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Friday, 22 February 2013

Some things you can stop buying right now

 I'm not a banking whiz, I'm not Susie Homemaker but since starting on my frugal lifestyle journey a few years ago my eyes have certainly been opened to both the things we actually need, and the things we just plain do not.
I would like to take a moment, gentle readers, to talk about some things you can stop buying.  In almost all of these cases no longer buying these products will not impact your life at all, and its money in the bank for you.

Greeting cards
In truth I can not think of a time when a (store bought) greeting card is required.
 If you are giving a gift a gift tag does the job just as well as a greeting card would do. None of this running out to buy gift tags now! A scrap of wrapping paper - which, for the record, you can also hand make- works just fine.  If that doesn't suit your fancy then get more creative. Write the names of the gift recipant on the wrapping paper with coloured markers, stamps or cut the letters from magazines and newspapers.  
If you're not sending a gift, and a card is in it's stead, or its a big occasion like a wedding, a simple handwritten note would be so much nicer.  Don't know what to say? Google it! (That does seem to be my answer for everything, doesn't it?) "Simple wedding card verses" or "funny birthday card ideas for dad" should get you tons of examples you can pull ideas from.
 If you don't want your handwritten note on lined paper because the occasion is too formal- I can understand that. My first suggestion is to head over to Staples and get a pack of card stock paper. You can go with classic white or any of a multitude of colours.  Cut one sheet of card stock in half, fold, volia!  blank card. This route will cost you pennies a card and you can make it suit any occasion in the world. My other option is to go to Michael s Craft Store and pick up a package of eight blank cards for $1.50. This will run you three to four times as much as the card stock option but for about 15 cents a card is still a huge savings over the $7 racket they are trying to pull in the card shops.

Dryer Sheets/fabric softener
So many reasons not  to buy these.  The biggest I can think of is: there is no need for them!  When your laundry is clean then its clean. No need for it to be smelling like "purple tango" or some other such silly business.
It's one more chemical ingredient  added to your day and against your family's' skin.  And once more, for no reason!
Fabric softeners and dryer sheets apply a thin waxy coating to all fabrics. This means several things for you.  One: Wax = water repellent.  No longer makes much sense to be using these for your towels, does it?
Two: That waxy coating can interfere with the fire retardant properties of some fabrics (like children s pajamas). Big problem for me.
Three: The waxy coating does not judge. It gives its waxy love everywhere, not just on the clothes. One of the most preventable causes of peoples dryers breaking down is because this waxy stuff has built up in the lint trap. That can cause your machine to overheat.  Best case scenario:  broken dryer. Worst case scenario:  dryer fire. (Regardless of your use of dryer sheets, please make sure your dryer is off before you leave your house. Dryer fires can happen to anyone.)
Here's an easy way to tell if your lint trap has been compromised by dryer sheet buildup: take out your lint trap and run the screen under water. If the water runs through as it should you're good.  If the water pools you have wax buildup. Just take an old toothbrush and some dish soap and give 'er a good scrubbing until the screen allows water to pass as normal.

Bottled Water
Personal Pet Peeve: People drinking fancy schamncy water while complaining about the price of gasoline. Gas SHOULD cost more than water. Lets get our perspectives in line. *End rant*
Bottled water is expensive, wasteful and unneeded.
The regulations in place to be sure our tap water is safe for our families to drink are not at all (at all!) the same for bottled water.  People have this notion that if the cap is sealed on the water bottle it must be safer than tap water.  Here in Canada, that simply doesn't mean its true. In theory, I could put water from my toilet  in a bottle, slap a label on it and sell it to you for $5. Bottled stuff doesn't sound like such a great idea now, does it?
Admittedly some municipalities have a nicer water supply than others. If you find your tap water unimpressive for drinking I think the investment of a water filter system is a great thing. And remember, most water tastes great when its nice and cold. So fill a jug from the tap and keep it in your fridge for a cool, refreshing, safer thirst quencher.

Vegetable trays
You were not just thinking about spending $15 on $4 of vegetables, were you?! Nothing fancy or complicated has been done to these veggies.  Just cutting. You can do that. What's that? You don't have time? You get off work at 5 and you are due at your friends place at 5:30 with a veggie tray- what are you to do? Pick up the veggies from the store like you planned, but the $4 uncut ones, and head over to your friends house. I will bet, dollars to doughnuts, she has a knife and cutting board there you could use. And I truly cannot imagine a friend of anyone looking down their noses at someone chopping vegetables in their kitchen.  The point is that you are there. On time. With the promised veggies.

Fruit baskets
Same deal as above, but easier! No cutting required! A basket from the dollar store, some old newspaper for basket stuffing and you're set. This comes at a cost so significantly reduced that I am baffled by people who buy these baskets to leave on a co-workers desk for her birthday. The fruit basket is the gift. It makes no difference to the taste of the fruit if you spent $12 or $60 on the same arrangement.

Mass produced wall art
I adore local artisans and am more than happy to support them in their trades when I can. Their works of art are not what I am referencing. I am talking about the canvas they want to charge you $350 for at the big box home decorating store.
My bathroom artwork cost me $1, and that was for the frame from the dollar store. Since we had painted our bathroom green I went to the hardware store and picked up a bunch of green paint sample cards. I laid them in tidy rows, slipped on my frame and done.
The artwork in Walters bedroom was a fun activity That Guy and I did one day.  Each of us had a canvas (from the dollar store) and the same three colours. In different rooms we painted our own canvas and then compared our work. It was neat to see how differently we both used the same materials. They are a great, colourful reflection of ourselves.
Of course, you can always think outside the box.  Paint an over sized clock on the wall- you can get super sized clock mechanisms so its functional. Hang tree branches, or group vintage silver severing platters. Possibilities are endless.

So there it is. Just a few things I could think of that you can stop buying today, never buy again and have it truly not impact your life.

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