What is in Box 7 of the Advent Financial Calendar ?
You open the box to find a Finger Pointing, puzzling, what could that mean? Pointing? Points? Ah, yes, Points, specifically Loyalty Points and also Gift Cards. This is all money in your pocket if you choose to use them, but if you don’t they are worthless.
As my readers know PC Points is my favorite, and we will be using them this Christmas to make our Christmas much more frugal, but I also have Petro Points, Aeroplan Points, Hudson’s Bay Points, Sunoco Points, Canadian Tire Money, Optimum points and I’m sure there are others I have forgotten. All these point systems has made my wallet very “Costanza-like” in size, but I have these points.
Gift Cards? Mrs. C8j cleaned out our closet and found our gift cards from last Christmas and luckily none of them had expired, but that is another area where there is “Free Money” for Advent and for Christmas. She and I can go out to dinner for free, we can go to a few movies and I have many books I can buy as well. I keep collecting Canadian Tire money when I buy gas, and eventually I have $20 at least and usually buy new wipers for my car or something like that, but this year, maybe I’ll buy a friend something useful (like a Mr. T. Air Freshener) from Canadian Tire.
Use your Points and use your Gift Cards! You earned them, use them!
If you don’t want to spend them, donate them (you can with PC Points), make them work.
Have you missed other boxes, here is the list so far:
In Ontario we are celebrating the strangely observed Family Day. Strangely celebrated since most folks have the day off, except Federal Government Employees and some companies, so we do have mail delivery, but the Loblaws is closed? Going to make for an interesting day of figuring out whether I want to skate around the neighbourhood (yet another Freezing Rain storm in Ottawa) or sit at home with my Family and do Family things like:
Paint the Family room (no, not likely to happen, Home Depot is closed too)
Work on our Genealogy (I got a program for Christmas to work on that, so I may actually do that one)
Ask my Children how their lives are going. That one is easy and it takes 3 minutes, because the answer is “Fine!” (with a very annoyed tone).
Enjoy Family Day, get into it.
How Much Do You Pay For Cable (revisited)
From time to time I talk about how much home entertainment costs. I view my home as not very extravagant in this area (I haven’t upgraded my stereo in years, and we still have standard definition TV’s for now). We do have “Digital Cable” but that ended up costing $1.50 more a month (for this year at least), that is our only major step so far. We also have High Speed Internet access, but I view that as a necessity now (for my work, and for life in general).
More and more I talk to my co-workers and they have extravagant home theater and entertainment systems and are spending a big chunk of money on subscription fees or buying media for these systems (i.e. Cable TV monthly charges and DVD (High Definition) purchases).
There is a very small group of folks who have gone completely in the other direction, and have turned OFF their Cable TV access (they still have high speed Internet access).
Their reasoning is actually quite good:
They are rarely at home and thus will rarely sit down in front of a TV to watch a show at a specific time, so most of the shows they watch are “recorded”. Some have actual antennas (not the old rabbit ears, better than that) and they can get some digital broadcast TV over the air for Free.
When they do have time to watch “TV” they actually watch a fair amount on their PC (DVDs sometimes or recorded shows), either where they are (traveling) or their PC’s connect into their home entertainment HDTVs.
They are cheap and don’t want to pay Comcast or Rogers Cable $80 a month for the privilege to watch TV, or fork out $25-$30 for High Def DVDs.
So what do they do? They simply find content on the Internet. Most shows are now available in their entirety from their original broadcasters. Those that aren’t are available from Bittorrent sites where you can download content (illegal in the U.S., might be illegal in Canada, not sure of the copyright laws).
So they save about $1000 a year and get to watch what they want, when they want? Sounds like a good idea to me.
I have a cell phone for work that I have had charging at work for a while, and never thought twice about it. Then one day, I realized, “Why am I charging only my work cell phone here?”, so now I charge my personal cell phone at work as well. Is this fraudulent use of company resources? Don’t think so, but it is being darn cheap!
Why is cheapness frowned upon? Isn’t it our money, so trying to keep it, shouldn’t be a bad thing, but holy cow, the funny looks you get when you tell someone just how cheap you are, and the “I’d never do that” looks you get? Lighten up folks!
The other thing that I still do, that I learned from my mother that I have spoken about before is the emptying of old ketchup bottles into the new one. Yup, I sit there and decant the remaining dregs of the old ketchup bottle into the new one. How much ketchup am I saving? I don’t know, but it makes me happy. Now my mother also used to mix old cereals together into the new ones as well, so you’d end up with Cheerio/Shreddies/Puffed Rice in your cereal in the morning as well, but you get used to it, and you save a little money too.
That is the code phrase a friend of ours has for when she goes to the Salvation Army thrift store to buy clothes, “I’ve been shopping at the boutique”. Why do folks like me shop at the thrift stores that seem to be opening all over the place? Because we are cheap? I can’t afford to shop at the Gap every time? I think the answer is YES to all and a few other reasons too.
If you have four kids (and three of them daughters) keeping them in new clothing could easily bankrupt us (if our kids were insane clothes horses like the ones on MTV, luckily they aren’t). They are growing and active kids and a lot of times clothes are grown out of or ripped so quickly, I’d go insane if I’d bought them brand new.
My wife has made shopping at thrift stores almost a science, and her only comment to me was that you need to be very patient and know when new “deliveries” come in. My kids have not made too many complaints about wearing “used” clothes, in fact they are starting to go there themselves, which is a good thing. They also buy new clothes but mostly with gift money from their relatives.
Most of these thrift stores have a charity component to it, so that is a good thing as well. We typically dispose of our “lightly used” clothing in the Salvation Army red boxes or whoever is collecting at the time.
Finally if you ever see me complaining about it isn’t cold enough in Ottawa, please feel free to leave a very rude comment. I can only say I thank my mechanic every morning this week for convincing me to put a block heater in my Honda!
Yes, I caught myself doing something that as a kid drove me quite insane. My mother and father grew up in a completely different world than I did, and have very different ideas about the importance of saving (their attitudes are much better than their son, I freely admit). When they left the UK, there was still rationing and both of them lived through World War II.
My mother was always saving a little bit here and there, and one of her tricks was taking left over cereal from old boxes and adding them to the new boxes (because her lazy sons would open the new cereal before the old one was finished). Now that may not sound too bad to you, but it didn’t matter if the old box was Puffed Rice and the new box was Corn Flakes. This meant that you ended up with some very interesting hodge podge cereals, and you never knew what would pour out of the box in the morning.
This morning, I did the exact same thing. I must admit, I finally had it with my daughters not finishing the cereal, and we have 5 boxes of cereal open, so I started to merge boxes together. I am very interested to see what they think of it tomorrow morning, when they get their “special mix” cereal?