Senior Living: Savings tips from readers

Jerome Powell

With a little bit of creativity, you can cut everyday costs.

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Thank you to all my loyal readers who were so responsive and sent me their savings tips. I was overwhelmed by over 600 emails in one day! So here are some of the suggestions and comments from Canadians from every province, from Newfoundland to B.C. I am truly astounded by how wonderful, kind-hearted and thoughtful we are here in Canada — good job, everyone!

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Here are the top 20 points — there were so many, I could probably write another book (NOT). Thank you to all of you who sent in your comments and savings tips. I also want to say a special thank you for a few other emails I got from business owners who would like their voices heard as well. Saving is always a good thing, but, alas, our economy really only prospers when we spend.

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Today, due to COVID, we are all more focused on supporting local businesses and caring about the communities we live in. Unique products and creative finds are all part of the shopping experience that most Canadians really want to get back to. Remember that spending isn’t really a BAD thing. You just need to make sure you live within your budget, don’t take on too much debt and most of all find the happiness in where you live, with the people you love and with the life you have created.

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Here are the saving tips you sent me to share with everyone.

1. Plan your meals for the week, create a menu and shop accordingly. Use point cards to redeem merchandise, groceries, etc. Shop at Costco with a friend and divide all bulk purchases to get even more savings.

2. Buy food on sale and freeze or store for the future — one person bought 30 pounds of $2.49 butter and froze it. The limit was six per person, so she got her mom, kids and husband to buy them. Always put your bread in the freezer so it doesn’t go stale. Precut all bread, bagels and buns, and then freeze for freshness and easy access when you need it. Don’t forget you can freeze almost anything: butter, milk, juice, fruit and vegetables, sauces/gravy, cheeses and leftovers.

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3. Use toothpaste and cream tubes to the very end by cutting off the bottom and squeezing out the last little bits. Reuse your dental floss by rinsing and drying it after every use. Use the free toothbrushes from the dentist.

Stop taking long showers or shower with a partner. If you’re not too dirty, share your bath water by having someone use it after you or even wash your pet in the water before you empty the tub. One reader even suggested collecting the shower or bath water to water her indoor plants.

4. Take a picture. You loved your late, great aunt who gave you a crocheted tablecloth. Take a picture. A piece of used furniture from a dear relative, take a picture. A coat you loved dearly but which fit you 40 years ago. Take a picture. Then sell or donate them! Buy from thrift stores — someone’s junk could be your new treasure.

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5. Do you have a trusted, ruthless friend to purge your wardrobe, closets or kitchen? It is a fun process once you gain momentum. Clear out your basement, garage, shed or barn. Sell or donate everything you haven’t used in the last five years. Donate or purge all the clothes in your closet that don’t fit you anymore or are over 10 years old. You can sell your clothes on the websites Depop and Poshmark — or even set up your own online clothing store through Canada’s Shopify.

6. If a sock can’t be darned anymore, it goes into a pile and is used for dusting. You put your hand into it, dust, then pull the leg part back over the dirty part and keep going. When finished, the sock has done its duty and can be thrown in the garbage. You can also do this with old winter mitts or socks that are missing their mates.

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7. Plant a garden from seeds. Here is an example: dry tomato seeds by spreading the seeds out to dry on a paper towel. In March, plant the seeds in potting soil in a sunny location, like a windowsill. Transplant in May when any chance of frost is over. Mini-yogurt containers, washed out and used for seedlings are easy and free. Consider having fresh herbs planted in mugs along a kitchen window to have on hand for cooking.

8. When you buy spices in small containers, keep the container and refill from the bulk stores. Reuse birthday candles and cake toppings for future special events. Keep the weights from balloon bouquets so that if you order another one in the future you don’t have to pay for this item. Reuse plastic straws by rinsing and drying them out.

9. Wash your own windows and cut your own grass. Use grass seed instead of sod. Do your own landscaping. Buy smaller, cheaper trees that will grow over time. Open or close your own pool if you have one.

10. Refinish your basement yourself or be the general contractor and control the spending of the home improvement project.

— Christine Ibbotson has written four finance books, including the bestseller How to Retire Debt Free & Wealthy. She also writes the Moneylady column. askthemoneylady.ca

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