top of page

The ABC’s of Savin’ Money…

(so you can live the dream)

I am a banker’s daughter. Growing up with a dad in the money industry, I learned a lot of lessons about making and saving money over the years. Sometimes I listened, sometimes I didn’t, right Dad?

Right from the get go, my dad was teaching me the importance of saving money. And you can see here that money was definitely saved with home haircuts!

But I think overall, I have come up with a few savvy ways to put money in my pocket to save for awesome things like building a studio at the farm to share with you.

When brainstorming for this blog, I contacted the first person that came to mind when it comes to being efficient with money; my friend Andrea Wilkins.

Here are my buddies Mark and Andrea Wilkins enjoying the outdoors and travelling on a well planned budget. They know how to live life well and without huge financial burdens!

Not surprisingly, Andrea is also a banker’s daughter, so we were able to compare notes on several important money saving factors. Now, with Andrea’s thumbs up, we are going to share those tips with you so that you can start your journey to becoming more financially free.  Are you ready?


Before even starting any saving and money-making tactics, you have to ask yourself why you want to have money and what its purpose is going to be. You have to pretty well predict your future when it comes to financial growth and set goals for yourself that will stand the test of time. It can’t be something you want in a year, or even 5 years. It must be a goal that you want to live with for the rest of your long, lovely, healthy life. For example, as an artist, I know that I want to live the rest of my life out at the farm with an art studio. I don’t need a big house, I don’t need a fancy vehicle, but I truly NEED a studio. I am not a happy person without one. This is an integral part of who I am, and it has to be a part of my personal life time goals. Head over to my resource library to see several videos that show the design plans for the upcoming build.

Then you need to consider what that means financially. If I want “x” then I need “y” amount of money to achieve that goal. Start doing the research and start doing the math to see what you are going to have to change in order to achieve “y”.

You have to ask yourself the BIG QUESTIONS such as:

What am I doing with my life?

What makes me the happiest?

Am I following my true path?

Am I satisfied with being government dependent in retirement?

Am I working towards assisting my future self?

Sounds like an existential crisis, right? But you know in your gut what you genuinely want. It may be something you have never shared with anyone else. Perhaps you are a farmer, but you really want to be a hip-hop artist. Perhaps you are a waitress, but you really want to start an Etsy shop of knitted baby sweaters. What are your dreams? How can they become a reality? I know you know even if you don’t want to say.  I have included a financial planner in the resource library for you to start answering these questions and moving forward with your goals.

I was in my twenties when I started writing about wanting to have my own studio and artist’s retreat. It has always been in my life plan, but I just didn’t know how I was going to go about doing it. I just slowly started working towards it all of this time.

*NB! In saying all of this, you need to have a solid plan B. As you know, Covid put a huge wrench in the building of our studio this summer. It is on hold, but it will happen, it just might have to happen in a different way. In the mean time, we are still continuing forward with the big goal, while comfortably working and enjoying life as is, the best we can, in these circumstances.

So with these thoughts in mind, it means that you are going to have to save some cash, am I right? Here, compliments of both Andrea and I are the ABC’s of savvy saving to lead you towards your financial goals.


A If you don’t have the money for something, it’s this simple; DON’T BUY IT. You are going to sink yourself in a pool of credit debt and credit card companies will own your soul. Only buy it on credit if you have considered that in your finances and know that you can make the monthly payments.

Debt is incredibly hard on a family, causing a lot of undue stress. Save the stress; just don’t buy it.

BYet, in saying that, use credit cards for pretty well everything when you can (ensuring that you follow the rule of having the money to pay for it in your savings account). Get a card that gives you SOME KIND OF POINTS. Sometimes that will come with a pretty substantial annual fee, but sometimes even banks have sales so talk to your banker about credit cards and fees and points to see what is best for you. I was able to fly Alex back and forth between Edmonton and Winnipeg for two years solely on points. And you can buy some pretty big ticket items including trips and items using points that you have collected. Again, I will re-iterate, don’t do this if you cannot pay your WHOLE credit card off every.single.month.

Shipping my boy off to university is always a teary eyed experience!

C Shop second hand when you can or take advantage of your communities reclaim station or freebie days. Andrea shared that one day at the secondhand store, she saw these brand names: Nike, Champion, Mondetta, North Face and Calvin Klein! Hello! The bonus is that at least locally, all of the sales at our second hand store are donated to various charities. It’s a win, win, win!

This is a portrait I took of my “old man” coat that I wore throughout university and then some. It was second hand, it was wool, it was so warm and it deserved a portrait.

D Shop off season; sometimes last year’s items come back on the rack to sell at an awesome price. Andrea got a packable down jacket on clearance at the men’s section of Red Apple for $10 when it was originally $80. Let’s just put it this way; we all should have been buying our Christmas gifts months ago, or right after Christmas.

E Use those flyers and coupons when you can. There are great sites such as that have awesome options. For the longest time, I got most of my toiletries through freebies via redflagdeals. Yep, I am also that person that takes the toiletries from hotels. I usually end up passing them on to the emergency shelter. Hotels are expensive. I am taking the soap and giving it to those that need some extra assistance some times. During our honeymoon, I saved every roll of toilet paper that I could snag, and then hid them around the house at my friend John and Natasha’s.

F Just keep in mind when using in store flyers that you should just buy what you usually buy. If you don’t normally buy macadamia nuts or use them in your baking, why would you buy them just because they are on sale? You have actually ended up splurging on something that you don’t really need or use. Also do some comparison pricing. Is it really a sale if it is only 5 cents cheaper than another store’s regular price?

G Take advantage of apps. Andrea has apps for many things such as Subway and Tim Hortons. Usually when you buy through the app, you receive a discount of some kind. She also uses apps like checkout 51 and Rakuten when she can to get money back. With Checkout 51, you upload your receipt and check off any items that the app has coupons for and you eventually get a cheque. Keep in mind, if you have to pay for an app, look at the fine print. Many apps have auto-renewal meaning you are paying for the app year after year, even if you’re not using it anymore. Make sure to shut that off or only sign up one year at a time.

Subway has a point system and deals.

H If you are not an app person, ask the business if they have a card system of some kind ie: buy ten “x” and receive one free. A lot of food services have this. It’s a nice treat to get a free coffee every once in a while and I totally appreciate this small token.

IAsk people for gift certificates to your favourite store as gifts. That way you are getting exactly what you want, and they don’t have to worry as to whether you got something that you like or not. Also, give gift certificates. That way, your money is not wasted on a gift they didn’t want. Better yet, make a gift for each other. It’s so nice to get something that has taken time and thought but is not as expensive.

One year I made these pillow cases for Alex out of old t-shirts and pajamas he wore as a child. If you know me, you know I don’t sew. These were all hand sewn, and years later, they’re still holding up!

JDrive your vehicle as long as you can. Pay for it as soon as you can and use the saved money from payments for maintenance and repairs. Keep up with having your vehicle checked twice a year so that you don’t end up with big problems.

This second hand Dodge Nitro has been serving me well for the last 3 years.

K If there is something (luxury item, etc) you really want that is expensive, wait at least a month, if not more before making the purchase. Chances are it’s an impulse purchase and not something you really need. Sometimes I just go browsing online and add things to a favourites list, and that’s satisfying enough without having to actually own the item. It’s kind of like having a Pinterest board of things I could potentially buy but won’t.

L Do like our grandparents did and make it yourself. There are so many things that we can fix and mend on our own. Don’t throw it away; give it new purpose in a create way or post it on Facebook groups such as “Red Lake Recycles” so that others can use it. Being a DIY’er is very ‘trendy” now a days. If you’re a homesteader of any kind, you have been a DIY’er all your life! Check out the bed that Brad and I made in the… guessed it…the resource library! That’s where I put all the good stuff!

M Do your research: Andrea suggests a subreddit called “Personal Finance Canada” if you are a Redditt-er. You can browse it online at this link:

N Look closely at your fees. Many services have fees. Make sure you know exactly what you are paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask why those fees are they way they are. Ask if there is a way those fees can be lowered. Ask for your bill to be broken down into details. You have the right to know what you are purchasing.

Look at your statements closely. Ask about fees and ways to save money.

OBreak down your monthly budget and see if there is just one thing you can remove from your list. Do you really need someone else to wax your moustache this month, or can you hide it behind your mask a little bit longer? (I am personally milking that one all the way to the bank!)  It’s ok to get luxury services, but if you push it past your normal time for doing so, you are saving money. I cut my own bangs. My hair dresser gives me heck every.single.time. haha

P Set up a storage room for yourself to buy things in bulk. Get into canning, freezing, and dehydrating so you can take advantage of items that are on sale and prep them for long term use. Buy foods that are in season and turn them into something delicious that you can enjoy out of season without having to pay an arm and a leg.

Guess where you can find the recipe for these delicious pickles?

Q On that note, if you’re able to handle it, hunt, fish, forage, and garden. The world is full of delicious wild animals and foods. Just do so ethically and only take what you need. This is not a time to be a hoarder. This ensures sustainability.

RGo to the library; not only do they have books for you to borrow, which is awesome, but they also have internet services, dvds to rent, and other activities such as crafts. Unless you are late with your returns, everything at the library is either incredibly low priced, or free. I believe you can even rent e-books without stepping foot in the building!

SClean your house! Go room by room looking at your stuff and get rid of anything that “doesn’t bring you joy” as Marie Kondo would say! Then turn around and sell it! Online Facebook buy and sell pages are the best for getting stuff out of your house stat!

T Embrace nature. Sure, being out in nature can add up if you feel you need a four wheeler or snow machine, or skis etc, but there are a lot of second hand options in that case. But mostly, you just need a pair of shoes and some motivation. Being out in nature not only saves you money, but it has been scientifically proven to be super good for your well being in all kinds of ways! And going for a walk is free, free, free! If you are feeling a bit paranoid about going outside anywhere right now because of covid, check out my blog on how to bring nature into your home to get the same kind of feels.

UAnd if you want to be a couch potato, which is totally cool, consider rotating your streaming services so that you aren’t paying for the same old thing. I don’t know about you, but sometimes we spend way to much time searching through a movie service and end up not watching anything because it all seems blah. When you go to a new service, sometimes they have great introductory offers. Again, just make sure to unsubscribe before auto-renewal comes up.

V Make sure your home is energy efficient. Put plastic on your windows and extra insulation if needed during the winter months. Pay attention to high cost vs low cost energy prices when consuming hydro. Turn down your heat and put on an extra sweater, or go through menopause and hot flash all day. haha Make sure your faucets are not dripping, and all equipment is running well.

W Make your coffee, breakfast or lunch at home, at least once a week. Then try for twice a week until you end up just getting yourself a take out coffee once a week or even twice a month as a treat. You will be amazed at how much money you save.

XDon’t spend your change. Immediately put any change you get into a jar. At the end of the year, roll it up and put it in a savings account to spend of something “splurgy”. Brad and I bought a bus and a snowmobile with rolled change.

We have big plans for that bus, but we need to work on the bunkhouse first!

YCollect items that can be used for both practical and entertainment purposes: tools such as hammers, saws, sanders, glue guns, etc. These items can be used in a multitude of ways and not only help you to make your own stuff instead of being dependent on box companies to create this stuff for you, but you might even be able to turn around and sell the stuff you make! It is an awesome investment to have a set of supplies to be a DIY’er!

Z Barter. Take advantage of skills you possess to help get something that does not include the exchange of money. I have swapped a lot of paintings and prints for needed items over the years. I have found that both people in the exchange always feel like they have gotten a good deal when they barter. And if you haven’t heard the paper clip story, then check this out: it truly can be life changing and practically free, or just the price of a paper clip!

How far can your bartering take you?!


So head over to my resource library using this link to get a free print out that I made just for you to get your on the road to financial freedom. Follow the steps given in the handout and challenge yourself to make changes now so that you can live the life that you truly want later.

Just remember, you don’t want to change your lifestyle so much that you feel like you are being punished or really restricted in any way. After all, you need to also live in the moment and enjoy each day, right? It’s all about small steps and a positive mind shift. It doesn’t mean that you have to have bushy eyebrows for life, it doesn’t mean you can never have a donut again. Small steps, my friends, small steps.

If you have any more ideas for savvy saving, please, drop me a message and share your advice! I’d love to hear it.

Finally, a huge thank you to Andrea. This woman knows how to have her cake and eat it too. She’s living a lovely lifestyle without feeling like her sacrifices are affecting her overall wellbeing. That’s what it’s all about and what we should all be striving for.

Now go on, git! Start working on your own financial plan and make your dreams come to fruition! My next blog will be ways to start making money in ways that you may not have considered. Stay tuned for that one!

2 views0 comments


bottom of page