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Thread: When Times Get Tough...What Do You Do?

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    LoveToSave wimbly11's Avatar
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    2
    Do despite our best intended plans to have a kick ass financial year in 2017....it seems life had other plans for us. Without writing a book here about what's happening, to sum it up:

    *We are expecting a new bundle of joy on July (This part is the good part)
    * DH's ex served us paper for more child support, extra payments for activities, we are now 95% responsible for braces...the list goes on and on
    *Lawyer fees for above problem
    * I will be on mat leave and reduced income come July
    *DH could possible be laid off in July as well
    *Plus, we are trying to finish our basement because we need more room with our expanding family.
    *We have debt we are desperately trying to pay off in addition so we will be more secure down the road

    There is myself, DH, our 2 year old daughter, baby on the way, and step daughter who we see hardly ever see these days.

    So my question is...share your frugal living, couponing, money-saving, extra income, and any other tips that you use to get you through those hard times. I love this site and read posts regularly, but thought if I started a thread, it may generate some great ideas that I haven't come across here and may help others as well. I am open to anything that can make this easier on us. I am having issues in my pregnancy and I'm supposed to keep stress low. Seeing how I am the one who handles money in our household, stress level is creeping up with everything that is coming at us, so I am trying to be proactive and create action plans to help us!
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    Cut everything and start over. Go without cable/internet. Make your bills the bare minimum.
    Do not buy anything other then food. Go through your junk- Sell what you can and save that money for needed items.
    No purchasing books/dvds/games. Visit the library to borrow for free.

    I did this when I first started off on my own. Amortized my house for less years so it was getting paid off quicker.
    I desperately need clothes now and still have a hard time spending on myself now that I don't have to be so tight with money.
    (I did all this with the fear of being without so I think that really helped me. I always worried about not having money to pay stuff that I always saved it which I guess in the long run is a good thing.)

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    I also want to remind you to enjoy life. You do not need to spend money to have fun. My kids still had fun when I was being extra frugal. My youngest to this day loves when I pack a picnic lunch and take him for a hike in the bush. It is one of his fav things to do. You are lucky that you have young children and can start now and to them it will be a way of life. If they don't know what it is like to go through a drive thru everytime they are thirsty you are setting them up for a lifetime of planning and being smart.
    I always pack snacks and drinks when we go out. There are so many free things to do. Utilize parks. Have a sport items available in the garage/shed so you can take a ball etc to the park.
    Hikes in the bush can lead to crafts at home later. We gathered rocks and pine cones when kids were younger. Then I would set up a table outside for painting/crafts . Your kids will not be deprived during your frugal revamp on life if you keep positive and use the outdoors/imagination.

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    I know this is way easier said then done, but try to let go of some of the stress and have your DH bear some of that weight for you. A fair bit of this is out of your control for now, eventually (although it may seem a world away) you will be able to regain that financial control back when you no longer have child support payments. Side note: Has the lawyer mentioned if your DH would qualify for 'Undue hardship' especially if he happens to be laid off?

    Focus on all the things that are under your control, and see where you can make cuts. Here are some of the things we did, when we started putting our financials as the top priority, some of them are probably unique to our situation, but maybe they will help jog some extra ideas.
    • Went down to a 1 vehicle family, and I started using public transport
    • Re-evaluated our life insurance packages - my DH is in a better place medically than when we applied for his life insurance, and we will be re-submitting an insurance application to see if his fees will be lowered.
    • Increased deductibles on home insurance, which lowered our monthly rate.
    • Cable, Home Phone, Internet, Cell Phone packages were all minimized. DH suggested to his boss that they could pay for a portion of his cell plan, rather than give him a second work cell phone, and they agreed.
    • Evaluated if we could lower our debt interest at all. Then made a debt-repayment plan that focused on freeing up cash-flow quickly, to snowball debt payments.
    • Purchased bulk pantry staples with family members to get a better deal.
    • Started a vegetable garden in the summer to help supplement food costs. My grandparents are also always adding to our veggie stock, as they love to garden but could never eat all that they produce.
    • Started learning to make some of our favorite take out meals at home, so that we could have 'date nights' without going out
    • Meal planning and keeping control of our kitchen waste has been huge for us. The most expensive food was the food we were throwing out
    • DH is a plumber, so he takes on some side work from time to time. Depending on what line of work your DH is in, could he swap his services for help in the basement reno? (Or maybe your planning to do that DIY style)
    • Anytime we needed to make a purchase we'd ask ourselves... will something else do this job? can we borrow this? can we rent this? can we get it second-hand? can we wait for a sale?
    • Making sure we are always submitting our receipts for things that are covered by things like our health insurance plans and also for things like the sewer cleaning we get done annually that the city may pay for because the roots we clean out are on their side of the pipe (its never a guarantee, but its worth 5 mins of my time to send a note/receipt in). DH's benefits package was downsized at his work, meaning we would need to pay out of pocket for some of his prescriptions because my plan didn't cover them. I found an appeal form, paid the DR to fill it out, and was able to get his meds covered the rest of the way by my plan so we don't pay out of pocket.
    Last edited by beckie.c; Tue, Feb 14th, 2017 at 02:28 PM. Reason: adding bullets, to make easier to read

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    Presumably your DH could have the lawyer raise the issue of what basic support is and how he is doing his part for food/shelter/clothing & basic needs-think the braces need to be 50/50 between both parents and you've previously explained how DH got stuck with 95% of bill-when responding to latest request. Also all extra curricular activities are likely not part of basic support-does the child and her mother not have a nearby library or community place that offers free programs for youth? Better to reply to the effect DH is covering basic needs but nothing else, braces need reduction and there is prospect of no support if his job goes into layoff. Ditto ongoing court stuff about more money requests-maybe he could try to have her take on more of the child support $$ needs on her own? Might as well ask.
    Would it be possible for DH to get an idea of what expenses the other parent is covering for her contributions to basic support for their child and why not ask if she can take on more of them? If she's got a smartphone or other extras, she has to reconsider them if she has little or low income.

    What I'm saying is that money issues have to be dealt with to align with child support needs, not wants and also say-the well is drying up. There are community programs that help with sporting or community centre program fees that are income-based. However dance lessons and the like-not everyone gets them. Some sports clubs may require the child and her mother to help with fundraising for their team if sport or Brownies or other service club work is involved.
    Last edited by Ciel; Tue, Feb 14th, 2017 at 03:26 PM.
    2017-Year of the Rooster

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    Dancing bean paste bun Ciel's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your baby-to-be! I'm sure you have compiled a list of your area parent or mom to mom sales or groups that would be good spots to get some clothing, bath or other baby needs if you don't have them still from child one's baby days.
    2017-Year of the Rooster

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    Wimbly-I am sure you will get though this even though it is challenging. Be sure and separate all your budget items into needs vs wants( for eg finishing the basement may be more of a want than a need while the kids are so young and could be put off until income is greater?) So after you look at reducing expenses, look at how you can boost income-for eg DH takes on a second job, you take a shorter mat leave if EI is not enough to cover your bills, or you do some babysitting while you are at home with your children( not sure if this income would come off your EI cheque so may not be worthwhile). It may be possible since your deuctions will be going up( child support, etc) to have less income tax taken off at source-speak to your employer to see if there is a form to fill in. Good luck with your new baby and whatever your family decides to do to help balance the budget.

    As well lots of food for thought on this blog written by a mother of 8 who had no income for several months.

    http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com/blog
    Last edited by lizzie bargain; Wed, Feb 15th, 2017 at 09:40 AM.

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    Canadian Guru jasperandchar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frugalbigmama View Post
    I also want to remind you to enjoy life. You do not need to spend money to have fun. My kids still had fun when I was being extra frugal. My youngest to this day loves when I pack a picnic lunch and take him for a hike in the bush. It is one of his fav things to do. You are lucky that you have young children and can start now and to them it will be a way of life. If they don't know what it is like to go through a drive thru everytime they are thirsty you are setting them up for a lifetime of planning and being smart.
    I always pack snacks and drinks when we go out. There are so many free things to do. Utilize parks. Have a sport items available in the garage/shed so you can take a ball etc to the park.
    Hikes in the bush can lead to crafts at home later. We gathered rocks and pine cones when kids were younger. Then I would set up a table outside for painting/crafts . Your kids will not be deprived during your frugal revamp on life if you keep positive and use the outdoors/imagination.
    Excellent advice
    2017 is the year that we continue to save before we buy!!!

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    Canadian Guru jasperandchar's Avatar
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    @wimbly11 please know you are not alone in this journey called life. I'm sure most of us can admit we've had some difficult times along the way but it does get better in time.

    I would suggest talking to your lawyer before agreeing/signing for added support. Can a clause of some of nature about layoffs, etc as how can he pay for something if he doesn't have the funds, just a thought, it might save you having to go through a lawyer again in the next few months.

    I agree with @Frugalbigmama since your children are young, they won't miss the added perks in life. It may take a few no's and then they will no longer ask and when they do get a treat it will be a really big deal/surprise.

    I would get your dh involved in a budget meeting twice a month, yes I know it sounds easier said than done but it's a must. We do a monthly budget meeting where will do the budgeting for the month and then at the 1/2 way mark we do a quick recalculation to ensure that we are indeed on track, it makes a huge difference.

    Cut expenses while you can (call to get lower rates for cellphones, cable/satellite) if you choose to keep those services.

    Use what you have on hand (food wise) and look on Pinterest etc for new recipes. Also start doing batch cooking so that you have meals ahead and this will save on hydro, etc.

    Live within your means I know this sounds simple but it can be quite challenging at times. Bring coffee, snacks, lunches from home for lunches or car rides, may it a challenge and reap the rewards of your accomplishments/savings.

    Organize toy, clothes, book swaps, home decor or anything else you can think of. You will be shocked with how many people are in the same situation (financially) or just live a frugal lifestyle and will be excited to participate. In the nicer weather these things can be done at a park, etc.

    Also if you participate in mom groups ran by your community, they often give each mother a bag of groceries for healthy eating groceries. When my 1st son was born I attended these and we were financially strapped. They offered 2 grocery bags of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and other healthy foods which I didn't know at the time I signed up. The group was sponsored and offered weekly grocery donations from the grocery stores and was open to anyone that wanted to participate. They also had free child care so the parents could discuss there challenges and it was great.

    If you are good at sewing etc, you can offer your services for extra $ or barter for goods/services you are needing. Or perhaps your husband can barter for services, etc. Shovelling snow this time of year can lead to some potential new income.

    When times get tough and I've been there and we still have our own challenges, we need to think outside the box. It's difficult to change the way we live initially, our spending habits, our indulgences, our monthly expenses etc BUT there are things that we do control over. Some things like @beckie.c said are beyond our control. There have been several years during our married life where we have struggled financially, many days/evening I cried, many bills did not get paid, we incurred tons of debts but it made us change. My dh has been fully on board with our new lifestyle for about 5 years, he does sometimes indulge in a coffee on his way home from work but our circumstances have changed drastically.

    Our time to be generous with ourselves and our family is Christmas time. We save all of our pc points, sdm points, swagbucks etc, leger web survey monies for Christmas. I

    If you have spare time throughout the day/evenings do surveys as it can be a little extra cash per month.

    Also sign up for the sdm (optimum) and load your Monday/Wednesday/Friday and week long offers, sdm has really great sales on food items such as bread, milk, etc and you earn points.

    Can you or your dh do your own oil changes, etc? just a thought

    Take care of what you have, so if clothes needs mending - do it before they cannot be salvaged, if a chair needs to be glued do it before it can't be repaired or you have to pay someone to fix it, etc.

    Shop at thrift store when they have sales such as fill a bag for x $, by used furniture as opposed to new. Older furniture such as dressers etc are built way better than the stuff found in stores.

    Post items that you cannot swap for sale, every little bit helps.

    Buy fruits and veggies that are on sale the week you do groceries. Some weeks I find it's cheaper to buy frozen veggies/fruits versus fresh.
    2017 is the year that we continue to save before we buy!!!

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    Canadian Guru jasperandchar's Avatar
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    Also perhaps your dh can take parental leave instead of a regular lay off? If not when he's laid off he can take care of the kids while you work atleast this way only 1 person will be drawing EI which in most cases is less money than a pay cheque. I know it's not ideal but it's something that can be considered and/or discussed. The sooner it's discussed the easier it may be to come to terms with and have a plan in place.

    Also will your dh still have his dental/medical benefits when and if he's laid off?

    Do you have mortgage insurance? If so it may be to your benefit if you have to go off work early. You would have to check into it and see how many weeks and/or months they would make the payments.

    We love popcorn and it's much cheaper than buying chips. you can get a huge bag of kernels at the grocery store and you don't use a lot per batch.

    Diapers have you considered cloth diapers for your baby, many say it's cheaper than buying disposable diapers. Breast feeding if it's an option is cheaper than buying formula. If your dh stays home with the baby you can pump your milk so that it's readily available.

    Also with many pancake breakfast fundraisers just around the corner (maple syrup time), consider volunteering as often the leftovers are sent home with the volunteers which is a perk and as well it's an outing.

    Take in free activities in your community or neighbouring communities.

    Many libraries offer free dvd rental as well as books. Many also have groups specifically for kids.

    Good luck
    Last edited by jasperandchar; Wed, Feb 15th, 2017 at 12:03 PM.
    2017 is the year that we continue to save before we buy!!!

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    Thank you Frugalbigmama. We can't cut internet because DH needs it for his side business but cable is going. We are decluttering now and trying to sell things, but not having much success.

    I love the the idea of still enjoying life and you don't need to spend money to have fun. Some great ideas for sure. I think this is important for keeping your sanity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frugalbigmama View Post
    Cut everything and start over. Go without cable/internet. Make your bills the bare minimum.
    Do not buy anything other then food. Go through your junk- Sell what you can and save that money for needed items.
    No purchasing books/dvds/games. Visit the library to borrow for free.

    I did this when I first started off on my own. Amortized my house for less years so it was getting paid off quicker.
    I desperately need clothes now and still have a hard time spending on myself now that I don't have to be so tight with money.
    (I did all this with the fear of being without so I think that really helped me. I always worried about not having money to pay stuff that I always saved it which I guess in the long run is a good thing.)
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    We are putting a clause in our response that talks about if he is laid off that we will not be responsible for all of this. So that may save us if that happens.

    We only have 1 vehicle now. We were planning on a second for my mat leave as we are 30 minutes outside of town, but I don't see that happening now. We're too far out of town, there's no public transit out here unfortunately. We are planning a garden this summer to help with produce costs. I haven't been doing great with meal planning and need to get back on that train!

    Quote Originally Posted by beckie.c View Post
    I know this is way easier said then done, but try to let go of some of the stress and have your DH bear some of that weight for you. A fair bit of this is out of your control for now, eventually (although it may seem a world away) you will be able to regain that financial control back when you no longer have child support payments. Side note: Has the lawyer mentioned if your DH would qualify for 'Undue hardship' especially if he happens to be laid off?

    Focus on all the things that are under your control, and see where you can make cuts. Here are some of the things we did, when we started putting our financials as the top priority, some of them are probably unique to our situation, but maybe they will help jog some extra ideas.
    • Went down to a 1 vehicle family, and I started using public transport
    • Re-evaluated our life insurance packages - my DH is in a better place medically than when we applied for his life insurance, and we will be re-submitting an insurance application to see if his fees will be lowered.
    • Increased deductibles on home insurance, which lowered our monthly rate.
    • Cable, Home Phone, Internet, Cell Phone packages were all minimized. DH suggested to his boss that they could pay for a portion of his cell plan, rather than give him a second work cell phone, and they agreed.
    • Evaluated if we could lower our debt interest at all. Then made a debt-repayment plan that focused on freeing up cash-flow quickly, to snowball debt payments.
    • Purchased bulk pantry staples with family members to get a better deal.
    • Started a vegetable garden in the summer to help supplement food costs. My grandparents are also always adding to our veggie stock, as they love to garden but could never eat all that they produce.
    • Started learning to make some of our favorite take out meals at home, so that we could have 'date nights' without going out
    • Meal planning and keeping control of our kitchen waste has been huge for us. The most expensive food was the food we were throwing out
    • DH is a plumber, so he takes on some side work from time to time. Depending on what line of work your DH is in, could he swap his services for help in the basement reno? (Or maybe your planning to do that DIY style)
    • Anytime we needed to make a purchase we'd ask ourselves... will something else do this job? can we borrow this? can we rent this? can we get it second-hand? can we wait for a sale?
    • Making sure we are always submitting our receipts for things that are covered by things like our health insurance plans and also for things like the sewer cleaning we get done annually that the city may pay for because the roots we clean out are on their side of the pipe (its never a guarantee, but its worth 5 mins of my time to send a note/receipt in). DH's benefits package was downsized at his work, meaning we would need to pay out of pocket for some of his prescriptions because my plan didn't cover them. I found an appeal form, paid the DR to fill it out, and was able to get his meds covered the rest of the way by my plan so we don't pay out of pocket.
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    The ex has no income. Therefore because he works he has been told that he is on the hook for the majority
    Quote Originally Posted by Ciel View Post
    Presumably your DH could have the lawyer raise the issue of what basic support of costs (ie braces)

    is and how he is doing his part for food/shelter/clothing & basic needs-think the braces need to be 50/50 between both parents and you've previously explained how DH got stuck with 95% of bill-when responding to latest request. Also all extra curricular activities are likely not part of basic support-does the child and her mother not have a nearby library or community place that offers free programs for youth? Better to reply to the effect DH is covering basic needs but nothing else, braces need reduction and there is prospect of no support if his job goes into layoff. Ditto ongoing court stuff about more money requests-maybe he could try to have her take on more of the child support $$ needs on her own? Might as well ask.
    Would it be possible for DH to get an idea of what expenses the other parent is covering for her contributions to basic support for their child and why not ask if she can take on more of them? If she's got a smartphone or other extras, she has to reconsider them if she has little or low income.

    What I'm saying is that money issues have to be dealt with to align with child support needs, not wants and also say-the well is drying up. There are community programs that help with sporting or community centre program fees that are income-based. However dance lessons and the like-not everyone gets them. Some sports clubs may require the child and her mother to help with fundraising for their team if sport or Brownies or other service club work is involved.
    SUPERPOINTS IS BACK!!!!
    Come join the fun
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    Thanks for the website. Looks great!

    We need to finish at least a room in the basement, as there is nowhere for my stepdaughter, so it's not really an option at this point.

    DH is looking at side jobs. Timing is difficult, but we're trying to see what we can make work.

    Quote Originally Posted by lizzie bargain View Post
    Wimbly-I am sure you will get though this even though it is challenging. Be sure and separate all your budget items into needs vs wants( for eg finishing the basement may be more of a want than a need while the kids are so young and could be put off until income is greater?) So after you look at reducing expenses, look at how you can boost income-for eg DH takes on a second job, you take a shorter mat leave if EI is not enough to cover your bills, or you do some babysitting while you are at home with your children( not sure if this income would come off your EI cheque so may not be worthwhile). It may be possible since your deuctions will be going up( child support, etc) to have less income tax taken off at source-speak to your employer to see if there is a form to fill in. Good luck with your new baby and whatever your family decides to do to help balance the budget.

    As well lots of food for thought on this blog written by a mother of 8 who had no income for several months.

    http://www.theprudenthomemaker.com/blog
    SUPERPOINTS IS BACK!!!!
    Come join the fun
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    Thank you for all of these great suggestions.

    This is so overwhelming now and my head is spinning...

    Quote Originally Posted by jasperandchar View Post
    @wimbly11 please know you are not alone in this journey called life. I'm sure most of us can admit we've had some difficult times along the way but it does get better in time.

    I would suggest talking to your lawyer before agreeing/signing for added support. Can a clause of some of nature about layoffs, etc as how can he pay for something if he doesn't have the funds, just a thought, it might save you having to go through a lawyer again in the next few months.

    I agree with @Frugalbigmama since your children are young, they won't miss the added perks in life. It may take a few no's and then they will no longer ask and when they do get a treat it will be a really big deal/surprise.

    I would get your dh involved in a budget meeting twice a month, yes I know it sounds easier said than done but it's a must. We do a monthly budget meeting where will do the budgeting for the month and then at the 1/2 way mark we do a quick recalculation to ensure that we are indeed on track, it makes a huge difference.

    Cut expenses while you can (call to get lower rates for cellphones, cable/satellite) if you choose to keep those services.

    Use what you have on hand (food wise) and look on Pinterest etc for new recipes. Also start doing batch cooking so that you have meals ahead and this will save on hydro, etc.

    Live within your means I know this sounds simple but it can be quite challenging at times. Bring coffee, snacks, lunches from home for lunches or car rides, may it a challenge and reap the rewards of your accomplishments/savings.

    Organize toy, clothes, book swaps, home decor or anything else you can think of. You will be shocked with how many people are in the same situation (financially) or just live a frugal lifestyle and will be excited to participate. In the nicer weather these things can be done at a park, etc.

    Also if you participate in mom groups ran by your community, they often give each mother a bag of groceries for healthy eating groceries. When my 1st son was born I attended these and we were financially strapped. They offered 2 grocery bags of fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and other healthy foods which I didn't know at the time I signed up. The group was sponsored and offered weekly grocery donations from the grocery stores and was open to anyone that wanted to participate. They also had free child care so the parents could discuss there challenges and it was great.

    If you are good at sewing etc, you can offer your services for extra $ or barter for goods/services you are needing. Or perhaps your husband can barter for services, etc. Shovelling snow this time of year can lead to some potential new income.

    When times get tough and I've been there and we still have our own challenges, we need to think outside the box. It's difficult to change the way we live initially, our spending habits, our indulgences, our monthly expenses etc BUT there are things that we do control over. Some things like @beckie.c said are beyond our control. There have been several years during our married life where we have struggled financially, many days/evening I cried, many bills did not get paid, we incurred tons of debts but it made us change. My dh has been fully on board with our new lifestyle for about 5 years, he does sometimes indulge in a coffee on his way home from work but our circumstances have changed drastically.

    Our time to be generous with ourselves and our family is Christmas time. We save all of our pc points, sdm points, swagbucks etc, leger web survey monies for Christmas. I

    If you have spare time throughout the day/evenings do surveys as it can be a little extra cash per month.

    Also sign up for the sdm (optimum) and load your Monday/Wednesday/Friday and week long offers, sdm has really great sales on food items such as bread, milk, etc and you earn points.

    Can you or your dh do your own oil changes, etc? just a thought

    Take care of what you have, so if clothes needs mending - do it before they cannot be salvaged, if a chair needs to be glued do it before it can't be repaired or you have to pay someone to fix it, etc.

    Shop at thrift store when they have sales such as fill a bag for x $, by used furniture as opposed to new. Older furniture such as dressers etc are built way better than the stuff found in stores.

    Post items that you cannot swap for sale, every little bit helps.

    Buy fruits and veggies that are on sale the week you do groceries. Some weeks I find it's cheaper to buy frozen veggies/fruits versus fresh.
    SUPERPOINTS IS BACK!!!!
    Come join the fun
    https://www.superpoints.com/join/E_V...HakUR2RSb3SXJk

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