Frugal Thursday & Party Plans

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, 
But a foolish man swallows it up.
Proverbs 21:20

It was a very busy day Thursday dealing with mom's birthday party planning and financial matters.

It is only a small party but because I live out of town it is always a bit more difficult to get everything organized. I've bought her a small gift that she will really like. It is a child size pendleton blanket that she can use as a lap blanket. It will be much warmer than the one I made her a few years ago.

I hope mom will enjoy herself and feel special for the day. I've been rather worried about her as she has been feeling frail and weak for some time now.  This will be her opportunity to see those that mean a lot to her. She will be 79 on Sunday.  Many years ago I used to tell her she will live until she is at least 82 because she used to think she wouldn't make it to the age she is now.    If we are blessed to be able to celebrate her 80th birthday party I hope to try and do something special.  Maybe invite relatives from afar. I have to start thinking ahead for that one.  It would have to be a surprise or she may not like all the fuss so we will have to see how it goes.

 I sourced out the place to purchase the cake, appetizer tray and food. I also made sure my niece will be escorted to mom's residence and invited my nephew and his family and his mom (my SIL). My other nephew won't be there as he is going for a few days holiday to Las Vegas. He has been doing double duty this summer at his job and studying for his GRE exam to get into graduate school so he has long planned this one weekend away before university starts again. He told me yesterday that he will visit his grandma next week before classes begin.

Mini version of a blanket I bought mom many years ago. I have her big one.

I also undertook a number of activities to shave a few dollars from my monthly costs. I'm always looking for ways to be frugal and cut monthly costs. How about you?  Do you spend time looking for savings too and what do you do with it?

I have a friend in Kenya who could use a little help to finish his university and graduate and that is where I put some of my savings. His name is Elvis and he is finishing his medical studies in Kenya (read more to the upper right of my blog). Let me know if you would like to help him. Any amount would be appreciated by him and his single mom who looks after 3 other children on her small income as a worker in a flower factory.  If you live in Europe, just think she might have picked the flowers in your vase.! Life is very hard for your average person in Kenya. The vast majority are not privileged to have a big income or eat more than a meal a day.

Today I saved money by doing a number of things:

* cancelled my movie package on my television programming.  This is a savings of $18. (Canadian) per month.  Initially I purchased it when it was a promotional deal. I don't usually do this but was feeling extravagant at the time. I meant to cancel the deal after 3 months but ended up keeping it for 6.

* opted into another package of channels because of a 6 month promotional deal at half price ($9.00 Canadian). The cost of the package is the same as my movie package but is currently 50% for half a year. I'll decide in that time whether I want it or not. I will likely cancel it before the 6 months is over or just at the 6 months.

* switched my long distance call plan. The cost is half of what I have been paying ($6.00 a month).  I haven't been using that many minutes per month so this works out for me.  It is easier for mom to reach me when she needs me than for me to reach her. So she is the one that needs unlimited long distance calling plan. Her plan is $20. (Canadian) per month.

I also look after my mom's bills and try to save her money wherever I can. Given her many moves last year, the telephone company made a royal mess of  a number of things. After several attempts to straighten things out I discovered that they are now giving her a $10 discount each month for the next year. They call it a loyalty discount.  She really has been loyal to them in choosing to stay with them over 40 years!

* I asked my telephone company where else I can save money on my bill?  Apparently I am already paying for the least expensive options for the telephone, internet and television bundle.  But I have been a loyal customer of the same company for a very long time also so they gave me a 6 month discount of $5. for each of the services. It amounts to a total savings of $90. They said it was in recognition of the fact that I do have other options for my telecommunications needs.  I can get a much cheaper telephone rate somewhere else or cut my home phone altogether. I have Skype and I have unlimited cell service. However I keep the home phone the same for my mother's sake (reliability of service, same phone number, voice mail, etc). I would also probably be paying more on the internet and television without a bundle. Of course, I am always assessing whether to stay with the company or go elsewhere. I've determined that for my needs at this time, this company gives me the best rates and the best services for those rates. If things change, I can always change providers

* they also suggested I delete my paper bills for a monthly savings of $2. but I wasn't quite ready to do that given all the issues I've had over the last year (or so I thought with my mom's bill and my bill.  It turns out I misread my bill but I still like to check them over on paper not on the computer screen.  I dislike looking at documents on line but once I feel comfortable that things are straightened out with the service providers I can easily give up the paper bills. Update:  the very next day after posting this I learned that the telephone company has been challenged over the issue of charging people for paper bills. I also understand that they have recently stopped charging seniors, the disabled and those that don't have internet (another $2. saved on my mom's monthly bill).  In the not too distant future, the federal (national) government will prevent the telephone company from charging anyone for a paper bill. Now if only they would also stop the banks from charging us for the paper bills too and let the consumer decide how they want to receive their bills. Many would opt and have already voluntarily opted to receive bills on line to save paper and impacting negatively on the environment.  For those that can't or don't have internet usage (the economically disadvantaged, the disabled and many seniors), should not be charged for the privilege of having a paper bill.

* colouring my own hair. I have saved quite a lot of money by buying and applying henna to my roots every month. I go to the hairdresser only once or twice a year to get my entire head of hair coloured, get a few highlights and/or a trim. This usually costs $45.00 and I save $25 a month doing my own hair. I actually save more than this because my former hairdresser charged $45 a month to apply the henna, wash and blow dry and I now only pay $25 (different hairdresser).

* contacted my financial advisor to let him know I want to eliminate critical illness insurance. This costs $120. (Canadian) a month. I've been paying it for 16 years and I think it is time to stop especially since I am not working any more. I've tried to eliminate this several times before. My advisor always convinces me to keep it and to cancel my life insurance instead. I keep my life insurance mainly because lenders like to know you have insurance and I want to have a small amount for loved ones if needed when I ultimately pass.

* returned a pair of winter woolen socks and exchanged them for a different pair. Savings: $3.36 (Canadian)

* purchased an African basket from Ghana for a savings of $15.00 plus tax off the original price. Believe it or not, I purchased the basket at a postal outlet of all places.  Chatting with the proprietress I discovered that she was born in Kenya, a land that I love so much. She is clearing out old stock to make way for the new.  My basket got quite a lot of compliments as I wondered about the west side neighborhood doing my errands.

* shopping at a new to me store for a food items. I was pleased to discover that a lot of things I like are much less expensive there (examples: flax seeds, some cheeses, whole meal bread, molasses). I saved about $8.00 (Canadian) off just a very few items that I would normally purchase in my own neighborhood.

My work on "tweaking" the budget is not done. 

I still have a number of areas that I know I can eliminate and which I hope to do very soon. 

That brings me to the question how many of you my dear readers have critical illness insurance.

How much coverage do you actually have and do you think it is worth it? 

Personally, I think that once you hit 55 years or older, the critical illness is not so important. Most people are going to get critically ill before that time.  If they get critically ill when they are older then they usually have no need for a smaller lump sum for vacations or bills.  You usually have equity in your home for those purposes and some more fortunate people have more than adequate income in savings. If you don't have either of these, you probably wouldn't buy critical illness insurance as it would cost too much.

My benefit is not that great in the event I was to get very ill. When I purchased the insurance I was a lot younger but because I noted every little, small thing that was wrong with me at the time it ended up costing me a lot of money.  The primary issue was whiplash and back problems brought on by car accident and also some ear, nose and throat issues caused by a skating accident when I was a teenager.  These few problems and a bit of excess weight caused me to end up paying much more than I was expecting. Whenever I ask my advisor why I need this insurance he says to pay off bills or take a vacation if I should live long enough (3 months) after getting critically ill (cancer, stroke, heart attack...that kind of thing). When I was working and not retired it made more sense to me.  I was far too busy to scrutinize expenditures and maximize savings by implementing frugal measures and routines.  Even now that I am retired, I still don't have a lot of excess time for these two activities but I make time every year to evaluate where I'm at.  I'm retired now and eliminating critical illness insurance seems to be a good way to go. I've already notified my advisor by email so he wants to meet next month if I am free and get me to sign some papers. Perhaps he will try to convince me again but this time I am pretty certain. I also want to give up the accidental death coverage through my previous employer.

Total savings:  Approx. $265. dollars. $54 savings is spread over 6 months. The $120. on critical illness insurance won't be saved until my advisor gets me to sign papers next month. So real savings this month of August is about $ be used for charitable works and mom's birthday present.  Not too bad and soon I will have more savings. More tweaking of the budget and any resulting savings will allow me to continue with my ongoing charitable work in Kenya and also toward saving for household needs (renos, appliances, etc.).

 I'd like to hear your thoughts about your own experiences, if any, with critical illness insurance.

{Photos of flowers were all taken in Kenya.  Please do not use for Pinterest or any other purpose.  I hope I don't offend anyone but recently I found a number of my blog photos on Pinterest and no one had ever asked to use them. I guess this is kind of the purpose of Pinterest but I don't subscribe to that kind of usage.}


  1. I do not have that insurance, just a small life insurance policy & an accidental death policy. The accidental policy is less than $10 a month, so I will keep it. I too have been trying to scale back now that there is only 1 income coming in. It is hard to decide what to get rid of. I should get rid of the movie stations too as I don`t watch much tv.
    Wishing your mom a very happy birthday, & prayers continue for Elvis, Phyllis

    1. Hi Phyllis, I think your accidental death policy is an excellent price. Mine is 3x that amount but it would pay out a lot of money to any beneficiaries if it actually applies when I expire. I am planning at this point to get rid of it as I have other assets to leave any potential beneficiaries. I will decide after I finish "culling the budget". I think yo are wise to figure out how to scale back and get some efficiencies. I really don't need so many television options and I can cut some more phone costs in future. For now things remain as they are for various reasons. Best of luck with your cost cutting. xx

  2. I'd not heard of "critical illness policies" until you explained it. It's just another kind of insurance, sort of like the insurance stores push for big ticket items for repair after the warranty. I'll guess your agent makes more money on that policy than on the life insurance policy. I rather cynical about insurance at that level. I insure my house, my car, that's all. If you had banked that 125/month all these years you could take most any vacation you wanted now. I would start putting that savings aside to pay household bills in the event of an illness, and if it never materializes, take the vacation. All the above is my opinion only, I have no training except life.

    1. Yes, Joanne, it is just another form of insurance. I never purchase certain kinds of insurance and bought the critical illness because at the time I was quite worried about certain things happening to me while I was working. Those things no longer apply to my situation.You are right about saving the funds of $120 and that is potentially what I will do with the funds now to fund a nice vacation later. You may have no training but you have an awful lot of common (good) sense. xx

  3. It sounds like a lovely party you have planned for your mom. It will be fun for her to have family all around to celebrate her special day.
    I don't think I've heard of critical illness insurance. At any rate, I'm sure I don't have it! I'm impressed with all your budget-cutting. I live a no-frills sort of life so that I can travel a few weeks of the year. No tv so no pay cable or movie channels, rately dining out. I do pay for Internet, probably the one thing I could cut out of my budget. But then I would have to walk to the coffee shop and pay for coffee to use the internet, or drive to the library and use gas so I'm not sure how economical that would be in the end.

    1. Hi Cynthia, I'm looking forward to seeing mom and throwing her little party. It will be so nice to see her again and all the other members of the family. I haven't got to see my nephew's newest baby yet. He was just born in June.

      I always think people who live 'no frills' kind of life are very disciplined. I love that you can do without something in order to pay for something else you really love. I love travelling too but am not so disciplined to go without so I can have a trip. But I am often so busy too that my energy for travel has somewhat waned. I do look forward to one big trip every year or two so like you I don't dine out much or splurge on gifts or outings, subscribe to or pay for magazines, or pay full price for things. I'll often put off getting something I need. I think a lot of people do that. It's good that you have internet at home. Not only would you have to pay for coffee and drive to the library but it would not be so efficient or convenient for you to use the internet. These days the internet is pretty important as so many places require you to have access to onine accounts, etc. You can also use your internet to watch television programs, youtube videos and if you subscribe to netflix you can have access to so many movies for not so much money. Better yet, you can probably borrow DVDs etc. from your library. Thank you for stopping by. It was lovely to hear from you!

  4. Hello Penny. I hope your Mum is enjoying her birthday today and is feeling as well as she can. You are really inspiring with your budget cuts and insurance. I could tell you some stories about my and MrGreenfinger's ways of managing money but I won't. Suffice to say we are sadly lacking in the area of "sense" about money management and are too alike. I try to make changes in everyday bills but we struggle to agree. However, we are cutting back on electric and gas usage and are trying to reduce our food shopping bill. This month is going to be a hard one, so any unneccesary spending will be frowned upon by my inner adult.;) I often have flowers in the house, and am way overdue making a donation so am off to do that right now. xx

  5. I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration with your mom today.
    All of your photos are beautiful ..


  6. Hello Joyful, I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your kind comments on my blog and also for your replies to comments I’ve left on SNAPTHAT. Looking back to your post on August 26th, “Simple Living”, where we talked about following a lot of blogs … I talked about how many blogs I followed which prompted you to mention that at one time you had followed over 200 but had pared that back to spend more time at the blogs of your faithful followers. That struck me as being just an excellent idea. I am going to do that! Well, although I have a lot to follow there are only a very few that take their time to give me the encouraging and helpful comments and you are one of those! Another thank you for the name of the restaurant … the Sandbar. What a wonderful place to try out and I can’t wait for my next visit to Vancouver so I can check it out in person. Now, you were wondering about long term disability insurance … I should say I’m not any kind of expert on this … but I have done a bit of research online … and what I’ve discovered is that this kind of insurance is quite expensive and, quite often, turns out to be a source of disputes when people try to make claims on it. It seems the companies will tell you … Oh, it doesn’t cover this or that … but after you’ve paid in so much you believe that it should cover just about everything. I guess my suggestion would be to try and find someone who doesn’t have a state in selling it to help you sort out what is worthwhile and what isn’t. Now, I enjoyed reading about your plans for your mom’s birthday party. I believe it was yesterday, and I hope all turned out great. It sure sounds like you had excellent plans. And lastly, it sure sounds like you have done a wonderful job of examining all your expenses and cutting out the things that tend to drain the bank account without contributing much, if anything, to a better life. Congrats on that, I need to do it too! Well, I hope you had a chance to get some rest yesterday after the big party on Sunday. Best wishes to you for the week ahead. I’ll be looking forward to your next post on SNAPTHAT. John

  7. Gorgeous flower shots. Hope your mum has a lovely day.

  8. What a different world we would be in if everyone paid so much attention to evaluating what they did with their money. I can tell you really "value" each cent, which is the way it should be, yet you still enjoy and take good care of yourself.


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