Money2Eat4Life FREE READ
*I have updated all information and links in the free read here below as of October 12, 2019*
This 2017 Updated Edition of the original book has new/revised content and links to recommended companies, products and services; please check out my RESOURCES page after! The full book is here, INCLUDING all examples after the main book; so it can ALL be viewed in 103 languages!
Available at almost all eBook retailers and LIBRARIES worldwide as a FREE download (in English only) !
Money2Eat4Life-Live/Eat/Feel Better, For Free; Right Now!
By Andy B.
This information is intended to be 'barrier-free' in every way so that as many people as possible can quickly and freely learn how to help themselves to live/eat/feel better! Visit my website for a free read of this book in 103 LANGUAGES and much more!
I wrote the original book a few years ago, after people continually asked me how I managed to live and eat 'better' and/or enjoy my life more than they felt they did, despite them making the same amount or more money than I did. We should ALL be able to live, eat and feel as good as we want, in the way we want; spending less, having more and getting as much enjoyment out of our lives as we truly want to.
This 2017 UPDATED EDITION includes questions and answers from various workshops held at financial literacy programs, colleges and different organizations in 2014 and 2015; as well as some updated and additional info that I found as I traveled the globe since 2016.
Please note that some links in this eBook are affiliated, and I may be compensated if/when you click on them and/or make a purchase on their site(s). I personally use these companies (or know someone who does); and recommend them for a variety of reasons but especially because they truly provide what they offer with a good service/product/etc at a very fair price (sometimes even free) and I find them very helpful. I have added a resource section to the website which has a full description of why these are my favorite products/services/companies/websites, along with a link to each website for your convenient reference, with many more to come. Also, please be advised that if you click a link from any of my eBooks (or the website) that takes you to another website; their terms, rules and policies with respect to cookies/conditions/privacy/etc will apply instead while you are on their site.
Copyright Original eBook July 2014 - 2017 Updated Edition eBook July 2017. Written and Published by Andy B of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, money2eat4life.com. ISBN #978-1-988434-01-8. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO REPRODUCING, TRANSMITTING OR CHANGING OF THIS INFORMATION IN ANY WAY ALLOWED, AS PER INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT AND/OR PRIVACY LAWS. No liability accepted under any circumstances for any information supplied and/or anything because of this information that is current as of publishing date.
CHAPTER ONE – YOUR MONEY
What You Need to Know
Creating Your Initial Monthly Budget
CHAPTER TWO – 100’S OF WAYS TO SAVE INSTANTLY!
Utilities and Day to Day Expenses
All Habits (Smoking, Drinking, Junk Food, Lottery, Etc.)
Pawn Shops and Payday Loans
De-Stressing your Life (Peace of Mind and a Happier Outlook)
CHAPTER THREE – YOUR FOOD
Creating a Grocery List from Your Menu
Social Media Links
This guide has 3 main chapters, but I have NOT listed each category that is discussed in this book because the table of contents itself would then be 2 pages long! Please read this book just like you would your favorite thriller, romance, sci-fi, western, self-help, instruction textbook, etc; from start to finish so that you can understand the whole story of how to manage and live/eat/feel better and achieve whatever you want to do in your life; almost instantly and for FREE!
I have guest-hosted workshops at several financial literacy courses and colleges in the last 2&1/2 years and it takes about 2 hours in total to go through the book. I explain and show how to make, revise and split a budget using YOUR expenses, about 2/3 of the tips are covered, how to create a menu and shopping list using YOUR foods, modify them as necessary for restrictions and prices, and about 1/2 of the tips in that section are covered as well. It takes 30+ pages of typing to explain it all though, so I guess a picture (or a live workshop) is worth more like 20,000 words…must be inflation! LOL If you are interested in having me do a workshop for people in your business, school or community; please get in contact with me via my website or email address and I would be happy to set something up! I am also in the process of developing a one-time 2-hour workshop video which will be available in the next 6 months or so for schools, agencies, etc to own and use as they want with their students, clients, etc.
It can SOUND and LOOK like it will take a lot of work and time, but it takes only about 20 minutes to do an initial 'where you are at now' budget, (time varies greatly with how well you know what you spend). Then fine tune that budget each pay period according to your needs, which is a 30-minute task each time, if that. Almost everyone is surprised at how much they spend and on what as well as how much they earn in a month’s time once all income and expenses are totaled up.
It only takes an hour or two to plan your meal menu and grocery list each pay period, but trust me—it is worth the huge savings you will have at the store, the awesome food you will look forward to eating and the amount of saved time and effort you can devote to other interests! It will obviously take longer the first few times, especially if you are not used to pre-planning meals and grocery lists.
Life 'is what it is' and you can’t change the past no matter what you do, think, say or wish…so change your perspective to 'IT WILL BE WHAT I MAKE IT' and NEVER GIVE UP!
Are you ready to eat better, live better, feel better, laugh more and enjoy YOUR life as much as you really want to, while spending as little as possible? LET'S GET BUSY!
CHAPTER ONE -- YOUR MONEY
What You Need
-pen and paper (for jotting down information and figures)
-light colored high-lighter or marker (to cross off expenses from statements/bills as you go to see if any expenses were missed; use a see-through color)
-ALL credit card statements/bank account statements/bills/policies/receipts/etc for the last month (to review current plan features, interest, late fees, balance owed covered later)
-calculator (don't rely solely on a calculator to add amounts because if you hit a wrong button you are starting over)
-a quiet place and the time to concentrate for an hour or 2 to get this done once and for all so you can stop wondering why you're 'broke' all the time!
What You Need to Know
Doing your own budget with a pen and paper even just once to see where you're truly at right now can be a real eye opener as you see the whole budget on one page; good, bad and ugly in black and white!
A tip given to me by a computer programmer is to use a separate email account for your personal activities, one for your business (if you have one) and one strictly for internet sites where you need to supply an email to register or login. This way, you can restrict the amount of personal information you give to companies. **Please only use a SECURED internet connection for financial transactions of any kind online to keep your information safe!
If you pay everything in cash and/or have no account or purchase histories, begin asking for and keeping ALL receipts for everything you buy for the next month or two. Start today as there is no need for a week to be Sunday to Monday or a month to be the 1st to last day of a calendar month. Group similar expenses (such as those on the Sample Initial Budget (use YOUR OWN real expenses), total those each night in 10-30 minutes (times will vary by how much you spend and how often obviously)! At the end of 7 days add up each daily total for a weekly total and repeat for the next 4 weeks adding weekly totals together for a monthly total in each category. This will give you a crystal-clear picture of where you are at now financially, and you will understand what is explained about how to eliminate quite a bit of unnecessary expenses in Chapter Two!
In the meantime, estimate what you think you spend on all individual expenses to create an initial draft budget for now. Revise your next monthly budget with the actual totals from the receipts you keep for this next 4-week period. Repeat for a few more pay periods until you get a similar amount for each expense and revise your budget as necessary.
For more consistency in your finances, develop a MONTHLY budget and spread your expenses over all your income in a month, so you always have roughly the same amount of money left for daily needs after bills and food in each pay cycle.
List each income and expense category separately for the initial draft budget so you have a very clear picture of exactly how much is going where. After you have completed your revised working budget, you can add several categories together to form group categories (health care premiums, prescriptions, and physio combined into medical, etc) if you prefer.
Use the last month's total amount billed from statements as a starting point. If you are not sure how much you pay for something, most companies (including all income sources) have a website where you can view your account history of all bills and their breakdown. If you don’t use the internet for financial transactions, call the companies and ask for the last few months of dollar amounts billed and paid either over the phone by mail. If there is an issue or they want to charge you, let them know this is a one-time request to begin a budgeting strategy and ask for manager if necessary. Most banks now have a free computer inside to access your accounts with them online and you can print the last few bank statements out there, if you need. Note the interest percentage charged on amounts owing, service charges, the grand total owing, and a list of everything you receive for the amounts billed (your plan/policy/features/etc) for later use.
For heating/cooling, insurance, schooling, medical and other items that change monthly in cost, add up the last 12 months of amounts billed for each expense and divide by 12 for an average monthly amount. Refine as you get new bills if the amounts change each month by more than a few dollars. If you don't have access to the account information yourself (a roommate situation), you more than likely pay a certain amount each month anyway so just use that amount. Ask the account holder to inquire as to current costs and what is provided for that amount if it seems higher than necessary. If you are just beginning a brand-new expense or income category and have no history, call the company and ask what they estimate your bill to be and use that until you have your 1st bill and then adjust as necessary.
There are several free apps, which do all the calculating for you and track how much you spend on what; but you still must do all the initial inputting of the same information that you gather here and calculate anyway! They can be a real-time saver, after initial setup, but if you lose/break the phone or hit the wrong button, you had better have a photographic memory unless you can find a different access to the app and/or you saved the info elsewhere! Also of note, some apps encourage you to link to your bank account for complete budgeting accuracy; but bear in mind that once your bank account is linked to other apps for these purposes, the bank is no longer liable if money goes missing due to that app or program handling your money for you! As well you must enter all data on every single item you spend money on for it to be accurate which can be a hassle as well as may seem intrusive.
Creating Your Initial Monthly Budget
Refer to the DRAFT budget example at the bottom of this page to see how to set up your INITIAL budget so that you can see where you are at financially right now, and then you can adjust from payday to payday going forward with a working budget.
List and add up ALL income sources to get a GRAND TOTAL of income per month. Add in all paychecks (most people are paid more than once a month). If your income varies from month to month, you can use the same formula to find an average monthly amount for these categories as well. Most people know how much they receive per different check, but don’t always total it up and include ALL income in a budget.
sources can include: work, pensions, support, child tax credits, gov't assistance, self-employment, GIC/RESP/RRSP incomes, rental property income, boarders, etc
You may have some income that is once a year (interest dividends, etc), four times a year (GST), or one-time income (lottery, sale of home, cash gifts, etc) as well. I have not listed these items into a normal monthly income as they can be budgeted themselves individually as they arrive for larger ticket items you need, investments, paying off debt, vacations or even just 'mad money'.
List by individual category ALL expense categories that apply to you, using either the amount billed/paid or the average monthly amount on your budget.
example: cable, internet, phone, electricity, heating gas/oil/propane, water, sewer, cell phone(s), tablets, iPad, iPod, vehicle gas, oil, repairs, fluids, bus fares, cabs, tuition, books, fees, dues, supplies, equipment, gym/class/club/team memberships, equipment, supplies, house/tenant/car/life/health/travel insurances, student/bank/car/payday loans, etc
Your normal monthly rent/mortgage usually does not change from month to month, however you may need to adjust it every time you resign your mortgage or your rent goes up. Rent is only legally allowed to be raised once a year regardless of how many lease renewals you have within that year; in most provinces in Canada anyway. Check with your local Tenant/Rental Board for actual percentage amounts that it can be raised as well.
Bank fees/charges include monthly service charges, NSF fees, overdraft protection fees AND interest charged for those fees, draft/money order/check/travelers check fees, safety deposit box fees, and all other fees and charges that you may find. Review your last few bank statements as fees change monthly for pay per use items, etc. Calculate and list your average monthly amount as one category of bank fees on your budget. Do this for each account separately if you have more than one account and group them together later
If you have children add categories for clothes, toys, daycare, babysitters, highchairs, car seats, allowances, their activity fees and equipment/supplies calculated in the same manner from receipts/bank or credit card statements/etc. List these average monthly amounts. Allow also for clothes, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, etc on a regular basis, calculate and list in their own category.
For all expenses NOT paid monthly, such as car insurance every 3 months, holiday and birthday gifts, vacations, New Year's Eve, etc; review your bank & card statements/policy/receipts for the last year. Total up all expenses paid in groups and find your monthly average as usual. If you have no history to review, estimate the amount you paid last year for all things related to each expense category including all payments over the month(s) after to pay off what you bought on credit as well as what you paid for in cash and/or saved up money spent on those items.
example: if Christmas cost $600 last year with gifts, food, decorations, celebrations, etc $600 divided by 12 = $50 per month for just that one event
However, maybe Christmas is only 6 months away now and a special birthday is 3 months away by the time you read this. Calculate the same way but use only the number of months left until the event happens again, and enter that amount on your budget and either save or pre-buy items costing that amount each month from now until then.
example: you still want to spend $600, so divide by 6 = $100 per month now needs to be entered for this expense to be able to afford the same amount as last time, but have it in advance. You may not be able to afford this shortened higher amount monthly, but after the learning techniques/shortcuts/tips in Chapter 2, you can revise all expense categories as necessary until you CAN afford to enjoy the event, without taking months to recover financially and stressing yourself out needlessly
Calculate expenses paid in cash the same way such as laundry, recreational/social activities, meals out, trips to the bar, bingo/casino/lottery tickets, cigarettes, alcohol, magazines/books/newspapers (individual or subscriptions), junk food, etc. Multiply the cost of one of your usual purchases x how many you have each day x 30 days (or however many days/months you spend money on that item).
example, if you buy 2 coffees a day at $3/coffee = $6/day x 30 days = $180 average monthly amount—yes, $180/month JUST for 2 coffees each day on the go
For medical expense histories, check with the offices/pharmacies/companies to get your amounts and calculate as usual.
example: health care plan payments, extra medical coverage plans, prescriptions, extra billing fees, forms/notes, shots, procedures, massage, chiropractor, physio, equipment/supplies for all medical needs you pay for yourself, etc. Review your bank/credit card statements/receipts once more to make sure ALL expense categories are listed, other than your grocery/food category; calculate and list any you may have missed
Add up all the amounts you spent on food and supplies at all grocery stores, calculating and listing in the usual manner. **This is a separate budget that you will revise on a per shopping basis, allowing for special occasions, such as Holiday dinners and items you don’t buy every time like cleaning supplies.
If you have NO clue what you spend on food in a month and no history to go by—Don't Worry! Just leave this amount blank for now as you will be planning your OWN menus with foods YOU eat and learn how to save in all things food and household as well in the next 2 chapters. Total up all your expense items and then subtract that grand total from your income grand total to see how much you have left or are short after ALL income and expenses are accounted for. Don’t freak out! Whether you're happy or sad about your current state, it is just that, current!
You can't change anything about what is already done/past in any area of life, no matter what you do or say, but you can change YOUR present and future—in small, easy, immediate and free steps—making YOUR life as great as YOU want it to be!
Start by spreading all expenses over all your income each month so it doesn't take an entire paycheck just to pay the rent for instance! Then you will learn how to cut costs in every way you spend money and lastly you will learn how to plan your food to save even more.
Revising to A Working Monthly Budget
After you have read through the rest of this book, you will be able to revise your initial budget quickly and easily from there on in. Simply enter the revised expense amounts from your initial budget into a working budget and revise as necessary.
If you are paid more than once a month (regardless of source), then the step below is a huge time, money and stress saver to keep a little bit in your pocket and your bills paid! Refer to the SPLIT CHECK budget example at the bottom of this page to see how to set it up. I have not listed any numerical amounts, as they will not apply to your situation anyway. This is only a template of HOW TO spread/split expenses over more than one paycheck. Use YOUR OWN categories and calculate how much is best for you for each amount from each paycheck. You only need to setup initially and then tweak as needed for unexpected bills or emergencies. Split your rent/mortgage and food costs, over your major checks (work, pension, assistance, etc) and assign the rest of the bills to other income checks (child tax credit, support, etc) as appropriate to ensure a little bit of extra cash for unplanned items or daily incidentals.
If you have trouble saving money no matter what it's for, consider buying money orders for half of your monthly rent with each paycheck (or go into the office and use your debit card if your agency has that option). Then the money is not in your account to accidentally get used on other things. You can save them and pay on rent day with the 2 money orders for half each, or if need be you can pay your rent/mortgage to the company twice a month instead! Most places will not refuse you pre-paying your rent half a month AHEAD, every time. This guarantees them at least half a months’ rent in advance at all times as well. Just make sure to get signed and dated receipts with the amount paid if you deal in cash as a person's word is not what it used to be and verbal agreements won't stand up in court. This does not mean you can run half a month behind in rent instead either! Well, you could try but chances are you'll create even more serious problems like getting evicted for non-payment of full rent owed.
Aim to pay your bills with the same income checks each month before they are due, to avoid unnecessary late fees and ensure they are not forgotten altogether. Auto-direct payments from your bank account (the company has your bank take it from your account each time a bill is generated) can be great to ensure you don't forget a bill, or get extra late fees, etc.
However, you need to pay attention to the amounts being paid automatically for any increase or decrease of more than a few bucks in a month as amounts charged for plan features/coverage/etc are almost always subject to change without notice! Review bank statements for these items and look for missing monthly automatic withdrawals also.
example: a tenant/home insurance payment was not deducted and on checking with the company you find out the policy didn't automatically renew, and you are now without insurance; or an extra $25/month on a cable bill was charged and after speaking to the company you find that your rate increased as you finished a promo offer
For items like Christmas/Birthday presents I find it easier to buy a gift (or two per person) every month, wrapping it immediately and putting it away, for at least 6 months prior to the holiday. This way items can be gotten for less usually due to end of season sales, etc. If you have a lot of people to buy for, start on Boxing Day this year and take advantage of huge savings now for next year! Take a bit of time to list what presents you want to buy and for who (even include extra foods, decorations, wrapping paper, tape, etc), as much of this can be pre-bought off season for less than half the price-especially at large discount stores such as DollarTree which now offers FREE* In-Store Pickup! *Restrictions may apply at select locations in both the US and Canada when you shop via their website. Price items out to a rough estimate each, calculate total, divide by how many months until then, and spend or save that amount monthly as a normal expense category.
Both DollarTree and my one of my other favorite large discount stores, Walmart (along with a few other larger stores I have noticed lately) offer not only online shopping with free or cheap quick delivery; BUT you can pick up your order at your local store saving you the headaches of parking, juggling children and a cart, the frustrations of dealing with other shoppers and the normal 'argh' that goes with shopping trips most times! This is available on both the US and Canada Walmart sites for store pickup in certain locations, so check their respective sites for more info and kick back with a coffee at home while you shop instead!
For larger ticket items buy gift cards in the necessary calculated monthly amounts each month for that store, until you have enough collected to buy that item. Many stores still offer a layaway service where you can pay some to hold it, and come back and pay in installments until it is paid completely, but check with each store as some have a time limit on how long you can do a layaway for. Also, get signed and dated receipts for all payments regardless of where or how much you are paying!
Another bonus to shopping this way is that come Christmas all the gifts are already wrapped and ready to go--and no huge bills (or going without stuff) for the next few months to pay it off and no staying up till 3 am to wrap everything on Christmas Eve! The biggest gift to yourself and your family I think is the peace of mind allowing you to fully enjoy the event without stressing out or having guilt over how much it has and will cost you!
Chances are you didn't get into any situation you are in now overnight, so it may take a bit of time to get out of it totally too; but planning will make things easier! Sometimes it just takes a tiny bit of fine tuning to get something just right like a guitar or piano...life can be approached in the same manner!
You can anticipate changes with worry and plan for endless possible negative outcomes, or you can anticipate changes by eagerly, happily planning positive and realistic goals/outcomes; but either way change of some sort is guaranteed! To paraphrase what someone I know said, "I would rather DO life, than have life DO me".
It sounds like a lot of hassle, but please realize:
-how much money you will save after your first full next month compared to what you spend right now
-the awesome tasting, cheap, healthy food that you will make yourself which will make others green with envy, not nausea
-how much you will stress less, smile/laugh more, feel better, have energy and motivation just from feeding your brain and body proper nutrition and get organized in your life
-that it won’t cost you ANYTHING other than a couple hours of free reading to learn and then initiate all these free and immediate tweaks/tips but you will SAVE a bundle
-that all your dreams can become your reality as quickly as you want them to be with the same kind of budgeting methods and breaking down that budget into do-able steps
Relax your shoulders back down from your ears, take a deep breath in and exhale all the stress, worry, fear and negativity! Now smile and laugh because you just took your first step in changing your own life to what YOU want it to be on YOUR terms!
CHAPTER TWO–100’S OF WAYS TO SAVE INSTANTLY!
Utilities and Day to Day Expenses
Electricity (All Items You Plug In)
In the summertime, shut off the BREAKERS for the heat/furnace (even for gas heat, it costs YOU electricity to start/spark it), car block-heater plug-ins (and apt building parking stalls with plug, used or not). Even with the heat 'off' it still costs electricity unless the breakers are shut off for that plug-in. Most apartments also have a breaker panel these days as opposed to the old glass fuses and you can ask the manager or owner which is for what and go from there.
Make a habit of only having the appliances that you use on a constant basis (fridge, stove, lights left on for security, etc) plugged in all the time. Even when off they draw power if they are plugged in at all. Consider keeping your microwave, toaster, coffee maker, blender unplugged normally, plugging in and unplugging for each use, or you can pay extra for things to be continually in a 'ready to go' mode! Lol The same goes for laptops, desk computers, gaming systems, mp3/iPod docks, stereos, and chargers for everything-if it's plugged in it’s costing you money!
It also just becomes second nature to plug in the microwave, use it and unplug it and only takes an extra 2-3 seconds to do. Consider energy efficient timers for lamps, heat sources, cooling sources, car warmers, etc. Leave lamps that you have around the house unplugged unless you use them all the time.
For heating in the winter, even if you don’t pay for your heat, consider turning the temp UP at NIGHT to 19-21 degrees Celsius (depending on your preferences) and DOWN in the MORNING to about 17-19 degrees for the daytime. Obviously, this depends on your home's draftiness, weather conditions, and your own personal comfort. The sun outside will warm your home enough during the day anyway and it makes for a much nicer morning when the floors aren’t like ice too!
When flushing a low-flow toilet hold the handle down until it finishes flushing ALL the water in the toilet bowl! This will make for a FULL flush (normally) reducing the need to flush a second time, and reducing the chances of clogs, never mind saving water with less flushing.
Run HOT water down ALL drains for 5-7 minutes, on the same day each month (pick a day and put it on your calendar to do every month). This helps to flush out all the fat, grease, gunk that you send running down your drains when you do dishes and for hair/soap in the tub and bathroom sink as well. This will help you to avoid HUGE repair costs of calling a plumber to unplug a clog, something even most apt building rentals charge YOU for these issues now! This will help to prevent a clogged toilet also, something you would be charged for even as a renter!
Use a few 4L milk jugs or 2L pop bottles (rinsed out) to keep cold water in your fridge for handy use instead of running the tap for a few minutes every time you want a drink of water.
Take shorter showers, and/or adjust the temperature to more warm than hot. This will not only save you in water, but the electricity to heat the water (even gas hot water tanks require electricity to start). The hotter the water on your skin the more the natural oils in your skin are stripped out leading to dry, itchy skin/hair/scalp--which is costs even more to combat, especially in the winter.
Shop around with different companies that supply electricity, water, gas and oil as prices can vary quite a bit between companies. Most are in the yellow pages online but if not, you should be able to get a list of them from your city hall office or look up online 'utility companies' within your specific area. Some have lower rates but want a contract, or it can be a varied cost depending on the market rate—just make sure you fully understand both options and do some research before making any decisions.
Cable, Internet and ALL Phones
Do you have the 'everything package' with cable/dish TV? Do you really watch EVERYTHING? Do you even watch TV on a regular basis? Is it mostly just movies from pay-per-view, rentals or Netflix type packages? Do you just play gaming systems? Start by keeping a list of which channels (by channel name--e.g.: fox, comedy network, food network, etc), PPV, specialty sports channels, etc that you actually watch for the next few weeks so you can revise your plan to get what you want and save money also.
Review your last bill! There are always EXTRA CHARGES for:
Gateway/optic type system box needed to run cable into your home
AND each separate PORTAL--for EACH TV in your home
AND each separate PVR box—for EACH TV in your home (if you don't have all your TV's running on the other type of systems)
AND each separate basic cable box (just cable with no recording options)-for EACH TV in your home
your actual viewing channel package monthly charges. The list of channels can and does change without notice, as well as the pricing, so check to see if you have lost/gained any channels since choosing that package as sometimes a channel will be changed to a standalone for an extra $5/month and if you don't watch it anyway you can cancel it
Internet hardwired and Wi-Fi modems-each if you have more than one
AND your internet package itself—this is based on your bandwidth usage (how much you download and upload in a monthly cycle)
sadly, many people have up to 6 portals, a main system, or numerous PVR and/or cable boxes (total up the number of TV's in your house), internet, and all the modems for those packages hooked up and ready to go at all times, but many are rarely all used. This is costing a small fortune in package, rental, usage fees and taxes, as well as electricity!
Land line modems-EACH one
in ADDITION to the cost of the phone package you have, many times there is a promo type bundle pack with a phone included, but you are still paying for this service. After the promo expires it can run over $50/month just for basic phone service and voice mail or call display will be an extra $5-$10 EACH per month
AND we haven't even discussed long distance packages yet that are on top of that!
Talk to your providing company, tell them you've been a loyal customer for (however long it is) and that you are wanting to cut back your current plan or bundle it with other services they have due to a change in your circumstances. Ask about current promotions running and tell them what you need for your cable, internet, phone needs so they can work with you to how to save money and still have what you need. They offer different deals to keep loyal customers happy with promos (for 3-6 months usually) that can save you a lot on a package based on what you USE, or even to help you keep the 'everything package' but cheaper. If you aren't getting anywhere with the rep you are speaking with, ask for a supervisor or to be put through to the loyalty department. Some companies also have an 'access package' for low-income customers – you just need to ask. Make sure you get the name and id# of who authorizes this and the details and have them send it all by email or mail for your confirmation.
Consider getting NETFLIX instead of PPV for movies, TV series and a ton of comedy specials that are only available with them! It is VERY cheap (check the website for current offers), and several people (currently 4) can use one account, you don’t even all have to be in the same province/state! It costs under $12 US per month for up to 4 users and under $8 US per month for just one user. There are Canadian and American versions with different titles and you can get both packages although the company is making changes to its services so check the site and read the terms, policies, etc to see what is allowed and what's not when you go to the site.
As with ALL sites, you really have NO idea what you are agreeing to until you read all the fine print and sometimes you don't even need to finish reading it all to decide you have no intention of letting them use your data to benefit their company as they intend to!
Consider bundling TV, internet and phone (some companies even have cell phone plans now too) with one company instead of 2 or 3, to save even more. Again, promo specials are what to ask for here!
Speaking of phone, do you even USE your home phone? Do you mostly just use a cell? Most cell companies have promos for unlimited countrywide long distance, unlimited text and 1 Gig or more of data (internet) for $40-$70/month these days, even on a pre-paid basis. If not, they usually offer add-ons like unlimited 24/7 long distance and internet, and voice mail too at small fees ($5-$10/month). If you have long distance and voice mail on your cell, you can usually eliminate the need for a home phone as well, which just costs you money you don’t need to spend! It pays to shop around to all the companies in this regard as prices and plans can vary greatly depending on what services you need.
*Of note, if you are in the Caribbean, Asia or Central America, Digicel is a fabulous cell provider that I personally used in Jamaica. Even if you are only visiting they have daily, weekly and monthly plans for data and phone calls. Buy a SIM card (about $10 US) for your current cell and keep your usual SIM card to swap out on returning home. If you return or go to any country that has Digicel within 3 months just call in and restart the same phone number without hassle. Top up your friends/family's Digicel balance in over 32 countries without needing a Digicel plan yourself and they get DOUBLE THE CREDIT of minutes or data when done online from any other country (such as the US or Canada). There are many stores that have a red card in the window with the 'Digicel' name/logo where you can top up your or other people's balances worldwide, but it is faster and easier to do online. They have excellent data plans and my favorite is the 3 GIG data for $2100/month (Jamaican dollars) which works out to about $21.00 US/month. The first data plan started/bought in each month cycle gets you double the data if you let the plan expire and then start a fresh one each billing cycle, which is what I found best for me as it gave me 6 GIGS of data for $21 US per month, which was more than enough! Any unused regular data rolls over from month to month but not bonus data. Their $2.95/minute (Jamaican dollars) pre-paid calling plan ($0.03/min US) for ALL calls to local, US, Canada and UK cells and landlines is awesome as well! This does NOT include toll free numbers so dial direct when using your Digicel cell or it will cost $18.95/minute in Jamaican dollars ($0.19/min US) for all toll-free number calls. They have excellent coverage over most all of Jamaica that I personally can vouch for after 5 1/2 months of usage there, and my SIM and number worked while I stopped in the US and once back in Canada as well (turn off your roaming to avoid higher costs though)! Pre-paid is the way to go whether you are on a short visit or live there permanently, as you avoid unexpected huge bills showing up at month end. You can top up almost anywhere in person with as little as $100 Jamaican ($1.00 US) cash, or $500 Jamaican ($5.00 US) online. Costs differ for texts and calls to numbers that are with other local providers, so learn who your friend's providers are or refer them to switch to Digicel to save money all around!
Back to the internet topic: go count how many computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, cell phones, and chargers you have hooked up right now. Take a second and think if you use them ALL on a regular basis? Or is it just convenient to have them hooked up ready to go, just in case? If it is costing you to have each one connected with a hardwired modem, then seriously consider picking the most efficient one for your needs and cancel, disconnect and return the rest-make sure you get a receipt for the equipment returned. You will continue to be charged for ALL fees until the equipment is returned as well! Talk to your provider of this service (and shopping around) for promo deals or a lower speed service if you don’t use your computer much anyway. A hotspot feature from your cell to give you coverage for your laptop, etc at home as needed can save even more but this depends on how much you use your devices at home as this method DOES USE YOUR DATA ALLOWANCE on your cell plan! Check with your cell phone provider to see how this works and all other options. They also offer a type of usb stick for data with your laptop, etc as an alternative to a Wi-Fi or hardwired internet connection at home. In many countries, you can purchase a handheld size Wi-Fi modem to carry with you which works great for travelers!
Another huge money saver is to turn off your cellular data and roaming features and run strictly on Wi-Fi from your internet package at home. There are thousands of places that offer free Wi-Fi these days such as restaurants, libraries city bus terminals/loops/parks and more, which pretty much gives you all you need for the internet, for free! Of note, phone calls and texting still works when you run only on Wi-Fi but it can cost you minutes/fees within or on top of your plan to use these regardless of Wi-Fi so check with your provider.
A fabulous app that I use now, called WhatsApp, is a FREE messenger app to use over Wi-Fi for calls, texts, voice messages, pics and videos worldwide between cell and landlines. It is also available for your computer, both for PC and MAC! It is quick to setup, easy to use, can be linked to your current phone number, you can get a new number just for this and numbers can be changed easily within the program as well. Just be sure the data is turned off if you are going to use it for calls so that you are not using minutes from your plan if the Wi-Fi cuts out and your device switches automatically to data usage! This can be controlled in the WhatsApp setting section as well as who sees what about you and if you want the app to have access to your contacts, calendar, photos, etc. It is owned by Facebook and as with ALL internet sites, be sure to carefully and completely READ the Terms and Conditions and Privacy sections BEFORE you click Agree so you are aware of all the exceptions to the rules, etc.
All Other Expenses
Bank Service Charges
Review the features you are currently paying for in fees, etc on your last 6 months’ worth of bank statements. How much do you REALLY pay for the current account plan you have in TOTAL? Does it fit your needs (free money orders, free checks, unlimited debits, a few free 'other-bank' ATM charge refunds each month, etc)? If you are paying for these items but rarely use them then it is time for a change! Or maybe you don’t have unlimited debit but that is ALL you use? Talk to your bank; ask them what plans they have that are better suited to what your actual needs are. You could end up saving up to half what you spend now every month in charges alone!
Consider using a local Laundromat for most of your everyday clothing and linens. They can save quite a bit in cash, time and wear and tear on your clothing! Bus there and back using a huge black/orange garbage bag (double it for strength) with your soap, whitener, bounce and get all your laundry done in less than 2 hours for a fraction of what it costs at home! Use the front-loading triple loaders or even larger machines to do several loads of similar clothing at once (blacks and colors, whites and towels, etc). You really can save a bundle by doing ALL your laundry in the same washer and unless you have some very dirty items or new pieces that the color may run; it is just a waste of water and soap to do everything separately. It makes no difference in cleaning power if you are using cold, warm or hot water and the reduced temperature in water also helps to keep your clothes in newer condition longer.
Most triples are $4-$7 and have a pre-wash, wash, 3 rinse cycles, and an extractor feature which removes most of the excess water so drying time is cut down as well. Just remember to add soap to the pre-wash AND the wash dispensers (also whitener/stain remover to the wash) for proper cleaning. You can pack them full, but don't stuff them overfull as this reduces the cleaning ability. Spin your hand around the inside of the machine while looking inside to make sure there are no items left from the last person's wash before adding any clothes to both the washers AND dryers. As well, the front-loading machines are agitator free so there is little chance of tearing your clothes. Remember to check and make sure there is no soap left in the holders before you begin as that indicates there was a problem with the machine if soap is still in there. Let the attendant know so they can put a sign up as it saves you time, money and effort and helps the next people doing laundry after you too.
Using 1-3 DRY powder soap pods for pre-wash dispenser and then 2-4 more soap pods as well as 1-2 DRY whitener/stain remover pods for wash cycle dispenser is best as you are doing 3-5 loads of laundry at once after all! Do NOT just throw them all into the machine with the clothes, as all that first water drains out after the pre-wash! I usually poke/tear open (carefully) the dry pods pouring the soap into both dispensers as instructed so the soap distributes better. Also, if using the liquid pods, break them open into the wash cycle dispenser as it starts or it just runs down into the machine right away with the pre-wash soap anyway. The dry pods are the best and most effective way to go as they are portioned at 1 per load worth of clothing so there is no waste with extra in the measuring cup each time. Unfortunately, many of these pods have been reduced in size and amount of soap lately (never mind that the cost has also gone up), so I use 1 for pre-wash and 2 per single load wash now to ensure clean clothes. This all depends greatly on how dirty your clothes are and how many clothes you wash at once obviously.
Separate your clothes for drying, putting all sheets, underwear, socks and light shirts and pants in one dryer and all towels, jeans, sweats, etc in another, using 2 dryers for one triple loader wash, and up to 4 for the huge machines, depending on how heavy the clothes are. Dryers can range from free to $1 for 30 minutes, but most are $1 for 24 minutes. You can usually get all the lighter stuff done within the 1st cycle and a lot of the heavier load will be done as well. Then combine what’s left of both loads into one and it will be done with one more cycle at the most. I usually open the lighter load about 1/2 way (12 minutes left on a 24-minute timer) through the drying time cycle and QUICKLY remove what's already dry such as underwear, pillowcases, nylon items, etc, folding and packing into a huge CLEAN bag as the rest dries. I have noted that many people bring their dirty clothes to the laundromat in a big bag and then put the clean clothes back into that same dirty bag afterwards so either use large plastic trash bags and turn them inside out for the clean clothes or wash the fabric bag as well with the laundry! Check again about 2/3 of the way (8 minutes left on a 24-minute cycle timer) QUICKLY, and remove more dry items, folding and adding to the bag while the rest dries. Again, check for more dry items at about 4-5 minutes left folding and bagging while the rest dries. If it is all dry on your second check, QUICKLY check the heavier clothing dryer load, remove dry items, and split the rest between both dryers for the additional 7-8 minutes left on a 24-minute timer. By the time the first cycle is done you can combine what's left (if any) and start that drying while continuing to fold and bag what's dry, checking and removing as before to reduce wear and tear on your clothes and reduce wrinkles by folding immediately! You should be able to do 3 loads worth of clothes in 1 triple loader and using 2 dryers, it shouldn’t cost more than $6-$9 for that entire trip! It is quicker (2 hours tops) with no running up/down stairs either!
If you have a washer and dryer at home, you can save all the water/electricity/gas/etc each time, and just use your machines when necessary in between major laundry trips. The front-loading washers lock while in use so go for a coffee or walk for 25 minutes and then spend the rest of the time drying and folding, usually about another 30-40 minutes. Watch to ensure the soap goes in the pre-wash at the start and both the soap and whitener get into the wash cycle as well before heading out the door.
Credit Cards/All Types of Loans/Etc.
Review your statements and see if you are even paying down the principle at all, as just making the minimum payment is only covering the interest each month! Consider consolidating all cards/loans into one card/loan, paying off the others and canceling the cards/loans as well, so no more interest and monthly charges accumulate! This will cut your costs drastically for interest and you will only have 1 payment to deal with each month. STOP using ALL cards and overdraft, etc immediately and learn to just spend what you have already in funds, especially if you are already in debt as this only creates more debt for next month!
Call the companies and let them know to either cancel or at least suspend your account so no more charges can/will be added. A supervisor or manager has the authority to reduce the total amount owed (and close the account so no more interest is charged) as well as make a payment schedule with you, in order to pay it off faster. Ask them to reduce the percentage of interest you pay on ALL cards/loans. Many will be happy to do this even for a 6 month to 1 year period instead of losing your business altogether. You can also have them put a restriction on your cards/borrowing abilities if you need at any time, so that you are not tempted to continue raising the debt. If you explain to them that you are trying to pay off the actual amount owed before using the card again, a lot of them will work with you to make equal monthly payments for a longer period, sometimes even without interest at all. Make sure you get the name and id# of who authorizes this agreement and have them send the details by email or mail as confirmation.
Take advantage of free 15-30 minute consultations offered in your area. I don’t advise using online consults, as you don’t really know who you are talking with or who is also seeing your confidential information but the decision is yours. Take in your budget too so they can have a clear picture of your financial situation without them having to ask you all that information first. This will save you time, which keeps it within the free timeframe. Writing down a point form list of questions and relevant info for each is helpful in saving your minutes of the free time as well. You can find a variety of professionals either by Google search for free consultations on (legal, financial, real estate, counseling, insurance, medical, etc) in (your area) and start from there. The yellow pages both in print and online list these options as well in some ads.
Do you even go to the gym or classes you pay for at all? How often? What actual services you do use when you’re there? Are you paying waaaayyyyy too much for what you really use? Is it worth even continuing to be a member? Talk to the company and see if there are 'lighter' plans that cost less and still allow for the services you use. Most cities have city run recreational centers, and if you are low income (under $30,000/year for a single person usually) they will offer access passes/membership at extremely reduced rates (or FREE even), that usually encompasses all their facilities. The YMCA also has a very reduced rate for lower income people across Canada. Again, it will save you big money to shop around at various facilities and look at all their plans.
All Insurance Policies
Review all your insurance policies including tenant’s, home, vehicles, medical, travel, life, etc. Are you spending as little as you need to and still getting all the coverage you need? As an example, do you use your vehicle to get back and forth to a job more than 4x/month? If not, you can reduce your insurance to' pleasure driving' and save a bundle! Even insurance can be bundled to save hundreds! Home, auto, medical and life can all be combined within the same company much like a loyalty discount.
For extra medical/travel insurance, do you even take vacations? Do you travel more than once a year? It is great to have as a just in case measure, but if you haven’t used those extra coverage costs in more than a few years or you haven’t traveled and have no plans to; you probably don’t need it. Most plans in your own area cover a lot of what you need, except ambulance, extended benefits and prescriptions anywhere within your province/state/parish/country, as long as you are not away for more than a certain amount of time from your home province, so extra medical insurance is often just duplicate coverage. Be sure to check with your own health care plan to see what exactly is covered in that package as opposed to what you need as well, especially if considering extra medical insurance or a trip. If paying for a trip with a credit card, most offer extra insurance automatically for next to nothing, including medical! Most banks these days offer extra medical and travel insurance over the phone immediately if you have no pre-existing health conditions (or as long as they are stable for the last 90 days before your trip and you are not waiting to see a specialist), at rock bottom prices depending on how long you will need it. Get the yearly travel/medical plan if you take more than one trip a year for even more savings! And a tip I just found out is that in Canada you can claim your travel insurance payments on your income tax as a medical deduction just like prescriptions and all other medical expenses not covered by your existing plan!
Talk to all your current insurance companies and get a review of your current policies to make sure they suit your needs as many can lower costs to cover what you need, as opposed to losing you as a client! If nothing else shop around for ALL insurance needs, as policy rates and terms can vary greatly from company to company!
Review how much you spend on haircuts, mani& pedi’s, waxing, etc. Do you really NEED to get someone else to style your hair, cut and paint your nails and/or remove the hair from your body? Most people need a haircut every 2 months or so, but prices can range drastically from place to place. Consider if you need to have your toenails painted at all in the winter as who’s going to see them other than you? At least cut back to half as often, or consider painting them yourself at home. Consider a more manageable hairstyle that you can do yourself at home without costly and excessive products and tools too!
Use beauty colleges for all the same services as most salons and spas but at a fraction of the cost! A teacher is always near to do those final few touches that make it perfect; but make sure to ask for a senior student! Some spas/salons also offer 'freebies' of mini facials, massages, etc if you search online or call your favorite one and ask! Many salons and colleges will post ads on buy/sell free listing sites offering free services in specific areas (examples: free shave and fade for men or free short-hair haircuts for women) to help train their newer employees or students about to graduate from college programs in specific techniques.
Most provincial healthcare plans cover at least a couple of visits to physical therapy, some even include chiropractic, acupuncture and/or registered massage visits. If you are on government assistance or qualify as low income for any reason; there are usually a few additional visits covered after those initial ones run out, if medically needed and you provide a doctor’s note/prescription. Further additional visits can be approved directly through most local health care plans, with an on-going treatment plan from the therapist and progress reports. Consider how often you use these services as well. As with most things, pre-purchasing in bulk often allows for discount or freebies.
Call around to various offices as prices vary greatly! Consider trying a school of registered massage therapy as well as opposed to your usual expensive place. They require a medical history, a teacher is always around to make sure the service is being done properly and they are senior students just about to finish the program, so costs can be anywhere from only $10-$35/hour!
Prescriptions and Supplements
Review all your prescriptions with your doctor to ensure you only take what you actually need and no more. Sometimes it is 'recommended' that you take something as a just in case; but if we all did that then we’d all be on EVERYTHING! Call around to the larger box grocery, wholesale and department stores that usually have pharmacies within their stores for prices of filling fees. This fee is additional on top of what the drug itself costs for every prescription, every time! Costs can range from $4-$25 per prescription bottle! Also, consider buying at least a month at a time, most plans cover up to 3 months at a time of each prescription as just like everything else, you save buying in bulk! The cost of the filling fee is the same, but the medication is cheaper the more you buy per time. Of note, Costco (which is in several countries) lets you use their pharmacy (only), without having a membership and their prices are rock bottom.
Tithing, Donating to Charity, Savings and RRSP’s, RESP’s
Consider putting all your savings account, RRSP, RESP, tithing and/or donations to charitable agencies on a direct withdrawal from your bank account for each payday to the appropriate sources. This way, you always make your contributions before you run out of money and never forget either! Keep an eye on your bank statements to ensure no more than what you planned for is coming out.
Socializing (Daily Coffees, Newspapers, Dining Out, Movies, Etc.)
After you have calculated how much you spend each month for the following categories, think about if you really NEED to do all these things as much as you do currently? Dining out, including take out and drive-thru orders, trips to the bar, daily coffees/beverages of all kinds, books/magazines/newspapers (both subscription and individual purchases, movies in any form, all other social activities that cost money). You can average these categories if you have purchase histories for more accurate figures just as you did for your initial draft budget.
Can you eat at home, inviting friends over to make it a more social experience? Make it potluck where everyone brings a dish (make sure not all will be bringing the same item beforehand) to spread the cost around! Can you have friends over for drinks at home instead of going to the bar? You have music through free TV channels with a huge array of genres (kinds of music), radios, cd’s, etc. Again, make it potluck so everyone shares in the cost of the liquor and the mixes, even snacks if you like. Can you get Netflix and watch as many movies and shows as you like all month for less than the cost of one’s person movie ticket? You can pause the movies this way for trips to the bathroom, and rewind to catch that last joke you missed! This is a much more affordable option than PPV (pay-per-view also called On Demand) movies as the cost of one month’s usage is about the same as one PPV movie (split the usage cost between the people on your account and save even more)!
Combine several of these activities in your home with friends and have people over for dinner and a movie, drinks and card (or any) games of your choice or snacks and a movie. If a special game is coming on get everyone together at one house with a big TV instead of attending the arena as this is a HUGE money saver!
When buying magazines/newspapers/books, do you grab a paper every day from the box on the corner? Get subscriptions delivered to your door to save money, but only if you actually read them every day! If you DO use subscriptions for any of these items, consider canceling the subscription and just viewing the items online through your cell, laptop, tablet, etc or at your local library, for FREE! If you don’t have time to read most of the subscriptions you get and they are just adding to clutter in your home or getting thrown out, then this is definitely the way to go.
For your daily coffees, you can get a good travel mug with a tight-fitting lid and bring a cup for the road with you from home each time instead of hitting the first coffee shop you can find, saving you a bundle! This way you can control how much sugar and what kind of cream you use as well. To add flavor to your home coffee, add a teaspoon of cinnamon (or a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg to really kick it up a notch) to fresh coffee grounds before brewing. Add a small shot of flavor syrups just like the coffee shop that you can get these at your grocery stores in large bottles cheaply when you shop as well.
Shopping Trips – Clothes, Shoes, Accessories, Home Furnishings
Check your closets, dresser drawers, storage areas and finally take a good look around each room in your home to see exactly what you currently have. As far as the clothing, shoes & accessories especially are concerned, if you haven’t worn it in the last season it’s appropriate for then pack it up and give it away to charity or even have a trading party with some friends and get a lot of 'new to you' clothes without paying anything! You can also have a garage sale to recoup some of the money that is just hanging or lying around too! There are consignment stores that you can take these items to, for them to sell for you and split the sale price with you. Some are quite picky as to name brand clothes only so call ahead.
When shopping for additional items think before you buy if you will USE the item. Does it go with anything you already have or will you need to buy more stuff just to make this one item usable? Do you really NEED it? Do you have a tough time keeping what you have dusted/clean as it is? Puppies are ALL adorable too, but we don’t bring home every single one we see, right? Sometimes, just re-arranging the furniture and accents in your home between rooms can give a fresh updated look and satisfy your need to 'reno' your home. Try putting all your clothes in groups of outfits of what goes with what, so before you do shop you know what you have and can just buy a single item that will compliment many different outfits from what you put together already.
All Habits (Smoking, Drinking, Junk Food, Lottery, Etc.)
Consider how much of each habit you use at a time, multiply by how many times a day, and multiply that by 30 days! There ARE ways to cut this cost down without just quitting! For smoking, consider rolling your own with papers or tubes. It is only about a third of the cost of tailor-mades! And when it takes time to roll, it slows down the amount you smoke too! (Yes, I know this from personal experience!)
If that is just TOO MUCH for you to handle, at least switch to a value brand as opposed to premium ones. The taste is not much different for most brands, and the effects are totally the same! This price difference between cheapies and brand names can be as much as $5 for a single PACK! Start buying in cartons, calculating enough packs for the whole pay period and buy when you shop at the large box grocery and/or discount stores, as opposed to grabbing a pack or three daily at the gas station!
This will save you literally $100’s each month depending on how much you smoke! Its like 2 free packs for every 10 you buy this way-at least!
Figure out what you are spending, your consumption levels and find ways to reduce your intake and/or the cost. Even liquor stores have sales nowadays, and buying large bottles saves you even more! Taste is not that much different for most brands either! Again, the cheaper brands have the same effect, but can save you up to $5/bottle, even on the smaller bottles! Consider switching to cheaper versions of your choice of alcoholic drinks as well.
An ounce and a half of alcohol per drink with pop, juice or even water in a larger glass is a lot cheaper than a drink with 2 kinds of booze, using 2 or more kinds of mix, and/or making it a double/triple each time! Your body and mind will thank you also as you ease up on the alcohol and take in more fluids at the same time! Lol
Are you a junk-food-aholic?
It is a widely-known fact that if you are trying to reduce what you eat (or drink or smoke for that matter), indulging in snack sizes usually leads to over-eating by having 2 or more of the portions instead of 1 regular size portion, as they are too small to satisfy. This in turn leads to eating even more as you get mad at yourself for not being satisfied with the smaller serving(s). All things in moderation is the key logic to strive for!
Buy what you have calculated you consume each pay period when you shop at the larger grocery stores instead of picking stuff up each day. Most have deals for bigger bags, multiple bags, and some have HUGE bags for a ridiculously low cost if you don’t mind a store brand instead. If you need, portion out the larger bags to smaller ones and then just eat a single serving at a time. Again, the taste (and effects) are the same for most brands, just the cost can vary by over $1-$3 on a single 200 gm bag!
Review what your current spending habits are for an average purchase/session, multiply by # of purchases/visits per month. Most bingos and casinos now have customer loyalty cards that offer extra chances to win prizes and exclusive deals for those members. Also, if overspending is a problem once you get there, only take an amount of cash you can really afford to part with (whether you win or not) and leave your debit/credit cards at home!
Put yourself on a budget for smoking, drinking, junk food, lottery, etc after you have determined your actual consumption/day and month and all the associated costs. To do this without too much 'pain' cut back 1/4 of the amount you consume each time, and/or each day for a 2-week period at a time, and after only 2 months (8 weeks) you could even eliminate the habits altogether. At the very least, you will have cut down drastically; saving you money AND improving your health and mood at the same time! Yes, I know this from personal experience as I finally quit smoking almost 3 years ago now after 30 years, by cutting down until it was not worth even lighting the toothpicks I hand rolled (with papers and a pouch of plain tobacco) for one drag even! Now instead of wanting one if I smell it, it makes me nauseated-which is a good thing if you really don't want that habit any longer; regardless of what it is!
Pawn Shops and Payday Loans
Pawn Shop Items
If you are paying someone just to store your items for 3/4 of every pay period for you (with a risk of losing them if you don't pay back the money borrowed AND interest) then are they really all that precious? Or are they more of a valuable bargaining tool to get extra cash a week or so after payday, every time? Evaluate what all you currently have in the pawnshop. Do you even USE the items when they are at home? Consider if you even NEED any of the items, or which ones you really want to get back and then STOP pawning again! It can seem hard the first month, but if you follow the tips below, you will END the cycle!
Once you have decided what you want back for sure-if anything, speak to the shop owner or manager and let them know that you are stopping pawning and what you have decide not to buy back. Pay the interest owed each month to hold the items in pawn you want back, in addition to 1/4 to 1/3 of the actual borrowed amount owed each month until you can comfortably afford to get those special items out once and for all!
As long as the company gets their interest each month, not much else matters to them. They will be able to sell the items you decide to let them keep at a higher profit than they get in interest from you each month anyway so don’t feel bad! Since you will pay a much smaller amount for each of the next few months this way; you will immediately have excess money you would have spent on the entire buy back (each month) to buy what you need now instead of later with the re-pawned amount, and you won’t lose those few special items either!
Speak to the manager of the company and let them know that you will no longer be borrowing money. Have your ability to borrow stopped if they don’t just cut you off anyway. Tell them that you will pay the outstanding amount, but it will be in 2-3 pay period installments instead of all right now. Most companies will be happy to make those arrangements (get all details in writing) as opposed to having to spend their own money trying to get what is owed from you the hard way. There is monthly interest as well on these amounts so make sure to pay the interest portion as well as 1/4 to 1/3 of the actual amount owed every time. The interest SHOULD come down in its amount with each payment, as less money is outstanding each time as well!
Speak to a manager and don't let them intimidate you! They are just fighting for their money, and so should you-it's YOURS after all! Once you realize how much you are spending just in interest that these companies charge you to take your money and dish only part of it back to you every payday; that is usually an incentive enough to break the cycle.
Get ALL new payment arrangements in writing, having it noted they will NOT come after you in any way, including direct withdrawals from your bank account, UNLESS you miss a payment as per this new agreement. Ensure it is SIGNED and DATED by the manager, or an authorized employee who can approve new arrangements; and get your own copy too. Don't let them try to scare you with threats of garnishing your pay (whatever source it is from) either as many companies will not accept garnishment attempts from payday loan companies anyway; but if you don't know this it works as a good scare tactic! Providing they do get all their money, not much else matters to them.
If you are being hassled by a bill/debt collection agency
You can search online 'what are collection agencies allowed/not allowed to do in (your area)' for a comprehensive list of the restrictions that are in place to prevent what boils down to bullying. There are many different rules for different provinces/states as well. When they urge you to pay immediately to 'protect your credit rating' relax and have a good laugh as if they are calling you, it's already listed on your credit report and will stay there for 7-14 years even after paid in full! Never give ANY info confirming anything other than your name as it will be used to find another way to contact you and harass you to pay. If you end up speaking to someone, get a name and ID#, phone number, company name, address and tell them you will call back AND HANG UP!
Most reps literally have daily quotas on the number of debts they need to have paid (recover) or get only a percentage in commission for outstanding debts they recover in dollars to keep their jobs. Many of them will say anything to get you to make an immediate payment, and unless you have it in writing, new arrangements are not legal at all.
A lot of times, the debts are bought by collection agencies at pennies on the dollar owed by you, from the company you owe, and they add on fees for that and as it is now 'their' debt they have an extremely vested interest in forcing you to pay. Most debts end up being wiped off your credit rating after 7-14 years anyway, especially if there are no payments, arrangements or contact in that time.
Food, Clothing, Furniture, Help of All Kinds
The Yellow Pages lists social service organizations, clubs, associations and churches in numerous ways (check under the heading of one for other areas that more agencies are listed in different areas of the book). Look online by searching 'social services agencies', 'clubs', 'churches', etc and add in city name. Also, try 'free clothing' (furniture, food, etc) under community headings on free sites such as Kijiji, for any items you need and they also have freebie and swap sections. Reddit is an American social news site, web content rating and discussion forum type site which also has items for sale with hundreds of topic threads and more! There are several countries worldwide that have various forms of free and/or paid buy/sell/swap websites if you google search for them in your area.
Most cities offer a free 211 phone and/or online service which can give you listings of community and social service agencies in your area that can help with housing, shelters, food, clothing, furnishings for your home, etc most for free or very low cost and many on an emergency basis as well. They also have listings of many kinds of volunteer positions where you can share your skills/experiences/time with other people in your area.
Usually there are booklets through your library website (and handed out) for all free/low cost programs in the city for all different ages and abilities year-round. There are senior’s organizations that can give specific leads for help in many areas just for seniors too. This also applies to other groups such as disabilities, kids, teens, women, men, etc relating to finding help with needs in every area of life. Again, search online or by calling 211 for your specific need in your area. You can also search 'free/low cost activities (or be specific in your choice of activity) in (enter your city)' online for even more places that provide activities for people of all ages and even disabilities that are not advertised elsewhere. Once you have a list of various agencies near you, give them each a call and explain your problem/emergency and ask if they can help you in any way, or if they can point you to another agency they know of that might be able to help (sometimes they have other lesser known resources too).
Use teaching/training schools for cheap services by senior students under a teacher’s supervision instead of already licensed professionals for things such as beauty treatments, haircuts, massage, dental cleaning/work, body shop and vehicle repairs at colleges, even social worker/counselors do a practicum with professional psychologists and in licensed clinics for free or at a very reduced rate. If all else fails place an ad on a buy/sell site asking for help with getting moved, drivers for shopping trips, help around your home, etc. List your need, how much you will pay if anything, when you need it done (ASAP, tomorrow, etc) and a way to contact you (email is safer but a cell number is great for quick responses). Or list 'need help cheaply with...' and go from there. You will have replies who want just as much as a professional or more! Just say, 'Thanks, I’ll let you know' and keep on looking. There are tons of good Samaritans out there that will even help you for free if not cheaply! Seriously! You do need to use your best judgment and walk away instead if anything seems off and NEVER send a picture of yourself--would you need one from someone if you were responding to their ad for help? Only give as much information on yourself as necessary for the situation as you don't know who you are dealing with and not everyone is honest and/or kind these days. **Be careful when arranging to meet people from the net, and do it in public if possible. Asking for ID should not be offensive either depending on the situation and how much money is involved or if you think the item may be stolen, etc.
Children's Items (Clothes, Toys, Activities, Highchairs, Etc.)
Garage sales and second-hand stores are cheapest. If you need free stuff, there are clothing banks or set up an exchange party with friends (or through online community pages) every so often. Let the kids pick what they like to make it new stuff or better yet, leave them at home, choose and wrap all new stuff and give it for presents on the next holiday or birthday! This can be a free social event as well!
De-Stressing Your Life (Peace of Mind and a Happier Outlook)
You CAN resist the urges to buy items you don’t need. YOU are the ONLY one in charge of your money and how you spend it (as well as your life and how you live it) so do it wisely and make the most of it! And STOP trying to keep up with the neighbors! They are probably only 1 paycheck away from losing all those things you think you want, while THEY try to keep up with THEIR neighbors…and all their payments!
LAUGH! How long has it been since you had a good hearty and long laugh? If your answer is not earlier today then you could be helping your illness/depression/etc to progress, simply by getting stuck in concentrating on it. There have been hundreds of studies around the world on the benefits of laughter on a regular daily basis as it released a natural tranquilizer in your body to help it heal itself of all that ails you. Watch funny TV shows, read funny books, go to YouTube and type in comedy and spend a few hours laughing yourself well each day! It has been proven that laughing is an excellent exercise for the entire body, releases all the stress of life, distracts your thinking to more positive thoughts, and helps you to sleep better as well! If you don’t believe me, Google it for yourself and have a laugh over that as well!
Life is a journey, not a race or competition. There are no winners or losers only people who choose to enjoy the journey, even the unexpected detours; and sadly, those who would rather sit and complain about everything while life passes by and end up with nothing but regrets. Not everything in life needs to cost money either! Go to a park, have a picnic with your own food and play a game of tag or ball instead of taking the kids to a burger and gaming joint. The fresh air will do everyone good and it will save you a lot of cash that you can use for other things instead!
Be thankful for ALL you DO have always, as many people don’t even have clean water to drink, a warm place to sleep or even 2 pairs of shoes; and I have not seen a community in all my worldwide travels yet that does not have homeless and/or 'housed but hungry' group of people within its population. Try to remember there is always someone less fortunate than you, no matter how little you think you have, and help them in any way you can with toques, mitts, socks, even just buy a coffee for someone trying to stay warm or a cold pop on a hot day!
There is no point in carrying anger or hatred towards others-it is like drinking poison yourself but expecting it to harm the other person instead. The other person doesn't suffer in any way when you're angry—it might even make them happier if they knew you were so upset!
Generally, you get what you give in life--in my opinion, eg: give nice-get nice! Of course, there is nice and then there is stupid too, so realize if you are being used or just enabling the other person. If you are continually giving items, time, cash, etc but it is draining you more than it is helping the other person, then it is time to re-evaluate who and or how you are helping!
Things could always be worse, but YOU can make them better if you set your mind to it, put a smile in your heart and on your face, and take these small, easy, free and immediate steps to making the money you do have work as hard as possible for you instead of you working as hard as possible for it!
Now, on to your FOOD PLANNER!
CHAPTER THREE – YOUR FOOD
Before You Start
Hopefully you will shop only once or twice a month depending on family size and freezer/fridge/storage space, with an occasional trip for an unexpected item or milk. This will be a task that you will do about 3-5 days before each shopping payday (so you can revise as necessary) even though many of the items will generally be the same each time. I suggest that you plan to cook at home 97% of the time as you can make great meals, with all the trimmings, for a lot less at home, and package what you need to take with you to save huge! This is also probably your most flexible expense out of them all as you can change up your meal menu planning to as cheap of meals to make as necessary, depending on your budget.
If you don’t know the basics of cooking already, watch TV shows showing cooking segments, the food network if you have it. Even online sites have articles/blogs/vlogs/videos showing 'how it’s done'; and remember to write down the recipe ingredients and instructions as you go! This will give you a good idea of how to do preparation, different cooking methods and storage methods as well as other simple tricks that can be the difference between something turning out or not! If you can follow instructions and do basic math for doubling or halving a recipe, once you have basic equipment and supplies, it is just a matter of practice, practice, practice! There are several free apps that can be huge time, effort and money savers in the food aspect as well by helping you to track, compile and manage tasks like finding the best deals, menu planning, and shopping list compilation. There are tons of options specific to each one, but again, you must enter ALL the information you are compiling here to get started. I am presently setting up several how to do it yourself videos which will be available via my website and YouTube soon (depending when you are reading this book) so be sure to look for them! I show and explain numerous tips and techniques that save you time, money and effort in all things food, health and household!
Below are TONS of mostly immediate/easy/free or cheap money/time/effort saving techniques and shortcuts on every aspect of your food expense. I believe if you understand HOW TO reduce your food expenses, it will be much easier to plan your menu and shopping lists going forward using that knowledge to modify any recipe to YOUR tastes and dietary needs.
Keep your fridge turned up to at least 2/3 if not 3/4 of the way to maximum coldness! This will help your food keep for a week (or two) after the best before date (not to be confused with the EXPIRY date when you need to just throw it out). Even milk lasts for a good week past its best before date in a good cold fridge! Eggs can last for an extra month, and produce will last for an extra week or more, depending on what it is. Use your crisper compartment for all produce as it will keep this food at its proper texture for longer. If you don't have a lot of food in your fridge normally, fill a few 1L-4L bottles with water and leave them in the fridge. Fridges are designed to work best when they are more full than empty in terms of peak cooling but not freezing for the entire contents, which saves on your electricity bill as the fridge doesn't need to work as hard to be efficient.
Buy large, thermal, reusable lunch bags (dollar store) and take your lunch to work or wherever, saving you about $10/meal if not more at a restaurant! A bun, with 3-5 slices of meat, a slice of cheese, a slice of tomato and/or cucumber and condiments (mustard, mayo, etc) added to a few pickles, baby carrots, and a yogurt cup is a great lunch for many! A step farther is to throw in a homemade baggie of nuts, dried fruits and a few chocolate chips even for munching at afternoon coffee break! Don't forget a muffin for morning coffee break too if you normally eat at all breaks anyway! Small reusable freezer cold packs are great for packing around food to go, especially to keep many foods cold at the same time (only 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree).
Always carry a water bottle, (make sure tops they don’t leak when they fall over) everywhere you go! You can refill these almost everywhere as well for free with tap water! It’s cheaper than buying water and helps reduce environmental waste as well! You can also get flavor drops or crystals in to-go packets to add for extra flavor as opposed to pop!
Get a freezer, even a small one, for storing bulk frozen foods and batch cooked foods. If you don't have one, check on free ad sites in both the buy/sell and the FREE and SWAP/TRADE categories for used ones or post your own request ad! Again, be careful when buying from strangers, and do your best to see it running so you know it works first! Used should only be half of the cost of new, two-thirds tops if its like new! ALWAYS PAY CASH when dealing with transactions like this as you don't need to give financial info to buy something used! Another option is a pawnshop or newspaper ads.
No matter where or what you are shopping for, NEVER go on an empty stomach if you can help it as this almost always causes impulse buying to 'fill the void'. Even just a glass of water and a handful (about a 1/3 cup serving) of any kind of nuts will satisfy your hunger long enough to shop. Skip peanuts if possible as they are not really a nut but a legume/bean, or choose roasted and unsalted/unflavored if possible. Carry candies if necessary to tide you over until you get home to eat.
Utensils, pots and pans, dishes and such are usually the cheapest at larger second-hand stores and larger dollar stores can be a fantastic way to get these items needed cheaply too. They are also great resources for cookbooks no matter what your tastes. They even carry some small appliances—make sure they work before buying second-hand! Larger dollar stores such as DollarTree.com that sell food items should be the first stop of your shopping trips each pay period. Non-perishable food items, plastic containers (usually 2 in a pack for $1), baggies, toiletries, baking supplies (tin/aluminum foil, parchment paper, etc) some cleaning supplies, and other small household items are cheapest here.
Choose a large box discount grocery store such as Walmart.com to take advantage of larger packages of meat, canned good multiple buy options (or by the case). They have clothing, shoes, accessories, bedding, bath and kitchen needs, toys, electronics, etc as well at huge savings over the larger chain stores in the malls. You can even get your car fluids here while saving a bundle versus a gas station! Some have cheap tires, parts and even repair centers that can save money as well but make sure you price check a few places before buying larger items as prices vary greatly along with warranties and extras.
Separate your meat into portions you use at each meal and then freeze in baggies that seal well for up to 2 months or batch cook and freeze entire meals (explained later). Check ALL flyers that come to your home, via flyer websites online, or grab them at each store before you plan your menu for huge savings on a few items at each store. KEEP the ENTIRE flyer, bring them all with you to the large box stores, show the clerk the flyer with product(s) at the checkout and they are great about price-matching so you don’t have to run from store to store for the best deals. Make sure the item is IDENTICAL in brand, size, amount, etc. This does NOT apply to 2 for 1 deals, and as some deals (fresh meat deals like 4 pieces of meat for $5, 4 pounds of frozen lean hamburger for $10, 2 kg bags of frozen fruit for $12) are specific to that stores’ own discount brand, so no other store will swap their brands for the same price. You will learn what is cheaper at a store that you cannot get elsewhere and just grab those few items at said store, in some cases this can be quite a bit in savings depending on quantities you need of those certain items.
Many people review flyers to plan meal menus around the specials on the main ingredients that are most cost effective. If you are getting 10 fresh boneless pork loin chops for $10 a tray, use 3 for chops, baked potatoes, veggies and salad; 3 for baking with rice, peas and cream soup, and 4 for a Thai stir fry with cut up veggies. This way you are getting the most variation on your food with the least expense! Always look for the heaviest weight when buying pre-packed bulk sale trays of meat especially.
example: the same 10 chop package for $10 works to $1/serving if you buy a 1 kg tray (average 100 gm/serving for meats), but goes up to $1.43/serving if you only grab a 700-gm tray, and down to only $0.83 cents/serving for a 1200 gm tray
Bulk food stores are a fabulous place to get ALL the spices and herbs you need, as well as smaller amounts of baking supplies, dirt cheap! You can buy as much or as little (even just 1 teaspoon) of the spices for literally 1/10 of what you would pay for a bottle at the grocery store! I get a few tablespoons of this and 1/4 cup of that of ALL the spices I use (about 15 in total regularly), which is enough to last for a month or more for under $10 in total!
Before you hit the store, go through your cupboards, fridge, freezer and every room in your home. Look for all the items you already have and cross them off the list (cans of soup, a new bottle of ketchup you forgot about, a pound of hamburger that you didn’t use yet, spices you still have), and add what you forgot (tissue for the bedroom, light bulbs for the living room lamp, cleaner for that dirty dining room window, air freshener for the bathroom). This will save you more than you think. You can also get a friend or 2 together to go in on shopping in even more bulk at a larger box wholesale store, and even do batch cooking together and split the portions as well as the costs.
Many stores offer freebies or even gift cards if you spend a certain amount so combine shopping with a friend and split the freebie! Cab home from your main store shop and use the bus if necessary for the dollar store and any other special items. If you have lots of time and the strength, make a few trips on the bus for your shopping and save even more! Get the large black cloth reusable bags from the box grocery stores for under $2 each and double them for heavier loads. I prefer to use the Real Canadian Superstore/No Frills large black ones and even take them with me when I travel to other countries as they are very handy and sturdy! Pack your own groceries so you can make it all fit in a few of your bags compactly, instead of 15+ of the store ones at .05 cents each!
If this is your first time shopping this way, you may not be aware of the exact costs of all the stuff on your list. I recommend a trip to the store(s) a few days before your actual shop with your list and a pen to write down the cost of each item on your list so you can see how much you may need to adjust quantities, qualities and/or switch out meal ideas altogether for cheaper ingredient ones. While there, observe how buying store brands instead and larger quantities in bulk (separating before freezing), or multiple grouping deals will save you even more! Plan to spend at least an hour or two (more if you need), depending on how many people you are feeding and shopping for so you are not rushed and can make sure you get the best deals for your money. After a few shopping trips, you'll know how much most items cost roughly each time, enabling quicker estimation totals of what you will need to spend when reviewing each shopping list as you make them. Allow for $20 more than you estimate for your first few shopping trips, until you get the hang of this way of shopping. As you will be able to cross off your list all items you still have in your cupboards, freezer and fridge just before shopping, this will reduce your costs even more.
There are a lot of items that you will only buy every second/ third shop such as cleaning items, sauces, saran wrap, baking stuff, etc so your pay period shops will vary due to this as well. If you don't have enough space to shop only once a month, you need at least a couple items that won't last over a pay period, or it’s too hard to save the money without spending it on other things; buy gift cards for the grocery store when you shop at the end/beginning of each pay period. Then you don't have to constantly try to remember that $? needs to be in the bank for more food, etc which just leads to more frustration usually! This way, when you're out of cash but still need a few things you will have a gift card to use that is already paid for.
Most major discount grocery stores have a loyalty reward system of some sort if you are willing to provide some basic info. I am personally not into giving all my info to any corporation just for their statistical or advertising purposes, but in some cases, it is simply more advantageous to give minimal info in return for what could be quite a bit in savings. Several stores have programs that send you emails once a week with extra point deals on specific items, and as it tracks what you buy when you scan your card, these are specific to your personal purchase preferences. They also will send you their flyers and specials just for members. Be careful however, as sometimes the deal costs you more in the long run due to the conditions than you would normally spend in the first place! Some others offer cents off/liter on gas based on a percentage of your total spent in any one purchase or coupons for cents/dollars off in their store on any food purchase when you buy gas first.
If you use food banks, consider going there a day before or the morning of your shopping to eliminate buying duplicate items unnecessarily. If you are planning food for an entire pay period, then you hopefully won't need to go to the food bank in the middle of the pay period anyway right? This way you can combine what you receive with what you buy to make better use of all the food in the most efficient way.
Spices are a fantastic addition to all dishes to make them POP and taste just like the restaurant version, if not better. Even spaghetti tastes better with some oregano, basil, parsley, Italian seasoning, a dash of brown sugar in the sauce and some parmesan on top! For MOST spices/herbs, you can usually double the amount called for to get the full flavor as well as increase the natural health benefits of each spice/herb. Find info online by searching each spice, or try 'list of health benefits of spices and herbs' and you will be amazed at how even cinnamon or basil can help your health issues! Use this search method for veggies/fruit, meats, dairy, etc. Even some raw good veggies can slow your thyroid function to the point of needing medication to control symptoms, worsen gout to the point of needing medication, or cause digestion problem symptoms mimicking an allergy.
example: nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and all spices made from these such as paprika, cayenne, chili pepper, ketchup, sauce, etc) are known to be great anti-inflammatory foods. BUT; if you already have an inflammatory condition like arthritis eating them can worsen your pain and swelling within 30 minutes or so
Gout, a form of arthritis, is extremely painful as it is, but gets much worse when eating too much cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, seafood such as crab, red wine, gravy/sauces/concentrated meat extracts, etc.
If you have health issues at all, spend some time searching online what you currently eat as you could be causing your own issues and fix them almost instantly by cutting out, changing or adding just one or two food items! This in turn could reduce medication costs and time lost from work/life due to unnecessary illness. Be as specific as possible in your search criteria to get the best results faster.
Get and use a large crock pot/slow cooker to make 10-15 servings of stew, chili, soups, etc all at once. After cooling, portion out into plastic containers, cool till no longer hot, top with tight fitting lids and store a few in the fridge up to a week and the rest in the freezer for up to two months.
Batch cooking over 1 or 2 afternoons each pay period will enable you to have a variety of pre-portioned ready to go meals in the freezer, ready for reheat in the microwave (with lid removed and placed sideways across the top to prevent splatter, for 3-5 minutes each on power 7). Make a salad, grab a beverage and you’re ready to eat! Clean up is a breeze because you will be doing batch cooking over a 1 (or 2-day period depending on how much and how many people you are cooking for) after each shop and washing all those dishes and utensils then! You can eat right out of the plastic containers daily if you aren't worried about presentation! Make sure you rinse all dishes and containers you use and even just stack the few that there are on the counter until tomorrow! This way you don’t have gunky, crusted leftover food on the dishes and they clean up quickly!
Most meat can be cooked from frozen if needed by reducing the temperature and cooking for a little longer, but it is easier to separate and bag into needed portions before freezing even if not batch-cooking. Cook 2-4 times the amount you normally would for things like spaghetti, chops with rice and veggies, roasted meat and potatoes, etc and then after cooling a bit, portion out and freeze the rest for later in the same manner. You can batch bake cookies, muffins, cakes, etc as well by doubling or tripling the recipe, it just takes more trips to the oven to bake them! Even non-baked goodies are great this way such as chocolate oatmeal macaroon drops.
If you don’t trust yourself not to eat all of them at once in one night when watching TV, portion them out as well before freezing. Either way, using small or large plastic baggies (cheapest at the dollar store), is the best way to go for all but cakes where you need to use a container with a good fitting lid. These will last in your freezer for up to 6 months so you don’t need to do this every pay period either! Ice cream 4L pails are great for batches of cookies, tarts, bars, etc.
When making a cake, put it in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes before icing it, as this will prevent it from sticking to the knife as you spread the icing! You don't need to wrap it up or anything, just make sure it has space around it so it doesn't get squished. If freezing for later, wait until you need to use it and then apply icing as soon as you get it out of the freezer. Let cake sit for about 10 minutes to thaw out before serving after icing.
If you can't afford a specific ingredient, substitute it for a cheaper version of what you need such as a different type of sugar or sweetener, type of sauce or condiment, type of fat (oil, margarine, butter), type of spices, etc Get creative! If you smell the food and then smell a spice/herb, you normally can tell if they are going to go together or not. If still not sure, put a small amount of the food into a bowl and add a pinch of the spice, mix it in and taste it. If you don't like it, you haven't ruined the entire meal! Cooking a lot of the time is simply trial and error with the ability to substitute almost anything for anything to make totally new meals!
Planning YOUR Menu Using YOUR OWN Food!
For ease and consistency of explanations, this is a menu for ONE MONTH, FOR ONE PERSON, shopping once a month majorly and picking up milk and veggies mid-month as necessary. I have noted at the end of the EXAMPLE shopping list how to add in extra people and the approximate additional costs are calculated as well. *Please see the EXAMPLE menu for HOW to PLAN YOUR OWN food menu, using ONLY the foods YOU really do eat. This is NOT a diet plan--it is part of a budgeting plan to help you spend less on food, no matter what type of diet you eat. This will help you to afford to eat regularly and healthier, if you so desire.
Plan for about 2 days more than the number of days in each pay period worth of meals (depending on your needs) so that you have a small cushion in case you can’t get to the store on payday. I find it really helps to be able to shop 1-3 days after a major payday so the stores are not out of everything you need! Plan a variety of assorted flavors of meals so that you don’t get bored with the same taste all the time. Aim for 4-6 different meal choices in a month, having each choice 5-8 times over the month, equaling 32 breakfasts, 32 lunches, 32 dinners, 32 desserts, 32 snacks in total (adjust numbers if working with a 2-week shopping period (buying your meat and as much as possible in bulk for the whole month to really save cash). You can also adjust your choice of meals according to how expensive the ingredients are for each meal versus how much money you can spend. Again, this is only an EXAMPLE of HOW to do this so please substitute YOUR FOODS OF CHOICE for ALL foods listed!
Base your portions on an 8-inch plate size, ideally each meal should have about 1/2 of the plate covered in veggies and/or low sugar fruit (search these online), 1/4 full of protein (lean meat, eggs, tree nuts, tofu, dairy, etc), and 1/4 full of starch/carbs (breads, grains, potatoes, rice, corn, carrots, peas, pasta, etc). Each '1/4 plate' is about the size of your palm, but not stacked 3 inches high either, unless that is all veggies! Add a salad from a wide range of choices (most can be eaten without restriction but watch the dressing intake! Spices are a terrific addition to salads, along with nuts and shredded cheese for extra texture and flavor as well as extra protein! I like to add currants or dried cranberries as well for a little sweetness. Most nutrition labels state a serving size that they base their numbers on so you can always go by that if you are not sure you are eating the right amounts. Snacks should be a serving of protein with fruit or veggies (pb&apple, yogurt&nuts, cheese&celery etc), and remember to keep the water flowing all day!
Start with jotting down the meals you eat most frequently and those you love for breakfasts, lunches, suppers, desserts and snacks (or all those that you normally eat). Some people skip breakfast but this is your most important meal of the day for energy, better concentration/comprehension, fuel for your brain and body, and helps stop your coffee break from becoming more of a brunch than a snack. It also helps to regulate your sugar/insulin and energy levels for the entire day! Some people don't eat snacks or dessert, etc. If you are so hungry that you are overeating at meals, try adding snacks as mentioned to keep you steady all day instead so you eat less over the long run.
Use your best judgment and substitute items for gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan, reduced salt, fat or sugar as desired/necessary. I have added several extra tips in brackets so you can see how to co-ordinate meals and cheaper ways to bulk shop to have all these foods included in the menu. These are all meals that I personally eat. **I have since made some changes in items due to needing gluten-free, lactose-free, high protein, high fiber, as well as watching soy, carbs, sugar, salt and fat! If I can do all this and still eat great without spending a fortune; you should have NO problem if you don't need to take all these restrictions into account. Mix and match throughout the month so you never have the same thing two days in a row if you batch-cook, portion and freeze.
Example of a ONE-Month Menu for ONE Person
Breakfasts (32 meals in total)
12-Shreddies (use your favorite) cereal w/milk, banana and a Greek yogurt
a large double box of cereal will usually do one person for this amount of meals, depending on serving sizes
Activia 24 cup pack yogurt; the Greek type has more protein and this brand has probiotics for your digestive health as well
*I found a LACTOSE-FREE Activia yogurt in August 2019 and it tastes AWESOME
8-1 egg omelet w/ham, cheese, onions, spices, 1 toast and juice
buy the flakes of ham/chicken/turkey, dividing into 3-4 servings, put the others in a baggie in the fridge up to 5 days, and gently cut the portion with a sharp knife into small chunks like an onion
shred a one inch cube of cheddar/mozza/etc (bought in 400-900 gm blocks to use with dinners and lunches too)
a one liter container of unsweetened pure juice is 4 one cup servings
buy a 3-pound bag of onions and a 3-pack of green, red and yellow peppers in a bag is cheaper than paying by the pound and will be used in many different meals
buy a variety of spices and herbs from a bulk food store every 1-2 months saving a HUGE amount of cash, have fresh spices all the time and try out a spice without buying a whole bottle
12 meals - oatmeal w/berries, and 1 toast w/pb and milk
add berries still frozen for better texture 1/2 to 1 cup from a 600 gm-2 kg bag
buy 2 kg quick oats and cook just one bowl in the microwave with half milk/water for creamier taste in under 2 minutes
Lunches (32 total meals) drink water (use flavoring if desired)
8–egg salad on toast, pickles, baby carrots
don’t eat on the same days as omelets so you get eggs once/day at least 1/2 of the month
eggs can be hard boiled in batches and stored in the fridge DRY and IN THEIR SHELLS in an open container for up to 7 days, using as you need to prepare the salad fresh
buy two 4 pound bags of ready to eat baby carrots to use for many different meals, cut or snap in half if doing a stew, etc as no peeling or washing is necessary
most veggies can be bought frozen and pre-cut in bags, mixed even-just thaw, pat dry with paper towel and put in a baggie or small container in your lunch kit
buy a few kinds of pickles in 1-2 liter jars, reduced salt is recommended and tastes just as good, for a variety of tastes with your various meals
8-chili and bun, pickles *(lunch portion sizes)
buy lean hamburger frozen in bags of 3 100 gm tubes totaling 1.2-1.6 kg for $10
use 1 tube for 4-5 servings of a dish as 100 gm is usually considered 1 serving for meat, saving the rest for dinners
buy cans of kidney, pork&beans, etc in multiple can buys and/or use no name
after batch cooking in a slow cooker, cool somewhat, portion out into as many portions as you like in tight fitting lid containers from the dollar store (2 for $1.25) and freeze after cooling or portion into sandwich size baggies once cool to save space in the freezer
place into lunch bag and add a small cold pack to keep it from spoiling as it thaws until lunch, use 2 cold packs in warmer conditions
reheat as you would a dinner meal in microwave
8–salads with sunflower seeds, cheddar, spices, currants, dressing, a bun, pickles
buy $5-$6 huge 3 pound bags of pre-cut romaine, salad, coleslaw, etc taking care to close and secure tightly after squishing air out of bag, add a large piece of paper towel, and store in crisper for up to a week. Remember to change the paper towel every 1-2 days to keep the greens from getting soggy and/or going bad too fast
use these types of salads, greens, etc for supper salads as well
buy 500 gm of raw sunflower seeds in a re-sealable bag for $3, or 800 gm bags of unsalted cashews for $12 at Walmart
buy the 500 gm bags of currants, dried cranberries or fruit of your choice for $3-6. I prefer Trader Joe’s brand personally and get them at Walmart
buy 18 buns of your choice as fresh as possible, seal in air tight x-lg zip baggies in freezer immediately then use as needed individually, thawing for 30-45 seconds on power 7 in a microwave
if this is to go, prepare salad with everything except put dressing in a separate small container to add just before eating
8-open face grilled cheese & tuna sandwiches with pickles and baby carrots
if this is to go, add some carrots to your lunch, do a 2-piece bread sandwich which you can grill ahead and seal in a container or baggie in fridge for 1-2 days with a piece of paper towel in the bag to absorb moisture
buy tuna in water with NO added vegetable broth, soy proteins, or other ingredients at the dollar store for $1 each and use half a can each time
search online for types of fish that are low in mercury if you have medical issues although there is not much difference in reality
Note: Pickles and MOST veggies are foods that can be eaten in pretty much unlimited quantities and help satisfy your cravings for salt and crunch-if you are not adding dips. Just be careful if you have health problems as some veggies can worsen the symptoms of medical conditions. Some veggies are better for you raw and some better cooked, and go for low/no salt pickles if possible.
Suppers (32 total meals)
8–baked spaghetti w/hamburger, sauce, cheddar, parmesan, spices and a salad
don’t eat on the same days as you have salads for lunch so you will have enough for salad at least once most every day
add 1 TBSP. or so of brown sugar to the sauce, along with fresh minced garlic ($1.25 for a 237 ml jar at DollarTree), Italian seasoning, parmesan, onions, green pepper, etc
save money by starting with a $1.50 basic sauce and adding all the above
cook 2 tubes of thawed hamburger in frying pan on medium heat between 4-5 on dial, spread out over entire pan for 10 minutes, drain carefully excess grease, flip over in chunks and break up to cook completely for another 5-10 minutes
do not add oil but 2-3 TBSP. water can be added after breaking up to moisten if necessary as you retain flavor as well as nutrients this way and it takes about the same amount of time as it would on high
in a parchment-paper lined 9x13 baking pan, add the cooked pasta, the cooked meat, and the sauce (mix these together in a large bowl and then pour in the pan), top with cheeses, cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes till hot and bubbly
you can cover with tin foil or a lid to prevent drying out, or leave open for a crustier cheese topping
11–fish fillets, 6 meals with rice and green beans and 6 with baked potato, mixed veggies
any kind of white fish-cod, sole, Pollock, etc can be bought frozen in 3 lb. bags for $10 and has about 10-13 individually frozen fillets with 1 fillet being a serving usually
wash potatoes and poke with a fork all over on each side and the ends deep into the middle, pat dry with paper towel before baking potatoes in microwave
no more than 4 at a time in a plastic container uncovered speeds thorough cooking; allow 3-6 minutes per potato, depending on size of potato and microwave on high, adding only 2-4 minutes extra for each extra potato
gently squeeze each potato-with an oven mitt on for doneness and if able to press gently and not feel any hard areas, let sit for another 2-3 minutes, cut and season as desired
if you want a harder crusty potato skin/shell, like the restaurants serve, place on a folded paper towel in the container during cooking and turn (use an oven mitt as it will be hot!) over about halfway through cooking
allow to cool and finish cooking for about 2 minutes then cut in half, squares or however you like to eat your potato, adding toppings of your choice
buy bags of pre-cut coleslaw just like salad, use coleslaw store brand dressing and shred 1 oz. cheese, add 1/4 cup seeds or tree nuts, 1/4 cup currants, spices, garlic, etc per person
place the fillets flat on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, season with dill weed and lemon juice if desired
bake fish at about 375 degrees for about 15 minutes (preheat oven), turn with a flipper, and bake another 10-15 minutes or until preferred doneness
4–steak, home-baked fries, coleslaw
4 fresh 100 gm eye of round steaks in a package (boneless with very little fat around edge which can be trimmed off for $5-6 total at Walmart)
cook steaks in a large fry pan with 3 TBSP. water and spices of choice, covered on medium heat for 10-20 minutes depending on doneness desired. This is to steam, seal in nutrients and keep very juicy-check after 10 minutes to see if you need to add a bit more water or reduce temp to ensure no overcooking
scrub potatoes, cut in wedges or strips and soak in hot water 10 minutes, drain and pat dry
toss with 2 TBSP. olive oil and spices of your choice to coat all pieces, then spread out on parchment paper (Dollar Tree $1 US or $1.25 in Canada) on cookie sheet for 15 min at 450 degrees
turn with a flipper and cook 10-20 minutes more to desired crispness on outside
the insides will be soft cooked potato and cleanup is a breeze always with parchment paper as it doesn't stick to food or the pan like tin foil
9–roasted pork loin (boneless) -4 meals with roasted potatoes, onions and carrots; and 5 meals in a sweet & sour sauce over rice with peas
buy a 1 kg fresh boneless pork loin or center cut roast for $10 which is 10 servings at 100 gm per person and check weights of the pre-packaged roasts
they have pre-seasoned varieties as well at Walmart for about the same price
put 1/4 cup water in a small roasting pan with a lid and add the meat seasoned with pepper
bake at 375 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until knife stabbed into middle of roast at least 1/2 way through yields clear juices bubbling out on removal of knife
if you are not sure, cut farther into the middle to make sure not pink as pork needs to be well done for safe consumption
wash and dry 6 potatoes, cut into medium sized chunks and snap baby carrots in half
add 1 chopped onion and 3-4 TBSP. of dill weed in about 1/2 cup water in a separate baking pan/roaster with a lid or use tin foil
bake in a 13x9 parchment lined pan with a tin foil cover or use a small roaster with a good tight lid at 375 degrees for about 45-60 minutes, or until cooked all the way through
cook the meat separately from the potatoes and carrots so the flavor of the meat stays distinct and separate in the rice and potato dishes
after cooled, as with all batch-cooked meals, portion into containers or baggies if cool enough, seal and freeze
make your own sweet & sour, Thai, honey garlic, etc sauces quickly and easily with items you normally have in your fridge and cupboard and search online for quick and easy recipes
A HUGE tip I learned a long time ago is to run cold water in the sink while chopping onions on the counter beside the sink, as well as rinsing the knife at the start and halfway through under the water before chopping for NO TEARS! Don’t get your face right close in there either! And be sure to keep the knife handle dry to ensure a proper grip!
Note: Reheat individual meals on power 7 in microwave in the same container with lid placed sideways on top of container to allow steam escape and minimize splatter, for 3-5 minutes depending on item and microwave. While meal reheats, make a salad, grab a beverage and be sitting down to homemade meals with all the trimmings in 5 minutes every day, with almost no cleanup.
Desserts (32 total desserts)
8–rice pudding w/almonds and berries
buy store brand 4 packs of puddings for $1 each, using one per time
put everything in a bowl or even make a parfait in a tall glass with at least one layer of each item on top of the other for eye appeal
12–chocolate cake w/fudge icing
check out my favorite chocolate cake and the best cooked fudge icing recipes or a single mug serving choc cake ready in 5 minutes, both available in Awesome Adjustable Meals cookbook
12–quick no-yeast gooey cinnamon buns w/icing and peanuts
if you don’t have a favorite, a quick and excellent recipe is in my Awesome Adjustable Meals cookbook
Snacks (32 total snacks)
10–Greek yogurt and flavored rice crackers
don't eat these if eating yogurt for breakfast so there will be enough to get your probiotics almost every day
buy multiple group packs or $1 each at dollar store-in plastic trays of 4 rows of about 20 crackers in each row, a row being a serving with 4 servings per container = 2&1/2 pkgs total (admittedly I eat 2 rows per serving so I double the amount I buy to 5 pkgs.)
12–almond peach muffins
use drained canned fruit, cut into small pieces or switch up to mandarin orange segments
use 1&1/2 of the yogurt cups for breakfasts in this recipe, available in Awesome Adjustable Meals cookbook
10–raw veggies w/cheese or pb and currants
peanut butter should be of a decent quality as some cheap brands are only peanut oil, a slew of chemicals and icing sugar
use any veggies you want, most are easiest and quickest when frozen in bags raw, but sometimes you can get a big plastic tray of fresh and pre-cut for $5 on a sale
*Look for 'Awesome Adjustable Meals Go from YUCK to YUMMY!' a collection of my personal favorite recipes which includes simple instructions on how to modify all recipes to your specific tastes, along with tips, techniques and shortcuts on all things food and household, from many years of experience cooking, catering, and working restaurants.
*My 'Christmas Treat Favorites' cookbook is also filled with hacks to modify all recipes and includes most of MY personal favorite 'feel good' holiday foods; and everyone who ever got a Christmas Treat Tin from me will vouch personally as to how good they taste also I am sure!
Creating a Grocery List from Your Menu
Once you have your meal menu planned for the entire pay period it is time to make a list to ensure you have all you will need to create this menu. I usually use a pen and paper for my lists so that I don't need to be sitting at a computer to do these tasks, but some prefer to do them on their devices while on a bus/train on the way to work, etc. **As a picture is worth 1000 words, please see the SAMPLE list below the main book to see how to write 3 lists at once as you create a shopping list from your menu.
Make 3 column headings–Dollar Store, Grocery Store, Bulk Store, on one page. List items according to where you need to buy them for easier shopping trips.
Start your list beginning with the first meal on your menu, list every ingredient you need to make that meal.
example: cereal, fruit, yogurt, milk, brown sugar, fruit, eggs, cheese, ham, ketchup, spices, etc and all the extras that go with that meal; continue down the menu listing ALL the ingredients needed for the menu
Review for duplicate needs you can bulk buy and then combine those amounts and list the larger amount so you are not confusing yourself. Buy frozen meat, fruit and veggies to save even more as they don't rot before you have a chance to use them all.
example: calculate number of eggs per meal multiplied by number of meals using eggs for month, add number you need for baking, etc and divide by 12 for the total number of dozens you need
Don’t forget to add in things like toilet paper, deodorant, other bathroom needs, cleaning supplies, garbage bags, laundry soap, baking supplies like saran wrap, baggies, etc. Add in coffee/tea, creamer, sugar, juices, milk, flour, other baking needs and condiments like ketchup, mustard, mayo, tartar sauce, etc that you may have forgotten. Add in any car fluids if you drive, as they are dirt cheap at the grocery store! If you smoke, cigarettes are the cheapest at the discount grocery stores by the carton!
Approximate the costs of each item on your list and total it up to see how much you would spend for ALL food, eating at/taking from home only for a month. Keep a reduced daily coffee allowance too if you really enjoy your coffee like I do!
Add your initial estimated grocery expense and ALL other initial dining out expenses together for a total spent currently on ALL food bought everywhere. Compare the two totals to see how much you are overspending by eating out while also risking hidden ingredients or additives, which can play havoc with allergies/sensitivities. This can also result in more unnecessary costs associated with resultant health problems and time off work, money lost and unnecessary stress.
List the total grocery expense on your budget to see where you stand now that ALL income and expenses have been included and revised. If you need to adjustment your budget, food is usually the easiest to adjust as you can pick different, cheaper ingredient meals for that pay period or skip a haircut so you can make a special dinner one month (for example).
Keep your list handy from when you make it right through to the store in case you remember other items you forgot. Don’t forget your flyers for price matching and your reusable bags! Take a pen and keep a running total on the side (or back) of your list so you can adjust if need be. A calculator is not the best idea as it if clears you are starting over!
Check ALL your supplies and see how many items you already have that you wouldn’t need to buy from the list above; just as an example to show you how much would can save!
If done as outlined this SAMPLE list will cost around $225 total for ONE MONTH’S FOOD for ONE PERSON. This is about $7.50/DAY for 3 MEALS, 2 SNACKS AND DESSERT-EVERY DAY!
For extra ADULTS – add 1 portion/adult of MOST ingredients. Cost is another 2/3 more of your total grocery bill/extra adult. For CHILDREN – add 1/2 portion per child of MOST ingredients. The additional cost is another 1/3 more of your total grocery bill per extra child (or smaller appetites), as a ROUGH guide only!
***BONUS: Click HERE to join the SeeWhatsNew Emailing for monthly email of updates, new books, videos, music, etc by submitting your name and email address. Also enter the words "NEVER GIVE UP " in the message box and get your promo code for a FREE, limited-time-offer download (available in several formats) of my 'AWESOME ADJUSTABLE MEALS Go from YUCK to YUMMY!' eBook in the confirmation email! Learn how to modify this small collection of my favorites (and EVERY recipe) for YOUR needs and preferences; with hundreds of added hints and techniques in all things food, household, cleaning, etc to save you hours of time and get you looking forward to meals again!
With a more smoothly running financial situation, regular healthier eating, a bit of exercise and better sleep; you will be able to reduce your stress levels enough to start enjoying your life more instead of just trying to attain basic needs every day! The easiest and best form of exercise I know of is to watch an hour of 'snort coffee out your nose while you literally laugh out loud' comedy every night before bed! It relaxes your body, takes your mind off the crap of the day, is truly a great total body and mind exercise medically proven to increase mood, release stress and improve sleep as well - I kid you not!
Now you have learned almost all the skills you need to keep yourself well fed, all your bills paid and hopefully you will even find some extra cash each month for savings, special items, a vacation, the future, or just enjoying your life more from this moment on!
The original book has grown into much more than I even dreamed of with social media; playlists of music, comedy and inspirational shorts; brainteasers; eBooks on Food, Travel, Business, Finance, Photography; and more on the way! I am so thankful for all I have been able to do, see, and the people I have met along my journey to date; and I send best wishes to everyone for complete success in all you want to do in your life!
Please check out all my books in the Series 'Enjoy YOUR Life Faster, Easier, Cheaper' and live YOUR life the way YOU want to!
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CREATING YOUR INITIAL BUDGET EXAMPLE
Possible Income Sources:
Work-all cheques in month
Gov’t Assistance of any kind
Gov't Pensions of any kind
Child Tax Credits
Support Payments Received
Work Pensions of any kind
Old Age Security/GIS
Total Monthly Income $________
Possible Expense Categories:
ALL Cell Phones
ALL Loan payments
Food (prepared/eaten at home)
Car Payments & Repairs
Bank Service Charges & Fees
Water & Sewer
Kid’s Clothing& Toys
Health Insurance Premiums
ALL Credit Cards
Dining Out-Take & Eat-In
Car Gas & Fluids/Washes/etc
Total Monthly Expenses $________
Subtract Total Monthly Expenses from Total Monthly Income for the:
Amount Remaining Each Month After Expensdes $________
SPLIT MONTHLY CHEQUE BUDGET EXAMPLE
Beginning Pay of Month
Tithe/Charity (10% of cheque)
Food Shop (3/4 of monthly bill)
Rent/Mortgage (1/2 of monthly bill)
Smokes (for month with shop)
Laundry (1/3 of monthly bill)
Daycare/Sitters (1/2 of monthly bill)
Christmas gifts (calculated monthly amount)
Other Monthly Cheque(s)- (Child Tax Credit, Support, etc)
Tithe/Charity (10% of cheques)
Laundry (1/3 of monthly bill)
Health Insurance Premiums
Bank Service Charge & Fees
Middle Pay of Month Paycheque
Tithe/Charity (10%of cheque)
Bus Fare/Pass (for next month)
Laundry (1/3 of monthly bill)
Rent/Mortgage (1/2 of monthly bill)
Food (last 1/4 needed)
Daycare/Sitters (1/2 of month bill)
CREATING A GROCERY LIST FROM THE BOOK MENU EXAMPLE
2 cans flakes of ham
2 brown beans w/molasses
2 cream soup
1 kg icing sugar
*1 pack coffee filters
*1 box ex-large baggies
*1 box sandwich baggies
*1 roll tin foil
1 jar minced garlic
2 kidney beans
2 dry pork gravy mix packets
*1 roll parchment paper
*1 box med.baggies
*1 box dryer sheets
*1 4in1 air freshener
*plastic containers with lids
Bulk Barn Store Items
You can buy ANY amount you need—plan for about 3-4 TBSP of the spices and about 1/4 -1/2 cup of
the herbs, depending on price and needs.
Spices and Herbs for this menu: cayenne, turmeric, cumin, coriander cardamom, dried crushed chili peppers, black pepper, beef stock base, dill weed, 1 cup currants, 3/4 cup dark premium cocoa, 1 cup peanuts, 1 cup parmesan, Italian seasoning (or make your own combining oregano, basil, parsley, onion powder into a spice shaker bottle from the dollar store.) All this costs under $10 a month, depending on usage.
1 double bagged box Shreddies
1 kg brown sugar
24 cup Activia greek yogurt
2 1L store brand juice tetra packs
700 gm block cheddar cheese
3lb bag onions
1 store brand pouch cinnamon
2 kg quick 1 minute oats
400g bag store brand almonds
2kg baby carrots
1 dry chili mix packet
500gm bag raw sunflower seeds
1 3lb bag pre-cut salad
1 lg can basic spag. Sauce
1 kg store brand rice
1kg bag frozen green bean mix
4 pack fresh eye of round steaks
1 lg can store brand peas
2 4pk store brand pudding cups
3 100gm store brand rice crackers
4 4Litres of 2% milk
2 dozen large eggs
2 loaves bread
700 gm block mozza cheese
3lb tub Parkay/Imperial marg.
4kg white sugar
2 1kg bags frozen berries
2L store brand pickles
1 store brand tomato sauce
16 fresh buns-seal and freeze
950 ml store brand dressing
1 3lb bag pre-cut coleslaw
3lb bag frozen fish fillets
10lb russet potatoes
1kg bag frozen california mix
1kg boneless pork loin roast
1 lg can sliced peaches
2 bunches celery
*907gm can coffee
1.3 kg bag frozen store brand lean hamburger (4tubes/400g ea)
*24 dbl roll store brand toilet paper (purple banded bag is best)
*1.4kg Coffee Mate dry creamer
*500ml bottle tartar sauce
*1 lg. can store brand “Pam
*1L Dawn 2X antibacterial dishsoap
*500gm Kraft peanut butter
*bag dry laundry whitener pods
*1L store brand ketchup
*1L store brand olive oil
*5kg brand flour
*1L store brand mayo
*bag dry laundry soap pods
The items with a (*) in front are ones that only need to be bought every 2-3 months and very unlikely that you will need ALL of them, EVERY month, so this is where your price difference each month comes in. See the book for details on how to calculate for more than one person.