Holiday gas price increase hits the wallet: PF Weekly grab a brew #68

grab-a-brew-gas-price-increaseDON’T WAIT TO FILL UP


With every holiday in Canada we see a gas price increase at the pumps but that’s only the beginning of what to expect.

Although the gas price increase seem to be a tradition here in Canada there are no real Easter traditions for myself but the Mrs. likes to spend time with the family around Good Friday and Easter.

This year is no exception and we have enjoyed a couple of days away and will eat lots of fish for our Good Friday meal today.


Gas price increase


While we have been off from work we noticed a sharp gas price increase, in fact where we are it shot up 10 cents per litre overnight. I was quite lucky because we had just filled up the day before the gas price increase which is fine for now but what about continuing on?

Apparently the gas price increase is supposed to be hitting the $1.47 per litre mark sometime soon and people will have no other choice than to pay it. The other option is to get rid of the vehicle and ride a bike, take the bus, walk or car pool.

This increase combined with the new electricity time of use increases happening as of May 1st 2014 people will have even more to pay out on bills.

Of course if you didn’t already know about the forthcoming electricity price increases, it will just put another downer on your weekend. Peak rate prices will rise to 13.5 cents per Kw/H with increases in the mid-peak and off-peak rates too.

Just when you thought that was enough there has also been requests from more than one residential gas company for gas prices increases. As Union Gas price increases could be as high as 28% and at Enbridge Gas as high as 40%.

That’s quite a bitter pill to swallow especially if you aren’t getting a raise at work. There are many places that do not regularly increase your wages in line with inflation.

I’m sure we will consciously cut down on certain habits around the house and how we utilize the car. Combining trips out so chores all get done on one day while out shopping will have to become more of a normal thing instead of multiple trips out.

I can see holiday gasoline prices just the start of an expensive year ahead.

How will you combat these price increases?


Top recipe


Fudgy Pie


If you don’t already know I have a second Facebook page online called The Free Recipe Depot where I share recipes from other Foodie Bloggers from around the world.

Once a week I pick one recipe that has been submitted as my Top Recipe of the week. Trust me when I say this is no easy task as some of these foodies can cook up a storm.

This week that recipe goes to a food blog called “Baking in a Tornado” for her Fudgy Pie recipe. I hope you enjoy it. Doesn’t it look delicious?


Weekly CBB posts


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


Weekly reads


Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read online over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.


Well, that’s a wrap for this PF Friday’s Grab a brew #68. Happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.





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How to build a rock garden with weed prevention



A few years ago I travelled to England and my first comment when we arrived at our destination was where is all of the grass? Not one single house on the street had a lawn, rather they had a rock garden.

I was informed that being in walking distance from the Irish Sea the drifting salt water made it difficult to have vegetation growing on their properties.

Instead everyone had rock gardens. It looked great!

Rock gardens


Rocks gardens can look nice in the beginning but that can change quickly especially if not prepared or maintained properly. It’s not too often that we see entire properties transformed into rock gardens in North America though many people do enjoy the style and natural touch they can add to their properties.

Unfortunately, there are too many rock gardens that have been neglected or not installed well that are now overgrown and full of weeds, in some cases you are barely able to see the rocks or stones.

Why would you consider building a rock garden?

If a rock garden is properly prepared and installed, it can be a relatively low-maintenance required addition to your landscape which is easy on the budget.

Rocks also pair well with water so if you are thinking of installing a pond or waterfall a surrounding rock garden may just be the finishing touch you are looking for.

A rock garden can also help to improve drainage in your yard. Depending on the slope of your property and if positioned correctly it may even create a natural riverbed.

Rock gardens are often used as a focal point because unlike plants, rocks don’t die and look great year round.

Rock garden preparation


Building a rock garden

The tools and materials you use to build your rock garden will contribute to the amount of regular maintenance your garden will require.

An edger can be used to dig a deep edge that separates the garden from your lawn. You won’t have to replace as many stones overtime as they will settle in the edge and can then be put back in. It also makes it easier to cut any surrounding grass while avoiding hitting any rocks or stones with your lawn mower blades.

While landscape fabric is marketed as a magical way to prevent weeds from growing in your garden it will not prevent all of them. Laying down the fabric before adding soil to your garden will certainly help but while weeds cannot grow up through the fabric they can still grow down into the fabric.

Seeds that make it into your garden whether they made it there by wind, rain, insects or birds can still push their roots right on through it. You will still see weeds but not nearly as many.

When preparing the ground choose a good quality, weed free soil. If you are going to try cut corners by buying cheap materials, buying cheap soil for a rock garden is not a corner you want to cut, especially if you are planning to cover the majority of the garden with stones or pebbles.

Pulling weeds out between rocks is not only painful for your fingers as you are not likely to get a shovel or trowel in without disturbing the natural look of your rock garden but also often it is hard to remove the roots of a weed that is buried in rocks.

The weed will continue to grow back with a bigger and stronger root that will be even harder to remove.  Further in this post I will share some homemade weed killer ideas that can be applied to any weeds that may pop up or prevent the seeds from germinating in the first place.

A garden rake (hard rake) can be used to level and smooth out the underlying soil.

A large pry bar or wrecking bar and a fulcrum (wood blocks to use as pivot points) can be very helpful when trying to move and place a boulder. Moving large boulders is not a one person job they can be extremely heavy and while it may add a nice focal point to your garden it’s not worth throwing out your back.

Once the soil is prepared, you then will want to get any plants in the ground before laying any stone or mulch in the garden.

Rock garden plants


rock garden plants hens and chickens

rock garden plants hens and chickens

What plants can I use in a rock garden?

Really you could plant whatever you would like though some plants will look better and require less work to maintain than others.

Perennials, succulents and ornamental grasses are the best to use in a rock garden as you only have to plant them once and do not have to remove any stone that you would have to if planting annuals every year.

Among many plants that would work well in a rock garden, junipers, rock cress, sedums and hens & chicks are just a few. Hens and Chicks will also easily grow on rocks as you can see in the picture from my driveway.

Try to use a variety of plants with different textures that will compliment the stones and rocks you have used to achieve the natural look.

Keep in mind when choosing plants that some may need dividing to avoid growing too large and taking over your rock garden.

Dividing these plants will not be as easy as ones that are planted in a traditional garden as the rocks can make this a challenge.

If you don’t mind moving the stones or rocks away so you can dig then by all means go ahead, but keep in mind it’s going to be more work for you.

Homemade weed killers


While pulling weeds by hand is an effective, natural approach to weed management it is not very enjoyable and can be painful for your fingers when working around rocks and stones.

Just because the use of herbicides is banned in many places it doesn’t mean there isn’t something out there that you can use to get rid of the pesky weeds that may pop up in your rock garden.

Depending on the design of your garden and the materials that you choose to use, mechanically removing the weeds with a hoe or a trowel will not be an easy way to make maintain a weed free rock garden.

Corn Meal


Sprinkling corn meal over your garden can used as a pre-emergent herbicide as it prevents the germination of all seeds. Not just the seeds from weeds too so make sure you are not spraying around any seeds that are planted in any of your gardens, including your vegetable garden.  Corn meal is often referred to as the birth control of seeds.

Boiling water


This is pretty self-explanatory. Take a kettle of boiling water and pour it on the weeds, being careful not to burn your feet.  The water will scald the leaves and the roots as the water is absorbed in the soil.

Vinegar and dish soap


I am sure most people on Pinterest and Facebook have seen the Homemade Weed Killer recipe that claims to work great to kill your pesky weeds.

  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 tbsp Dawn dish soap

Well I know firsthand that vinegar works well to kill weeds by clogging the leaves’ pores and preventing the process of photosynthesis to occur, eventually killing it.

While the dish soap is used to help the vinegar stick to the plant instead of it running off into the soil, I wouldn’t recommend adding salt. Salt is toxic to our plants, trees and soil and this mixture can really work without it.

Also, this homemade weed killer requires the weed to be leafed out, meaning it will not kill any weeds after you have pulled them out and the root stayed in the ground or if you have just cut the grass.

The leaves need to be present so that it can be absorbed, the more surface area the better. Spraying them after you have just cut the grass or was unsuccessful pulling it out will only be a waste of your money.

With both the boiling water and vinegar/dish soap methods keep in mind that just because it didn’t kill the weed the first time you doused it doesn’t mean it isn’t working. I have seen many dandelions over the years, even very small ones which have had a 2 foot tap-root.

The roots are what you are aiming to kill with these methods and as some weeds will continue to grow back. A couple of applications may be required to get rid of these stubborn weeds.

Always make sure the leaves of the weeds are completely saturated. Both methods can be used on your lawn, driveway, walkways, paths and rock gardens.

A humid, sunny day with no wind is always the best time to spray any liquid herbicide, homemade or not. Pesticide drift may occur when it is windy and can damage surrounding plants.

Don’t defeat the purpose


While the general idea behind a rock garden is add a natural look to your property you can really design one however you please or have a professional do the landscape work for you. Weed prevention is a very important issue to address when planning your rock garden.

A rock garden overgrown with weeds isn’t the natural effect you were likely aiming to achieve. It is inevitable that there will always be weeds but by being one step ahead of them we can control how big of a problem we allow them to be.

Do you have any rock gardens on your property? What experiences can you share?




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How to keep the grass green on your side of the fence

Green Grass Property CanadaGO GREEN THIS SUMMER


A lawn full of beautiful green grass that is free of weeds is something that many people strive for, while others are just happy to see green, even if it is a combination of weeds and grass.

To the left is a backyard photo of a lawn that I’ve maintained with my business for the past 5 years.

As you can see in my photo above the grass is green and lush and well-maintained. Now that you’ve started your spring garden in containers it’s time to think about your lawn.

I follow all the tips I will be sharing with you today and throughout the next few months so make sure you are subscribed here so you don’t miss any of my upcoming landscaping and gardening posts.

Spring clean-up has begun and whether you are ready for it you should prepare for some hard work with beautiful results. I’ll be sure and try to help you save some of your hard-earned money this season rather than waste it on playing guessing games around your property.

To maintain a healthy green lawn maintenance needs to begin as soon as the snow has melted and the ground isn’t too soft that you can walk on it without leaving ruts in your lawn.

A healthy lawn with regular maintenance will end up saving you money in the long run. Proper installation of your grass and maintenance will help to avoid having to deal with the expenses of repairing neglected weed infested lawns or damage caused by pest and disease.

Having a nice lawn also boosts your curb appeal if selling your house is in your near future start taking care of your lawn now!  Many homebuyers get their first impression of the house from the outside, the first thing they see when they drive up to your house.


Types of grass


What grass should I plant?

If you are installing a new lawn, whether it is a new property or you have decided to remove the existing lawn choosing the proper seed for your location and climate is key.

If you live in a climate that experiences cold winters and mild summers, cool season grasses including Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescues or Perennial Ryegrass will be a better suit for you.

Warm season grasses such as Bermuda grass or St Augustine grass will do better in warmer climates with warm summers and mild winters. There are also varieties that do better in sun and others that do better in shade.


Seed or Sod


While laying down rolls of sod gives you an instant green lawn it is a lot more expensive than spreading grass seed over your yard.

A roll of sod 2’x5’ can cost $2.50 or more per roll while a bag of grass seed can be purchased for under $10.00 a bag or even cheaper if you watch flyer sales in the spring and summer.

When purchasing grass seed keep in mind where you will be seeding and how much sun the area gets. I would recommend taking a look at the various types of grass suitable for your property online and doing some research before heading out to the store to make your purchase.

A seed mixture is often your best option as you can reap the benefits of various varieties to give your lawn a good start.




In the spring it helps to spread some grass seed on an existing lawn not only in areas that appear to thin or have little to no grass at all but also a light seeding across the entire lawn. By doing this your grass will do some maintenance of its own as a thick lawn will crowd out more weeds than a thin, bare looking lawn.

Grass seed can be put down with fertilizer, preferably a starter fertilizer to encourage growth once the seeds have germinated. Avoid using a ‘weed and feed’ product for at least a month after seeding as the ‘weed’ will kill the grass seed.

What is thatch?

Thatch is a tightly woven layer of organic matter that builds up between the green vegetation and the soil surface of your lawn. It contains dead and living shoots, stems and roots that build up faster than they can be decomposed.

Grass clippings of a frequently mowed lawn usually don’t contribute to thatch as they are broken down quick enough to not cause a problem.

A thin layer of thatch, approximately ½ an inch can actually be beneficial helping to protect the grass from extreme fluctuations in temperature and soil moisture. Too much thatch though can hinder the growth of a strong, healthy root system.




Again once the ground has dried up, using a good fan rake can do the job of removing the thatch in the grass of an average sized property.

If you have a larger property there are also lawn mower attachments that may be used to help with the de-thatching process. If you are unable to get access to a de-thatcher and have more than an inch of thatch it may be worthwhile to have a landscape company come in once to do it then you can work towards minimizing the amount thatch that builds up.




Compaction can be minimized by limiting the amount of foot traffic and/or machinery your lawn is exposed to while it is wet. When soil is compacted water and nutrients struggle to get to the roots as there are few or no air pockets in the soil in which they can freely move.

Water runoff from a big rainfall can also be minimized if you have a well maintained non-compacted lawn as the water will be able to drain into the ground faster.  A compacted lawn will only have the excess water sitting on the surface as it will be unable to absorb it and the chances of that water flooding your basement will be greater.




If you are trying to repair a lawn that has become compacted, aerating will be an important step. Aerating your lawn is the process of using a machine to make several holes in your lawn by digging out soil from the ground. Aerating will improve drainage as well as making air and nutrients more accessible to the roots.

If you are lucky you may have someone come door to door in the spring and summer who will aerate your lawn for cheap. Go ahead and pay for this service if it’s something you need to get done unless you plan to aerate on your own.




Proper timing of fertilizer applications will ensure that your lawn is getting the proper nutrition it needs to maintain a healthy lawn. The length of your growing season will determine how many times you may be able to apply lawn fertilizer.

One application in the spring and one in the fall may be enough but you may even be able to put down 3-4 applications if needed but spaced out enough not to overfeed and burn your grass.

A fall application of fertilizer is essential for newly installed lawns to promote strong growth of the roots giving your grass a better chance of surviving its first winter.

Over-fertilizing may not only burn the grass but it will encourage too much growth too fast and can increase the amount of thatch that will settle in your grass.

Only apply fertilizer while grass is actively growing likewise with any plant. If you are applying fertilizer when the grass cannot use it you are essentially wasting fertilizer and your money.

Definitely do not fertilize if your grass has gone dormant because again it is just a waste of money. Fertilizing after a good rainfall is ideal but avoid fertilizing before it rains as it will just be washed away.

I have seen some good reviews regarding the use of granulated sugar as an organic fertilizer. I have yet to try this myself as the fear of attracting even more ants than the abundant amount of ants that already have set up camp on my property is a concern.

If you do not have an ant problem you may consider researching this option. Spreading sugar as fertilizer would eliminate some of the chemicals that are leached into the earth and groundwater but if you have ants knocking at your door don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Cutting grass


Don’t be the neighbour that everyone wants to rent a goat for because you never cut your grass. Take pride in your property and show it off so others on your street follow suit. Keeping the properties pristine in your neighbour is certainly good for home value.

Just like cutting our hair regularly frequent cutting of your grass will help to encourage your grass to grow. While the grass at the local golf club looks great it is often cut shorter than how short a typical lawn should be cut.

Cutting your grass too short will increase the amount of water required and if cut too short may even kill your grass. Even though I am tempted at times to give my lawn a nice short cut I resist the urge and 3 ½ inches in the absolute shortest I will cut my grass. Always using sharp mowing blades will also help to prevent any damage that may leave your lawn susceptible to pests and disease.

If you are cutting often then mulching the grass clippings rather than bagging them will add some nutrients to the soil. If the clippings are short enough you won’t see them in the lawn and they can break down quick enough to not cause you problems.




Watering your grass only when it needs water is the best way to avoid over-watering. If you have had a significant rainfall you may not have to water your grass at all.

If you have had little rain or have installed a new lawn the best time to water is before dawn or early in the morning. Avoid watering at night because the grass will stay wet longer with the addition of the morning dew and may cause fungus or mold to grow. If you water mid- day or in the afternoon you risk losing a lot of the water to evaporation.

About 1 inch of water is the recommended amount that your lawn should receive each time it is watered. Frequent watering of less than an inch will cause shallow roots and grass that isn’t as strong enough to fight off pests and disease.

If you are not sure if you are watering thoroughly enough place an empty tuna can in the area you are watering. When the can is full it is time to move the sprinkler to another area.

Be sure to look into your municipal laws regarding watering as many have a schedule based on your house number as to what days you are allowed to water your grass.

Odd house numbers being allowed to water on odd days of the calendar and even house numbers on even calendar days is a common schedule many have in place.

The time of day when you are allowed to water may be restricted as well. If you are caught watering on an off day for your house you may be slapped with a fine so it is best to follow the schedule to avoid unnecessary fines coming out of your budget.

If you have clay or compacted soil and are not restricted to how often you can water your grass you may find that your lawn may not be able to absorb an inch of water all at once.

If this is the case you may want to limit watering your grass to 1/3 inch a day but do it 3 consecutive days in a row otherwise you will have a lot water runoff which is literally watching your money go down the drain.

Having your lawn aerated as mentioned above will help to eliminate this problem for you.

Doing your research and making the proper choices for your climate and growing season will set you up for having better luck maintaining a healthy lawn.

Your luscious green grass may even have your neighbours asking what your secrets are. If you aren’t able to start your lawn maintenance right from the get-go of spring arriving I will share some ideas how to repair your lawn later in the summer and fall in some upcoming blog posts.

If you are interested in my services certainly send me an email to Mr.CBB if you live in Ontario and I’d be happy to come out to your property to share with you what landscaping needs I can offer you.

Is a green lawn important to you?

Do you have any lawn care tips you would like to share?




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Do full-price items make it into your grocery cart? : The Grocery Game Challenge #3 Mar 17-23, 2014

full price grocery shoppingYOU ACCEPT PRICES OR YOU DON’T


Grocery shopping for full-price items makes us cringe but the reality is in some cases you either accept the price or you don’t buy it.

At the end of the day it’s either you can afford it or you can’t. If you can’t you don’t buy it and find a cheaper alternative or knock it on the head altogether, if you can.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

Sometimes when I see people staring at a product in their hand I wonder what they are thinking to themselves.

Let’s face it we all talk to ourselves when we grocery shop, admit it.

Is this good for me? What are the ingredients? How many calories? What does it cost? Or should I buy it or not?

I often think questioning purchase price is the burning question in shoppers minds when they are holding products with a confused look on their faces. Who knows?

Many times we convince ourselves that we will find it cheaper even if we have rumbled through the sale flyers for the week.

We know that it might mean going from shop to shop looking for an item on sale. One product that we go through lots is cheese and without coupons it’s hit or miss with the cheese sales.

Mind you they do come out often but when they do it’s time to stock up otherwise face paying outrageous prices for a 500g bar of cheese.

Who pays $8.99 for a block of cheese that goes on sale for $4.77? The customers that don’t stockpile or simply are out of the product and need it for whatever reason, that’s who.


Full-price shopping


An example of full-price shopping we did would be a bottle of Tylenol we bought once. We needed to get Tylenol and the prices were astronomical. It was one of those times you wished you had a coupon for medications.

Funny enough we used to always have loads of coupons for pain killers but since we can’t order from SC Johnson any longer we haven’t really went online to look.

We are not big fans of printable coupons as we tend to get hassled more often than we use them. So we just forget about them.

If and when more retailers find a way to combat those people who are cheating the system with printable coupons we may change our minds.

We also don’t like those fancy install coupon printers for our computer for every bloody company out there. There has to be an easier way, plus ink costs money.

Who is saving the money now, you or the manufacture when they don’t have to pay to print thousands up thousands of coupons?

Anyhow, back to the Tylenol.  We needed it no matter what so whether we paid full-price or found it on sale it would make its way into our shopping cart.

Unless you want to waste time looking for a cheaper price you may have to do like us and pay full-price for the product or you do without. The problem is there are products out there that we can’t do without and many of them never go on sale meaning we pay full-price for them.

I know there are times when we pay full-price for an item like the Tylenol and a month later or even a week later a coupon comes out but there’s nothing you can do but grin and bear it.

Coupons are great for reducing your grocery budget as is using flyers to make a grocery list but when it comes to specific items having to pay full-price is the only way if you want the item. Another example we talked about last week were people who grocery shop in a rush and pay full-price for items.

Those grocery shoppers get what they shop for and nothing more. They are the grocery shoppers that these places rely on with full-price costing to balance out those getting the sales or the lost leader products that they sell just to get you through the door.


Suppliers have a say


Even now suppliers are fighting back saying they don’t want the grocery stores advertising their products as loss leaders just to grab customers.

Putting a strict product price on items may be in the future for some items and I certainly can see a war happening either between the grocery stores and the manufacturers or between grocery stores in general.

Either way they are fighting for top spot and for the customer’s attention. They know that if they put the right items on sale that you will shop with them which means all those full-price (I call them over-priced) items you will buy because you are already there.

Let’s face it, many families don’t have time to run from shop to shop looking for deals. Sure you can price match but only at select stores.

Our favourite grocery stores aren’t always the stores we like to price match in. To be honest we don’t really find Wal-mart to be any cheaper than other shops with various products so it’s all hit or miss. Whether you decide to pay full-price for an item or just wait it out is up to you.

If you have company coming over for dinner tonight last-minute and need to run out to pick up some groceries will you be fussy about whether you are paying full-price for snack items and other grocery items? Most often people just put the items in their cart, get in and get out.

They have the planning head going on and making sure that their guests are comfortable and have all the food and drink they need is priority. Mind you, if you plan a dinner party this could be much different.

The point of this post is there are times when we have to either pay full-price for products or we simply do without or go hunting around for the best current price for that week.

You never know what stores don’t advertise in the flyers but you also don’t want to waste your time and gas running around on hope.

Do you pay full-price for items sometimes? Why?


March grocery game challenge posts


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


Grocery saving tips


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

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

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

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

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


Ultimate grocery shopping guide


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

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

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


Food food and more food



No Frills

  • Strawberries 1lb x 2 Sale $1.44 each
  • Bananas Sale $0.57 lb. x 2 lbs
  • Cantelope Sale $1.47
  • Vlassic pickles Sale $1.88 x2
  • Cucumber PM Freshco $0.69

Total out-of-pocket $9.94

Food Basics

  • Scotties tissue Sale $3.88
  • Cheese bars Old x 3 Mozzarella x3 Sale $4.44

Total out-of-pocket $30.52

Shoppers Drug Mart

  • 3 x Sealtest Milk 4L $3.97 each
  • 1 x dozen white eggs sale $1.99

Total out-of-pocket $ 13.90


Grocery shop results


Yearly grocery budget for two: $2820

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

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with potentially one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Budget for March $235.00
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $0
  • Total Coupons Used to date: $24.50
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Discounts Used to date: $5.54
  • Total Gift Cards Used to date: $33.18
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used to date: $0
  • Stockpile Budget ($20.00): $17.94 (chickpeas dry) + $2.06 (beef) =$20.00
  • Stockpile Budget Used to Date: $20.00+$19.08+$17.94+ $2.06+
  • Total Spent This Week: $54.36
  • Total Spent So Far March: $27.69+ $69.33+$54.36=$151.38
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: $
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $235.00-$151.38=$83.62
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $0
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: (does not include stockpile budget) Jan $242.66+ Feb $191.74+ March $
  • Weekly Overview: We didn’t need too much this week as we are still working our way down the freezer. We might look into investing in 2 medium-sized freezers to get rid of the large one we have now before we renovate. The reason is that it is so large that we would never get it up the basement stairs after renovations. It’s best to have smaller ones that we can manoeuver up and down without taking out walls.


Coupon Sleuth


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

GGC coupons March 2014


Frequently Asked Questions



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


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


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


  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?


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


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


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



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


  • What is an FPC?


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



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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada 2014!





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Is the humane society the only place to adopt a pet?

adopt a pet human societyTAKE ME HOME PLEASE


Not everyone thinks about the various places you can adopt a pet including the most obvious, the humane society.

Having a family pet is something that is common in many homes around the world.

Having a family pet can add some stress to our budgets as well as having enough time to care for them.

Making smart decisions when purchasing a pet can go a long way in saving you some of your hard earned money.

A Man’s Best Friend, Not Always a Budget’s Best Friend

While many people consider their pet to be a part of the family many do not think about how much money owning a pet may cost them in the long run.

Mr. CBB shared in a previous post the many costs associated with owning a pet.

If you have even the slightest concern that you may not be able to afford all the costs associated with owning a pet or the time required to care for your pet, don’t own one.

You may want to strongly consider not having a pet until you can make sure all of their needs will be met.

Where you purchase your pet, Humane Society, online or even a pet store can certainly have an effect on how much money you spend. This may also help avoid some unnecessary trips to the vet.

While I mainly refer to dogs and cats in this post, many of these points are also valid for purchasing any pet whether it’s a bird, iguana or a guinea pig.


Buying pets from pet stores


Mommy, daddy can we have a pet please? Please!

How many times have you walked past a pet store with your kids to hear one of them say this?

All of those cute, adorable puppies staring at us through the window as we walk through the mall are put in those windows for that reason. The shop owner is hoping the cuteness factor will draw people in to buy one of those cute puppies or kittens.

Remember that when purchasing a pet it’s for life just not for the day, week or the season.

Unfortunately many of these animals are purchased from puppy mills and sources that do not have any regulations.

You may also find that a lack any kind of inspection of the environment in which these animals are raised is also not regulated.

It can be very hard to back-track to find where your pet came from originally to really have a good idea of what kind of living conditions your new dog or cat was exposed to.

There is what can be compared to a black market for pets, people and ‘businesses’ out there looking to make a buck any way whether it is humane or not.

Buying your new dog regardless of how cute it is from a pet store creates a demand for these animals that may have health problems.

You may unaware of these problems when you leave the pet store because you really don’t know where and how they were brought into this world.


Buying pets online


In this day and age there are many people posting ads on sites like Kijiji and Craigslist with their main focus being to make a few extra bucks.

Unfortunately honesty often gets overlooked by some people when posting these for sale ads. I am not saying there is a lack of honest people in the online world but you need to be weary and ask the seller lots of questions.

How do you know what they are telling you is true?

I have heard of a few cases over the years where the new owners were given documentation stating the animal has had its first shots when in fact they haven’t. Then the pet owner is surprised at how quickly they find themselves with a sick animal requiring a trip to the vet.

You may end up with a large vet bill to pay to treat a condition that may have been avoided if you were given the initial correct information that your pet did not in fact receive their shots.

If a seller offers to bring the animal to you rather than allowing you to see the environment in which it is coming from, be weary. I wouldn’t go ahead with the purchase because you just never know.


Buying pets from breeders


Buying from a breeder can be as misleading as buying a pet online.

Even though many breeders advertise that their animals have had all their shots unfortunately there are no regulations for even licensed breeders.

Having no regulations makes breeding animals an easy money making opportunity for some and often under the table money.

Often this is accompanied with inhumane living conditions and abuse to occur while they are advertising to sell you a new puppy to have as your family pet.

Again, if the breeder offers to bring the animal to you, say no!


Why buy when you can adopt a pet?


The over-breeding, unregulated breeding and unprepared pet owners have contributed to the over population of unwanted or uncared for animals. These animals are ending up at our local humane society or animal shelters.

While many of these animals may have been originally obtained through the means mentioned previously in this post you can be sure you are getting a lot more honest information about your pet.

Keep in mind you are also not contributing to the demand for unethical, inhumane breeding of animals.

Adopting an animal from the humane society is also significantly cheaper than going to a pet store or buying online.

The following list below is taken from my local humane society. While your local prices may be slightly different, respectively they will be comparable.


Humane Society pet adoption costs


Below are some  actual costs of adopting a cat or dog from the humane society in my Ontario city.


Cats & Kittens $180.00
Dogs & Puppies $300.00
Vet Services Included in Adoption Fees Cat Dog
Veterinary Health Exam $75 $75
Spay/Neuter $250 $300
First Vaccines $85 $85
Deworming $20 $20
Microchipped $55 $55
45 Days Free Pet Insurance $45 $45
Total Value of Vet Services Included in Adoption Fees $530  $580
Savings By Adopting at the Humane Society $350 $280


If you are looking for a particular breed consider calling around to multiple humane societies or animal shelters. There is a good chance you may find what you are looking for.

The costs of caring for these animals at the Humane Society is funded by donations. Whether its donations of pet food or blankets to make beds for them to sleep on all donations are appreciated.

If you have recently lost a pet or have extra blankets, toys or food around consider making a donation to your local humane society.


Farley Foundation


Do you know about the Farley Foundation?

I didn’t until I did some research to write this.

While life doesn’t always go as planned, our pets get sick or injured at times and require veterinary care. These costs can add up quickly and if you are already struggling to make ends meet where do you get some help to take care of your family pet?

There are some eligibility requirements that need to be met but if you are an Ontario resident and are a recipient of Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Payments, or a senior citizen.

You may qualify for up to $1000 per year of funding towards veterinary bills if you fall into one of those categories.

The Veterinary clinic does the application for you as long as they are a member of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, which is not a mandatory requirement in Ontario.

If your pets requires care it may be worth your while to look into this program if you think you may eligible for funding.

Many dogs, cats and other animals may never have the chance to make it into a loving home. Making smart choices when you purchase your new pet can avoid supporting the overpopulation of sick, abused and uncared for animals in our humane societies and animal shelters.

These animals will most often sadly be euthanized if no one adopts them as well as saving you some unnecessary expenses.

In the famous words of Bob Barker, “Help control the pet population and remember to get your dog spayed or neutered”.

Do you have any experiences or advice to share when buying a family pet?




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Photo Credit: Stuart Miles/