money-habits

Seven Money Habits You Want to Break in 2017

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How much money you have is often linked to your money habits. For instance, if you like to eat junk food, chances are you over-spend on fast food.

Here are seven bad money habits that you might not even realize you have and how to overcome them in 2017 or any year.

1. Going into debt for wants rather than needs

Lifestyle based purchases, such as luxury handbags or an expensive phone, force you into unnecessary debt if you have to pay for it on a payment plan. If your wants continually push you into debt, you have a habit that you need to get rid of.

Cure: Debt is for essential and strategic purchases only. Going into manageable debt to buy a house or pay for your children’s education is fine. It’s not OK when you use debt to fund a luxury lifestyle.

2. Postponing financial decisions

How many times have you told yourself, “I will start investing next month” only to continually push it back every month because you did not save any money? Postponing good financial decisions is worse than making bad ones. With time, good investments generate additional income for you, so the earlier you start, the more you make.

Cure: Start setting aside money every month to put towards investments. The longer you delay, the less you’ll make in the long run.

3. Gambling rather than investing

Many people tend to dabble in the stock market without knowing what they’re doing. Maybe you got a tip that a particular stock is a good bet, or someone told you that Options are a great way to make money. But, if you’re putting your money into investments that you don’t understand, you are gambling and not investing.

Cure: Investments should be based on your goals. If you don’t know how to invest, hire a professional to help you or take a course.

4. Spending more than what you make

This is the worst habit for your financial well-being, when you constantly spend beyond your means. When the money you spend exceeds your income at the end of the month, you are overspending.

Cure: Start monitoring your spending habits. Take a look at your expenses and separate them into two categories – needs and wants. Cut out what you don’t absolutely need. Create a budget to get your spending under control.

5. Paying your bills after the due date

If you are constantly making late payments on your credit cards and utility bills, you are paying more than you need to, and it adds up. In case of credit cards, late payments could potentially add up to hundreds, thanks to high interest rates.

Cure: Always pay your bills on time to avoid late fees. Set up auto pay for your bills to ensure you don’t pay them late.

6. Indulging in habits that are expensive

Smoking, drinking, and eating out too often are habits that come with a significant price tag. You might think these expenses as small, but over time, they add up to significant amounts.

Cure: If you have a habit that has a negative impact on your health and your wallet, it’s time to break it. Get help if you need to, but your body and your wallet will thank you in the long run..

7. Not saving regularly

Saving regularly can be difficult. Especially if you tend to spend first and save whatever is left over.

Cure: Decide on how much you can save on a regular basis and set it aside as soon as you get paid. This will ensure that saving becomes a habit.

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Canucks Rock the New Year with a $550 #Giveaway

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It’s a new year and one of my personal goals this year is to partner more with some of the best digital influencers in Canada. There are several great Canadian bloggers who I count as friends and I am very thankful for that. In the year ahead you will see me coming together with some of my friends to offer original content, host Twitter parties and do a few Facebook Lives together. To start the year off though a group of Canadian bloggers are hosting a joint fun giveaway.

We are giving away $550.00! That is quite a bit of cash, and it will go to a Canadian blog reader! Sweet right.

What would you do with it?

Here are a few options I might consider:

  • buying a new laptop
  • paying for a week at summer camp
  • a new camera
  • a weekend away in Niagara Falls
  • a series of city adventures for my teen and I
  • photography lessons
  • French lessons

That is how I might spend the cash but alas I can not win, either can any of the Canadian bloggers who are hosting this event! Want to know how you can win share with us how you will spend the cash.  Is there something you want to do that becomes possible with the extra cash? Would you splurge?

To enter, comment and let us know how you would spend the cash. There are also a couple of other free entries as well.

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How to Eat Fresher and Cheaper on a Budget

How to Eat Fresher and Cheaper on a Budget

If one of your New Years’ resolutions is to cut your grocery costs while buying fresher groceries,  it can be done.  There are a number of strategies that you can use to save money every time you grocery shop.  I love heading to my local FRESHCO where I can definitely get fresher and cheaper on a budget.

 

Meal Plan

When you plan your meals before you head to the grocery store you know what you need.  You know what your meals will be for the week. You are not simply scanning the aisles for what looks good.

 

Make a List

Research has shown that if you can avoid impulse buying you can save at least 20% on your weekly grocery bill. Always shop with a list. I use an app to keep my list handy.

FRESCHO shopping trip

Eat Your Veggies and Fruit too

You can save 25% by adding more fruits and vegetables to your cart. You can have a healthier and fresher grocery list simply by choosing fresh for snacks and the main event. Not only do you save money, but you are getting healthier as well! You have to love that!

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Shop Seasonal and Sales

If you know me, you know I love to shop seasonally and love a great deal.  Have a freezer? Stock up on meat when it is on sale. I love checking my local flyers on a flyer app. You can always find the FRESHCO weekly flyer here as well. It lets me know what sales I can find that week, as I meal plan I am often referring to this list.  Fruit and vegetables in season are always cheaper.  Choose fruit that is ripe and ready to eat and some that needs to ripen in a few days. That way there will be no waste.

 

When you stock up on staples like rice, beans, pasta you have them on hand to make great healthy meals. Watch for these when they are on sale as they do have a longer shelf life.

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Shop the Perimeter

 

I love shopping at my local FRESHCO. I walk into the produce section and from there I do 80 percent of my shopping around the perimeter. That is where I pick up my fruit, my vegetables, my meat, my eggs, my cheese, the basics for a healthy meal. When I shop the inside aisles I am looking for healthy staples like beans, nuts, and healthy whole grains. I am also looking for my spices.

Let me know, how you save at the grocery store.

 

*This post has been sponsored by FRESHCO, as always the opinions are my own.

 

Three Words for 2017 #3words

3 words for 2017. #3words

For the past number of years, I have chosen three words to guide my year. Some of the words of the past have included creating, connect, cultivate, brave, trust, habit, choice, community, courage, and faith.  All helped guide my goals and aspirations for the year. This year I am choosing three words again: connect, health and gratitude.

CONNECT

I want to truly connect more in 2017. Relationships are important. The family is important. I hope to connect with mine in more meaningful ways in 2017. I also want to connect more with the blogging community and with my followers in ways that can have a positive impact on their lives.  I also want to connect more to grow business wise.

HEALTH

I will be making my health and our family’s health a priority in 2017. My daughter and I are committed to getting healthier physically, and you will be able to follow my journey on Instagram where I will be sharing my journey with the hashtag #healthyme. I will also share on this blog how to work on your financial health. You can follow my #cdnmoney hashtag to follow those posts.

GRATITUDE

Life is simply better when you are grateful. I want to record every day this year what I am thankful for. It helps me to enjoy the moments of the day. Again on Instagram, you can follow my gratitude or perhaps share your own with the hashtag #365gratitude.

Do you use guiding words? If you do, please share yours with me.

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Don’t Let Fraud Ruin Your Holidays

If you are anything like me, the last month has been busy – and life doesn’t show signs of slowing down until after the holidays are through. When life is busy, it’s easy to be distracted and click “yes” on something you shouldn’t have and then boom! Your bank account is compromised and the holidays become even more stressful. Over half of Canadians say they plan to do all or part of their holiday shopping online this year, making them a target for ‘ishing’ scams that can compromise banking or credit cards and make them a target for identity theft.  (Currently, there are three types of ‘ishing’ scams differentiated by how they are sent. Smishing is via text message, phishing via email / online notification, and vishing is via the telephone) There is no one thing you can do to completely protect yourself from these scams but there are a couple of tips from TD Bank that can help you stay ahead of the scammers.

Be Vigilant Online and at Home

Don’t respond to emails or phone calls asking for details about your banking or credit card accounts. A popular telephone scam going around right now has someone claiming to be “from your credit card provider” – no company, and they cannot tell you which card when you ask. Your actual credit card company will KNOW the details of your account, and while they often ask a question to verify your identity when you call in, it won’t be your credit card number or the Credit Card Validation (CCV) number found on the back. NEVER give these numbers out over the phone. Similarly, if you get a text message or email from a bank, be wary. No bank will ask you for account details via email or text message. If you get a suspicious message, do not reply but do save it. You can forward the message to your bank and their fraud department will look into the details.When shopping online make sure that the address in the address bar of your browser matches the store that you are shopping at – especially if you have clicked a link from an email to get to the site. Any page that is asking for payment information should have a little padlock icon and start with https:// instead of the usual http://. This indicates that you are on a secure site.

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Work WITH Your Bank / Credit Card Provider

Banks like TD have Fraud Alerts in place to help protect their customers from having their card compromised. If you are a TD Canadian customer, all you need to do is add your mobile number to your account via Easyweb or in person at a branch. Once you’ve done this, if the bank detects unusual activity on your TD Access Card, they may temporarily block your account and will send you a free[1] text message with information about the suspicious activity. A unique feature with TD’s fraud alerts is that if you recognize the activity – like you made an unusually large debit purchase yourself – you can reply to the text with a “Y” and your card will be unblocked without you having to call the bank or go into the branch to have it unblocked. If you don’t recognize the activity, you simply reply with an “N” and your card will be blocked, and you can contact your bank for the next steps to take. It is important to note that TD will never ask you to reply to a Fraud Alert text with any personal information or ask you to click on any links in your reply. If you want to learn more about this really cool feature from TD, check out their video here: https://www.tdcanadatrust.com/products-services/banking/electronic-banking/access-card/access-card.jsp#tdfraudalerts

By staying vigilant and working with your bank / credit card provider, you can stay a step ahead of the fraudsters and keep your money as safe as possible this holiday season.

This post has been sponsored by TD Bank. All opinions are my own.

Minimize your risk: The information above is provided to help you protect yourself, but it’s not foolproof: it’s a fast paced and constantly changing world so make sure you are keeping up-to-date on and monitoring security features and preventative measures to minimize your risk of fraud.

 

[1] TD does not charge any fees for TD Fraud Alerts. However, standard wireless carrier message  rates may apply.

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Celebrating the Holidays with Hallmark with a #Giveaway #LoveHallmarkCA

Tis the season of decorating, card sending, tree decorating, baking and celebrating the holidays with family, friends, and Hallmark. Hallmark has been a part of my life, especially for the holidays since I was born. There have always been Hallmark cards and gifts each and every year. I am thankful to be a Hallmark ambassador and love the boxes they send out each year. This year whether you are celebrating a December birthday like me, Christmas, Hannukkah or New Years, you can find the perfect card, gift, gift wrap or decor with Hallmark.

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This year’s Hallmark box, was filled with things both Rachel and I loved. Rachel gravitated to the snowman blanket and the Peanuts Holiday book. Both would make great gifts.

 

Do you still send out Christmas cards to family and friends? Hallmark has a wonderful selection of cards including those from Dove decorated Hannukah cards, Wonder-Folds White Christmas Tree cards, Home and Native Land Canadian Exclusive boxed cards and Signature boxed cards.

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Have you finished decorating your tree yet? Ours seems to be a work in progress every year. This year there are some beautiful Hallmark ornaments. Some of my favorites include the Red Poinsettia Glass Ball, the Itty Bitty Star Wars: The Force Awakens BB-8, the Scottie Dog Ornament, the Coffee Signature ornament, and the Itty Bitty Elsa ornament.

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My almost 19 year old spotted the Cheers Bottle Bag and thought that would be perfect for a bottle for her birthday. I laughed out loud!! They also included a couple of other gift bags.

I then showed her the Not on the Naughty list Toe-of-a -Kind socks and told her she is on the naughty list.

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Now, here is the best thing about being a Hallmark Ambassador, I get to share a giveaway with my readers. I am giving away one of the beautiful Red Poinsettia Glass ball ornaments this Christmas season. To enter the giveaway, tell me how do you decorate.  Do you have ornaments that are sentimental? A color scheme? An angel or a star on top? This giveaway will end Christmas eve and you will be able to add this heritage ornament to your collection for Christmases to come.

Please use the Rafflecopter below. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Teach Your Kids to Give Back This Holiday Season

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Chances are, your family has participated in countless fundraising events through school, church, and other groups. Your kids probably even have a few ideas of their own about how they can help out in their community.

The key to nurturing a passion for giving back is for your kids to feel a connection to their cause and the ability to make it meaningful.

Here are 5 great ways your child can learn to give back this holiday season:

1. Visit a retirement home to read books to the residents. Seniors at assisted living homes are often lonely. Their families don’t visit them often enough. They love having kids around to fill the air with laughter. Encourage your child to spend some time playing games or reading books to residents. Your child will enjoy making a new friend too.

2. Help out your local food pantry. Encourage your kids to start a food drive in your neighborhood. Or, let them volunteer at the local food bank. They can help stock shelves and pack meals. They can also volunteer at a local soup kitchen feeding the homeless.

4. For my friends in the US, send cards to members of the military. Through the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program, kids can write and send cards to active service members and veterans. The Red Cross plans community events for making and addressing cards to members of the community. Get in touch with your local chapter for more information about participating. Here in Canada, we have a similar program but the deadline for sending cards in in October.

4. Create a special “pay it forward” day. Make it “Pay It Forward Sunday” and tell your child that they have to find a way to give back in their community or to someone who could use a little help every Sunday. This way they can choose for themselves what their good deed should be. And it will encourage them to keep thinking of new ideas.

5. Put together a care package for someone who is alone or sick. Is there someone in your neighborhood who could use some special attention? Possibly an elderly person who is sick or alone? Have your child put together a care package for them and hand deliver it. You can include small gifts like hot chocolate or tea, homemade goodies and magazines or a good book. Your child can even color a picture to add to the box.

Giving back can also mean giving their time or sharing a portion of their allowance for the causes they believe in. What others ideas can you and your child come up with to give back this holiday season?

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The Netflix Binge Watchers Routine

It’s early December and life is super busy, well at least for me it is. Between working for a toy company and being a blogger, life has gotten busy! When I get some down time like I did this weekend I find myself being a binge watcher. I love chilling with some popcorn and hot chocolate and relaxing with some Netflix.

I tend to be like many Canadians a binge watcher, then I have to wait for the next season’s shows. Did you know there are more than 30 million Netflix members?

Now when it comes to what to watch-I have some favorites. When I am not binging on a serious I am just like many Netflixers I will stop and take in a movie and depending on what I have been watching. Call it the two step or a Netflix sandwich. You start with a series, then watch a movie and then I am back watching another series. Over the past few months I have watched a few series. My daughter and I even binged on one together.

So What Series have I watched:

  • Fuller House (Season 2 is now available)
  • The Crown
  • Breaking Bad (with my daughter)
  • Heartland (my sister’s favorite)
  • Grace and Frankie
  • The 100
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Suits
  • Gilmore Girls
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Now according to statistics, if you watch Gilmore Girls you might like a movie like Mean Girls. By the way, have you watched Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Yet? If definitely leaves you in suspense!

After Breaking Bad, we did watch The Do Over.

There is an actual chart of the best movies to watch in between series..me after watching a drama I often switch things up with a comedy, or a movie I can watch with Rachel.

After watching Orange is the New Black, we watched Disney. Sometimes you need to chill.

So would you say you are a binge watcher? If so do you watch movies in between you favorite shows.

*I have been a proud member of the #streamteam since it was created and as always my opinions are my own and I have been a loyal Netflixer for years (long before the #streamteam was formed).

 

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The Perfect Stocking Stuffers from #ArmandHammer and a Giveaway

This that time of the year! Hopefully, you have started your Christmas shopping and it is time to start thinking about those stocking stuffers. What do you put in stockings at your house?

We have some traditions. There is always a clementine. Some candy. Some chocolate and a few small gifts. Some are practical. Some are fun. One of the practical gifts we get is a new toothbrush. We definitely want to look after our winter whites! After all the Christmas sweets this is a gift that definitely comes in handy.

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Over the past few years we have gotten the Arm & Hammer spin brushes for each one in the family.  We love tha each has the following great features:

. Unique brush head that removes plaque and massages gums
. Smaller brush head that is ideal for smaller mouths
. Ergonomically designed handle for a comfortable grip
. Batteries are replaceable (requires two AAA)
. MSRP $7.99. Available at mass, drug and grocery retailers across Canada.

Now, some good news if you are still on the hunt for stocking stuffers for the little ones. I have a package of Arm & Hammer tooth brushes and toothpaste perfect to add to the little one’s stockings! The value of the giveaway is $50.00 (MSRP)

What will you win? Along with some toothpaste you will be sent one of each of the:

  • Arm & HammerT Kid’s SpinbrushT My Little PonyT Battery Brush
  • Arm & HammerT Kid’s SpinbrushT Paw PatrolT Battery Brush
  • Arm & HammerT Kids’s SpinbrushT Spiderman Battery Brush

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment and let me know how you fill the Christmas stockings in your house.  You can earn one additional entry by leaving a comment to a link where you shared this giveaway.

 

This giveaway ends DEC 14th at 6pm! 

renovating

How Laura Bilotta from Single in the City Renovated her Home Office

“Rip out the wall cabinets and put up vision boards’, Laura Bilotta from Single in the City said when she was asked how she’d like to improve her home office. “Bookshelves are so last century.’

The contractor nodded in agreement. Keith Travers, custom home builder in Oakville also does home renovations, and over the last decade he’s become an expert in home office interior design. “Bookshelves are moving up to the very top of the wall to free up space below for monitors and white boards and just plain old blank walls”

The top ten must-have things Laura insisted be present in her work station are in so many ways fundamental to all work-from-home businesses in the information age,

Laura list for Keith,

1. French Doors
The number one item on Laura’s list for Keith Travels was to amend the wall to support a nice set of French doors (double doors with twelve panel glass windows in the center of each) so she could seal off her business from the rest of her life. The doors would have an additional white curtain on the inside for total privacy. Keith reflected later that this is a mental as well as a physical barrier; the modern work from home professional has to close the door on their work at some point every day, and a physical door helps them mentally compartmentalize their work inside their life.  give themselves some freedom and time with family and friends.

2. WiFi / high-speed internet access
You can’t work from home without WiFi and the modem / router connection MUST be located in the home office. Hours of walking back and forth could occur if this is not the case. If the home does not have an office than this system is likely found behind the television – it must be moved into the office. Laura had this high on the list because she was feeling a lot of pain from her current situation where the router was three rooms away!

3. Clear the desk surfaces – mount the flat screens on the wall dual flat screen with desk space for notepad and keyboard and mouse. There should be enough desk space to open a laptop and several paper notebooks.  A modern work surface   should feel more like a table rather than a desk

4. Get an office wall clock
Unlike the time function on your phone, computer monitor or wrist watch, the wall clock has more presence and ‘authority’ and sets the tone for more regimented behaviour patterns. The office wall clock rules the day. Having the discipline to go to work in the morning and the strength to switch off the job in the evening stems from this iconic temporal reporting device. Also important is a good old fashion paper calendar – always handy to point to point to a specific day and set deadlines that staff understand.

5. Unrestricted swivel chair access
Laura had been working on a exercise ball and would switch that out with a hard backed dining room chair but now she’s had enough of both. She went shopping online for a Herman Miller desk chair that would recline and swivel and move – it had to have wheels. Laura asked Keith to make sure the floor was clear so her wheelie chair could access every nook and cranny of her office space without her having to get up. The unrestricted swivel chair makes the whole office more efficient. It allows a bigger more comfortable work station that can have multiple work surfaces and give the home business owner the ability to scale and or advance several projects simultaneously.

5. Reliable Business Phone
Nortel Avaya T7316E office phone from Standard Telecom To keep her friends and family separate from work Laura has two phone numbers and she’s always wanted a red ‘hot line’ phone for SitC her work. Settling for something more efficient, she ordered an old school Standard Telecom Nortel Avaya T7316E Office Phone that smells like its brand new and comes with a two year warranty. She also got a a headset and ordered caller ID for the display. The phone should be in the center of the desk so she can access and switch callers etc from any point in the room. There are many advantages to having such a device not the least of which is the memory function n the phone and how after a spell it becomes a Rolodex of most valuable business contacts .

6. Clean power supply with ground fault indicator and surge protector.
Laura reckoned she may have to call an electrician to get her office power supply on its own circuit breaker.  In her case this is especially necessary because the corner of the house she selected for her desk had, years ago, come to share its hydro supply with the indoor garage on the other side of the wall. This area happens to be where Laura ‘s life-mate has evolved a tool bench. You can see the conflict. One hungry Black & Decker could trip the line and cause Laura to lose hours of work inside her office on the other side of the wall.

8. Room for a trash can that’s not underfoot
Laura actually asked Keith for a wall mounted trash can solution. She was sick of always having a waste paper basket underfoot and wanted it to be mounted so as not to restrict the flow of the swivel chair when she’s working. The can also has to have a lid, and the best lids are flappers so if the contractor could design a solution it would surely be superior to anything obtained at Costco.

9. A secure spot for a wall safe
Keith Travers from Eastview Homes - custom home builder in OakvilleSomewhere I the office there should be a safe. Its important. There should also be a filing cabinet and if you don’t have one then you definitely need the other.  Something has to lock and if you don’t have a safe you can store valuables in a lock box in the bottom of a filing cabinet. In many ways the filing cabinet is like the trash can – it’s a special dead paper purgatory – the invoice copies, bills and receipts etc must wait in here for five years before being consumed by the incinerator

10. Laura’s three board system – a white board, cork board, vision board
Laura Bilotta from Single in the City plans intense multi faceted events and these occasions come to life on her boards. As indicated at the start of this article one of the main reasons she wanted to get an office upgrade was to make her boards system more efficient. Laura uses three boards – a whiteboard where she draws out the dream, and a blank wall becomes a vision board where she tapes up newspaper and magazine articles etc and in between is a cork board which becomes a production center. Names and address, prices and quantities are pinned to walls so her assistants can more easily coordinate deliveries and pickups.

Laura’s new office is designed to accommodate herself and two other employees but most often its just her. On those days she pushed the other chairs out into her living room so she can skate and swivel around her nest doing all three jobs at once and that’s the mark of a good home office.