Thursday, March 01, 2007

Saving Money - Part IV

Well I'll apologize in advance if this post makes no sense. The kid last night decided to wake us up not once, or three, but five times. So I'm barely awake and I'm paying more attention to when my coffee maker will stop brewing so I can make it through the day.

The other day I was talking to a few friends at lunch and the topic of making your food came up. One fellow was eating a brownie that he made from a kit, while another was eating a can of pre-made soup for lunch. When I pulled out my lunch of leftovers they were impressed. It was homemade chicken nuggets and this the conversation that followed.

Friend 1: Ooo, where do you buy such small chicken nuggets?

CD: My wife made them.

Friend 1: Well that's a lot of work.

CD: No, it wasn't. Just cut up chicken and coast in breadcrumbs with a few spices and bake for 15 minutes. It was easy.

Friend 2: No making this brownie was easy. Just add water to the mix and bake.

CD: Ok, how much did you pay for your kit?

Friend 2: I'm not sure but about $3.

CD: Well it takes me perhaps five extra minutes and I can make that from scratch for around $0.25.

Friend 1: Ok, but can you make a soup like this?

CD: Yes, how do you think I use up some of my leftovers? I make soup on the weekend.

So this lead me to a thought. People need to get back to their kitchens and remember how to cook (or learn if they don't know). It's cheaper, healthier and it is a skill you will use daily for your entire life.

Unlike the rest of the population I have a special motivation. I used to work for a chemical distribution company, so I have seen all those chemical additives to prepackaged foods. Trust me when I say that once you have seen them in their raw form you will try to avoid those additives for the rest of your life. My skin still crawls when I think about it.


Already Retired said...

Saving Money

For years, perhaps decades (ouch) I took a thermos of tea to work. This alone saved a couple of bucks a day at coffee breaks.

Have you ever calculated what difference it would make if you saved only $2 per day for every workday and added this amount to retirement savings for 20 years?

Allow for 3 weeks vacation and a little slippage. Lets say 49 weeks per year, say only 4 days per week, $2 per day comes to $395 per year. Then compound $395 per year for 20 years inside an RRSP.

My “time value of money” tables and formulas are stored in the darn crawl space and I can’t be bothered to go dig them out. Can anyone else help me out here?

Say a nominal 4 percent per year. Just “stuffing the mattress” gives you $7,900 after 20 years. Dam…I think my coffee savings alone paid for most of my old sailboat! Trust me…the views I enjoy from the boat in Desolation Sound are much nicer than the view I ever got from the workplace coffee room.

To put a different spin on this topic, consider the environmental impact of your life style. There are an abundance of opportunities to save a buck. And savings are all “after tax” money in your pocket. Saving money in general may become more popular as people realize that it is also good for the environment.

For example, keeping your car an extra year means you have deferred the need for a factory to manufacture a new vehicle for one year. Less steel, plastic, energy consumption and so on. Repairing the old fence or article of clothing so it will last longer has a similar environmental benefit. Doing errands on the way home from work, rather than making a special trip, saves you operating costs for an extra trip. Multiply this by a few million households and it adds up to a significant environmental impact.

All of these green activities can get you to financial independence/retirement sooner, or just make retirement more enjoyable when you get there.

Already Retired

Already Retired said...

Time value of money formulas are only a click away on the net at:

Now thats saving my energy!


Canadian Dream said...


You know its vaguely scary how much like you I think. I'm big into saving money by being green too. I personally don't like paying more for something that I have too, so saving money with CFL instead of regular light bulbs seems like an obvious decision to me.

Thanks for your link, by the way your coffee earn you $12,074 based on saving $395/year at 4% for 20 years.


Middle Class Millionaire said...

As you know CD - I couldn't agree more. I have the same conversations with people at work but mine usually focus around the cost savings of eating healthy (the green aspect is a nice bonus that I hadn't thought about)


Qcash said...


I actually really enjoy cooking. I never did it while working, but early retirement has allowed me to explore this "creative" outlet (much to my wife's chagrin ;-)

I have been amazed at 1) how much cheaper food is when you prepare it yourself 2) how much cheaper it is to eat healthy and 3) how much better it can taste (IMHO) #3 especially because I am finding the spices and flavourings I like rather than those thrust upon me by the marketing gurus of the pre-made/pre-packaged food industry.