I’m bored!

Are there few more cringe worthy (or more often heard) expressions from the kids during the summer time?Family_playing_a_board_game Read more…

How to sell your car for the most money

Selling your car privately can be more challenging than selling some of your other belongings, simply because of the huge potential range in price, depending on the age, make and model of the car, as well as the condition it’s in, mileage, and what kind of bells and whistles it has.

car sell Read more…

Frugal summer activities

Summer vacation is underway, and you may have already run out of ideas to entertain the kids- and you are only a couple of weeks in. Yikes.picnic
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Create a backyard oasis on a budget

You’ve surely heard the saying, “there’s no place like home.” Given the vacation season and the beleaguered loonie, the staycation is becoming even more appealing. Why don’t you extend that staycation by creating your own backyard oasis to backyard oasis Read more…

How to host a BBQ on a budget

Everyone loves a backyard BBQ, but being the hostess with the mostess can put a serious dent in your monthly budget. That doesn’t mean that you have to hang up those BBQ tongs entirely though. Here are some ideas on how to bbq_party

The meat question

There is nothing quite as tasty as a good steak or burger fresh off the grill, but you can easily go through your budget on the meat all by itself.

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How to save money on Father’s Day

With Father’s Day fast approaching, you may be tempted to open up your wallet to treat Dad on his special day. While the sentiment is lovely, rest assured, the last thing that father_son
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How to save money on teacher gifts

The school year is quickly winding down, which means summer vacation is almost here. There is also another expense to anticipate this month, which you may have forgotten about in your budget: teacher’s gifts.Teacher_and_Student Read more…

Get a Job!

student jobWith summer fast approaching, so are those long, lovely summer days of summer vacation.  With the kids out of school, those lazy hazy days of summer can become very expensive in a hurry. Read more…

Grow your own produce to save on groceries

Did you know that having a green thumb is a good way to stretch your dollar further?grow-your-own

One of the very best ways to stretch your grocery budget further is to DIY wherever possible. Have you ever considered growing your own garden to DIY your own produce? It’s not as hard or labour intensive as you might think! Not only will gardening save you some cash, it can be a very relaxing activity. It is a great opportunity to get your kids involved too. Read more…

How to save money on maternity clothes

Are youmaternity clothes expecting a baby? Congratulations! You’ve probably thought about some of the expenses that you’ll have when the wee one arrives (diapers, wipes, furniture for the nursery, clothing and possibly formula). But what about some of the expenses you’ll incur while you’re pregnant? Read more…

Why it’s ok to say no to your kids

Now this may sound odd, but here it is. It’s not only ok to say “no” to your kids, it’s actually a valuable teaching tool.

It’s not surprising, really. Everyone is tired/busy/guilty/time-stressed and saying “yes” instead of “no” seems like the path of least resistance. But instead of empowering children, you are actually creating a false sense of what real life is all about.

Read more…

Being frugal vs. being cheap

Everything today is just so expensive, especially if you are raising a familyfrugal coupons. Living a frugal life can really help those dollars stretch further. However, being frugal is sometimes confused with being cheap. They are very different. Read more…

Earth day: Go green and save money

Earth day this year is on Friday April 22. It’s a great opportunity not only to pause and reflect upon the gifts that Mother Earth bestows upon us, but also consider

earth-day

how what we do in our daily lives can help-or hurt.

The really, really good news? Employing environmentally friendly practices not only helps the environment, it saves you money. Win win! Here are some ideas as to how going green will get you more green.

Bottle it up

Ever grab a bottle of water on the go? That plastic bottle of water can range anywhere from under a dollar to a few dollars. That’s crazy! Not only will these bottles fill up landfills, they are draining your wallet. Get yourself a funky stainless steel or BPA free water bottle and fill it with filtered water at home. You’ll save a bundle.

Turn it up (or down)

How do you like getting those energy bills every month? Simply by turning the thermostat up in the summer and turning it down in the winter a couple of degrees, you’ll be making a difference for the environment and for your budget. Get out a sweater or a fan, depending on the season. You’ll be happy.

Buy local

When shopping for groceries, favouring local growers and producers accomplishes a lot of good things. Firstly, you are supporting the business of the local guy, which is nice.

You’re also helping the environment. Local growers and producers don’t have to transport their products nearly as far, which means less gas and less emissions. Better for the environment.

Also, generally speaking, when it comes to produce, locally grown is of better quality, because it didn’t have to travel across the country to get to your plate and is a lot fresher.

Happy Birthday!

It’s your birthday, it is time to celebrate! For the frugal, part of that celebration will include scoping out the free stuff that retailers and service providers will happily offer to you on your birthday (free or for a deep discount).happy bday

Don’t ask, don’t get

As a rule of thumb, if birthday freebies aren’t advertised, just ask. Some smaller retailers or restaurants may not advertise birthday freebies, but are more than happy to give something to their loyal customers. You never know!

Free dessert

What’s a birthday without a little cake (or pie, or ice cream, whatever your dessert fancy is)? Many national or local chains offer free dessert for the birthday celebrant in hopes of getting to host your birthday celebration. Places like Swiss Chalet, Lone Star, the Keg, Applebee’s and Jack Astors, among many others will offer this promotion.

Be warned though, free dessert usually comes with a fairly awful, very public birthday song. If that’s your cup of tea, it’s worth the free dessert!

Other freebies

Maybe you don’t have time for a full-out birthday celebration meal, but you’d still like to have something a little special. Panera Bread offers a free pastry. Timothy’s offers free baked goods too, to go along with your coffee. Orange Julius and Booster Juice will give you a free smoothie on your birthday.

Join the club

Some places will give you free stuff, or a coupon for free stuff in the future, but it usually involves being part of their “club” or joining the mailing list. Some that offer birthday freebies through subscription are Baskin Robbins, Boston Pizza, Dairy Queen and Denny’s among many more.

As a side note, it’s often well worth your while to join subscription lists, because you get extra discounts and deals right into your inbox- all year long- not just for your birthday.

Think beyond the restaurant

Traditionally, we tend to associate birthday celebrations with dining out. However, there are all kinds of ways to celebrate your birthday. Many gyms or yoga studios will offer “free trial classes” on your birthday or bring a friend for free to help you celebrate. Still a good deal, and still a celebration.

 

Shake out winter with a spring clean and save

Throwing open those windows and letting the warm breeze flow through is one of the true delights of spring time. It’s also about shaking the winter off with a good spring clean. When you are planning spring cleaning, do some extra jobs that have a preventative point of view. Cleaning will not only help you shake winter out, but potentially save you money in the season to come.

Spring-Cleaning

Change the filter

Change your furnace and AC filter for optimum efficiency.  And don’t stop there. Use this upcycling trick to remove the need to buy air fresheners.

Laundry done? Don’t throw out those dryer sheets just yet. They have multiple other purposes, like keeping your home smelling fresh (and keeping the dust down too) by inserting them in with your AC or furnace filters. They are also great for dusting baseboards, computer screens and keyboards.

Clean your gutters

It’s time to rid those gutters of mucky debris that has accumulated over the fall and winter.  Not the most pleasant of tasks, but as those heavy spring rains begin to fall; you want the water to be able to flow freely down your spouts. If there is gunk in the way, it could lead to a bigger problem such as flooding and expensive water damage.

Eat my dust

When you are spring cleaning, you are going to give your house a good dust-down, that is for sure. Make sure you include some specific areas – that will help with your home’s energy efficiency. Dust the coils of your refrigerator, so that it can run most efficiently. Dust off fan blades and window sills as well, for the same reason (to help cool air move most freely through your house in the coming warmer months).

Spring clean your computer

When is the last time you did a full virus scan of your home PC or looked at purging it from old files? You can extend the life of your computer and save money by making sure it is protected and in good running condition.

How to become debt free

Becoming debt-free doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning and commitment. It also takes a certain personality type – or a willingness to adopt personality traits that will support your behaviour in reaching your goal. Here are some common traits from those who pay down their debt successfully:

Be patientdebt-free

Unless you come into a cash windfall, paying down debt is something that you’ve got to do a little bit at a time – possibly over a long time period. You’ve got to be patient and realize that every little step you take is eventually going to carry you to your debt-free goal.

Be forgiving

Be forgiving – of yourself, mostly. There will be times that your best laid plans will be diverted by unexpected expenses or life events. Don’t let a minor setback derail your overall goal. You’ve got to have the depth to see bumps in the road as they are – not as failures to reach your goal.

Be accountable

Who’s going to get you debt-free? You are. That means taking responsibility for your money management actions – good or bad. Accountable people are far more likely to link their actions to their overall goal – which means a greater chance of reaching it.

Be strategic

Be strategic, yes – but be sure to include a dose of flexibility in that strategy. You’ve got to build a detailed plan (not just “pay down debt”) that involves specific amounts on specific debts (hint: attack one debt at a time). You’ve also got to have the ability to consider the success of your strategy, and be willing to tweak it as needed over time.

Live and breathe your goal

There is a fine balance between letting your goal consume your life and slowly and reasonably working towards your goal. Changing your behaviour (i.e. spending less, sacrificing and paying closer attention to needs and wants) may not always be easy, and it should not stress you out. Eventually, these new, positive habits will become seamless.  If you’ve got the right plan in place and if you are willing to commit to your goal, you’ll get there!

Spending dos and don’ts

When trying to live a frugal life, the emphasis is always on saving money. There are times though, that it doesn’t make good sense (financial and otherwise) to try to shave down spending. By the same token, there are products and services that will just set you back when you splurge.

Here are some spending dos and don’ts.

Debit-card-spending-on-th-006

 

Do spend on a housing inspection

When tallying your totals for your housing budget when shopping for a house, make sure you make ample room for a housing inspection.

A lot of housing disasters live between the walls, and aren’t obvious to the untrained eye. This is the case where a small investment now can save you big bucks down the road. If your home inspection uncovers a faulty home, you may want to walk away from the deal, or write conditions into the offer. If you skip the inspection, you save in the moment, but it then becomes buyer (and budget) beware.

Do spend on education

Straight up, education is an investment in yourself (or your children), so spending in this category is a good idea. The key here is to try to minimize the amount of debt you need to take on to fund it. If you are going back to school, look at using RRSP savings instead of taking out student loans. For your kids, start a RESP or other education-based savings plans when they are young.

Don’t spend on electronics

I realize that this is a crazy statement today. I’m not saying don’t spend on electronics, but don’t overspend and be very vigilant in watching for sales. Reason being is that obsolescence of all electronics is built in to the business plan. As soon as you make this purchase, you’ll be contemplating purchasing a new one in the near future.

Don’t spend on bank fees

You are the consumer, which means that you are fully in the driver’s seat when it comes to your banking. Ask your bank about their fees, and ask them to give you a plan that best suits your needs, so that you’re not overpaying on fees. Better yet, shop around to find a bank or credit union that charges little or no fees, based on your usage needs.

And never visit ATMs that don’t belong to your bank. You’re lookin

g at adding several dollars per transaction. That’s just throwing money away
.

Your BFF can help your budget

There are few more treasured things in your adult life than a handful of really, really solid BFFs (Best Friends Forever). While you may not always find as much time as you’d like to spend time with them-between the kids and work- it is super important to continue to nurture your friendships.

Obviously, your friendships are a crucial part of your work-life balance, but did you know that your friends can play a crucial role in helping you keep your household on budget?

  Read more…

Frugal home repairs

As any homeowner will tell you, owning a home is an expensive proposition. In addition to those monthly mortgage payments, you’ve got ongoing maintenance and repairs to contend with.

However, if you really want to keep those costs down, rolling up your sleeves and engaging in a little DIY repair is the way to go. Of course, there are some household repairs that are much easier than others. Here are a few suggestions for DIY home repair that could be within your homeowner toolbox, even for the most reticent handy man (or woman).

  Read more…

Big batch cooking for your budget

You may already know the benefits of buying things in bulk when it comes to trimming your grocery bill. But when you get those groceries home, did you know that you can really benefit from big-batch cooking as well?

 

Big-batch cooking can be a real time and budget saver, but you’ve got to plan ahead. Read more…

Want to pay your mortgage down? Know your options

Do you want to be mortgage free? Who doesn’t? However, as with all things financial, wishing will not make it so. You can take a serious chunk out of your mortgage debt, but you’ve got to develop a strategy and stick to it over the long term.

 

Need extra motivation? Think of all of the “fun” things you could spend that mortgage payment on (or you pad up your savings too). Oh- and don’t forget that you’ll own a house outright at the end. Can you say real estate baron? Read more…

Budget-friendly bon appetit

When you are really trying to stick to a budget, eating out in restaurants is often the first luxury on the spending chopping block. And, while there is no denying that eating at home is far, far less expensive, who says that you can’t treat yourself now and again-and stay on budget.

 
Here are some tips on how: Read more…

DIY real estate?

When it comes to saving money, DIY can be a really handy tool in cutting costs- generally speaking for pretty much everything.

However, when it comes some things- like selling your own house, for instance, before you wander down the DIY path, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

  Read more…

How to ask for a raise

You’ve crunched your budget numbers and you can’t realistically shave any more off of your household spending. Now you’ve got to look at the cash flow side of your balance sheet, but status quo is probably not going to cut it.

 

You could get a part time job, maybe? But if you’ve already got a full time job and a family- your hours to spare may be far and few between. Read more…

Your local energy savers

Aside from groceries, your biggest cost centre at home are likely your energy bills. Just like in other areas at home, a little creativity, research and planning can translate into big savings.

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You are probably already aware of cost-saving measures to shave down those energy bills, like turning down the thermostat (or up, whatever the season may be), turning lights off when you’re out of a room, using appliances at non-peak energy use hours and taking showers instead of baths. Read more…

The frugal pet

Any pet owner will tell you that their beloved fur baby is as much a part of the family as the other members. This extends to expenses as well. The problem is that pet-related expenses don’t always fall under a particular line item in your household budget, so you don’t always account for them.

 

Here are some tips on how to shave down those pet-related costs: Read more…

The big winner!

Who doesn’t dream of hitting it big, winning a large windfall? Although your chances of winning the lotto are very slim (to say the least); huge cash prizes are not the only thing up for grabs when it comes to contests.

 

Entering contests can actually be a way to accumulate some nice merchandise- or even generate a little of your own cash. Feeling lucky? Here are a few things to consider:
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Saving money on kids birthday parties

Now I’m dating myself, but I remember birthday parties when they were about pin-the-tail on the donkey and eating cake filled with coins. Birthday celebrations for kids have gotten more expensive and more elaborate over the years, to say the least, where they represent yet another significant expense for a family raising kids.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way though. Here are some tips to save: Read more…

Should you get your teen a credit card?

Ahhh the teen years- as your child struggles to eke out their independence and as you struggle to keep your sanity. The lessons that are learned during these important years are ones that will resonate and stick with your kids as they become adults. That’s why you’ve got to take advantage.

 

And there are few more important life skills to impart than good money management. So, wouldn’t it make sense to get your teen a credit card? Well- yes, but with a whole lot of conditions attached- for both of you. Read more…

How to get top dollar for your house

Did you know that there are seasons to real estate? Typically, the spring season (which actually in real estate terms begins towards the end of February, beginning of March) is the real estate prime time if you are considering selling your house.

 

However, you can’t just throw a sign in the ground and expect to get top dollar for your house. You may not be keen to spend lots of money redecorating or on a home stager either. Here are a few basic, cost-friendly ways to get your house looking its best for potential buyers. Read more…

6 household products to repurpose

You’re the queen of multi-tasking, right? How about becoming the queen of multi-purpose? It will really help stretch your grocery and household budget.  With food prices increasing at a frenetic pace now is the time to get more out each grocery dollar.

 

Not only that, if you can think of ways to use what you’ve got- you are less likely to be inconvenienced if you run out of something. Read more…

How to save money warehouse shopping

Warehouse membership style stores can really save you a lot of money with their competitive prices and the opportunity to buy in bulk. However, in some instances, these savings stars can actually end up costing you money. Part of this is the way in which they throw the need vs. want scale out of whack. It’s also the impulse shopper’s paradise.

  Read more…

5 ways to save money on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that can be hard on the wallet. It’s not Christmas by any means, but you generally end up spending quite a bit of money on things you may not need or want (more boxes of chocolate? Show of hands- who still has chocolate lingering from the holiday season?).

However, budgetary reasoning aside, you should still celebrate Valentine’s Day. But the celebration of love doesn’t have to be expensive.

  Read more…

Homemade Cleaners

Store-bought cleaners not only bring harmful chemicals into your home, they can be a real drain on your wallet.

The good news is that you probably have a lot of what you need to clean your house already in your house. Here are some ideas for DIY cleaners that are environmentally and budget friendly.

 
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Soup’s on!

January usually means coolish (read frigid!) temperatures and a slightly-more-empty-than-usual wallet thanks to the recent holidays.

Sounds like it’s time to get the homemade soup simmering to help combat the cold and to help save some costs from your food budget! Side note for parents of picky eaters: soup is your super sneaky way of getting veggies in those kids- and they won’t even know.

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Budget wedding for wedded bliss

The holiday season is one of most popular times for couples to get engaged, which is perhaps why there is usually a bevy of bridal shows that take place in January.  Newly engaged brides can hit the ground running while their rings still have that brand-new sparkle.

Weddings are one of those events where spending can go from reasonable to outrageous without even blinking an eye. If you are newly engaged- congratulations! But let cooler heads prevail. Heavy debt can put a damper on that wedded bliss that awaits- and you don’t want to start your married life saddled with debt from your wedding.

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Make a budget that works

The first step to getting ahead financially is setting a budget that works. That means setting a budget that reflects real life and doesn’t exist only on paper.

If you aren’t already working with a household budget, or if the idea of using a household budget feels a little too rigid for you, here are some tips on how to set a real-life budget that not only works- but helps you achieve your financial goals.

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Two freezer slow cooker meals to try this week

In the world of convenience cooking, you rely heavily on freezer meals and on your slow cooker. What if you relied on them both at the same time to provide you with a healthy, flavorful low-cost meal? It’s the meal prep bonanza!

Instead of hitting the drive thru on your way home from school/practice/lessons/work, spend a few hours on the weekend prepping freezer slow cooker meals that you can dump in that slow cooker on your way out the door. Press the button and supper is ready when you are!

  Read more…

3 DIY beauty products

Beauty may be only skin deep, but the price tag cuts way down to the wallet. When you’re trying to stay fast to a budget, the beauty routine can be one of the first things to go.

Looking beautiful has a lot to do with feeling beautiful. And wouldn’t you feel beautiful (and smart- the whole package!) if you found a way to maintain your beauty routine by coming up with some low cost alternatives?

  Read more…

Four reasons to take holidays in January

You may have just returned to work after Christmas break and thoughts of more holidays are in the distant future (or maybe your return to work has inspired you to take more vacation).

Either way, taking holidays in January is one of the least expensive times to do so.  Here are a few solid reasons to consider taking vacation time in January.

  Read more…

Get organized!

This is a great time of year to get organized. It’s cold outside, so spending an afternoon sorting through stuff is not a huge sacrifice. Getting organized is not only going to help you feel better, it is going to help you keep to that budget (is that one of your New Year’s Resolutions?). You might even be able to generate a little extra cash to pay off those holiday bills by unloading some of the extra “stuff”. While it is creating havoc in your front hallway/closet/basement, these items could be of use for someone else!

 

Here are some tips for a couple of your high traffic areas. Read more…

How to scrounge for your mortgage down payment

As you may or may not be aware, the Federal Government has recently introduced some changes to rules around mortgage lending that are going to take effect in February of 2016.

Until now, homeowners have been required to put 5 percent down in equity when buying a home. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), by way of the Federal Government, will now require homeowners purchasing a home over $500,000 to put 10 percent down.

 

The intention is to try to cool hot markets in areas like Toronto and Vancouver, where prices have been rising rapidly. As a consequence homeowners have been dangerously saddling themselves with debt.

So- if you’ve got homeownership on your horizon- or if you are trying to climb your way up the property ladder, you’ll be responsible for a greater down payment, depending on how much you are spending.

Saving more may seem like a challenge, but like all goals- with a well thought-out strategy, they are attainable!

Cut the dead wood

By dead wood- I mean cut extra spending. Think of this as short term pain for long term housing gain. Instead of eating out, eat it. Leave those credit cards at home and live a cash only lifestyle. Instead of going to the mall for the afternoon, go for a walk, or visit your local library for free activities.

There are a number of modest lifestyle changes that, when added together- will pile up in your bank account.

Consolidate

Wherever possible in your household, consolidate expenses. This may mean consolidating your debts in order to focus on reducing through a targeted payment.

You may also want to consolidate (or bundle) things like your phone and internet services, your insurance (home and auto) and other similar expenses. You can often get a better deal if you combine.

Extend your time horizon

One way to ensure that you’ve got enough money in the bank is to extend your target date to buy. This will likely be the new reality for some home owners under the new rules.

Rest assured that, while it is hard to wait, having more equity and less debt when it comes to home ownership is a good thing!

 

 

Cheap, fun New Year’s Eve!

New Year’s Eve is one of those notoriously (and unnecessarily) expensive evenings. There is always a lot of pressure to have a super-sized good time- which can often result in a lot of extra cost and extra headache (the day after as well!).

Truthfully, by the time New Years has rolled around, you are probably tapped out financially and party-wise. Here are some frugal, fun ways to ring in the New Year.

Read more…

Getting your friends onside with your frugality

One of the greatest gifts when you decide to make a life change is your friends. On the flipside, one of the greatest threats to your particular change stick- is your friends. It really depends on who your friends are.

Let’s say that you’ve decided you are going to live your life frugally. If you and your BFFs routinely shop-til-you drop or dine together out all the time, this sudden change in direction might present a few challenges. To make a change stick, you need their support, not their temptation. Here are a few tips.

Read more…

Five healthy cheap eats

Sometimes it is shocking how much that bill rings up to at the register at the grocery store. And if eating healthy is a top priority for your family (and it should be!) sometimes it seems like you come home with less for the same amount of money.

You don’t necessarily need to spend more to eat healthy. You’ve just got to be creative!

Read more…

Santa short on cash? What to tell your kids

In theory, the holiday season is supposed to be about celebration and enjoying the company of family and friends. In reality, unfortunately, the holiday season is a bit of a shopping free-for-all. This can be a particularly stressful time of year for those who are already on a strict budget.

But how do you explain to your kids that Santa may not be able to bring all of the items on the list, because he simply doesn’t have the cash? Cast that parental guilt aside. There is an opportunity here to teach real life lessons about money in a really relevant way.

Read more…

Kids at home during the holidays?

Holiday shopping done (or almost)? Check. Baking and decorating done. Check. Ready to get your festive groove on. Check. Congratulations on your fine holiday prep!

But- have you remembered absolutely everything? As in, don’t forget the kids are going to be off school for two weeks plus. If you don’t already have childcare and/or activities planned, you may want to get those particular ducks in a row, so you don’t blow your budget in a panic.

Read more…

Avoid holiday debt before it starts

You remember the last really good party you went to? And that extra glass of wine and ignoring the late hour seemed completely justifiable. How about the  self-talk? I work hard! I deserve to have fun! That, of course, seemed completely reasonable until the day after. Then, in the light of day, the decisions from the night seem a little less sensible. The other problem, of course, is that the hangover lasts longer than the actual party.

The same could be said for holiday shopping and debt. So, before you head down the road of poor judgement, let’s think about avoiding a holiday debt hangover.

 

Don’t wait until January

Who says you have to pay January bills in January? If you are accumulating debt to fund your holiday shopping (which you sometimes have to do, say if you are shopping online) commit to putting the equal amount of cash down. You erase that debt before it even begins- not to mention avoiding interest charges!

Keep track

Your best line of defence against overblown debt? Knowing what you’re up against so that you can formulate your plan. Before you rack up on holiday spending, get all of your statements out and make detailed notes of what you already owe.  If you are planning on adding to that debt pile, make sure that you’ve got wiggle room in your budget to cover it.

Don’t buy for yourself

No question, it is super hard to keep on walking when you are out holiday shopping and you stumble across a real deal, or something really, really catches your eye. However, the whole point of holiday shopping is to buy things for others. Getting yourself a treat will only add to your expenses. Make note of where it is, and drop heavy hints when you get home. Maybe you’ll receive it as a gift yourself!

Holiday volunteering: get the whole family involved

While your kids are busy compiling their gift lists, there exists an excellent opportunity to teach them values around the value of money. It’s the perfect season to get the whole family involved in volunteering, with many groups and individuals in special need at this time of year.

Not only will you do good deeds for someone else, you can really teach your kids hands-on about how much money is worth-literally and figuratively.

Read more…

Holiday décor on a dime

The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to decorate the house! This is one of the best parts of the season. It’s fun and festive-but it can also blow your holiday budget out if you’re not careful.

Before you get carried away, here are a few tips on how to decorate your home on the cheap.

Read more…

Ready to party?

With the holidays fast approaching, your inbox and mailbox may be stuffed with invitations to holiday parties. You may be torn; right now, before all the festive chaos is really unleashed they sound like fun (and you don’t want to miss out on fun). But the reality of your calendar says that these parties can drain on two of your most valuable resources, right when they are pretty tapped to begin with: time and money.

Here are some tips to help keep your mind, your calendar and your wallet intact over the coming season- party-style.

Read more…

Your house can make you money

Your home not only provides you shelter and an asset to grow over time. There lurks in those corners the opportunity to earn a little more cash– which could certainly come in handy over the holidays (and in paying those holiday bills afterwards!).

Here are some ways that your house can make you money:

 

Parking spaces

Depending on where you live, and if you are lucky enough to have a driveway or parking available in an urban area, you can rent out your parking spot for a decent sum every month (don’t forget the space in your garage).

All the work that is really required of you is to ensure that the snow is removed promptly after a snowfall for outdoor parking.

Clean it out

Go through your treasures (i.e. stuff stored in the attic/garage/basement) and see if there is anything worth selling.

Quick cash and more space? That’s a holiday gift you can give yourself.

Host a student

Services like Canada Homestay Network match international students with families, where they can live and learn about Canadian culture.  Essentially, you must provide the student with their own room and three meals a day.

The amount you earn depends on where you live, and the stays can last from a few days to longer term, depending on the placement.

In addition to the money you make, it’s a great opportunity for your kids to learn firsthand about other cultures, right in their own home.

Rent out space

When you talk about renting out space in your home, you are probably thinking along the lines of the traditional landlord-tenant relationship. While this is a great money-maker, there are other options too.

You can rent your home out for commercials, movies or photo shoots for magazines. If you’ve got land to use, you can rent it out to farmers for their crops.

 

Kitchen DIY

You know that elbow grease and saving money go hand in hand, right? And you know how you are always trying to shave down that grocery budget? If you extend a little DIY power in the kitchen, you can cut back on spending. Yes, it’s a little more time consuming, but these are some activities that you can get the whole family involved in- so it’s like an activity too.

Read more…

Cyber Monday: Get ready!

I don’t care what you say about the Internet; yes, it provides unparalled access to information and has completely transformed the way that we work and live. But also-it has given us the chance to bargain hunt in our pajamas (if we so choose!)

Read more…

Keep Black Friday shopping in the black

It’s just one week until “the” day in the shopping calendar when bargain hunters unite: Black Friday. Although the low loonie may have you staying close to home this year, you can still score some sweet deals on Black Friday and get a chunk of your holiday shopping done (win, win). However, like with all things budgeting, if you don’t plan ahead, you could blow your budget- and your Black Friday could put you in the red.

Read more…

10 ways to generate fast cash for the holidays

Hats off to you if you’ve already started your holiday shopping and extra applause if you’ve set a gift budget and are sticking to it.

If you’ve not started yet, and if you’ve not put money aside, leaving your shopping to the last minute could mean blowing your budget wide open.  You need to boost the income side of your balance sheet. You can either march into your boss’s office and demand a raise, or you can give one of these quick income generating ideas.

Read more…

Share the wealth of your knowledge

As your child’s first teacher, you’ve got a lot of wisdom to share. As far as life lessons go, an attitude around money and debt management are some of the most valuable.

November is financial literacy month. Take this opportunity to take an active role in making your children financially literate- right from the very start. And kids are never too young to learn about good money management.

Read more…

Travelling in the U.S.? Stretch that Loonie!

With the U.S. dollar and the Loonie being so out of whack, Canadians are feeling the sting of the currency exchange. What’s the average Canuck to do in the face of this currency war?

While the most obvious answer would be to ground your cross border shopping expedition, there are those who have to travel south for business or to visit family.

Costs associated with travelling when the currency exchange is not in your favour can really add up. Here are some ideas to help stretch that Loonie further.

Is it safe to ignore the best-before date?

We’ve all done it: stood looking at food in the fridge or on a discount stand at the grocery store with expiry dates either recently passed –or soon to. Or perhaps you are eyeballing something that has been in your pantry for a while and wonder if it is still ok.

Knowing that food waste is one of the biggest contributors to blowing your grocery budget, you wonder- what’s the harm?

That’s a good question. Here is the skinny on food spoilage.

Read more…

The upside to downsizing

Moving into a smaller space is a common activity for seniors and empty nesters, as they simplify their lives in their retirement. But with the costs of homeownership (not to mention all of that stuff to clean) selecting a smaller space is not just the domain of the retiree.

Does it make sense, financially and otherwise, to downsize your home?

Read more…

Money and secrets don’t mix

Any couple will tell you that the cornerstone of a successful, happy and lifelong marriage is good, open communication. And they’ll probably also tell you that one of the leading causes of divorce is financial issues.

What happens then, if you combine poor communication with poor financial decisions? For instance what if you find out that your spouse is not only not on the same page financially, but that they’ve gone out and got a secret credit card that they’ve loaded up with debt? Or perhaps you are the spouse who’s decidedly to do some sneaky spending? Read more…

Make sure your pantry has these items!

Your household food budget’s greatest threat? Getting taken by surprise and not having a meal planned. This means paying too much for takeout or hitting the drive thru.

While planning your meals for a week at a time is a good idea, it’s not always feasible. However, if you make sure that your pantry is stocked with these staples, you can ditch the drive thru and produce a healthy, cheap meal on the fly.

 

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Time for a debt diet?

Over imbibing on rich food (say, like you might have, during a recent Thanksgiving feast) can certainly cause your jeans to feel a little snug (and no, it’s not the dryer’s fault).  The one benefit of this turn of events, is that it is extremely motivating to get back into shape.

The same principle can be applied to your finances.  Are you financially fit, or is it time to go on a debt diet and shed that unwanted debt load?

  Read more…

Started your holiday shopping yet? Get busy!

While your calendar and décor right now are all about pumpkins and fall harvest, your focus should be a little further off in the distance- say towards the looming holiday season.

You know that the minute (almost literally) that the last Halloween treat is handed out, the holiday displays will magically appear in your local mall. Use this time as a reminder to get your holiday shopping underway if you haven’t already.

  Read more…

Apple season!

One of the best bests to keeping your grocery costs down is to use produce that is in season. It’s more plentiful- which means it is cheaper- and it tastes better!

It’s apple season- so whether you and your family are hitting the apple orchard to pick them yourselves, or if you’ve loaded up your cart at the grocery store, here are some ideas for what you can do with those shiny red gems when you get them home.

  Read more…

Chicken cheats

When you run out of time and out of meal ideas simultaneously, it’s not good. It’s even worse when this combination occurs near dinner hour.

This is probably the number one reason why you hit the drive thru or pick up the phone.  But that kind of last-minute mentality is not doing your wallet or your waistline any favours.

While cooking from scratch is almost always the way to go, especially if you are trying to keep to a budget, there are a few convenience foods that can help you “cheat” a little. You’ve no doubt seen those pre-cooked rotisserie chickens at your deli counter at the supermarket, which actually have many uses.

 
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Getting your house ready for winter

Getting your house ready for winter

While the air is still relatively warm, the calendar says that winter is just around the corner. Take some time now to prepare your home for winter’s chill (and potentially larger energy and repair bills). Besides, it is much nicer to do this work outside in your shirtsleeves than in your snowsuit! Read more…

Are your appliances draining your budget?

You rely on your appliances to make your life easier- whether it is for storing and preparing food, or cleaning up afterwards (dishes and laundry) but did you know that your decisions around appliance use can really add up (or subtract) from your energy bills?  Appliance use generally makes up 15 percent or so of your energy bill. If you haven’t already, consider the following:

 
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Save money without using coupons

CouponWhile the tactic of using coupons is a great way to shave down your grocery spending, it admittedly is not for everyone (myself included). I always admire the great organizational skill of shoppers armed with a fistful of coupons at the checkout, but don’t always have the time myself to be that proactive.

There are some other strategies to help you save at the checkout that don’t require you to clip coupons. Read more…

Get recession-proof

budgetThere are a lot of headlines at the moment that are concerning, but it is important to provide context to the stories.

Recent data from Statistics Canada shows that Canada is currently in a recession. Recession is one of those words that can create concern. And while this is news not to be taken lightly, it’s not time to panic either. Read more…

What identity theft might do to you

identity theftThe fact that you can do nearly everything from the comfort of your easy chair (if you’ve got an internet connection and a credit card) is hugely convenient.

The downside of course is that you’re very vulnerable. You may or may not have given much thought to identity theft, but you should guard yourself against it daily- and here is why. Read more…

Marriage and money, happily ever after

wedding-budget-savingsDid you get married over the summer? Congratulations! This is the honeymoon period- literally of your new marriage.  While it might be all sunshine and butterflies right now, it’s time to inject a little pragmatism in. Lay down the house rules around money.

This may seem decidedly unromantic, but it is one strategy to keep your marriage strong and long- into the happily ever after category. And that’s romantic. Read more…

“Frugal” is not a bad word!

scroogeBeing frugal somehow gets a bad rap. Let’s dispel some myths. Being frugal is not boring. It’s not limiting and it’s not being cheap. Being frugal is really just being smart about how and where you spend your money to get more for less.

Frugality is fun! Read more…

Take your summer holidays in September!

job-seekers-vacationEven though summer is coming to a close, it doesn’t mean that your vacation time has to. If you are not completely tied down to the school year schedule (really, what’s one week of school at the beginning?), making travel plans to tour in the early fall has a number of benefits. Read more…

Stay home! Make money!

Working-from-HomeAt the risk of sounding like an infomercial, there are a myriad of ways to generate an income from your own home.  Flexible scheduling, cost-savings for your commute, and the ability to have Casual Friday every day (I will not disclose the proportion of my work time actually spent in pajamas) are all reasons enough to consider work from home options. Whether you’re looking to earn a little extra cash, or make this your full-time gig, there are viable ways to generate income. Read more…

What lurks in your garage?

4645405438_b4abb2ca02_zOkay- show of hands. How many of you actually use your garage to park your car? Many folks use their garage as one big storage space/hoarding alley. However, if you deny yourself use of your garage, you’re effectively cutting down on the square footage of your home. Additionally, if you are ever planning on selling your home, having an organized usable space is a huge selling feature. Also- don’t forget the benefits of being organized in all areas of your life in as a means of seeking that elusive work-life balance. Read more…

Saving for school: Time to think about post-secondary education

RESPIf you are parents of a young child, take some advice from us (ahem) more experienced parents with older children. Time flies. Yes, it is a cliché — but in this case it is absolutely true. One minute they are boarding the school bus for the first time, the next they’re lining up for graduation.

If you’ve not started saving for your child’s post-secondary education, then there is no time like the present to get going! Read more…

Movin’ on up (and not into debt)

first-time home buyersIs there any more dreaded task than moving? And when you consider the costs that are associated with moving, it’s even more dreadful.

If you’re planning a move, here are some tips to simplify your life- and to leave some cash in your account for other things after you move. Read more…

Keeping your cool

air conditioning budgetWith the recent surge in temperatures, you may be finding that trying to keep cool is making you lose your cool- at least when it comes to your electricity bill.

Here are a few ideas on how to keep your energy costs down- especially when temperatures are extreme.  Read more…

Worried about paying for after-school sports?

youth-sportsHands down, one of the best parenting decisions I’ve ever made is to get my kids involved in organized sports. It’s not about grooming them for the NHL, Team Canada or university scholarships either (although that would be nice). It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to teach them several life lessons all at once: importance of physical fitness, fair play, hard work, commitment, respect, time management and responsibility- as well as the social part of giving and receiving support from teammates.  Read more…

Tips to Save Money Consignment Shopping

budget clothes shoppingWith back to school shopping for your kids in high gear, you are likely looking for ways to save a buck here and there. Beyond backpacks and books, one of the biggest cost centres you are going to be up against is back to school clothes.

Even if the thought of buying “used”clothing does not appeal to you, hear me out. The savings may be compelling enough reason to consider it. Like many things frugal though, successful consignment shopping does require a bit of strategy. Read more…

Back-to-school? Not yet. But soon!

Back to schoolAlthough summer has only just begun, back-to-school is not that far off. And there is no time like the present to get busy budgeting for all of those back-to-school expenses now- so that you can keep the plastic use to a minimum. Read more…

Cherry picking

CherriesAs you may already know, one great way to reduce your grocery bill is to take advantage of produce that it is in season- and right now it’s cherry season! Read more…

School’s out? Money lessons can still be learned

kid piggy bankAt the risk of stating the obvious, our basic job as parents is to provide our kids with the tools they’ll need to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted, successful grown-ups. While your definition of “successful” will vary, there is one tool that is invaluable- establishing a relationship with money. Kids have more time over the summer, so they might even be more open to your life lessons- ah the incredible power of boredom. Read more…

Are you part of the “HGTV Effect”?

renosAs the summer moves along, I find that my kids are watching more and more television. They usually love the outdoors, but the novelty of doing what you want, when you want, as only you can on summer vacation, is wearing a little thin.  Read more…

Remember September

Back to schoolYou’re a pro at back-to-school prep, right? You know just where to go to get the best deals, so that you can do more with less- staying right on budget.

Nothing can derail your careful budgetary planning like unexpected expenses though. Read more…

Interest rate shocker!

interest-rates-cutGenerally speaking, talk of interest rates is more snooze-inducing than warm milk and vacation slide shows, but last week, interest rates provided some drama.

As economic news goes, the Bank of Canada’s decision to lower interest rates again for the second time this year is a monster. Cue economic shockwaves.  Read more…

Coming to your bank account soon….

budgetWhat? Extra cash in the middle of the summer? Tell me more!

For those who are eligible, if you’ve not already, you should be getting a cash injection this week. On July 20, payments for the Enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit are being sent out. Read more…

When good people have bad credit

creditFact: good people often have bad credit. They are not mutually exclusive.

Maybe you didn’t fully understand some of the ramifications of some of your spending decisions. Maybe you’ve suffered through a bad relationship breakup, that has rendered unfortunately negative effects on your credit. Maybe you lost your job for a period of time, and wanted to pay your bills on time- but just couldn’t.

No judgement here. Read more…

Want fast cash?

Money-Bills-Roll-Cash-ElasticIt’s happened to all of us. Something out of the ordinary pops up- a concert, a mini-holiday or a need (well, really a want) to update your wardrobe.

If you’re on a budget, these kind of expenses are ones that are hard to justify. Still, splurging now and then, just for you would be nice- wouldn’t it? Read more…

The frugal outdoor cinema

outdoor movieOne of the greatest thrills of summertime is simply the experience of being outside. And when you can bring the things that you usually do indoors outside- bonus!

One inexpensive and supercool way to while away a summer evening is to set up an outdoor theatre in the backyard or neighbourhood park. Read more…

Budget BBQ

BBQOne of the greatest pleasures of summer (apart from the no snowsuits) is the ability to cook and eat outside.

Before you throw out your BBQ shingle and invite the whole neighbourhood over, realize that hosting a BBQ can be a costly endeavour.  Read more…

Should I consolidate?

04 - get out credit debtYou may have a budget that you stick to, as well as a decent income, yet you still find yourself stretched uncomfortably thin every month. You’d like to pay more towards reducing your debt load, but you find that you simply can’t.

Have you thought about debt consolidation? Read more…

I quit!

JobI’m lucky. I actually really love what I do. But for those that don’t, going to work can be a truly awful experience. Whether you’ve got an oppressive boss or a mind-numbing job, we’ve all had daydreams about marching into HR and handing in a resignation letter.  Read more…

Money tight? Change your budget

budgetAre your finances stretched too thinly month after month?  The problem may not be with your spending behaviour; it might be with how you’ve laid out your spending. Read more…

Team Canada

canada-day-flagEveryone loves a party- especially when the whole country is invited.

Canada Day means a whole lot of fun and festival-ing, much of which is free. The frugal party-goers favourite! Read more…

The pre-approval myth

Pre-ApprovedThere are few more pressing temptations to blow the budget other than when you’re shopping for a home.

You may feel pressure, emotionally (and from the market, depending on where you live) to pay any price to secure that home of your dreams. Read more…

It’s strawberry season!

strawberryOne of the best strategies to keep your grocery budget on track is to take advantage of produce that is in season. During the in-season, the produce is question is more plentiful and more locally available. This works out into savings for you- the consumer. Oh- and it is usually higher quality as well.  Read more…

Talk to your kids about money without whining or eyerolls

kid piggy bankI have the benefit of experience (ha) on my side when it comes to kids and certain stages of their lives. I say this only because my kids are nestled into tween/teendom (which comes with its own sets of challenges). I’ve already completed those early years when sleep (and sanity) are scarce. I’ve also had my chance to make my share of mistakes. Read more…

In marriage, money talks

couple money issuesAs any couple will tell you, the key to harmony is good, open communication (and a sense of humour). This holds particularly true when it comes to money management. Read more…

Teacher gifts: what they want and don’t want

teacher appleI have endless respect for those who dedicate their lives to the development of our children. Not a job for the faint of heart (nor for those short on patience- an automatic out for me), teachers play an integral role in the intellectual and emotional development of your child.

That said, as the school year winds down, it is time to celebrate your teacher.

This is one of those expenses that is often not accounted for. It’s one of those ones too that you could end up spending way too much on something either not wanted or unnecessary, because you didn’t plan ahead.

The thought does count

I count a number of teachers among my close circle of friends. I assure you, their career choice was not based on the end-of-the-year loot.

This is about recognizing the place that your child’s teacher had in their life this year- and is an official way to express your thanks.

Get personal

What does your teacher like to do? Do they have any hobbies? Don’t let your gift end up in the pile with the others, most likely to go home and collect dust over the summer.

Get your child to do a little detective work at school. Does Mrs. So-and-so carry a mug in the class (possible coffee drinker)? Where does she go at lunchtime (out for powerwalks with the librarian)? Does she have children (does she look for fun activities to do with them, much like you do)? Does she have fancy colourful nails (manicure)?

If you can come up with a gift idea that stays within the budget and is useful- well A+ for you.

The group

There is a mom in my son’s class that I adore. Yes, she’s smart and funny- but that’s not the real reason I like her (it is a bonus though). It’s that for the last several years she has taken it upon herself to organize a group gift for a gift certificate from a local restaurant that she knows the teacher likes. All I have to do is send her the cash. It’s perfect.

This ends up costing you much less money in the long run- and you know it is a gift that teacher will want and use. Take charge this year and organize a group gift.

 

Wedding invite? How not to blow the budget

wedding invitationWe are at the entry of the prime-time wedding season. While weddings can be a lot of fun (tell me what club has such a cross-section of demographics on the dance floor. Worth it for people watching alone) they can also be super expensive.

As the invites begin to arrive in your mailbox, think about your budget.  Here are a few things to consider before you RSVP: Read more…

Prom: the big spend

prom-dresses-for-bidNow, I’m dating myself, but my prom was all about being big. Big dresses and big hair were cool-as were some big expenses around that day.

Fast forward (ahem) a few years, and the clothing and hair are smaller and significantly more tasteful, but the expenses around prom have absolutely skyrocketed. This is partly because of inflation- but mostly because of expectations. Read more…

Change your credit-tude

Paying with Debit CardWhen you’re young, and you imagine your life as a “grown-up”, you probably think about things like raising a family, buying a house and going on awesome summer vacations.

Chances are though that in your mind’s eye, you’re not dreaming up ways to pay for these. It’s more about having, rather than focusing on the method of getting. And this makes sense. Finances are not usually the fodder for daydreams. Read more…

Looking for a car? Look around

carLooking for new wheels? There are few markets (or products) that offer more variable pricing. A word to the wise: before you even hit the lot at the dealership or do your online search, set your budget and outline your plan of attack. Read more…

Five ways to save for a down payment for a house

home ownershipIs home ownership a goal of yours? Beyond scouring home décor magazines and memorizing the MLS listings, there are certain, more pragmatic steps that you have to take to get there. You’ve probably thought about how you’re going to make mortgage payments, but have you planned out how to accumulate a down payment?

As of June 1 2015, high-ratio borrowers (i.e. borrowers who have less than 20 percent down) are subject to a 15 percent increase in CMHC premiums. While this may not seem like a big deal, amortize that over the life of your mortgage, with accruing interest. That can be big bucks.

Even more reason now to accumulate a sizeable down payment. So- get busy house hunters! Read more…

My kids are cute, but expensive!

kids-and-sportsAhh kids. Your darling devils angels.

When you set out down that parenthood path, your focus is on the immediate moment- as in, “how am I going to survive on no sleep?” (you will); “how will I know what to do?” (again, you will).

Fast forward a few years, you’ve moved past those initial questions and you’ve realized exactly how expensive it is to raise kids at the various stages of their lives. The direction expenses will change as they grow, but they remain. Here are some basic tips on how to save a little cash when paying for daily life around your bundles of joy. Read more…

Go nuts!

nutsAs we’ve discussed before, one way to really slash your grocery budget is to seek out alternatives to meat. As meat is likely the biggest cost centre in your grocery spending, it stands to reason that making even a small change can go a long way to stretching your grocery dollars.

The problem is, when you are cutting back on your meat consumption, what do you swap in that can provide some similar nutrition benefits for a lower price?

There are a bevy of options, but one budget and nutrition friendly tweak for your budget? Go nuts. Read more…

Reach that goal!

Reaching-goalsWhether you are training to run a race, trying to break a bad habit (like chewing your nails or smoking), or trying to get yourself out of debt, much of the same strategy can be employed.

Getting out of debt, like these other things, is a commitment to change, with short, medium and long term milestones.

Here is a one-size fits all approach to making that change. Read more…

How to make your house bigger without a hammer

SpringCleanDo you love your home, but wish it was bigger? Probably. But unless you are flush with cash, a real estate tycoon or otherwise independently wealthy, your budget, and the housing market is going to dictate your move up the property ladder.

While you bide your time in your small space, there are solutions to increase your sense of space. Read more…

How to Get Free Stuff

Liz Corry with product samples.Smart shoppers unite! Who says there it’s too good to be true? Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch (or dinner, or appetizer)? There is actual, honest-to-goodness free stuff to be had out there. Here’s how: Read more…

When saving money is a bad idea

groceryshoppingWhile we applaud your frugal efforts to save money by shaving down on expenses and by sticking to your budget, there are certain areas in which you shouldn’t necessarily go for the cheaper option.

There are cases where saving a little money in the short term could potentially cost you more (a lot more) in the long run, or even potentially compromise your health and safety. Read more…

Ground beef: new ideas

shep pieGround beef is frequently on sale, and is a great budget-friendly meat option. However, the thought of serving up another pot of chili or making hamburgers may be losing its lustre.

Here are some new takes on old dishes to use up that ground beef in your freezer flavourfully Read more…

Save money, but don’t be cheap

scroogeWe all want to save money, but none of us want to be seen as being cheap. The good news is being frugal and “money-aware” does not make you cheap. Just so you know the difference, here is some decidedly cheap behaviour: Read more…

Expecting a baby? Expect the expenses

expecting parentsAre you expecting? Congratulations!

While you are pouring over baby name books and picking out décor for the nursery, you may want to take a reflective moment. Your life is about to change in a profound way (a profoundly good way). Read more…

Should I borrow money to renovate?

House Made of ToolsI’ve talked before about good debt and bad debt. Typically, good debt is associated with some sort of security or asset (like a house) or is another kind of investment (education).

Usually, home renovations fall under the “good debt” category. You may be asking yourself though, is it really worth borrowing money to renovate? Read more…

Five ways to make quick cash

babysittingMaybe you have your eye on something shiny? Maybe you crave a mini-vacation, or a new piece of furniture?

Items like these fall squarely into the “want” category, and not the “need” category, and generally don’t make it on the list when you are sticking to a budget. It’d still be nice to treat yourself once in a while though, wouldn’t it? Read more…

It’s tax time!

tax1Ok procrastinators. The deadline to file your taxes is fast approaching. While this seems like a daunting and/or unfun task, you could be leaving money on the table if you don’t hop to it.

People squander the opportunity to take advantage of all of the credits available to them. Don’t be one of them! Visit Revenue Canada’s site to fully investigate what you’re eligible for. Read more…

Go green and get green!

earth-dayDon’t you love it when you stumble upon a win-win situation? This is precisely what happens when you take steps to be environmentally conscious.

Not only are you doing good works for Mother Earth, you are also helping that other kind of green (your dollars) go further. Win-win all around! Read more…

Chicken out!

chicken_parmChicken is such a versatile and cost-effective source of protein.  And it’s easy to cook.  Got a 9×13 pan? Got  30-60 minutes? Got some chicken pieces? You’ve got supper. Let’s go! Read more…

Running/walking: the frugal exercise

runningI started running years ago, partly because the challenge appealed to me, and partly because I became increasingly frustrated with spending loads of money on gym fees when my willpower schedule prevented me from going- which is especially true when you have a family. Read more…

Frugal ideas for rainy April days

rainy dayWith the rainy days of April upon us, you may want to prep yourself for some potentially long, indoor days.

To save yourself from going batty, be proactive when it is sunny and make plans for what you’ll do with the kids when it is raining. Read more…

Maple syrup time!

Maple-SyrupIf you haven’t already, it’s time to hit your local sugar bush for some outdoor fun- and to stock up on that maple syrup. Not only is it a fun day out for the fam, you can stock up on this sticky gold during its season (which makes it a little less expensive, usually).

Maple goodies go far beyond your pancake breakfasts.  Here are some maple-good ideas. Read more…

Spring cleaning on the cheap

SpringCleanFor those who embrace this turning of the calendar for more than just the balmy temperatures and the ability to open the window, this is prime-time cleaning season. Before you head out and stock up on expensive (and potentially harsh and fume-y) cleaners, consider some of these less expensive natural wonders. Read more…

Menu planning 101

beef dishYou know the linchpin of frugal success is planning, right? This is especially true when it comes to feeding your family.

One of the biggest (and most variable) cost centres, grocery shopping is an area where a little planning can go a long way to stretch your dollars. The fine art of menu planning can not only help you balance your budget, it can keep mealtime interesting. Read more…

The Easter Bunny has a budget too!

easter_baskets_holiday_esl_students1If you are a celebrator of Easter, you are aware that this is one of those holidays that has a price tag attached.

While it is fun to see Easter baskets flowing with overabundance, it is probably best to show a little restraint (both for sugar high and budgetary considerations). Read more…

Brown bag makeovers

lunch-boxTrying to save money by brown bagging it at work? Getting to your breaking point where you don’t think you can look another sandwich in the face?

Don’t run to the food court in desperation! You’ve just got to re-tool the contents of your lunchbox. Read more…

Deal or no Deal?

groceryShopping can be a very euphoric experience, especially when you score a brag-worthy deal.  Not all “deals” are deals though. Smart shoppers take a step back and determine the deal-ness of a purchase. Read more…

Painting Problems

Woman using paint roller.If you’re not afraid of a little elbow grease, you can seriously save yourself some money by DIY. This holds particularly true when it comes to home improvements, like painting. Materials are pricey, but the real costs are in the labour. Read more…

Good Coupon Habits

CouponForming good habits leads to good results- and this is particularly true when it comes to successful money management.

Couponing is a great money-saving tool, but it is not one to be taken on by the faint of heart or the time pressed. Read more…

Should I get my Teen a credit card?

credit-cards5We’ve made some inroads in my house recently. With her first part-time job under her belt, my daughter has really nailed down (like fully embraced) the whole concept of earning her own money to buy her own things. Read more…

Tips for single parenting and money management

baby-surpriseParenting is hard, unpaid (although enormously rewarding) work. It’s hard enough when you have a partner- so hats off to those who hold down the parenting fort on their own.

In addition to the physical and emotional challenges of single parenting,there are financial challenges. Here are a few tips to help you best manage your money and keep your debts under control with one income. Read more…

Spring cleaning to make money

SpringCleanIt’s almost here! The snow is melting (a little) and the thermometer is creeping up (a little). I’m tempted (more than a little) to throw open the windows and let the breeze flow through.

Which makes me think about shaking out the winter dust…literally. Read more…

One-pot saviour

one pot mealIt is nothing short of domestic euphoria when you can you can kill multiple birds with a proverbial stone. When you translate this into saving money and time in the kitchen at the same time- jackpot!

Enter the one-pot dish. Efficient, quick- and also budget friendly (think less waste). Read more…

Spring Break Staycation!

staycationYou always know your level of winter cabin fever by this time of the winter. Mine has reached “packed suitcase by the door, just in case”(As in just in case the chance to head south appears).

Alas, freezing temps aside, for many, Spring Break is a stay-at-home holiday- either because of budget or inability to get the time off, or both. Not to worry- good times are still to be had!

It’s all about attitude, creativity and planning. Read more…

RRSP reminder!

rrspAs the end of RRSP season rapidly approaches (for the 2014 tax year, the deadline is March 2, 2015), you may feel like you’ve missed the boat.

But- you still have time, and you should really jump in feet first to your retirement savings if you haven’t yet. Like today. Right now. Read more…

Rent vs. Buy

buying a homeThere is a long-standing debate whether you are better off to buy a home or to rent.

Truthfully, there are pros and cons to both sides of this equation, and it comes down to asking yourself a few hard questions. Read more…

Eat healthy for less!

expensive-healthy-eating-400x400We all want to eat better. But do you feel like your healthy choices are sometimes at odds with your budget?

It doesn’t have to be one or the other! Read more…

The birthday party conundrum

birthday-party-manners-600Winter presents a set of challenges in many departments. Extra clothing. Extra time to get from point A to point B. Oh- and extra creativity when it comes to things like planning your child’s birthday party. Read more…

RRSP deadline is approaching!

rrspWhile you’ve not yet been deluged with commercials reminding you that the deadline for your 2014 RRSP contribution is near, in the interest of good financial planning, let’s not wait ‘til the absolute last minute. Read more…

Embrace your space

Woman using paint roller.I have two major daydreaming pastimes when the outdoor temps are so frigid: scouring the internet for lovely beach photos and locales and changing my house.  “Changing my house” can encompass a number of different possibilities- from looking for a new one to re-imagining the space that I do have. Read more…

Chilly Day Chili!

chili-recipesMmmm. Chili. The mother of all comfort foods. This one pot dish serves it all: convenience, flavour, nutrition- and is budget-friendly as well. Not to mention, you can let it simmer all day long, upping the delicious factor and filling your home with amazing aromas. This is a frugal super-food!

Like all of those fave dishes though, your family may be looking for something a little different. Here are some variations and new ideas on an old classic. Read more…

Family tax credits: What you need to know

childcareTaxes are, well, boring.

However, when you look at the tax credit part of the equation, they become a little more interesting.

Did you know that there were some changes made to available family tax credits in 2014, most of which will take effect in 2015? Make sure you are maximizing what is available to you. Read more…

The cost of the commute

traffic jamFor many of us, owning a car (or two) is considered a necessity (remind me to tell you the story of when my husband and I had to share a car for a week. The horror!). Read more…

Why you should pay attention to the headlines

InterestRates_640x360Every few months or so, there are a rash of headlines about rising interest rates. After a while, a little bit of the “boy that cried wolf” effect comes in to play. However, this time around, you should really pay attention.

Admittedly, interest rates are not the most interesting of subjects. But what should be of interest to you is the significant impact that a rise in interest rates could have on your life, and why it behooves you to plan ahead for such an event. Read more…

Money life lessons

kids-and-sportsParenting is not easy- that is not in dispute. But keeping in mind the fact that as parents, it’s our main job to set our children up to be successful adults one day, these are crucial lessons to teach. Read more…

Wedding bells ringing?

newly_wed_b_and_g_porcelainWere you asked any interesting questions over the holidays? Specifically, did you receive and accept a marriage proposal?

That engagement glow can quick fade to pale once you enter the planning stages of your wedding, and begin to consider the (gulp) costs. Read more…

Cheap(er) Convenience

chickenWe’re all guilty of it. In the mad dash to get supper ready- between hockey practices, late meetings and music lessons, eating is strictly a utilitarian task.

More often than not, we hit the drive thru or dial the phone in a last-ditch effort to feed ourselves, spending way more money than we should. Read more…

Holiday bill hangover?

New-years-eve-lake-garda-1We’ve all been there. Like any really, really good party, a key ingredient is that “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

And as we all know, there is a price to pay the next day. Read more…

Skip meat, save money!

VEGGIESOne sure-fire way to shave money off your grocery bill is to adopt one meatless meal a week, if you are not already.

Don’t worry steak lovers. I’m not suggesting full-blown vegetarian lifestyle here- just a tweak that translates into bucks in your bank. Read more…

How to make a change stick

2011-year-resolution-400x400How’s it going so far with your New Year’s Resolutions? Have you fallen hard off the wagon of virtue (which can describe any habit at all that you are trying to break or bend)? I usually start the year running hastily in the direction of my desired change, and then about a week or two in, my enthusiasm wanes.

And I don’t think that I’m alone. Read more…

Frugality is fun!

getting-out-of-debtWhile frugality has a bit of an un-fun reputation (like the shopping spree’s boring cousin), frugality is fun. Reason being, is that living a frugal life will deliver you more directly towards your financial goals (be they a sweet new pair of shoes or a down payment for a house) and how fun is that! Read more…

Camping this summer? Plan now!

Although summer is still months away, there are a number of factors right now that are going to influence where and when people want to summer vacation.

Given the weakness of the loonie and the dip in oil prices (which is expected to keep gas low for the coming months), a summer road trip in the Great White North might be just the ticket.

Read more…

New Year’s Resolutions: Moneywise!

saveThe New Year is upon us! It’s time to get down and dirty to formulate some money management resolutions for 2015! Is 2015 going to be the year in which you get financially fit? Read more…

How to stick to your shopping list

200559715-002Ok internet friends, I’d like some praise and acclaim for the shopping heroics I just accomplished.

My husband requested for his birthday dinner a specific cheesecake from a specific price club store (which I also refer to as the vacuum at the other end of my wallet). Read more…

Frugal Flying

Warm destinationI really have to stop with my daydreaming obsession about warm and sunny climates during the winter season.

I guess everyone has a guilty pleasure, and mine- most admittedly is to cruise travel sites looking for dreams, inspiration- and occasionally a deal. Read more…

What do I wear on New Year’s Eve?

New-years-eve-lake-garda-1The good news is that you’ve found a rockin’ party to attend and that you’ve booked a sitter. The bad news is that you’ve got nothing to wear and you’ve spent all you’ve got (and then some) on holiday shopping.

What’s a girl to do? Read more…

Five things to do Post-Holiday

christmas-aftermath-2008The holiday season is intense-both from a work intensive and budgetary point of view.

So, you’ve worked so hard- and now it is over. What to do? Dig yourself out from under that mound of shredded wrapping paper and dirty dishes and treat yourself for all that hard work- without spending money that you most likely don’t have. Read more…

Get on top of holiday debt. Today!

brokeSantaAlthough the tree still stands, and weary memories of Christmas morning are still very fresh in your mind, there is no time like the present to start making amends coming up with a plan to tackle any debt you may have taken on during holiday shopping. Read more…

Turkey dinner leftovers made over

leftoversTurkey dinners are a lot of work, right?

But many believe that the real magic of the turkey is the huge mileage you can get out of one bird (and their accompanying sides) to extend its dollar value– as well as reduce your time in the kitchen.

If the thought of having another turkey sandwich doesn’t appeal to your inner gourmand, here are some new twists on old leftover favourites. Read more…

Pull in that debt load!

Pay-Off-DebtI was reading the paper this morning and saw a rather concerning title: Canadian household debt  burden rises to record level.

What this story talks about are recent stats released by Stats Can that show a wide (very wide) gap between debt load (which in this case includes mortgages, consumer credit and non-mortgage loans) and disposable income. Currently, Canadians hold a 162.6 percent debt load against their disposable income.

What??? Read more…

What are you doing on New Year’s Eve?

NYEThe real problem with New Year’s Eve (no, not what to wear) is that it is right after Christmas. Chances are you are financially (not to mention socially) tapped out by the time the big night rolls around.

There is no reason not to celebrate though. Here are some low-effort, low-cost ideas to help you ring in the New Year. Read more…

Tick tock: Have you started saving for your child’s education?

RESPEvery parent has heard the same words when they welcome their tiny bundles of joy into their lives. It goes by fast.

Of all the parenting advice I have ever received, this by far is the most relevant and the most accurate. There are days early on, when you are sleep deprived and you feel like the clock is going backwards. But once you (they) reach a certain level of independence, it is like you blink your eyes and zoom- you’ve moved from toddler to teen in what feels like an instant.

Read more…

Yes it is cold. Go outside anyways

Whsnow heartsen the temperatures dip, you may feel like the walls close in around you and your beloved family a little bit.

Resist the urge to jump in the car and hit the mall just for something to do. Boredom is a sneaky catalyst towards impulse spending.

Read more…

Protect yourself from identity theft

 

I haidentity theftve really embraced the convenience of online shopping this season. I’ve found that many of the items that I’m after are cheaper online (amazon.ca has knocked everyone else out of the park this year for me). All this activity underscores an important point though. There is far more to smart shopping than finding a good deal.

Read more…

Pay it forward

gratitudeThis time of year is decidedly busy, with all the holiday preparations, shopping and social engagements.

In the midst of your full calendar though, there exists a rare, once-a-year, seasonal opportunity to teach your children about the value of money and material possessions. 

Read more…

You do have time for breakfast!

Ok moms. We are aBreakfastll crazy busy in the mornings, flying around getting kids out the door to school and daycare, while trying to organize ourselves for the workday ahead (side note: I always thought a soundtrack against morning chaos would bring some levity to the situation).

What happens often, even though you make sure that your kids are well-fed before they start their day, is that you fail to feed yourself properly. And you either end up completely starving by mid-morning, or else you pick up something on the way, which leads to extra, unnecessary spending.

Read more…

Holiday Party Planning

xmaspartyDo you dream of hosting a festive holiday party, replete with a stunning Christmas tree, adorned with shining lights and canapés and drinks straight from the Food Network?

This is great- but only if you have the budget to match.  You can still throw a suave fete, look like Martha Stewart, but keep your budget intact.

Read more…

Overindulged on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

200559715-002Did you indulge in a little more spending than you should of on Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Don’t worry- there is still enough time to right those budgetary wrongs before the end of the holiday season.

It’s a little like trying to get your body back on track after an all-you-can eat buffet weekend. Especially if you’ve got the office Christmas party coming up, along with your glam little black dress.

Read more…

Holiday budget tight? How to explain this to your kids

giftsandkidsThe holiday season is fun and frenetic, as we engage in old traditions, lots of social engagements and general merriment.

Of course, with all this activity, comes more spending- and then there is the extra financial strain of buying gifts. What if the last year has been a challenge? Maybe you’ve experienced a job loss, separation or other change that may have caused your finances to get stretched.

Read more…

Thought about retirement?

retirementnextexitCongratulations on your laser-beam focus on whittling down your debt.  But have you considered saving for your retirement simultaneously?

Retirement? I’m too young!

While undoubtedly that is true, saving for your retirement is a long-term proposition. With the likelihood of government support scaling back over the years to come (especially for my Gen-X comrades on the heels of the Baby Boomers) the truth is retirement savings are going to be a need, as opposed to a want.

Read more…

Frugal food-i-tude

groceryshoppingIt’s always a challenge to save money at the grocery store.  Saving money on your family’s food needs has as much about your attitude as it does about getting lower prices through coupons and sales.

Food is fuel

A self-professed foodie, I get caught in this trap routinely. While taste is an important component of your eating, it is not the only one. Nutrition is well.

Read more…

Trying to find a gift for a teen or tween?

giftsgaloreFor all of you parents of teenagers and tweens, I am about to provide you with valuable information. It’s a public service, really.

As if you weren’t lame enough already, we are heading into holiday shopping season—and what in the world are you supposed to get your teenager/tween that won’t enhance your lame-ness? Add to that the confines of a budget– and well- it is a challenge.

Read more…

Got beef?

beef dishYou’re a conscientious shopper. You pay attention to sales- and stock up (while stocking your freezer). This is especially true with that versatile staple, ground beef.

However, do you find that you end up with loads in the freezer? And the only thing you can think of doing with it is the same old (loved, but worn) spaghetti sauces or chilis?

Read more…

Is your home ready for Winter?

winter sweaterWith the chilly temps settling in, you may be noticing your energy bills beginning to creep up. Here are a few tips to help you get your home ready for winter- with an eye towards energy savings.

Get out your favourite sweater

Turning that thermostat down even a few degrees can mean big savings in terms of your energy bill. As the snow flies, snuggle in with your favourite sweater and blankie.

Infinitely more cozy than a huge energy bill.

Read more…

Budget-friendly Holiday Tips

budgetgiftIt’s the thought that counts, right? This old adage is especially true if the thoughts surrounding your holiday gift shopping list are full of angst about the money that you’ll likely spend.

Truthfully, you don’t necessarily have to visit your mall and shell out big bucks to get giftie goodies for your friends and family. Here are some cool gift ideas that are budget-friendly and cool/useful (or both).

Read more…

Are you Cyber-Mondaying?

online shoppingAs though the freezing temps weren’t enough, the thought of battling crowds for Black Friday deals may be enough to make you want to park it inside in your winter woollies.

Ah- but then there is the lure of the deal.

Read more…

Dreaming of warmer destinations?

Warm destinationNot to keep harping on the weather, but I’ve always had a longstanding disagreement with dark, dreary November (as I imagine everyone else does too).

Literally the minute I have to get snow boots out (I’m a flip flop girl until the frost comes- and I resent having to put them away), I start spending a possibly inappropriate amount of time dreaming of being somewhere warm- and planning our next vacation.

Read more…

Need quick cash for the holidays?

cash holidaysThe calendar is slowly meandering its way towards Christmas, but it is a well-known fact that the closer it gets to the holiday, the more quickly the time evaporates.

You may have made your shopping list- but have you fully decided how you are going to pay for all these shiny new things? While your intentions may be great, your funding may be a little short.

Read more…

Savvy about your Mortgage?

Novembmortgageer is Financial Literacy month, which means that there is no time like the present to brush up on your financial terms.

It may not always make for the most interesting reading, but when it comes to staying on top of your finances, knowledge is directly linked control (which is also linked to success). Last week we explored some basics around RRSPs. This time we’ll check out the other side of the balance sheet with mortgages.

Read more…

Money and marriage

marriageMost of the arguments in my home centre around the remote control, and whether or not I can stand yet another episode of Storage Wars. But, sadly, there are many a household that are plagued with stress and conflict in the marriage with money (and money mismanagement) at the source of the trouble.

Read more…

Money games: Play and learn with your kids

monopolyIsn’t cool when you can spend time with your kids and teach them valuable insights at the same time? Even better when they aren’t aware that you are filling their little minds with information because they think they are simply playing.

Read more…

Shop smart on Black Friday

Black FridayWhile Black Friday has traditionally been a U.S. event, Canadian retailers have been trying to jump in on the action to keep Canadian shoppers (and their retail dollars) at home.

You don’t have to cross the border to score some sweet deals, but be aware: Black Friday can mean super deals, but could also spell disaster for your budget if you don’t plan ahead. Can you say impulse shopping?

Read more…

What do you know about RRSPs?

RRSP EggHow much do you know about your finances? Looking at the savings side of your balance sheet, do you know what an RRSP is and its many uses for your current and future financial picture?

Read more…

Get Saucy

soup2We’ve all been there. It’s dinner time. You’ve just cruised in the door from a day of back-to-back meetings and you are exhausted. The kids are either fighting with each other or with you instead of doing their homework.

Read more…

Can’t afford a new outfit? Accessorize!

accessorizeLonging for a new outfit but can’t justify the extra spending? Get creative with accessories and re-invent what you already have.

It’s all about shifting the focal point in an outfit to make it seem different, and that is what well-placed accessories can accomplish

Read more…

Make your small space bigger

There comes a time where yhomeou might feel that your home is too small, but moving somewhere larger is not in the budget. Or perhaps you’ve just moved into your own (small) apartment or condo.

Read more…

Pay your mortgage faster!

mortgageIn generations past, there seemed to be more of a focus on paying down your mortgage as quickly as possible. In my generation, between the cost of real estate (which has absolutely ballooned in some centres, like Vancouver and Toronto) and super-low interest rates, being mortgage free is a lofty idea that resides in the distant future.

Read more…

Can you afford a car?

carI often say that I couldn’t live without my car (really, without two cars in this family. I don’t share well). What I really mean is, I couldn’t live without the convenience that having a car provides me.

But, when you really do the math, owning a car is a huge cost centre. Is it one that you could do without?

Read more…

Teaching Teens about money

My daughter was packing teenandmoneyher laptop for school the other day in her bag alongside a rather leaky water bottle.

When I pointed this out, and the potential damage to her computer, she seemed to think that if her current system was damaged, we’d just get her another one (partly because it is a must-have for her courses, but still). When I set her straight on that tidbit, it made me think. She’s certainly not alone. In fact, that is a common point of view in her age group. Read more…

Three tips to save on groceries without coupons

Whilegrocery undeniably useful, coupons are not always the best available tool to save money. The reason for this lies partly at the feet of the shopper themselves (it takes an extra level of planning and commitment which is not always feasible). You are also dependant on the availability of coupons for certain products-which is a variable to introduce into your shopping.

Not to worry- and you can cast that frugal guilt aside. There are numerous ways to still shop smart and leave the coupons at home. Read more…

No such thing as a free lunch? Think again!

If you are a savvy consumFree Stuffzer, there are loads of freebies to be had out there. You just have to know where to look.

Try before you buy

Companies are more than willing to share free samples to convince you to buy. It can be a good way to amass things like household items, cosmetics and toiletries, but is also a good move as a consumer. It gives you a chance to investigate your purchases and the quality of product without money leaving your wallet. Read more…

Crock Pot Rescue

Slow CookerThe lack of whitespace on my calendar from dawn to dusk this week has been downright scary. Add to that the sheer volume of activity over supper hour (in opposite ends of town, with both children at the same time) the thought of preparing supper is a daunting task, to say the least. Read more…

Save money on Halloween costumes!

making-halloween-costumeRemember when Halloween meant going through your dress-up box, or throwing a sheet over your head and yelling “Boo” at your neighbours made you the scariest thing this side of Elm St?(Ok, maybe that was just eight-year-old me). Read more…

Frugally Fit: You don’t need the gym

runningYou already know the facts. Exercise is a necessary part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Problem is that exercising can be costly- especially if you associate exercise with expensive gym memberships or equipment. Read more…

The dish on daily deals

mom_shopTrue confession time. I am completely hooked on the adrenaline of scoring a good deal- which is why I subscribe to numerous daily deal sites and offers (second only to my real guilty pleasure-silent auctions, but that is another story).

Truthfully though, those daily deals are more often temptation than cost-saving, with big savings (but more spending) delivered into your inbox  daily. Read more…

You are what you eat: financially and otherwise

Grocery cartHow many times have you left the grocery store with a small number of bags, but a big dent in your wallet?

No doubt that most of your monthly spending is directed towards feeding your family and probably represents your biggest challenge in terms of trying to get more mileage out of the dollars that you do have. Read more…

Need Extra Cash?

308223-001Despite your best efforts to cut your spending, do you find that your dollars just don’t stretch far enough to cover your expenses every month?

Maybe the answer to balancing your budget is not in the cost-cutting. Maybe you need to boost the income side of things. Read more…

Coming up on Maternity Leave/Paternity Leave?

Maternity leaveIf so, you might as well know that  like with all things parenting, there is sacrifice involved. Unless you are fortunate enough to work for a company that tops up your income while you are off, you can expect to have to do more with less, while your income is temporarily scaled back. Read more…

BFFs- Your Secret Budget Tool

friends-fingersI’m so guilty of this, as I think many of us are. With the few hours we have in a day to march through work, errands and family obligations, we tend to neglect our friendships. Read more…

Got Turkey Leftovers?

leftoversAs you slide into your well-deserved post-Turkey dinner sleepy state, earned by a combination of hard work, gravy, and wine, you may find yourself jolted awake by the rather daunting prospect of what to do with those turkey leftovers, again. Read more…

How to Squash your Debt

getting-out-of-debtDo you feel like you are spinning your debt wheels? Despite your best efforts, you just can’t make a dent in that debt?

Barring getting a higher-paying job, here are some ideas on how to eliminate that debt more effectively. Read more…

Don’t be a brown bag martyr

brown bagYou’re so virtuous, brown bagging it every day to work to save money- even though the aromas emanating from the jazzy bistro in your office tower/strip mall etc. are incredibly alluring (and will-power testing). Read more…

Maxed out!

maxingoutcc-featuredAwesome! The bank has approved you for a credit card beyond the limit you needed, so it’s shopping time, right? Not so fast. Maxing out those cards is not a good idea- and here is why. Read more…

My budget is beautiful!

skincare-beauty-1050x700Fortunately for me, my pre-teen daughter has yet to discover makeup and beauty products. I say fortunately in part because of the implementation of a new battle ground (you can’t go out like that!) that comes with new stages of parenting- but also because of the budgetary battles that could ensue. Read more…

Got Apples? Four Delicious Dishes

apple crispBeen apple picking lately? Maybe you were lured in by the displays at your grocery store, with stacks of shiny apples. Regardless, these plump, juicy babies are in season- which means they are most plentiful, cheap and tasty right now.

If you find yourself with a surplus, or if you are just trying to decide what to do with the seasonal gems, here are some ideas. Read more…

Before your Balance your Chequebook, Balance your Life

PoiseYou focus a lot of your energy on balancing your chequebook. You should also devote some time to trying to achieve work/life balance.

Although work/life balance is a “nice idea” at times- it is attainable. And you’d be surprised at what other kinds of harmony (financial and otherwise) you can get closer to, by paying attention to this primary (and important goal) Read more…

How to Power-Save

bankThere is a tendency to ignore the asset side of your budget balance sheet, especially if the short term focus is paying down debt.

You want to build up some savings for the long term- or for an emergency fund- but what if something arises that you’d love to do, don’t have the cash on hand for- and can’t justify in good conscience whip out the plastic to fund? Read more…

Good Debt vs Bad Debt

good-debt-bad-debtBorrowing is bad, right? As a rule of thumb, one should always try to pay cash when you can.

However, there are instances (sometime with major purchases) you may not have that kind of cash on hand.  There is such a thing as good debt and bad debt- and it would behoove all budget-friendly types to know the difference. Read more…

Game On!

kids-and-sportsI shudder to think (and that’s not just from the cold in the rink) what I have actually spent over the years to fund my children’s illustrious hockey careers (notice the tongue firmly in cheek). Between equipment, ice time and tourneys, participating in such a sport is admittedly out of reach for many people. Read more…

Birthday Party Invitation in the Backpack?

birthday-party-manners-600September is a great but expensive month. There’s the recovery from the back-to-school shopping. Then there’s the flurry of cheques you write in the first weeks for school activity fees, milk programs, extracurricular activities and the like.

There are other slightly more sneaky expenses that start sliding in- like children’s birthday parties- to which invitations multiply quickly once school is back in session. Read more…

Frugal Fall Fun

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image16722753I wish I had more trees around my home. Not just because of the aesthetics or practical reasons (noise reduction and cleaner air) but because when fall rolls around, there is little that is more fun (or more free) than raking leaves only to have the kids (ok, and their parents too) jump in them. Read more…

How not to Waste Food

cleanplateThere are few things in this world that really, really get under my skin- but one of them undeniably is wasting food. Read more…

Budget Not Working?

budgetDo you find that sticking to your budget has fallen into the category of “lofty goal” (alongside learning Karate or driving a stick shift) rather than a matter of daily habit?

Here are some tried and true ways to turn your budget from theory to practice. Read more…

Rethink Your Pasta Plate!

woman-cooking-pastaPasta is a staple in my house (as I am sure it is in yours). However, numerous plates of spaghetti topped with your freezer-stocked spaghetti sauce can get a little tedious- to say the least. Read more…

Do you have a Rainy Day Fund?

rainydayfundDo you have money socked away in case of emergencies? Too often, when we are battling debt, we tend to focus on the debt side of our asset sheet almost blindly. Read more…

Get Crackin’

Optimized-cracked_eggDollar for dollar, there are few foods that pack a bigger nutritional punch than the good, old-fashioned egg. Read more…

Are you Credit Savvy?

credit-cards5Your relationship with credit may be transactional- as in your passage towards buy-now, pay later. But how much do you really know about how it works? Read more…

Double-Duty Cleaners

Optimized-NaturalCleaningProducts_1There’s no need to stock up at the store on expensive cleaners. You may very well have what you need in your cupboards already- although you may have stocked them for food rather than cleaning purposes! Read more…

Stop Wasting Money!

Optimized-o-CANADA-MONEY-facebook (1)Ripping money up and throwing it away would be silly, right? You may be engaging in habits and practices that are tantamount to the same thing though. Here are a few points: Read more…

Stock your Freezer!

freezerWhen I open my freezer on a hectic night, I actually smile- and silently congratulate myself on the moment of foresight I engaged in to stock it up with yummy, reheatable meals. Read more…

Money Keeping you up at Night?

sleep-make-me-happy-3We’ve all been there- tossing and turning through sleepless nights. No doubt there is any number of things that could be keeping us awake. But what happens when it is financial stress that is keeping you up?

If you are reading this at 3am, scroll down and then go back to bed. Tomorrow is going to be different because you have a plan. Read more…

Budget Tight? You Can Still Redecorate

Redecorating-Your-HomeAre you fed up with your kitchen/bedroom/basement (fill in room here) and would love to gut the space top to bottom, with a complete do-over?

Is your budget at odds with your décor dreams? Read more…

Indulge Yourself. You Deserve it!

a bathC’mon parents. You know the bliss you feel when that school bus rounds the corner for the first time after a joyful, memory filled long summer with the kids at home.

If you listen closely, you can hear the collective cheer echoing through communities everywhere. Given the celebratory sense of the occasion, you may feel like giving yourself a treat- but what if it’s not in the budget? Read more…

Moving Out? Set up Your First Apartment on the Cheap

furniture-old-buy-sell-used-49342There is something uniquely thrilling (and terrifying) about moving out into your own apartment. Finally, after years of sharing and compromising, you have your very own space (hooray!) but you also have the responsibilities, financial and otherwise that come with the territory. Read more…

Happy Birthday to Me!

happy-birthday-letter-15Isn’t it time to give yourself a present for your birthday?

With a little research and foresight, you can really leverage the anniversary of your birthday to score some sweet free stuff! Read more…

Student Life: Full on Fun, Slim on Budget

all-nighter-main_fullThere is no cheerier time in my mind’s eye than those compact years I spent attending university. Between residence living, football games, goofy themed parties, collective all-nighters writing term papers, and general congeniality that comes with the age and stage of life- they were good times. Read more…

Read Your Receipt!

ReceiptsI’m very guilty of this. After making a purchase, I rarely look at the receipt, unless I am returning something.

That said, there are a few good reasons why you should make it a frugal practice to regularly scan your receipt. Read more…

Re-think the Lunchbox

lunch-boxTo me, one of the greatest stressors of the back-to-school season, is not the flurry of preparation and the change in routine- but the rather daunting organizational challenge of packing lunches for the kids every day. Read more…

Teach Value through Volunteerism

volunteer2One of the greatest life lessons to give your child is to teach them their place in the world. A geographic sense of their global spot can be accomplished through travel.

A more significant and less literal lesson- to really understand the value of what they have in relation to others is to embrace the value of volunteerism as a family. Read more…

Save Money on School Supplies

kids-back-to-school-is-coolAugust is one of those bittersweet months. The summer is fast flying by- and the onset of cooler temperatures and the long winter is approaching more quickly.

But with the end of August comes back-to-school (cue celebratory music)!

There is a great deal of shopping to be done pre-September, but let’s look specifically today at school supplies, and how to keep those kinds of costs in check. Read more…

Frugality is About Attitude

frugal-living-how-to-live-frugally-1She’s been gone for many, many years, but I’ve recently been thinking about how my maternal grandmother was awesome. Not just because she was hilarious and cool (and she thought I could do no wrong as a child ever- which is a tremendously powerful ally to have as a kid) but because she had this great attitude towards household and spending, as many who weathered  World Wars and the Great Depression  did. Read more…

How to Haggle

haggleI love the thrill of getting a bargain (and then sharing tales of my spoils with my friends).

I have also learned along the way, that simply because a price tag is attached to an item does not mean that it is set in stone. Read more…

Money Talks: How to Talk to Each other About Money

newly_wed_b_and_g_porcelainWhile it has been a good decade since my husband and I walked down the aisle, I still remember the early days quite clearly. The excitement of getting married, and the prospects of what lay ahead- which were both simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. Read more…

Pay off Your Credit Cards Faster

Notices_when_paying_Vietnam_visa_approval_fee_by_credit_cardDo your financial goals include crushing your credit card debt as quickly as possible?

Credit Card debt can be tricky, and very high in interest (department store cards are usually the biggest culprit)- which can completely derail even the best planned budget.  Here are some hints to help you expedite the process, and to take steps towards eliminating it altogether. Read more…

Five Must-Haves for Your Food Pantry

Residential-pantryAs I fly from work meeting to activity to other obligation, it’s all I can do to avoid turning into the drive-thru, simply for the sake of time.

I have found though, that if I can think ahead, and make sure that my cupboards are strategically stocked with a little proactive shopping, I whip something up at home in no time. This saves money and is way (like way more) more nutritious. Read more…

How to Save Money on Flights

18482Planning on winging your way this summer, or perhaps in the fall when temperatures turn? Take heed, flights are a major centre of your vacation costs. That said, with a little research, flexibility and foresight, you can shave a major amount off of your air fare. Read more…

Go-To Healthy Snacks

DSCF5029Snack time in my house looks a lot like a stampede of two, racing down to the kitchen, throwing open the cupboard and saying “There’s nothing to eat!!!” (when in fact, there most certainly is). Read more…

Wise Warehouse Shopping

0719-costco_full_600I’m guilty of it, and I know you are too.

You’re going shopping at your local warehouse club and plan your shopping list to the minute detail. Read more…

Road Trip Sanity Survival

roadtrip“Are we there yet?” are some of the most dreaded words in the parent, child relationship. It often seems that these words are uttered before you’ve even left the driveway (although the same dynamic could apply to air or train travel as well). Read more…

Get a Job!

JobSearchNewspaperWhile school may be out, the learning continues, especially when it comes to family finances. The summer presents a unique opportunity to teach your kids about the value of money- by letting them earn some of their own through summer jobs. Read more…

Save on Gas!

gasIf you own a car, a large portion of your income likely goes towards gas. With gas prices high- and climbing even higher, the amount you need to shell out to get from point A to point B can punch a serious hole into your budget.

There are ways to shave down on that gas budget though- to keep both your wallet and your tank full. Read more…

Get the Points?

keep-calm-and-earn-pointsIn need of a gift? Thinking of a family outing to a nearby theme park, but find the prices prohibitive? Contemplating a weekend getaway, but can’t afford costly hotels or rental cars?

You need look no further than to the plastic in your wallet. Not the credit card kind- or even the debit card. No, your passage to merchandise, services and travel lays in your rewards cards. Read more…

Staycation: Have Fun, Relax and Save Money

staycation1Vacation plans this summer? Perhaps you are planning on hitting the open road with the family? Or maybe travelling for your vacation this year is not in the budget (and with the cost of gas these days, more and more people are opting to stay put). Read more…

Create your Own Outdoor Cinema

MillerOutdoorTheatreRemember the old days, when drive-in movie theatres populated many highways and an evening out with the family was a major event, complete with snacks, your favourite movies and fresh summer breeze all around you? They still exist, but are harder to track down. Read more…

What are you doing on Canada Day?

canada-day-flagCanada’s birthday is just around the corner. How do you plan to celebrate? For the frugal reveller, Canada Day means free (or nearly free) celebrations from dawn to dusk. Read more…

You vs. Debt: How to Win the Battle

76.81231ef05305be579d55a28905666933You’ve been trying your level best, but just can’t seem to stay ahead of your debt.  You’re meeting your debt obligations, but barely, and you feel like every financial move you make is not taking you in the direction that you’d like.

Don’t lose heart. There is always hope, and there is always help. Read more…

The Frugal Diner

dining-out-frugallyAre you a foodie who relishes the experience of eating out and trying new things? Do you frequently meet with friends and co-workers in restaurants? Read more…

Five Reasons to Tweak Your Budget

euros_growthOne of the staples of a good budget is to commit to revisiting it on a regular basis (quarterly is generally a good interval).

Reason being, is that while you are working on the business of paying down your debt and/or bulking up your savings,  you are carrying on the business of living your life. Your budget may or may not be working well, according to what is going on around you. Read more…

Camping

Budget-Camping-11Depending on the age and stage of your child, with the summer months approaching, you may be facing a bit of a child care dilemma. Read more…

Budget BBQ

4ddacb91d6237.imageAs we open our doors and head outside in comfort, so begins the outdoor dining season.

Perhaps you’ve been stuck indoors over this rather arduous winter, and are longing to have family and friends congregate in your backyard for a little BBQ feast? The problem is, hosting an event can be quite expensive and may not fit entirely in your budget. Read more…

Cut Costs? You Can Trim More!

reduce-costWe all want to save money. You may have set a budget and, despite following it, feeling like you are not getting as much mileage as you might like to out of your money. Read more…

Do I Have What it Takes to Sell my Own Home?

Home for saleWhen it comes to being frugal, a general rule to save money is to DIY wherever you can. But are all tasks translatable, or are there some things that are more effectively (and more profitably) handled by a professional? Read more…

Being Frugal is Different than being Cheap

village-of-frugalityThere is a difference between being cheap and being frugal. A big difference.

Being “cheap” has negative connotations, and conjures images of being inflexible and unwilling to part with money, regardless of amount. It’s a perception. Read more…

Should Frugal Folks Tip?

tipping_blog_gamemaki_com1You’ve made changes and committed to a frugal lifestyle. After going through your spending with a fine-toothed comb, you sliced and diced, sacrificing extras in the sake of keeping your budget intact.

So how do you justify spending when it comes to tipping? Read more…

Teacher Gifts: Thoughtful and Frugal

colorful-crayon-letter-craft-photo-420-FF0611OUT_W01The home stretch is in sight for the school year, and with it comes another round of expenses, including gifts and end-of-year celebrations.

Another item to include in your budgeting is tokens and tributes for your child’s teachers. However, it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to plan these purchases out. They are truly about meaning and message, and not about spending. Read more…

Car Shopping? How to Get the Best Deal

couple-car-shoppingHas your current car driven its last kilometer? Does your lifestyle require that you change the type of automobile? Perhaps you are transferring from a pedestrian lifestyle towards a commuter lifestyle? Read more…

Don’t Let Prom Drain Your Wallet

prom_datesAs school winds down for the year, plans for celebrations of all kinds begin. For you (or for someone you know) does this end-of-school season include a prom or graduation party? Read more…

The Frugal Vacationer

job-seekers-vacationSummer is just around the corner. Have you given much thought about your vacation? While often in the extra-spending category, family vacations can be a centre for memories to treasure- especially if you incorporate traditions.

You too can go on vacation- without breaking the bank- and without loading up your plastic! Read more…

How Does Your Garden Grow? Frugally!

6566035As we inch closer to the end of May, the frost is likely gone (hopefully!) and it’s time to start thinking about greenifying your yard or outdoor space.

Beware though. It is really easy to get caught up when planting your garden (although in all honesty, you deserve loads of plants and flowers after that harsh winter!). Expenses can rack up quickly, so plan ahead and employ a little ingenuity. Read more…

Congratulations Graduate! Now it is Time to Learn About your Finances

sad-grad_new_largeAre you a recent graduate or gearing up to graduate this spring? While finishing your education is a huge accomplishment, and you are no doubt proud of the accomplishment, you may be feeling slightly daunted at the prospect of transitioning from student to employee- and some of the financial responsibilities that will soon be coming your way.

So how to proceed, once you’ve removed your cap and gown? Read more…

Stage your House on a Dime

Family-room-fireplace1Spring is the busy season in real estate, so if you are planning on selling your home, you avail yourself of more buyers. The problem though- is that there are generally more sellers as well.  How can you get top dollar for your home and make it stand out from the competition? Read more…

The Real Reason the Customer is Always Right

buyer_bewareYou’ve done everything right. Set your budget- and stuck to it. But- what if you spent money and didn’t get what you wanted or expected in return?

The customer is always right, right? Beyond that, the customer has support should something go awry in their purchase of a product or service. Read more…

Five Frugal Ways to While Away a Rainy Afternoon

dragonflies-rainy-day-fairies-896310As we wait for these showers (which seem to have moved directly from March to April) to bring spring flowers, you may feel like the walls are closing in around you on yet another rainy afternoon, as your children get louder, and the hours get longer. Read more…

Don’t Forget Your Own Mom on Mother’s Day

Happy-Mothers-DayWith Mother’s Day just around the corner (May 11, to be precise) there is no time like the present to start thinking about how you are going to celebrate mom.

Chances are, you are a mom yourself- so you are looking ahead to how your family will celebrate you. But what about your mom? Read more…

Cutting Costs Can be Dangerous and Expensive. Beware

cutting_cost_450While cutting costs is always commendable when trying to maintain a frugal lifestyle, there are certain areas where you should never cut corners. As a rule, if it is going to compromise your safety, cause you discomfort or cost you more money in the long run, it is worth spending a little more in the moment.

There are times that a deal is no deal at all. Read more…

Expecting a Tax Refund?

taxrefunddoneYou’ve likely often played out the scenario in your head. What would you do with extra cash? This daydream often involves huge cash windfalls, like winning the lottery, or receiving a sizeable inheritance from a long-lost relative. Read more…

Get Organized to Save Money

professional-organizers-in-san-diego2You want to have more money every month, right? You’d like to save more on your expenses, right? Why is it that, come month’s end, sometimes it is a bit of a scramble (or at least your balance sheet does not look as rosy as you’d like)?

Your barrier to financial success may be as simple as a lack of organization in your home. Read more…

Five Cheap but Nutritious Foods

expensive-healthy-eating-400x400Okay. So you’ve had it with the tally that rings up at the cash register every week at the grocery store. You try your best to use coupons and buy items on sale, but find that they maybe are not making as much of an impact as you’d like. Read more…

How to Save Money as a Bridesmaid

BridesmaidsAre you always the bridesmaid? No doubt you are delighted for your BFF(s) and their impending nuptials, but the cost of participating in a wedding party can be enormous. Read more…