Fabulously frugal: Make your New Year’s resolutions money-saving solutions

Small change can add up to big savings — and it can happen more quickly than you might think! Photo by Ilana Gotz.

Well, Kingston, 2024 will soon be upon us. The New Year is a time of reflection and making changes, or at least vowing to — I’m looking at you, unused treadmill!

Is your resolution to save some money in 2024? Just like small charges add up to big expenses, small savings add up to big savings. Finding 100 ways to save just $1 is $100 saved. And if you can do that every month, that’s $1,200 a year. Just imagine what you could do with that!

Make a goal, but don’t just visualize it — put a chart on your fridge to track your progress.
Setting goals allows you to:

  • stay focused on the desired outcomes.
  • increase your efforts and maintain them.
  • see your progress.

Practical tips for saving money

Photo by Oleksandr P.

Reducing what we buy is probably one of the biggest ways to save money.

While it’s impossible to stop buying food, socks, and underwear, we all spend our hard-earned dollars on stuff. And most of us have too much stuff.

Before making a purchase, consider:

  1. Can you do without it? One way to find out is to forgo it for a week and see if it makes any difference in your life.
  2. Can you fix it or mend it? YouTube has countless videos on do-it-yourself repairs and fixes for many things, from sewing a button on clothing to replacing the belt on your dryer. We also regularly have Repair Cafés in Kingston, which are free. Info on those here: https://www.facebook.com/ktownrepair/
  3. Can you re-purpose something else to substitute for what you want to buy? Old T-shirts cut into rectangles make great substitutes for those dry-mop dusting cloths, for example.
  4. Can you buy it used/thrift it/find it free on one of the many social media groups?
  5. Can you borrow the item if it’s for short-term use?
  6. Can you purchase this item and share it with a neighbour, friend, or relative? I shared my lawnmower with someone else on my street for years.
  7. Bulk purchases and on-sale purchases for necessities: I know you’re all following this column for grocery savings, but things like bathroom tissue, dish soap, and laundry soap can be bought when there’s a deal and tucked away for use later. So if you have the means to take larger quantities home and space to store them, this can prevent having to pay a higher price for something when you suddenly run out.

    The cheapest laundry soap is usually not the handy little pucks or pods, but the liquid. But knowing how much detergent to use can be confusing! Frugal person tip: the measuring cup/lid is not supposed to be filled to the top for most loads! That tiny print on the lid or the back of the bottle is hard to see, but as I found out, there are actually measuring lines inside that little cup. I’d been using DOUBLE the laundry soap I was supposed to! (I now keep a pair of reading glasses beside the washing machine.)

  8. Reduce utility consumption: If you’re on time-of-use for power, only do laundry after 7p.m., before 7a.m., and/or on weekends to save 1/3 of the cost. If you have the space, grab some nylon twine from the dollar store and make a makeshift clothes line in your basement to dry everything you can for free! Some things like shirts can be hung on hangers on the shower bar, too. Turn your heat down at night and when no one is home. Use motion sensor attachments for lights so they only go on when someone is in the room or outside your exterior door. And of course, LED bulbs use MUCH less electricity than incandescent bulbs. Another frugal fact: Your oven uses 90 per cent more electricity than a microwave.
  9. Batch cooking after 7 p.m. or on weekends and re-heating in the microwave saves a lot. (Of course you can also reheat in the oven depending on what food and what amount you’re heating.)
  10. Using public transportation can save you vehicle costs and parking fees. Kingston even has a program for reduced fees for bus passes through the Municipal Fee Assistance Program (MFAP), which offers access to City programs “to help residents who live in lower-income households get around Kingston to lead active and healthy lives.” More info on that here: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/residents/community-services/municipal-fee-assistance
  11. Longing to work out, but the gym is not in your budget? Try the Y! The YMCA of Eastern Ontario offers affordable programs for the whole family. And — almost as if they knew I was writing this column — the YMCA of Eastern Ontario is offering a New Year promotion for new members: five days of free access to their facilities! Offer expires January 31, 2024, and more information on the promotion and needs-based rate programs can be found here: https://eo.ymca.ca/current-promo.
Hanging some of your laundry to dry is not only the most gentle way to dry clothing — giving it a longer lifespan — it also saves energy used to run the dryer multiple times or with an oversized load. Photo by Ron Lach.

With those cost-saving tips in mind, here are some of the best deals on groceries in Kingston this week

Some good deals on the makings for vegetarian chili this week, as well as roasted pork loin with carrots and onions, and some healthy fruit and nuts for snacks. Laundry soap and dish soap are well priced, too.

The best deals on groceries, this time listed by retail location, are:

Giant Tiger

Chicken strips or burgers: Janes (frozen), $4.74/600-700 g box

Peanut butter: Planters, $4.44/1 kg container

Bagels: Great Value, $1.74/six

Salmon fillets: High Liner (frozen),$7.97/400 g bag*
*This price is for Giant Tiger VIP members, and membership is free. There are usually four to five pieces of salmon in a package, so it’s a decent price on a per-serving basis!

Food Basics

Pork loin: In-store deli, vacuum-packed, $2.98/lb
These can be sliced into medallions and are a good replacement for more expensive pork chops.

They say you shouldn’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, but you also shouldn’t do a grocery run without a plan! Planning ahead a little can help to save money in a big way. Photo by Franki Chamaki.

Avocados: $1.88/bag (five per bag)
Cocktail tomatoes: $1.88/453 g
With both on sale: guacamole time!

Clementines: $2.98/2 lbs

Assorted nuts: Irresistible brand, $2.98/250 g

Vegetable Oil: Saporito, $7.98/3 L

No Frills

Broth: No Name brand, select varieties, $1/900 ml carton

Frozen fruit: Naturally Imperfect No Name brand, select varieties, $2.40/300-400 g bag

Fresh peppers: Red or green, $2.88/pkg of four

Canned produce: Unico brand beans, tomatoes, lentils, chickpeas $1.35/540-796 ml can

Basmati rice: Elephant brand, $10.49/ 4 kg bag
Suggestion: split this with friend or family member, as it’s a LOT of rice!

Frozen French fries: No Name brand, select varieties, $2.29/1 kg bag

Canned tuna: No Name brand, select varieties, $1/85-170 g can

Carrots: $2.99/3 lb bag

Onions: $2.99/3 lb bag

Dish soap: No Name brand, $2/800 ml bottle

Laundry detergent: Tide, liquid, $7.99/3.4 L (74-load) jug

And remember: No Frills will price match exact items that can be found at a cheaper price elsewhere!


Cheese: Black Diamond brand, blocks or shredded, $4.49/300-400 g

We all are stretching our budgets this time of year. What are YOUR money saving tips? Let us know (details below).

Happy New Year, and may it be a frugal one!

Kingston resident Sarah Cronk offers tips on money-saving strategies and the best deals to be found in local grocery stores in her bi-weekly Kingstonist column, Fabulously Frugal. Have any questions for Sarah or things you’d like her to investigate in terms of cost savings? Let us know! Email Kingstonist Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

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