Ingredients

Money saving products are the focus of the Ingredients section. They can help serve up a tastier financial future. Some make a big difference. Others are just easy hacks. They don’t get added unless they are reputable and tested. We don’t accept payment to list offerings, but we may get a referral fee if you check out or buy these products and services. Web sites are usually to the company, but shop around to get them at the best price.

Housing

Alarms

The Monitoring Center – Same monitoring service as the big guys, just a lot cheaper. I switched from my original provider and saved $25 a month. Took a ten minute phone call. And I can tell you from a couple of false alarms, that they really are connected to the police. Services parts of the US and Canada.

Energy saving

Nest thermostat – great investment. Set it to reduce heating at night or while you are away. Same idea for AC in the summer. Pays for itself in a year and helps keep the planet green. Forget to turn down the heat on vacation? Control it from anywhere with wifi. Brilliant.

Phillips LED bulbs – These bulbs just keep getting cheaper and better. Hit up your local Home Depot for a multi-pack. Get the warm white ones for most of your home and the cool white ones for the garage and laundry room. As a minimum replace the 12 most-used bulbs in your house. They even have ones for chandeliers and bathroom vanity. And no, the light isn’t weird and they don’t flicker or contain mercury. Simplest way to slash electricity bills.

Transportation

Esso Speedpass – Love this. Take 10 minutes, go to the site and get an account. Order speedpasses for you and your family members, connect them to your points credit card and start collecting. Pay faster and use the points to eliminate paying for carwashes. Forever (Canada only)

Food & Drink

  • Nordic Ware Microwave Popcorn Popper  – This thing is brilliant. Make popcorn for a fraction of the cost of individually packed microwave popcorn. Use regular popping corn. Less fat, less packaging. Awesome popcorn!

Household

Appliance repairs

  • Appliancevideo.com – professional grade appliance repair videos by make, model and issue. Remarkable how easy most of these repairs are! I just fixed my basement beer fridge that was leaking water inside. 4 bolts to remove and a quick fix!

Buying research

  • Consumer Reports Online – Wouldn’t it be great if you only ever bought the best products and services and never got stuck with a lemon? That’s the whole idea of Consumer Reports Online – look up just the category you are about to buy. At $25/year it is an incredible bargain. But don’t tell them that!
  • CNET – detailed reviews of anything technology based. Find the best cable TV alternatives, wireless headphones, cell phones, bluetooth speakers – it’s all here!

Eyecare

  • ZenniGreat way to buy eyeglasses. Get the specs (sorry about that) of your prescription from an eye doctor and enter them online. Pick the frames you like and your glasses get shipped right to your house. A fraction of the cost of an eyeglass store. Warby Parker is another option.

Groceries

  • To Good to Go – this app attacks food waste by offering restaurant and grocery food that would otherwise go to waste. Available in select US and Canadian cities.

Healthcare

  • Jason Health – Low cost medical testing. Order your own tests to keep an eye on levels for common issues like blood sugar, cholesterol etc. Not a replacement for regular medical checkups
  • Turquoise Health – incredible site that lets you compare the costs of pretty much any medical procedure in your area. As an example, colonoscopies range from $400 to $4,000.

Laundry – Easy ways to save on the cost of laundry

  • Wool dryer balls – Rather than buying dryer sheets every month, buy these once and leave them in your dryer. Antistatic and softening action without the chemicals and cost. They pay for themselves in the first couple of months.

Music Lessons

  • Justin Guitar – Very comprehensive free online guitar instruction with optional paid workbooks.
  • Piano Pig – Extensive online piano instruction with drills, tutorials, multiple styles etc. About 1/10th the cost of in-person lessons.

Prescription Drugs – Drugstores are usually the most expensive way to get prescriptions filled. Try these alternatives. Read my blog post on how I saved 96% on one prescription.

  • Blink Health – my favorite – check drug prices online, delivers to your door  (US)
  • GoodRX – delivers to your door or pick up at a pharmacy (US)

Shaving – lower the costs of your daily shave with these products:

  • Astra Platinum Double Edged Safety Razor Blades – OK a little trickier than using cartridge blades, but at about 1/30th the cost, they are worth a try. Get yourself a nice safety razor, brush and stand on Amazon or Etsy and enjoy an old-school shave with hot lather for a fraction of the cost of cartridge blades
  • Harry’s – great shaving products at about 1/2 drugstore prices – easy switch to make.
  • Taconic Shaving Soap – Lasts forever, available in great scents (like Bay Rum), natural ingredients. No aerosol cans, nothing to waste. Works with cartridge razors but even better with old-school safety razors.
  • Razorpit – Why didn’t someone think of this sooner? Razorpit is a little gizmo that can sharpen and refresh your cartridge razor blades. Pays for itself in about 5 weeks. Takes a bite out of those drug store bills and saves all of those blades going to landfill. Win win.

 College Tuition

  • My Campus GPS Scholarship Coursean online course for high school students and their parents, with step-by-step instructions on how to write winning scholarship applications for university.  The only program of its kind in Canada, it makes writing scholarship applications faster and easier. Lots of other helpful information at the site here.

Wireless plans

Lifestyle

Entertainment

  • TV Fool is a great website to see what channels you can get at your home address with an Over The Air Antenna.
  • YoutubeTV is my pick for the best streaming cable TV alternative. 85 channels, an unlimited DVR and priced at about 1/2 of a typical cable TV alternative
  • Disablemycable is a US site with great instructions on how to save on TV cable. Similar to cutcord above, but with a focus on US solutions.

Clothing

  • Indochino is my new favourite way to buy suits, shirts, pants and sports jackets. Get measured up once and the rest of your buying can happen from your phone or laptop. Clothes arrive to your door in a box straight from China. Awesome fit and super-convenient
  • Poshmark is a site where you can buy and sell lightly used clothing as well as electronics and houseware. Great way to get designer and/or high quality clothing and footwear for much less than new.

Fitness – there are lots of ways to get in a workout and save on gym fees.

  • Apple Fitness+ is a great choice if you have an Apple Watch. New workouts each week for treadmill, strength, yoga, cycling and even meditation. Integrates with the watch functionality to track workouts, heart rates and stores all of the information in the Apple ecosystem. Reasonable monthly subscription or bundle to get Apple One with Apple News+ (maybe do away with your newspaper subscription), Arcade, extra iCloud storage, Apple Music and Apple TV+.
  • Bitgym app for iOS or Android. This is my favorite when I want to escape the “in gym” feel of Apple Fitness +. The app lets you run or bike in locations around the world. Transform your treadmill workout to a run through Bogota or Patagonia. Or ride your spinning bike through Barcelona or the Fusine Lakes (wherever that is!). Several free routes, then a nominal monthly subscription to get to the rest.

Financial

  • Canadian Couch Potato is a great website that is a primer on low cost investing and how to use Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s) to simplify your investments. A great place to start if you are making the move to DIY investing. His Couch Potato approach is an easy, hands off methodology.
  • Knightsbridge provides low cost foreign exchange conversion. Changing money at the airport is very expensive, banks are better, but Knightsbridge is the best I have found.
  • The Answer Is – a great site by David Jenkins to teach millennials and others about investing. Absolutely free and packed with useful information to learn about ETFs, investing and how to get started.
  • Turbotax by Intuit is a great way to get your taxes done and fully compliant with US and Canadian tax regulations. The free version will cover most returns while paid versions ensure that your return is reviewed by real accountants.

Calculators & Tools

  • Calculator.net – Tons of useful calculators. Go to the site, then search for future value calculator (useful for calculating the future value of monthly invested amounts), loan calculator, mortgage calculator etc.
  • Redfin – easy way to get a quick estimate of your homes value for calculating your overall wealth
  • Kelly Blue Book – find the value of your vehicles. Search by license plate and state or make, model or VIN.

Learn More

The best money saving products are the ones that teach you more about how to manage and grow your money. Here are some books, blogs and websites that are worth your while.

Books

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad – great book to start learning about wealth vs consumption. Robert Kiyosaki profiles 2 hypothetical families to really learn about wealth. Worth the read.
  • The Richest Man in Babylon – a personal finance classic. George Clason provides a great foundation in this 1926 classic on the value of saving and the fundamental approaches to financial independence. Great place to start your personal finance journey. Looks like it is $0.88 to download it as a kindle book on Amazon. A must do.
  • Single Best Investment – a primer on dividend stock investing. Lowell Miller lays it out there: why dividend investing makes sense, how to build a great portfolio, how to use dividend investing to accelerate growth. Excellent book that is a must read for DIY investors.
  • Wealthing Like Rabbits – witty personal finance book aimed at millennials, but useful for all of us. Lots of  analogies that help with mind shifts on things like compound interest, debts, housing and a great potpourri section at the end. First personal finance book I’d buy for a millennial. OK, maybe the second ;-).
  • Rich is a State of Mind – well written  personal finance book that takes the reader through a complete tour of the key concepts of building a roadmap to wealth. Easy to read and highly informative, it drives home key points on paying yourself first, the power of compound growth and plenty of specific tools and strategies.

Blogs

  • Money We Have – Barry Choi’s blog is well written and well researched. Lots of useful financial information. Barry really shines on credit cards and travel where he is a total ninja. Well worth subscribing and reading.
  • Mr. Money Moustache – great money blog. Take an afternoon and blitz through his postings. Lots are a bit extreme, like how to bring home large appliances on your bike, but he gets you in the right headspace. Great, irreverent writing style. A pioneer in the FIRE  and living with less movement. Love it.
  • My Own Advisor – very comprehensive blog by Ottawa writer Mark Seed. Covers everything from saving ideas to a primer on stock selection, book reviews and everything else in between . A great investment would be 30 minutes a week reading his posts. Bookmark it!

What Else?

Money saving products are a great place to start. To make your financial future even tastier, be sure to check out my blog and get the full financial buffet in Cashflow Cookbook.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash