Thursday, April 29, 2010

Being online never felt so good

Apparently we are going to starve tonight because I have been trying to catch up. When you take a 10-14 day hiatus from the internet due to computer trouble it really generates a lot of extra work, doesn't it? Is checking e-mail actually considered work? Well, ok, maybe not. LOL If you go back through my archives you can see that we have these troubles about every 2 to 3 years. So basically we are renting the computer right? It's all a conspiracy. Oh, don't get me started.

So an online acquaintance from Ontario made a really good point about her gym membership and as I was typing a reply {Sorry, I just saw it today!} I thought it would be a great post for today to lead up to tomorrow's Frugal Friday post. Sweet Johanna from Birds on a Wire asked if I had any ideas for getting out of a membership. And in fact, I do. Several points to make I'll start with my own personal experience.

When I was a teenager I lived in a spot that was really close to a great gym. I signed up and I worked out. I lost my job. So I worked out more while looking for a new job. When 3 months had gone by I knew there was no way I could keep the membership. And as I will go over in tomorrow's FF post never ever let something lapse because collection charges will kill you. I took what cash I had {about half of what was left owing on the membership), marched myself down there and asked to speak to the owner/manager. I made a polite speech about how I was moving and didn't own a car so I could no longer use his gym and would he please consider letting me out of my contract if I paid this amount of money, cash, upfront? Well, it worked. I was shocked but kept my poker face until I left his office. I think it helped that I was really young, cute and had that "I might cry if you say no" look on my face. {Which really helps in the frugal department y'all}.

Another idea would be to ask at your gym if you can transfer the contract to someone else. Then post an ad on a free site and try to "sell" it.

And finally, my favourite idea is to use your membership. LOL I looooove going to the gym. It's where I hide from my children. And it makes my butt smaller at the same time. It's a win-win situation. Watch for tomorrow's Frugal Friday post on memberships, contracts, payments and collections. Later gator!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Frugal Friday? Well, it's frugal somethin'...

Being frugal has left me computer-less. The darn thing decided not to live anymore {oh why do we have these issues every 2 years???} and in our bid to get a good deal and not waste our money we have taken a week or so hiatus from the internet. "Unplugged" if you will. Hopefully we'll be back up and running by Monday but I guess we'll see. On with Frugal Friday!

Do you go to the gym? Ever wonder if you could get your gym membership for FREE? I DO. No really, I do. And all it takes is a few simple questions. My gym has a babysitting service and for just 2 hours of my time per week I get a free membership. It is a sweet, sweet deal. So I come in for my 2 hour shift, I am allowed to bring my own kids, I watch the other kids, wham bam thank-you ma'am I am working out for free. And the icing on the cake is I really, really enjoy my gym. The classes are fantastic, the instructors are second to none and the atmosphere suits me. If you live in my area and want to learn more, drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you all about it!

So let's crunch the numbers, shall we? The average gym membership runs you about $50-$60 per month. That's the cost of a basic membership at my gym anyway. PLUS you still have to drive there. We figured I was spending around $350 a year when I was going 6-7 times a week before my sister's wedding. Now I go about 3-4 times a week. So for the sake of easy math let's say I spend $200 a year driving over there. If I had to pay for my membership too that bumps it up to $800-$920 per year just going to the gym. Wow, that's a lot. If your schedule allows you to commit to a regular 2 hour volunteer shift, it could save you big money. And in the infamous words of KC and the Sunshine Band...That's the way, uh huh uh huh, I like it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Prizes anyone?

Short post...I have commendeered Barb's laptop and am not giving it back until I reveal the winner of the fabulous tickets to the Saskatoon Soaps, tell a bit about Camp Croppin' and of course leave you with a little Frugal Friday tidbit. So the whole post revolves around prizes...woo hoo!

Kim D and the gang! Hope you enjoyed the Soaps tonight! Tell me all about it when we get home. Glad you could use the tickets.

Camp Croppin' has so far been a roaring good time...I already won a door prize and got to read my top 5 reasons why I love Camp Croppin'. Good times. More on that later.

And Frugal Friday. My quick tip of the day has to do with planning and getting the most you can out of your special events. The event that I am at right now has the potential to offer you a number of free products and promotions. Plan ahead and take advantage! If this is what you enjoy, schedule yourself a day of getting free stuff! I am planned down to my last minute here and consequently enjoying every one of those minutes. I like to get the best bang for my buck and all it takes is a little forethought. Planning ahead really does save you money. More on that another day... I think I am annoying my roommates. LOL

Monday, April 12, 2010

Laughter really IS the best medicine

When I was in high school I had a serious crush on Shakespeare. My favourite play was not Romeo and Juliet as other young girls proclaim...I liked MacBeth. There was only one reason I liked that play so much...Grade 11 English...and his name was Mr. Feschuk. He also happened to be the director of the Fall musical, thereby nurturing not only my love of English class but egging on my inner extrovert as well. LOL Somewhere out there lies a copy of actual VIDEO of me in a hideous pink dress, singing solo in "Is There Life After High School?" Lord help me Lizette if you actually HAVE that I. will. just. die.
Mr. Feschuk is just a wonderful, kind soul who loves to make people laugh which makes him a perfect addition to the Saskatoon Soaps. Click on the name to check out their site. They are a bunch of local actors who perform at the Broadway Theatre once a month. This month's evening is a fundraiser for Mr. Feschuk. Have you heard the news lately about the Good Samaritan? Read all about it HERE.

So Mr. Feschuk {I am in my thirties and I still can't bring myself to call him Tim} was just trying to do something right...and was seriously hurt for it. His friends and colleagues have dedicated this Friday night to him...and I can't attend. I was SO disappointed when I learned that it was on the same night that I will be in Calgary for Camp Croppin'. I still wanted to support this effort so the Soaps {who usually only sell tickets at the door} have kindly allowed advanced ticket sales. Thank-you so much! I can't be there, but one of YOU can! Leave a comment here and answer this question: WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE TEACHER? Where would we be without them? Send your peeps! Post a link to my blog on your blog, Facebook or Twitter, shoot me an e-mail at telling me you have done that and be entered a second time! I am just going to do a straight draw on Thursday morning. The performance is on Friday night. Check out the Saskatoon Soaps website link above for details. So let's support Mr. Feschuk in a BIG way...he deserves it. Not only for risking his life trying to stop a crime but also for all the young lives he has touched as a teacher. From the bottom of my heart Tim, thank-you for your influence.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Frugal Friday---Back to school!

Oh praise the heavens we go back to school soon!!! WOO HOO!!! Today's Frugal Friday post will be short and sweet. A "use what you have" type of thing.

Easter. Wasn't it great? I gained 4 pounds. No seriously...4 pounds of pastel M&Ms and Cadbury mini eggs. And now it's back to the treadmill. Easter was especially lucrative for my boys. Remember last week...I posted tips on how to keep your own personal Easter slim. But there are a few variables there that you really can't control. The Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, generous friends, neighbours, etc who ply your children with gifts and treats. Remember the confiscate part? LOL Spell it with me C-O-N-F-I-S-C-A-T-E. I'm not all mean...I let my boys gorge themselves for the morning of Easter Sunday when they are opening their gifts and hunting for eggs. My little guy had 6 chocolate eggs unwrapped before we even realized what he was doing. The finding part was not so hard for him. But after breakfast (whole wheat pancakes!) I take 3 large Ziplocs and go to work. One bag is for items that would be appropriate to send in school lunches. Bag #2 is for sugary treats that I would allow the boys to have one piece of after supper. And Bag #3 is the "Absolutely NOT" bag that gets stored in the cold room and put out at Halloween. Oh yes, I do this. But that is a whole other post all on it's own! Mostly what goes in that bag is gum, weird colours of licorice and other things that are so out of this world sugary that they are generally unrecognizable as food. Like those little fake "hamburgers". What are those even made out of? Anyway...I am seriously off track here. Back to bag #1. Items appropriate for school lunches. The Grandmamas tend to go all out for Easter but these days the bags are also filled with puddings, Jell-O cups, goldfish crackers and applesauces. All things that my kids don't eat every day but I don't find it to be a horrible choice to toss into a lunch now and again. Even in Kindergarten I hear "So-and-so had pop, chips and LUNCHABLES today. Why can't I have that?" It's tough to explain to a 5 year old that his lunch probably cost $1 with tons of nutrition for his growing brain and his friend's lunch was $6 and loaded with preservatives. I did explain the money part at the grocery store because he does understand which is bigger and smaller when it comes to numbers. But when you are 5 you don't care about the budget. You care that so-and-so dissed your multigrain bread sandwich, apple slices, triscuits and cheese and batman water bottle. And I get that. I also am well aware that it won't kill him to eat something not made in my kitchen every once in a while. So this is where the frugal part comes in. When the baskets roll in, they are divvied up. And now I have a HUGE Ziploc filled with stuff. There has to be 2 months worth of appropriate lunch treats in there. My boy is happy, my budget is intact and Easter has saved the day.

Any specific Frugal Friday posts you'd like to see? Curious about how I do this, that or the other thing? I'm not shy! I love comments! xox

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Nothing more than a vent---grab a drink, it's a long one!

No creativity {unless you count my little speech as creative!} No recipe {I made Sheryl's homemade pizza for supper...if you want the recipe leave a comment and I'll give it to you} No frugal tips {we went to the park - it's free. And that's how this all happened. Sigh}

You try to do something fun with your kids and look what happens. Background homemade pizza sucked serious rocks until Sheryl gave me her recipe. So now when we want to have a fun supper that's what I make. My niece is with us for a couple of days just for fun so a fun supper was in order. The pizza dough had 1 hour to rise so what should we do? PARK!!! There is a small neighbourhood park really close to our house so the kids hopped on their wheels (stroller, scooter and roller blades) and off we rolled to the park. It's a really small play structure with 2 slides and monkey bars and then a seperate structure has 4 swings...2 for babies and 2 for big kids {I can fit now! Weeee!} It was fairly busy today with a couple of sweet little Spanish boys talking to my oldest son who does understand a very limited amount (his Uncle is from Chile) but kept saying "I don't know enough Spanish! Talk to me in English!" Their Mama was very nice and understanding even though I kept telling my son to be more polite. Oh, is that ever on.
So Poopsie (my niece) is giving me my regular heart attack on the monkey bars (as you may recall she broke her arm on that exact about it HERE) along with another little girl about her same age. I notice there are 3 sisters playing at the park sans parents. All the other kids have someone with them...but they are a bit younger. So whatever. Now I am a horrible judge of ages but the Sweet Girl (let's just refer to her as SG from now on) seemed to be about 15 or so but was...forgive me if I am not current in my PC terminology but she seemed to be at about Poopsie's developmental stage {she just turned 9}. Mean Girl (Now known as MG) was about 10 or so and their little sister was around 4. After a few minutes the park pretty much cleared out except for us and the 3 sisters. I heard MG make a couple of pretty questionable statements to Poopsie but I just gave my girl the gimlet eye and she's pretty good at ignoring stuff like that. Until we get out of earshot where she will promptly ask me if I heard what that girl said. LOL But I digress...

The kids were all playing fairly boys were throwing sand on the empty slides, MG was on the monkey bars and Poopsie and SG were seeing how high they could go on the swings. Then MG pipes up and says {insert appropriate names here...bear with me} "So-and-so! Go get my shoes!" MG had kicked off her shoes quite a ways away onto the path. SG asks her why should I? MG very sharply orders her again and says it was because she only had her socks on and wasn't supposed to walk on the sand. "And you are my SISTER. DO IT NOW!" Poopsie paused in her swinging and gave me "the look". She's really good at that look and I almost giggled. SG jumped off the swing and ran all the way passed the monkey bars, past the slides and onto the path to get her sister's shoes. As soon as she got close to the shoes, MG jumped off the monkey bars, ran across the sand in her socks and jumped onto the swing singing out "Ha Ha Ha, I got the swing stupid!" Poopsie shot me another look. And even my boys were starting to stare now. Poopsie then offered to push my son on the swing. So she jumped off and started to hold it for him. MG quickly put her feet on the second swing so Poopsie, being the gracious girl she is just flounced off to play elsewhere. At this point, I have set aside my DS. This is far more interesting than Sudoku let me tell ya. SG heads back to the swing and sits on her sister's feet only to be kicked and pummeled and screamed at. And I mean screamed at. It is a full on brawl. SG manages to get MG's feet off the second swing and quickly turns over on her stomach to swing. And I am silently cheering in my head, way to go! Keep in mind that I still have not said one word to this little chickie. I was quite proud of myself actually. I just kept reminding myself that she is not my child. So MG is still yelling at SG to get off her swing, etc. SG is sweetly and quietly holding her ground, still swinging on her stomach when MG winds up and kicks her sister right in the face. Well alright there Nelly...back up that train. SG was absolutely rocked. I was about 10 feet away from them and I heard the smack. MG connected but good. And SG had glasses on. Ouch. People who know me well are waiting for it...yup. I roared. Here we go:

Me: "EXCUSE ME!!! That is NOT acceptable behaviour AT ALL!!! You kicked her right in the face!!! {well duh Kate} I didn't say a word until now but I can NOT let you get away with that. You owe her an apology RIGHT NOW!"

MG: Looking right mad that I actually said something "So what? I do it all the time."

Me: "I should hope NOT. If my children treated each other like that I would have something to say about it! That is the most disgusting behaviour I have ever seen!"

MG: If looks could kill. Holy gravy, I thought she was going to kick me in the face. "I don't care."

So she sat there staring daggers at me while I curtly gathered up my crew with a glance at the kids and a swift "It's not fun here anymore, let's go." My kids were stricken. They had nothing to say. I don't think they've ever obeyed so quickly in their young lives! LOL Poopsie had to get her roller blades back on so she came to sit beside me and while she was changing out of her runners MG stuck her tongue out at me. I was going to come back with my "If you don't put that tongue away I am going to cut it off." But I didn't think bodily threats were appropriate just then. Poopsie was hacked. "Auntie, she just stuck her tongue out at you! AND she said the S-word AND she didn't apologize!!!!" Oh Poopsie, I do love you. Loyal to the end. My girl bats for her team and always hits a home run. I told her I couldn't do anything about MG's behaviour and I just hoped that Poopsie would never, ever treat someone like that. Ever. We rolled our way down the path towards home ducking the virtual knives in our backs. Poopsie of course had to call her Mama the second we got in the door. She loooves the drama. LOL But it was a great lesson for my kids because just that morning they had a little shoving match over who would push the grocery cart and I told them that's what it looked like. They were appalled. So maybe {just maybe} they will think twice about it next time.

I know you don't read this blog MG...but it's my vent so I will finish it. I hope you went home and told your mother that a lady at the park yelled at you. I hope you went home all mad and indignant and embarrassed. I hope you told on me. And I hope your mother asks WHY. The end.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Frugal Friday---Quality vs. Quantity

Happy Good Friday! And a Frugal Easter to you too! No mid week post again...but at least Frugal Friday keeps me blogging weekly. LOL I sort of have an excuse...I am going hard getting ready for Camp Croppin'. It's going to be a FAB time!

Back to Frugal Friday. Do you have children in your life? Sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, cousins, doesn't matter. Do you ply them with a plethora of Easter treats on this fine long weekend? I am not going to bore you with a lecture about needs vs. wants. We are all aware of the needs and wants in our lives and how to tell the difference. What I want to talk about today is Quality vs. Quantity. This year we have decided (The Hubs and I) to get one large gift for each child instead of filling a basket with 25 things from the dollar store. I LOVE Dollarama. Love, Love, LOVE it! Don't get me wrong, you can get some wonderful stuff there. BUT, let's think about Easter specifically. How much of the stuff that gets into the basket is still functioning by May long weekend? In my house...the answer is NONE. Nothing. Nada. So here's the deal...crunch those numbers. Let's say you go to Dollarama and get $20 worth of stuff. The cute plushy, the bunny ears, the little Easter games, etc. The children love it for the day. Maybe even the weekend. Then you step on the game by accident and it goes in the trash. The plushy gets coated in chocolate so you try to wash it. It comes apart in the wash and then goes...that's right. In the trash. The bunny ears get fought over and snap in half. Then? The trash. Not to mention the huge quantity of chocolate they get in the basket...only to end up in their blood stream. Which leads to a huge quantity of frustration for Mum and Dad. You paid $25 for all that nonsense? This year, we spent $25 on a scooter for our older son and a little more than that on a remote control for our younger son. They will last quite some time and provide an immense amount of playtime outside. Great family time! Yes, Grandma and Grandpa (x2) will have baskets for the kids. Do I confiscate it? ABSOLUTELY. To be doled out in teeny tiny manageable amounts throughout the Spring/Summer. So when you go to fill the Easter baskets this year (reusable ones of course! My boys have metal Spiderman buckets.) analyze each thing you put in. Is it reusable? (I even save the Easter fluff from year to year in a Ziploc bag) is it strong enough to withstand your children for more than an hour? Will it be a good toy in the long run?

Some excellent frugal Easter ideas:

*Hide coins instead of chocolate. Then they can practise counting it and put it in their piggy banks.
*Kids love outdoor play things! Sidewalk chalk, skipping ropes, jacks, a new bat and ball. It doesn't have to be expensive.
*Let the Grandparents do the candy thing. 3 giant chocolate bunnies are yummy but not needed! LOL Bake cookies with the kids. They LOVE that!
*What about movie tickets? Rainbow theatre has great cheap seats for kids.
*Don't undervalue an afternoon of good old fashioned egg colouring! Let them get messy. Let them do whatever colours they want! Fun fun FUN!
*Go to a museum, park or local show. If you live in my area, go to the Draggins Car Show! The original Batmobile will be there. Now that's fun for the whole family!

Have a wonderful, blessed Easter weekend. Remember what Easter is all about. Not gaining 6 pounds worth of Mr. Munchy Bunny. It's about our Lord and Saviour. Spend time with your family and remember that love does not equal money. Love is all about time spent and the laughs that follow. Happy Easter! Go eat some free ham at your Mother in Law's house!