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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Free Stuff

There is not a lot of stuff you can get for free these days – and when there are, they are worth their price… almost nothing!  However, I have found a few things that are free and worth keeping.
- the plastic basket from berries: those small green cube-shaped baskets are perfect little colanders; I have two in my kitchen drawer and I use them 3-4 times a week when I need to rinse berries, veggies, or a small amount of pasta.
- rags: really who wants to buy rags to clean? not me.  I use my (and my family’s) T-shirts that are about to be discarded.  I cut them in pieces and use them to clean the bathroom, toilets, etc.  If they are very dirty after, I throw them out!
- bottles: I often need a plastic bottle for taking juice or salad dressing with my lunch.  Used plastic bottles that contained water or juice before are food-safe and if they were washed, good to use again – and most likely, they do not leak!  Do NOT heat them up though, the plastic is most likely not stable enough not to leach into your food.
- small brushes to clean around the sink, toilet, etc.  Yes, your old toothbrush is perfect for the job, AFTER it has given its life for your teeth.  Do not throw it out: rather, give it a good clean (you can disinfect it with rubbing alcohol and letting it dry after), and it’s perfect for lots of small cleaning jobs, including cleaning your suede shoes, boots, or bag.  Just label it so you do not mix it up with the brush for your teeth!
- condoms: these may not be the brand name you like best, but most student health centers offer free condoms, no questions asked.  If you do not like the ones they offer, take a few anyway and store them away in case of ‘emergency’ – when you run out of your usual ones.  And remember, they prevent unplanned pregnancies AND sexually transmitted diseases.
- food containers (for freezing, storing or lunches): once you have purchased margarine, yogurt, pasta sauce, peanut butter and jam a couple of times (and used them up), you have plastic and glass containers that you can use for storage and lunches.  I like to use glass ones (such as the ones from spaghetti sauce) for storing dried fruit from the bulk food store (where most food comes in bags), plastic ones for freezing left-overs and for lunches.  Yes, you may find that a square plastic container works better for a sandwich, but overall, your containers should be free (cream cheese containers are great for snacks).
- counselling: whereas the rest of the population has to pay to consult with psychologists and career advisers, for students they are free at your college or university – use them!!  Not only can they guide you with your feelings, anxiety, obsessions and choices of career, they specialize in your age group and stage of life (others outside education institutions can specialize in anything from depression in the elderly to toddlers with excessive aggression).
- public transportation: many universities and colleges have built-in bus passes – if you have one of these mandatory bus passes, use it!  Visit your town, go further to get a discount, etc.  Enjoy.
- banking: yes, most banks charge fees to hold on to your money and give you the service of debit and online banking.  However, as a student, you should not pay any of these!  Most of the large banks in Canada offer free student bank accounts.  Yes, there is a limit on the free services they include, but since you are not running a business, your number of monthly transactions is limited and therefore a free student account should be perfect.  Your bank does not offer this? Change banks!  There is no fee to closing or opening a chequing account so move.
So although not many things in life are free, a few are!

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