Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ways To Stretch A Dollar... I Mean A Loonie

"Stretched Loonie"
If you're not familiar with Canada, we don't really have a normal dollar, we have a coin called a Loonie. It wasn't officially called that, but the common loon on the tail side prompted the popular nickname and in 2006 the Mint secured the rights to the name. Introduced in 1987 as a replacement for our paper dollar, it was originally made from a bronze-nickel combination, then it was something else and then in 2012 they switched it to a brass and steel composition (which made it lighter in weight and therefore incompatible with some vending machines and most parking meters).

Not only is a metal coin difficult to try to tuck into garter belts and fold to put into pockets, it's almost impossible to stretch to help make ends meet.

But with a bit of innovation even Canadians, who Stephen Colbert calls our "poutine-sucking, health-care-addicted nemesis to the north," can stretch a budget. Here are some ways you too can adapt in lean times:
1) Ask people who live close to you if you can store your milk in their refrigerator. Unplug your fridge. Get keys to their back door. Raid fridge when they're out. Leave an I.O.U. note
2) Take your significant other out to dinner with a 2-for-1 coupon. They won't mind paying for their meal. Really
3) Feed guests leftovers, items just past their best before date... and food that other people bought that you don't like
4) Post a list of free, fun things to do somewhere in your home. Include shoveling snow, cleaning out the closet and visiting distant relatives
5) In Canada, there is no reason to keep your freezer plugged in for the winter. Move it outside to the backyard or balcony
6) Razor blades just get dull. Besides, there is absolutely nothing wrong with body hair
7) Use the fact that the moment you get your car washed it just begins to get dirty again. When you meet people, say, "Can you believe it? I just had it washed!"
8) Wear clothes to work that don't have to be dry cleaned. Dark colors don't have to be washed as often
9) Lighting your home costs money. Memorize where your furniture is and turn off those lights. What's a few barked shins? And finally
10) Paper towels can be rinsed out, dried and reused for at least a few months.

A final note: Economists have come out recently saying we should stop calling our dollar a Loonie because it makes Canada look silly on the international stage. But the great thing about us Canadians is our ability to poke fun at ourselves. Really, Canada's Loonie seems to be doing quite well relative to international markets. The real issue, if there is one, isn't the name but what it will buy. And it's by no means isolated to Canada. Inflation calculators estimate that a 1950 dollar is worth approximately $9.55 today. In the 50's, you could get a loaf of bread for about 12 cents, and a gallon of milk for 82 cents. A gallon of gas cost just 20 cents, and a letter could be mailed for 3 cents.  

That, I would hazard a guess, was the last time a dollar was worth a dollar.


  1. The changing of coin materials was a source of constant annoyance in New York. It used to be possible to bring home pesos and throw them into the coin receivers for toll tokens ($2.50 and up) on New York's major bridges. Then those pesky Port Authority folks began making the tokens different sizes and weights. Wreaked havoc on foreign currency trading.