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…

Spring is Here! Get out and Enjoy!

KiteNow that spring has finally sprung, it’s time to get out of the house and free yourself from hibernation (which this year was particularly long and harsh).

As this winter was so oppressive, the inclination is to race out and take advantage of every opportunity right now. Urgency begets extra spending- so here are some frugal ideas to say goodbye to winter and usher in spring! Hooray! Read more…

Getting Married? Cut Costs for Your Big Day

wedding-budget-savingsPrime wedding season is almost upon us, and if you are getting married this year, you are likely in full planning mode.

Weddings are notoriously expensive and it is easy to get carried away with extras (that add up quickly). It is essential to set a budget and to stick to it very closely. Here are some hints on how to do that: Read more…

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