Young woman inside sitting on window seat and laughing while loo

Life Hacks to Spend Your Tax Refund On

Young woman inside sitting on window seat and laughing while loo

It’s that magical date that comes but once a year. No, it is not Christmas! Today is the day Netfile opens for Canadian tax filers

. For those of us who will be getting refunds, it is like Christmas day, and we are already thinking of ways to spend our refunds.

If you are ready to file your tax return for the 2016 year and are looking for an easy free way to do it yourself, look no further than the free version of TurboTax! From its fully guided experience that walks you through your taxes step by step, to TurboTax Free, a simple free option that covers most tax situations and can be used anywhere anytime, TurboTax has you covered.

With TurboTax and its accurate step by step guidance, you are sure to get your maximum refund. Now how to spend that hard earned money.

Do you want to be smart and improve your life with your tax refund? Here are some life hacks you may want to invest in:

Reduce Debt

Whether it be student loan debt or credit card debt, it is always smart to use the extra cash to reduce these amounts. Pay off this kind of debt as quickly as you can, and a lump sum payment helps you to reduce the amount you will have to pay. You also win in the long run as you will also be paying less interest.  Think of it as a life hack that pays off later.

Add to Your Emergency Fund

Think of all those rainy days when you could have used a few extra dollars in your bank account. Putting money aside into your emergency fund means the money is there for when you need it most.  Think of it has the life hack that brings peace of mind.

Invest in Yourself

Sometimes developing new skills can lead to more opportunities at work but other times they simply help you improve the quality of your life. You can take a cooking class so you are not tempted to eat out as much when you can cook gourmet meals at home, you want to buy a camera and learn about photography, to may want to learn a second language to help you communicate better with those around you. Perhaps you want to improve your health and take a yoga class.  This life hack is all about you.

Get Your Health in Order

Many Canadians have to spend out of pocket on medical costs. If you need to spend on that much-needed visit to the dentist, buy those new eye glasses or to meet with a nutritionist as you make healthy choices. This is a great time to spend that money. Remember to save your receipts as well because most of this can be written off as medical expenses.

The One Big Thing

Sometimes we have been dreaming of that new big screen TV, the new laptop, the new cell phone, or perhaps it is that new bag. Whatever it is, if it can enhance your life, now would be the time to make that purchase.

There are so many ways to save and spend your tax refund. Tell me what your favourite is, and you can win a free download of TurboTax.  I am giving away five downloadable TurboTax codes to help you get your taxes done and get that refund in your hands.

*Giveaway rules: Open to Canadian tax filers who leave a comment letting me know how they would spend their tax refund.  Giveaway ends March 5th, 2017
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do You Know How Much Steel is Your Vehicle? #SteelMatters

Ever had your perspective changed? This year I attended the Canadian International Auto Show with the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI). It was fabulous to walk the floor of the show with the team and learn the steel stories of each car. I also learned more about the economical use of high-strength steel in making the vehicles we drive safer.

 

As we walked the floors, I started asking more questions about safety, steel intensity, and cost. Did you know that steel leads the way in performance because of its superior strength, weight, durability and repairability? Think of your wallet, the steel content of your car could save you dollars.

 

Here is an interesting fact. The cost of ownership (that includes the purchase price of your vehicle, the insurance and repair costs) are lower for steel-intensive vehicles. Owning a steel-intensive vehicle is simply a smart choice. Steel is two to three times less expensive than aluminum. Want to know more interesting facts visit DriveUsingSteel.

 

Care about greenhouse gasses? Steel has the lowest production phase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to alternative materials. Living with a daughter who is always reminding me about being eco-friendly steel wins again.

 

Think of safety. Would you rather drive something that was made of the same material used in bridges or the same material used in pop cans? Just something to think about. There is a time and place for everything and when it comes to vehicle production, steel definitely has its place. It also has its place in helping save money and as the mom with common sense, it’s sensible.

 

Let’s get to some of the interesting steel stories I learned while at the Canadian International Auto Show.

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Let’s start with the car that won the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada Canadian Car of the Year, the Volkswagen Golf (Alltrack). The stamped steel body and chassis boats a large percentage of high-strength, hot formed steel.  The winner of the Canadian Utility Vehicle of the year, the Subaru Forester is also steel intensive.

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Now let’s talk about another vehicle in the Volkswagen line the VW Tiguan. It has a rigid laser-seam-welded body shell, crash-optimized, energy-absorbing front end, and heat-formed steel center pillars.

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Want to know which car is 100 percent steel? The Chevrolet Traverse is! How is that for steel intensity! It positions high strength steel in the correct locations of the vehicle and optimizes the door weights through higher-strength steel reinforcements and lighter steels for skins and cosmetic areas.

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The Kia Stinger had a cool reveal and with 55 percent high strength steel, it is definitely steel intensive.  I love the reveal of this car. It was fun to watch.

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The sweet Chrysler Pacifica has a body structure that is made of 72 percent high-strength steel. I rather loved some of the features on this 7 seater.

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The All-Electric Bolt EV, winner of the Motortrend Car of the Year and the North American Car of the Year, is also very steel intensive. Do not let its small size fool you. I loved the lines on this car!

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Even my beloved Ford Mustang which is all new this year is very steel intensive.  There is extensive use of advanced technologies and materials including high-strength steels.

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Some of the other things I enjoyed at this year’s Auto show included the array of concept cars. From the Aston Martin AM-RB001 Hypercar to the Lincoln Navigator Concept to the Cadillac Escala Concept there was lots to see. Another thing I cannot wait to explore when I go back is the number of VR activities and contests to enter. Make sure you check them all out.

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SMDI is even hosting their own giveaway. While at the Canadian International Auto Show, follow @DriveUsingSteel and share with them your favourite car from the show using the hashtag #SteelMatters and you will be entered to win a drone.

CIAS Twitter Contest Photo

You can also win right here on my blog. I am giving away 4 Guest Passes to the Canadian International Auto Show. Simply leave a comment on this post and on Tuesday February 24th I will give them away! Let me know what you are most interested in seeing at the show when you comment.

 

*This post has been sponsored by the Steel Market Development Institute. If you want to know more about the fabulous advancements in steel do check out DriveUsingSteel.com.

Dollar Deals

Friday’s 5 Fab Deals with Flipp – Dollar Deals

Dollar Deals

This week when I opened up my Flipp app to prepare for my weekly shopping trip, I was happy to find some awesome dollar deals. When the stores have their dollar sales it gives me a chance to stock up on a few items to make the next grocery week easier on the pocket.

 

Friday’s 5 Fab Finds – Dollar Deals

Frescho’s $1, $2, $3 Deals

Deals-freshco   FreshcoSale

Pancake Tuesday is February 28.

No Frill’s  – $2 Deals

Deals-noFrills  Dollar Deals

Giant Tiger Deals

Get fit in style with clothes that fit.

Dollar Deals  Dollar Delas

With so many great deals this week, stocking up the cupboards is has never been easier. Head on over to the Flipp app and start browsing and saving the items you need to your grocery list.

5 Essential Oils for a Better Night’s Sleep

Sleeping-Woman

We seem to be in a sleep recession.  Everywhere we turn, we’re hearing about the health hazards of not getting enough quality sleep each night, but even though we know we need it, it’s not always so easy to come by.  Between stress, hormones, and not being able to shut our minds down at night, a good night’s sleep often eludes many people.

 

Essential oils can help though.  The trick is finding exactly which essential oil your body responds to best. Everybody is different; an oil that works well for one person might not do anything for someone else. I know finding my perfect oil combination took a little time to find.

 

Finding the best oil for you may take a little trial and error, but once you find the magic combo, your life will never be the same.  Here are a few to try:

1.Lavender

Most people are aware that lavender can play a role in helping you sleep, but what most people don’t know is that its benefits have been studied extensively.  One study found that inhalation of lavender and other essential oils improved sleep quality of hospital patients.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile is known for its calming, soothing, and relaxing qualities. It has a light, floral scent and is wonderful for creating a peaceful atmosphere.

3. YlangYlang

Ylang ylang is a wonderful choice if you want to improve the quality of your sleep. It’s very floral and smells a bit fruity so some people might not like the smell.

4. Sandalwood

This is a beautifully rich, woodsy oil. It is a little more expensive than some other oils, but a little goes a long way, so it will last you a long time.

5. Marjoram

While you may recognize Marjoram as an herb you cook with, its benefits go far beyond that. Not only is the essential oil beneficial for sore muscles and joints, it also excels in giving you a peaceful night’s sleep.

6. Cedarwood

Cederwood is an oil with an earthy, woody scent. It’s wonderful for calming your brain after a busy day. It blends well with lighter, floral oils, and works great on its own.

 

HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR SLEEP

 

There are two popular methods for using these oils:

 Topical Use:

Apply the oil topically for a wonderful way to reap their benefits. Rub them on the back of your neck or on the bottoms of your feet before bed. Use olive oil to dilute them, and then rub them into your skin and massage your feet.

 Aromatic Use:

You can also use an essential oil diffuser. It’s easy to add a few drops of any of these oils to some water in your essential oil diffuser, set it by your bedside, and you’ll be in dreamland in no time.

For the last 2 years, I have been using Doterra oils here at home and have found that I sleep better. If you would like more information about essential oils please do ask.

5 Budget Friendly Date Night Ideas

budget friendly date ideas

Remember when you first met your sweetheart and started dating? You probably looked forward to going out on date night. Making plans and going out was so easy. Just find something fun to do and do it. There are many budget-friendly date night ideas.

Life can get busy and distract you.  You may have started feeling a little disconnected from each other. Some quality time, just the two of you is exactly what you need to reconnect. And make even more great memories together!

It’s time to enjoy date night again. Whether it’s a special occasion or just an average night, hire a babysitter or drop the kids off with friends or family and get out for a kid-free night.

Your date doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are some great ideas for an inexpensive budget friendly afternoon or evening out:

1. Star Gazing

Star gazing is a perfect cheap date. Pack a picnic and a bottle of wine, head out to an open field where you can clearly see the stars, and lie back on a blanket to marvel at the universe together. This is a great way to reconnect and just spend some time talking to each other.

2. Groupon and Living Social deals.

You can find many great deals for date night adventures on Groupon and Living Social. You can score discounts on weekend getaways, restaurants, wine tastings and more. The deals are typically a 30-60% discount, and you can find deals for things you would not have done otherwise because of the cost. Here in Toronto I have loved using these to get a great night out.

3. Museums.

Many museums and other tourist attractions are free. Some offer special events or exhibits. Usually, we tend not to be “tourists” in the city we live, but that means we’re missing out on the history and fun of our local area. Find a great museum exhibit or site to take in for the evening. Check the museum schedule, they often include a time when they are free to the public.

Here in Toronto, you can take advantage of the Sun Life Financial Museum and Art Pass that is available at the Toronto Library.

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4. Rent Bicycles.

If you don’t have a bike, look for someplace that offers bike rentals then head out to the nature trails or parks in your area. This is a great way to see your community in a new way. Pack a picnic and enjoy an afternoon in the sun. Or go for night ride and enjoy some star gazing.

5. Go for a walk downtown.

A weekend night is the perfect time to just walk and window shop. There is so much to see and people watching is always fun. Get creative and make up stories about the interesting people you see while grabbing dessert in your favorite cafe. You’ll share a lot of laughs and enjoy some quality time together.

Spending quality time with your sweetheart doesn’t have to be expensive. What other ideas can you think of to enjoy date night on a budget?

Celebrating Love this Valentine’s Day with a Giveaway! #LoveHallmarkCA

Tis the season of love. In our house, I am a single lady, and my teen is the one who has a beau. The one thing we have in common though is we love to celebrate love. There are so many ways to celebrate love. We love our sweethearts, our best friends, our classmates and even ourselves.

Here in Canada, the average Canadian adult spends more than $100 on Valentine’s Day. You may choose to budget or go all out for this special day. Last week, my friends at Hallmark Canada sent a wonderful box of goodies that are helping my teen, and I celebrate the day in style.
Hallmark Valentine's Day

One of the things, we have done this year, we kept our Christmas tree, but we changed out the ornaments. The tree is full of hearts and everything red, pink, silver, white and gold. Right now there are a few gifts under the tree all in pretty bags and wrap provided by Hallmark Canada.

Hallmark gift ideas

You can find gifts for all you love at Hallmark from a cute clutch for you BFF, to a journal for your favorite writer, to wine glasses and bottle openers for your wine expert.

For me, I love to find humor in all things, so I found this video on Youtube that I just had to share. This Valentine’s Day I am on my own, so it will be a night of wine, heart shaped pizza and most likely a night of colouring and watching a favourite show on TV. One of the ways, I celebrate all the things I love is to journal daily. I actually keep one by my bed so I can write each night.

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To help you celebrate, during this month of love, I have a special giveaway from Hallmark Canada. A sweet cork journal.  I hope that no matter how you choose to celebrate, you celebrate those you love.

To win the cork journal I am giving away here on the blog, you must be a Canadian resident. Giveaway ends Feb 19th.

Valentine' Day Giveaway with Hallmark Canada

Friday’s 5 Fab Finds with Flipp – Valentine’s Day Deals

For this Friday’s 5 Fab finds, I will be focusing on Valentine’s Day Deals. We all celebrate the day of love in many different ways if we celebrate at all. February 14th is not all about wining and dining with the one we love, especially for a parent. Spending time with our loved ones doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether you are staying in or going out, Flipp will have a deal for all your needs this week.

Valentine's Day Deals

Valentine’s Day Deals

 

Wilton Baking Accessories  -Sear’s

 

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Plush Toys – Walmart 

 

Valentine's Day Deals

 

Boneless Pork Half Loin – No Frills $1.44lb

 

Valentine's Day Deals

 

Hearty Meat Deals –  Food Basics

Valentine's day deals

 

Create a DIY gift – Michaels 40-50% off

 

Valentine's Day Deals-Michaels

 

This week there are additional savings with 33 coupon matchups, just select the coupon and print it off.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

Friday’s 5 Fab Finds with Flipp -Game Day Deals

This weekend many will be getting comfy on the couch with family and friends to watch the Superbowl. Let’s celebrate early with this list of Friday’s 5 Fab finds with Flipp. Whatever it is you are looking for, Flipp has a deal for you. So before heading out to buy your weekend game snacks, open the app and get ready to save.

Friday’s 5 Fab Finds

While not all these items will be needed for Superbowl Sunday, many will come in very handy in order to help the celebration.

Samsung Smart TV from Leons – $599

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

 

 Game Day Finger Foods – M&M Food Market

 

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

 

Cottonelle Toilet Tissue (24 Double Roll) – Walmart $9.98

 

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

 

Fruits, Veggies, Cheese and Things – Food Basics

 

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

 

Salsa, Kolbassa and Ice Cream – Freshco

Friday's 5 Fab Finds

Need something to wash all the yummy snacks down with? No Frills has 2L bottles of Coca Cola or Pepsi brands for $.97.

For more great deals this week, head on over to the Flipp app and search the items you are looking for. Save them to your shopping list so they are just a swipe away. Don’t worry about visiting all the stores, price match at the one near you. (Food Basics doesn’t price match but you can use coupons)

Come back for next Friday’s 5 Fab Finds and check them out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

finding humour

Finding Humour in Life Lessons – One Day at a Time

Being a single parent isn’t always easy. As parents, we try to do our best with what life throws us. We don’t always know when or how to begin conversations with our children. Looking at finding humour in life lessons? That is exactly what you get with the new Netflix Original series One Day at a Time.

finding humour in Life lessons

Finding Humour in Life Lessons

Families will always argue or fight over certain issues, not everyone has the same opinion. We fight and we make up, it is what helps keep families strong. We agree to disagree. When finding the humour in life lessons through the eyes of a TV Show, it helps us understand the individuality of ourselves and of our children and gives us the strength to get through. If we can’t laugh at ourselves and find humour in our lives, we don’t learn a thing.

The show covers REAL issues that many families will experience. As a single mother, I sometimes struggle with raising my daughter. We pull together, we talk and we learn from each other in the changing times. Remember to spend time together and have fun.

Finding Humour in Life lessons

As a fan of the original show from the 70’s, I couldn’t wait to view the new version. While slightly different than the original series, it has the same all around theme. A single mom and her children and the granddmother, surviving life the best they can, dealing with everyday issues. Oh yes, we can’t forget the lovable handyman Schneider.

Check it out on Netflix and fall in love with this funny family.

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).

Taxes

Tax Trends that Will Effect You in 2017

Taxes

It is that time of the year again! It is January, and if you have been a reader of Common Cents Mom you know I start talking taxes in January to give you plenty of time to prepare. Again this year, I will be doing my own taxes and have once again agreed to partner with TurboTax Canada to bring you tax tips all tax season long. So what do you need to watch for in 2017?

This year Canadians are faced with a number of changes. Four of the child tax credits parents loved are gone. The tax credit for income splitting has changed dramatically and is now capped at $2,000. The good news is there have also been changes to Employment Insurance and the child tax benefit that are helping many Canadian families.

According to a recent TurboTax national survey, most Canadians are optimistic about their taxes and two-thirds do expect to receive a refund. More than half of Canadians will do their own taxes this year. With that said, it is really easy when using TurboTax.  I have used TurboTax for the past few years and have found it gets me all the money I deserve by automatically checking over 400 potential deductions and credits every year. This means I always get what I deserve guaranteed. You can read more about the guarantees here.

Are you an early bird when it comes to filing your taxes? It seems most Canadians- that is eighty percent file as soon as they have their paperwork ready. Over half of Canadians, say they will file in March but now is the time to prepare.

Did you know many Canadians aren’t taking advantage of all the tax deductions and credits as they should be? Now is the time to make sure you have these documents ready.

  • Only 44% of Canadians will claim medical expenses. Get your receipts in order, you can even ask your pharmacist for a copy of your receipts for the year.
  • Only 40% of Canadians with claim Charitable donations. Any time you give more than $20 to a charity get a receipt as it is a tax deduction.
  • Only 11% plan to claim rental receipts. Every year this helps my return soar here in Ontario.
  • Only 7% claim child care expenses. Save your receipts and have your care giver give the proper receipts.

Now is the time to get ready so you can get the best refund possible. Want to learn more ab0ut getting ready for this year’s tax season. Check out the tax tips section on the TurboTax website. It is filled with great tips that will help you get the best return possible. Also, remember to follow my blog and social this tax season as I bring you more information and tips. I also enjoy checking out the TurboTax blog all season long.

Let me know if you are expecting a refund this year and how you will spend it in the comments. I will be giving away 5 downloadable  TurboTax codes that will see you doing your taxes for free.

 

*Giveaway ends February 28th, 2017 and is open only to Canadian tax filers.