Coupons & Other Bargains

I love a bargain.  I love to use coupons.  I don’t use them very often, but nevertheless, when I can get $3 off a package of diapers or laundry detergent, I’m pretty happy.  My biggest challenge with coupons is the same one I have with bringing my own bags: getting them out of the car and into the store.

My usual source for coupons is as mix of Canadian Freebie blog, Save.ca and random stuff that comes in the mail.  The trouble, with these sources, is that they are not often coupons for brands I usually buy.  They are coupons for big name consumer packaged goods.  Hence, I was so happy to learn about ‘The Healthy Shopper’.  These guys have coupons for all sorts of green, eco friendly, or just plain stuff I like.

I’ll still have trouble remembering to bring them into the store.  Perhaps I should store them in the re-useable bags.

Saving Money & Still Having Fun

There are so many fun things to do in the summer, both indoors and out. But as you have no doubt already noticed, most of them cost money. I started thinking about this after we paid $17 ($15 family entry + $2 parking) to go to the Herb Fest. It wasn’t even my money (thanks dad!), but I didn’t like the feeling that I/we had paid $17 so that people could sell us stuff (turns out the Herb Fest is mostly sales stalls).

This is why I love the library (see yesterday’s post), but the library is not the only freebie out there:

  • My guys love the splash pads. Run by the City of Ottawa, you can find them in almost every neighborhood. If I remember to bring along some bubbles then we are set for a whole morning/afternoon.
  • Shakespeare in the Park: We haven’t tried this one yet, but I think it’s going to be a riot. There are only two weeks of performances yet, so get your fix now.
  • Picking berries: this has worked well for us from +18 months. There’s definitely more eating than picking at 18 months, but by the time my guy hit 3, he could fill up a berry basket all on his own. Strawberries are the easiest to pick, but it’s nice to go to a farm that has other selections at their farm store, so you can bring home a bounty. Here’s a quick summary of local u-pick farms
  • Kids Sports: We live close to a local soccer field. It’s a great venue for baseball games, soccer games, ultimate and even the occasional cricket match. There’s no need for me to pay to see a game, when it’s just as much fun for my guys to watch kids that are 10-15 run around. Not to mention that my guys can run/walk/crawl and generally entertain themselves along the sidelines. The kids on the field love to have someone that’s not mom and dad cheering for them.
  • Nature Walks: I wish we did more of these. When I’m at home and thinking about what to do for the day, it always feels like this is a big deal to plan. But that’s entirely not the case. You can start at any point along the NCC path system and have a great walk. If you want something a bit more rugged, you can go to any NCC nature conservation area (such as: Stoney Swamp, Green’s Creek or Mer Bleu) and go for a trail walk. There’s no need to lug your gang all the way up to the Gatineau’s to enjoy nature in Ottawa

This is by no means an exhaustive list. What are some of your favorites?

Love the Library

I’m a library geek and I’m not ashamed to admit it. The library is a great diversion for my kids, we can wander over and get some excercize along the way and once we’re there there is a lot to keep everyone entertained. I never browse the adult section, but simply order my books ahead of time. I get an e-mail letting me know they have arrived, and my kids know that the last thing we do before check out is look for ‘mommy’s books’.

Our local library finally has the kids backpack program. It’s been available at the big branches for a long time, but now you can walk into almost any Ottawa library branch and pick up a backpack full of kids books. The books have been selected by librarians to be age appropriate. When I’m short on time, this means I can pop into the library and pickup a bag of books to bring home as a quick, happy and super cheap package for the boys.

As the librarians have vetted the books, this program also prevents me from bringing home any of the doozies that have accidently graced our shelves of late. These include:

  • The boy whose dad has died and whose mom gets a new boyfriend. The new boyfriend likes sailing and moves in with the mom and boy. When I flipped through the pictures it looked like a happy story about a family that liked to go sailing. I missed the details that the man was the new boyfriend.
  • The story about the little pig that spent lots of time playing and learning about the ‘old days’ from grandma. Again, didn’t pay close enough attention to the end of the story, where the grandma gets sick, can’t move and eventually dies while the little pig holds her.

These are only some of the winners that have escaped my editorial eye as I pile books into the stroller that my older one picks out.

All that to say, drop into your local library and see what book bags they might have for you.