Frugal Daily: a near-daily newsletter for frugal tips

In order to keep myself on a frugal track to financial success, I’ve decided to experiment with writing a daily tip newsletter.

As a reader of my blog, you probably know I’m a former homeschooler. You probably also know that I’m still holding on to the dream of being able to homeschool again some time in the future. But to do that, first I have just one more loan to pay off! So, I figured I would help us both at the same time, by writing daily tips to keep everyone focused on our goals.

What this newsletter will be:

– a daily or near-daily email sent through MailChimp, containing one tip to live more frugally.
– easy to subscribe or unsubscribe to
– quick, short and useful
– mostly my own ideas, but I may occasionally link to really helpful online content

What this newsletter will not be:

– a channel for selling anything. Really. I’m not going to link to affiliates or bundles or email-grabbing “freebie deals”. I have a small readership, a full-time job, and a busy life. It isn’t really worth my while to try to make money that way at this time. If this ever changes, I will let you know, and you’ll have the chance to unsubscribe easy-peasy. This newsletter is just one more tool to keep me focused on my goals of paying off debt, saving money and making my dream a reality. Okay, if I ever write a book or create a course, I WILL let you know! But no third-party stuff for sale.
– a forever deal. If I get bored, I will stop writing it. And if I make my dream a reality and am able to start homeschooling again, I might not have time to keep up with frugality tips! You never know–but there are no guarantees!
– information about couponining

If you are interested in receiving these tips, please click here to sign up. It’s super easy: all you have to do is enter your email address. And you can unsubscribe easily too just in case you ever win the lottery!

Sign up for Frugal Daily!

A Quick Apology to my readers!

I accidentally bombarded you with some posts I added back into this old blog from my “new blog” which I am shutting down. Sorry I forgot to shut off my auto-notifications before doing that work everybody. Thanks for your loyal readership!

One Word for 2017

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If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you know that I love New Year’s traditions! I love the idea of starting fresh, of re-focusing and re-energizing. One tradition I have carried forward for a few years now is choosing one word to summarize and bring focus to the goals one holds for the year ahead.

In 2011, my word was Focus.

In 2014, I chose three words: Create, Engage and Grace.

In 2015, my word was Revive.

And this year?

This year feels different. For the first year ever, I really didn’t have anything I was wanting or craving for Christmas or my birthday. What I wanted most of all, was to spend time with my family and friends doing simple seasonal things like sliding, singing carols and making cookies. I was blessed to give and receive some lovely gifts, but it was the get-togethers, and the calm times at home that I will remember.

This past year I’ve come across study after study showing how the practice of holding on to good thoughts, experiences, tastes and even memories, can increase people’s joy and happiness. The very concept here is deep and powerful. Its very nature begs a thoughtful and studied response.

And so, my word for 2017 is Savour.

I love this word, and I love the sense of grateful anticipation that it brings me. Grateful anticipation might seem like an expression that’s looking both forward and backwards, but what I am talking about looking forward to practicing gratitude for all the small gifts each day brings. I don’t take them for granted, but I do know there are a thousand things to be grateful for in each day we live.

Savouring and gratitude are clearly linked, but savouring seems even more joyful, murmuring for us to snuggle deeper into our experiences, breath in the aromas, hug a little longer–and end with a promise of savouring again, in delicious memories. The more we savour the moment, the longer and more clearly it lives inside us.

Savouring brings us inside the moment as we mindfully deepen our awareness of what is happening NOW. It is definitely a mindfulness meditation practice. And in this way it is also a prayer, a turning toward and appreciating the gifts that are given bountifully each day.

Savouring combats worrying, the negative headspace I too often find myself in. Worrying is about the future or the past, while savouring brings us into the positive stuff going on in the present moment. I’ve read–and experience tells me this is true!–that you can’t end a negative thought pattern or habit without replacing it with a positive one: I will aim to replace my worrying with savouring whenever I catch myself.

Savouring is also frugal, as it adds to the value to whatever we are doing. We are doing something nice, and we are aware that we are doing something nice. We are building a conscious memory that we can turn to again and again, so the experience goes deeper, and lasts longer, than if we just sail on through. Sure, the ticket costs the same, but each time we savour the memory–of that meal, that holiday, that moment of laughter shared with a friend–we get more and more value from that experience. Savouring each experience fully leads us away from mindless consumption, saving money and resources in the long run.

Now I know that I am not going to suddenly enter into a permanent state of rapture, savouring each second of being alive. Some things we just have to get through. And really, it can be mentally exhausting to be fully present in each moment! But I look forward to returning again and again to the present moment, and finding new ways to savour the tastes, aromas, sensations and experiences that I may be blessed with in 2017.

Got Debt? #SpenditDown

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A few weeks ago I shared my “Five Tricks for Painless Debt Payoff“. Right after posting it, I put the tricks to use here at home. I quickly found out that one of those tricks stood out for me above all others. It has led me to pay off hundreds of dollars of our debt this month, putting us ahead of our expected freedom date, and saving us significant amounts of interest.

The surprisingly useful trick was #3:

Whenever you decide not to make a purchase, immediately take that amount and put it towards the debt.

Or as we’ve come to call it, #SpenditDown.

What we’ve discovered is, the effect of SpendingitDown actually carries the same feeling of momentary euphoria that buying something does, with the added bonus of improving our financial situation.

How does it work? It’s really easy. Every time you are about to buy something “extra”, stop, figure out what you almost spent, and immediately put that amount toward your debt. Then high-five the nearest person.

For example:

  • Tempted to order pizza? Make home-made, take $25 and #SpenditDown.
  • About to stop at Bulk Barn for a post-library treat? Go home and eat chocolate chips, take $15 and #SpenditDown.
  • Longing for a fancy bar of soap? Use up what you’ve got in the cupboard, take $6 and #SpenditDown.

You may have to try it to believe it, but it’s actually fun for the whole family! The kids were thrilled that I let them #SpenditDown after we opted for home-made popcorn instead of making a trip to the corner store for chips. I logged into my online banking, my little guy dutifully typed in $5, and I invited him to hit enter. When it was my daughter’s turn, she looked up with a twinkle in her eye, typed in 1-5, and hit enter. Really, it was more fun than an extra toy at the second-hand store.

One day we opted against another corner store trip, and my son asked in his sweet 7-year-old voice, “Mommy, can I Spend it Down?”

I think the success of this method is that it gives a reason and a framework for diverting funds towards paying off debt. You don’t even realize how much extra you’re spending until you start playing the game. It disrupts automatic habits of spending, while actually making you feel *good* instead of guilty, and at the same time, making progress toward debt freedom.

Without a reason and a framework, you will always tell yourself, “We will just put all our extra money toward our debt.” The problem is, in reality,

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EXTRA MONEY!

When it comes to the end of the month, if you’re anything like me, there’s never much extra left over, and if there is, it’s hard to justify putting it toward debt when “you never know if you might need it”.

By playing the game, you have a chance every day to put extra funds towards your debt.

So, we’ve been having a lot of fun with this. The surprising thing was, when I did my big Debt Repayment Round-Up, I only saw this method mentioned in one or two articles.

The world needs to learn how to #SpenditDown! Will you help me by posting when you decide to #SpenditDown? You can link back to this post so people know what you’re talking about, and help me inspire a revolution of debt freedom!

Which Way?

fiery-sky-with-wordsSo, this might surprise a few people (especially people who knew me 10 years or longer ago), but I am currently in the process of making a big decision. A decision I never expected to be making: whether or not I should enter the ministry. Like, to become a Christian minister in the United Church of Canada. Not a choice I ever dreamed or imagine I would be facing, but here it is.

It is a very hard thing, to decide–to discern–one’s calling. Is it to parenthood? Is it to secular leadership? Political or community leadership? Is it to freelance work? To being a keeper of the home? (Okay, I’m definitely not called to this one, though it might help us all out a little bit!)

I have many of the gifts that are required by a minister: I am a good listener. I understand the admin work required. I enjoy wrestling with engaging texts, and I enjoy speaking in front of people. I am inspired by sharing my values and encouraging people to believe that things can get better. I also have a handful of people who think I can do this thing, and who are willing to support me through their time, attention and effort.

And yet, I have so many questions, so many concerns. Can I do this work, and still be the parent I want to be? Will becoming a Minister mean that suddenly everything I say will be interpreted through that lens? That people who think all Christians are stupid, or judgmental, or bigoted, will then assume that I am stupid, judgmental and bigoted? Will I ever get to be at home?

That’s a real mix of questions, both mundane and political, but the two foremost concerns are around my family, and my audience. I want to be here for my family, especially with my daughter on the brink of the tender tween years. I don’t want to be taken away with meetings, faraway coursework, or even writing papers. I want to be *here* for both of them, with both of them, soaking up this one chance I get to be this close two two other humans. They are my whole world, and I won’t let a process undermine that.

As for my audience, I really don’t know how I feel about putting on that mantle of Minister. I have come to have great respect for ministers, but that has been a long journey, and a very personal one. I worry that by joining this huge organization called Church, my voice will be heard only by Christians, that people outside of the church will automatically filter me out — like I once filtered out people who called themselves Christian.

(It really is true that as you judge, so you will be judged.)

So here I am, near the start of this journey, trying to decide which way to go. I’ll let you know where my journey takes me, and I’d love to hear about yours.

Fierce Hope

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Today
and every day I believe in hope.

I fiercely believe in hope.

I believe in peace.

I believe in abundance. There is enough for all of us: enough love, enough food, enough money, enough hugs, enough jobs, enough. We have enough to share: we have to know what is enough, and we have to share our extra.

I believe in love.

I have seen the power of choosing peace and love in transforming relationships that could have gone sour and stayed there. Instead, they are now supportive and truly joyful. I made a choice, and luckily they responded, but I look back at what I did with pride: I made that. Choosing love and peace worked magic–on me as well as them.

I believe in loving someone first, and getting their story second, if at all.

I believe in forgiveness. The grace to witness failure, and allow things to start again, again and again.

I believe in the richness of diversity. I want to hear the stories, more and more stories, of where did you come from, and how did you get to this time and place, and how are things now? There is enough time to listen, and enough love to care, and enough space for your story and mine to exist together.

Today is the day we must start speaking our values. Writing them down. Articulating them to ourselves, our children, our friends, our neighbours.

Because these things, these simple things–Hope, Peace, Abundance, Love, Forgiveness, Diversity–they are stronger and they are better and they are more worthy than hate, anger, greed, fear, blame, grudges and exclusion.

Today, I hold fiercely onto hope.

Because in the face of hate
it gives us
power.

Debt Repayment Round-up

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Since I posted my Five Tricks for Painless Debt Pay-off, I’ve been trying to put some of my own tricks to work. So far, number three is my favourite, and I have seen my small extra payments really adding up. I also applied #2, but I am worried that re-allocating my little cushion to pay off debt will leave us with nothing extra at Christmas time.

I am so motivated to pay off these debts that I want to harness the power of the interweeb to help me. So here, for my reading and yours, is a round-up of 20 of the internet’s best ideas for paying down debt faster.

11 Ways to Get Out of Debt Faster

I’ve been a fan of The Simple Dollars for decades! They give solid advice.

How One Woman Paid Off $23,000 of Debt in 15 Months

An inspiring story of one woman’s spending fast.

How to Pay Off Debt Fast with a Low Income

This one has links to a lot of other great resources. I’d say it’s definitely worth spending some time cruising around this blog.

Kick Debt’s Butt! How to Get Out of Debt On Your Own

This one is aimed at the under-30 demographic. Another inspiring story of a guy who paid off $80,000 in three years.

6 Ways to Get out of Debt Faster

This Canadian article has two ideas I haven’t seen elsewhere.

How to Pay Off Your Debt Faster And Save Money

Some ideas for paying off your mortgage faster, and how much money you will save by doing so.

How I Paid Off $90,000 in Debt in Three Years

Another story mainly aimed at young people. This young lady made some major shifts in her lifestyle in order to pay off her huge student debt.

How To Pay Off Debt Fast With The Stack Method

A solid description of a debt repayment plan from Lifehack.org

How I Paid Off $158,169 in Debt

An inspiring personal story about one woman’s journey out of debt, from Time magazine.

Debt Snowflaking – 25 Ways to Find Extra Money and Pay Down Debt

Lots of ideas for making a little extra cash to put towards your debt.

33 Proven Ways to Reduce Personal Debt

A couple who paid off $66,000 in debt gives their unconventional tips for reducing spending and reducing debt.

How to Pay off Debt Fast: The Most Efficient Method

A clear explanation of the “ladder method” of paying off debt, including a comparison with the “snowball method”.

The Psychological Trick That Will Help You Pay Off Debt Fast

A slightly different perspective is offered here. As the title indicates, this one gets into the psychology of debt repayment.

How to Trick Yourself Into Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt

Another one from the Huffington Post, this one gets into the nitty gritty of holding yourself back from excess spending.

HOW I PAID OFF $34,579 IN STUDENT LOANS IN UNDER 4 YEARS

Here is a cute one complete with comics! I liked how this blogger thought about prioritizing what was important in life.

How a simple family budget paid off $5000 of debt in 6 weeks

This one features an in-depth lesson on creating a family budget.

We Were Tired of Being Broke So We Paid Off $52K in 7 Months

Another personal story, this one from The Debt Myth, detailing how a couple used the snowball method to get out of debt quickly.

The 8 Mistakes We Made While Paying Off Debt

This article looks at debt repayment from a different perspective.

How I Paid Off $8,100 of Credit Card Debt in Just 3 Months

This blogger aggressively paid down her debt, and writes about the extreme spending cuts she imposed on herself.

A Fun Way to Pay Off Debt Faster!

Last but not least, a fun printable game for tracking your pay-down progress.

What I got from sifting through these articles is a major boost of motivation to pay off my own debts! Looking at what these families, couples and individuals have done, the techniques they’ve tried, and the solutions they’ve come up with, is very inspiring for my own situation. I highly recommend cruising through these sites, taking notes, and getting stoked on your own ability to crush your debt. I know you can do it! I’ve done it twice before, and I know I can do it again.