Archive for the ‘Budgeting’ Category

The New Couponing: Save Money on Groceries, Part Two

Monday, January 25th, 2016
The New Couponing: Save Money on Groceries, Part Two | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you feel as though you need to take out a second mortgage these days to pay for groceries in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region? My recent blog article entitled “Hurting From Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries” mentioned coupons as a way to save money at the till.

Where do you find coupons?

The old way was to clip coupons or rebate offers printed in newspapers and magazines, or pick them up at the grocery store. But much greater numbers of the discounts offered by stores and manufacturers can now be found on the Internet. You can achieve surprising savings this way.

Online Coupon Sites:

These websites provide coupons (for many things, not just groceries) that you can print out from your computer, or have sent to you by mail. You will need to spend time familiarizing yourself with each site’s offerings and be aware of regional offers and expiry dates, but the money you save can really add up.

Canadian Free Stuff
Coupon Click.ca
Free.ca
Grocery Alerts.ca  (see especially: (SmartSource printable coupons Smart Source will also send you sample packs of items, but that is a blog post for another day!)
Mrs. January.com
P&G Everyday (Proctor & Gamble:  Samples from P&G too, some of them full size products!)
Red Flag Deals.com
Retail Me Not
Save.ca
Save a Loonie.com
Saveland.ca
Smart Canucks.ca
Simply Frugal.ca
Valpak.com
Websaver.ca

***Check out this digital couponing app — no more printed coupons: Coupgon  (Read “Coupgon: Digital Couponing for Canadians” for the details.)

Cash Back Smartphone Apps:

These apps pay you cash after you upload a photo of your grocery receipt. Usually, the payment comes after a minimum dollar value has been accrued. The advantages to this system are that you don’t have to carry around printed coupons, and often there will be rebates on items for which coupons are almost never offered, such as produce. Here are four of the best:

Checkout 51   (See “Checkout 51: The Ultimate Guide“)

Snap by Groupon  (See “Snap by Groupon: Everything You Need to Know“)

Zweet   (See “Zweet – New Cash-Back Rebate App” )

CartSmart  (See “CartSmart: Canadian Money-Saving App“)

***For even more information about these apps, plus 2 others.

Other Apps:

Two more apps to make grocery shopping simpler and save you money:

Flipp
Enter your postal code and you’ll see dozens of flyers for stores in your area. Set up your favourites list to find flyers for your preferred stores. The search feature allows you to find just the items you’re looking for, along with local deals. Price matching is then a snap. You can also create a shopping list if you tap on the items you want to buy.

Save.ca Mobile
Browse flyers, redeem cash-back offers, create shopping lists and more.

Do you have money-saving tips to share? Let me know and I’ll feature them in future blog posts. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamOil prices below $30 per barrel, much higher prices at the grocery store, and paying a lot more for everything imported as the loonie plunges are leaving many residents of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County bewildered and wondering how to cope.

Financial advisors typically suggest that we prepare and follow a budget, keep track of expenses, spend less than we earn, and so on. What are some easy to follow tips that won’t make you feel that you have to lower your standard of living?

 

Today’s focus is on cutting food costs.

1.  Prepare your meals at home from scratch to stretch your food dollars the farthest. The vast quantities of pre-prepared and processed food items at the grocery store may be convenient but they will cost you more. And if you think you don’t know how to cook – it’s never too late to learn!

2.  Deliberately cook more than you’ll consume for dinner. Then package and freeze the rest for another meal, or plan to pack it for your lunch the next day. Bringing your lunch from home instead of paying restaurant prices will save you big.

3.  Learn what groceries cost. This means educating yourself about how much the price of the same item can differ from one store to another, or from one week or season to the next. Study the prices in the stores and better yet, read the flyers. Some people shop only in the one store that they feel has the best deals or the best selection. Other people visit several stores in order to save the most money on individual items. Find a strategy that works for you.

4.  Plan ahead. Make a list before you go shopping based on: a) what you need for meals for the next week, b) what your family will use up before the next shopping trip, and especially c) what is on sale as listed in the store’s flyer. Stick to the list, and avoid impulse buys. Don’t buy more than you can comfortably store and use. Shop just once a week, or less. You’ve probably also heard the advice not to shop on an empty stomach!

5.  Buying in bulk is cheaper than buying small packages and makes sense for food items that keep for a long time and are used often in your home. Do a lot of baking? Buy the largest bags of sugar and flour you can find (on sale, please!) and store them appropriately. Looking to sample something for the first time? A small package may be more economical in the long run.

6.  Be aware of the tricks stores use to get you to buy more or to buy higher priced items in a particular category. A store in Spruce Grove routinely offers cottage cheese for a special price – but only if you buy three large containers. Good deal if your family consumes a lot of cottage cheese; not so great if half of it spoils before you use it.

Note how items are displayed on store shelves. Higher priced and name brand items tend to occupy the real estate within easy reach and at eye level. Take the time to compare prices between brands and between different sizes of the same product.

7.  Ask yourself if you must have the name brand you’ve seen advertised on TV (for a premium price; they have to pay for that advertising somehow!), or if the generic or store brand item could be just as good. Generic (“no name”) and store brand items are usually manufactured by the same companies that produce the name brand stuff but without the fancy packaging. No name butter? Half the price of the name brand stuff and tastes just the same!

8.  Along with ditching many name brand products for cheaper but just as good no name or store brand items, consider what you regularly put on your plate. Deliberately seek out cheaper options, such as cheaper cuts of meat, “manager’s specials”, or even less meat. Look also for meat and produce that has been discounted. A local grocery store slaps “30% off” stickers early in the morning on meat that is close to its best before date. Substitute cheaper and often healthier and just as flavorful fruits and vegetables, especially those grown closer to home, for more exotic and imported produce.

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam9.  In the summer months, patronize your local farmers’ markets for the freshest and healthiest produce. Often cheaper too than what you’ll find at the store. Should you grow your own garden? That depends. In truth, you may not save money since seeds, bedding plants, fertilizer, water and gardening tools all cost money. What’s more, the garden tends to yield its bounty all at once, providing far more than most people can use at one time. However, if your family is large and you are prepared to can or freeze the harvest for later use, a garden can be a good investment in money and health.

10.  Consider eliminating the purchase of some things altogether, such as bottled water and soft drinks, or packaged cookies. This will not only help your wallet but your waistline too!

Other good tips.

11.  Some people advise a cash only strategy for grocery shopping. But many no-fee credit cards give valuable rewards that can lower your grocery bills or help your budget in other ways. If you shop at the Real Canadian Super Store, your President’s Choice Financial MasterCard will give you points every time you use it. Those points, which add up quickly, can then be redeemed for “free” food. Other stores have similar programs; for example, Sobey’s and Safeway offer AirMiles. These programs cost nothing to join and they do pay off!

12.  Paper coupons used to be the way to shave money off a grocery bill. They still exist but the modern way uses a variety of websites and apps that give money off or provide rebates. An upcoming blog article will showcase these apps. Stay tuned!

Do you have other tips to save money on groceries? Let me know and I’ll post readers’ contributions in a future blog article or on social media. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Buying a Home? Here’s How to Determine Exactly What Price Range You Can Reasonably Afford

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Buying a Home_ Here's How to Determine Exactly What Price Range You Can Reasonably Afford | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamIf you’re looking to purchase a home in Parkland County, Stony Plain, Spruce Grove or the Edmonton area, you might be wondering how you can reasonably determine what your price range is. Though you may have the ability to afford up to a particular amount, you should also ensure that you don’t overextend yourself. Make sure to leave room for the “just-in-case” expenses, and follow these tips to ensure you are remaining within your reasonable and affordable budget.

Get Expert Advice: Talk With Your Mortgage Specialist

First things first, before you begin your property search, whether you’re looking for Parkland County acreages, Edmonton acreages, or surrounding area, you should ensure you have an open and honest discussion with your mortgage broker or the mortgage specialist at your bank. When you are preparing for your meeting, ensure that you have your employment and income documentation to bring with you, as well as your previous year’s tax return. You should also have a list of any monthly expenses, and supporting documentation, such as information on car payments, student loans, and other monthly expenses.

Be sure you are honest and provide complete information to your mortgage broker regarding your income and monthly expenses, as this will help them determine what your affordable and realistic purchasing budget is.

Don’t Forget the Extras: Factor In Additional Expenses

When you are planning your affordable budget for your Spruce Grove real estate, either with or without your mortgage broker, you’ll want to ensure that you consider additional expenses on top of the basic mortgage costs. Discuss any additional mortgage insurance costs with your broker, as well as expenses such as maintenance fees and property taxes. Each of these aspects should come together to help you ascertain what you can reasonably afford, and, when considering these additional factors, your actual home budget may be tightened. Therefore, be sure not to forget the extras!

Have Foresight: Consider Closing Costs From the Start

Since your down payment amount on your mortgage for Parkland County real estate can significantly affect your monthly mortgage costs, you’ll want to ensure that you consider the amount of closing costs well before you get to that point in your real estate transaction. A possible problem arises when these costs aren’t factored into the equation from the start, and the buyer has to pull away from his down payment lump sum to come up with the money, thereby increasing his monthly expenses and perhaps overextending him financially. Therefore, ensure you are well prepared for the closing costs on your Stony Plain real estate, and get the figures from your mortgage broker or REALTOR® at the start.

As long as you’ve done your research on the matter, and factored in all of the aspects of your income and monthly expenses, as well as the additional fees of the real estate transaction itself, you will surely arrive at a number that is reasonable and affordable. Get your expert advice, do your research, and have foresight, and you should be in great shape!

If you’re still unsure, I am always willing to answer your Edmonton area real estate transaction questions! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

“How much money should I plan to spend on home maintenance?”

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

“How much money should I plan to spend on home maintenance?” | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhether you own your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home for months or decades, there will come a time when you will need to sell it. Wise home owners know that the value in their property, and their enjoyment of their home, can slide in a hurry if maintenance and repairs are neglected. What’s more, failing to deal with problems as they occur may result in much bigger, more expensive and more urgent repairs later on. That little patch of damp showing up on the ceiling today could lead to a major and expensive whole roof re-do in a few months.

Home maintenance and repair falls into two categories:

Minor ongoing repairs: Basic everyday upkeep includes replacing burnt-out light bulbs, oiling squeaky hinges on doors, tightening loose cabinet handles, repairing leaky faucets or slow drains, changing the furnace filter, patching the driveway, and a long list of things that need to be done to keep your property in show home condition. These pesky things are easy to ignore, but potential buyers will be unlikely to offer top dollar for a property with many small but visible faults.

Major once in a while repairs: The second kind of repair is needed when essential systems break down or wear out, sometimes without warning and at inconvenient times: the furnace quits, the sewer backs up, the hot water tank leaks, roof shingles wear out and no longer keep water from entering the house, wooden window frames rot out, the springs in your automatic garage door give out, and so on. If you live in your home long enough, you will probably experience all of these situations and others, and these items are often expensive to fix.

So, how do you go about budgeting for everything that will eventually need to be repaired or replaced in, on or around your home?

There are several methods to do this, but all involve setting aside a certain amount of money every year.

1. The 1% Rule. Reserve each year one per cent of the purchase price of your home (or the appraised value of your home as per your annual property tax assessment). Home valued at $350,000? Budget for maintenance costs of $3,500 annually. Maybe you won’t need to spend that much every year, but you’ll be glad you saved the excess year over year when the big catastrophic expenses hit.

2. The Square Foot Rule. Every year set aside $1 per square foot of finished space in your home. 1,200 square foot bungalow with finished basement? Budget for about $2,000 to $2,500 per year. You may also want to take into account the square footage of a garage, garden shed and the like.

3. The Systems Approach. More complicated but possibly more accurate than the previous two suggestions, this method is based on the 7 systems found in each home: outside structure, roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC), drainage/landscaping. Consider all the minor maintenance and major repairs that could be done on each system and calculate an annualized amount for each. Luckily, this work has already been done by Romana King in her article “The Ultimate Home Maintenance Guide”, published in the magazine Money Sense. Her conclusion is that, depending on the size and age of your home, you should plan to budget $900 to $2,500 per year for basic maintenance, and an additional $3,500 to $7,300 for big items. This means annual cost of upkeep could range from $4,500 to $10,000 per year.

No matter how you calculate it, looking after your home can be costly. If you take care of minor repairs as they’re needed and plan ahead for the inevitable replacement of systems, costs will be spread out throughout the time you own your home. You’ll be able to enjoy your lovely home without worrying that the roof will, literally, fall in, and when it comes time to sell, your well-maintained home will return a good price.

Whether you’re looking to buy a pristine new home with nothing to do but move in, or you’re a handyman looking for a fixer-upper, I can help! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNow is the perfect time to be looking for property in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region! Particularly in Spruce Grove real estate and Stony Plain real estate, the housing market is looking positive and there is a lot of inventory for first time homebuyers looking to get that perfect home in a small city. If you really want to take advantage of the Stony Plain real estate market right now and get the keys to your very first home, there are a few quick budgeting adjustments you can make that will get you into a house that you own. Here are a few great money-saving tips to help you save up that down payment.

Make Your Own Lunches

Many people don’t realize this, but you could free up a lot of your money by making your own lunches and at-work snacks at home rather than buying them during the workday. A ten dollar lunch and a five dollar a day coffee habit add up to $300 over the course of a month. Train yourself to make your lunch at home the night before and keep it in the fridge. You can also consider bringing leftovers to work for lunch. Bring lots of snacks for the morning and late afternoon so that you don’t feel the need to go out and buy more food. Once you get into the habit of making your own food, you’ll love how your savings steadily increase.

Make Small Trips Instead of Big, Expensive Ones

Travel is a big expense and one that people who are saving for a house usually cut. People are often slow to cut down on travel because they somehow get the idea that there is nowhere amazing to go near Stony Plain or Parkland County real estate. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Use this time to explore smaller places near Parkland County acreages that are off the beaten trail. Athabasca and Wabamun are both within an hour from Stony Plain, and are great places to go camping if you’re the outdoor type. If you want something a bit more adventurous, try heading to Jasper for a night, or road tripping to Kelowna, where you can easily find a low-cost hostel for a few nights.

Track Your Expenses: There’s an App for That

One of the best ways to watch your budget is to track your expenses with a money management app. Mint is a great budget app and website that will let you manage all of your accounts and credit cards in one place. Mint is one of the web’s most popular personal finance tools, and it has many great features that you can use to stick to your budget. The app will send you weekly reminders of your goals and the progress you are making. Financial goals are always easier to meet when you pay close attention to them, and this website can help you do just that.

Now is a great time to buy a place in Stony Plain. Even if you think you’re not quite ready to buy a home, if you begin to budget you may notice that you’re actually not that far away. Starting a few healthy habits and tracking your progress is critical in meeting your financial goals.

For more great home buying advice, or for information on Edmonton real estate or Edmonton acreages, feel free to call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
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