Creative Ways We Saved & Earned During the COVID-19 Pandemic

I got the idea for this post from Penny at She Picks up Pennies. With COVID-19 not going away any time soon, I figured it would be a good idea to examine some creative ways that we saved and earned during the pandemic, and maybe provide you with some ideas on how you might scale back or earn a little extra during these times. 

The number of active cases has been slowly decreasing here in BC, so the stay-home lockdown is easing up with some limited gatherings now being allowed. Having said that, we need to stay vigilant about practising social distancing and continuing to flatten the curve. Stay safe everyone! 

Creative Ways We Saved During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Here are some things that we have done in the past number of weeks that have saved us money:

Getting a small refund on car insurance

Since I commute to work, our car insurance falls in the “commute” rate class. Basically, the commute rate allows us to drive the car for more than 15 km to and from work each day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been working from home remotely and have not driven to the office since March 13. Knowing that the office isn’t going to open any time soon, I decided to phone up the insurance broker and inquire about changing the insurance rate class from “commute” to “pleasure.” The pleasure rate class would still allow for driving for typical day-to-day activities like errands, driving the kids to school, or going on vacation. Under a pleasure use rate class, I can still use our car for up to six days in a calendar month for commuting to work. 

When I phoned the insurance broker, the lady originally told me that there weren’t any cost savings because ICBC no longer honoured the 10-year-safe-driver-status. Rather than saving money, it would cost us an extra $68 to drop the rate class for about three months. 

The increase in insurance didn’t make sense, so I asked the insurance broker to check again. Later that day, she phoned me back and told me that she messed up and ICBC would still honour the 10-year-safe-driver status. This resulted in a saving of $61. I should have phoned and changed the insurance class back in April to save more money. Oh well. 

Making our own plant based milk

In the last year or so, we have consciously reduced our consumption of cow milk for health, ethical, and environmental reasons. Instead, we have been drinking plant based milk like almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk, and oat milk. While these plant based milk products seem to be better for our digestive system (i.e. we don’t feel bloated, too much info to share?), they can quickly burn a hole in our pockets.

After experimenting and drinking with different types of plant based milk, Mrs. T settled on hazelnut milk while me and the kids liked oat milk better. Surprisingly, both of these types of milk are quite easy to make at home. For hazelnut milk, it involves soaking the hazelnuts for a few hours, draining the water, blending the hazelnuts with a specific amount of filtered water, and finally filtering the milk through a cheesecloth. This is a similar process for oat milk as well, except you don’t have to soak the oats beforehand. 

Unfortunately, oat milk gets very slimy when heated up, so it’s no good whenever our kids want hot oat milk. So over the last few weeks I started experimenting with different recipes and tried to make our own version of barista oat milk. After a few failed experiments, I found a successful recipe that does not involve adding oil. It simply involved adding about a cup of shredded coconut with the oats. This mixture gave a good amount of fat in the oat milk, and prevented oat milk from getting slimy when heated up. The Califia Farms oat milk you can purchase costs about $0.36 per 100 ml. After a quick calculation, I estimated our homemade barista milk costs about $0.02 per 100 ml. 

In case you’re wondering, here’s my version of the homemade oil-free barista oat milk recipe: 

Home-made oil-free barista oat milk Ingredients 

  • 1 cup of quick rolled oats
  • ½ cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 medjool date, pitted (or substitute maple syrup to taste)
  • 3 cups filtered water

Instructions

  • Add all ingredients in a high speed blender and close the lid.
  • Blend at the highest speed for about 60 seconds.
  • Place a cheese cloth over a large mixing bowl and pour the milk over it. Then strain, squeeze really well until most pup is left. 
  • Pour the oat milk into a glass container and store it in the refrigerator. 

The recipe is super simple and I can make the oat milk in less than five minutes. 

Making our own bread and treats 

While stuck at home, we have been making our own sourdough bread and treats. Mrs. T has been following bread recipes from Baking by Hand and the different types of bread that she’s made have been just as good as artisan bread you would buy from a store. Rather than going out to buy pastries and cookies, we (well mostly me) have been baking cookies, banana cakes, cinnamon buns and other delicious treats for our daily hygge. 

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Yum yum yum! 🤤

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

It saves us money to make our own bread and treats; we do, however, drop by a local café occasionally to purchase some cookies as a way to support the local businesses. 

Growing our own

For the past number of years, we have been growing our own produce in our backyard garden. This year was no different. Since February, Mrs. T has been sowing seeds inside using the indoor grow-light kit. Once the seeds grow into seedlings and the seedlings are strong enough for outdoor use, Mrs. T then plants them in our garden. So far this year, we have planted things like tomatoes, garlic, onions, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, arugula, spinach, salad, kale, and pumpkins. In the last few weeks we have started harvesting arugula, spinach, and salad. Growing our own produce has saved us money every single year. Later in the summer we would be able to become quite self-sufficient when it comes to produce. 

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To be planted in our greenhouse soon! 😊

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

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Potato planting time! 🥔😎

A post shared by Bob Lai (@tawcan) on

Creative Ways We Earned During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Coaching More

During the pandemic I have been able to schedule more coaching calls with fellow readers who need help with their finances, ranging from getting out of debt and starting DIY investing, to figuring out their financial independence retire early plans. I’m not actively advertising my coaching service, so I am a bit surprised that more people have contacted me regarding the service. I suppose some people wanted to take charge of their finances during the pandemic. 

Doula Talks

Since late last summer, Mrs. T has been working her way to becoming a certified birth doula. One of the things she started during the COVID-19 pandemic is a weekly doula talk session where pregnant ladies could call her, learn more about birthing, and how a doula could help them during the birthing process. While these sessions are free to sign up, it has been a great way for Mrs. T to connect with other pregnant ladies and potential future clients. The sessions also get her name out there in the community.  

Dear readers, how are you saving a bit more or earning a little extra during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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11 thoughts on “Creative Ways We Saved & Earned During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

  1. This is awesome Bob! I saved on my car insurance as well as we are driving less. That’s the easy one on this list though. I’m more impressed with all of the gardening and the making your own plant based milk. That’s amazing.

    Thanks for sharing some of these ideas with us. Love the pictures.

    Bert

    Reply
  2. Tawcan –

    Nice job! I showed my wife your oat milk recipe, as we want to experiment with that, as well. Breads look awesome.

    I may need to call my insurance company, as I have been going into work, but my wife has not. Therefore, have been doing every other day with each car, drastically reducing how much is driven overall.

    That’ll be my next move this week.

    Thanks for sharing Tawcan!

    -Lanny

    Reply
  3. I have been drinking almond milk for 7 years and never once thought that I could potentially make it on my own. Thanks for the tip!

    I also like how you don’t just talk about saving – it’s also about making money. I am a strong believer that you should be trying to do both. Great read.

    Reply
  4. oooh great post! I’ve tried making oat milk but for some reason it came out quite bitter, despite me using fresh oats. I’m going to try your recipe. Thanks for the post.

    Reply

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