Saturday, December 10, 2011

How To Celebrate New Year’s Eve On A Budget And Have Lots Of Fun!

Note: Today’s guest post is by Ryan, who writes over at Your Personal Finance 101

The New Year is fast approaching and you need to make a lot of preparations from the very beginning. New Year’s Eve is one of the most special occasions where you bid good bye to the past year and start with the New Year. With the New Year come the resolutions and also certain promises that you make to yourself. Why not start your new year on a budget!

Check out the ways you can celebrate your New Year’s Eve on a budget and have fun:
  1. Shop at cheap stores: If you want to throw a party on a budget and still enjoy it, you can start off by purchasing decorating items from cheaper stores such as the Dollar Store, Grocery Stores, K-Mart, or Wal-Mart which have a variety of decorations at cheap prices. You can also make use of any left over Christmas decorations.
  1. Simple food and drinks: Home-made food is the best way to make people feel at home. Since it’s a festive season, ask your relatives and friends to help you make the food. Parties are incomplete without the drinks. You can keep both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Keep a limited supply to avoid unnecessary costs. For example, have 6 servings from a bottle of champagne and 5 servings from a bottle of wine. Other beverages can be fruit punch or other fruit juices.
  1. Party ambience: You have the decorations, the food and drinks. What else makes a party complete. It’s the ambience you create for the people. That can be done by putting on some music that matches the theme of your party. You can do a colorful party theme. Try a “home-made clothes” theme where the guests have to wear something they have made themselves. This way, you can save your money as well as your guests’. You can make a hat and/or accessories on your own which can be both interesting and a money saver. Having a theme party can be a lovely way to enjoy yourself and you can easily do it on a budget.

What are some money saving tips that you plan to use this New Year?

Friday, December 9, 2011


It’s actually never too late to start saving. The sooner you begin to save the better off you’ll be in the long run. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to savings:
Are you an extreme couponer? I would love to hear from you! I watched an episode of extreme couponing and I was shocked how extreme one girl was. I guess the title is perfect. I love a great deal and wish I had the time to look for a lot of coupons. is a great site to find deals and coupons. Groupon and Living Social are also great deal sites.  I get flyers every week and always look for sales. Combining coupons with a sale is a great way to get a good deal. 

You can also look for discount cards at your favorite retail store.  For example, I have a Suzy Shier discount card which gives me 10% off purchases over $50. They also give coupons every time you renew your card annually, as well as they email you coupons if you sign up on their website. This is great way to get deals at your favorite stores.

Where do you find your coupons?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Save It Or Spend It!

How do you know if you should save it or spend it! I’ve always been a big believer in automatically setting aside some money every paycheck for savings. This eliminates having to think about saving every paycheck; it automatically comes out of your account so you don’t have to worry about it. But what happens if you get an unexpected bonus, a commission check or a gift.
This is where having an overall plan for your money will help. It’s so easy to want to spend any additional money you get.  Commercials, billboards, the radio, magazine and newspaper articles can be so convincing especially at this time of year. There will always be people telling you where you should spend your money. But ultimately YOU are in control over your money. Don’t give in to the temptation.
  • If you are in the process of building your emergency fund, (this should be 6-12 months of expenses) then consider putting that extra money to build or complete your fund.
  • If you have personal debt such as credit cards, loans, or line of credits. Put some extra money on those. If you’re not sure how to attack your personal debt
    • Start by listing all of your debt from smallest balance to largest balance
    • Make minimum payments on all of your debt
    • On your smallest balance, after you’ve made your minimum payment, find any additional money you can and put it on that smallest balance
    • Once you’ve paid your smallest balance off, take that minimum payment and the additional payment  that you were making and put it on the second smallest balance and so forth, until you’ve paid off all your personal debt
  • Consider making an additional payment on your mortgage (check out your bank’s pre-payment  options)
  • Always go shopping with a list. Whether you’re grocery shopping or shopping for clothes, create a list. When you have a list you shop with a purpose. Without a list you may be prone to impulse buying.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The 12 Scams of Christmas

The 12 Scams of Christmas: Scammers ramp up their activities each year around the holidays. Here are 12 popular scams you should be on the lookout for.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Looking For Ways To Earn Extra Cash Over The Holidays?

  • Check out Fiverr! This is an excellent site that allows you to provide a service to anyone around the world for $5. So if you have a talent or if you’re willing to do some things outside of the ordinary this site may be for you. You could earn some extra cash as well. Check it out at
  • Consider shoveling snow for the elderly or for individuals who just don’t have the time to shovel their own snow. You’ll be surprised how many people would love this service.
  • Check out focus groups! There are many research companies that are looking for individuals to participate in focus groups. They are really easy and some of them offer $100 for one hour just to answer a bunch of questions. 
  • Mystery shopping is also becoming quite popular. Companies will pay you to shop!

What are some things that you’ve done to earn some extra cash

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Are You Getting a Christmas Bonus This Year?

Have you thought of what you're going to do with your Christmas bonus? Maybe it's already spent; I hope not! The obvious answer may be to spend it on Christmas gifts. Here are a few other suggestions:
  • Pay down on your debt (credit cards, line of credits, loans, etc)
  • Consider making an additional payment on your mortgage (check out your banks pre-payment options)
  • Put it aside for a rainy day. It could be your emergency fund
  • Invest it in an RRSP or GIC or even an RESP(if you have children)
  • You could give it all away (this is the time of year when a lot of families are in need, check out local charities or homeless shelters)
What do you normally do with your Christmas bonus?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's funny, Christmas is the same day every year but yet we have a hard time budgeting for gifts. Here are some tips that may help you stay on track.
  1. Determine exactly how much money you can afford to spend on gifts without using your credit cards, line of credits or overdraft
  2. Make a list of everyone you would like to buy a gift for
  3. Determine before you go shopping what you would like to purchase for each individual and how much each gift will cost
  4. Set aside the amount you plan to spend on each person in separate envelopes
  5. Start looking for sales; don't forget you can get some great online deals
  6. Go shopping
After making your list, you may find that you don't have enough money to buy a gift for everyone. You could either reduce the amount you're spending on some of the other people on your list, or you can remove some people from your list. This is a hard one to do, but it will force you to be creative. I've had people make me gifts, I've even had someone cook me my favorite meal as a gift.
Let me know what some of your ideas are for Christmas shopping.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Are You Living Above Your Needs?

Are you spending more money than you make? If so, then you're living above your needs. Maybe you don't know exactly how much you're spending. Try this! Make a list of everything you spend for one month. I mean everything; even if you spent 5 cents, write it down. After the month is over review the list. Look for patterns, look for items that you are spending money on that could be cut from your spending habits. Once you've reviewed your list, do a budget.

Start by determining exactly how much your monthly net income is. Then list all of your necessities first. Such as food, rent, mortgage, utilities, transportation, insurance, phone, clothes, savings, etc. If you find that your money is almost finished after the necessities, consider reducing your insurance and your phone bill. Do you really need that blackberry or iphone? Always ask what promotions your cell phone provider is having. There are always promotions. If you’re still strapped after reducing your insurance and phone bill, your rent or mortgage payments may be too high. If you’re renting you may want to consider getting a roommate or moving to a smaller place. If you own your home, contact your bank to ask what options they have to lower your mortgage payments.

Once you've taken care of your necessities, look at your wants such as cable, spas, going to the hairdresser, shopping, movies, trips, etc. Determine how much money you can afford to spend on these wants before you actually start spending.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


How do you feel about tipping? Should you tip every time you go to a restaurant to eat? What if the service is just horrendous, should you still tip. I always viewed tipping as a sign of getting great service. The more the tip the better the service is. So if every waiter receives a tip, what differentiates the bad, good and great waiters. What are your thoughts on tipping?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Are You Paying Too Much In Bank Fees?

Are you tired of paying that monthly chequing account fee, and constantly making sure you have the minimum amount in your account to avoid that monthly fee? Or maybe you are paying annual credit card fees. Whatever fee you’re paying, you probably want to avoid paying it.
Banking fees cut into how much you could be saving every month. There are other options out there to avoid paying fees. First I would suggest contacting your current bank to find out what kind of account you have. Determine if that account is best for your needs. If it’s not, ask your banker what other accounts they offer. If you are a senior or a student ask if they have student or senior plans, often times the monthly fee is waived for these accounts.  If your current bank doesn’t have any account plans that suit your needs, shop around. Check out President’s Choice Financial and ING Direct, both offer free banking.
If you’re paying annual fees on your credit card, contact your credit card company and ask them what that fee includes. You may be surprised to know that you don’t want what’s included in that annual fee. Ask for other options they may have. Find out what credit cards they offer without an annual fee. Also shop around with other banks to see what they offer. While you’re speaking with your credit card company, why not ask them if they can lower your interest rate as well. You’ll be surprised how easy this actually is.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Do You Think It’s Too Late To Start Saving For Retirement?

It’s actually never too late to start saving. The sooner you begin to save the better off you’ll be in the long run. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to savings:

1. Know where you currently stand. How much savings do you currently have, how much savings do you want. Try to determine how much money you think you will need to retire. Keep in mind; you will no longer be working, so think about the type of lifestyle you want to have when you retire so you don't end up like the couple in the picture above. Lol!

2. Do research on different types of saving options. You may want to consider RRSP’s, GIC’s, Mutual funds, TFSA's etc. Consider speaking with a financial planner.
3. Set up an automatic savings program. This is where you have a set amount coming out of your bank account weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. You can choose a day in the month that is convenient for you.

      4. Check out your company’s benefits. Some companies have stock options, or RRSP matching options. Take advantage of any matching options that your company provides.
      5. Take advantage of compound interest. Compound interest is when you earn money on your interest. For example….
Let’s say you invested $1000 at 10% compound interest, after your first month you would make $100. (10% of $1000 = $100)
If you leave the money in the investment and don’t withdraw it you will have $1100 ($1000+$100)
After the second month, you will earn 10% on $1100 bringing your balance to $1210, (10% of $1100 = $110) so now your principal is $1210. As you can see, you can continue to earn money on your interest as long as you don’t withdraw from the investment.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

4 Things That Are Ruining Your Credit!

1.   Making late payments
      Making your payments on time is key to having good credit. The more late payments you have the lower your credit score will be.  If the due date doesn’t work for you, contact your bank and ask to have the due date changed to a more convenient date. Every month you make a late payment, the creditor reports this to Equifax and Transunion. Once they report this to the credit bureau, any creditor that you apply for credit with can see that you made late payments.

2.   Maxing out your credit cards
      Once you use more than 30 - 35% of your available credit, your credit score will start to go down. For example, if you have a credit card with a $10,000 limit, you want to keep the balance owing on that card under $3500. Maxed out credit means that you are a high utilizer of credit, which is not a good thing to a bank.

3.   Lots of inquiries
      An inquiry is when you apply for credit. Every time you apply for a credit card, a loan, a line of credit or a mortgage, the bank reports this to the credit bureau as an inquiry, meaning that you inquired at a particular bank. To the lender, if you have many inquiries, you are considered a credit seeker. Too many inquiries will lower your score. Try not to apply for too many credit cards and loans within a year.

4.   Skipping a payment
      Never skip payments. Let me repeat that again. Never skip a payment. The objective should be to pay it off!  If you are unable to make a payment one month, contact your lender and try to work out some sort of payment arrangement. Skipping payments will eventually cause your account to go to collections. This will hurt your credit score over the long run. Collection items remain on the credit bureau for 7 years.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Have You Checked Your Credit Report Lately?

Did you know that identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the country? Well it is! The Better Business Bureau of Canada reported that it costs consumers, banks, retailers and other businesses $2.5 billion a year and this number is continuing to grow.

It’s vital that you check your credit report. It’s recommended by Equifax that you check your credit report at least twice a year or every few months if you’ve ever been a victim of identity theft. This will allow you to catch any inaccuracies sooner than later. You can obtain one free credit report per year.

When you check your credit report, look for the following things:

  • Check to make sure your name and address are correct 
  • Check that your S.I.N is correct if it’s provided 
  • Check to make sure all credit cards, loans, and mortgages are yours
  • Check the open and closed dates of each item to ensure it's correct
  • Look for any credit that may be on your report that does not belong to you
  • Check the inquires against your own records
Inquiries are when a bank or a business checks your credit report to see if you are credit worthy. Often this happens if you go into a bank and apply for credit, or a landlord may check your credit if you are trying to rent an apartment.

There are hard inquiries and soft inquiries. A hard inquiry is when you have applied for some form of credit or you have applied to rent an apartment. A hard inquiry affects your beacon score. A soft inquiry on the other hand does not affect your beacon score. It’s when a bank or an insurance company checks your credit report to see if you qualify for a pre-approved credit card or line of credit. You may also see a soft inquiry from Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Genworth or Canada Guranty. These are mortgage insurance companies that check your credit report if you’ve ever applied for a mortgage and put less than 20% down payment.

If you notice something on your credit report that should not be there, contact either Equifax or Transunion immediately, depending on which report you noticed the inaccuracy.  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Did You Know That Millionaire Men Shop At Wal-Mart?

I once heard a saying that said you can act rich or actually become rich. I think it’s so interesting that many who look rich are actually poor and many who look poor are actually rich. Thomas Stanley did a study on millionaires in his book “Stop Acting Rich.” Some interesting statistics came from his research. Below are the top 10 stores millionaire men shop at.
  1. Nordstrom (38.6%)
  2. Macy’s (27.3%)
  3. Kohl’s (21.7%)
  4. Target (21.76%)
  5. Costco (21.3)
  6. Dillard’s (20.9%)
  7. Brooks Brother’s (19.3%)
  8. Gap (15.9%)
  9. Wal-Mart (15.5%)
  10. T.J. Maxx (14.7%)
Are you surprised?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Do You Have A Rainy Day Fund?

I've heard several financial experts say you should have between 3-6 months or 6-8 months of expenses in a liquid account in case of an emergency. After seeing several friends loose their jobs for a longer time than that. I now think 12 months is a solid rainy day fund, especially if you're single or the only breadwinner in your house. The more of a rainy day fund you have the better, because once your income is gone, there is no money coming in at all until you find another way to bring in some cash.

I know it may take a long time to save 12 months worth of expenses, but you could start small and aim to have 12 months. The key is to have some money saved for a rainy day versus having none at all. We never know when that rainy day is going to hit us, and it will eliminate a lot of stress if you have extra money versus having to rack up those credit cards to pay your bills.