How to Make Your Money Go Further – Part 2

How to Make Your Money Go Further – Part 2
My bathroom with a bit of bling!

I have always been a bit obsessive about money. Especially when I don’t have much: Does Big Hair Make You Resilient?

Getting fired with two weeks’ notice for refusing to be vaccinated has really cranked up my anxiety level. (You can read about my anger and disappointment, here: Vaccination: the 24/7 Helmet You Can Never Remove.)

Making my paltry savings go farther has now become a top priority.

When I become anxious about something, I tend to dive into it and research as much as I can. For example, the last time I lost a job I became fascinated with people who had learned to make “passive income”. I had never heard of the term but it reminded me of one of the happiest times in my life. This will go into a future post! As I have a few ideas and things I’ve tried over the years.

OK! Let’s get to Part 2 of “How to Make Your Money Go Further” because these are ideas anyone can implement to save money. You can read Part 1, here: How to Make Your Money Go Further Part-1

Buy Second Hand and Try to Do it or Make it Yourself

I have saved thousands of dollars over the years on everything from furniture and appliances to clothing. If I need a stove, for example, first I will look for a second hand one. When I was putting in a suite downstairs, I found a gas stove, overhead vent fan, ‘fridge, and stainless steel dishwasher for $600. I didn’t need the ‘fridge at the time but took it anyway. Within a month, the ‘fridge that came with the house conked out so I ended up using it after all!

Ask Friends and Family

Let your friends and family know you are looking for something. It’s amazing how often they will have one or know where you can buy one for cheap. Here is something else that’s interesting: once people in your circle know that you are open to second hand items, they will start to give you clothing or other cast off items. I have a black wrought iron table set that a friend brought over without even asking me as she knew I’d take it! The top is broken so I will need to get creative and do some tile setting to fix it. I love the challenge!


Decorating a house is a perfect example of how second hand items can really enhance your space. My favourite painting is from Value Village – an original artwork in the brightest of colours called “Habitat” by an artist named Remu. I didn’t buy it the first time I saw it, even though it was only $9.99. We were in a particularly broke time in our lives and it was impractical. But I just couldn’t stop thinking about it and went back the next day and bought it. Every time I look at this painting, I feel happier.

Hunt for Small Appliances, Gadgets & Household Goods

Buying small appliances and gadgets second hand is a really great way to try out the latest fads. And you won’t be spending a fortune! I have bought a bread maker, yogurt maker, rice cooker, cheese grater, and coffee pot among other things. Almost everything was just not as useful as I thought it would be. The exception is my 1970s Superfast coffee pot. I bought it for $7 years ago and use it every day. But don’t feel badly about these loser purchases! Just donate everything you aren’t using back, sell it online, or trade it to a friend for something else. Make sure you get rid of the things you don’t use or you could end up with a very cluttered space!

All my dishes are second hand, too. I went with a white theme so that it’s easy to buy pieces that look like they match. That’s part of the fun for me. Finding pieces that will go with my “vision” for my funky “Italian” kitchen. Or creating a furnished suite downstairs that’s fun and playful for students. I always seem to have a list of items I’m hunting down.

Furnishings & Specialty Clothing

Some second hand purchases: office furnishings that students had finished with after one year of college that are like new, desk lamps that only needed spray painting to bring them into the 21st century, mirrors that needed some TLC, curtains and rods, shelving, fancy dresses and jewellery for Oscar night parties (back when I was able to attend such things), costumes, and specialized clothing for hiking or bike riding.

Currently I am in my bedroom, sitting on an office chair ($10), at a desk I bought at ReStore ($30). This room has a bed with an iron bedframe that a friend found leaning up against a shed that we traded for an old wood stove years ago. I have a “new” dresser ($30), and two end tables ($10 ea.), my favourite old lamp, and decorations – all from thrift stores.

More Books!

I often buy books second hand and donate them back when I’m done. These could be traded in at a used book store for store credits but that would be too dangerous for me! I have three large bookshelves and have to discipline myself to follow the “in and out” rule (i.e. one book comes in, one book has to go out).  If you have a library card, you can read for free. The library also has a great selection of movies and games, too!

Let it Go

Everything in your home should make you happy when you look at it. This is one of the reasons that divorce has been so hard for me. Many of the items I had loved in the past remind me of a life and partner I no longer have. I would remember where we found the item and where it used to be in the homes we lived in. A feeling of sadness would overwhelm the joy the object once gave me. I have had to let many items go. If I imagine someone else enjoying the item, I always feel better about giving it away. At least most of these items were purchased used and so didn’t cost a fortune! Try replacing these items slowly with “new” pieces you love or get creative and paint or change them in some way so that they become uniquely yours.

See if You Can Do it Yourself

I designed my upstairs bathroom / laundry room myself after doing a lot of research. Working with the contractor to see my vision through was a total blast! We turned a small bedroom into a bathroom with a shower and a space for a washer and dryer. One of my pet peeves is glass doors on showers. For me, they are totally impractical and impossible to keep clean. After a lot of research, I made the shower a walk-in with enough room so that no door or curtain is required. The shower needed to have natural light so I sourced a window that was originally for an outside door for $100. The contractor set that in one wall of the shower, as you can see below. The window still gives privacy for the shower yet lets natural light into the space. It is also made of safety glass!

The shower window lets light into the space.


Researching ideas is one thing but knowing how YOU use a space is key. Even though it is not popular for most laundry rooms, I needed a full rod above the washer and dryer. I hang almost all my clothes to dry and use the dryer about once every three loads. Clothes last longer and the colours stay brighter if you hang them to dry. This is a triple win because it saves money on utility bills, clothing lasts longer, and the dryer itself lasts longer.

It Doesn’t Always Have to be New

I am still using the old dryer that came with the house in my “new” laundry room. I could have bought the one that matched the washing machine – it would have looked nicer! It would also have a lower EnerGuide rating but the old dryer would get thrown into a landfill. How could I throw out a dryer that works perfectly? On my wishlist: an outside clothes line for the summer months for even more savings and also because I love the smell of sun dried clothes and sheets! But this means my unmatched dryer will last even longer!

I made a few mistakes in my bathroom / laundry room but overall I really love it.

Make it Yourself

If you’ve ever kept a budget, you may have been surprised at how much money you spend on gifts – birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas or other holidays. I love giving people practical and useful gifts.

Homemade Gifts & Cards

The cost of greeting cards is crazy, too. Have you ever received a homemade card? My daughter has made me a few and they are absolutely priceless. Homemade gifts from the heart bring tears to my eyes when I realize that the person cared enough about me to put the effort into making something for me. These don’t have to be fancy but they should be personalized. The internet or old craft magazines are great sources for unique gift or card ideas.

You can find glue guns, buttons, ribbon, and other craft items at thrift stores to get you started. I always look for what I need for a project second hand first before buying something new.

Make Something Old, New Again

One of my latest projects was to make over a pink, somewhat rusted old medicine cabinet that hangs in the downstairs suite’s bathroom. The cabinet mirrors are in good shape and there is more storage in the cabinet then you would find in a new cabinet. It is also heavy duty – not like the cheap fibreboard ones you find in Home Depot these days. But 70s pink is hard for even me to love – especially when it has rust on it.

I got the idea to cut up a black and white Japanese Anime comic book and mod podge (glue that is also a sealer) the pink parts of the vanity. It only took me about an hour (with a day to dry) and totally renewed the cabinet! I have also cut up a cheesy romance novel and done my upstairs cabinet as it was dated as well.

Learn to Sew

I used to sew when my kids were little – cloth diapers and cool clothes for special occasions. But it has been many years since I dragged out my sewing machine. Actually, I am embarrassed to say that I owned three sewing machines up until a few weeks ago! One is a 1936 Singer in its own cabinet that I bought for $75 over 30 years ago. It works perfectly but didn’t do zig zag so I bought a NEW machine in 1988. This sits on top of the Singer cabinet.

Last year the landlord at work was giving away a dozen sewing machines in cabinets. His wife had gotten carried away in her collecting. I took one – a 1965 Singer – and have recently refurbished it and given it away to my son’s fiancé. I cleaned it up myself watching this generous and amazing guy called Andy on YouTube:

Christmas is coming so the first thing I sewed were gifts for my family and friends. I bought some catnip and have used scraps to sew mice for all the cats in my life as well! This gave me a bit of confidence and I tackled a cloak for myself. Talk about medieval! I have never been a great sewer, having only what they taught me at school, but now there is YouTube! I have learned all about fabric types and grains and pattern layout.

Cozy Your House Up!

If your house is older like mine, draft stoppers in front of doors and leaky windows can really help lower your bills. I bought a thick curtain and some polyester pillows at the thrift store and have sewn my own draft stoppers. I stuffed the tubes I sewed with the polyester from the pillows alternating with rice that I bought in bulk. They look tidy and stay in place as they’re quite heavy.

I hope some of these ideas will get you started and help you feel more independent. They have sure helped me feel less freaked out about my change in material situation.

In Part 3 of the How to Make Your Money Go Further series, we are going to Be Brave and Ask!


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