being reduced to $250.

I look forward to a new 2013 budget year with a clean slate! There will be no transferring of budgets to other categories in and I shall stay ON TARGET!!


  1. That is a lot of hard work! I hope the old house sell very fast!

    Hang in there :)

  2. You saved a ton by moving yourself! Very impressive.
    You really have everything sorted for the new year. I love that feeling when you have a plan and it works.
    Happy and prosperous new year.

    1. I am a planner, really not a spur of the moment type of girl. No plan makes me feel out of sorts.

  3. I would love to get it down to a science like you did. That will now be a goal for 2013! Thank you for the inspiration!

    1. The system I use is the absolute easiest. A little notebook with the totals from groceries, hair and clothing everytime I shop with running totals to try and stay on track. From month to month I use this blog! EASY PEASY. The hard part is staying within budget.

  4. So impressed with your cuts, especially your clothing for the year. I'm inspired! :-)

    Question for you on the vinegar - is that what you use in place of any dishwasher soap, or a rinsing agent?

    1. Strictly rinse agent. I still use a finish tab for the soap portion - bought on sale with a coupon of course :) The vinegar keeps the machine so clean!

  5. Try this bread: I absolutely swear by it!!

    1. Thanks! This recipe looks great - I am going to start it this week

  6. You are so organized!! Great job on the budget, especially with the move:) Believe it or not I actually stuck to your "No Christmas Crap Campaign" and only bought 3 new ornaments this year (every year hubby & son get a new one from me). My son crafted some cute ones for the tree & I didn't bother spending any money to change our decor (I decided it's fine & beautiful anyway!). Thanks for the great inspiration!

    1. Not really organized - just a little blue notebook. Once you start keeping track of things on a regular basis it becomes habit. Very to hear of your success in the No more Christmas crap campaign!

  7. We moved to bulk rice and pasta last year, I am also less fussy now as to what pasta shape I have with my sauce ie the one we have in the cupboard. We have home cooked for years; ready made, shop bought always tastes stale to me. I also find leftovers exciting for my lunch at work, sad I know. Did colour my hair at home for a while a few years back, but need to be very careful of my skin so back to my hairdresser now but colour only every other appointment. I did buy some Christmas c**p but tree has roots so will be placed in the garden, and my 3 boot fair baubles for 70p gave me enormous pleasure. Tried vinegar as soft rinse in washing, water so hard here our clothes ended up crisp so unfortunately back to the drawing board on that one. We are trying liquid soap flakes in place of washing liquid, this can be used in the washing machine and I have noticed softer clothes and hopefully less irritated skin. I love reading blogs like yours as there is always more I can do with our hard earned money.

  8. You have had an excellent year! Well done.

    Sft x

  9. You have done an excellent job! Especially cutting back on your 'hair' fund :) I went all the way a few years ago and embraced the gray (LOL). This and setting cash aside in envelopes for certain expenses (groceries/eating out/pet care/auto repairs/clothes .. etc) helped us pay off our mortgage EARLY. Hubby retired (first time) in 2008. Got another full time job later that year. We lived off his income and applied the entire pension payment on the mortgage. As Dave Ramsey says: 'Beans and rice .. rice and beans' .. for a few years got us out of all debt. Well worth it. Keep up the good job!

  10. Where do you go to get cheap haircuts? First Choice is the cheapest place I've found but I'm scared of them butchering my hair. But I'm also tired of paying $50+ to have an inch trimmed off the ends.

  11. Thanks for sharing all your ways you saved money last year :) They're quite detailed indeed! I'm with you on the cheap haircuts, when i paid €70, I feel like I don't see the difference for the extra €50. A shot of vinegar also works well instead of fabric conditioner in the washing machine (there's no vinegary smell). Wishing you good money-saving vibes for 2013!