Can you afford to take a full day off from work?

the day off taking medicinePAYING THE BILLS TAKES MONEY


In order to take a full day off from work for most people that means an entire day’s loss of income.

That can be tough for any budget but there are times when it must be done.

Unless your employer has provided you with stellar benefits or a contract that states your days off are paid sick days you might be shaking your head, no you can’t afford to take a full day off.

You may say, yes you can afford to take a full day off because you have money saved up in the event that you need to take a day off and it won’t affect your budget too much. That’s great.

Some employees are lucky they can carry over their sick days, bank them or get paid out for them but you must read the provisions of your contract with your employer to know what is covered.

If you are not sure contact your human resources department or your benefits company for a more in-depth explanation. It’s better to know rather than to guess.


Full day off


Not everyone can afford to take a full day off from work especially if they are single income earners. It might not be as crushing to lose a full day’s pay if you have two income earners in the house but when you are the only person bringing home the bacon it’s tough to pick up that phone and dial the numbers to say, I can’t make it in today.

Personally I have never called in sick or taken a full day off from work that wasn’t a vacation day or my employer told me to take a day off.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I could make that call unless I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be able to work that day. Some people are born workaholics and although I’m only a partial workaholic (does that exist lol) I’ve just never had the need to take a full day off that wasn’t a vacation day, lucky maybe.

There are many other acceptable reasons why someone would call in to take the full day off such as a death in the family, no babysitter, illness, injury or an urgent matter that needs dealing with.

Many people cringe when other employees come to work sick but when you have mouths to feed they may not have the options that others do. Then again some employees cringe when their co-workers take the fullday off and they are stuck to pick up the work load. You can never win.

Of course there are some employees who are allergic to coming in to work every other Friday but if they get that doctor’s note there’s not much you can do until after the 10 days of unpaid leave are used up.

We can’t judge someone because we don’t know what happens when they leave work and it’s really none of our business. If the illness is one that spreads and is contagious then it becomes a health matter that needs to be dealt with promptly.

The common cold although it can spread many people still rise and shine and make their way into work because staying home won’t pay the bills.

How many times have you went to work sick or blowing your nose but didn’t want to call in because you knew that if you took the full day off it wouldn’t make a lick of difference?

A friend of ours had posted on Facebook how ill she was and of course the comments came pouring in. It’s the winter season and so many of us are prone to getting ill at some point unless you are super lucky.

What to do on your day off?

Well, her friends had some great ideas for her but nothing she could accept.

“Take the full day off, put your feet up and rest”, said one friend. “Make sure you drink lots of fluids and take care of yourself”, “Don’t go in to work, stay home”, said many of the comments.

Sure she was basking in the thought of staying home and taking the day off but there was no way she could because she is a single mother and she is already in debt up to her eyeballs.

Losing a full day of income might mean she can’t pay a bill that month or would have to cut back on groceries.

Debt is nothing to be proud of but for some people the credit card is their life saver and for a variety of reasons. Although I would never suggest using a credit card to get by on a daily basis that is reality for many people because they simply have nowhere to turn to.

They get locked into that debt system and for many they never get out and for others it takes them years upon years to break free.

Try not to look back at how much you actually paid out-of-pocket for that time in your life when it was rough but for those trying to get by, that might not cross their minds too often.

Putting food on the table and a roof over their heads is the priority while keeping the bills paid. That life must be tough so telling someone to take the full day off or getting upset with someone because they don’t take the full day off for one reason or another is not right. We don’t know what they are going through.

I know if someone were to come in sick to work at my employer and asked if there was a role they could do that was away from other employees for the day they would certainly accommodate them although not all employers can or have to do this.

We have a great team where I am so we work together when one of us has to take the full day off for one reason or another. Questioning them is none of our business. Our business is making sure we do what we are paid to do and that’s to work.

Getting nasty with your co-workers doesn’t solve problems either. Just because you can afford to stay home doesn’t mean everyone can and should follow the way you can live your life.

Trust me if someone had a personal emergency and could afford to stay home, they would pick up the phone and make the call.


Personal emergency leave


In Ontario if you work for an employer who regularly employs more than 50 employees you have the right to 10 unpaid job-protected days off each year no matter when you start with an employer.

Although, there are some jobs that are not covered even though there are more than 50 employees rather they are covered under special rules. To see the full career list visit the link below.

The 10 days is what is called personal emergency leave under the Ontario Ministry of Labour which has provisions for the employer and employee.

The employer for one must not fire or threaten any employee for taking a personal emergency leave or plans to take one.

The employer is allowed to ask you for a doctor’s note if you do call in so be prepared to make that appointment if need be.

You may also have to think about paying for that doctor’s note about $10 from most doctors’ offices. Some works benefits may cover that doctor’s note as well so don’t be shy to ask.

If you work for an employer that is covered under a contract or collective agreement and the provisions are less than the Employment Standards Act you still get the 10 days of un-paid personal emergency leave days.

I’m sure before personal emergency leave came into effect many of you were scared to call in to take the ful day off too many times because you didn’t know how your employer would react.

Even today you don’t know what they can or will do if they don’t want you around even though you are protected. It’s become much easier though for people who are stuck such as the babysitter can’t make it and now you have no one to watch your kids.

That would count as a personal emergency where you could call in to take the full day off although maybe having a second back-up babysitter would be a cheaper option rather than losing a full days income.

My wife’s friend seemed a bit hesitant to respond to the call of taking the full day off and relaxing as you could tell in her response but she opened up and said, “I can’t afford to take the day off”.

No more responses came in after that because it was clear that no matter what anyone said unless she was getting wheeled off to the hospital she had to go in.

The hard part is she has been through so many rough times with her jobs and education that has gotten her nowhere. Like many who get a higher education they are forced to work minimum wage jobs because they struggle to find work in their career right away, if ever.

Even though minimum wage is slated to go up to $11 that is far from enough to keep someone afloat especially if they are a single parent with no child support.


Plan in advance


Are there ways to prepare so you can take the day off?

If I had an opportunity to sit with her I would love to go over her budget with her, if she has one at all. If not I’d certainly work with her if she allowed me to so we could see where all of her money goes to help her get back on track.

So my first tip is to have some form of a budget so you know exactly where all of your money is going.

I know for a fact that she smokes over a pack of cigarettes every day. We all know what smoking does to our health and finances but sometimes we just need a bit of motivation to quit. I know I’ve been smoke free for over 2 years and smoked for many years.

I also know that you can’t force or manipulate someone into quitting. Although once they do and they look back they will wonder what took them so long to do it.

The smoking habit costs and it costs smokers big time. That would be her personal choice but it would certainly free up money for her.

She eats out regularly and is a well-known customer at Tim Hortons where she doesn’t hesitate to scrape up enough change every day to buy a few coffees.

You can easily see where some of the money is draining without even really knowing much about her income and debt. If someone complains of being broke all of the time by simply by watching someone’s habits you will know where the money goes.

My second tip is to combat all the small expenses in your budget.

If you could find all those little expenses that you blow every day and find a cheaper alternative like making your own coffee and bringing a lunch you could use that money for a rainy day.

Just because you might have lots of debt or on a low-income doesn’t mean you still can’t have an emergency savings fund. Of course it’s possible.

The hard part for many is waiting to see the emergency money pot grow or they spend it because of some excuse or another which is not an emergency.

Paying down your debt and not incurring any more debt is another way to lessen the burden of wondering if you can afford to take day off from work.

Although living pay to pay is tough you don’t have to continue down that route if you just find some ways to cut back and put that money saved to work for you. The worst thing you could do is cut back and blow that extra money. You will never get ahead.

Think before you spend your hard-earned money. Think about all the reasons why you would rather have money in the bank that grows rather than eating out or buying stuff you don’t need.

Some people don’t have any options especially if they are a contractor and or run their own business inside or outside of the home.

Finding a work life balance might be tough especially if you are the only captain of your ship. If you don’t show up to work the job will not get done.

Most people on contract have no works benefits nor do they have vacation days so taking the day off is a tough call to make. We all have to make ends meet so deciding whether you can afford to take a full day off for whatever reason may be stressful.

The good news is that for many the 10 unpaid days are available so if you need to use them and your day off falls under the acceptable provisions you don’t have to worry about losing your job, just your income for the full day.

What are some ways you prepare for unpaid days off financially?


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Photo Credit: David Castillo Dominici/

How a small town family saves money on groceries

small town grocery bananasSMALL TOWN SAVINGS


Today we have a guest post from a small town fan of Canadian Budget Binder who wants to share her insights into grocery shopping on a budget when your options are limited.

If you are a fan or a personal finance blogger and would like to share a story please read my guest post guidelines and contact me.

My name is Christine and I live in a small town in Ontario and have followed Mr CBB for quite a while now on the blog and participating in posting my grocery shops with his Grocery Game Challenge since Sept 2012.


Our grocery budget


I shop for my family of 4 which includes my two adult children, my husband and I. We also can’t forget our family pet fat cat Stuart who eats up a part of our grocery budget as well.

Our grocery budget is $650 per month so I have to make that money stretch and living in a small town can make that challenging for me.

I have tried very hard to keep things within my budget, not always successfully. It’s been a learning experience to say the least.

If you have been hesitating about posting your grocery shops because you think that you can’t save on groceries, think again. If I can do it …you can too.


Small town shopping


If you are thinking that the people that post their shops have all these stores to go to to help them save money but you are in a small town and just don’t have access to all those stores…..keep reading.

One of the things I have had to deal with in trying to keep the grocery budget in line is the fact that I live in a small town, roughly 6000 people. We have all of two grocery stores to choose from.

One our our small town gems is a grocery store called Foodland which is part of the Sobey’s chain. Another of the small town grocery stores that we have is a Your Independent Grocer, part of the Loblaw’s chain.

Foodland is right across the street from me so I can walk over and get what I need a great part of my small town life. This cuts down on time and petrol another factor to think about when planning my grocery list.

The Your Independent Grocer is out at the east end of our small town and I need to drive there. My options are limited to these two stores unless I go out of town.

This is not always an option depending on the weather, my husbands health on any given day and a lack of flyers for the out of town stores.

Most of the time I shop at Foodland which is available in most small towns. It’s convenient and believe it or not…cheaper than the Your Independent Grocer store another small town grocery store.


Product pricing


The fact above underscores one of the biggest issues if you want to save money on your groceries. You need to know your prices.

It doesn’t matter how many stores you go to you still need to know the prices for all those regular items we are always buying.

Because there are only the two options for my groceries I don’t price match in town although I do shop the sales and I coupon.

I use a grocery list every time! If you know the regular prices on those items you buy on a regular basis then you can tell when you look at the flyers if it’s a good sale price or a really good price or even a Good Price!!

Lets look at these items one at a time. Knowing your prices… I plan my stock ups by how good the price is. Foodland has the regular flyer deals but they also have price cuts that last 4-5 weeks at a stretch.

I believe Food Basics is doing this now too. It tends to not be that great a sale but every penny helps. If the price cut is on what is considered a basic item for my family I will try to pick up one or two items on price cut every time I go.

By the end of the price cut time I have a nice amount of product stocked in my pantry that I didn’t have to pay full price for! I do much the same thing for the weekly sales but, usually, on a smaller scale.


Coupon clipping


I also coupon but not to the extent that some people do but I do use them. I get the inserts that show up in our weekend papers and sometimes even manage to get more than one copy of an insert.

Those are red letter days. I look in the store while I’m shopping for the tear pad coupons too. The best source of coupons is online in my opinion.

Sites like,, are great and they mail those coupons to you. They also have printable coupons. Other sources like Smartsource are printable.

There are also sites like Save Big Live Better, Mrs January and Coupon Christine that post deals and such you can take advantage of, and they post daily.

Lets not forget our own Mr CBB!

I always shop with a grocery list when I shop. There are lists online you can print off like Mr CBB’s Free Money Saving Tools.

I have my own way to list what I need to buy with prices listed right on my list and if I have a coupon to use for the product. Figure out what works best for you and then make sure you use that list.

Hopefully these ideas will help you save money on your groceries.

Posting on Mr CBB’s Grocery Game Challenge helps to see just what it is we are buying. Speaking for myself it does make me stop and think about what I am getting knowing that Mr CBB will see what I am purchasing.

Below is a sample shop from January that I posted in the Grocery Game. As you will see I came so close to making my grocery budget and without posting my shops I might not have been able to track my money so well.

Here we go!!! I made it into No Frills for a shop this week for a quick prowl around, but the rest was at Foodland.

Foodland, Jan 24

  • 2 tomato paste @.89- 1.78
  • 3 cans pasta sauce @1.25- 3.75
  • 3 cans tomato sauce @1.88-5.64
  • 1 bread crumbs- 1.99
  • 1 cider mix- 3.99
  • 1 jug water- 5.49
  • 2 eye of round roasts- 8.68+ 9.21, stockpile
  • Tax- .52
  • Total- $41.05, part was stockpile


No Frills, Jan 24

  • 1 yogurt- 5.97, 50% discount- 2.99
  • 1 box Bear Paws- 2.44
  • 3 bags frozen veggies @2.97- 8.91
  • 4 Hot Stuffs @1.00- 4.00
  • 2 4l milk @3.97- 7.94
  • 1 cranberry cocktail- 2.97
  • 1 large Royale TP- 7.97
  • 2 boxes 144 count Tetley tea bags @4.97- 9.94
  • 1 bagels- 1.97
  • 1 pork loin- 5.21
  • 2 packs X-lean ground beef- 9.48+9.92
  • bananas- .96
  • cole slaw- 1.27, 50% discount- .64
  • 3lbs carrots- 1.49
  • 2 Sensodyne toothpaste @3.97- 7.94
  • 2 Dove body wash @4.72- 9.44, $2.00 coupon
  • 1 Vasaline body lotion- 4.97, $2.50 coupon
  • Tax- 3.94
  • Total- $98.60, $4.50 coupons, $3.63 discounts


Foodland, Jan 30

  • 2 cans soup @ .79- 1.58
  • bananas- .30
  • 1 onions- 1.99
  • 2 boxes cereal @1.99- 3.98, reduced
  • 1 sweet and sour bbq sauce- 2.79
  • 1 doz eggs- 2.99
  • 1 apple juice- 3.29, 1.00 coupon
  • 1 cider mix- 3.99
  • Tax- .52
  • Total- $20.43, 1.00 coupon


  • Total budget for the month- $650.00
    Total coupons this week- $5.50
    Total discounts this week- $3.63
    Total spent this week- $151.99
    Total stockpile this week- $8.09, roast
    Total spent this month- $653.06+ $8.09 stockpile
    Total over/under for week- over $21.99
    Total over/under for month- over $3.06
    Left for month- $0.00
    Total coupons/discounts for month- $44.83
    Total carry over- $3.06
    Total YTD- $653.06, $25.00 stockpile

Final Thoughts on Grocery Shop:

So I finished the month over by a whole $3.06, on a 5 week month!!! So much better than last year!!! Last Jan. I was over by some $200.00!!!!

The roasts were a good deal as was the extra lean ground beef. The ground beef was broken up into a number of smaller meal size packs for the freezer.

The stockpile amount helped a lot. The coupons for NF were what I think as the cashier just rang it in as one big coupon for $4.50. The pork loin was a super good price!! $1.00 lb.

It was dollar days at No Frills. I won’t argue with those prices. I am pleased that this month went as well as it did. The first three weeks were low so that helped with the last two weeks when there was some stocking up done.

I have had to wrap my head around 4 and 5 week months as that was part of what messed with me last year. This time I was more aware. All in all a good start to the new year….


Grocery savings


We all have ways to save money on groceries and we all have to work with what is available to us, whether it is the amount we can afford to spend or the limitations we have in places to do the actual shopping.

Whats for dinner

Another way to save on your grocery bill is to join us every night for the What’s For Dinner post on Facebook at Canadian Budget Binder. The post runs from 5pm until 10pm 7 days a week.

We post what we are making for dinner that night and we share recipes and general chatter and have a lot of fun. All of us are generous with our recipe collections and if you need ideas on what to make your family we have ideas.

If you are wondering what is coming up on sale at your store, chances are someone can tell you as long as you ask.

If you bought something on sale and are wondering how to cook it, again just ask as we are a diverse group of fans on Canadian Budget Binder from an array of cultures.

We have recipes we can post for you and everyone else to try or you can check out the free recipes Mr.CBB posts from other food bloggers at The Free Recipe Depot on Facebook. Another great free source for recipes to help keep your budget in check.

Come join us in the Grocery Game Challenge!! We don’t judge but are there to help you any way we can. Even better, after you have your groceries, come join us on What’s For Dinner! Trust me…you won’t be sorry…….

I hope that if you live in a small town like I do you don’t let the small shops deter you from saving money in your grocery budget because it is possible, I’m proof of that. Planning is important so if you want to save the savings are there as long as you are willing to put in the effort.





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Will the Ontario minimum wage hike help? PF Friday Grab a brew #57

grab-a-brew-online-reviewIN ONE POCKET OUT THE OTHER


Surviving on minimum wage is not easy in fact when I moved to Canada the only jobs I could find were minimum wage jobs although that was still a struggle at times.

Living in the UK was equally as difficult because prices for petrol and food not to mention housing accommodations were astronomical compared to what we earned.

I was already used to living on a tight budget and working hard to make ends meet to stay ahead of the game but I guess I expected more moving to Canada but knew I would have to work my butt off no matter what challenge I was given.

No road is an easy road unless it’s all handed to you on a silver platter but even then those people still fall.

Unless you haven’t heard the Liberal government is giving a $0.75 boost to the minimum wage in Ontario raising it to $11.00 an hour. They say this is in line with inflation but is it really enough to get by on?


Finding a job


I struggled to find work even with my University Degree from the UK because it wasn’t fully recognized in Ontario.

The hardest part was travelling to a job interview in a suit and tie only to be told as soon as I walked in that I didn’t have enough Canadian experience.

Whatever that meant, “Canadian experience” please…you bet it peeved me off after all of the research and prep work I did. It was as if HR failed to read my resume until the last few minutes before I showed up for the job interview.

I will admit that fueled a fire inside of me when I heard a so-called hiring professional say that to me and so she challenged me to go on with her dirty words.

I had to either go back to University to upgrade the degree I had already completed, take a minimum wage job or start my career over again with something totally new.

I remember getting a phone call from one place stating that they would love to hire me with my UK leadership experience. The pay was minimum wage working on some production line.

I declined the role because I knew that I couldn’t raise a family on minimum wage. They called me back over and over until they offered me a Team Leader position which I also turned down.

I know that I shouldn’t have been picky because a job is a job but I didn’t want to settle and to be honest I was lucky that I had enough emergency savings in the bank that gave me the opportunity to have choices.

Not everyone can do this but I didn’t want to end up in a job where I didn’t have the opportunity to move up in an organization nor use the skills that I had worked so hard at all my years in University.

No graduate students with tonnes of OSAP debt wants to work in fast food restaurants or retail stores but what I’ve come to learn in Canada is that it is a reality.

Minimum wage for most people is better than having no job at all. I believe we get out what we put into our lives and if we really want something we have to go for it.

I know it’s easier said than done because we may all have commitments in our lives but sometimes we have to make choices to get ahead or we continue to walk the path that we are faced with.

It’s never easy. Life is not easy.

I know living on minimum wage for a friend of ours is awful. He drives one hour to work each way every day just to work for minimum wage and at the end of the week his gas and wear and tear on the car not to mention the time spent in his car wears him down.

His bills are not getting paid on time or he can only pay the minimum payment which keeps him in the credit loop for years on end paying boatloads of interest on meaningless items.

He just recently got approved for a quick loan to pay off his debts but the loan still remains as does the debt cycle for him.

Living pay to pay is reality for many people and whether the Liberal government thinks the raise to $11.00 for minimum wage will help depends on everyone’s personal situation.

The fact of the matter still stands that $11.00 is not much to live on and most people have to find second jobs just to get by or above that poverty level.

Even with the increase we may also have to face that everything else may increase or decrease such as goods and services and then the cycle continues.

If you have lots of debt, if you spend all of your money frivolously, if you live at home, if you are retired, if you are a student, if you have kids… if if if and if.

There are lots of ifs, and’s and buts but the reality is they can’t service our individual needs that’s up to us to conquer unfortunately and relying on the government to get us ahead is never going to pan out. Like some say though, at least they are trying.

In their own way they are telling us we are giving you a raise keeping in line with inflation, the rest is up to you to sort out. Fair? Nothing is fair in life. That much I’ve learned.

Even so if they gave minimum wage a bigger hike the businesses are already having to re-evaluate their budget and hope they can accommodate the wage increase.

I read in some comments on another post that if you are a business owner and can’t handle the increase with your business than maybe you shouldn’t be in business.

I don’t know how I feel about that but at the same time with the hike the entire chain will feel the crunch.

So although we may be getting a minimum wage increase over time we will see price hikes if need be to compensate and eventually that raise becomes null and void because you’re paying more for food or rent or whatever to compensate.


My decision


In the end, I decided to go back to school, rent, and start my career over again in hopes of making my way up the ladder doing something I loved.

I can say that I did give up years of going out and buying fancy clothes and eating dinners with friends for my education. I didn’t get any OSAP loans for school rather I used my savings to pay for my education.

Don’t get me wrong I still enjoyed those years but I didn’t go hog-wild spending money. I spent less than I earned which was $0 because I was in school and I struggled to find even a part-time job because I wanted to focus on getting the highest grades.

That is when I started to coupon which ended up saving us hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the course of a couple of years.

I also participated in focus groups for cash money and helped out friends for cash doing odd jobs. I did whatever I could to stay ahead.

We lived off of my wife’s income and I went on to graduate top of my class and was hired in a full-time capacity before I graduated from a head hunter who came to the school and met me.

It’s taken me years to get where I am and I’m still not even close to my potential which is great for me because it gives me more to strive for.

I’ve just recently started another new role in a professional capacity along with my full-time job and it’s the career that I’m going to end up settling in eventually because it’s what I wanted from the beginning.

I’ve learned lots from my time here in Ontario but the most important lesson that I learned is no matter where you live, no matter how much money you earn if you spend more than you earn you’ll never get ahead.

I also learned that if you don’t make enough then you have to find a way to earn more money. That is reality and no one will look out for you, but you.

With the minimum wage hike comes tears of joy for some and for others it’s not so happy of a time but it must keep up with the cost of living if anyone is to attempt to get ahead.

Take the minimum wage hike as you will and proceed with caution because when money comes in one door it’s surely to go out the window just as fast even if it’s beyond our own control.

The minimum wage hike might not make the people of Ontario rich but what we can rely on is counting all the things that we have that no amount of money could ever buy.

Do you think the minimum wage hike is fair?

Do you think it will help people get ahead of their bills?

What impact do you think the wage hike will have on businesses?

Have your say.


Top recipe


Superbol chili

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 was chosen with it being Superbowl Sunday this weekend.

I though Edward Antrobus from If You Can Read You Can Cook has an easy slower cooker chili recipe for you to whip up that you might fancy.

It’s what he calls a six can chili and claims it doesn’t get any easier. Thanks Edward… this will go nice with a plate of nachos.

You can also find some other Super Bowl ideas over my mates blog One Smart Dollar where he shares how to Throw a Touchdown at your Super Bowl Party.


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 over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.


Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #57 so happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

-Mr. CBB


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How to survive a winter storm with no power

broken-tree-branchesMAKING IT THROUGH THE STORM


While the ice storm that we had this week in Ontario created quite a sight to see, sparkling trees covered in glistening ice and an ice covering over everything, this Winter Wonderland also came with a lot of destruction, inconveniences for many and sadly a couple of deaths.

With hundreds of thousands of people losing their power there are still a number of people who are waiting for theirs to come back on, 48 hours or more after the storm while others enjoyed Christmas Day in the warmth of their homes.

Being prepared for an extended power outage can make getting through those long, cold days less of a struggle. The recent cold snap hasn’t helped the situation.


Staying Warm


Having no power means no heat in your home. Staying warm will be a challenge if you are not prepared. We had a little notice that this storm was coming and I have to admit I was not as prepared as I could have been.

Beyond having lots of blankets and warm sweaters to put on, seeking out warming stations that many cities provided would have been an option if our power had stayed off for more than the 3 hours it was off.

These warming stations provide you with not only a place to escape the cold but most also offered some hot beverages to warm you up.




If you own a generator or choose to purchase one remember that anything that burns fuel should have adequate ventilation.

Using a barbecue indoors to stay warm, whether it is a propane barbecue or charcoal is not a good idea.

When you are trying to keep your house warm you are unlikely to open any windows and therefore your home is likely sealed air tight.

Burning propane or a gas-powered generator inside your home or even your garage will give off carbon monoxide and being in an air sealed home it will eat up all the oxygen in your home.

Remember carbon monoxide is a silent killer, being odourless unless you have a carbon monoxide detector you will not know it is in your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors also will not work if the power is out unless they have a back up battery which will only work as long the battery has a charge.




In preparation for a storm where the power may go off, having a full tank of gas in your car may be of great benefit to you. It may not be the most economical approach but sitting in your car (not inside a garage) may be an option to seek out some warmth.

Your car can also be used to charge a cell phone if you own a car charger. Being able to get updates as to the progression of the storm or when your power is expected to be back on is valuable information to have.

Having little or no gas in your vehicle won’t get you very far as if the power is out gas stations will likely have no power either.




A major concern for people when their power goes out is how are they going to keep all the food in their fridge and freezer from going bad.

Keeping your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible will help to keep your food cold but also know that the contents in a full freezer will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours and a half full freezer for approximately 24 hours.

During a winter storm moving your food to your garage or on a balcony in baskets, boxes or whatever you chose to put it in is an option.

There was no shortage of ice around during this latest storm so collecting some ice from outside and packing it in your freezer and fridge would also help to keep your food from spoiling.




The elderly may not be able to deal with a power outage very well so do your elderly neighbours a favour and check in to make sure that they are okay. 2013 brought on two major power outages and from both I learned that even though I live next door to my neighbours we are on separate power grids.

I lost power for 3 hours this past week where as both my neighbours lost power for well over 24 hours.

This may happen in your area as well so check in with your neighbours to see if they have power or if you have power and they don’t, offer them into your home for warmth or to use your outlets to charge a cell phone.

Though it may not feel like you are in Florida, having more people in a room will help to keep a room slightly warmer so get to know your neighbours and help each other out.




In the winter it is always a good idea to make sure that all outdoor plumbing lines are drained and that the water is turned off.

During a power outage in the winter pipes freezing may be a concern. If you have chosen to leave your home and either stay with a friend, book a hotel room or visit a local warming station consider turning your water off completely to avoid pipes freezing and bursting within your home.

Wrapping any exposed pipes with insulation sleeves may help as well.


Damage to your property



The weight of ice building up on tree branches can cause many branches to break and fall on your home, fence or your car.

Having a good homeowners insurance policy, damage to your home or property caused by a weather event will most likely be covered.

The removal of a tree or branch that has fallen without causing damage will likely be at your expense to have removed.

One thing I experienced myself this past week was large chunks of ice falling off overhead power lines. Luckily the massive piece of ice that fell on my car did not cause any damage but if it had, having a comprehensive car insurance policy my insurance company would have paid to have any damages repaired.

Know what your insurance policy covers and possibly seek out a new one if you feel your current policy is inadequate in these situations.

Surviving and staying warm during a power outage, especially one that may go on for days on end will be a challenge but can be a little easier to manage if you are prepared ahead of time.

Remember you are not alone and working as a team with others around you will make getting through these long, cold days more bearable.

What other tips can you suggest for surviving a power outage?



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Related articles

The Grocery Game Challenge Nov 25- Dec 1, 2013 #4 : How do you like your bread?

store-bought-bread-homemade-wm COST IS ULTIMATELY THE DECISION MAKER


Do you find that you consume more or less bread at different times of the year and that you are changing the brands you purchase frequently depending on price?

While at the grocery store yesterday we noticed there are so many bread choices available these days and most people do what we do, stand and stare.

Almost everyone buys bread unless you don’t like it, make it at home or simply just don’t care to purchase it and will be a driving force especially if bread is on sale in the weekly grocery flyer.

Bread deals are a fierce competition amongst the different companies and coupons are just icing on the cake especially if that motivates you to buy the product.

Although we don’t purchase much in the way of bread products we do stock up when we can find pink stickers offering 50% off in the Loblaws stores or we can get a great deal using coupons.

I’m going to have to agree with many that homemade is always better but what it boils down to for many is the price and for a great majority the health benefits of the loaf of bread they plan to buy.

I find that I spend more time looking through the bread section because the list of bread products is endless. You can get everything from raisin bread to protein bread to sugar-free bread to the new gluten free bread. You can even get bakery baked fresh bread in most stores even if there is no bakery in-store as it is brought in from out of town bakeries.

It’s the consumers that are working hard to convince the manufacturers that they need this high nutrition bread so they are churning it out in hopes of making a big profit. The problem is the cost to make the bread so nutritious is high and most people frown at paying more than $2.00 per loaf of bread these days. The cost of ingredients alone for the bakery or manufacturer can be very high and those costs in most cases get passed along to the customer.


Cost of wheat


Higher wheat prices do affect Canadians as outlined in this 2010 article in The Globe and Mail “How higher wheat prices affect Canadians”  although record crops were produced in 2013 in the Prairies meaning wheat prices could potentially go down because they simply have no where to stock it all and demand is trending lower. This is all to do with the basic principal of supply and demand economics.

I was watching an episode of Undercover boss the other day who went into the Mandarin restaurants and I was shocked to hear they made approx $1 per dinner buffet per person and it was the drinks that drove up the sales, so they push beverages. They subsidize the cost of the meals with the extra profits they make on the drinks.

Sometimes we automatically think that businesses are cranking in the cash and in most cases they can depending on the marketing and execution by the team but it’s not easy for them and of course for us as consumers who are watching how much money we are spending in our budget and trying to stick to a grocery list that entails all the daily essentials including bread, butter, milk, eggs etc.

What I’ve noticed is that since the price of wheat is so high the price of bread has gone up exponentially at least in the past couple of years. Just to purchase a decent loaf of bread you are looking at $3-$4 unless you can find it on sale.

This week for example if you like whole wheat bread Food Basics has the Dempsters Whole Wheat bread on sale for $1.88 which is a great price for those of you who enjoy that type of bread.

Tortillas on the other hand cost a bleedin’ fortune and it’s hard to justify spending nearly $5.00 for 10 tortillas when you can make them homemade for so much cheaper. Yes, the rounds might not be perfect and the tortillas not as thin but they work just the same and taste even better because they are homemade. So, if you want to save some cash and don’t mind a bit of elbow grease making homemade tortillas is super easy to do.

I notice the competition between bread companies is becoming more fierce with Wonder bread and Dempsters in particular although I personally fancy Dempsters bread because I enjoy the various brands they offer. I also like ACE Bakery bread but be prepared to pay for this premium homemade style bread. For  a while we would buy the odd loaf until I decided to create my own homemade olive bread and went on to do an olive pita bread.

If you don’t mind spending some time in the kitchen you can save some money in your budget and enjoy that homemade taste and smell in the air when you are baking. Sure you might be able to score some great deals on sliced bread but in the end anything made with your two hands is worth a shot.

I asked my Facebook fans if they buy hotdog and hamburger buns in the winter and what their favorite breads were to purchase and this is what some of them said below.

  • Cathy B: I prefer homemade at least I can pronounce all the ingredients
  • Allyson T: Where I live, Safeway makes the cheapest bread. I could make my own bread, but until I am done school I will never have the time. $1.29 a loaf is not too shabby though.
  • Mary C: Franz Gluten Free 7-Grain bread for me… hubby, it depends on what’s on sale.
  • Della F: My favourite is whole wheat loaf that I can pick up at a local outlet for $1.00 per loaf.
  • Jeanne L: I like my homemade BUT I like hillbilly bread and anything from Zingermans in Ann Arbor
  • Sabrina W: Villagio whole wheat bread
  • Melissa N: Make my own bread (white/whole wheat, raisin and cheese)….we use hamburger/hotdogs in the winter because we BBQ year round. Whatever brand is on sale. We use pittas once in a while
  • Edna M: I love Wonder Bread..Whole wheat..But we also buy Country Harvest when it is on sale.
  • Pam W: We don’t eat much bread, but homemade bread is by far my favorite. 2nd choice would be City Bread’s Rye bread. We rarely use hamburger and hot dog buns in the winter. Occasionally I make tortillas. I absolutely hate packaged breads like Wonder Bread or Ben’s, I hate the texture and the taste (or lack of it)…I refer to those breads as glue bread.
  • Sally T-P: I usually buy the store brand or whatever is on the markdown rack. We do eat burgers in the winter (sloppy joes too), and we like Polish sausage on a hot dog roll every once in a while.
  • Nicola D:  Its gotta be RCSS specialty bread, but I only buy it when on sale as its expensive. Otherwise its still their own brand not sliced that’s in the four pack
  • Richard B: For toast, whole wheat whatever is on sale, for everything else, homemade or ciabatta
  • Jen P: My favourite is Vitality by Country Harvest. I buy the fat-free/sugar-free variety. It’s awesome. It’s $3.08 a loaf so I try to buy it when I see 50% pink stickers or I price match it a lot as well. It rarely goes on sale but I love it and it’s way lower in fat and calories then comparable breads.
  • Beth A: I mostly bake my own but I’m the pits at making raisin bread so I do buy that when it’s on sale, and I buy Safeway cheese sticks for my fella because they cost about the same to buy (on sale) as they do to make. I buy bagels ’cause I don’t enjoy making them. We don’t use hot dog or burger buns as much in winter. We use tortillas, poppadums, and naan year round. “Specialty bread” = higher prices so I avoid these trendy items whenever possible. I can bake it better, and much less expensively myself. Bread for snacks mostly, bagels for the younger boy to have at breakfast and what ever whole wheat or multigrain is on sale. What is in here right now is Dempsters Whole Grain multigrain… I need to get out the bread maker again….
  • Nicole J: I like little big bread , by Silver Hills sprouted bakery. It is 90% organic, high in fibre, non GMO, and tastes like a nice bread but with fewer calories/fats.
  • Avis R: I buy whatever whole wheat is on sale but my favorite is Country Harvest 12 grain bread and bagels. I also love raisin bread and hot cross buns

What are your favourite breads and who make them? Do you use hot dog and hamburger buns in the winter much? or do you prefer pita, tortillas etc? Do you like specialty breads such as raisin bread, protein breads, no-sugar added, high-fibre, whole grains, gluten-free…. share your thoughts and your favourites.


November 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 freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all 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!


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Missed past Grocery Game posts? Catch up on all the latest grocery saving posts below!


Food food and more food


Food Basics

  • Icing sugar Sale $1.88
  • Brown Sugar Sale $1.88
  • Eggs $2.68
  • Chipits x4 various kinds Sale $2.49
  • Pitted Dates $2.49
  • 4 x shredded coconut Sale $0.88
  • Sweet Potato $4.28
  • Iceberg Lettuce Sale $0.88
  • Spices $1.00
  • Spices $1.00
  • Pie plates $1.99
  • Liberte Yogurt Coconut Sale $2.99
  • Liberte Yogurt Strawberry Sale $2.99
  • Roasted Peppers Sale 41.69
  • Carrots $1.47
  • Selection Oatmeal$2.00
  • Selection Cherries Sale $2.00
  • Premium bananas $2.34
  • Graham cracker crumbs Sale $1.99
  • Bean Sprouts $1.50
  • 4 x Clean and Clear Shampoo Reg $7.99 Sale $3.99-$3.00 coupons
  • Hot Italian sausages Marc Angelo sale $7.50
  • Milk 4L $3.97

Total out of pocket $ 68.29


  • Chicken Breast $6.78 sale $1.99lb on the bone
  • Chicken Breast $7.75
  • Chicken Breast $8.71
  • 2 for $7.00 Johnsonville Bratwurst. sausages- $1.00 coupons
  • Irresistible corn $0.89
  • Clubhouse Dip Mix $1.29
  • 5x Clean and Clear Shampoo reg $7.99 Sale $3.99- $3.00 coupon peelies on each
  • Chicken Breast $7.44
  • Chicken Breast $8.74

Total out of pocket $ 54.14


Yearly grocery budget for two: $2819.38


  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with 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 November $235.00
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $27.00
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used $20.00
  • Total Spent This Week: $122.43-$20 chicken stockpile= $102.43
  • Total Spent So Far for November $245.28
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of (November): $10.28 (over)
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $0
  • Total Coupons Used This Month: $29.00
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $10.28 spent more than the budget in November
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62 + (April) $397.74+(May) $155.68 + (June) $216.01+ (July) $235.83 + (August) $182.35 + (September) $255.69 + (October) $196.64 + $245.28 (November) =  $2422.56 (does not include stockpile budget)
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38+$17.24 =$82.62<> This is money saved if there is any leftover at the end of a month of grocery shopping for a date night for the wife and I.
  • Weekly Overview: Well, we went over budget for the month but not by too much which is a good thing. In December we will be going away for a few days and then away for a week for the holidays so hopefully we won’t be going over budget in December and if anything will spend less than the grocery budget.


Canadian Coupons Found



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 including Checkout 51 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 budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this t of our budget like many people do and this is why the grocery game challenge was created.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 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.

You’ve made a wise decision.

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada!




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