Thursday 29 October 2015

Creative Thinking & Free Therapy

One year ago I bought a townhouse to live in with my two children.  Ending a ten year relationship was incredibly difficult, but I have been blessed with a wonderful man who made sure that I was best prepared to start this next chapter of my life. Being a single parent again has taken some adjusting, and sometimes we need to be a little more creative when it comes to unexpected costs.  Here is the baseline for this post.  The washer and dryer in my townhouse work....but they don't work great.  To dry one load of laundry takes approximately 90-120 minutes.  Sometimes that doesn't even work! Strata rules keep me from hanging laundry outside and I can see my hydro bills climbing from the extended periods (non-energy star) of running. Often my stairwell looks like a mini laundromat, but it has worked for the temporary time being.

I have made the decision to replace the machines which not only increases the value of my home, but should reduce my monthly utility bills by installing energy efficient appliances.  The only downside is finding the money to replace them.  Insert creative thinking!!

First Idea
I have been labelled in the past as a "mini hoarder".  I'm not terrible, but I do hold onto some things a little longer than necessary.  Clothes that I hope will one day fit again, clothes that I may end up gaining weight and need again, shoes I may need even though I am physically unable to wear high heels (doctor orders).  You know the drill.  I cleared out my clothes and posted them all on a local buy and sell site.  The response was fantastic!  I had priced it all inexpensive as I kept the thought in mind that I wanted it out of my house.  I started a jar and put any money earned into the jar.
Second Idea
I love baking.  I find it theraputic and relaxing.  It's a great way to relieve stress.  I like thinking up new concoctions and what the end result will be.  With a lot of prompting from my family, I offered my gingersnap cookies for sale at $5/dozen.  Word got out and within two weeks I had made and sold 42 dozen cookies!
Third Idea
This one is a continuation of the second idea.  The cookies were such a hit that I was approached by a few people for cakes and cupcakes.  It's been a lot of fun trying out new tastes and techniques, especially at a time when so many people have a wide range of dietary restrictions.  I've baked sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, and sometimes at midnight.....sanity free!

As of last count, I have saved $1500.00.  I can't wait until the day I walk in and pay cash for my new appliances.  I don't care that I have to count out all of those $5 and $10 bills, I get to walk out of there with no more debt than when I walked in.  The plan is to paint the walls as well as replace shelving above the appliances.  I found a shelving unit that I felt would be perfect, and my extremely talented father has already completed building it.  As soon as a good sale is on for the appliances, the renovation will commence. Stay tuned for the before and after pictures!

This post was simply to tell you to think "outside of the box".  We all have different talents...the trick is to find out what yours is and sharing it with someone whose talents differ from yours.  Need some electrical work done?  Perhaps you know of a guy who is one but you can't really afford to hire him.  Maybe he likes home baking?  Maybe he needs his house cleaned?  Maybe he would like family photos taken?  In older times, people traded for time and products.  Find something you love and use it to get the things you need.  Little by little you will achieve your goals.  Just be patient and keep the faith.

Until next time....

BzzAgent Product Review - Covergirl LashBlast Fusion Mascara

I don't wear a lot of makeup on a daily basis.  Actually, all that I do wear is eyeliner and mascara.  I think is is mainly because I am a slug in the morning and don't have enough time or energy for anything more!  In addition, I have very sensitive skin and tend to react to a lot of different products. That being said, as I only purchase two different items, I tend to choose higher end "better quality" products.  When I was notified that I had been selected to review Covergirl's new LashBlast line of mascara, I was intrigued but not very optimistic that it would meet or exceed my current brand of mascara.
There are four different types of mascara in the new LashBlast line.  This means "a blast for every lash!"  I chose Covergirl's LashBlast Fusion mascara to review.  This mascara claims to make your eyelashes look fuller and longer, maximizing the lashes you were born with.  I was happily surprised when I received my package and the handy $2 off coupons for me to share with others.

The next morning I carefully set aside my current mascara and opened up my Covergirl LashBlast Fusion mascara.  The container fits comfortably in the hand and opens with ease.  The bristles on the wand were different from other mascaras I have tried in the past.  These bristles were quite short but there were way more bristles than others.  With just a few strokes I had ample mascara on my lashes, making it economical and fast.  I reviewed my results in the mirror and saw this....
I was born with fairly dark lashes but I have never had such great results!  It felt like each and every lash was successfully covered and lengthened to it's maximum.  With just one application I had achieved better results than my other, more expensive, boutique mascara.  I figured that there would be no way this mascara would last all day.
I was wrong!  This mascara provided all day coverage with zero flaking, running or other messes. There was no need for touch ups or re-applying.  I have continued using this product and can open and honestly tell you that I have had steady, continued success.  This mascara also easily transforms your look from day to night with an additional swipe of the wand.

This mascara has now taken the place of my boutique mascara.  It delivers the same or better results at a fraction of the cost.  I have yet to try the other three types in the Covergirl LashBlast line (Volume, Clump Crusher, Full Lash Bloom) but intend to try them all in the future.  Easily available at many retailers (I personally found them in Shoppers Drug Mart, London Drugs, Walmart, and Save On Foods), this product retails for approximately $9.99.  I also appreciate that the Covergirl brand regularly goes on sale or offers coupons to their consumers.  This makes it an economical choice for a wide range of consumers.
I highly recommend going out and trying this product. I was one of those "high end" makeup consumers and I can honestly say that I prefer this mascara over the others.  Thank you BzzAgent for choosing me to review the Covergirl LashBlast Fusion mascara and discovering this hidden gem!

I received this product and coupons from BzzAgent and Covergirl for purpose of review #GotitFree

Tuesday 1 September 2015

Well that was ten minutes of my life well spent!

I've been a little MIA lately and I've made a promise to myself to be a little more consistent with my posts.  After all, there are so many great savings, creative projects, and delicious recipes that are waiting to be shared!  Case in point - Clairol Nice n Easy Root Touch up.

I've been lucky enough to be a "BzzAgent' for the past few years.  Based on your profile, demographics, and lifestyle, there are various "campaigns" that you qualify for.  This means that they will send you new products to sample, review, and provide your honest feedback. Seems simple right?  It is!  Betcha you are wondering why you haven't signed up yet, right?  Me too!

Clairol Nice n Easy Root Touch up addresses a common problem for many people that colour their hair.  It feels so good when you have your hair coloured and is such a boost to your confidence.  Unfortunately, after a few weeks you start to notice your roots beginning to show.....especially if they are grey!  There's no way you have the time or the budget to go back to the salon so soon, but those grey roots make you want to wear a the summer. ;)

The Clairol Root Touch up kit contains everything you will need, from disposable gloves to mixing bowl.  Instructions are easy to follow and the mess is minimum.  I appreciated the fact that the scent wasn't overpowering.  As a long time sufferer of sensitive skin, I find that strong scented hair colours tend to make my skin react in rash.  The Clairol kits are available in 21 different shades which makes it much simpler to match with your current hair colour.

Now, the best part.  The colour has to sit and soak for ten minutes!  Ten!  That's it!  That's less time between commercial breaks on your favorite reality tv show!  Like many other people out there, this single mom never seems to have enough time to do ANYTHING.  Clairol Nice n Easy Root Touch up eliminates all of your excuses.  They state that the colour will last approximately three weeks and will gradually fade/wash out.

I found the product to be very user friendly and the result was super shiny, smooth grey-free hair.  The colour blended nicely with my natural colour and I received lots of compliments on how shiny and healthy my hair looked.  As a consumer, I like the fact that the Clairol line of products are reasonably priced and regularly go on sale or provide coupons.  BzzAgent provided me with a handful of $2 off coupons with my touch up kit and I happily shared them with friends and family.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience with Clairol Nice n Easy Root Touch up and I thank BzzAgent for providing me with the opportunity to test.  Please note that I was given a sample and coupons from BzzAgent for purpose of reviewing. #GotItFree #Clairol #BzzAgent
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Friday 3 April 2015

Advanced Screening Passes to Disneynature Monkey Kingdom

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Disneynature's "Monkey Kingdom" Advanced Screening Passes Giveaway

heck out this great opportunity through a fellow blogger.  Please check out her site and take your chances at passes to what looks like another top quality Disney movie.  At 20yrs old, my daughter will STILL cuddle up beside me on the couch to watch a Disney movie.

ONE (1) lucky winner (Canada only) will receive 2 passes for the prescreening in Vancouver/Burnaby area onSaturday, April 11th at 10:00am, SilverCity Metropolis in Burnaby. Contest ends April 7th, 2015 at 11:59pm EST. One entrant per household. Void where prohibited by law. Enter to win using the form below. Good luck!

Monday 16 March 2015

Thank Heaven for 711 - Making Fridays Extra Special!

For me, Fridays are already pretty great.  Not only is it the last day of my work week, but it's also the one day a week we are able to wear jeans to work (casual Fridays). Nothing makes for a comfortable work day like stretch jeans and moccasins!  Recently I discovered one more way to make Fridays even better........enter the 711 smartphone app!

711 has started a new marketing tool that appeals to the new technical revolution and draw more customers through their doors.  Consumers are invited to download the app for free and a variety of special deals and promotions become available for purchase.  Here is an example of what it looks like:
A variety of ever changing options are available......from reduced prices of hot coffee to super sizing your slurpee for a fraction of the cost.  It's a great incentive to bring people through it's doors.  There is a barcode on the home page of the app that the cashier will scan with your purchase.  Once the cashier hits the subtotal, the cash register will automatically deduct any sales or specials currently available on your smartphone app.

The best part of this application though (in my opinion), is something they call "Freebie Fridays".  Every Friday, 711 will offer a limited quantity of a selected item for FREE.  There is a limit of one per customer (in order for more people to enjoy). This "freebie" changes on a weekly basis.  I have seen a variety of items from a free coffee to a fresh baked cookie or chocolate bar.  This past Friday, it was a free bottle of Jones soda 355ml (any flavour).
Jones Pineapple Cream Soda 355ml
As you can tell, my teenage son thought this was a great deal and it was already half gone before I could snap a photo! I was responsible for the bottle deposit and environmental levy's, but the $2.09 price of the soda was deducted at the till.  It's a fun, free way to start the day and to try to guess what it will be each week.  My daughter gets a ride to work with me on Fridays and we now refer to the day as "Freebie Friday" and make sure we allow enough time to stop by.

On a side note, 711 also celebrates holiday spirit with this smartphone app.  During December, they offer "Twelve days of Christmas freebies".  Each day for twelve consecutive days, they offer a limited quantity of different items for free.

It seems that this free smartphone app is the gift that keeps giving!  I hope this post makes your Fridays just a little bit brighter like it did ours.

Thursday 12 March 2015

Indulging your Sweet Tooth Without Breaking the Bank

You should never EVER go to the store when you are hungry.  I know this, I live this, and yet there are times when I find myself listening to my inner sugar monster rather than my common sense.  This happened last night when I popped into the local Walmart to buy eggs on my way home from work.

With the greatest of intentions, I made a beeline for the eggs.  While I was there, I grabbed a carton of Tropicana orange juice that I had an FPC for (Free Product Coupon).  BUT, then I thought I would just take a quick peek at the cleaning supplies because Walmart has been clearing out a bunch of items recently due to discontinue and package change.  In the end I'm glad I did because there were some fantastic deals to be had!  The down side?  I had to walk past a section that just happened to have sour jube jubes in eyesight.  Sigh......I really really like sour jube jubes.  Before I could think about my expanding waistline, into my buggy they went (In hindsight, I should never have grabbed a buggy to pick up gave me far too much carrying space!)

I almost made it to the till when I saw the Veggie Sticks.  My salty monster is almost as bad as my sweet one and I compensate by telling myself I'm eating vegetables rather than just potato chips. This was also the moment I realized I needed to get out of the store and go home for dinner!  Here is what I ended up with:

Sweet & Sensible Shopping (Tropicana orange juice not pictured)
The Breakdown:
Garden Veggie Straws - $2.97 - $0.50 Zweet (online coupon app) = $2.47
Sour Jube Jubes - $1.67
Large Eggs - $2.78
Finish Quantum Dishwasher Tabs 38 - $3.50 (Regular price $9.97)
Pledge Floor Cleaner - $2.00 (Regular Price $7.97)
Windex Touch ups - $1.00 (Regular Price $4.97) PLUS I had a $2.00 coupon making this item a money maker of $1.00!
Tropicana Orange Juice 2L - $3.47 - $3.47 FPC ( held a promotion during Superbowl that if you spent $20.00 on their products at one time, they would mail you a coupon booklet worth $30.00. This is one of the coupons from that booklet)
Total Price with Taxes - $18.67
Minus Coupons & FPC - $12.70

Hold gets better!
MINUS - $7.00 Snap Saves (online couponing app) with the purchase of ANY Pledge Floor Cleaner (the one I paid $2.00 for which means they PAID me $5.00 to buy it!)

Grand Total:  $5.70

Granted, if I hadn't bought the treats then my total would have been even better (and healthier) at $1.01 but I'm happy with the numbers I achieved.  My kids were happy as well when I arrived home with treats for everyone!

Just another example of how being in the right place at the right time can pay off (or make you NOT pay!).  It can be very beneficial to take a few extra minutes to see what in-store sales and promotions may be on.  With five minutes out of my day, I was able to satisfy the sweet & salty monsters, the teenagers (creatures in themselves), and the dust bunnies hiding in the corners of my house.

I almost forgot to mention the icing on the cake.  The kids were so happy with the treats that my amazing daughter offered to give me a gel nail polish manicure!  Pampering in the comfort of my home by my favorite girl at the end of a long day.........priceless.

Until next time!

Friday 27 February 2015

The Love Affair Continues......Shoppers Drug Mart

The sun was shining and I needed to purchase some stamps for work, so I stopped in at my favorite Shoppers Drug Mart.  There's nothing better than being able to score a few great deals at the same time as completing your errands for work.  I quick stop at their postal station in the back of the store and I was free to pick up a few things.

Once again Shoppers had some great deals this week.  The deals are even better when you match them up with coupons!  I was able to get a few really great deals by using some coupons I had on hand as well as a few of the weekly coupons that are emailed to me by Shoppers.

Royale Tiger Towels Paper Towels - Regularly retailing for around $5.99, this week they were advertised for $3.99.  There is currently a contest running at where you have an opportunity to win a variety of products.  There is also an "instant win" game you can play.  I was lucky enough to "win" during the instant win game and received a $3.00 Royale Tiger Towels coupon that was available to print.  You know what that means.......paper towel for $0.99!

U by Kotex Tampons - I have a picky daughter who will ONLY use this brand of feminine hygiene products.  The couponer in me cringes when I see other brands go for better deals, but that just makes my donations to the women's center even better.  Regularly priced at $5.99 for the 18pk, this week they were featured for $4.99.  One of my weekly emailed coupons was for $3.00 off ANY tampons!  I was able to pick up a box for $1.99!!

Pledge - This handy little cleaner is a pricey one, retailing at $7.49.  This week it was a great sale at $3.99 per can.  How happy was I to discover that my online couponing app "SnapSaves" had an offer of $4.00 rebate for one can of Pledge (limit of one per transaction)?  The put one penny IN my pocket before taxes!

I was stopped by one of the lovely sales associates as I was shopping to direct my attention to a section in the store of clearance priced items. Wishing I had my coupons with me....I saw some amazing deals that I couldn't pass up!  Herbal Essence Shampoo with bonus Dry Shampoo retails for $5.49.  Shoppers clearance was $1.25 each when you purchase 2!  Honest!  $1.25!  Herbal Essence Conditioner (the big 500ml bottles) regularly $5.99 was on clearance for $1.12 each when you purchase 2!  So I purchased 2 bottles of shampoo, 2 bottles of conditioner, received two bottles of dry shampoo as a bonus, and paid $4.74! Before your jaw hits the gets better!  Another online couponing app, Checkout 51, currently has an offer for $2.00 rebate when you purchase one bottle of Herbal Essence Shampoo AND one bottle of Herbal Essence Conditioner!  There is a limit of one rebate per week.......BUT.....that means I purchased SIX bottles of hair products for a grand total of $2.74 before taxes!  That's $0.46 a bottle!

Last but not least is a regular deal at Shoppers and one I use often.  My email coupon was $0.49 for any Campbells soup.  Regularly priced at $2.29, I saved $1.80 by using this coupon. I use this soup in lots of recipes or simply with a grilled cheese sandwich.  I also bought a bag of Jelly Belly Valentine Jelly Beans (don't judge me, it was lunchtime and I was huuuungry!).  These were regularly priced at $4.99 but were on clearance for $1.00.  I have a weakness for gourmet jelly beans so in my opinion, it was $1.00 well spent!

To summarize, if I had bought all of these products at regular price, not taking advantage of sales or coupons, my total would have been $54.28.  By taking advantage of sale prices and still not using any coupons or discounts, I would have lowered my costs to an impressive $23.25.  With taking advantage of sales, coupons and discounts, my grand total today was $8.73.  That is a savings of 84% from regular price, and 62% off the sale price.

Happy Shopping!