How to create flower beds for your home

front flower bedsSPRUCE UP YOUR YARD

 

Flower beds are often used as beautiful focal points on the front lawns of many homes.

People associate gardening with a lot of work and while flower beds will always require some maintenance, planning ahead can help to limit just how much.

Now that spring has finally sprung you may be thinking about how you are going to spruce up your property this year. Adding a flower bed to your front yard or even in the back is a great, quick way to add some colour and liven things up a bit. Don’t worry, if you don’t know how to make a flower bed I’m going to share almost all of my secrets with you today.

Think about the amount of maintenance it will require after the garden is installed and are you willing to commit to the upkeep. Why waste the money if you can’t maintain your flower beds?

How much time are you able or willing to devote to maintaining the landscape of your home?

 

The perfect shape for your flower bed

 

flower bed shape

After deciding on the location of your new flower bed you are going to have to decide what shape you would like it to be. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder as they say, while the ease of cutting your lawn is in the hands of the person digging your flower beds.

Flower beds that have sharp angles can make it difficult to get a lawn mower in those areas to cut the surrounding grass. Yes you could just do it with a weed whacker but the extra work can be avoided by constructing flower beds that have smooth, gradual curves.

See my wonderful artistic drawings above and hopefully you will understand what I mean. Drawing is not my forte but they are better than the dinosaur I painted once that my daughter thought was a camel…..

To dig or not to dig?

 

Remember if you plan to dig deep always “Call before you Dig” for locates just so you aren’t severing any cables or utility wires on your property.

Before pulling out the shovels you may want to consider installing a garden that requires no digging. Unless you are installing a flower bed on a brand new property that does not have an existing lawn you are most likely going to be making your flower bed where there is grass.

This grass can be removed using a shovel but that can require a lot of digging and hard work. To save your back you may want to consider laying down newspaper to smother out the grass in this area.

First cut the grass in the area relatively short followed by laying down the newspaper. Make sure that the newspaper is good and wet once you have it in place as it will help to speed up the decomposition process.

Next you build up your flower bed on top of the newspaper layer using some good quality garden soil and some nitrogen rich compost. Some people will recommend letting the flower bed sit to decompose for a couple of weeks while others will say they have been successful planting right away. I can’t see any harm being done if planted right away.

The only digging you may do is making an edge around the flower bed. Having an edge around any flower bed helps to keep mulch from getting in your grass and makes a nice clean distinction between your lawn and your flower bed. Avoid digging too deep of an edge so it doesn’t become a collect-all for leaves and other debris. I would say 2 inches deep is enough.

If you are embarking on a DIY project and think that the job will be too big for you to do all the work by hand you may want to consider renting some larger machinery. Unless you are planning on starting up your own landscaping business buying a roto-tiller or a back hoe will likely not be used to enough to justify the cost of buying one.

While the money may not be in your budget to buy one, renting the equipment you will need can save you a lot of your precious time. Many places will rent out tools, even such things as hedge trimmers, by the hour or even a few days as long as you need it. Big box stores like Home Depot for example have a rental service for tools so make some phone calls to find the best prices.

If you choose to rent larger equipment be prepared to pay delivery charges if you are unable to get access to a truck or a suitable vehicle with a trailer hitch to pick it up yourself.

Weed prevention

 

Landscape fabric is commonly used in flower beds as a method of weed prevention. Weeds are not able to grow up through the fabric but the roots can grow down through the fabric if the seeds germinate above the fabric layer. A combination of using landscape fabric and sufficient layer of mulch will be a strong defense against keeping weeds out of your flower beds.

Mulch is an effective tool for keeping the weeds out of your flower bed if enough of it is applied. While your chances of being completely weed free are slim to none, a layer of mulch 2 inches deep will certainly reduce the amount that pop up and the time required to remove them. Mulch also helps to moderate the soil temperature and to retain moisture, reducing the number of times watering your flower bed may be required.

I have seen on a few different properties where the landscape fabric was placed directly under the layer of mulch, this is not the best idea as the mulch is most likely going to slide off or be blown away in the wind. It is best that the landscape fabric be placed a few inches below the soil surface.

I prefer to lay down the landscape fabric before planting and making slits with a knife in an X pattern where I want to plant my flowers.By doing this you avoid removing whole pieces of the fabric you just put down.

I also like to wait to put down the mulch until after planting as I don’t like to mess it up and have to move it around after just making it all look nice.

What is the look you are trying to achieve?

There are two types of flower beds to keep in mind when planning the overall theme of your landscape, one being formal and the other informal.

Formal flower beds

 

Formal flower beds typically require more maintenance as they tend to have more straight lines and geometric shapes so pruning of the shrubs in the bed is required more often to maintain the uniform look throughout.

Formal plantings often include hedges of shrubs like boxwoods and yews that are planted in a row to form a border or often used to create designs. The row of shrubs then gets pruned as one large hedge instead of individually shaping each shrub.

Informal flower beds

 

An informal bed is exactly what it sounds like it would be. Generally in an informal flower bed there is still some structure to the design of your garden but lines are not as defined as in a formal bed.

The plants are left to grow as their natural growth habit would be but are pruned back slightly just to maintain their size and to promote new growth.

Whether you have a formal garden or prefer more informal flower beds, designing and planning are keys to planting your flowers to show them at their best. Mixing and matching colors, plant heights and blooming periods ensure that the arrangements of flowers in your garden provide interest and natural beauty throughout the growing season.

Flowers and plants in a formal bed are usually limited to a few different types while many different textures, sizes and colours of plants are used to create the relaxed look of an informal flower bed.

 

Planting arrangement

 

To be able to capture the beauty of all the plants in the flower beds you should always plant the ones that will have a taller mature height at the back of the bed with the shortest planted in the front.

Some plants may be taller than others but you should always read the tag when purchasing them, you want to check what the maximum height of the plant will be. Many slow growing plants will eventually grow to be much taller.

Also check what the maximum width could potentially be and allow enough spacing between plants to avoid having an overgrown garden with plants crowding each other out.

 

Avoid planting too many plants

 

While it may be tempting to add more plants to your flower bed because it looks bare, keep in mind that those plants, especially the shrubs, grasses and perennials are going to grow so you may need to have a little patience while it fills in.

Buying a shrub at a nursery or garden centre that is a year old will always cost less than buying a 3-year-old shrub, as they have spent less time being tended to by the growers. If you chose the cheaper route and buy smaller shrubs, patience is a must.

 

Blooming times

 

If having colourful blooms in your flower beds throughout spring, summer and fall is something important to you then do some research when choosing your plants to ensure that you will always have some plants in bloom.

 

Maintenance

 

Once all the hard work is done what are you doing to do to keep your new flower bed looking great? Making and planting a flower bed is just the beginning, someone has to take care of it.

There are some essential tools that you will want to have on hand that will make maintaining your flower beds easier and more manageable. Buying good tools may cost you a little more than the local department store special but are much less likely to break than cheaper brands.

I like to save up my Canadian Tire money that I earn buying my gas to bring down the cost of my gardening tools.

Here’s a list of garden tools you may want to have accessible at home for your garden.

  • Buckets or containers for weeds and other debris. I often use an empty recycling bin or a large outdoor garbage can. The bigger the container the heavier it may be to move so be careful that the material you are putting in it isn’t making it too heavy.
  • A trowel or hand shovel is not only useful for planting but also for removing weeds.
  • A garden (hard) rake is great for spreading and leveling mulch and soil. For coarser materials like mulch use the rake with the tines facing down and for soil using the flat side of the rake on the ground with the tines facing upwards.
  • Plastic Rake is not only helpful for raking up wet leaves on your lawn and out of your flower beds but can also be used as a tool for doing a quick cleanup of the edges around your flower beds.
  • A shovel is always handy to have in a garden if you need to dig a big hole or can be used to turn over soil when adding compost.
  • Spade or Edger can be used to dig an edge around your flower beds
  • Pruning shears are helpful when cutting back shrubs and perennials. A good set of pruners is worth investing in, they should be comfortable for you to use and not cause a lot of strain on your hands.
  • Scissors are useful when cutting back grasses and other light foliage such as day lilies in the fall. You are able to cut off bigger handfuls with scissors than pruning shears.
  • A wheelbarrow is very helpful when moving materials around your property and can again save your back.
  • Knee pads may be helpful if sore knees may be an issue for you

 

Routine maintenance

 

While you will always have a few heavy cleanups every year with the changing of the seasons in your garden there are some simple things your can do that take little time if done often.

 

Deadheading

 

As flowers die off in your flower beds removing the dead flowers will not only help to improve the look of the garden but since the flowers may form seeds they can be scattered throughout your flower beds if they are left to fall off on their own. You may end up having more plants than you desire if you don’t cut them off before they start to produce their seeds.

Many perennial flowers will stop blooming if any seeds have formed. By cutting off the flowers before seeds are produced it may encourage the plant to continue blooming. Scissors and pruning shears can be used to cut off the flowers and in many cases just your hands is not to take them off.

 

Raking out edges

 

Raking out the edges of your flower beds will not only help to keep the mulch in your flower bed instead of into your lawn but can also help to maintain a nice clean, grass and weed free edge. A couple of minutes every week can prevent having to re-edge your flower beds throughout the year.

Flower beds are great way to improve the visual appearance of your home and add some colour to your days but if not probably cared for they can easily become an eye sore and wasted effort. If you want flower beds be prepared for some work as it is inevitable.

  • Do you plan a flower bed budget each year?
  • What kind of flower beds do you have?

 

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Are aftermarket accessories for your vehicle worth it?

Aftermarket car accessoriesTHAT BLING THING

 

Maintaining your vehicle is just as important as maintaining your house, even if it’s with aftermarket parts rather than OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts.

For instance, the wheel nuts on our vehicle started to bulge and become distorted because corrosion had built up between the actual nut and the alloy coating on the outside.

The price for the new parts were $8+ each so I picked up aftermarket plain nuts for $1.25 each.

The vehicle now has new wheel nuts and they didn’t cost me the earth. Not only that but the vehicle still functions the same and it’s safe.

I’m an avid fan of maintaining what you have because it will last longer and cost you less in the long run.

In the last few weeks I have definitely noticed more and more people taking some time to give their vehicles a little TLC. We are no different, in fact our vehicle will be taken to the car wash place for a shampoo and blow dry too.

Not only is it getting cleaned inside and out to get rid of all the salt that has hit it over this particularly nasty winter period, but the tires will be swapped over as well. After I’ve swapped over the winter tires to all-season tires both vehicles will get a wax and buff.

Spending money on maintaining our vehicles is money well spent in our budget. Sure I could add all sorts of aftermarket accessories to my vehicle but with increases in prices in just about everything these days and building our retirement funds why bother.

Keep in mind most people have kids, mortgages, OSAP loans for school and other debts too. We’d rather enjoy our debt-free life than adding expensive aftermarket accessories on our vehicles that most people could care less about.

 

Aftermarket accessories

 

We only limit ourselves to aftermarket parts rather than aftermarket accessories, but for some that’s just the beginning. Car bling or adorning your car in aftermarket accessories seems to be getting more and more popular these days.

There seems to be this desire to personalize our vehicles and make them look what I can only describe as something they are not. I’m sure you’ve seen these cars roaming the streets especially this time of year with all the bling attached. What do I mean by aftermarket parts?

Aftermarket “soup cans” on the end of your exhaust pipe to make it sound louder is just one option. Alloy rims and low profile tires, rear spoilers, large entertainment systems, blue LED under lighting and the list goes on and on.

Certain people insist on writing cheques their cars can’t cash.

Last week I saw a very basic Honda that has a low powered 4 cylinder engine with expensive alloys and low profile tires that must have more value than the actual car. What a waste of money, especially when I’m sure it could be spent on something much more worthwhile.

Maybe this is my sign that I’m getting on in years but I’m failing to see the point of most aftermarket additions to vehicles lately. Certainly low profile tires have better handling capabilities on track cars but a four-cylinder Honda is not what you’d call track material.

The best of it was 90% of the other cars were passing because the vehicle was too slow. Maybe they should have spent the money on maintaining the engines performance which will likely get them much further. It’s like spending your money on landscaping when your roof is caving in.

These cars are what I like to call “all show and no go“.

The ever famous rear spoiler that stems from the late 70′s and early 80′s that people put on their vehicles always makes me chuckle. They have a front wheel drive car and place a spoiler on the rear. Now, instead of making the car go faster, they just made it go slower.

The whole point of a spoiler is to add down force to the drive wheels. But I suppose if you’ve got more money than sense then do you really need a point?

 

Pimp my ride

 

I can remember a number of years ago when I still lived in the UK, one of the residents in my local area had a Ford Orion (it’s a UK car). It was a normal looking factory standard car when he bought it.

Every weekend and spare moment was dedicated to the pursuit of pimping up his car with aftermarket items. He had a body kit installed on it to flare out the wheel arches, a large exhaust system, tinted windows, alloys with low profile tires, chrome and a whole host of other stuff including expensive coloured brake calipers.

The trouble was he spent so much time messing around with it without truly knowing what he was doing and actually managed to destroy his car. The car wouldn’t start to begin with, then he had other break down issues followed by a final engine failure.

If he had left the car as it was it would have been a reliable car that would have him to work and back for many years. If he had decided that it wasn’t the car for him he could have sold it and bought something different.

Not this guy, he lost the lot and the car insurance company isn’t going to pay out on a car you destroyed from messing around with it.

You also have to be careful when upgrading cars, if you have altered them up to a certain degree and you are involved in an accident the insurance companies will more than likely not pay out.

The reason being that they insured the original factory car you bought not the jazzed up aftermarket version you crashed. If you are planning to jazz up your vehicle you might want to talk to your insurance company to see what the rules are surrounding the upgrades.

If you are young and live at home and have absolutely no intention of leaving the bank of mum and dad any time soon then why not bling the car.

For everyone else, can you really afford all the aftermarket accessories and does it really make your car run any better?

 

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Why some people hate the grocery store: The Grocery game challenge #4 Apr 21-27, 2014

grocery game challenge april 2014 grocery storeSHOPPING IS NOT FOR EVERYONE

 

I could teach you 10 ways to save money buying food but if you hate the grocery store there is nothing that I can say that will convince you to spend more time planning your shops.

Grocery shopping is one household task that some people cringe at having to do. I always seem to write about the positive side about grocery shopping but what about those people who hate the grocery store and would rather be doing something else.

Sure, grocery shopping isn’t my idea of fun but at the same time when it comes to our finances we both take pride in making sure we are spending according to our budget.

Today I’m going to talk a bit about those grocery haters and if you’re one of them leave a comment and tell us why you hate the grocery store and what you’d rather be doing.

 

Hate the grocery store

 

I know most men will be the first to admit that they hate the grocery store because it’s just too boring and not their thing. I can understand that because many men might not have went grocery shopping with their family growing up, even then it’s not our favourite thing to do.

Since I love to cook I don’t hate the grocery store rather I embrace the reason I am there and that is to buy good food to nourish my body so I can continue to live a healthy lifestyle.

I do hate the grocery store when it’s packed, out of stock and many other reasons but for the most part I do the grocery shopping and I’m ok with that.

If you hate the grocery store you might be someone like my friend’s wife who tells me that she can’t stand going grocery shopping so she sends her husband. If she does have to go she walks around and just throws what she needs in the grocery cart, with no grocery list and then gets out.

I thought her grocery bill must be huge when she does that and when I asked her she said yes for the most part it likely is higher than most people who are frugal when they grocery shop but she doesn’t care. It’s one of those chores that doesn’t sit well with her and she could think of a million other things to be doing.

She also mentioned that she would rather go to Costco and buy food in bulk which means she doesn’t have to go to the grocery store that often. How many of you can agree that you do the same thing?

I’ve been around Costco and some of the prices are good but if you are a smart shopper you know that you can find better prices in the grocery stores if you know your prices and wait for flyer specials.

Maybe she would benefit from hiring a personal grocery shopper who could help her save some money but if the owner of that grocery list doesn’t want to participate even the personal shopper will just get in and get out.

 

Food is not that important

 

Believe it or not we have friends who only eat because they have to eat otherwise they could care less about eating in general. It’s funny how something as necessary to life as food can mean so much to many of us and so little to others.

Do you remember that post I wrote once about whether we are eating too much food? Maybe we are and we put too much emphasis on eating food in bigger quantities rather than smaller portions. Sometimes people who don’t fancy eating because it is too time consuming or they simply don’t enjoy eating might just graze here and there just to get food inside them.

As long as they are getting proper nutrition then they see nothing wrong with that. Since food is not that important you can bet they won’t be a regular at the grocery store or the total opposite where you see them daily.

One friend of ours eats very little but when she eats the food is all healthy food but she likes to visit the grocery store every day for fresh fruits and vegetables. She is from Europe and said that when she lived there that is what they did. I can agree because I know that I went shopping more than once per week but mainly because my refrigerator was so small.

Although she may hate the grocery store she has no choice until the summer when the markets and farmers put out fresh produce for sale. In Europe she went to the market every day or they picked from their own crop fresh produce.

They didn’t really have it sitting around in the refrigerator like Canadians do. So although food is not that important when she does eat her meals she likes them to be the freshest they can be even if she doesn’t have her own backyard garden.

 

Money is no object

 

You could tell a grocery shopping hater all the money saving tips in the world but if they dislike grocery shopping they likely won’t care and block out all conversation.

Maybe you know someone who has a juicy income and shopping for clothes, yachts and jetting off on vacation is more their style rather than grocery shopping.

The last thing rich people or people who are well off because money is no object want to be doing is grocery shopping. Sometimes I wonder if it’s not that posh to be seen in a grocery store if you have money just as it is to not drive your own vehicle, rather be driven around by a driver.

There are some famous people who do love to shop. I remember reading about the Kardashians and even though money is no object for them they grocery shop and use coupons.

Sometimes even the rich and famous want to feel normal so grocery shopping on their own gives them back that sense of independence even though many people loathe going grocery shopping as a normal weekly occurrence.

 

Fast food rules

 

You might find these people might be single and not want to cook a meal or just simply love fast food and will pay for that convenience even if it’s known that fast food is not that healthy for our bodies.

We have a single friend who hates to cook and she tells us that every day she heads across the street from her work to the gourmet food shop and picks up ready meals to bring home.

She tells us they are delicious and I’m not doubting her because they are all homemade and the price reflects that. You can find some decent home-cooked meals if you are not a fan of cooking but be prepared to pay out-of-pocket for someone else to do the cooking for you.

 

No time

 

The last reason I can think of and I’m sure there are tonnes more is that lack of time means that going to the grocery store is a less than desirable chore to get done. You may not hate the grocery store but you hate wasting more valuable time that you don’t have to spare.

In this case the shopper may again just rush in to get what they need and get out not worrying about the grocery budget and you’ll see that receipt disappear in to the bin before they get a chance to read it because they don’t have time. They trust the computer system and scanning code of practice is no big deal if the store allows it. If they pay more, they pay more but what’s most important is not the money it’s the time.

I know I’ve just touched on a few reasons why some people may hate the grocery store today and to be honest only you know what you don’t enjoy grocery shopping. If you are one of these people who hate the grocery store or know someone who does share your reasons why because I’d like to know.

Happy Shopping.

-Mr.CBB

 

April grocery game challenge posts

 

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you. :)

 

Grocery saving tips

 

Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the saving process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE. CLICK HERE to download all the free lists and even our family budget spreadsheet for FREE.

NEW!! You can now download the FREE Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…… Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget.. check it out!

 

Ultimate grocery shopping guide

 

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly.

If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below or you can now find the posts listed on their own page called The Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide.

If you know a topic that should be discussed send me an email and let me know.

 

Food food and more food

 

shopping-cart-short-cash grocery store

 Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 4 L Milk Sale $3.97
  • 4 x Armstrong cheese Sale $3.88 ea

Total out-of-pocket $19.49

 

Zehrs

  • 3 x Mango juice Sale $0.54
  • 2 x Pineapple Sale 2/$4.00
  • Mushrooms $2.29-pink sticker $1.15
  • PC Thins $3.20-pink sticker $1.20
  • Cheese sticks $4.49-pink sticker $2.25
  • 3 x condensed milk Sale $0.97

Total out-of-pocket $13.13

 

Grocery shop results

 

Yearly grocery budget for two: $2820

(The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $240 per year or $20 per month.)

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with potentially one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Budget for March $235.00-$20.82=$214.18/4=$53.54
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
  • Total Coupons Used to date: $33.75
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Discounts Used to date: $5.54
  • Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used to date: $0
  • Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $20.00-$20.00=$0
  • Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00+$19.08+$17.94+ $2.06+$20.00
  • Total Spent This Week: $32.62
  • Total Spent So Far April: $235.07
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $n/a
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: $n/a
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $235.07-$214.18 over ($20.89)
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $20.89
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $242.66+ Feb $191.74+ March $255.82+April $235.07
  • Weekly Overview: We didn’t need too much this week but the cheese was such a great deal that we stocked up a bit more. I think we have enough cheese now for a little while.

 

Coupon Sleuth

 

Did you find any coupons? If so share the details in the comment section of this post where you found it and what the coupon is for with expiry.

coupons Canada apr 2014 grocery store

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.

 

  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?

 

No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.

 

  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?

 

The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month. You can post your shops all month-long.

 

  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?

 

Yes our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.

 

 

Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups of the week and your weekly Checkout 51 offers from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.

 

  • What is an FPC?

 

An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.

 

 

You can find all your store coupon policies here. If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.

 

 

I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.

You may also substitute items in order to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget like many people do.

This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2014 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.

Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general.

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada 2014!

-Mr.CBB

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How to be your own money manager

Money managerMONEY MANAGING IS PART OF LIFE

 

Becoming your own money manager is something that you should get used to especially if you plan to live as debt free of a life as possible.

I talked about the Money Box a few days back and that’s really where my passion for finance was born and the money manager in me came out.

Learning about finances is not so bad when you are watching television, reading the paper, online posts or even in magazines as long as it’s not about you.

Many people don’t want to learn about their own finances because they don’t want to know how far in debt they are and for some people, they simply don’t care about money.

They could care less if they have to claim bankruptcy over and over again. You may think it becomes a game when bankruptcy becomes the norm and to be honest if you can’t control your spending you really need to seek help.

Bankruptcy is not always the answer to the problem it’s more of a band-aid approach to solve the stresses of bill collectors knocking on your door. I know a couple at work who had it all, a nice house, 2 kids and they both hold decent jobs.

The problem with their relationship was not that they didn’t love each other it was that they loved spending money more than they loved being the money manager of their future. Buying cases of beer each week was more important than putting money away for their children’s education as was buying stuff they didn’t need when their house was falling apart and needed extensive renovations.

It’s much easier to block out what you need to do and put in place those feel good purchases so you forget all about what your real priorities are. Many people tend to forget that sure a new roof might cost $4000 and the $500 they have in the bank is not enough so they blow it without thinking maybe if we just keep saving we will have a new roof in no time.

What I notice from the people I’ve come in contact with in my life that are struggling with being their own money manager is that they put stuff before their life.

If money is owed to them whether it is government cheques, income tax returns etc. they have the money spent before it even arrives. The mere fact that “extra money” is coming into their hands sends them off into a spending frenzy. All those times they missed out on spending money and before you know it there is nothing left.

Better yet, the money is spent on things that for most would not be a priority. Life first, stuff second. If you can’t protect your life financially no amount of stuff will keep you afloat.

If you think about it money is a part of our lives no matter which way we want to look at it. Sure we can wipe our hands clean of debt by coming up with excuses like we’ll make more money, our wages will increase, I’ll find a better job, next pay I’ll pay that debt off. That day may never come for some people so the dream of debt freedom lingers on.

I have to question these people if they really do want to live a debt free life because if you complain about money on a daily basis and aren’t stepping up to be your own money manager then there really isn’t anything anyone can do for you.

 

Money manager

 

So how can you become your own money manager? Good question and to be honest it’s no more work than simple math. That’s right if you can add, subtract, divide and multiply becoming a simple money manager should be easy for you. It’s not so much that people don’t know how to do it they don’t set time aside to maintain the system they put in place to make sure they are following their money every step of the way.

Being a money manager in essence doesn’t mean you become an investor or stock broker either. I’m talking about simple budgeting, simple money management skills and following the money so you know where your dollars are going.

It sounds easy and it really is as long as you put some effort into it and stop complaining that life has dealt you a rough card. Sure, we all have problems that’s a fact, some worse than others but we aren’t going to move forward by sitting on the problem.

I know that not everyone knows where to begin when it comes to being a money manager and that’s why there are so many amazing websites and blogs on the web to help get you started.

I don’t admit to being a money manager pro but we’re both under 40 and living a debt free life including no mortgage living in the GTA and it’s not because we were handed money or got lucky every step of the way.

I also don’t make a 6 figure salary either but I’m working hard at making sure that I’m moving up in my profession so one day I can make the income I’ve always dreamed of.

I want to make sure if we have a child that we can afford to save for their education to give them a jump start in life while teaching them about money. I also want to make sure that our child doesn’t have to worry about us financially because that’s just a stress he/she doesn’t need. Financial freedom for us is about having the ability to make the best choices for our life as my friend Jason at Celebrating Financial Freedom says below.

It’s about having the freedom to make the best choices for your life because you don’t have to consider your debt situation first.

What we do is budget, straight up simple math and find ways to save money by living a frugal life by spending money on quality when we need to and buying generic in other areas.

We both struggled just like the next person but we did one thing I encourage all of you do… NEVER GIVE UP! You never know when opportunity is lurking so be ready to grab it and follow your money wherever you go.

Be your own Money Manager 101 …..

 

Plan

 

Planning the way your money is going to be saved and spent is something that most people shrug off as they view it as tedious and not necessary.

I disagree because we should have a money plan in place so we set goals and targets to achieve success along the way. You may want to put that new roof on like I talked about above but if you don’t plan how much you can or should save each month as well as a time-frame to have it saved you may just kill the plan and spend the money on something else.

What will happen is your roof will just continue to fall apart because you couldn’t be bothered to invest the time needed in planning out the savings to purchase that new roof. So before you go and laugh at your friends who say they can’t afford to do something because they are saving up for a large or even small expense make sure you look in your own money house and clean up areas you need to improve on.

 

Budget

 

Budgeting doesn’t mean you need to use a budget spreadsheet, paper budget, envelope system and so on… it means knowing where your money is going. Not everyone likes to budget and although I highly recommend it because its what has helped us to get to the point where we are now, it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

Figure out what money manager system works for you but the most important part of your plan is knowing where the money goes. If you don’t track your money you will never know if you are spending more than you earn and what parts of your lifestyle you need or should be cut back on in order to stay on track financially.

 

Follow-up

 

I don’t know a household that can run on its own so if you think your finances can all be automated and you turn your head to say everything is taken care of you might be surprised one day to realize that there is more to being a money manager than automation.

Sure it’s great to pay all your bills automatically each month but that’s just a small part of being a money manager. Although we paid all of our bills manually aside from the fixed expenses we made sure we followed up with everything.

Fixed expenses are easy because you know they will never change but don’t think errors can’t happen. Just last week I noticed our home and vehicle insurance shot up by $12 a month and by sending off an email to our insurance adviser we found out an error was made in the automatic renewal. The account will be credited but if we didn’t follow-up with our expenses we wouldn’t have known.

Having a budget and managing your money for every day expenses requires that you follow-up whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. We sit down once a week and input all of our receipts that we keep from every purchase made as well as automated expenses into our budget. We keep on top of things because if you don’t it’s easy for it to mount up and this is where people throw in the towel.

They view it as too much work. Try to dedicate even 15-30 minutes per week to stay on track so you don’t have a tonne of paper work to do with your budget at the end of the month. That’s just my tip but do what works best for you.

Becoming a money manager is not difficult by any means it’s getting started and staying on track that is the hard part. Whether you make enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses or not if you don’t know the numbers you will never get ahead financially, unless you win the lottery but even lottery winners go broke.

How are you a money manager of your life?

What other tips can you suggest to the readers?

 

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Easter chick tarts

Easter Chick TartsEASTER TREATS FOR EVERYONE

 

I know you think these Easter chick tarts are adorable and they are, even better to eat after a lovely Easter dinner or for a treat.

Well it’s Easter weekend and I wanted something different from the Easter cupcakes to take with me for the kids when we go to our pot-luck Easter dinner on Friday.

So thinking ahead (as one of the kids has an egg allergy) I thought if I made some Easter nests or as I call them Easter chick tarts.

These are a great dessert for them to have that’s not too sweet, easy to make and something that they can all eat.

There’s about 12 kids in the group from 11-3 so I had to do something that was tasty and eye-popping. I am also going to use my favourite cake decorating book for this recipe called “Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh My” by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson.

It really is a great cookbook to have on hand to show you how to use simple everyday sweets and biscuits and turn them into masterpieces.

I have used it a few times for cupcakes for my son’s kindergarten class. When he was younger we made shoes for the girls and frogs and monsters for the boys.

 

Easter tarts

 

Today I will be attempting the chickens as it’s Easter. I am also taking my  Easter shortbread bunnies with lemon drizzle along with me for the adults as you can never have enough desserts at the table.

A full day of eating, chatting and surrounded by friends is my perfect Easter dinner. There is no theme just a pot-luck so already on the menu is a popcorn salad, glazed ham, twice baked potato skins (we always get asked to bring these they are a favourite), homemade baked beans and pork sausage. There are also a few other salads, veggie dips, and no meal is complete without homemade dinner rolls.

I don’t think we will be going hungry and that’s not including the desserts that we all bring along with us for after the meal

Easter Chick Tarts

Easter chick tarts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
If you are looking for an egg-free Easter treat that is not too sweet this is the one.
Author:
Recipe type: Easter tarts
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • ½ pack of ready to use sweet pastry tarts
  • 4 cups store bought vanilla pudding, prepared as per instructions on box
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 orange and 1 red licorice twists (rainbow twizzlers)
  • 2 containers (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping (cool whip), thawed
  • 24 mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup either white jelly beans or Cadbury mini eggs
Instructions
  1. Place the pastry cases on tray and bake. Once cooked let cool.
  2. Mix up vanilla pudding as per box instructions.
  3. Stir the coconut extract and pudding mix together and place into pastry tarts until they are about half way up.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350oF and place coconut onto parchment paper and cook in oven until toasted. Shake tray every few minutes to ensure you don't burn coconut. Coconut should come out golden brown, transfer and let cool.
  5. Cut the orange licorice into 12¾ inch triangles with scissors. Cut the red licorice crosswise into 36 thin slices with scissors.
  6. For the nests, sprinkle the edges (or top them fully if it's just a nest) of pies with some of the toasted coconut.
  7. For the chicks divide the whipped topping among 2 ziplock bags. Press out the excess air and close bags. Working with one bag at a time, keeping the others refrigerated, snip a corner from the bag. For the body, pipe a large dollop of whipped topping in the centre of a pie allowing it to form a peak at one end for the tail. Then pipe a smaller dollop for the head. Then pipe a wing at either side of the head.
  8. Then using the licorice use the orange for the beak and three red thin slices for the tuff on the head and then for the hens wattle (flappy bits under their necks). Use the chocolate chips for eyes and using either chocolate eggs on white jelly beans around the nest to look like eggs.
  9. Serves - 15
  10. Prep time: 35 mins
  11. Oven temp 190oC/375oF
  12. Cook time 15-20 mins for pastry to cook

With the rest of the custard I topped them off with a strawberry and some glaze to make some tarts too. So enjoy your Easter dinner followed by some Easter chick tarts and from my home to yours have a lovely Easter.

Nicky x

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