By Sheryl Smolkin
Read this article and comments at Moneyville.ca
In the last eight months of writing for Moneyville and avidly reading articles written by my fellow bloggers, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never be really frugal. I don’t reuse tinfoil, graft soap or wash and dry milk bags. If I need gas, I fill up at the nearest station when I go below a quarter of a tank and I won’t drive out of my way to get a dozen eggs for a few cents less.
Don’t get me wrong. Our house is mortgage free and we pay our credit card bills every month. I love a bargain, and as far as I’m concerned it’s not a sale unless items are marked down by at least 50 per cent. I also don’t hesitate to negotiate anywhere, any time if I think I can get a better deal on anything from clothes to household furnishings. I’d probably have more money in the bank if I sweated the small stuff, but I figure time is money and life is too short.
Nevertheless, I’ve learned a great deal from Moneyville. For example, for every possible problem, there is a list of really great solutions. In case you missed them, here are examples of only a few of the list blogs that have resonated with Moneyville readers over the last few months and some of the hints I have taken to heart.
12 ways to burglar proof your house: We always stop our newspapers and make sure grass is cut and snow is shovelled when we are away. We also have great neighbours who are up to date on our travels and keep an eye on the house.
10 ways to be a great guest, not a pest: Bringing gifts to our hosts is a given. However, I agree that it is even more important to pitch in as often as possible and not complain about anything, from the number of bathrooms to the food on the table.
Budgeting, 10 things you need to know: “Pay yourself first” is still one of the best financial tips ever. For example, you are much more likely to max out your RRSP contributions if they are automatically deducted every month, than if you have to come up with a lump sum at the end of the year.
7 ways to protect your credit cards on vacation Calling credit card companies before we travel abroad has helped to avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of having our card refused on trips because of our unusual spending patterns. We also bring several cards and leave one in the hotel safe at all times.
7 alternatives to a landline phone: Ads for Voice or Internet Protocol (VOIP) services are very enticing, because I pay way too much for both a business line and a personal line at home. However, I still worry about potential down time and sound quality for my audio interviews, so I’m not quite ready to take the plunge.
On a more personal note, writing for Moneyville has been both exhilarating and terrifying. The best part has been the comments and personal notes from readers after each blog was posted. However, for the first several months I had many sleepless nights worrying about what to write about next.
But I’ve found my groove now, and I have enough story ideas to last for at least another year. All I have to do is figure out where I put the list I made before I went on vacation.