Cruising on a Budget

Now is a good time to buy some discount cruises if you have the money and the time. You have to be careful though in that you will likely spend more money than the advertised price. MSNBC has good tips on how to cruise on a budget. The article provides a good link to a travel budget calculator. It is important to plan and budget for all the incidental costs that quickly add up and may make what you thought to be a bargain an expensive proposition.

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Remember The Milk

I found a wonderful online task manager (aka glorified to do list). Remember The Milk allows you to keep all your to do lists in one place. Because it is online, you can check in at work, at home, and if you have the right application on your cell phone. I may finally get organized πŸ˜‰ Online is the only way to go.

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Family gourmet meals under $10

This is a nice video from CNN showing how you can make gourmet meals for a family of four for less than $10. This is something that I have discussed in the past: it is always cheaper to prepare meals at home.

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My wife and I were going to go cross-country skiing. It would have been an expensive treat: $10 each for the equipment rental and $10 for two hours on the trails (total of $40 for both of us). Unfortunately, they had a competition at the club today, and advised us that it would be better for us to come another day. We had to look for other options, and found something better.

I had heard that we could rent snowshoes from our university’s sports centre for $5 each for the entire day. We decided to try it out. We went with a friend who is an avid snowshoer and rented a pair for my wife and I. From the university, we followed a snowmobile trail down the forested hill. Then we climbed up the hill back to the university. Below is a photo of the hill in the summer courtesy of Google maps.

The Hill

In total we spent two hours snowshoeing. We had a great time trekking through the forested hill, breathing in the fresh air and getting some great exercise. Best of all, it was cheap. It only cost us $10 for a great time out.

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Digital Scale

In a previous post, I noted that I was going toΒ  buy a scale to ensure that I would be getting the most value for my money when shipping packages by mail. I was going to buy one at Staples, but I found a better option. A friend recommended a Starfrit electronic kitchen scale.


I bought this scale for $29.99 plus taxes at Canadian Tire. It is an excellent scale that can weigh up to 5 kilos (11 pounds) and has a margin of error of 1 gram (0.5 ounces).

It is ideal for my needs. It is flat, so I can easily weigh boxes or other small packages. It can weigh both in grams and ounces. I can thus use it both for weighing packages before I mail them and the occasional task in the kitchen.

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Cost or Convenience

I have to confess, one of my weaknesses is popcorn. I love popcorn! I could eat popcorn every day. However, the challenge is balancing cost, convenience and taste.

For a while, I was buying popcorn bags for the microwave in bulk from Costco. It was convenient, but to be honest, I did not like the taste.

Before that, I had been using a popcorn maker that worked on hot air. It was good, but I found the popcorn a bit dry. It didn’t match the taste of homemade popcorn made on the stove. The popcorn maker also burnt out after a while.

I then returned back to making popcorn on the stove. It is the taste that I like, but of course it is not as convenient as making it in the microwave.

Finally, I spotted an interesting item at my local London Drugs: a Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper.


This popcorn popper can be used with or without oil. I prefer using oil as it makes popcorn that tastes exactly like mom used to make it or as I make it on the stovetop πŸ˜‰ It is also convenient: I put it in the microwave for 3.5 minutes and the popcorn is ready.

My only concern: cost and durability. The cost at London Drugs is $11.99 plus taxes. It is not cheap, but this popcorn maker is durable. It is made of Gemstone (still haven’t discovered what exactly that is) and the bowl itself is unbreakable. As for the cost, it has the convenience of popcorn bags, but I am certain that I have paid for the popper by now: it is a lot cheaper bying popcorn and oil as opposed to microwave popcorn bags.

All told, trying to find a right balance between convenience and cost can be a challenging process. I am happy that I have found a good solution to feed my popcorn habit πŸ˜‰

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Soap Sacks

I have found another way of saving some money: soap sacks. Before, I used to buy body wash and body puffs for the shower. The body wash is extremely extensive: $3, $4 or $5 dollars. I like the lather that the body wash produced and preferred it to washing with a regular bar of soap, which was much cheaper. However, I came across soap sacks which are a nice alternative. You put the soap inside the sack and you can lather up the soap, creating as much lather as a body wash.

The soap also dries nicely in the soap sack which does not leave it soft and slimy as soap usually gets in the shower. Simply put, it allows me to enjoy the benefits of body wash at the cost of cheap soap. This is not the brand that I have (I bought a cheap version at Wal-Mart), but this ad will give you a general idea of what a nylon soap sack looks like.

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