You Are Enough: 9 Ways To Keep Your Sanity Over The Holidays

The holiday season is upon us, and it’s a very stressful time for many people. If you are dealing with mental health issues, addictions, social anxiety, lack of money, or any other challenge, it can be the most testing time ever. 

I want you to remember that, regardless of your situation, you are enough. You do not need to show up to impress people, you do not need to prove yourself, nor do you need to change for others. It’s ok to be yourself. 

Here are 9 tips for keeping your wits about you over the coming weeks: 

Take time for yourself: even if you are in a house full of people, it’s ok to go into a room and take a few moments, or go for a walk. Exercise is a great way to clear your head, and it’s ok to say, I need a few moments, I need to go for a walk. 

It’s ok to not participate in everything. You don’t have to play every card game, sing every song and eat every dessert. You can pass respectfully, and if others aren’t happy about it, that’s their burden to bear, not yours. 

Saying no to triggers that affect you is not being disrespectful, nor are you obligated to tell everyone why you said no. A gentle no, thanks, is good enough. If people are asking why, and you are comfortable to answer, that’s up to you. It’s also up to you if you prefer to say it’s personal, or change the subject. 

If you are worried your gifts will not “be enough”, remember that it’s YOU that everyone is wanting to see, and not what you can buy them. If you can’t afford a lot, don’t go into debt trying to impress people. Let them be disappointed if they are so shallow, but you will know in January when you do not have a credit card bill that you have done the right thing. Live within your means, and give accordingly. 

Do you bring your pets with you to the family events? I usually bring my dogs with me to Christmas dinner, instead of leaving them home for hours, but I know they need an extra eye: they can get socially worn down as well. I watch for children playing (roughly or teasing), I keep an eye on how much food is shared with them, and I keep them on a leash if there’s someone who isn’t overly comfortable with my dogs roaming the home.

Sometimes they need a time out like a walk, or to sit in a room alone with me for a few moments to just relax. It’s an exciting time when there’s tens of people (or more) and the smells are new and it’s overwhelming. Know your pets: it’s better to have them in a room alone than with everyone else if your pets cannot safely handle the excitement. 

If you have children, much of the same applies! Children can get worn out, have social anxiety, forget their manners, or seem like someone has swapped out your caring, calm child for a hyperactive maniac. This happens to all of us. Call time out for your kids every now and again, and a nap for them (and you) might help deal with the hustle and bustle. Give them a spot that, if they are feeling overwhelmed, they can go sit without any questions asked, and just take a moment.  

Eat proper meals, and choose your food wisely. If you feast on cookies and sweets all day, your sugars will be higher than normal, and that can cause fatigue, irritability and more. Be sure to eat actual food (fruits and vegetables, meats and other normal dietary choices) to reduce sugar highs and lows. 

Do you have a drinking contingency plan? If you are hosting the party, or a guest at the party, be aware of those (including yourself) who are drinking more than a glass or two. Make sure there’s a cab company or designated driver who will ensure that there are no drunk drivers on the road. Also, make sure those who imbibe in the alcohol are eating as well.  It’s never any fun when the drunkenness gets out of hand and words are said that would normally not be. 

If you are not a drinker, or abstaining, have a plan. Are you planning to bring something non-alcoholic to drink? What about drinking glasses? Are you triggered by a wine glass? Should you bring your own? 

Life on a daily basis is hard enough, especially when you are dealing with mental health, addictions, mood disorders, physical ailments and so much more. I wanted to remind you that throughout the holidays, YOU ARE ENOUGH, and be strong. It’s other people’s cross to bear if they have a problem with how you are keeping yourself healthy. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone. 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

Goodbye to the Joneses: Who Were They, Anyway?

Goodbye to the Joneses:
Who Were They, Anyway?

 

Obituary: It is with our deepest condolences to all that we announce the death of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, everyone’s favourite neighbours and friends, as they passed away at the ripe old age of 105. They will no longer taunt us with their fancy purchases and their beautiful pictures of every vacation we have ever dreamt of. We wish them a peaceful rest, and ask that, in lieu of flowers and donations, your money may remain with yourselves and your time with your friends and family. There will be no service, as we have celebrated life of keeping up with the Joneses for far too long. 

 

Who were the Joneses, anyway?

 

You hear the term “Keeping up with the Joneses” used liberally in the personal finance space. If you don’t know the term, it describes the efforts that people take to keep up with the neighbours that have everything.

 

What I didn’t know was that it started with a comic strip called Keeping up with the Joneses created by Arthur R. “Pop” Momand in 1913. The comic strip was popular and ran until 1940 in The New York World and other newspapers.

 

There are a few other ideas where the Jones’ family came from, but this is the most widely accepted version.

 

Here we are, more than a hundred years later, still chasing the dream of keeping up with the Joneses!

 

I had previously shared a post about our history, and how, post-war, we were in the mindset to accumulate anything and everything, as life before was a struggle, and excess anything was but a dream. In the post, I felt we had become addicts of owning stuff.

 

Despite being an Xennial (for those who do not know, it’s the gap between Gen X and Millennials, roughly 1978 – 1983), I was raised with the Gen X mindset of more is better. To have more, to afford more, to accumulate more meant that you were wealthier, and therefore better off, should something happen in the world that limited our access to “stuff”. Gen X was really the last generation raised by parents who remember rations and war/post-war life. Those were the days when parents  made you sit at the table until your dinner was finished, whether you were still hungry or not, and if you liked it or not, because that was what was served. There was no option for a different meal, or not finishing your plate, because that was wasteful.

 

How many people remember being told there are starving children in the world, so finish your dinner! (Can’t say it made sense to me then, or now. I offered to ship it to them…. that didn’t go over well.)

 

My parents, for example, have a basement full of stuff. An extra dining table, supplies that were “on sale”, childhood toys, exercise equipment from the 80s, the old Atari game system, an old stove, a massive freezer (for the two people that live there), a couch, the last two artificial Christmas trees, a dresser… the list goes on and on.

 

Sometimes there were benefits from having parents that saved everything. We all had that time in our lives that we didn’t have anything: college days where life was about hand-me-downs, and making due with small spaces because we didn’t have the money yet to have the life we wanted. Post-college, reality tended to set in, and we started wanting, but for some, a simple lesson (or two) was learned. Fellow blogger,  Your Money Geek, shared a post about being broke and learning the value of things during that period of time.

 

It’s a common perspective that millennials have been raised in a completely different time, leaving them with a different mindset. They have never seen a shortage of anything: there’s been a never-ending supply of food, commodities and technology that moved faster than a speeding bullet.

 

They can’t reminisce about getting up to change the television station, rewinding a cassette tape with a pencil, or waiting for a sibling to get off the phone so you could call your friends.

 

(Removing the privilege argument from this to say that not all millennials have been raised to rely on having enough. I acknowledge that many were not as fortunate to have everything handed to them.)

 

Earlier, I read a post shared by the blogger of FlytoFi.com where he has a guest writer who discusses minimalism and millennials. This post resonated with me, as I agree with the writer who states that minimalism can be traced to millennials, and not needing everything is a concept that is new to everyone. Millennials had enough, or too much, depending on the situation, and now excess has flipped to the extreme: to want nothing.

 

So, who are today’s Joneses? Are they the neighbour who has a boat, two or three cars, a big house and flashy jewelry? Or, are they the neighbour who lives in a condo, has a compact car, and believes less is more?

 

Are today's Joneses the mindless consumer or the immaculate minimalist? Do they still exist and why, after 105 years, do we let them control us? Click To Tweet

 

We struggle with the concept that both are the Joneses. We want access to the big house, the boat and the flashy side effects, but we also crave the simplicity of minimalism. How many times have you gone on vacation with just a suitcase, stayed in a hotel room, and realized that there was very little you actually needed beyond what was there? How many times have you gone home, glad to be home, but overwhelmed with all the clutter and things you own?

 

And yet, how many of us still get a thrill from going shopping and buying something we think we need, just to bring it home and realize three months later that it was not something we needed, but something that cluttered up our space and gave us a momentary glimpse of what being the Joneses is like.

 

What a vicious circle we have created for ourselves!

 

Whether you are on the journey to seek financial independence, saving for your retirement, or just having a healthy savings account, let’s redefine the Joneses.

 

Ten Reasons Not To Be The Next Joneses:

 

  1. Reduce waste in our landfills.

 

  1. Less property tax to be paid on smaller properties.

 

  1. Less fuel emissions on smaller or hybrid cars. (What’s better than paying for a Ferrari? Having a friend who has a Ferrari!)

 

  1. Less stuff to clean and purge or to launder (like clothes).

 

  1. Enjoy and appreciate your belongings more.

 

  1. No stressing about overextension of credit.

 

  1. No awkward moments with the repo man.

 

  1. Better credit score from less debt.

 

  1. No worries about people trying to steal from you if you are perceived as wealthy.

 

  1. More money for the people and things that matter.

 

Being a conscientious spender is one of the biggest factors in the pursuit of financial freedom.

 

What do you think about the Joneses? Is it still attractive or has it finally come to an end? While I wish the Joneses of our lives well, I think their reign has finally come to an end.

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

When Every Dollar Counts: Quick Shopping Tips and SCOP

When every dollar counts, you need to make the most of it! #groceries #money #saving #wealth #credit #scop

When Every Dollar Counts:
Quick Shopping Tips and SCOP

 

We live in a world where every dollar matters and time is money. This is why I want to talk about shopping habits and how I get the most for my money and time.

 

Like many of you, I shop for items at the best price, and that often means shopping at big box stores, like Walmart or Target (when they were in Canada, or when I am in the States). Throughout this debt-free journey, I have made a very serious attempt at going into the stores, purchasing what I need and came for, and leaving.

 

It doesn’t always work in my favour, as I am as prone to impulse buys as the next person. However, there are times that I can take advantage of my wandering eye when shopping at big box stores and grocery stores alike:

 

End-of-Aisle Products

 

Did you know that end of aisle products are often the products on sale, and are considered “loss leaders”? If you watch the end of aisles for the sales items, the store will place the most “on sale” items at the ends to lure customers into making an impulse buy. This isn’t always a bad thing, as these are usually highly discounted items.

 

If they are items I buy on a regular basis, I try to stock up and buy two or three or more, depending on the expiration date. While it may not be an item on my list, it’s something that I use regularly, and by buying in a bulk amount, it saves me from paying full price the next time I need it and it’s not on sale.

 

Great examples of this are toilet paper, cereal, paper towels, and canned goods.

 

So, there I am, with a small list of items to purchase, and suddenly my cart gets just a little bit fuller. I enjoy walking most of the store (it’s a bad habit of mine as I suffer from OCD, and therefore I walk the store in the same way each time – it’s a point of contention at a grocery store with the husband, as he wants to go in, get what he wants, and leave.). It’s true that it leaves me susceptible to more purchases, but that’s where willpower comes in. At the same time, I have scored some great deals on clearance or on sale that otherwise would have been missed! Plus, I am getting my exercise (so I tell myself).

 

Look above and below eye-level

 

Stores often place their convenience items in the aisles, so that you have to see aisles of products while searching for an item on your list. Eye-level products are usually the most popular and most expensive, so be sure to scan the bottom and top shelves for other items that may be cheaper. Some people are supporters of no name products – for me, it depends on what it is. If you can find a no name, or store brand of what you are purchasing, it’s often 25-50% cheaper than the brand name.

 

Don’t sacrifice value for $0.50, though. It’s not worth it if it’s something you really like. For me, that’s ketchup… or toilet paper… or feminine products. No name and store brands do not always equal the same value. But some items, like facial cleanser, pharmacy products like pain killers, or certain canned goods are made at the same factory, have the same or less ingredients as the brand name, and are exactly the same quality. It pays to be a smart shopper and look at labels to compare.

 

Coupons

 

Since I live in Ontario, it’s difficult to find coupons on items other than cleaning supplies and…well, cleaning supplies. Sometimes the stores will have small dispensers or pads of coupons on new products, or products that the manufacturer is looking to promote. Keep your eye out for coupons only on the items you regularly use, and remember to take two or three.

 

It’s frowned upon to take a whole pad of coupons, as most people cannot use thirty by the due date. Read the fine print – usually it’s one coupon per purchase, and sometimes per day. The store may not let you have 30 separate transactions. If they do, and you can use or donate the items before the expiration date, have at it. Just don’t be greedy and let items go to waste – that’s money going down the drain.

 

We may not have double coupon days here, but fliers are a great way to price match. Some stores will allow price matching from fliers of retail stores (not online stores, however). I recommend browsing the Flipp app to compare prices before heading out. This also saves you from going to three different stores across the city to hit each sale. (Trust me, I have tried to do that, and I seem to expend more gas than what I save.)

 

Price Book

 

It’s hard to remember what the prices are for every item, especially at their sale price, so some people recommend creating a price book. You can find these on Amazon, if you want a template, or you can create your own using a small notebook.

 

You will want to record the items you regularly purchase, and what you paid for them. Remember to write the per pound or per litre price if applicable. For example, you may purchase stewing beef for $7.99, but what’s the per pound price? That’s the price you need to know.

 

Beware of the Dollar Store

 

By having a price guide, you will be able to tell if a sale is really a sale. Many people will recommend going to the dollar store to purchase garbage bags, laundry soap, or other essential items sold in smaller quantities. However, that’s where the price changes! When sold in smaller quantities, the price will be lower… but compared to a larger item, your per unit price is higher at dollar stores.

 

What I mean is, if you only need cupcake liners for a class project, then the dollar store is perfect for providing a small container of cupcake liners for a dollar or two. But once you start purchasing cat food, laundry soap or garbage bags – things you are likely to use a decent quantity of over a period of time, you will find yourself purchasing those items more often (because they are in smaller quantities) and paying more. You might be able to get a box of ten garbage bags for $2, but a box of 40 might be $5 at the grocery store, and that’s a savings of $3 over time.

 

Checking out

 

Now that I’ve managed to find the items I went shopping for, plus a few items on sale that I can stash away in my pantry, I head to the checkout.

 

Here’s one of the biggest secrets of shopping: The Scanning Code of Practice.

 

Have you heard of SCOP?

 

The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary policy that many stores do subscribe to. Do you know what it is? Click To Tweet

 

The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary policy that many stores do subscribe to. Canadian Tire and Walmart, for example, has it posted at the cash registers, but most people are trying to bag their items, or watch the register or keep track of the kids, and don’t take the time to read it.

 

If an item scanned for higher than the posted price on the shelf OR in the flier, you are entitled to invoke SCOP. If the store subscribes to SCOP, that means you get the first item discounted by $10, or free if under $10. Each separate and unique UPC (the scanned barcode) on an item that scans in at an incorrect price above the posted price is eligible for SCOP.

 

Let me give you an example so you know how to use it. I have purchased laundry soap at Walmart, and before choosing the item, I figured out the per unit price to ensure I was getting the best deal. The sticker on the shelf, which matched the UPC, said the item was $9.97.

 

When I was at the cash register, the item scanned in at $16.97. I told the cashier that the sticker price on the shelf said $9.97, not $16.97. She called for someone in the department to check it out, and yes, I was correct. Someone had “labelled them wrong” but this time, it was to my benefit. Because the item was $16.97, I was entitled to $10 off the product because the price was entered wrong. This means I paid $6.97 for my laundry soap.

 

It will take a few extra minutes, and some patience, and sometimes you will have to ask for a manager to get the SCOP applied (because staff are only trained for so much), but it is worth it when I have saved money!

 

Always, always check your receipt before you leave the store, because you are still entitled to the SCOP even after you’ve checked out. Customer service can assist you with that as well.

 

Paying for my Purchases

 

Because of my shopping habits, I pay the least per item when I can, I buy in multiple if it’s a good deal and stash it in my pantry, and I watch to make sure I am not overcharged (or double charged) for an item.

 

Finally, I pay with a credit card.

 

This may come with some difference of opinions as some people think paying with a credit card is an easy way to overspend. It’s all about using it as a tool, and getting the most out of your money.

 

New with credit or not so great credit? Here are a few of the easier cards to obtain and still earn rewards with no annual fees or membership fees:

 

Walmart Mastercard earn Walmart rewards – money you can redeem either while you earn, or save it up for when funds or short, or for Christmas shopping.

 

PC Financial Mastercard has a program to earn PC dollars, which gives me free groceries. With moderate use, and always paying it in full, I earned over $80 in groceries in less than a year. That’s $80 extra dollars towards debt or other expenses.

 

RBC Rewards Visa can be transferred into gift cards. Want an evening out or a gift for someone? Free.

 

Canadian Tire Mastercard or the Triangle Mastercard earns Canadian Tire money on the card, no matter where you shop. I used mine for a vacation, and when I had to purchase tires for my car, I was able to save 25% on sale, pay for one tire with rewards, and the cost to me was only half of what it could have been.

 

This is a small list of reward cards, but don’t get stuck with one that you don’t receive any benefit for. Make your purchases count.

 

My Quick Guide Tips

 

That’s my quick guide to getting the most out of shopping for your everyday essentials. I never pay with something that I am not earning rewards on, and I pay off that purchase in full. I try to avoid ever paying full price for an item, and I keep track of per item cost so that I am not caught in a “special” that isn’t a special. And sometimes, I will splurge on a few things, just so you know I am as human as the next person!

 

What are your shopping habits? Do you have any to add? Where do you get the best deals, or what do you want to know about?

 

Recommended Reading:

How To Make Money with Passive Income and Virtual Services

7 Changes That Have Saved Us Over $1,000

How Much Would You Pay For Tomorrow?

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.