Classy Frugality

Making the most of life while living on a budget

Month: September 2014

Game Changer

The game is constantly changing.

Maybe it’s a bit trite to call paying off our debt a “game” – maybe I should say “our reality is constantly changing” – it’s more accurate, right?

Anyways, you’re probably wondering what has changed. Let me tell you.

Two months ago, I shared that my husband had lost his job. It was disappointing, and we knew it would slow our debt repayment down, but we would be okay. We’d still be able to pay the bills, and Fred worked hard to get on teacher on call (TOC) lists and had committed to being the house husband. We adjusted to our new reality.

Fast forward to 12 days ago, when I started my part-time teaching job and entered into a new season of working two part-time jobs to a total of more than 40 hours a week. Everything was working – Fred was cooking, cleaning, shopping, and taking care of the bills while I was working, working and working.

We were just getting used to our new roles. I was finally letting go of not planning meals and taking care of the home, and starting to enjoy the idea that all I had to do was work and help out around the house, not take charge of the household responsibilities like I had done in the past.

Then, something crazy happened.

Fred was TOCing at the school he worked at last year, and the principals approached him and asked him if he would be interested in some part-time work, 2-3 days a week, including a bit of teaching and some administrative work. He said yes, and we weren’t really sure what that would look like. This seemed exciting, and we were open to the idea of him doing this and still TOCing in other schools on the other days of the week.

The next day, he got asked if he wanted full-time work until January (the end of the semester) to add support to oversized classes and relieve a principal of a part-time class.

We were shocked. Both of having full-time work? Both of us loving what we do? Both of us being able to bring in a decent amount of money?

This changed everything. 

This is more than just a boost to our income, and more than just a solution to help us pay off our debt more quickly. It was also encouraging to Fred that he got to be back in the school that he loves. It felt right – like this is how it was supposed to be all along. 

So, the game has changed.

4 years ago, we didn’t know how we would ever pay off the almost $100,000 total in debt that we owed. We’ve never both had full-time work.  We’ve been doing what we can with what we have, and now, we’re in a new season.

We’re earning more than anticipated, which does increase our ability to put more on our debt. We are teasingly close to paying off one of our three remaining debts, and are feeling hopeful about the idea of being completely debt-free in about 2 years. Our responsibility and anticipation is growing.

Now, we’re just re-adjusting our expectations of what it will look like to both be working full-time, sharing the household responsibilities like we never have, and seeing the light in the tunnel get closer.

The game is afoot! 

Stay connected and interact with the blog!

  • Leave a comment below to tell me about a time in your life where something that happened to you, job or otherwise, changed everything for your finances. 
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Ode to the Library

Some people have been using one of the best free resources out there.

I wasn’t one of them.

I knew that the library was awesome, and that there were a lot of great things that you could check out, but I didn’t quite believe it or utilize it.

Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t go out and buy a bunch of books or movies, but I was missing out on the cornucopia that was available to me.

When we moved to Abbotsford, we realized we were a 5 minute walk from the library, and my dear husband encouraged me to go with him one night to check it out.

I fell in love that night.

I walked into the library and realized that there were a ton of free resources available! I could rent a movie, check out a book, learn about whatever I wanted to, and not spend a single dollar. It was mind-blowing.

Let me tell you some of the perks of and the resources that the library offers:Photo 2014-09-06, 5 57 01 PM

1. It’s FREE.

I know that sounds funny, because it’s common knowledge, but seriously people – FREE. When you are getting out of debt, this should be music to your ears.

2. Expansive book collection

This is what a library is known for – but for me, this has always been something I have loved. I could spend hours in a bookstore – I love that I can find books on any topic that I can read and learn from.

3. DVD collection

Okay – seriously – you can check out movies and seasons of shows from the library. We’re not talking just old movies – I rented some great movies and shows that have been released in the past 2 years that I either wanted to see or had seen and didn’t own.

I know that a lot of people have Netflix these days – but we don’t. So when we want to watch a movie, we go to a mom-and-pop video rental place and pay $1 or $2 – which is still a good deal compared to going to the theatre. But it can’t compare with free.

(P.S. We rented Downton Abbey – what could be better? They had all three seasons – that’s hours of fun right there!)

4. Exercise DVDs

I’m working on being more healthy and exercising more, and I’ll admit that sometimes I would rather not leave my house. But, I can rent DVDs that I can work out to in the safety of my own home. I can rent new ones all the time and not get sick of a workout. (Bonus: I can turn it off if I’m done – not worrying about walking/running home or driving home from the gym!)

5. Free internet

If you don’t have internet in your house, usually, you’d go to Starbucks, right? (I would/do when I need to.) Instead, you can get an hour of free internet access at the library. Total score. (No coffee buying required!)

6. Books on tape/CD

If you commute a lot and wish you had time to read books, consider books on tape! You can listen while you drive or transit, and “read” all those books that you’ve always wanted to get around to.

7. Bonus: Fraser Valley Regional Library

If you live in the Lower Mainland, all the FVRL branches are connected, so you can check out books/movies/resources from any branch in the LM.

So if you live near a small branch (like, cough, Walnut Grove), you can reserve books from other branches and not miss out on all the great things that are out there!

The Verdict

I’m in love with the library. I want to go every week.

I know that I’m usually really frugal, but I am working on saving money wherever I can. I believe that the library can help me fill the void inside of me that wants to rent movies and get new books without spending a penny.

Now that’s a good deal.

Stay connected and interact with the blog! 

  • Leave a comment below to tell me how you feel about the library. 
  • You can also tweet me (@classyfrugality) to share your thoughts. 
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How To Shop For Produce on a Budget

Note: This is part of the “How To – On a Budget” series. Click here to read more ideas for doing life on a budget (building a wardrobe,  having a baby, and giving gifts).

We’ve all heard it: “Get your 5-a-day!”Photo 2014-07-08, 6 18 49 PM

But let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s hard to invest in produce when it seems so expensive.

Today I’m going to share with you some of my tips and tricks for shopping for produce on a budget so you can have a happy and healthy life and diet.

1. Shop local.

I usually shop at a local produce stand as opposed to picking up my fruits and veggies at whatever store I’m already in. The prices are better, and there are usually options to buy from local farms, which is cheaper than importing from other countries.

2. Shop discount. Photo 2014-07-08, 6 19 15 PM

I love the discount section! I have found some truly amazing things in this section. It’s usually on a shelf away from normal sight, so hunt for it or ask an employee. This is where the produce that is going bad gets put. Sometimes you find moldy and mushy things, but other times, you find things that still have a bit of time left in them.

This picture is an example of a really good day on the discount shelf. I got a bag of perfectly good tomatoes, delicious plums, just ripe mangoes, organic bananas, and local strawberries. Each item was $1.00 – total score!

If you do find some items that are only going to be good for a day or so, buy a bunch of veggies to make a stir-fry or make a batch of jam with ripe fruit.

3. Shop in bulk (for certain things). Photo 2014-06-25, 4 48 47 PM

I buy certain things in bulk that I know I will use and that won’t go bad. Some good examples are apples, potatoes, carrots, and onions. These items last a long time, and I use them on a regular basis. Make sure to store them in a cool, dry place or in the fridge to make sure they keep.

Buying things in bulk will save money. Take potatoes for example. Instead of paying $1.40/pound, I buy a 10 lb. bag for $3.50-$5.00. This lasts me a long time, and I pay 1/3 of the price with the bulk option.

4. Shop smart (don’t overbuy). 

Sometimes I get so excited about the discount section, or I want to try new things, and I buy too much. This wastes money if you let it sit in the fridge and it goes bad. I generally shop twice a month for produce, spending about $20-$25 each time. That means $40-$50 gets my family our 5-a-day for a month – what a deal!

Now it’s your turn! What tips and tricks do you have for shopping for fruits and veggies?

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