I haven’t worked in nearly 2 years. I decided to take my leave about a month before Kayla was born because I thought she was going to come early. Also, I am an IT consultant who, in the eyes of the Canadian government is considered ’self-employed’ therefore I am not eligible for any type of government aid regarding maternity leave. I don’t get any company top up or Unemployment Insurance. Knowing this, I began to plan for my undetermined hiatus long before I got pregnant. I have always been a saver – a skill that I learned from my amazing father – and it’s this skill allowed me to remain on leave without having to struggle with financial woes. Saving money is not easy; in fact, it’s quite hard to save in this day and age what, with all of the cool gadgets, stores with all the glittery makeup and wonderful packages that hold things that we just.have.to.have. So here are some money-saving tips to keep more money in your bank:
Setup play-dates at your house (or a friend’s). Going to an indoor playground can cost you anywhere from $12-20 per child so why not host a play date at your house? The kids have fun and you get a chance to catch up with your girlfriends over tea and nibblies. If a friend or neighbor has the play-date at their house, it’s a great way to get out if you’re feeling somewhat ‘trapped’ and it benefits your child(ren) as they get to play with other kids and different toys. A win-win for everyone.
Look for alternative sources for movies. Purchase movies from a cheaper source (iTunes) or get them at a discount somewhere else. These days, going to a movie theater will cost you on average $12. Although the sound and visual system is better than you have at home, going to the movies will cost you anywhere around $12 if you only buy a ticket up to $25-30 if you happen to get food and a drink. Why not purchase movies from your cable provider for $5 or download them from a site like iTunes that sell movies for $0.99? For more tech-savvy moms, there are other ways to obtain movies if you get my drift. Save your the money and curl up in the comfort of your own home. Buy some popcorn and make it in the microwave. Sure, the movies won’t be the latest releases but sites like iTues and other sources usually get the movies before they go out to DVD; some even get them shortly after they’re released in the theaters.
Buy used books, buy from Costco or do a book-swap. If you’re an avid reader like me, there’s something magical and irresistible about the glossy covers and scent of printed paper. Although we’d all like to get brand-new books, there are some decent books that are gently used in used book stores. If you must buy new books, get them at your local Costco. Although you won’t be getting them as cheap as you would from a used store, it’s better than paying full price. If you’re on a budget but dying to read a certain book, swap with friends.
Instead of buying travel-size brushes for makeup or other things for your face, take advantage of retail stores that allow customers to use them for free. Now, this may seem unethical, but I tend to take more than my share of those sample lip, mascara and eye shadow applicators. If there are sponge wedges, I will help myself to those too. I don’t steal them; it’s not like I specifically go into Sephora to get them either but I do help myself to more than one if I happen to be in the store trying stuff on.
The eye shadow applicator you can use several times (for the same color) or to smudge your eyeliner. The lip applicator you can use for your lips but also as well for cleaning nail polish from those hard to reach areas (the angled tip gets under your nails and between your skin) and the mascara applicator you can use to tame eyebrows. This applicator is my favorite. Whenever I’m grooming my brows, I use the mascara applicator as a ‘brush’ to straighten the hair out and the trim and cut things in place. If you happen to use brow gel, use this to evenly distribute the gel into your brows.
Know when to splurge and when to save. There are some things you should spend the money on and some things that you can buy at a drug store that are just as good:
Face cream – splurge. When it comes to moisturizers, you get what you pay for and usually, the brand-name creams are more concentrated in its active ingredients.
Mascara – save. You can get any mascara from brands like Maybelline or Cover Girl that work just as well as more expensive ones. I’ve tried to find the mascara that will lengthen my lashes without giving me raccoon eyes and I’ve tried them all (and spent way too much money). The result? the more expensive ones were no different from ones I bought in the drug store.
Loose translucent powder – save. While some may disagree, I have found a good translucent loose powder for half the cost of my favorite brand (Laura Mercier). For $12.50, Marcelle puts out a big tub of loose powder that will last me a lifetime. I am very careful what I put on my face and this sets my makeup perfectly.
Face wash – save. While other, more expensive brands claim to ‘retain moisture while fully cleansing skin’, I have found no difference when I use brands like Cetaphil or plain ol’ Dove. In fact, Dove seems to clean my skin better but I’m not comfortable with using soap on my face so I stick to Cetaphil. Another bonus of buying Cetaphil: you can also use it on your baby’s bottom if he has a diaper rash! Its gentle and cleansing and the coolness of the gel will soothe baby’s raw tushy.
Tinted Moisturizer, foundation, primer – splurge. Similar to moisturizer, you get what you pay for when it comes to these products. I am not knocking the drug store brands but I find that brands like Laura Mercier or Bobbi Brown formulate their products for specific skin types better than other, less expensive ones. I also feel that it’s easier to match to your skin tone because of said formulation.
Brushes – splurge. Your make up, along with your technique, is as good as the brushes you use. Trust me when I say that it is worth forking out $25 for an eye shadow brush or concealer brush because the bristles are better, and the glue that is used to hold the bristles in place is stronger. I have tried to go the cheap route and bought cheaper brushes and either the bristles picked up too much pigment, they fall out and stick to your face (annoying!), the glue comes apart or all three. They don’t last as long and you’re better off buying quality brushes – you will see the difference when you do.
Shoes – splurge. Unless you want hammer-time going on with your feet or corns/blisters galore, spend the time and money getting well-fitted shoes. Nothing looks more unattractive than hammer-time, corn infested bunioned feet. Even if you get a pedicure that doesn’t do anything -tat’s just like the ‘lipstick on a pig’ syndrome – your feet will still look bad!
Eat before going out for dinner. My fav money-saving tip. Dinners can cost anywhere from $15-50 so eat your main meal at home and then order an appy or just a drink when you’re out with friends. It’s also easier on the stomach because chances are, when everyone arrives and ready to order, what is supposed to be a dinner at 7pm turns into a dinner at 9pm.
Drink at home before heading to the club. Drinking costs a pretty penny and you don’t get much for fruity drinks for $7 a pop. Get a nice buzz going before heading to the bar and buy a couple of drinks to nurse all night. Avoid ice. Use a straw to keep your buzz. I really shouldn’t be posting this but if ladies want to let loose without breaking the bank, this is a good way to do it.
Brown-bag it. Another great money-saver. Lunches on average cost $10. You do the math.
Host a clothes/accessory/purse swap party. We always have clothes that we stash away in the corners of our closet; forgotten, unworn and hasn’t seen the light of day in years. Why not update up your wardrobe without spending a cent and swap with friends? I guarantee you, they have clothes that they don’t wear anymore, can’t fit them anymore or just don’t want anymore and you know what they say: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. So host a clothes-swap party, sip tea or coffee and munch on nibblies while shopping for free!