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Increasing Costs



Back in April I did a blog about inflation. With Christmas coming and thanksgiving before that for those that live in the States, this can be a stressful time. The question of "how" is on many peoples minds. The biggest increases in my country [Canada] have been gas and groceries.

The basic necessities of life here. Groceries are a must and gas... Well where I live, if I used public transportation or my kids used public transportation to get where they needed to go we are looking at a minimum 1.5hr commute time... Round trip that is a minimum 3hrs of our day. Who has time to do that when there are multiple places we need to go throughout our days? 5-6 hours of just commuting.... That is not realistic. So how do we stay in budget and hopefully be able to cut costs to afford the incidentals, the increased cost of living and still be able to have a good time for the upcoming holidays?


GROCERIES:


My journey through learning how to make our nutrition count and stay on budget began when my oldest was 4 years old. I had learned that my [now ex husband] had incurred secretly $60000.00 debt on top of the $20000.00 that I had agreed to in 1 year while I was on "mat leave". He did not stick to the family budget that we had created before we had our second daughter. I couldn't feed my kids. I remember one day giving them pop corn for breakfast and being relieved when I took them to the day home because I knew they would have proper food there while I did a day of contract work which would leave me with $75.00 after I paid for childcare to do grocery shopping. That day I decided "NEVER AGAIN will I worry about my kids going hungry. This will not be my life and I will not have the same worries that my mom and dad had about how to feed their kids."


I started by looking at all the "luxuries" that would come into the food labeled under the guise of "groceries". Juice. At the time a can of frozen juice was .76 cents. We would by 10 every two weeks. That was $15.20 that I could allocate to other types of groceries. We would consume 4-5 cans of pop a day between the three of us and to me that was a "treat" and not a necessity. Back then a case of 12 was $5.48. On average that was $36.00 a month. A box of pasta was $1.50 and we would use a box once a week, not including KD that we bought for lunches for the littles. Now one of my kids was allergic to life aka, grass, mold, dust, pollen, dogs, cats etc. She had asthma and with asthma came eczema [they go hand in hand]. I knew that dairy and breads would make her symptoms worse, so I started cutting back on those. Ice cream, processed cheese, bread for toast every day and sandwiches, cereals... I chose the higher quality of some of these products, and limit them as a "treat" in the family home. This gave me over $200.00 that I could allocate to other types of groceries such as protein, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats. I began making my own baby food and doing more of baby led weaning so that River could eat more of what "we" as a family were eating and I wouldn't have to buy completely separate things for her. [We were still nursing at 1yr old]. I began making more things from scratch vs buying them at the store. Lasanga and pizza were made at home as a treat over the weekends if we wanted. We didn't buy the "prepackaged". Another win I had was I stopped buying minute rice and started buying "real rice". Did you know you need far less regular rice than you do of minute rice to feed a family? I started noticing we were not snacking as much. We were not "craving" as much. We were not getting the "munchies" as much. Not only was our "budget" being revised on what we spent, but also our bodies were changing for the better. The amount of "waisted" dollars spent at convenience stores, the "treat" isle was a real eye opener on what was actually affordable and what was not.


The compounding effects of not buying or limiting the indulgences we did choose to buy was astounding. If I wasn't buying pasta then I wasn't needing pasta sauce. If I wasn't buying cereal then we were not needing to go through as much milk. If I wasn't making toast or sandwiches as much then our bread use went down. Less pasta being made meant less cheese being used. Instead we used potatoes and rice... we ate less of that than if I had made baked spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, macaroni, manicotti [my favourite]. I learned that the convenience and the easy was NOT beneficial to staying on budget AND as a side affect we were becoming healthier.


Gas:


The last two and a half years have taught us a lot. We don't NEED the big office buildings to do business. We don't NEED to commute to work every day to get the job done. We don't NEED to personally go grocery shopping, or buy items, we can do it all online. We don't need to pick up our take out we can have that delivered.... But is it serving us in the long run financially?


In some regard it has. Companies discovering that they can have the same output of services and same office moral in a virtual setting. Saving thousands from having to drive into work every day which means less gas spent and as a side affect better for the environment. On the other hand, it has done some of us a disservice and lined the pockets of others. After my collision, I was introduced to skip the dishes.... Wow! What a treat that was sometimes when living in the hospital for 4 months. Some of us patients would get together and decide forget the crappy hospital food

and lets order take out. Imagine bar styled food like wings, steak bites, ribs, fries, with all the delicious aromas and grease being enjoyed by people living long term in hospital.... It was a godsend. However fast forward almost 5 years and now, when I am thinking of ordering out, most restaurants no longer "offer take out" but you can order door dash, skip, uber eats etc. When you use these amazing apps, now you are not only paying for delivery fees to cover gas [I've seen up to $7.00] but also the tip fee. So now instead of a $20 nice meal, your paying anywhere from $30-$35 dollars for that $20 meal. The same math applies to fast food such as Mc D's or A&W. Even now... Your groceries. Many places will have you pay an additional fee for your "shopper" to pick the food out for you, AND a delivery fee plus the option to tip. Is it really saving you money to buy online and use those wonderful apps? I understand at times it is easier, it is a time saver and for some the dollar exchange is worth the time saved.... but what happens when that dollar exchange is eating into your bottom line and you could be saving $30, $50, $100 and using that to go somewhere else? I know that it does not cost me $7.00 to go down the street to drive 5 minutes and pick up my take out that I want for the night. As inflation and taxes continue to go higher, that $7.00 here and $5.00 there add up and can be better utilized elsewhere, perhaps helping pay the heat bill.



That brings me to another point for gas. Canadians need our heat. Many can not live without it. This is a life necessity for us. Some quick tips that I have learned to lower gas bills.

  1. Laundry: try not to do in peak hours as they charge more

  2. Do your drying of laundry back to back, it means the dryer uses less to heat up each time as it is already warmed up

  3. Hang to dry some of your clothes. [active wear is actually recommended to hang to help them last longer]. Sweaters, hoodies, jeans all take longer dry times.

  4. keep your fridge on the middle temperature gauge, this will create more consistent and less "cooling surges"

  5. Run your dishwasher after peak hours. [most have a timer on them so run it after 7pm or around 9am while you are at work]

  6. Hot water tank is set to slightly higher. This will help not "run out" of hot water, and because of that the tank will not have to work "as" hard to warm it up when using hot water from the tap.

  7. Definitely car pool. If you live by someone that works close to you or with you, ask if you can car pool with them and alternate which vehicle you use. This saves gas and reduces the kilometres put on your vehicle.

  8. Plan your week of errands so that you can hit them all in a day or two vs every day using more gas.

  9. Turn your heat down at night by a few degrees, your sleep will actually be better as well

As this next phase of the economy begins to be felt more by people, remember you do have control of how your hard earned money is used. I know that many even with this knowledge will not have enough dollars to last them. Utilize your community supports. Food banks, subsidies where you can, trade services [perhaps house cleaning for child care]. Or baked good for some knitted dish cloths and tea towels... Do clothes exchanges, and second hand stores [Plato's where I live is amazing:) ]. Think about walking to get those little odds and ends at the store you need instead. Little changes amount to huge gains.



Jodi Harty RMT, CLC, CHC, CST2, SER1, Reiki Master


If you are struggling with the stress and overwhelm from financial changes, take advantage of my "start getting your hope back" call that is complimentary to you. That is a $130.00 value Canadian. No strings attached.

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