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Hi there! Thanks for the questions. The following might help to answer a few about frugality - and Canada. Fifteen years as a stay-at-home mom, when money was so tight it squeaked, qualifies for personal experience.
We do have summer up here. But in our neighbourhood, we have to heat our homes from approx. October 1 through April 15th. The thermostat is set at 65 degrees F during the day and 50 degrees F at night. We heat with oil (natural gas being the alternative) and have an oil-fired hot water heater - very efficient and cheap to operate if compared to electricity. Thermostats can be programmed to automatically raise and lower the temperature during a twenty-four hour period. When we are away the thermostat sits to 55 degrees F (the cat doesnt appreciate this at all!). The furnaces blower is on 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. It draws warm basement air during the winter months and cool basement air in the summer. Warm air in the winter? The furnace is in the basement, and basement ducts are open. As the air is warm "down there" it may as well be circulated through the house. Why heat the basement? Have you ever stepped out of bed onto a COLD FLOOR? It is necessary in our part of Canada to keep a warm basement. Pipes can freeze in an unheated basement - especially in an OLD house. Yep, we do have lots of insulation. But that isnt always the answer for frozen pipes - especially when the temperature at - 10 degrees F.
Although it gets hot during the summer, we do not own an air conditioner. We open our windows wide mid-April to let the breezes blow through - and only close them again around the beginning of October.
We own a clothes dryer but havent used it in years. During the winter the laundry is dried on wooden racks in an upper hall, near a hot air duct, with a fan blowing gently to circulate the moist air. During the warmer months, the clothes are hung on an outside line.
To save electricity, when a roast is cooking, I make a day of it and do all my other baking. We buy flour, sugar, yeast, oatmeal, raisins, peanut butter in bulk. One hundred lbs of flour is stored in a garbage can (bought for the purpose) with a few bay leaves sprinkled in it to keep the "bugzies" out. The same applies for oatmeal. Early in our marriage we invested in a LARGE freezer. Hubby built a cold room/pantry.
An old Celtic saying translates loosely into - "if there is love in the heart and food on the table, one doesn't notice a sparse house." We buy what we truly need and can pay cash for. We have one credit card - for emergencies. We share magazines and videos with friends, neighbours and relatives. We surround ourselves with books on all subjects, bought for pennies at charity fundraisers. We get good C.D.s this way too. Libraries are usually free for residents use and offer a wide variety of services.
We shop twice a month. This practice almost eliminates impulse purchasing. We, and a lot of other Canadians, shop the "big box stores. We purchase a three month supply of household basics when the price is right. You'd be surprised at how much you save by eliminating the habit of weekly shopping. We never "run into a store for milk and bread". It is all in the freezer-fridge and pantry. Milk does have a long shelf life. We shop at the farm-gate, at produce markets and have a large vegetable garden which supplies family and friends. Malls are not an outing destination. We visit only if we need a specific product which is not available elsewhere. For a lot of people, malls are too much of a temptation. Once inside, one is encouraged to " shop-shop-shop" through a variety of proven marketing techniques. Dont fall for the hype! Do not shop malls if you are the least inclined to impulse SHOP. Take a walk on a nature trail - for free instead.
We save oodles by not buying expensive sundries. We use a basic shampoo and rinse with vinegar; we use one basic hand soap. We do not use fabric softener in our laundry. I use ½ the detergent called for per load of laundry. I do not use cosmetics. We do use a cheap and effective hand cream during the winter. The female members of this family let natural beauty shine through. Hubby visits a barber but I dont spend money on a hairdresser - long hair, you see. Put all that money you normally spend on cosmetics in a bank account for a necessity or your old age. We bought a CD player with some of our savings.
Many Canadian "snowbirds" love coupon shopping and make a hobby of it when they "fly" south for the winter because "Canucks" do not have the pleasure of great coupon shopping at home. In our part of the country we rarely see any to clip. The ones that do appear are usually for highly processed food products frugal shoppers do not buy - or cat food. I do write positive letters to companies whose products I like and use. I ask that they place my name on their in-house mailing list (if they keep one) to receive coupons or information on new product lines. Youd be surprised at what comes in the mail! By the same token, I do not hesitate to complain about an inferior product. Again, youd be surprised at what you might receive. "Adumb", our 19 year old cat is up to his eyeballs in "treats" and just received a birthday card! Ive just filed coupons worth $18.00 for a national brand of health-related product which we use.
Can I make a living as a writer in Canada? No. Not in the present climate. How then do I personally make a wee bit of money when those cheques re writing are few and far between? How about "time" as an extra in movie and T.V. productions. We live within easy driving distance of "East Hollywood North". The experience does bring in a few extra dollars. Ive also had reasonable success with reprinting rare local history books whose copyrights have lapsed and are available. As these are all presold, the money is "up-front" - to pay for printing, mailing and effort to bring the publication to market.
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