Please don’t tell me about sales

Through the day, I usually get around half a dozen or so emails from different retailers advertising something – free shipping, clearance sales, or new items. Some retailers seem to send daily emails (ahem, lookin’ at you Dell) while others come once a week or once a month. Most of the time, I barely glance at the emails aside from deleting them. Something has to really catch my eye for me to open the email, even if the email is from my favourite retailer.

While email advertising isn’t very effective on me, word of mouth sure is. Last week, my coworker came back from lunch and told me about towels, sheets, picture frames and other household items being on clearance at the local Zellers. The next day, I was at Zellers shopping for frames, towels and sheets. This weekend, my sister was telling me about the summer clothes clearance at a local clothing shop – today, guess where I found myself (I only bought a tank top – I somehow managed to restrain myself). I feel like hearing the word ‘clearance sale’ from someone results in a Pavlovian response.

It seems as though hearing about a sale from someone I know gives credence to the quality of the sale. It’s almost as though if the sale was good enough for someone to tell me about it, I have to check it out. Weird ‘eh? I don’t budge when retailers email me extolling their clearance sales, but get someone I know to tell me about it and I’ll be all over that sale. When someone tells me about a sale, I need to work on treating it like an email and delete it.

What kind of advertising works on you?


Categories: Shopping | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

How the lockdown is going.

You may recall that back in June, I challenged myself to have a No-Spend July. I felt that I had been spending a little more than was necessary, so instead of hiding my debit cards I thought I would do a little test of will power. Now that it’s August (ohmygod, where has the summer gone?!), it seems like a good time to evaluate how I’ve done. Here were the rules I gave myself and how I did:

  • No jeans, shoes, scarves, tops, sweaters, jackets, skirts, dresses from hence forth. The only clothing item I’m allowed to buy until the end of July are socks. PASS – I did buy some new underwear, but I didn’t buy anything else (even socks), so I’m going to give myself a pass on this.
  • No home decor items shall be bought. Only necessary home items allowed: lightbulbs, batteries, etc. FAIL – while I did buy some lightbulbs and batteries, I also bought a deckbox (I couldn’t handle earwigs in my deckchair cushions) and a solid oak tv armoire. I really wasn’t expecting to buy an armoire, but some elderly neighbours are moving and offered me their beautiful solid oak armoire for $250. It was hand made by a local mennonite and is in amazing shape, so I just couldn’t say no. Now, I just have to decide whether I’m going to use it in my office as a bookshelf or put in living room and use it as a storage pantry. (Now that I’ve gone on and on about this armoire, I feel as though I should post a picture. I will as soon as I get where I want it!)
  • I will allow myself to print 15 photos for two frames that I have recently purchased. PASS – I didn’t actually get this done. Heh.
  • No makeup. I have more than enough make up. – PASS. No new makeup. I didn’t even step foot into a pharmacy!
  • Exception: sunscreen and bug spray. I allow myself to buy in bulk if necessary. PASS.   Had to restock on my sunscreen. I should have enough to get me through the rest of the summer.
  • Gifts are exempt. This shouldn’t be too bad though, no upcoming July birthdays, just a couple bridal showers. PASS – I actually didn’t buy any gifts. The bridal showers I was planning on attending were cancelled.
  • No DVDs/games. I really really want Season 2 of Justified, but I will restrain myself. PASS – but I do have a bunch of DVDs for my Christmas wish list.

There you have it. I did manage to keep my non-necessity spending to a minimum, but I did have a two big slips with the deck box and armoire. The deck box was a result of a ear-wig driven freak out – but at least I found a deck box on sale. I know that next time, if I have a freakout, I will have to basically hide my car keys and wallet, otherwise I will end up going out to buy a solution immediately, when I really I could have waited for an even better deal at the end of the season (or at least waited another week for all the earwigs to die off).

As for the armoire, it was a deal that came up last week and I couldn’t say no. I have a weakness for solid wood furniture and when I think I’m getting a really good deal. If there’s one thing I learned this past month, it’s that I have a hard time saying no to what I perceive as deals. I think in the future, I should make a better attempt to think about deals and maybe ‘sleep on them’ instead of making snap decisions.

Despite a couple of slip ups, I think I did ok. I’d like to continue my shopping lock down into August. I think I can stick with pretty well the same rules, but I am giving myself an exception to get a print made of my great-grandfather’s farm auction poster for my office. It’s a great piece of family history that was recently discovered, so I’m going to get a print made so I can include it in my family-history themed office (ah, I’m such a genealogy nerd).

I’m curious, what have you learn about yourself through attempting careful and controlled spending?  

Categories: Goals, Monthly Summary, Personal, Shopping, Spending | Tags: | 7 Comments

Going in lockdown mode.

I am going on a shopping ban.


Y’see, for the last couple of months it seems I have been unable to control my spending. It’s not that I’m replacing my wardrobe every month or anything like that, it’s just that I seem to do doing lots of little shopping trips here and there and it’s adding up. Looking back over my receipts, it’s pretty easy to pick out a pattern: every time I go to the city, I end up going shopping and buying either clothes or stuff for my house.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been to the city much more than usual in the last couple months. It’s just so tempting and easy to go visit the mall or big box stores and buy something that I can’t get locally. Just last week I was in Toronto for a workshop and my coworker and I decided to visit Ikea – and guess who comes out with a cart full of stuff and $200 less in my bank account. Yeah, this girl. Not one of my shining moments, that’s for sure.

I usually try and justify my mini-shopping sprees by telling myself

  • ‘It’s ok, I don’t come to the city that often’ – when really, I usually end up in a city at least once a month.
  •  ‘It’s ok, I’m not buying much’ – but a little here and there tends to add up really quickly.
  • ‘I need x, y, z’ – I’ve lived without x, y, z so far and can seemingly function without it.

I feel like I’m regressing – although, it’s not at a point where I’m spending more than I’m earning, it’s just I’m not saving as much as I would like to. I’ve got a deck renovation and a major overhaul of the basement coming up and I want those to happen sooner rather than later. The only way that can happen is if I buckle down and save. I think rather than just going with a blanket shopping ban, I’m going to set myself some rules and exceptions:

  • No jeans, shoes, scarves, tops, sweaters, jackets, skirts, dresses from hence forth. The only clothing item I’m allowed to buy until the end of July are socks.
  • No home decor items shall be bought. Only necessary home items allowed: lightbulbs, batteries, etc.
  • I will allow myself to print 15 photos for two frames that I have recently purchased.
  • No makeup. I have more than enough make up.
  • Exception: sunscreen and bug spray. I allow myself to buy in bulk if necessary.
  • Gifts are exempt. This shouldn’t be too bad though, no upcoming July birthdays, just a couple bridal showers.
  • No DVDs/games. I really really want Season 2 of Justified, but I will restrain myself.

Those are my rules. Pretty strick, but I’m going to try my damnest to keep my wallet closed. Anyone else out there on a shopping ban, or has done one recently? Any tips, thoughts, or words of encouragement?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Shopping, Spending | Tags: , | 7 Comments

Thank goodness for garage sales.

Earlier this week I was informed that I’m hosting a garage sale this weekend. My Mom and Aunt have a garage sale every year and they decided that my place is an ideal location for a garage sale. It has something to do with maximum traffic exposure and the perfect ratio of driveway space to stuff to sell, or so I’m told. Whatever, I don’t mind, although I suppose if I were a cut throat business person, I could charge them a per-table rate or collect a percentage of their sales. Not being greedy, I’m willing to settle for some homemade cookies and muffins.

I don’t have anything to sell at the garage sale. I’m more at the stage in my life where I’m interested in buying stuff from garage sales. I’m hoping to get out this weekend and find some treasures – a half decent bookcase for my office, a recliner, maybe some shelves, garden tools, flower pots, an office lamp, anything that catches my eye really. Going to garage sales is a bit of a tradition around here – my Mom and Aunt have had one every year since I can remember, so I would always help out for a while and then go for a wander around the neighbourhood to see what the neighbours were offering up for sale. Through the years, I’ve managed to score some pretty awesome, and super cheap finds:

  • The scariest clown doll you’ve ever seen. I would put a picture up, but it’s far too terrifying for even the internet. I picked the clown up for $1, put it in a box, and stored it way back in my closet before bringing it out and scaring the absolutely shit out of my sister on Halloween. She still shudders when I mention that clown.
  • The ‘Silver Chief’ series of books by Jack O’Brien. I read the first book when I was in Grade 3, after finding it in a deep dark corner of the school library. The book made an impression – I think it started my love for all things ‘north’. I was beyond excited when I found the series at a garage sale for 50 cents – and I still have them.
  • My kitchen table and chairs. It’s the perfect size for my weirdly long, skinny kitchen and I got them for free! Just had to wait until the garage sale was over and the person just wanted the table and chairs gone.
  • A jewelry box. It had kittens on it. I was 6. I found out the felt lining came out and found $20 stashed away in it.

Those are my most memorable garage sale finds. Hopefully there will be some treasures to be found this weekend. How do you feel about garage sales – love ’em or leave ’em? What’s your favourite garage sale find? 


Categories: Shopping, Weekend | Tags: | 10 Comments

Forgive me fellow bloggers, for I have sinned.

This past weekend, my best friend and I headed to the next town north to check out a new tea shop there. Once we had our tea fix, we decided to go for a wander up the main drag and check out the stores. We hadn’t got very far, in fact, it was the next store to the tea shop, before the window display enticed us to go in. I was browsing through a rack of dresses when I found a blue lace number. I was intrigued, so I pulled the dress off the rack so I could get a better look at it. It was cute, and my friend’s size, so I shoved it into her hands and told her to try it on.

She tried it on and it looked amazing on her. No, better than amazing; she could upstage an entire wedding party in that dress. At this point though, I realized that I had forgotten to check the price tag before I pulled it out. I suspected it would be pricy, given the brand names and other price tags I saw, and sure enough it was: $178. Ouch. We both winced at the price, but couldn’t stop admiring  the dress. After all, it would be the perfect dress to wear to her brother’s wedding.

Before I realized it, I was helping my friend rationalize purchasing the dress. I told her she could wear it not only to her brother’s wedding, but to her cousin’s stag and doe and rehearsal dinner, which would save her from buying two different dresses. Then I told her she could think about it like this: if she wears the dress 3 times in the next four months, the cost of the dress is really more like $178 divided by 3, or about $60 a wear, which about what a cheap dress costs anyways. With my encouragement, she whipped out her credit card and bought the dress.

A couple days later, I feel very conflicted about helping my friend rationalize buying the dress. On one hand, I feel like I’m one of those friends who are bad for your wallet, who always encourage you to spend money, one of those friends you’re supposed to avoid or defriend if you’re trying to get out of debt and save. What makes it worse is that as a pf blogger, I feel like the last thing I should be doing is helping my friend spend her money, especially one something like a dress, which at first glance seems so frivolous. A sort of ‘practice what you preach’ type problem, because I’m not sure I would spend that kind of money on a dress. I keep telling myself that we could have found her a cheaper dress, but then I think: but would any other dress really compare to this one? The dress looked so amazing on her, that I can’t help feel that there’s no way we’d find a better dress cheaper and any other dress would look so blah and would always be compared against this dress. I am also really excited that she bought it, because she totally rocks it and looks stunning in it.

I know she’s really happy with the dress, which is slightly comforting, but I still feel guilty for enabling her spending. Some of my conflict here but might relate to my own struggles with finding the balance between buying for quality and buying for value. I’m gradually starting to appreciate the value in paying a little more for higher quality items, but my cheap ole heart isn’t giving up without a fight.

Have you ever enabled someone to spend or felt guilty about encouraging someone to spend more than they normally would?

Categories: Shopping, Spending | Tags: , | 20 Comments

Cutting through the clothing clutter

The thing about getting a weekend wind/snow storm on the weekend is that you’re pretty well forced to stay in and get stuff around the house done. I had grand plans to go up to the next town north and visit a new tea shop there, but that fell through thanks to the weather. It was probably for the best that I was stuck at home though, because it’s much easier on the ole wallet and I actually got some chores done around the house.

My biggest accomplishment this weekend was finally going through all my clothes. I pulled everything out of my closet and chest of drawers, organized it and piled it on my bed. The amount of clothes I own surprised even me, and any minimalists who read this blog should probably look away. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The mountain of jeans and hoodies in the middle was probably the most surprising. I really didn’t think I had that many sweaters. I also have more jeans than a person needs and so, so many pairs of pjs. Don’t get me wrong, I love pjs, but a girl has to have a limit, right? That or I should devise a clever plan to institute a pj-day at work every week…


Off to the Sally-Anne with ye!

By pulling everything out of my closet, it gave me the opportunity to go through it all and weed out what I haven’t wore lately and what doesn’t fit. I do struggle with getting rid of clothes, more so than anything else. I think it stems from when I was growing up; ‘good’ clothes became ‘play’ clothes, which eventually became ‘barn’ clothes, so we never really gave clothes away or threw much out. That might be why I still have a McDonalds sweatshirt I got my aunt in grade 7 in my barn clothes pile. Don’t worry, I’m not the same size I was in grade 7, she just thought I was much, much larger than I was at the time.

I don’t know how many times when I was going through my clothes that I set a shirt aside thinking I could wear it as a barn-shirt. Of course, I already have a huge drawer full of barn clothes, so I really don’t need anymore. I also found it challenging to ignore the sentiment I’d attached to some of my clothes, like the dress that I wore to my grandmother’s funeral – I know I’ll never wear it again, but because of sentiment I’ve held onto it all these years. Forcing myself to be an unfeeling, clothes-critical robot, I managed to resist the urge to keep things. Now, I have a fair-sized pile to go the Salvation Army.

I still have a lot of clothes and I think that seeing just how much I have will help me resist the urge to go shopping. Hopefully it will help me ignore that irritating little voice that tells me I have nothing to wear. Here are my tips for tackling closet clutter:

  • Be ruthless. If it doesn’t fit, get rid of it. Pants won’t get magically longer in your closet.
  • If you haven’t worn it in more than 3 months, get rid of it.
  • If it’s ripped or stained, cut it up and use it as a rag.
  • If you have the same shirt in multiple colours, ask yourself if you really need clones of the same shirt. Pick the one you like best and get rid of the rest.
  • Set yourself a goal, like finding 10 items to donate.

Have you cleaned out your closet lately? Do you struggle to get rid of clothes like I do? Any tips to add for closet cleaning?

Categories: Personal, Shopping, Weekend | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

Spoils from the States

Last week I headed south for a shopping trip in the States. It was a great trip. I had a blast shopping and spending time with my fam-jam and friends that came down with us. We rented a house on the beach, which was great. It was huge and cheap. It’s nice to have a full kitchen and lots of space, instead of everyone being cramped into a tiny hotel room. After a stop at duty-free (yay for cheap rye!) and a thorough grilling at the border, we were off to the malls. We went straight to the mall in Port Huron, and perused the American department stores (Macy’s, JC Penny) and popped into Target too. I love Target, it’s the best place to get DVDs for cheap. A lot of the stores in the mall still had their Black Friday sales on, which was great. The stores weren’t overly crowded either, which was also nice. After we were through at the Mall, we headed to Meijers to do some grocery shopping. I really notice the price difference between Canada and the US in groceries. I grabbed my favourite key-lime yogurt (it’s like eating dessert), found the pickled peppers a neighbour asked me to look for, and some other random snacks. By that time, it was dark and rainy so we decided to head back to the house.

I learned that reflective road paint stops at the border between Ontario and Michigan. I always thought reflective paint was a fairly standard feature of road lines…apparently not. That made driving around Port Huron a little tricky, but I managed to keep in my lane, I think, and not destroy the car.

The next day, we went to Great Lakes Crossings. It’s an outlet mall, and it’s huge. There’s a pile of stores in there. It’s not bad, some of the stores had great stuff and others, well, not so much. I suppose that’s the nature of outlet stores though. I ventured into J-Crew; I’ve heard a lot about it, but holy damn, that stuff is expensive, even the outlet stuff! Needless to say, they didn’t get any of my money. After the outlet mall, we headed back to Utica and the big mall there. It was fun shopping there. I found an awesome pair of boots in H&M there, but of course they didn’t have my size. Boo. Everyone came out of the mall with something though. Exhausted after a full day of shopping (and driving for me – man, driving in Michigan is so much different than Ontario), we headed back to Port Huron.

Our last day, we had some time to kill before we could cross the border (gotta get that 48 hours in), we hit up Kohls and Hobby Lobby. I love, love Hobby Lobby. I could spend hours looking at all the decor stuff there. I had an armful of stuff there, but easily could have filled up a cart. After Hobby Lobby, we were all pretty well shopped out and it was time to head back across the border. A quick stop at the guard shack and we were on our way home with the spoils of our trip.

So what did I all buy? Well, here’s some snapshots of some of the things I bought. I bought a few other things, but I didn’t take a picture of them because I either put them away or was too lazy to hunt around of them. I think my favourite purchase in the cat-dress. It’s quirky and looks super cute on me (or so I think anyways).

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I managed to get a couple gifts, so I’m almost done my Christmas shopping. Yippie! I’m really sick of spending money now 😉

How’s your Christmas shopping going? Anyone have any big shopping trips planned?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Shopping, Spending | 3 Comments

Country meets City.

I love it when I have a productive Sunday. I knew as soon as I woke up this morning it was going to be a good day for getting stuff done. Shortly after my wake up cup of tea, I was at the ironing. Next, I tided up around the house and then got started on painting my office, only to find out I was out of rollers. Ah well, I got all the edging done at least. After lunch,  I made some cream of asparagus soup then went outside and did some tidying up of the yard. I also brought in a bunch of wood for the stove – a job that’s much better to do when the weather is nice. Now that the November gales have started up too, it’ll be good to have a good supply of wood ready by the stove just in case the power is knocked out. Shortly after that, the fam-jam came down for supper to celebrate my sister’s birthday. I made tacos (at my sisters request) and lasagne (for my Dad, who doesn’t like tacos) and then we had an ice-cream cake for dessert. Not a traditional Sunday meal, but good one all the same.

This week will see a change in my normal routine. This country girl is being shipped off to the big city, Toronto, for a 2 day workshop. It’ll be the first time I’ve been to Toronto in a couple years. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive about going to Toronto. I’m mostly concerned about getting lost; it may sound silly, but I’m so used to navigating by which way the lake is and being able to see the horizon. The big buildings really throw me off and it’s not hard for me to get turned around. I’ll be sure to keep my mapbook on me, just in case I get lost. Believe it or not, this will also be the first time I’ll be alone in the city. I am looking forward to getting some Starbucks though. Thankfully, the workshop will keep me busy during most of the time I’m in TO, but I will still have to try and avoid the temptation that is the Eaton’s Centre and big city shopping. I will just have to keep reminding myself to save it for my big shopping trip to the States at the end of the month. All my expenses are paid by work, so it *should* be a cheap trip.

Does anyone have any good recommendations for places to eat in and around the U of T? I don’t want to be that person who goes all the way to Toronto, the most multi-cultural city in Canada, only to eat at Tim Horton’s.

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Shopping | 8 Comments

Wishing and Dreaming

I love a good wish list. Not too long ago, Jolie over at Shaking the Money Tree listed her temptations, and I was inspired to share my temptations and wish list items. The way I budget, I don’t leave much room for wish list items, because deep down, I know I don’t need more stuff. Every once and a while I will get something off my wish list, but it’s not very often. I always include the prices on my wish list, so I can easily total it and show myself how much money I’m saving by not buying the things on my wish list. If I ever win the lottery, I may splurge and get a couple things off my wish list. Here’s my wish list (in no particular order):









Kubota RTV

Fun and practical! My Dad has one of these and I love going out for tours on it. They are also super useful gardening/yard-wise. Don’t get me wrong, quads are great, but Kubota RTVs will always have a special place in my heart.($12,000 – new)

Picture credit:








RIM Playbook

As soon as I heard ‘tether to blackberry’ I was sold. I’m a crackberry addict, what can I say? I’m stoked to see a tablet that I could use for work without security issues. I will be avoiding Best Buy and Futureshop following the playbook release to spare myself from temptation.($499)

Picture credit:










A piano desk

I have absolutely no musical talent, but I love the idea of turning an old piano into a desk. A piano desk is on my dream decorating wish list! Preferably though, I would like mine made out of an old pump organ – foot pedals and all!($1500)

Photo credit:

This isn’t so much of a thing, but it’s still on my wishlist – become Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s protegee. I thoroughly enjoy Gail, binders, jars and all! I first caught Gail on TV when I was in university and I’ve been watching her tell people to quit being stupid with their money every since. I would love to tag along with Gail and just soak up everything she could tell me. (Priceless)

Photo credit:

A helicopter (and flying lessons of course).

I lost my helicopter virginity in the Yukon and I’m absolutely addicted now. I love helicopters and helicopter pilots. Some girls like fast cars, I like helicopters. If I had the money, I would get my pilot’s license and an get up in the air! (many, many loonies)

Photo credit: Me!









A summer home in the Yukon.

I lived in the Yukon for a summer and caught Yukon fever. I’ve seen almost every Canadian province and the Yukon is at the top of my list of most beautiful provinces/territories. It’s my dream to take my family to Dawson City and see the Yukon River from the Dome, drive the Alaska and Dempster Highways, have a sour-toe cocktail again, eat fresh arctic char and salmon jerky, I could go on and on. Maybe I should get a job for the Yukon ministry for tourism?($400,000)

I could go on, but I will stop. I think I’ve dreamed enough for one night. Maybe I’ll print out some pictures and put together a vision board – to inspire frugality and saving – and give me something aim for over the (very) long term. What’s on your dream/wish list?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Dreaming, Shopping, Spending, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Dealings at the Dollar Store.

Today I had to go to the local dollar store and look for a tea light holder. Long story short, I’m house sitting, and while getting out of the shower yesterday morning I bounced my face off a tea-light holder-thing and broke the glass cup that holds the candle. It wasn’t a great way to start the morning, but it could have been worse, I was lucky not to cut my face or my feet on the broken glass. Racked with guilt over my wrecking ball ways, I headed out to the dollar store at lunch to try and find a replacement.

Dollar stores are great places to pick up certain things, like tea light holders. You can really save by shopping at the dollar store, as most frugal people know. However, there are some things that I would never buy at a dollar store because I question their quality and/or safety. I’m picky about my dollar store shopping, so what makes the cut and what stays on the shelf?

Things I will buy at the dollar store:

  • Cards and Gift Wrap – if I’m in a jam and haven’t had time to make a card, dollar store cards are the next best thing.
  • Party Supplies – especially balloons and napkins.
  • Scotch and Masking Tape – dollar store duct tape doesn’t do the job.
  • Wooden clothespins

Things I will NOT buy at the dollar store

  • Food of any kind. I’m sorry, but canned tuna from Senegal? No thanks.
  • Electronics and batteries. Consumer Reports warns about fake labels, including fake safety labels. Pretty scary.
  • Toys. Cadmium and lead are likely in these cheaply made toys.
  • Pet Food. I feel it would be better to feed my cat the tuna from Senegal.
  • Kitchen utensils. I once bought a cheese grater from a dollar store and it rusted after the first wash. Never again.

Are you a dollar store shopper? What items do you purchase on the cheap and what are you willing to spend a little extra for?

Categories: Shopping, Spending | Tags: | 5 Comments

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