XBOX ONE or PlayStation 4: Does it pay to wait?

X-Box OneINSTANT GRATIFICATION OR WAIT AND SAVE

 

The world of technology is constantly changing and companies are continuously trying to out-do each other with the coolest and most innovative products on the market.

With Christmas just around corner, many youth and even some adults may have the new PlayStation 4 or Xbox One on their Christmas wishlist.

Though I do enjoy a video game here and there I will not be one to jump on the bandwagon of purchasing either a PS4 or Xbox at its release or even months afterwards.

I would one day like to own a PlayStation console but I am content waiting right now as a $399.99 purchase is not something I am willing to make on a brand new product that will still need a few glitches worked out.

 

Pick a console

 

Which console is best for you?

I am not a huge gamer though I am the Guitar Hero in this house and it really is the only video game that I can successfully play.

I have played on all the gaming consoles; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and the Wii with my preference being the PlayStation 3.

I often joke that I lost my PlayStation 3 in my divorce and was left with a Nintendo Wii. Having two young children the Nintendo Wii has been great to have, though they don’t play too often they get a kick out of playing a game of baseball or knocking down a few pins in a game of bowling.

The Wii/Wii U is definitely the most family friendly gaming console on the market. Owning a PlayStation at this point would be only for my benefit and I do not play enough to justify spending the money.

The majority of games now have the opportunity for an online gaming experience, allowing you to play against your friends or random strangers from around the world.

If this online experience is something that you wish you to engage in with your friends then having the same console as your friends will be important. If you have a regular group of friends who like to play together making this decision as a group will benefit you being able to take part in that experience.

 

What would you like the console to do for you?

 

The Xbox One system is being marketed as the “All-in-one Entertainment Experience”, meaning unlike the Xbox 360 it can now be used as a blu-ray player, a feature which Sony included on the previous PS3.

Xbox offers the Xbox Live Gold membership which is your access to the online world of Xbox gaming. It allows you to use Skype to chat with friends who also have a compatible system and allows you to sign into your own Xbox Live Gold account from any system allowing you to access your content and downloaded games from your friends or family members Xbox system.

Xbox Kinect which is a motion-detecting device which allows you to have hands-free control of your Xbox through a infrared technology and a camera was previously offered as an add-on accessory to be plugged into the Xbox unit.

This is not the case with the new Xbox One as it is built into the system, where as the PS4 camera needs to be purchased separately at the cost of $59.99.

The Xbox One will also take voice commands so to turn it on all you need to say is ‘Xbox on’ and then ‘Xbox off’ to power off. Voice commands sound great though individuals who have had the opportunity test the Xbox One prior to its release say that this feature needs some improvement and does not always work.

The new PS4 can only be hooked up to a television through an HDMI cable meaning that an older tube TV will not be compatible.

Though the majority of the people have upgraded their televisions, if you have not the PS4 cannot be connected using the AV cords where as the Xbox One can be though limiting the true visual experience.

Games can be played on both the Xbox One and PS4 without the online experience, though an internet connection is required to initially set up both consoles as they both require a Day 1 update that needs to be downloaded, there is the option of contacting the companies to have a disc sent to you by mail with this update, requiring you to wait to use the system.

 

Cost of connecting to online networks

 

If you are a serious gamer then the online experience is likely important to you. The online experience not only allows you to download games at a fraction of the cost without having to leave your house but also gives you the freedom to access your game stats and whatever pictures, videos or other data you have saved to your account from any compatible gaming console.

The cost for the Xbox is $59.99/year for Xbox Live Gold membership and $49.99/year for Playstation Plus.

Previously PlayStation Plus mainly offered lower prices on downloaded games and some free downloads though many people did not feel it was worth paying $49.99 a year and had the choice not to opt for it.

With the release of the PS4 and new features offered, PlayStation Plus is likely something you will need.

 

Pre-orders

 

PlayStation 4

With the recent release of the PlayStation 4 and the upcoming release of the Xbox One gaming systems, an option to pre-order and reserve your console prior to its release date was available with a minimal down-payment.

Sony announced the release of the Playstation 4 in February of 2013 and approximately 1 million pre-orders were placed.

A pre-order is a great way to ensure you will be able to get your hands on one, whether it’s the latest iPad model or gaming console though it may not always be the greatest idea.

I’m not sure about you but I am not comfortable spending money on something before anybody has actually physically had their hands on and been able to use the product, even if it is only $10.00 to reserve a copy of an upcoming video game or handing over $400 for a not-yet released Playstation 4.

 

 

Games

 

call-of-dutyOne downside to purchasing these consoles on release day is that the games available to be played on them are limited.

A couple of the recent game releases such as Call of Duty Ghosts, Battlefield 4,  Assassins Creed IV and Just Dance 2014 were released in the PS4 format and only a small list of other titles currently to add to that.

There are multiple online games available but are typically not the best games around. If you previously owned a PlayStation or Xbox console, unfortunately the PS4 and Xbox one are not compatible with these games meaning that your current library of video games is completely useless.

Xbox one and PS4 games are no more expensive to buy than the previous Xbox 360 and PS3 games but are you willing to pay the price to rebuild your video game collection?

 

Add-ons

 

When making your decision as to which gaming console to buy know what accessories come with it in the box such a power cords, HDMI cables and the number of controllers included.

Know what accessories you may need to purchase separately to obtain your desired experience and keep in mind these extra accessories can be pricy depending on what they are

Though I am personally a PlayStation fan, $399.99 is a good chunk of change and not one that I am willing to spend to have a PlayStation 4 upon its initial release on the market.

The Xbox One is being released at the price of $499.99. PlayStation 4 was released November 15 and sold out in most places on Day 1 and we can expect likely the same with the release of Xbox one this Friday.

With Christmas just around the corner many gamers and parents are staying on top of the Christmas wish list and budget in hopes of seeing smiles on Christmas morning and saving a few dollars if they can.

 

Are you the type of person who has to have the newest tablet or gaming system console as soon as they are released?

or

Are you the type to wait a bit for the price to come down and some of the software glitches to be exposed/worked-out before you dive in to make the costly purchase of the newest gadget on the market?

 

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PF Weekly Grab a Brew #46: Gift Exchange Wish List and Holiday Contests Win $1000+ cash

grab-a-brewYOU CAN’T WIN IF YOU DON’T ENTER

Ah, the good old saying that you can’t win if you don’t play reminds me of budgeting.

You can’t get ahead financially if you don’t play the budget game and know exactly where your money is going.

The budget is a game because you play to beat yourself at spending less than you earn.

Sure you can be one of those people who can figure it all out in their heads but I personally am a fan of seeing the numbers on paper and knowing where my cash is going at all times.

I’m not one to judge but we all manage our finances the way we want and if you are getting ahead and meeting your goals, more power to you.

It was early this morning the Christmas gift giving text came in as we had to draw names again due to a glitch in the system… OK I confess we forgot to draw names in January like we traditionally do so it had to get done as soon as possible.

This year we are now spending up to $150 per person that we have to buy a gift for in our family gift exchange. That’s not too bad although I believe that we budgeted for $100 per person same as last year but clearly that has changed.

I’m sure price inflation has something to do with that jump in cost although I don’t think $150 in unreasonable given the costs of most gifts that people circle off on their holiday Christmas gift wish list.

I’m confident that we will be much more diligent in 2014 with picking the names on New Years like we always do and not let the bubbly get in the way of our tradition for a second year in a row.

I really did like how my mate and his family have the celebrate like Scrooge gift exchange as I think it’s a great way to have a laugh and remind ourselves that spending tonnes of money on Christmas gifts is not always what we should be focusing on rather spending time with loved ones.

The great thing about the wish lists are that we can typically look all year-long for gifts online or in-store and we save up our Shoppers Optimum Points so we can redeem them around Christmas time to buy gifts and stocking stuffers that way rather than spending money in our Christmas budget.

Essentially redeeming our Shoppers Optimum points is like free money and we are free to do what we please with it and it makes saving the points all year worth the extra effort that we put towards earning them.

Even so extra cash for the holiday season is a bonus no matter if you earn it through plastic points or if you win it in a holiday contest.

When my mate Stephen who blogs over at Howtosavemoney.ca emailed me to tell me about this amazing Christmas contest he was holding I was more than happy to help him out by spreading the word.

He’s giving away one of the biggest cash prizes for the Christmas holidays.

Enter today and you might win some extra cash to put towards your Christmas budget.

The holidays can be a huge cost to the family budget and if Christmas is not a projected expense and saved every month up until December you will need to have alternate means to pay for any gifts, food, clothing or travel expenses that you need to fork out for the big day not to mention  boxing day and New Years Eve parties.

The money that gets splashed around this time of year is huge and for many they spare no expenses when it comes to having the best of the best in their homes for guests who come around.

Although we go to the relatives for the holidays we do tend to pick up specials or deals we find throughout the year to make quick Christmas gift bags or baskets for when we are in a pinch for a quickie because someone drops by with a bottle of wine and a gift of their own.

We are always prepared for these drop-ins’ and sometimes we include our homemade crab apple spice jam for the homemade touch. Keeping gift giving simple and frugal is not hard to do at all. Not everyone wants to give either and that’s perfectly fine as it’s all about what you want to do not what others do.

Last year for the Thanksgiving holidays my wife entered an online contest after sending in 100 words about what Thanksgiving meant to her and even though she is a contest skeptic she won the $200 in PC gift cards and now enters contests more often than she ever thought. You can’t win if you don’t play or enter, that is correct.

So, head over to Stephens blog and Enter to win his Christmas Contest and you might be a lucky winner of one of his prizes totalling over $1000.

Do you enter contests more around the holidays and have you ever won a contest?

 

Top recipe

caramel pecan pie

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe comes from a blog called Bunny’s Warm Oven and she is no stranger to CBB as I just adore her recipes. When I saw her photo and recipe for Luscious Caramel Pecan Pie I melted it looked so good.

You have to check this recipe out and be sure to review it after you make it because I sure know that I’m going to be making it. Thanks Bunny for posting your recipes at The Free Recipe Depot you are my Top Recipe pick of the week. 

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you.

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #46 so happy saving and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

Mr. CBB

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The Saturday Weekend Review #44: Holiday flyer gimmicks that gets your wallet fired up

flyers-canada-ontario-november-2013HOLIDAY SALES START NOW… ARE YOU READY?

 

Time to ring in the holidays with flyers, flyers and more flyers. Are you ready Canada?

A better question might be, Is your budget ready?

Boredom for many people can lead to spending more money than they need to, but we should be able to control these urges.

 

Holiday flyers

 

Yesterday I wrote about Halloween coming to an end and the best time to put up decorations so it came as no surprise opening the weekly flyers that the stores have wasted no time with Christmas marketing. The hard part is when the holidays surround us and the flyer gimmicks entice us to shop til we drop.

Many of you know the shelves are already in the making before Halloween is even over. For most stores Christmas is the biggest time of year when it comes to sales and consumer traffic so every day counts especially if the shelves are not ready to go.

The glamour of Christmas for many puts them in the ‘spending spirit’ and it may be tough but it’s a time that we all have to buckle down and get control of our finances.

I know that is easier said than done because we battle the very same desire to window shop when we don’t really need to make a purchase, especially around the holidays. It’s that one awesome sale in a flyer that draws us in or we simply want to see what’s out there.

 

Christmas budget

 

The decision to not fall for all the holiday flyer specials was to pace ourselves and make a plan.

Our Christmas budget has changed over the years and now we draw names at the beginning of each year. The Christmas budget for us is a projected expense which means we save the money all year-long just in case we find it on sale and so we have the cash come Christmas and no credit cards are required. We only buy for one person now and we spend $100 on them and with that name comes a list of what they might like.

The flyers above were sent in to me by a fan who was surprised how the stores word the cover of their flyer in hopes of bringing in scores of customers although many of them seem to have the same deals like the grocery store $0.88 sales at Metro and No Frills.

Food Basics is waving the fans in with a “Mania Sale” getting much more for less. Canadian Tire flyer has Christmas trees on the front claiming “Bright Holiday Deals” to put you in the shopping mood.

Not only do you get the colorful banners at the top of the weekly flyer they make it even more enticing by almost forcing you into the store with a 1 day sale, 2 day sale, 3 day sale or a moonlight or midnight madness sale.

You might also find these words stand out on the flyer because those are the words they want you to remember. The notion of saving combined with being happy is how M&M Meats wants to inspire their customers to shop with them and rightfully so if the consumer will save money in their grocery budget.

Appetizers are a huge deal over the holidays so they will stop at nothing to pass along savings to the customer to get them in the store. They know their products sell and most people like Costco go in for one thing and come out with 10.

The problem with all of these enticing holiday flyers that are coming out is that they drive the traffic, meaning you and I into the stores with our wallet fired up and ready to spend. If we find it difficult as consumers to tighten the strings on the wallet it may be a dangerous holiday game of shopping each week because of the marketing involved during the holiday season. This could only prove to motivate us to overspend unless we have that plan of action and stick to it.

How do you handle the flyer gimmicks and giant sales this time of year so you don’t break your budget?

 

Canadian Budget Binder this week

 

Just in case you missed any of the awesome posts at Canadianbudgetbinder.com this week I’ve got them all below for you.

Happy Reading.

 

CBB at home and the blog

 

Not too much has been happening the past week in our house but we have officially busted the budget again this month which you will read about next week when I post our October budget update.

I’ll also be looking at the numbers closely the next few months to see how the seasons might impact our shopping habits. We have found that the colder the weather gets the more inclined we are to head out shopping or pouring into the stores that have those 50% off signs or end of season sales in the windows. We wanted to start doing more as a couple by getting out of the house and the first place it has brought us is to the shops.

On the blog nothing exciting has been happening although I’m hoping to get a few fixes sorted out with my designer but it’s nothing that you can see on your end.

I did make an oops this past week with the way I presented the layout and it was my error which I later fixed in the day. Now that the blog is on self-hosted I am responsible for any problems that happen above and beyond what my designer has created although he helps me out quite a bit. It’s great to work with someone who cares about his design and the blog owner like he does for Canadian Budget Binder.

Don’t forget to put your clocks back as we Fall behind one hour this Sunday morning Nov 3, 2013 at 2am and enjoy the extra hour of sleep.  I know I will.

 

Fan deals of the week

 

Since garage sales are pretty much done now with the upcoming winter months my idea is to have you the fans submit either an awesome deal of the week that you got, a freebie worthy of mention, kijiji score or other online buy that was amazing or any other major savings you want to brag about.

So, starting today send me in your photos and a write-up explaining the deal, prices and where you got the item and I might choose your steal of a deal in an upcoming Saturday Weekend Review. You can email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) yahoo (dot) (ca) with your picture and details.

Today our in-house awesome shopper Jen P is sharing her RCSS score from last week which cost her hardly anything out-of-pocket meaning she saved money in her grocery budget. Jen is also an avid grocery game challenge player and has seen her grocery budget decrease over the past 2 years since posting her shops but not without challenges like we all much endure.

Jen-coupon-shop-deals

This shop was at RCSS

  • Catelli pasta 3 x $1.00 – 3 x $1.00 coupons = FREE
  • Country Naturals bologna $4.99 – FPC = FREE
  • 2 pack Playtex sippy cups $9.58 – SCOP (rang in at $11.99) = FREE
  • Pull Ups 2 x $16.74 – 2 x 50% off pink stickers (- $8.37 each) – 2 x $5.00 CZ coupons = $6.74 or $3.37 each boxCoupons $17.99
  • SCOP $9.58
  • Pink stickers $16.74
OOP $7.08 (5% tax on the Pull Ups)

 

Making a difference

 

stumble-forward

My name is Chris Holdheide and I’m honored to be a part of Mr. CBB’s Making A Difference segment. For those of you who don’t know me I’m an entrepreneur, father of three, and a financial junky.

Some of you may have read my blog Stumble Forward which is a blog dedicated to helping others avoid financial mistakes and live a higher quality financial lifestyle.

I started Stumble Forward as way to help others avoid some of the big financial mistakes I made in my younger years. Some of these mistakes include buying a $4500 timeshare, spending over a $1000 on rip off companies to help me sell it, to getting a mortgage that ended up costing me more than I was paying off on it.

In 2008 I decided enough was enough and decide to make a change for the greater good and started my blog to help others get their financial lives on track as well as mine and by 2013 I managed get my budget under control, clean up all of my credit card debt, stash some extra cash way, and even build a brand new house.

In the end my goal is to lead by example by share the painful mistakes that I have made in hopes to help others make a difference with their finances.

 

Blog post sharing

 

I really appreciate when other blog owners recognize my hard work at Canadian Budget Binder and share my posts with their fans or even mention my blog on their blog or website.

Here are the blogs that did just that this past week, so please head over and check them out. If I’m missing you it’s because I didn’t get a ping back so please send me an email and I’ll add you next Saturday.

Just one site shared CBB this week so a big thanks goes out to Urban Departures for recognizing CBB and taking the time to share with their fans. :-)

 

Carnival Glory

 

 

Google-web-search-terms

Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog.

Here are a few of my favorite searches that may have even brought you here and you’re reading this, right now.

  • OSAP please forgive my loan: Oh boy do you have something to learn about money and debts…. nothing in life is free!
  • Money will kill the relationship: That is true, it can.
  • Happiness isn’t in saving money: It is for us to an extent as we tend to balance savings with enjoying life but for others it’s in spending it…depends on your goals.

That’s all for this week’s edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #44.

Join me next week same time, same place to see what trouble I can get myself into.

Have a great week everyone.

Mr.CBB

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How I Changed My Life- I Won The Debt, Divorce, Drugs and Drinking Jackpot!

alcohol and drugs

I won the debt, divorce, drinking and drugs jackpot because I wanted to take back what I gave away, me. My name is Cindy and in 2008, I decided to change my life and today I’m going to share with you my most compelling years in hopes of motivating others who believe there is no way out. I went from a single mom of 2 boys with a drug and alcohol addiction with no job and $10,000 in debt to debt free in less than 5 years.

How I Changed My Life

It all started when I was in a toxic relationship while living in the Southern United States. I quickly became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs and driven into a life that seemed like it had no end in sight.

We had every earthly possession that two people could want and a thriving real estate business, but it was never enough. We were toxic for each other. I didn’t have the strength or self-esteem to break away.

He told me over and over I would never make it on my own. I felt trapped yet I kept telling myself I need to change my life. I needed a quick escape of the life I hated.

How can I change my life?

I left the house with my children; the dog and the clothes on our backs got into my car and drove away without looking back. My children’s father and I had been successful in developing real estate, but there was no money when I left. He had all the assets in his name only. I was totally broke.

We did have a small mobile home a 1973 12×50 that sat on its own land that we had paid cash for. The mobile home was in my name and that is where we were going to start our life over as a family.

I turned to my mother for assistance and after sleeping on my mother’s fold out sofa with the children and the dog for 8 weeks and detoxing, I moved in. During that time I found a job at a local fast food restaurant and started counselling for my addictions.

The Money

Times were slim, there was no money in the bank and no one left to turn to for help. My lawyer bills were $4000 for the first round to get the ball rolling with our divorce and custody hearings.

My ex-husband thought since I was an addict that I would lose custody or that I would come running back to him with open arms. I didn’t,  and he wasn’t too pleased about that.

I had excellent credit at the time with absolutely no clue how I was going to pay all of that money back. I charged all the costs of the proceedings and fees on my Capital One credit card.

We had no clothes, no food, no furniture, no Christmas presents, not even a Christmas tree. It was somber at best in our surroundings but we made do with what we were given.

We were locked in a secret world and not sure where we could turn for help. The taxes had never been paid on my little trailer since we purchased it, so another $1200 went on the  Discover credit card to settle the score with the tax man.

The bills kept piling up and I kept working as much as I could to make the money last until the end of the month. In no time my car blew it’s radiator so another $800 went on the Bank of America credit card.

It seemed like I had more credit than I had cash coming in but it was the only way that I could think of at the time to keep my family together and all the bills paid with a roof over our heads and food on the table.

I quit my job at the fast food place and went to work at a lunch truck company. It made more sense because the food truck offered great hours which made it easier for picking the kids up from school. It also meant I didn’t have to work nights any longer and could spend time with my family.

We got by paying the bills but the even the minimum payments were often late. The lights stayed on, but there was nothing fancy about our life. You wouldn’t have found any internet, no cable, no frills.  We had to create our own free entertainment for the family but it also brought us closer together.

Groceries and Meals

There was help with food from the church and from the lunch truck company I worked for. When my shift ended on the food truck if there was any food that was left over from the construction sites my boss let me take it home.

It wasn’t always the best of food but it was food that was hot and would provide nourishment for me and the kids such as like tins of meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy or chili macaroni.

She was a kind lady and knew I was struggling to feed my family. It’s times like that when you can look back and think there was an angel looking over you.

Once a month a lady at the church we belonged to bought us a basket from the food share program co-op. It had usually a large roast or a turkey, some fresh vegetables such as  carrots or potatoes and some canned items along with pasta and rice.

I would use every bit of the food up and let nothing waste. I would prepare hot meals and soups in the crock-pot which was kindly donated to me from one of the ladies at the church.I stretched that basket of food as far as I could make it and we sometimes ate for a whole week on the one basket

Someone always wanted money from me and I never dreamed divorce would cost as much as it did for me. Round 2 from the lawyer was $2500, charged on Capital One credit card again. At this point I still had No child support, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no nothing.

I was merely living a life for my children and holding on to a string of hope dropped from heaven in hopes someone would hear or something magical would happen for us.

We were scraping by day-to-day on my tips from the lunch truck,  I continued to use my credit cards to survive but kept optimistic that something would change for the good.

The children had dentist bills, doctor bills and needed glasses. I had so much guilt over my debt but zero choice in what to do. I was earning $130 per week as my wage plus $50 in tips which I normally used to fill up my gas tank.

It was now 2009 and I was drowning as my debt grew astonishingly close to $10,000. I couldn’t believe it but I also knew that I would pay back every penny of it once I could find more work or a side income that would help me get ahead in life

At The Right Place At The Right Time

One of my stops on the lunch truck each day was at a crafting facility. It was a small place and the staff engaged as if they were all a happy family. I struck up a friendship with many of the workers and I started hanging out there after work on occasion.

I‘d like to consider myself quite crafty, so I started doing some painting and crafting with them on my own time. It was a great way to get my mind off my financial and emotional troubles doing something I love while enhancing my skills.

They asked me if I wanted to do some piece work on the side and I was so happy that I gladly accepted the offer. I was in business! I tucked every cent  of extra income that I earned away for emergency saving and to give my kids a small Christmas, credit card free!

I do some of the hand painting of the crafts at home. I sat down with my boss a few afternoons and he taught me how to paint crafts as I had never painted before in my life. I learned how to paint flowers, faces, hearts etc.

I make felt cut-outs at home and then glue them together. There is a pattern to trace, then they are cut out and glued such as butterfly wings and dragon wings etc.  I am paid $0.25 per piece and the company I work for provides the materials.

When I bring my pieces back to the shop they are assembled into the final product. The hand painting and the felt cut-out with gluing are tedious at times, but I have freedom at home to listen to the radio or YouTube so I don’t mind.

Paying My Bills

Fast forward one year and I started working at the crafting facility full-time. Being rich means different things to different people. My first cheque at minimum wage $7.75/ hr working 40 hours I thought I was rich. My bills were always paid on time and my car never ran on empty.

This was a dream come true for me yet I’d never forget those early days of detoxing on my mom’s couch. I’ve come a long way and I didn’t want to stop yet. I wanted to be as successful as I could because I knew I was worth it. I had the drive and the motivation to take my skills to the next level, and I did.

I continued the piece work on the side in addition to my 40 hours in order to bring in some extra income. Every bit of money helps and I was going to make sure there were no missed opportunities.

In no time the late charges started to disappear from my bills, a feeling that is hard to describe to someone unless they’ve been in the same situation. Minimum payments were made, lights were on and the family really was starting to come together now.

We could afford to go to the grocery store and buy food, put gas in the tank and pay for all the medical bills. We received a hand me down computer from a friend and soon after hooked up to the world as we know, the internet.

It was now 2010 and counselling was going well for me and I’ve come along way in my journey with my drug and alcohol addiction. I was now 2 years sober at this point and had no desire to ever pick up a drink let alone drugs.

The debt was soon going to be a misery of my past. I had my head above water, but barely. I was always optimistic though, you have to be in order to survive.

Debt Repayment Guilt

The guilt over the amount of debt that I had accumulated was so overwhelming, even after I was able to stop charging the credit cards up.

I would look at my balances and be so ashamed at myself that I didn’t want to think about it. I started to feel like I was in a debt depression. I didn’t know how to deal with debt and I prayed for help in paying off that debt.

The Debt Philosophy

One night, playing around on the internet, I came across Dave Ramsey and his debt philosophy. I devoured all the information he provided late into the night. I checked out his books the next day free from the library.

I spent the weekend reading and soaking up as much as the information as I could. I learned I had to let go of the emotion attached to my debt if I was ever going to pay it off.  I had survival debt. I wasn’t spoiled and I certainly didn’t spend it on frivolous things. I developed a plan!

I put Dave Ramsey’s advice into action.

I had a piece of land that was in my name that I didn’t want. I sold that immediately and put the money onto my Capital One credit card. Oh man! That felt so good!

Once I sold that land, it allowed me to qualify for a tax credit the following year. I put all that extra money towards my lowest credit card debt, the Bank of America, and paid it off.

The Dave Ramsey snowball effect had begun and I felt amazing.

I maintained the gazelle like focus.

Gazelle like focus is a term from Dave Ramseys book. It means to never take your eyes off the prize, like a lion hunting a gazelle. I worked at it, hard. I used every spare cent and every ounce of creativity to pay off my debt.

You need to work as hard to get out of debt as a gazelle works to run from a cheetah-Dave Ramsey

It was a real driving force for me and motivated me to get a move on. I just love the phrase because I could see the lioness in the grass hunting her prey, fierce and hungry. That was me.

I read all the information I could find on reducing spending. I carefully evaluated my food budget, planning every meal down to the cent. I purchased a small freezer from Craigslist and shopped the sales for meats.

Goodwill clothes haul

I continued to use the crock-pot that I received from the church twice a week or more. I scoured the second-hand thrift stores for my children’s back to school clothes and not only did I save a bundle I was able to give them what they deserved without feeling any guilt.

I replaced the ducts under the trailer and lowered my electric bill. I hung clothes out on the clothes line to save on electricity bills as well. We only ate out one time in two years at a restaurant an that was on my son’s birthday.

I had a yard sale when my children outgrew their clothes and sold the items to use that money to put down on my debts. I put every spare dollar on my debt and watched my Discover Credit Card balance drop.

Tax time came the next year and the Discover Credit Card was paid off in full. I was down to the big balance, over $5000 on the Capital One Credit Card at 27% interest.

2011 Three Years Sober and A Plan

My Handmade Jewellery

That year my company attended a trade show in our local area. I went to help sell our products. I had made a piece of  my costume jewellery just on a whim and brought it with me. It was simple and beautiful.

A lady approached me “Is that for sale?”, she asked. I hadn’t thought about it, honestly. “I will give you $5 cash for it right now, I love it”, she said. I was in business again!

I went home that evening and broke apart every piece of junk jewellery I owned. I stayed up all night working because I wanted this to be a success and to make some extra income. I went to the show the next day and made $25. I was thrilled. I invested that $25 in some supplies and when the next show came around I was ready!

Before I knew it, I had the $1000 emergency fund that Mr. Ramsey speaks of. When round 3 with the lawyer came around I was ready. The radiator in my car blew again (yes same car) and it was no problem thanks to the emergency fund.

2012 Four Years Sober- My Prayers Had Been Answered
Making My Jewellery

I make my jewellery on my porch or at my kitchen table after work in the evenings or on weekends. I love garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores where I look for broken bits of old necklaces.

 I twist and bend them and use my beads from my stock to make my own creations. I have built up a supply of beads to use by shopping at my local craft store with their coupons or buying odd bead lots online. I store them in a big bin under my son’s bed.

Craft bin

Pricing my custom jewellery is always an ongoing challenge but I’m getting better at making sure that my time and efforts are being paid for in the price of my work. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to make my jewellery and sometimes longer up to an hour depending on the materials I’m using.

If I really like it and it looks posh and expensive and the materials were pricier for me to make it then I can ask more money. If it is simple and takes only a few minutes, then I price it accordingly. I’m fair with my customers but also don’t want to under pay myself for my time and expenses.

Where I Am Today- Giving Back

I have worked hard to get where I am today and never dreamed that my perseverance would bring me the joys that I have been given in my life. My tax credit this year allowed me to clear the last thousand dollars with Capital One. I still make minimum wage. I still have my little side business making jewellery and I still do piece work.

I have finally finished with the lawyers and sorted out the divorce. I still live in my little mobile home with my now teenage children, 3 dogs and wonderful fiancée. I also receive no child support, no food stamps and no Medicaid.

I have such a sense of pride, knowing that I paid off what seemed an impossible amount of debt. I started from rock bottom. This past Christmas I was able to donate food back to that same church that helped me. I have been able to donate my children’s clothes and shoes to the local school. It feels good to give back.

I still have a very frugal lifestyle and we are budgeting our money so we know where it all goes. I do not have cable television or a smart phone. I still hang my clothes out to dry to save money on electricity and to show my children the importance of money and how to manage it  so they can make their way into life understanding what I did not.

I plan every meal down to the penny so I know what I need to buy when I go shopping with my list. I have chickens and a small garden for entertainment and a frugal hobby.

I am nearly 5 years sober and life is so good.

How We Budget Our Money 2013

Monthly Net Income

  • Income from job-$1092
  • Jewellery Extra Income-$200
  • Piece work Extra Income- $150

Total Net Income $1442.00

Monthly Budget Breakdown
  • Grocery Budget-$350 for 2 adults and 2 monster teenage boys. We almost never eat meals outside of the home.
  • Gas-$120 for one vehicle
  • Car Insurance-$142 for 10 months. I pay extra on this every month so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Internet-$65 for 10 months. I pay extra on this bill so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Electric-$100 some months are less and some months are more like in the summer when we have A/C on. I just put the money aside when it is under for the months that it runs higher.
  • Taxes-$45
  • Boys -$100 medical, clothes, dentist, whatever they need
  • Dogs- $100 flea medications, vet bills, heart-worm pills

Extra for savings: $420 This used to be for debt re-payment.

My husband and I have separate expenses and budgets. He pays the phone bill for both of us, his own car insurance and his own gas for his vehicle. He provides for the chickens, home maintenance and the garden.

I have set it up this way and we are very happy with it and it works for us. We never fight about money, ever. I now have extra money for holiday spending in November and December since I don’t pay some of the bills.

I used this money this past year to donate food to the church (I was pretty proud of that). This is my first month where I don’t have to pay off debt, so I’m thinking about investing in my education. I know the dogs are expensive, but I don’t mind that as they add to our country life.

How Do You Get Out Of Debt?
  • You get out of debt by never giving up, you can do it. Maintain the gazelle like focus. It’s not easy, but it feels so good!
  • Start by believing in yourself and admitting you have an addiction then ask for help. There is hope if you have an addiction. There are so many people out there that will help you.
  • You can get out of debt on your own no matter what anyone says.
  • Start using a budget to track your expenses.
  • Spend less money than you get paid from working.
  • Meal planning is the best way to stick to your food budget!
  • Read, Read, Read! Libraries are free and the knowledge I found there unlocked the secrets to paying off my debt.

I still sell my jewellery today and have wholesale accounts in 3 countries now the USA, Canada and England. I am debt free and budget all our family expenses so I don’t have to go back to those dark times in my life when I didn’t know where or who I was going to turn to for help.

My boss is amazing and I have been able to use our business contacts to develop my little jewellery business. I even sell some of my pieces for more than $5 now which means that my products are in demand.

Winning the debt, divorce, drugs and drinking jackpot simply means that I conquered some of life’s demon’s and won! So the next time someone says you will never make it on your own because you have a drug or alcohol addiction, smile and show them what you’re made of.

Contribution Post: This was written by a Canadian Budget Binder fan named Cindy who wanted to share her story in hopes of motivating others.

If you have a success story you want to share contact me today! “Let Your Voices Be Heard”-Mr.CBB

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Let Your Coupons Expire And Save Money!

Coupon Binder

I know it sounds strange that I’m saying to let your coupons expire and save money but the reality is for some people, they can’t let them expire. The coupon binder seems to be a fixture in most grocery carts (British: shopping trolley) these days and if you don’t believe me have a gander inside other people’s carts next time you shop.

I’m not saying it’s a negative, but we stopped bringing our binder because we would overspend on the odd occasion while shopping. Now we leave the coupon binder at home or in the car and only take out the coupons we need for that shop. There’s not many times we have the heart pumping “start the car” moments anymore and we’re happy with that.

What We’ve Learned 

If you follow Canadian Budget Binder you know that I started The Grocery Game Challenge  (GGC) back in early 2012 with much success over the past year. The birth of the GGC was because my wife and I were spending far too much money on groceries for 2 people. We thought we were doing better than our friends saving money using coupons and for the most part we were saving lots of money. I don’t remember the exact number off-hand but it was over $5000 in coupons that we used in one year. That was money we didn’t have to spend out-of-pocket to pay for items we “thought we needed”.

That’s right we came to the realization that we didn’t need all the products we were buying. We were so engrossed in the entire game of couponing that we forgot about the main goal and that was the budget. We also lost sight of our path towards debt freedom which consisted of becoming mortgage free and potentially an early retirement.

Clearly you can see how wrapped up some people can get in couponing by watching that Extreme Couponing television program in the USA. Although we can’t go to the extremes like our North American neighbours we can still spend more than we anticipated even if we are saving money using coupons. A couple of weeks ago I read a blog post from my friend Mandy the Money Master Mom Blogger about “why I hate coupons”.

It’s not as bad as it sounds really but what she did was explain her reasoning about why she hated coupons. It made sense to me because we’ve experienced the turbulence of how perceived savings can halt the progress of our overall goals. Mandy brought up a good point in her post,“Most coupons do not help you value your spending. Instead they lure you into a deal to buy a product you weren’t going to buy before you had the coupon”. 

She cites the Hamburger Helper with the Save $3.00 on beef coupon but the catch was you needed to buy another box of Hamburger Helper to get the coupon savings. She explains it well with a mathematical breakdown of the expenses. Don’t think the company doesn’t know what they are doing, they are winning in most cases. We’ve been stung many times but are smarter now with our money, or at least we are trying to make positive changes. What’s in these boxes and what people spend on them cost peanuts to make homemade and they are making a mint off of consumers. That’s the price consumers pay for convenience foods without realizing it.

Buying Too Much 

I’m not kidding when I say that we have roughly 10 boxes of cereal on the shelf that will end up in the garbage because we bought too many boxes. We had a coupon and we did get a great deal but simply could not eat it fast enough. By the time we noticed it was too late to donate to the food-bank. Sure it sounds great that we would donate and we have but we want it to be because we went out and stocked up on a few items and brought them directly to the food-bank, not because they were out of date.

If you have to go through your pantry to find items that are near expiry to donate that means you are buying too much food. This is exactly why I started the grocery game to help us and others who do use coupons and sift through the flyer inserts for deals to stick to a grocery budget. We hardly if ever stock up on food items unless it’s something we know we will use such as dry beans, tomato paste, tuna, milk, pasta etc.

Mandy takes it one step further and blogs about “why I love coupons”  and how they work for her family. You can clearly read that the only coupons she values are the ones that actually save money for her family and she can combine with in-store sales. If you’re getting to the stage where you’ve actually started throwing stuff in the garbage, you bought too much. How much did those coupons really save you? It’s better to stock up on items that have no expiry or a long expiry such as cleaning products, toilet roll, shampoo etc.

Watching Coupons Expire

If you follow my Facebook page you know that I enjoy communicating with the fans and listening to what they have to say. It was just the other night when Katrina Bearinger said something that had me thinking. She said, “I’m also getting better at watching coupons expire” and that was money to my ears. As a society we are lured in by coupons, sale signs, discounts, buy one get one free perks and for what reason? Because they know it works! The marketing companies know exactly how to target products they want you to buy. They know we thrive on these deals and it psychologically gets the juices flowing in our brains. All we have to do is look at all the boxing day line ups every year after Christmas. The general public enjoys the thrill of saving money, but do you really need it?

We’ve Changed 

In order for us to stop spending so much money even if we are using coupons is to plan and stick to the grocery budget. We don’t need to get every coupon that is available to us and use them. That is not what coupons are all about and many of us miss the mark and rush out before a coupon expires just to buy something. We tell ourselves instead of $8.00 it will cost $3.00 and we  ”might need it” down the road. That’s what we used to tell ourselves as well but have since gotten smart about using coupons to our advantage.

Using Your Coupon Savings

If you take the money you save from using coupons and put it towards paying down debt that makes even more sense. We track all the coupons we used in our budget spreadsheet so we know exactly how much money we have saved. Spending your entire grocery budget every single month just because you think you have to is not necessary, use the savings or extra money in your grocery budget to pay down debts if you have any.If you notice that you don’t really need to spend $400 a month on groceries then lower you grocery budget and put that extra money towards another category in your budget. You could also put the savings away for another day or for a purchase you wouldn’t normally make, such as a weekend away. That’s true savings after the fact.

It’s Only A Bargain If You Need It

My friend Amanda at T-shirts and Twine says it best “it’s only a bargain if you need it” and goes on to give us some tips. The best one I thought is if you find a bargain that is not on your grocery list to switch it out for something else. She also says to avoid the clearance aisle as much as possible but I don’t know if we could do that.

We do find some great deals especially those pink sticker deals although I understand her reasoning. If we didn’t have the clearance items on our list we obviously didn’t need them in the first place. That’s true for some items but for others that we may be able to use we could classify them as a ”need” in our grocery budget.

The key point to remember here is we need to 1- either make sure we don’t go over budget for the month or 2- put something back on the shelf to stick to the grocery list. Carrying cash is a great idea if that helps to control overspending. If you only have $40 cash in your pocket than that’s all you have to spend and there’s nothing you can do about.  It’s always nice to read what other’s do to save money.

What the Fans Say ( I made slight edits as needed)

Katrina B.

I’m finding that I take inventory of everything in my pantry then plan my meals based on what’s already here. I sometimes ask myself why I bought something when I’m putting away the groceries in hopes of trying to stop both food and money waste. I’m also getting better at watching coupons expire! I used to find myself using up a coupon that was soon to expire because what couponer wants to pass up a good deal?

I would find myself buying things that I had nothing to combine with for a meal and would end up throwing away or donating to the food-bank. I love to help the food-bank any way I can but this wasn’t making sense.  My goal is to save money and I’m spending money to store something in my house just to later pass on. Before any grocery shop I take a look at what I have and plan my meals before I pull out my coupon binder. I notice now that I am not needing as many coupons as I used to. Using what I have on-hand in the kitchen does help me save money. I do value my laundry soap and toilet paper coupons so I stock up when I have a good amount of coupons and find a great sale.

Shantique R.

I don’t cut out anything I won’t use. For example,  I won’t clip dog food coupons even if I can get it free with a match up because I don’t have a dog. I don’t want my house filled with clutter from “bargains”. I do know some people who WOULD do that though and donate the food. We used to have a box at work where everyone could drop off what they didn’t need and take what they did need. I received a LOT of diaper and wipes coupons when I needed them.

Carrie M.

I find it very hard to walk away from a sale or coupon. It took a lot of work to perfect the skill. I will instead leave the coupon on the shelf for someone who was going to buy a product because they needed it. I still have a hard time with free!

Cathleen R.

I’m on a local coupon train so what I don’t use I know someone else will and I don’t take coupons unless I know I will use them.

Mary C

I am not a big couponer but I am certainly willing to take a coupon that I will actually use. I tend to tailor my coupons to my shop, not the other way around.

Although coupons are an excellent way to lower the overall expenses in our grocery budget we have learned to limit what we purchase to what’s on our list or ensuring that we stick to our monthly budget. There’s no shame in letting a coupon expire, heck we throw lots of coupons in the bin each month and that’s OK. Get to know your limits, take inventory, plan your meals and shops with coupons you need rather than what you don’t need. I’m betting that if you watch some of your coupons expire for a few months you will see that you might just save yourself a few dollars!

Question: Do you let coupons expire or have you changed the way you use coupons over the years?

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