Money is still, somehow, one of those weirdly “taboo” subjects.
This horror movie we’re living in, which so far has no credits, just keeps rolling on, but perhaps it can have a tiny silver lining. It can teach us to discuss everything. To be transparent, honest, to see all sides, all possibilities. We need to stop going to “check out that noise” or “check the basement” or “go to the attic”. If we learn nothing else from this nightmare, we should learn to be honest.
Too many people think honesty is scary. It’s the same when it comes to money. They think discussing money is: “scary”, “embarrassing”, “frightening”, “crass”, or “inappropriate”. We all need money, unfortunately (it’s the main reason the world is a mess, simplistic, maybe, but it doesn’t make it untrue).
Money controls our lives. It’s the true reason for most of the world’s problems, yet too many people refuse to talk about it, learn about it, and try to figure out why money’s too tight to mention. Politics, religion, food, vaccines, money, “The Great Pumpkin”…geez, what can we talk about these days without a brawl?
Times are tough, or not, depending which politicians are trying to score which point.
Most people have at least a rudimentary knowledge of budgeting, oh no, I said a dirty word, the “b” word, “budget”. Who knows what I’ll say next? “Economize”. “Reduce”. Or the big “F”, “frugal”. Gasp!
Why are people ashamed of being poor? Or nowadays, using words like “reduced circumstances” (what if you were never, er, “duced”?). Being “poor” isn’t a financially transmitted disease you’ll catch by using coupons, price-matching, or shopping at thrift stores! It’s not an austere version of COVID-19 (but for actual viruses, please wear a mask, wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, physical distance, don’t hoard toilet paper, stay home as much as possible and stay connected).
Some folks are the same way about frugality. They seem to think trying to save money, trying not to spend so much, trying not to go into debt is somehow “embarrassing”. That somehow you should be ashamed of: shopping the sales, couponing, getting freebies, price-matching, buying secondhand (gently loved), or just generally living below your means. Yet personally, I love, love, love the Depression Era slogan,
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without.”
I’m proud of being able to pinch a penny (for those who still have any) till it screams!!! Why? I don’t believe that being “poor” is “bad” just like I don’t believe being “rich” is “good”. It’s not noble to be poor or to be rich. Money should never be a measure of success. Character should be a measure of success. On The Orville they have a system of no money, everyone has what they need and what they want – it’s their reputation, their character that counts. Imagine turning our crazy world upset down and finally using “common” sense/no cents?
Until then, here’s some ways to save…
1… Stay connected. Stay safe. Zoom meetings help you stay connected and a Zoom account is free. For example, Fibromyalgia London Group – all are welcome, not just those with Fibromyalgia, as long as you follow rules of courtesy and kindness – has tons of “Free” (FLG is a volunteer-driven, grassroots group). Zoom meetings every month. They’ll send you a free, safe link after you’ve registered (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). They and other groups/organizations have: Virtual Christmas Parties; Sharing Circles (what happens in the Sharing Circles stays in the Sharing Circles); Therapeutic Knitting (and other crafts); Inspire Thursdays: Living Well with Chronic Conditions (speakers, videos, Q&As, etc.); Inspire Saturdays: Living Well with Chronic Conditions (speakers, videos, Q&As, etc.); B2C2 (Brown Bag Chat Club) where we talk about anything that distracts us from pain, ie. books, movies, streaming, gardening, podcasts, pets (please bring your pets to any or all Zoom meetings, we love meeting them), hobbies, crafts, TV; Tai Chi/Qigong; Gentle Yoga with Breathwork and Meditation; “Tuesday Trivia Time”; special guests, speakers, and so, so much more – online activities galore!
Other ways to save?
2…Love streaming, but not the cost of streaming? There are some “Free” alternatives, when it comes to streaming (but don’t be fooled and keep an eye out, some become decidedly less free and others more free!). Though we don’t have as many options here in Canada as larger population countries, but times are achangin’, so stay tuned. Here are few, including but not limited to:
- Tubi (free and fantastic).
- MUCH – more than music.
- Food Network
- Pluto TV
- TVO Kids
- APTN lumi
- Driving Television
- The Weather Network
- Food Network
- Classic Cinema Online
- Knowledge: KIds (even has “Paw Patrol”)
- Roku channel (if you stream on Roku)
- CTV (timed/limited)
- Global (timed/limited)
- and/or you can buy an indoor digital TV antenna or an outdoor antenna…there are so many ways to save and see!
Plus, look for Free Trials (many streaming services are, sadly, removing their “free” trials, for example, Netflix and Disney Plus) of streaming/music/reading services. Again, though we don’t have as many options here in Canada as larger population countries, but times are achangin’, so stay tuned. Here’s a few available now, including but not limited to:
- Acorn TV
- Kindle Unlimited
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- YouTube Premium
- Sirius Canada
- Sundance Now
- Discovery Channel
- Amazon Prime Video
- Apple TV
- and more!
Watch and see if they’re right for you. Note the start date of your free trial and cancel if you don’t like them. Cancel a few days before, you’ll still have the preview to the end of the trial. Easy-“stay home”-“stay safe”-“stay connected”-free-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
3… The “C” word, no, not Coronavirus, or cancer, in this case, a good “c” word, coupons! We used to clip these, now, they’re printed, or digital, or sometimes still mailed to us. I save a lot of money with coupons, sometimes even getting items free (what a lovely word, I never get tired of hearing or seeing it). If you’re into it, there’s also lots of free samples, contests, and surveys out there. Savealoonie, Samplesource, Websaver, Save.ca, Lifepoints, Smartcanucks, Pinecone Research, Asking Canadians, Swagbucks, and so, so many more. Sometimes, I get freebies, coupons, samples for items I don’t want or use, but get them anyway so I give them to others. Find more ways to save and places to find savings online through frugality blogs and other websites. If you have suggestions for ways to save, please leave them in the comment box below. I love to learn. I love to save.
4… Get paid to shop! Music to our ears and our wallets (virtual or otherwise). That’s exactly what some apps do, like: Rakuten Canada (formerly Ebates), Caddle, Checkout 51, Airmiles, PC Optimum, Petro-Points, Shopper Army, Swagbucks, Plum Rewards (the free version), The Mission Store, David’s Tea, The Body Shop, and so, so many more – look them up! And don’t forget to add the Honey, an app that checks for online coupons and can save you even more!
5… Happy Birthday! Lots of places give birthday “treats” – free stuff or discounts, etc. Don’t feel comfortable giving your “real” date of birth, make yourself a few years younger. But remember, sometimes age does matters! Specifically with Student Discounts and Senior Discounts (some start as low as 55 – the new 45?). Discounts at stores, restaurants, education, pharmacies, thrift stores, travel, car rentals, banking, hotels, entertainment, museums and so many more! Don’t be afraid to ask, you have nothing to lose and so much to win!
6… Groupon. Make sure you read the fine print (always good advice, for every single thing in life). I’ve found some great deals there, including but not limited to: Costco memberships with Shop cards/products that negate the amount of your membership (really!); pizza (anyone who says money can’t buy happiness, has never paid for a pizza or the makings of a pizza, yes, you can make pizza at home!). Oh, and I paid $4 for a movie w/ popcorn and a drink – I went and saw that movie in a theater, remember those? Back in the good old days when we went to a place, went inside the building, with other people, sat in seats, beside other people, and watched a movie.
8…Price/Ad Matching – you can bring a flyer (not so much now, but “BC” – “Before Covid”, or show an app on a smartphone (ie. Flipp, Reebee, etc.) from one store to another, just show it to clerk and get items cheaper (yahoo!!!). Of course, an easy, amazing way to save is sales. Shop sales!
But wait, there’s more…
9…It doesn’t have to be complicated, look close to home. Look around your place. If you have the time and energy, cooking, canning, preserving, and baking are shockingly easy ways to save money. Find ways to do so that make life easier.
10… Sewing, mending, knitting, DIY, gardening, and so much more. Decluttering. Repurposing – for example, my Mom magically changes T-shirts, pajamas, etc. into fun pillow art/pillow covers.
11…Sort through your “treasures”, you know the ones: collecting dust; being used to hang clothes on; stored; just-in-case; might-fit-me-someday; what-if-I-need-it?; whatever — sell them, donate them, give them away, swap them.
12…Why buy new?
Why pay more? Buy gently loved. Buy previously loved. Buy brand spanking new but never used and given away. In this wildly consumer-driven culture, we too often “Dumpit to Crumpit”. But many people also generously donate. There are treasures to be found at: thrift stores, secondhand stores, mission stores, Salvation Army, Goodwill, eBay, Etsy (some new stuff, handmade) many of these places now are online as well! Don’t let perfectly lovely things go to the trash heap when you can give them new life. I’ve found Alfred Sung, Doc Marten, Derek Alexander and so much more, often w/ tags still on. A quirky wooden box that says library (it’s where I keep library books, how original). I don’t know the fate of “thrift” stores in a new world order, but for now, if you’re careful, we have hope.
13… Look for free things to see and do in your community. Take walks on your streets (actually use the sidewalks, safer and if no sidewalks, remember, walk facing oncoming traffic and pay attention, stay safe). Go for lovely walks in your parks. Parks are an amazing resource, they’re ready for anything: Cycling. Picnics. Tai Chi. Yoga. Boating. Fishing. Photography. Martial arts. Playing. Pausing. I love walking through our Ponds – though I live in a large, very busy city, when I step in here, I’m in the woods…
Get out there and discover!
14… Speaking of local, how about your local library? Libraries aren’t just buildings with books (but seriously, books are awesome!!!). And now many libraries are going fine free which is fabulous, but seriously, return the books, DVDs, CDs, magazines and more. Many library resources are online, especially now. You can check out ebooks, e-audio books and they’re returned automatically. You can learn languages, look up your ancestry, and stream movies. Read/enjoy thousands of free magazines and newspapers. Learn from free online courses. Get creative with hundreds of crafts. And so much more!!! Also, most cities allow you to get a non-resident card for a small fee. Go online, check it out, what do you have to lose? Hours and hours of fun and who knows what you’ll learn? Look around your neighbourhood for “Little Free Libraries” or “Swap Boxes” – take a book, leave a book. In these tough times, people also leave: food, household items, coupons, etc. Truly a community spirit exercise. Sharing is caring, in so many ways.
15…Online is filled with free (yes, free, why pay?) courses –
These are just a small sampling. Before you throw money at courses, check out some free ones!
16… Of course, YouTube – the vast universe of stuff at your fingertips!!!
Travel the world (who knew I’d become a
travel blogger during a pandemic?).
Watch “SNL” (especially vintage).
Watch “Graham Norton”.
“Jimmy Fallon”. Cooking. Baking.
Gaming. Knitting. Sewing. Quilting.
Coding. Household repairs.
Shoe repairs. Car repairs.
Learn languages including:
“Dothraki”, “Klingon”, “Elvish”,
“Nadsat”, “Minionese”, “Na’vi”,
“Parseltongue”, “Huttese” and
even some “real” languages.
Want to know how to
cut an onion without crying?Decluttering. Organizing.
Tips and tricks. Life hacks.
Health videos (beware).
Magic tricks. CPR.
exercise videos (personal fav for Fibromyalgia folks, https://cocolimefitness.com/ ).
Chess. Poker. Meditation.
How to budget
(oh no, the “b” word again).
Live performance and concerts.
Music videos and events.
Lip Sync Battles. Movies.
How to make masks.
How to sell on eBay.
How to fight a shark.Find any fix. Find news…from anywhere in the world (galaxy?).
Watch a NASA launch.
Find things that make you snooze –
am I the only adult that enjoys
listening to celebs reading
bedtime stories to me?
Thank you, Dolly Parton,
Jeff Goldblum (stories, umm, umm, umm, find a way), Tom Hardy, Sean Astin (I made a promise to read, Mr. Frodo), Ray Romano, Jude Law,
Josh Gad (do you wanna read a story?), Jennifer Garner, Helen Mirren, Stephen Fry, Lupita Nyong’o, Justin Theroux, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Chrissy Metz, Betty White (thank you for being a friend),
Melissa Gilbert (Little Library on the Prairie?), David Harbour (Stranger Reads?), Kristen Bell, Allison Janney, Oprah (And you get a story! And you get a story! And you get a story!), Barbara Bain, Michelle Yeoh, Jake Gyllenhaal (I don’t know how to quit you), Chris Pine, Dule Hill, David Schwimmer (I’ll be there for you!),
Chris Evans (er, just don’t read from Instagram, Cap),
Kiernan Shipka, Christian Slater (Pump up the Reading Volume), Amy Adams, Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Firth, Lily James, Jeff Bridges, James Earl Jones, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Silverman, Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Mac Conley, Jimmy Fallon, David Byrne, Billie Piper, David Tennant, Josh Brolin (his reading is inevitable), Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Julie Walters, Eddie Redmayne, Eva Longoria,
Natalie Portman, Iggy Pop,
Rami Malek (we are the reading champions), Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Emma Thompson,
and more, thank you for promoting reading!!! Most are children’s books, some YA and adult books, but whatever they are, thank you for reading to relax me, er, for the children and for charity. Also, free guided mediation on YouTube (Calm, limited; PureGym; Tara Brach UCLA Reasearch; BoHo beautiful; City of Surry; well, you get the idea, the sky’s the limit or beyond). Thank you Chris Hemsworth for the guided meditation. Thank you to the late, great Maya Angelou for leaving us recordings of her gifts; Neil Gaiman for reading us Dickens and Dr. Suess; Christopher Walken for sharing the horror of Edgar Allan Poe as only Walken can, and so many more. Get online and explore. Of course, for Shakespeare lovers and general sonnet lovers alike: Vincent D’Onofrio, Rufus Sewell, William Sadler, Michael Gaston, Lindy Booth, Sir Patrick Stewart (and more) – thank you for reading me stirring sonnets everyday (make it so).
17... Seasons change, but fun stays all the year long. There are many free or frugal activities for each and every season. Here are just a few.
- Walking – free.
- Loyalty – free.
- Quiet – free.
- Integrity – free.
- Common sense – free.
- Snuggling (the snuggle is real) – free.
- Do you wanna build a snowman? – free.
- Gratitude – free.
- Courage – free.
- Dancing – free.
- Talking (words matter) – free.
- Generosity – free.
- Comfort – free.
- Joy – free.
- Forgiveness – free.
- Compassion – free.
- Snow angels – free.
- Hope – free.
- Imagination – free.
- Smiling – free.
- Games, so many games online, free. Puzzles, card games, board games, video games and so much more – free.
- Friendship – free.
- Sunlight – free.
- Sincerity – free.
- Perseverance – free.
- Respect – free.
- Empathy – free.
- Moonlight – free.
- Laughing – free.
- Truth (not just your truth, the truth) – free.
- Singing – free.
- Love – free.
- Understanding – free.
- Ambition – free.
- Fairness – free.
- Cheer – free.
- Art – free.
- Literature (see library information above) – free.
- Music (your brain is full of it, let it flow) – free.
- Cookies – rarely free sadly (we need a weather machine that makes it rain cookies, who’s with me?), but you can buy the ingredients on sale or with price matching, etc., frugal.
The Grinch learned that Christmas doesn’t have to come from a store, that Christmas can mean just a little bit more. A timeless and free life lesson. And the same goes for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, every day. How much you spend doesn’t show how much you care. Caring is free.
Kindness is free! So spread it around. Sprinkle that kindness anywhere and everywhere. Fill the world with it…Kindness is the key, and lucky for us, the free key.