"For information on growing your own fruits and vegetables in area community gardens, contact healthy lifestyles at 613-966-0550 and ask about community gardens..."
There are incentive exemptions with Ontario Works if you have a part-time or full-time job, you will increase your income (your OW cheque is reduced only by a portion of your "take home" pay). You may be eligible to receive money to cover your child care costs while you work.
Can you get a roommate or someone to share the cost of your rent? Perhaps you could move in with a relative or someone that is looking to share their apartment. Try looking for a cheaper apartment, or look into the possibility of renting a room in a home or rooming house.
A place that has heat and hydro included might save you money. Sometimes your landlord will include the costs of utilities in the rent if you ask. If you must pay your utilities separately from the rent, ask your local utility company about equal billing (you pay the same every month). This way you know how much you will need to set aside for utilities each month. As well, your utility company will provide you with brochures on how to save energy.
Ask yourself, "how can I spend less money and buy more food"? The public library has many books on this topic and you may find helpful brochures at the Health Unit. A very good book is "How to do More with Less Cookbook".
Food that requires more preparation on your part is generally cheaper than instant or highly processed foods. Buy less junk food like pop and chips, stay away from "instant" foods like TV dinners or pre-cooked meals. As well, try to avoid buying food at restaurants and fast-food places. Try buying food in bulk and dividing it up among family and friends. You could also try growing some vegetables in a backyard or neighbourhood garden. For information on this, call healthy lifestyles at 613-966-0550 and ask about Community Gardens. Also don't forget to shop around - watch the weekly supermarket flyers for good sales, collect and use coupons to save money on items you normally buy, buy value packs, and compare prices at the different grocery stores. You might consider buying less meat or less expensive meat.
Try to get baby clothes and furniture second-hand. Try using cloth diapers - they are more work but are less costly and environmentally friendly too! If you need babysitting, try taking turns babysitting with another friend or family member with a child.
Don't be persuaded to buy the extra features on the phone, like call waiting or call display, etc. These costs can add up quickly.
There are many second hand clothing stores in Hastings County. You might also consider making your own clothes.
When you go out, ask if you can walk, bike or car pool with friends or neighbours. If you need frequent transportation, consider getting a bus pass. Try avoiding costly taxis, and if you can live without one, don't purchase a vehicle. Costs of vehicles are enormous, with repairs, gas, and insurance. If you do have a vehicle, shop around for the best prices on repairs and insurance.
We often spend a lot of money in this category without really realizing it. Try free entertainment such as going for a walk, flying a kite, going to free concerts or parks, or reading books from the library. Rent movies with a group of friends instead of going to the movies. You may be able to do without cable (get a cheap pair of rabbit ears) or at least just the basic cable package.
Habits can be very expensive. See if you can break the costly habits you might have, such as smoking or drinking. You may notice a lot more left over at the end of the month. Ask your doctor or the Health Unit about programs and aids which may be able to help you.
You can spend a lot of money on things like candy, treats, and impulsive purchases. Keep track of this spending for a month, then try to give yourself a cash allowance that is smaller than this amount, and do not go over the allowances on these items.
If you pay out a lot of money to credit card companies and loan payments, you may want to reduce the total payment by arranging a consolidated loan at a lower rate and with better terms. Quinte Credit Counselling can help you with this 613-966-3556.
You must pay the important bills first - rent, essential food, and heat/hydro. If you find that you just cannot do this then you must get help now!