Could I live in a 420sq ft Micro-Apartment?- The Saturday Weekend Review #56

micro-apartment skylineLIVING THE HIGH LIFE IN A SMALL SPACE


Living in a small space even if it is a 420 sq micro-apartment that transforms into 8 rooms may be perfect for one person and a nightmare for another.

I love reading about small houses/apartments and how these designers go about taking a small space and transforming it into a living space fit for a King or Queen.

Ok, maybe I’m going too far with that but let’s be honest when you see the video you will be shocked to see how well the designer Graham Hill also the founder of puts this space efficient apartment together. He will not disappoint you, especially if you don’t mind sleek spaces that are magically transformed.

When faced with a shortage of space these designers have to put their heads together and start thinking outside of the box and to be honest this is when we start to see the real creativity flowing.

Not everyone can handle the functionality of a small apartment like the one in the video below (video removed as it was removed from Yahoo) not only because of the sleek modern use of space but because of the effort involved to live in that space.


Even smaller


Earlier in 2013 I wrote a post about whether you could handle living in a 230 sq ft home and to be honest this 420sq ft apartment is like living the higher life in New York compared to that home.

Both spaces are equally designed to keep the people who live in the home organized and functional on all levels except this new one is much more up to date and modern especially with the moving walls.


Growing up


Before I moved to Canada I had lived in some larger houses growing up in the UK and my grandmother she was well-off back in the day and lived in what I would consider a mansion back home.

My parents went on to own some larger homes of their own on some decent sized properties and although I got used to that lifestyle I soon realized the reality of living in the UK when It was my time to own my own piece of property.

Since then they’ve downsized and made use of their money by investing in more properties and renting them out.

The homes have since paid themselves over and have brought them in a nice retirement income that helps pay for their many trips around the world for weeks on end. Life is good.

Living in the UK compared to Canada is much different and although I can make many comparisons housing like in New York is costly and at a premium.

The first flat I bought at age 21 which for many is a young age to begin with was a small space. You get what you pay for in the UK and to be honest all I cared about was that I had my own place.

It was more like a bachelor pad than anything although it was an actual one bedroom one bathroom apartment and not an all-in-one space or as a bachelor apartment might consist of.

It was perfect for me and to be honest it cost me less than it would have if I was to rent a place so why would I have not saved up the money to buy it. Besides if I were to live at home like most of my other mates I’d likely be hanging out in my bedroom most days, out with my mates or working.

Anything is better than a bedroom at your parents house, so I thought. My parents were great to me and I wanted to start my road to financial freedom early and that’s the only reason I left to venture out on my own at such a young age.

I did the math early and checked home prices and it worked for me especially since I would be owing the home on one income. Like the guy in this video I made good use of every inch of the property I owned because it was necessary.

You would find things hiding in every spot in the house but I am meticulous when it comes to keeping an organized space and I don’t keep much around either.

I’m not one for collecting lots of stuff rather I’m the in with the new and out with the old type of guy or I simply just don’t spend money on things I don’t need.

The only things I’ve ever collected was a few cookbooks and carvings from my travels around the world but nothing over the top.


Collectors need not apply


If you are a person who likes to collect things living in a small space even a 420 sq foot micro-apartment might not only be a struggle for you but you’d literally hate being cooped up in the space.

I’ll admit looking back at my first flat (or condo or apartment whichever you choose to call it) that it was small but I made the most of the space with what I was given to play with just as the guy in this video has done with the design of this apartment.

When I bought my house just a few years later it wasn’t much bigger although it had a second level with 2 bedrooms and a full bathroom.

The lower level had a large lounge, kitchen and small eating area, back gardens and that was it. My house was more like a small apartment with an upper level with sleeping quarters.

Not too much to write home about but again I made use of the space.


Our home


Even now our home is just right for the two of us but there are many spaces of the home we simply don’t use because it’s too big of a space for us. The intention was to buy just a bit more than we needed so we could start a family and didn’t have to move again.

Living on the main level is just about all we really need because that is where we spend most of our time and to be honest seems like we do live in an apartment.

I think many of us over-think the home buying process and we buy much more than we actually need thus spending more and potentially a bigger mortgage.

Our goal was to buy a space that was reasonable in size and price that we were comfortable with in hopes of paying off our mortgage early and paving the way towards early retirement and living a debt free lifestyle. Not everything in life has to be big and beautiful to be fancy all you need is to be happy with what you have accomplished and the rest will come.

So to answer the question whether I could live in a 420sq ft micro-apartment the answer is, if I had to then yes. Having a roof over my head is better than having no roof at all.

I think we do what we have to to adapt to a living space and unless you have some fear about small spaces or for health or mobility reasons I believe that anyone can adapt if their options are limited.

What about you?

Could you move from living in a larger space to living in a small space like the 420sq ft micro-apartment?


Canadian Budget Binder this week


If you missed any of my posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


CBB at home and the blog


Life has been pretty quiet the past week but with the cold and the snow it’s kept it adventurous none the less. I’ve lived through only 6 winters now in Canada and to be honest this one tops the list of worst winters.

We’ve had a bit of a crazy week in our house and in time I’ll get around to updating you all about how 2014 has been going for us. I’m hoping to make some transformations in 2014 and I can safely say that this year will certainly be a year to remember.


Fan deals and inspirations


Submit your Brag or Inspiration If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] or fill out my contact form by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post.

This week CBB fan Angela M. shares the deals she found while grocery shopping for her family.


fan-deal-of-the-weekHi Mr.CBB,

Our best deal last week came from No Frills.

We only purchased a couple of their flyer specials that appealed to us the most.

Blueberries were on for $1 each, which is phenomenal at this time of year (I’ve seen it priced from $2.97 on sale to reg $4.99 recently).

No name whole wheat flour 2 kg was on sale for $1 as well and it’s usually $2.97-$5 depending on the week.

I can say I’ve never paid that little for flour, not even on clearance.

We purchased 1 of the flour since we already have one unopened on our stock shelf.

We purchased 6 blueberries (one is missing from the photo as that got eaten up really quickly).

Total for 7 items: $7



 Making a difference



Hi, CBB readers.  My name is Arnel and I’m from the Philippines and run the blog called Money Soldiers.

Growing up, I always knew our family had little money. Thrift was instilled in me at a young age. In high school, I started saving money to fund my college education.  I wanted to attend the University of the Philippines.

Being smarter than most folks, I wanted to give myself an advantage in securing a high-paying job by graduating from the top university in my country.

But reality came around. If I wanted to be wealthy, I could not depend just on my salary. Money Soldiers was born because I needed another source of income other than my salary.

For the past 14 months since I started Money Soldiers, I was able to make more money from blogging than from working on my day job as a Civil Engineer.

The extra money I made I am now using to invest. In the near future, I am looking forward to discovering new ways of using money to make more money.

I hope to make a difference with Money Soldiers by inspiring people to take charge of their financial future and realize the immense power they have in their hands to reach financial independence.

I do not wish to change the world, that is the job of Spiderman. Changing one person’s life for the better is enough for me.

For that one person, if I can ignite a tiny spark in his heart and blow the ambers and nurture them into lasting flames of desire for financial literacy and discipline and help him fight for his financial independence, then I’d be happy and know that I have accomplished my goal with Money Soldiers.

Thanks Arnel for sharing your blog with us and your story!- Mr.CBB :)


What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me just what is a blog carnival so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans.

A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web. Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed.

If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.


Carnival glory


A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals…


Google 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.

  • Speaking out about the $600 a month grocery bill- I have no idea what this is about but it sounds interesting
  • Alberta work for 31 a week for family of four can I survive- I’m going to say… no.
  • Being friendly doesn’t cost a thing- Well said


That’s all for this weeks edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #56-Could I live in a 420sq ft Micro Apartment?

Have a great week and catch me here again next Saturday with more updates.



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Photo Credit: Sorapop/

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



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.




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.





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?




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?


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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The Saturday Weekend Review #42: Don’t cancel that cable subscription just yet


Would you pay per channel The Mass Debate Surrounding The TV


The run up to and the day of the Speech from the Throne was surrounded by the controversial subject of single channel subscription rather than getting multiple channels bundled together.

According to recent sources there is a growing trend towards free to air TV which is received through the more traditional aerial on the roof.

A large proportion of TV in the UK is broadcast by either traditional aerial reception called terrestrial TV or satellite via the main provider that is BSkyB. Cable does exist and is available to a large portion of homes but is not that popular.

There are 50+ free to watch channels in the UK with quite a number in HD through a digital set top box and if you get a Free Sat (Satellite) box there’s even more free television. TV channels already generate enough cash flow from advertisements so why pay again to watch them?

Both the free to watch boxes available in the UK cost money up front plus you pay a TV licence every 12 months but it’s still far cheaper for a far superior service than what the average Canadian receives.

One of the problems that Canadian TV seems to have is that a vast majority of the channels are bought in from the US, so in order to cover the cost of buying the channel you have to pay to watch. Unfortunately you end up paying to watch completely irrelevant advertisements.

Another growing trend is Netflix, where you can watch on demand programming and movies for $8 a month. Sure, you’ll still need to pay for a good internet service so how much are you saving unless you’re already subscribing to a fast service because you use the internet a lot. If Netflix isn’t your scene you can still watch TV programs streamed online from a multitude of sites.

Rogers Basic TV package costs $38.67 per month then you’ve got to add in the receiver boxes at $4.51 a month for the main tv in the living room then you have to pay for 3 extra outlets at $6.99 and then the government wants their share by charging you tax. You have to pay all this for roughly 50+ channels.

That’s pretty pricey for bare basic, run of the mill viewing pleasure considering the amount of money already generated by advertising on these channels. Some days I swear I’m just paying to watch adverts.

As for us, we tend to watch a very limited number of channels although we tend to negotiate with Rogers retention department every year for a deal I’m not sure how that would work in the future. For me it’s BBC Canada and a couple of the documentary channels like TVO, the News and the Weather. Mrs CBB likes one particular soap opera of which will rename nameless for now.

If Ottawa has its way and changes the rules of bundled TV channels I’m not sure I could justify spending $8 a month for one channel just as an example. I think there needs to be a bigger overhaul of the TV broadcast system.

There are worries that smaller niche channels may disappear, but if they broadcast relevant meaningful material they could be subsidized, possibly by the government.

It’s the constant reality TV that gets streamed in from other sources that irritates me. I don’t really want to pay to watch a bunch of people with less brains than a cheese sandwich fight it out on Jerry Springer. I can watch better fights by tuning into Canadian Hockey.

Going back to my first remark about the shift towards free to air TV. I’m currently looking into this too, although depending on where you live depends on what channels you can receive. It all has to do with broadcast antenna (transmission tower) range and signal strength.

I’ve also learned that you may need more than one aerial due to broadcasts in different directions. I would suggest contacting your local TV installation/repair business, as just throwing up an aerial and hoping for the best may prove to be a fruitless task.

I found this article from the Globe and Mail written 3 years ago on the exact same subject. This man obviously has a little more detailed information on what can and what can’t be achieved through swapping to free to air TV.

The one piece of information that caught my eye though was the signal compression on cable, which would explain why we have terrible quality sometimes considering we’re supposedly paying for High Definition.

What I can tell you is that if you’re seriously thinking of jumping on the free TV bandwagon, do your research first. Don’t cancel that cable subscription just yet. My best advice is be informed and choose what ever fits your budget and lifestyle the best.


Canadian Budget Binder this week


If you missed any Canadian Budget Binder posts this week you can catch up by clicking any of the links below. Something is always brewing at CBB so subscribe to the blog today and get my daily post sent to your inbox!

  • PF Weekly G


Making a difference


my personal finance journey

My name is Jacob, a 28 year old chemical engineering PhD student from Virginia that is currently studying Alzheimer’s disease drug development. On the side, I am also the owner, author, and creator of the personal finance blog,

I started this site back in January of 2010, and since then, have poured my heart and soul in to the site to produce a product I am proud of and I think adds value to the world.

On, my purpose is to offer actionable personal finance advice with the goal of achieving long-term success. I also do not hesitate to apply numerical financial analysis to cut through some of the hype and half-truths that surround personal finance and investing.

Specifically, I really enjoy making a difference in the lives of readers by helping them in the following areas: long term investing and asset allocation strategy analysis, deciding how to prioritize new funds as they come in to various spending requirement areas, and how to develop a lifestyle of frugality and live according to your life dreams and life values.

Since finances are involved in pretty much every aspect of society, imparting knowledge to others in the realm of personal finance can really improve people’s all-around qualify of life.

Along with providing content on personal finances, my blog also gives away 10% of the net income it generates each month, with 5% going to readers and 5% going to a charity selected by the reader giveaway winner.

To date, I have given away over $3,100.


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.


What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me just what is a blog carnival so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans. A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web.

Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed. If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.

A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals


Carnival glory





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.

  • Did we kill the mortgage loan by putting money on the loan?- It all depends on what you mean by kill…
  • Cake using vinegar- Now that’s interesting
  • What women want in a husband?- That sounds like a blog post I can handle
  • OSAP didn’t give me enough- Time to go to work
  • Is barn break a low gi food?- No idea what barn break is
  • Rent a goat Canada- Ya… I knew Canadians would rent goats

That’s all for this week’s edition of The Saturday Weekend Review #42. Join me next week same time, same place to see what trouble I can get myself into. Have a great week everyone.



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Growing A Garden In A Small Space

Tomatoes and Cucumber Harvest

This is the year that I am finally going to grow my own garden and you can too, even if you have a small space to work with! My kids are at the ages now where I can spend more time working outside which is a passion of mine. Unfortunately, my property is not quite ready for my garden, so most of my gardening will have to be based around containers and hanging baskets.

While thinking about what I’m going to grow, I also have to consider where I am going to grow them! Over the years, I have seen many innovative and creative ways that you can grow a flourishing garden without digging a hole in the ground. These ideas got me thinking about how they could be used to grow a garden in a small space.

I’ve lost count a long time ago how many times I’ve heard, ‘I don’t have the space for a garden’, or ‘I live in an apartment, I can’t grow a garden’. With the exception of individuals who have balconies that get absolutely no sunlight, this is not true! Adopting the ideas of going vertical, and hanging plants such as tomatoes and strawberries can turn that small space into a beautiful, abundant vegetable garden!

Vegetable Garden Ideas For Small Spaces
Shoe Organizer
Shoe Organizer

Picture via

One of my favourite trends that I have seen is using a shoe organizer to grow vegetables and herbs. I think this idea is brilliant, it gives you the ability to grow multiple varieties of plants and you can just hang it on a wall or a fence, or even a balcony! I have seen cloth hanging shoe organizers online in the $10.00 to $20.00 range, you could even find one at Goodwill if you are lucky. This vertical method is best used for growing herbs and plants such as lettuce and kale that can be confined to a smaller growing area.

I do recommend that if you are going to use this on a balcony that you place a container underneath to catch the drips when watering, your neighbours below would appreciate that. I am excited to do this, I already have the organizer and a good wall on my garden shed. I want to get a lot done on my property this summer so having this on the wall will keep it out-of-the-way leaving more room for my other ideas.

fixed pots gardening

Fixed Pots

If you have a small backyard with a fence or garden shed you can attach some pots/containers directly to the fence or shed. Using single containers you have the ability to use different pot sizes and can allow more spacing between plants, which means more plant options. Some bigger pots on the ground along the fence line could be planted with carrots, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers, etc. I am giving my wall space to the organizer but I do have a small area of patios stones in the backyard that will one day be made into a nice sitting area, for now it will serve as an area for multiple container plants.

Hanging Plants

Topsy Turvey Tomato Planter 2

Most people typically think of flowers when they think of a hanging basket, but there are multiple plants including tomatoes, peppers, beans, and strawberries, zucchini, and cucumbers, that can be grown this way. I have picked up a few of the ‘As seen on TV Topsy Turvy’  from the dollar store for $2.00 each. I have seen success with this product. I will let you all know what I think of it, I’m going to try it with tomatoes and zucchini this summer. I have a long porch and it will be lined with strawberry hanging baskets this year, I’m looking forward to those. You can purchase a hanging basket stand at your local garden centre which allows you to hang multiple pots if you have no place to hang them.

Garden Wall Bags

Wall Bags

I would like to shake hands with the person who originally thought of these! This is a great way to turn a small space into a vegetable haven. Among many plants tomatoes, peppers and strawberries can be grown in them. I’ve found a website for DIY Walls Bags which shows a quick, affordable, budget friendly way to make your own. When filling the bags with potting soil, it is very important that they are firmly packed full, the soil needs to settle firmly when watered through with no gaps, to ensure full root coverage.

Tips For Container Gardening
  • Make sure any container you use has a drainage hole and avoid recycled plastic containers (ex. margarine container) in the sun, as the plastic will deteriorate,
  • Choose a good quality potting mix, I would avoid the dollar store bags.
  • Never use garden soil or ‘dirt’. It will not drain properly and makes the containers extremely heavy
  • Fertilize often, plants need food!
  • Watering will be required more often than in a traditional garden, it’s better to give a plant more water once then a little water here and there. Most, but not all plants like to dry out slightly (not bone dry) in between waterings, you need to avoid over and underwatering but always watering thoroughly!

Climate will always be a factor in which plants you are able to grow, but do not feel restricted due to space and remember that realistically not all garden plants can be grown in small spaces. It’s important to use trial and error and over time you will know exactly what you can and can’t grow. Be creative, make efficient use of that small space, and enjoy watching your garden grow! Keep your eyes out here at Canadian Budget Binder this summer as I look forward to sharing the results of my garden with all of you!

Editors Note: Thanks Katrina for a very informative post about organic gardening in small spaces which a few CBB fans have asked me about. Katrina will be working alongside me this summer sharing her expertise and passion for nature, beauty, landscaping and gardening. If you missed her first post here at CBB about how she turned her passion and skills into making extra money give it a read. It’s a very inspirational story about a woman who sets out to follow her passion in life, gardening. If you have any topics you would like Katrina to blog about or questions for her simply email her at canadianbudgetbinder [at]  yahoo dot [ca]

Post Contribution By: Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production. Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences through blogging in hopes of helping others realize their gardening abilities.While being a single mom of two and working in a sales and marketing position, Katrina runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

Quote-Budget and Money

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Photo: Tomato Cucumber Harvest via 123RF

Winter Vehicle Maintenance… Costing You Less In The Long Run

Canadian Winter Roads

Canadian Winter Roads

There are many winter vehicle maintenance jobs you need to do to get your vehicle ready for the cold seasonal temperatures. Ignoring your winter auto care is only asking for trouble which leads to money and time lost. Take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you costing you less over time in repairs. Having a winter vehicle checklist will help get your car ready for winter and will ensure you are taking care of the fundamentals.

Here are some items on my winter vehicle checklist that I do to keep our vehicles in tip-top condition.

  • Oil Spraying

When  I came to Canada Mrs CBB already had a newer vehicle and she got it “Krowned” every year. We still have this vehicle, it’s just under 10 years old and it’s still in mint condition inside and out. Sure the mileage is low but very little ever goes wrong with it either. None of the wiring is corroded, there’s no rusted through doors or rocker panels, it starts first time every time, never failed an e-test and has never broke down.

I’ll be the first to admit that getting your vehicle oil sprayed isn’t going to solve all your vehicle issues, good general maintenance is still key. Like my father, I always buy the Haynes manual for the particular vehicle/s we own. It’s a great resource if you don’t know how to repair problems as it’s pretty much step -by -step.

Remember that salt on your shoes kills the interior of your car too. We get the car cleaned out (most places do a salt removal package) at the end of winter.

  • Winter Tires.

I swap over the All-Season Tires to Winter Tires myself as most places charge approximately $40 and if you can do it yourself like I can save the money. Winter Tires provide more grip at colder temperatures as they are made of a softer compound rubber. Check the tire pressures as the pressure will fall as the temperature falls. Remember if you’re swapping over your own tires that the tires are on the correct side of the vehicle.


Tip: Check the amount of tread left on the tires, built-in wear bar indicators will usually give you a good idea.

Winter Tire Wear Bar Indicators

Winter Tire Wear Bar Indicators

  • Wiper Blades and Wind-shield Washer Fluid.

Make sure the winter wipers are in good condition or swap out your summer blades for winter blades. Streaks across the wind-shield indicate the wiper blade is starting to fail. These streaks can interfere with your vision while driving.

Swap your washer fluid for a winter formula that won’t freeze. I usually buy a box of 4 jugs when it goes on special, it tends to be cheaper than single jugs and you know you’ll use it.

Tip: Always keep a jug of wind-shield washer fluid handy in your vehicle in the winter.

Winter Windshield Washer Fluid

Winter Windshield Washer Fluid

  • Oil Change.

If you’re going to do the oil change yourself make sure the viscosity is correct for the temperature range the vehicle will be subjected to. Personally I change my own engine oil and filter as I can get a $60+ oil change for $35. Check the manual that your vehicle comes with for further information.

Oil and Filter Vehicle

Oil and Filter Mobile 1 and Fram Filter

  • Fluid levels and condition.

You can check the coolant level and condition but you’ll need test strips or a refractometer to test it yourself . Most batteries these days are maintenance free so you can’t check the electrolyte in the cells. Personally I leave the battery on a long low amp charge to help reduce sulfation of the battery.

Battery Charging for Car

Charging Car Battery

Some auto repair shops will test your battery for you for free like Canadian Tire but beware, some electronic testers will fail a perfectly good battery. If in doubt get a second test on a carbon pile before running out to buy a new battery.

Check the power steering fluid level, brake fluid level, transmission level (for both standard and automatic) and the differential level if you have a rear wheel drive and transfer case if you have a more traditional 4×4.

  • Mild days and car washes.

It’s always worth taking the car to the self wash in the winter on mild days to wash off the salt build up. Be careful, don’t wash off the oil spraying you just got done! Just be careful, wet brakes tend to have less coefficient of friction, meaning they’re not going to brake as well as they would if they were dry.

  • Additives.

There’s a multitude of fuel and oil additives on the market, some of which are designed for the driver more than the car. Gasoline antifreeze seems to be a product bought by men that flies off the shelf, but I’d do a little research before adding anything. Gasoline is made with up to 10% ethanol (it’s stated right on the pump) which is alcohol and already has a much lower freeze point than water. Gasoline itself has a ridiculously low freeze point so why add it? If you do suffer from freezing gas lines on your car you’ve got other problems and it’s called water in your tank.

If you or your other half aren’t particularly handy most auto service centres run a winterization package that is likely worth every penny. Having a good winter vehicle is better than taking risks with your life and your pocket book. A little bit of maintenance goes a long way to preventing some vehicle issues and can cost you less in the long run.

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