Category Archives: shopping

The Spending Trend Continues!

I found myself in a place I said I would never go again.

A shopping mall.

I went back today because it has a Walmart and I wanted to get this cheapo pair of flat boots that would fit my wide calf (as seen in the Fatshionista! community). Lucky for me it wasn’t the zoo it was on the weekend. Note to self: do your shopping on a weird day!

I ended up taking several detours, slowly accumulating bags and purchases like it was my business! (Luckily I had my trusty reusable bags with me to help carry everything, including my My Bag! You can win one from me too, you know! To help you with your shopping! Just click here to enter!)

I just finished jotting down a list of all the people/events I must provide a gift for, and it breaks down like this:

7 (minimum) xmas gifts
4 birthdays
1 housewarming

That is TWELVE gifts that I have to come up with! For me that is a simply staggering amount! I am doing everything as frugally as possible, and I vacillate between being ridiculously proud of myself and crying in the corner because I still spent so much money.

So far I have about 6 of the gifts covered, and am well on my way to finishing up the remainder.

For my friends I’m trying to be uber-frugal, but in the end I wonder how much everything is going to cost. All the little pieces, sunk costs and miscellaneous bits that need to come together for these gifts could end up being quite the investment. For wrapping, I’ve been using the little that I have on hand, and have also visited a dollar store for some interesting items. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be baking/making little bags of goodies for everyone as the finishing piece to their gifts.

Here’s a photo of some of the things I’m giving away that I have ready to go:

Homemade apple butter & vanilla extract
Homemade apple butter & vanilla extract

I made and canned a batch of apple butter in the summer, and also made my own vanilla extract, both of which you can see in this photo.

I’m actually going to be including more stuff in each gift basket for my friends, but I don’t have it all in one place yet. Each friend is roughly going to get:

  • A jar of canned fruit I grew, picked & canned myself in the summer (pears or plums)
  • a jar of apple butter
  • and/or homemade pickles I made at the same time
  • and/or a bottle of vanilla
  • a bag or two of sweets
  • a pretty little basket or bag to hold it all in!

Once I’ve got it all together I’ll be sure to take some photos–if everything works out they should be pretty good-looking gifts! (Not gonna lie… when I try I am very talented at wrapping & presentation! You can see my mom’s gift in the background 😉 )

Even though I bitch and complain about putting these gifts together, I really enjoy doing it. If I had more or unlimited money I would do so much more! But I’d still probably include something handmade, and I like all my gifts to be as thoughtful as possible.

I just wish money wasn’t such a big concern for me right now. I don’t want to think about it, and I haven’t tallied anything up yet, but I have an inkling that these “frugal gifts” are actually costing me a lot more than I anticipated. Everything from the cost of the jars & wrapping supplies and the ingredients to make the goodies will eventually add up.

The question is–do I really want to know?

Teaser

Oh man. I just hit up two events today and I am positively overloaded with

SWAG.

My arms actually hurt from carrying it home (time to hit the gym again!!). It’s all very exciting! I shall post about it as soon as I can…

*giggle*

OMG Kitty Love!

Check this out!

My worlds are colliding, man!

It’s a KITTY CAT PIGGY BANK.

My love of cats + money in one!

It’s only 8 bucks on the Animal Rescue Shop, too! I think I may have to get one!

The best part is that for every purchase on this site, food is donated to animals in need. I am totally on board with that. I really like this site, too. Sure, there’s lots of tacky stuff, but for every 2 tacky things there is at least one super cute thing, too.

OOOOHHH! I think I just saw plant pots! Time for me to go!

Vespa Update

I received an email from a reader today asking me how the hunt for a scooter was going. I guess I haven’t done an update on my decision, have I?

To save me some time and effort, here’s what I wrote back:

“The search is postponed for the time being due to funding issues…

At first I decided to look at other brands because the Vespas really are more expensive, but eventually I decided that I just wasn’t in a position to purchase a scooter with cash this year. I would have to purchase not only the scooter, but also insurance and pay my way through the licensing system and take riding lessons as well.

It would be quite the investment.

With the economy the way it is and my friends losing their jobs left right and centre I figured it would be a better idea for me to focus on my Emergency Fund rather than a non-essential scooter.

If you’re interested in one of your own, all I can say is research, research, research! Talk to people that own them, read reviews, etc. to find the model that is right for you. I had my eye on a Yamaha Vino for a while. I never got far enough into the decision-making process to decide whether to go new or try my hand at a used scooter, so I can’t offer any advice there.”

———

So there you have it. I still really, really want a scooter, but it’s just not in the cards for me right now. I still stare wistfully at all of the scooters parked in front of my building every day, wishing that one of them was mine. But I simply cannot afford to buy one right now.

HOWEVER: If someone would like to give me one, I would be more than happy to accept! 😉

What I’m Reading: The Outliers

I’m currently whipping through Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success.

It is the shit.

I love this man. His books are incredible and so insightful, you need to check them all out. Easy to read and understand, yet so powerful. Fascinating… I could go on and on.

It’s interesting to identify yourself in some of his books (Tipping Point–I’m a Maven) and it looks like I’ve got the makings of a moderate Outlier so far.

I will spare you the details of this book as the Amazon summary does a better job, but so far I am loving it and recommend it to all my friends. And everyone.

This guy is pure gold. I brought up his book The Tipping Point in my job interview and BAM! I got the job!

Was it magic?

If you’re interested in his other books, these are the ones that I’ve read:

PS. If you buy them (and you should!) I will get some pennies from Amazon’s Associate program! Help a gal out and get some great reading material!

RuMe Bags!


I don’t really know how it started, but at some point I began getting tired of my reusable bags. I’ve got a decent collection of them, a couple of the recycled President’s Choice bags, one from the Metro grocery store, and a bunch with branding and logo on them–the kind you get for free a lot.

The problem is, they’re all pretty ugly, I don’t like walking around looking like an advertisement (at least pay me something, sheesh!) and none of them really rolled or folded up small enough to carry in my purse for those last-minute shopping trips. I also wanted to use them to cart things to and from the office everyday and didn’t really feel like announcing to the world that I shop at Cotton Ginny each time.

I was checking out my Google Reader one day and came across a great WiseBread post about stylish reusable bags. The article reviewed three brands: the Flip & Tumble, Baggu and RuMe. I thought it was a really excellent article, so I’m going to share it with you.

Personally, I think all the bags are pretty awesome. Each of them have some unique traits that make them really cool. At first I really liked the Baggu bags due to their awesome colours and prints. But the actual design of the bag wasn’t perfect for me– the handles didn’t look like they would fit over my shoulder very well, and I didn’t like that the little pouch you store them in is not attached to the bag itself–I would totally lose it!

Next I looked at the Flip & Tumble. I know Mama Bear had one of these and she loved it. I think the design is awesome; but again it would only serve me as a shoulder bag and not one that I could easily carry in my hands. Groceries are heavy and I like to switch up my carrying position as I go!

So finally, I came to the RuMe bag (Roomy–get it?). It was love at first sight. Not only are they available in several different sizes, but also some breathtaking patterns and colours! And of course, they fit my carrying criteria; I could hoist them with my shoulder, or carry them in my hand without having to perform some intricate band-twisting.

I love that they come in “collections”, you can buy a set of 3 coordinating bags in different sizes or buy them individually. I like a lot of them, but since I don’t really need 20-some-odd bags to carry around with me, I had to select just one set.
So I picked the Spring in New York Patterned collection! :)


This is what they actually look like all folded up (I still need to practice a bit so I can get them as flat as they come originally!) I included a lip balm for scale reference. The photo below is the one that I keep in my purse. Three bags is a bit much to haul all the time, but they’re ok if you’ve got a planned shopping trip!

Now, the sad part is that these are only available through one online retailer in Canada, and they were kind of pricey. At $34.95 plus $7.50 for shipping I ended up spending $47 total for 3 bags. However, there was a silver lining! In honour of Earth Day the merchant was throwing in another bag for free if you ordered before March 31, so I got the pink one to go with my patterned ones! Totally fab.

I actually had a good experience with this retailer, too. I think it’s worth mentioning! Even though the shipping cost was a little on the high side, I placed my order at 4pm on a Thursday, and they were delivered by noon on Friday! They sent me emails each time an action happened on my order so I always knew what the status was, and I even got an email from a real lady telling me I would be getting an extra bag for free. It is so refreshing to be treated like a valued, human customer!
Now that I’ve had the chance to use my bags a couple of times I can say that I am totally happy with my purchase! They are a great size, strong, roll up well and are SO stylish! Haha I feel so chic when I walk downtown with my RuMe bag… not only are they stylin’ but also eco-chic! I just know ALL the girls that see me are envious of my beautiful bags 😉 hehehe
If you’re interested in getting your own RuMe bag(s) so you can be as cool as me, they are available at GoneShopping.ca for Canadian customers (they’ll give you a free one if you order before March 31), and RuMeBags.com for everyone else.
Happy shopping!

Woo! Las Vegas!

I know I’ve been complaining about the money situation lately and this seems a little counterintuitive, but

I’m going to Las Vegas!!! 😀

My friend C and I had originally planned to travel somewhere warm together in February, but our schedules and budgets and stuff never really synched up so we didn’t go at that time.

We still wanted to travel together though (she lives in Ottawa and we don’t see each other much), and now that the economy in the States is so poor, we thought we’d check out the deals for Las Vegas. Everyone should go to Vegas when they’re young, right?

So last night we took the plunge and booked our trip!

We spent all day yesterday online scouring the online deals and found lots of good hotel ones, but the flights were insanely expensive! Originally we were going to go at the end of April, but it would just cost too much, so we opted for the week following Easter to head over. We saved a bundle and found a bunch of great deals.

Our budget was $1000 CAD and had to cover flight, hotel and two major activities. We decided we wanted to take a daytrip to the Grand Canyon and also take in the Cirque du Soleil show O. My entertainment fund plus my tax return and any additional savings I can keep will fund this trip for me.

So how did we net out?

Thanks to Expedia.ca, we found a great deal that included all of the above! We’ll be staying at Treasure Island (OMG pirate love!) for 5 nights and scooped airfare, shuttle from the airport, the Grand Canyon trip and the best seats in the house for O for $955.55 each after taxes!!!

I think that’s a pretty great deal, all things considered! (btw, don’t tell me if it’s not! I don’t wanna hear it!)

Of course there will still be other expenses involved in this trip, mainly food, transportation and incidentals, but they’re a little easier to scale back on versus the hotel costs, etc. We will just have to moderate ourselves while we’re there. I think food will be easy– the American portions are huge so we’ve decided to share entrees if possible.

I’m good at the food budgeting while travelling; when I was in Europe it could get really expensive eating out so I learned the best ways to do it, including picking things up at a grocery store and eating lots of samples!

So I’m pretty excited about this trip, can you tell??? I’ve travelled all over Europe and parts of Canada, but haven’t done much travelling in the US on my own, so this should be fun and easy! I love that I will speak the language, understand the money and fit in by all appearances 😀

So, let me ask anyone who has been to Las Vegas to share any fun and cheap activities that they enjoyed! Since we’re on a budget we can’t afford to do much of the fancy schmancy stuff, but I’m sure there’s lots of other things we can do…right?