The only realistic way to achieve financial independence is to spend less money than you earn and invest the difference. Eventually the investment amount will be large enough to sustain your expenses. This is why we are always looking for ways to save money in our daily lives. An extra dollar saved means we can plant this dollar as a dividend seed and it will grow into a dividend tree in a few years and provide re-occurring dividend fruits year after year.
With that in mind, here are 5 things that we did recently that have saved us some money.
Calling Shaw to ask for a cheaper internet package
A Telus representative dropped by our house the other day to offer a slightly cheaper internet option than what we have today with Shaw. With the Telus option we would save about $100 for a year, then after a year there wouldn't be any price difference between Telus and Shaw.
With that information on hand, I phoned Shaw last night. Although I had to wait on the line for 20 minutes before talking to someone, I was surprise that the Shaw loyalty representative was very pleasant to talk to and was very professional. After I told her what happened, she said right away that she could provide a better deal. At the same time I also complained a little that the Shaw wifi router we have seems to not be as reliable as it used to.
After another 5 minutes on hold, the Shaw loyalty representative came back and offered to give us the new Shaw advanced wifi router rental for free ($7/month usually) and a faster internet package for $12 cheaper per month than what we're currently paying. The internet price package is good for a year and she suggested calling back in a year to ask for another deal. I was pretty happy with the offer and decided to take the deal on the phone. A Shaw technician will drop by next week to set us up with a newer wifi router.
The reality is, I didn't really want to switch to Telus and face the possibility of a couple of days of internet downtime and having to pay both Telus and Shaw for a month. I didn't tell this to the Shaw rep though.
Total saving per year: $144 + 84 + taxes = $255.36
Home Depot price guarantee
We've been wanting to get a chest freezer so we can freeze larger amounts of food. Every summer we buy a lot of fresh blueberries to last us half year or so. Considering Baby T loves blueberries (& food in general), we would love to be able to have enough frozen blueberries to last us the whole year. Mrs. T grew up on a farm and her parents typically would keep slaughtered animals like cows, pigs, chickens and lambs in the freezer so they would have meat that would last the year till next time it was time to slaughter. We want to do something similar with the chest freezer as this would save us the need to go to grocery stores to get meats regularly. Buying bulk would also allow us to get the meats at a much lower cost.
So we did some research online and determined a specific chest freezer model. During our research we found that another store was selling the same model for $10 cheaper. This store is much further away from our home so it was inconvenient to drive there and purchase the freezer. Instead, we went to the Home Depot store close by our home and asked Home Depot to match the price. As it turned out, Home Depot didn't just match the price but beat their competitor's price by 10%. This was a pleasant surprise.
Total saving: $70 + taxes = $78.4
Making large portions of soup
We've had a pretty hot and dry summer here in Vancouver. This past week the weather turned and it has been very rainy and windy. It feels like fall is upon us. We typically make a lot of different types of soup during this time of the year. It's comfort food for us and it warms us up. So the past week we've been making large portion of soup. We purchased a couple of whole chickens last weekend for making soup. Once the chickens are boiled and most of the meats are taken out, Mrs. T then used the chicken bones and scraps to make home-mad chicken stock. First we made a Thai inspired chicken noodle soup with herbs and onions from our own garden. This noodle soup lasted us 4 day worth of meals. We also made chicken, bacon, mushroom barley soup. Again home-made chicken stock was used and we used kale, carrots and herbs from the garden. We estimate the soup will last 4 days or so.
Total saving: Hard to say, considering organic produce can be expensive... probably $30 for both soups? Just think about how much it would cost us to go out for dinners for a full week!
Buying a manual lawn mower
When we moved from an apartment to a house last fall, we realized that we will need to get a lawn mower. We tried to put off the purchase by borrowing the lawn mower from my parents in May and June. Since we don't have a truck or a van, moving the lawn mower was a bit of a pain. After doing that a few times, we decided that we need to own our own lawn mower. We looked at the different lawn mowers at Home Depot and found the cheapest gas-powered push lawn mower was $249. This lawn mower, however, didn't have a high rating online. Furthermore, the Home Depot representatives we talked to said this lawn mower's engine was based on a very old engine design, making it not as reliable compared to some of the newer gas mowers with newer engines designs. The Home Depot reps we talked were suggesting us in getting a more expensive model that has a bigger engine and has self-propel feature. The cheapest model is $499...
For a moment I felt that I was in a car dealership, getting the upsell talk.
"What about this one?" Mrs. T pointed to a manual lawn mower on the demo floor that was labeled $149.
"I'm not buying a manual lawn mower for that price. Shouldn't it cost way less?"
"Hey what about this one?" Mrs. T pointed to another smaller manual lawn mower that was labeled $99.
Mrs. T and I then started asking the Home Depot representatives questions about the manual lawn mower.
As it turns out, Home Depot didn't have any of the smaller manual lawn mower in stock so they offered to sell the floor model for $79. The smaller manual lawn mower is 4 inch shorter in width than the bigger one, meaning it would take slightly longer to mow our yard. However, considering we don't have that big of a yard, it shouldn't take that much extra time.
"Let's get the manual one, I'll mow the lawn if you want me to, it is good exercise and you save gas and it is better for the environment."
I was sold on Mrs. T's statement. 🙂
I used the manual lawn mower a few times this summer and it worked quite well. It would take me about 30 minutes to mow the lawn with my parents' self-propel gas lawn mower. With the manual lawn mower, it would take about 1 hour. That also means 1 hour of exercise for me.
Total saving: $420 + taxes = $470.40
Side note.... Mrs. T has not offered to cut the lawn for me just yet. :p
Fill up gas in USA
Since we live close to the US border, going to the US to fill up gas has always been an enticing option as gas is much cheaper in the states. This is true even taking the exchange rate into consideration. The only annoyance is that I have to wait in the border lineup both going to US and coming back into Canada. The border wait times meant it would typically take 30 minutes (often longer) to fill up gas.
Recently I got my Nexus card (kind of like pre-TSA). This card allows me to expedite the border clearance process in airports and land border crossings. So the border lineup is no longer a worry for me. With the Nexus card, the process of clearing US border check, filling up gas, and clearing Canada border check can take as little as 10 minutes. This meant now I'm more inclined to go over the border to fill up.
With the current gas price and exchange rate, it saves me about $11 per tank. I typically would need to fill up about 3 times a month, depending on how much we drive.
Total saving: Approximately $33 per month or $396 per year.
With these five simple money saving actions, we have saved approximately $1230.16. More if we make more soups or fill up my car more than the estimated. Pretty solid number if you ask me. 🙂
What have you done lately to save more money for investing?
On a somewhat related note...
Baby T has been saying "Dada arbejde (work in Danish)" whenever I pick up my work bag in the morning to head to work. The other day before going to work I told him...
"Daddy needs to work to make some money."
Without any hesitation he started saying...
"Dada arbejde... honey!"
Both Mrs. T and I laughed pretty hard. Now whenever I have to go outside or whenever I pick up my work bag, Baby T would say "Dada arbejde... honey!"