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Photo by: whitetiger8370

When I say times are tough, it’s not exactly news. My family, like a lot of others in North America, is not only  frightened of investment losses and impending layoffs, we’re already feeling it. Since money is sparse, my parents and I have decided to “cancel” Christmas. No gifts!

My mother is a supervisor in a large corporation’s travel department. She oversees corporate travel and their clients include an ailing North American car manufacturer, a bailed out American bank and an investment bank that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Business in 2009 isn’t looking very good and there’s a real chance she’ll get laid off in the new year.

Knowing this, my parents are trying to save money just in case. Mom’s near retirement, but not quite ready for it. She doesn’t like the idea of not doing anything, especially if early retirement means less desirable health coverage.  In efforts to save money, we agreed we wouldn’t get Christmas presents for each other. While others may find this a terribly sad, I’m actually looking forward to Christmas this year—more than other years. Two less gifts to buy means less time in a crowded shopping mall. That means more time with loved ones.

Your two cents: I know we’re not the only family approaching the holidays differently. Are you and your family changing your holiday spending habits this year?


Photo by Andrea Chiu

Some politicians will tell you that being green means spending more money. Not true if you ask me. In fact, becoming a little more environmentally-friendly is often the way to save yourself some green.

In a recent Treehugger post, Frugal Green Living: Save $1000 Using These 6 Tips, writer Colin Dunn suggests the following:

  1. Hang your laundry out to dry
  2. Eat more veggies and less meat
  3. Set your thermostat wisely
  4. Convince your boss to let you work four (slightly longer) days a week
  5. Walk or bike on one trip that’s two miles round-trip/week
  6. Make your own all-purpose cleaner

For a breakdown of how Dunn came to the $1000 figure, you’ll have to read the whole article. Obviously, not everyone will come away with the same results. If you already pack your lunch, you probably won’t save the $10/week from working four days a week. If you live in a climate like I do, winter forces you to put away your bikes and turn up the thermostat.

Commenters on the blog have also pointed out that meat is actually cheaper than many fruits and vegetables. I suggest replacing meat with beans instead of vegetables all the time. They provide protein, are filling and are much cheaper than meat.

My favourite way to be eco-friendly and economic is to carry around my Sigg water bottle. At $25, it wasn’t cheap, but I haven’t bought a single bottle of water since I got it months ago. It also stops me from buying juice or pop. I estimate this simple act has saved me $2/weekday. That’s $10/week and $40/month.

What are your favourite ways to cut costs and your carbon footprint?


Photo By: Shahram Sharif

The forecast here in Toronto calls for a rainy weekend. It’s good weather for staying in and reading. Here were some of my favourite reads from the past week:

How to Live with Just 100 Things: Time Magazine reports on participants of the 100 Things challenge, including Dave Bruno of Guy Named Dave, who are taking the lead on clutter and reducing their pile of stuff to a concise list of 100 things. Could you live with only 100 things? Probably, but the question is would you want to?

Yeah, You’re Cheap Quiz: It’s its A fun quiz to see whether you’re cheap or frugal, smart or stupid with your cash. Yes, it’s Time Out NY, but it can be applied to any city.

How To Achieve Any Goal: Leo, writer of Zen Habits has a knack for making it seem so simple. Every challenge has its bigger bumps. Whether we want to be more financially fit or athletically fit, we all need motivation and the reminder that we can do it.

Advice for Starting A New Business: As a person who dreams she will one day be her own boss, I gravitate towards advice for starting my own business. J.D. of one of my favourite blogs, Get Rich Slowly, asks his knowledgeable readers on what they think a new entrepreneur should know.

Please share your favourite articles, blog entries and other links with me.