6 Money Rules for Teens and University Students in 2016


When I was a teen I wished someone had sat me down and taught me some basic money rules. I went to university got my first credit card and by the end of my first year I was in debt. Not good!  With this being the last year my teen is taking high school courses I want her to know how to me money smart. So what rules would I want for my daughter? For any teen getting ready for the next stage in life? Here are my money rules:

Keep a Money Journal

By writing it down and keeping a money journal you can see where you are spending your cash. By doing so, you see your money habits and where you might want to change things. Get a small notebook you can toss in your bag. Yes, you could use an app to do this. There are several now available.

Save for a Rainy Day

You never know when you may experience an emergency, and no an emergency is not the purchase of a want like the newest tech toy. Try and save at least 10% of what you bring in till you have enough to cover at least three months of expenses. This is your emergency fund. My teen has become an expert in savings, and I am proud of her efforts in this area. She saves 25% of her monthly income.

Spend Less than what You Earn

When you spend less than you earn now, you are caring about your future. Does your future matter to you? Then you want to take care of it by watching what you spend now.

Watch Out for Credit Card Debt

Your need to be very careful in how you use your credit card. Think does that night out warrant it going on your card? Do you need that interest adding up? Are you able to pay the balance at the end of the month?

A Sale is Not Always a Good Deal

People often think that a sale means a great deal. What if you do not need that new pair of shoes? That new tech toy? You need to learn to shop with a list. What do you really need? Buy with a purpose and a plan. As well if you are putting that sale item on a credit card that you do not pay off every month, you lose the savings.

Set Money Goals

What do you really want? What are your plans? Do you want to travel? Graduate debt free? Have money for the future? Set your goals, then put a plan in place to help you get there but remembering these rules you are well on your way to achieving them.

Let me know what money rules would you want your kids to know.


Getting Her College Room Ready with Canadian Tire

This summer has flown by. It seems like yesterday my daughter was finishing up her high school career. This year she is doing a Gap year. Have you ever had one of yours take one? She will be splitting her time between high school and college. Back to school is just over a week away.  She needs a few more science courses to take the college program she is most interested in. She will be taking those and at the same time taking a digital animation course at George Brown. She has a busy year ahead. To get her ready, we are giving her room a makeover and getting her college ready. Think of it like a dorm room at home.

She has had most of the current stuff in her room since we got here six years ago. Most of what we got back then were hand me downs or items I picked up second hand. She deserves and needs an upgrade. She is an eighteen-year-old young woman who needs a space to do the things she loves. She also needs to be organized because for the first time she will have actual homework.  How did she get through high school with no homework? She did it all at school.

We have been looking for a new desk, dresser and bookcase for her room. We have also been looking at computer chairs, lamps, and rugs. She was on the Flipp app recently and was flipping through the sales flyers when she noticed that Canadian Tire had some things that would look great in her room. She loved that she could finally have pieces that match. No more hand me downs.

Getting Her College Room Ready


My daughter fell in love with the Sauder Oak 5-Shelf Bookcase. She loved how grown up it looked. The fixed and adjustable shelves are great for her. You should see her collection of books and art supplies. This bookcase will be perfect for storing them all.


She also fell in love with the Sauder Salter oak desk. She loves the two small drawers to keep all little things in. This will give her lots of space for writing those essays and reviewing lab notes.


To complete everything she wants the Sauder Salted Oak 4-drawer dresser.  After all, what young woman doesn’t an elegant and contemporary place for all her clothes? This one will have ample storage space for her.


Her room here is small, and I can imagine her dorm room will be just as small, so she loves Arden shag rug in linen. She loves the feel of shag and doesn’t want to wake up to cold feet.


Every student needs a good lamp, and she wanted a swing arm desk lamp.  She will have enough light for those late night study sessions.



While checking out what she needs now for her new room, she was also thinking ahead to next year when she will have to buy small kitchen things like a mini fridge, microwave, toaster oven and kettle so she even checked those out and a few were placed on her Christmas list. She was excited when we found much of what she needs for her college room.

So tell me how did you have to get your teen ready for university or college? Were you shopping for the dorm room? Buying a few new things for home to help them adjust?

Make sure you enter to win a $400 Canadian Tire Card here:

Get Ready for Back to School with Canadian Tire

Tips to Deal with the Back to School Drawbacks

Can you believe it? Summer vacation for the kids is almost done. The freedom and fun of summer will soon be over, and it is time for back to school. With the lazy of summer behind us, there are a few “drawbacks” to getting back into the school routine.


Laundry: Summer comes with its fair share of stains, but soon gym clothes and uniforms will take over – big time. If your kids wear a uniform to school, you know the importance of keeping these in good condition. There’s nothing worse than having to replace something mid-year. Then there are the extra-curricular activities…hello, hockey jerseys and ballet leotards! These items are pricey, and it’s important to care for them properly. What are the odds these items will make it through the school year? Step 1: beg and plead with your kids to treat these items with care (good luck!). Step 2: Equip yourself with a killer laundry arsenal that’s always at your fingertips. For example, stock up on OxiClean™ Colour Shield Liquid Laundry Stain Remover, it keeps colours looking their brightest. And OxiClean™ White Revive™ Stain Remover Powder has your whites covered as it’s specially formulated to maintain whites – without chlorine bleach! For inevitable stains, turn to OxiClean™ Laundry Stain Remover Spray and OxiClean™ Max Force™ Gel Stick to pre-treat in advance of your next laundry day.

Aches and pains: Real life will ramp up again quickly for you too. Whether you’re back at the office and adjusting to sitting at a desk all day or you’re just trying to keep up with your kids, topical pain relievers such as RUB·A535™ Extra Strength Heating Cream are essential to have on hand for those muscle aches and pains. It delivers fast-acting, warm, penetrating relief of muscle, joint, back and arthritic pain.

Cavities: Before you know it, Halloween will be approaching and then the Holidays are not far behind. For you, this means an extra-long to-do list. For your kids, it’s the start of a regular diet of candy and chocolate so brushing their teeth will be key! When brushing is fun, your kids will want to brush their teeth! They’ll love the novelty of the moving brush head on Arm & Hammer™ Spinbrush™ Kids Battery Toothbrush and designs such as My Little Pony™ and Paw Patrol™ will get them even more excited.

When we think about it some more, heading back to school isn’t so bad! That being said, what are you not looking forward to the most? I bet I have a tip to help!

  • I am a Church & Dwight Ambassador and as such I get to bring you posts each month about products that we use here at home. 

How to Save Money on Getting Your Dorm Room Ready

getting dorm room ready

Are you ready sending your high school graduate off to college or university? Are they going to be living in a dorm room? Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed like the parents of several my daughter’s friends.  It can be scary thinking about them leaving home and venturing off especially if this is your first child leaving home. It can also be scary looking at the list of things they need to be dorm room ready.

How to Save Money on Getting Your Dorm Ready


Make a List

Dorm-Room-Shopping-List (1)-page-001

A few of my friends are getting their kids ready. One of my first suggestions to them, make a list. Everyone needs a checklist and with setting up a dorm room or first apartment, you don’t want to forget a thing. I made this free printable that you can use. You can thank me later! You can download my free printable here. Dorm-Room-Shopping-List

See What You Can Find for Free

Have your list? The next thing to do is check and see what you already have on your list. If memory serves me correct, many of the things I needed when I lived in the dorm during my university years, I was able to take from home. Check around your house and see what can be checked off your list.

Now that you have your list and have checked around the house for what can be used in that new dorm room ask friends and check online groups for items that you can pick up for free. It happens that many items can be found for free

Find the Best Deals

You have already checked several items off your list. Now, it is time to go shopping. How do you find the best deals?  The Flipp app is the perfect solution to knowing where the best deals are in your new locale.  It is easy to use.  Enter your zip or postal code in the app and all your local flyers are at your fingertips.

flipp app

Since you now have a list of what you are shopping for transfer that list to the Flipp app. After all who needs to carry paper when they shop. Having your shopping list at your fingertips makes things easy. You can also do quick price comparisons by using the search feature.

When you add an item to your shopping list, the Flipp app automatically shows you the best deals that week. You can then shop the store with the best deals. If the retailer you are shopping at allows for price matching, you can sometimes get all your shopping done in one stop. Several retailers even allow you to price match straight from the app. Check with your local store and see if they do.

By using Flipp to find the best deals, shopping what you have and asking friends you can save a bundle on all those dorm room needs. Getting a dorm room ready doesn’t have to be expensive, you just have to be smart about how you get everything ready. Let me know in the comments any other ways you save on getting a dorm room ready as that will be me next year.

How to Save on Extracurricular Activities for Kids #StartSaving

Last week, I attended an event with TD all about affording extracurricular activities throughout the year. It was timely. With back to school less than a month away, many of us are getting ready to register our kids in programs this year. There are several ways to make sure first your kids are in the right activities for them and then to afford those activities.  I knew for us last year it was about affording karate, this year it is all about dance.



Did you know that half of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 limit the number of, or don’t sign their kids up for, extracurricular activities simply due to cost according to a recent TD survey on affording the school year?  There are many ways to save on extracurricular activities. It does not have to be a drain on the pocketbook.


According to that same TD survey, four in ten parents spend more than$1000 per child on extracurriculars and half of those find budgeting for it stressful. That stress can be taken away many times. Really!


Here are my five tips.


You want to make sure you have the right fit. Ask your kids what they want to do.Hold them accountable to a degree but make sure those weekly outings are fun for them and you. I know I pulled my daughter for one when I saw bullying. From that, I learned to research and do my homework. I needed to know my daughter and her needs first and foremost. I also needed to check out the activities.


I have learned that my teen needs downtime. She needs that time to unwind. Most kids do. For us, family time to chill together has become sacred and in that downtime, we have played and learned together, and that has been awesome.


Here in Toronto, I am amazed by the number of free programs that exist. I have talked about them here on my blog each season. From free skates and swims in the winter to free summer camps and drop-ins, there are many programs in this city  that have no cost attached to them. When my daughter was younger, we especially loved the programs put on by the Toronto Library. In cities across Canada, there are free programs you can access.

Check out the Parks and Recs programs in your city. As well check local blogs and groups. They often share free activities going on around you.



It is easy to blow a budget when you don’t know the costs. At the event, TD spoke about when signing your child up for an activity to think about all those little costs that will add to the fees you are shelling out. Remember to check out those extra costs.For my daughter andI, we created a budget for each season and checked it to make sure we were on track. It’s a great way to teach them about budgeting.


TD also spoke to being able to find so many bargains and deals on equipment and gear instead of buying new equipment. We love consignment shops and even garage sales for this. You can also find groups online in your local community where you can exchange gear or buy it for cheap. We love finding gently used items.

Whatever you decide to do with your kids throughout the year remember to think about what is important to you as a family. Think about it. Is your child enjoying the activities they are participating in? Are you stressed out just to get there? Stop the insanity. Make sure things are fun and bringing you joy. As TD highlighted that evening, it’s about the return on enjoyment.


The TD event had two wonderful speakers who shared tips for affording the costs to tips on picking the right activities for your child, and many of the words they spoke were things I have echoed over the years. Simply, make sure you and your kids are having fun and it isn’t draining your pocketbook.


*This post has been sponsored by the TDand I have received compensation for it, but as always my opinion and thoughts on the topic are my own.

Back to School Tips from Some of Canada’s Mom Bloggers

back to school tips

It is that time of year, back to school is around the corner. Parents are making lists checking them twice and asking friends for advice.  Since I live in the digital world, yesterday I asked several of the bloggers I know for their best back to school tips. They were happy to share them with me. I wanted to give you my readers some great tips. My friends did not disappoint.

Here are some back to school tips from some of Canada’s best mom bloggers:

From Ruth Ann Swansburg

Buy a good quality Plain (no characters) Back Pack. Accessorize with key chain, zipper pull or other “favourite character” or theme accessories. This will allow use of the bag for multiple years, and no need to worry about the trends or characters your child is wanting each year.

She blogs at www.everythingunscripted.com

From Bonnie Guy

Put Mabel’s Labels on EVERYTHING!!! They stay on most surfaces and help you prevent lost or stolen items at school.( Labels helped me save so much cash when my daughter was younger.)

She blogs at www.unrestrainedlaughter.com

From Becky Stanisic

Shop your own home first! Take stock of what lunch items you already have, hand me downs from one kid to another, and rulers/supplies that are still in good shape!

She blogs at www.bitofmomsense.com

back to school

From Aneta Alaei

Do not buy something just because it is on sale. If you can’t use it its not a sale but a waste of money

She blogs at http://www.homewithaneta.com/

From Diane Morgan

Always to make sure whatever lunch containers you provide can be opened by your children.

She blogs at http://stufftodowithyourkidsinkw.blogspot.com

From Lori Anne

Shop off season (for next year!) We shopped for back to school clothes at 70% off by shopping the clearance section and combining promotion and sales codes. Get on the email list for your favourite clothing stores for the kids, and shop early. I label what’s in the boxes, and put them away at the top of closets, so they don’t get worn until school starts, but I can still keep track.

She blogs at  www.raisingedmonton.com

From Fariha Naqvi

Take stock of what you have at home, then buy accordingly. Erasers can be reused, pencil cases (if dirty) can be washed. Use Flipp to price match and ensure you get the best price. Also, stock up if you get a deal.

She blogs at http://www.canadianmomeh.com/

From Sherrie Guthrie

Make a list of all of the things needed, and a separate list of wants. Also remember to see what your school policies and procedures are in regards to BTS supplies. Most public schools have suggested lists of supplies, but nothing is required in most cases. As well, shop NOW, not at the last minute for shoes. Most shops have a limited number of shoe sizes in each style. My last suggestion, use coupons and web deals to help save more money.

She blogs at www.goodkarmababy.ca

From Andrea Tomkins

My kids are older now, so we give them a lump sum, and it has to really stretch! They use this money to buy school supplies AND clothing (although we buy their footwear). It forces them to reuse last year’s school supplies, reduce purchases, and find the best deals.

She blogs at http://quietfish.com/

From Anne Marie Brown

Usually, the first week of school still has nice weather and kids often are still wearing summer clothes. Wait until the fall sales to buy up the wardrobe items needed for that season when it comes to clothing.

She blogs at www.itsjustmylife.ca

If all else fails, be sure after a long day of shopping grab a glass of wine and put your feet up. Let me know your best tips in the comments and I will be sure to share some of them on my facebook page.
















15 Free Things You Can Do In Niagara Falls

If you follow me on Social Media You know I love Niagara Falls. Since it is a short road trip from Toronto, we go at least a few times a year. There are lots of ways to save when you go for a visit, and we have saved on everything from our room stay to our meals to the great amusement attractions. You can easily find lots of great deals but did you know there are many things free things you can do in Niagara Falls.

Here are 15 things you can do for FREE in Niagara Falls.


  1. Visit the Niagara Botanical Gardens. It’s great exercise and if you love photography, it is a photographer’s delight.
  2. I love flowers, and the Floral Clock is a must visit that everyone loves. You will find it on the Niagara Parkway.
  3.  My daughter fell in love with the Dufferin Islands. Be sure to check them out. Have fun exploring all the islands, maybe one will be the perfect spot for a picnic. daredevil exhibit
  4. The Niagara Daredevil Exhibit and Gallery is free, and it is a neat way to learn the history of those who have attempted to go over the Falls
  5. Go for a bike ride along the Niagara Parkway. There are 56 kilometers of beautiful scenery from Fort Erie all the way to Niagara on the lake.
  6. Visit the Heartland Forest. It has free admission and has some great forest trails, outdoor learning centers, a fish and frog pond and one of the largest treehouses in Canada. niagara-falls-history-museum-960-00
  7. Visit the Niagara Falls History Museum on Thursdays from 5-9m (it’s free then). Learn about the history of the city and the local area.
  8. Check out the Oakes Garden Theatre.  This beautiful garden is the entrance way to Queen Victoria Park. It’s right at the foot of Clifton Hill and gives you a geat view of the American and Horseshoe falls.
  9. The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center is one of the best hiking spots in the Niagara area. With the backdrop of the Niagara River, it is a spectacular place to hike. Make sure you check out the discovery center to learn how the Falls were created.
  10.  Niagara on the Lake is a short drive from Niagara Falls, and it is one of my favorite places. The area is known for its wines and outdoor festivals. Visit Queens Royal Park and enjoy a picnic lunch with a great view.cham-sham
  11.  Ten Thousand Buddha Temple. The Cham San Ten Thousand Buddha Temple is an Asian style building with beautiful works from Buddist artists. They provide free guided tours on summer weekends from June to October.
  12.  The Ontario Power Generation Festival of Lights. This winter festival is breathtaking. It includes over 125 animated light displays. There is no admission fee, but donations are accepted.
  13.  Take in McFarland House. Guided tours of this historic family residence are available from mid-May to Labour Day.
  14. 1812 Battle Re-Enactments at Old Fort Erie. Watch the fort come alive during special lantern tours after the Saturday evening battle. Camps and battles are free to the public. niagara-falls-fireworks-large
  15.  You can’t go to Niagara Falls without taking in the Falls Firework Illuminations and CocaCola Concerts. Niagara Falls has hosted Canada’s longest running firework series over Niagara Falls. Fireworks happen on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays until October 31st.

Know of any other great free things to do in Niagara Falls, then let me know.

5 Ways to Win During Back to School Shopping

5 Ways to Win During Back to School Shopping

5 Ways to Win During Bacl To School Shopping

I was at Walmart Canada last week, and it was great to see all the back to school supplies are out. Even though our summer vacation technically began on Thursday of last week, I am already thinking about ways to save next year. Why did our summer vacation start so late this year? My teen decided to take a summer school course. While walking the aisles, I realized we all could save during the back to school rush, not just parents who are sending their kids back to school.

So how can we all save?

1.  Shop The Summer Sales Racks

Here in Canada, in the fall and winter layering is a big thing. Shop the summer racks for the light clothing you can layer. Everyone else is thinking of what’s new but now is a great time to get some layering pieces.

2.  Get Your Office Supplies Now

If you work from home like I do, now is a great time to stock up on much-needed supplies. Need paper for your printer, pens, labels, and other office essentials? This is the time to hit places like Walmart, Staples, and the other major retailers. Grab those loss leaders ( the deeply discounted items that are meant to get you in the door).

3. Use Your Loyalty Cards

While you are out stocking up, collect your points or if you shop online use a site like Ebates ( a great portal site that gives you cash back). As well if you pay using a credit card that gives you points or cash back you can double dip as they say. Just remember to pay that credit card bill in full at the end of the month. After all who loves interest?

4. Win with Social Media

Do you follow your favorite retailers and brands on social media? You should. Your favorite retailers may just have special offers for their fans. They often do have back to school giveaways that you may want to enter after all there is nothing better than winning something you had planned on paying for.

5. Remember to Price Match 

Anyone who reads my blog knows I love to price match. Just letting you know Staples price matches. I don’t often write about it here on my blog but during back to school it is important to remember. Check out your local flyers on the Flipp app. Many retailers are now allowing you to price match straight from your phone.

These are all simple ways you can save and win during the back to school season even if you are not a parent. Tell me do you have any saving strategies that you use to win during back to school season?



the rethink reuse philosophy for back to school

The Rethink ReUse Philosophy for Back to School

the rethink reuse philosophy for back to school

Had to think that back to school is just a month away! This summer has been flying by. Today is the last day of summer school for my teen. She is writing her exam as I type this post.  With today being her last day of school, it has me thinking of the school year ahead.  My teen is headed back for one final year. It will be a year filled with science and math. She is super excited about it, but it got me thinking of the things we need to do to get ready for back to school.

One of the things we always do is take stock of what we have in the house. Did you know the average parent will spend over $100 on back to school per child, and that does not include clothes? Think about it, do you need a new back pack every year, new pencil boxes and the list does go on.

For my frugal teen, this means we do an inventory and then make a shopping list. Do you take an inventory of what you have in the house?

For a child in high school you can often reuse:

  • locker locks
  • locker storage items
  • Binders
  • pencil cases
  • thermos
  • lunch bag

Does your teen still have theirs from last year? Dig them out if they are in good condition they can be used. My teen has had the same locker set all through high school.

For the younger crowd check out the condition of the items they brought home can any be reused?

  • Lunch containers
  • thermos
  • locker locks
  • binders
  • pencil cases or pencil boxes

The list does go on, take an inventory.

Last year I thought my daughter needed new pencil crayons, really she did not and I have a pack of brand new ones sitting here still unopened. Learn from my mistake. Make sure you check everything.

We also use this as a time to check out her drawers. We look at what clothes she may need for the coming season. This year we know she needs a new hoodie, new sneakers, two pairs of sweat pants and new jeans. She also needs socks. That is it. Remember they do not need several outfits for back to school. We have always had one new outfit for that first impression but beyond that many of my teen’s clothes were items passed down or buys from Value Village or our local consignment store. The one thing she does get new always is shoes.

Are you an inventory taker? A reuser? Let me know. As well, if you have any back to school tips be sure to share them with me as this will be a theme on the blog here in next month.



5 Tips for Planning a Long Weekend Barbecue on a Budget

The Canadian long weekend is ahead! Friends and family will gather in backyards, at the park or at a beach to celebrate Canada Day. With summer now really in full gear, one of our favorite things to do is have a barbecue. It is simply part of the Canadian long weekend experience. So how does one host a great barbecue on a budget well? If you use the Flipp app, it is easy to save both time and money whenever you are getting ready for any long weekend but especially the Canada Day long weekend. With this shopper’s best friend, my Flipp app, I was able to find everything on my list!

 So How do you plan a Canada Day Barbecue on a Budget?


1. Shop What You Have at Home

To start take stock of what you already have at home that you can use. Always check your pantry and storage first! For us, this means the decor, plates, cutlery. tablecloth and the Canadian flag are all not necessary purchases. There will be no shopping for these items. Often we forget to take stock of what we have and buy things we do no need. Have you ever realized you have two or more simply because you forgot to check? I know it has happened to me.

2. Menu Plan

Before you hit the grocery store, plan your menu. What do you want to eat? What does everyone love? Will you stick to a theme? For Canada day you may go with family favourites, a Canadian made theme, a red and white theme, or you can create a theme perfect for your gang.

For us we are going with some family favourites we found on the Food Network website. We will be having:

  1. Grilled Corn on the Cob wrapped in bacon. That says Canadian to me.
  2. Mesa Grill’s Southwestern Potato Salad. A nod to my American-born daughter.
  3. Grilled Brussel Sprouts  A new favorite of my teen
  4. Hamburgers with Double Cheddar Cheese. We love Canadian cheese.

For dessert, our family loves watermelon and strawberry shortcake.

Check your pantry and fridge to see what you need before you make your shopping list.

3. Make a List


The shopping list is my favourite feature on the Flipp app. I use it every week. Do you?

I love how it keeps me organized and helps me plan, and it brings up all the flyers that have the item on sale that way I can locate the best deal quickly.   The deals I have in Toronto may be different than the deals you have locally. Here is what is on my list.

flipp shopping list

I found great deals on:

Watermelon at Food Basics for $2.88

Corn on the Cob at Walmart for $0.47

Batteries which we need to have for toys at The Source for $5.49 + $1.00 off coupon ( from the Flipp app)

Lean Ground Beef at Food Basics for $4.99

Off at Walmart 2 for $13 ( you can stack this with other offers this week)

Banana Boat or Coppertone sunscreen at Metro for 8.99 (again check for stacking possibilities)

Fireworks are a great price at Giant Tiger. Sparklers for the little ones are only $1.25

4. Clip Coupons

Did you know you can find coupons on the Flipp App? You can. This week batteries are on the list, and I found a $1.00 off Energizer batteries and when I combine that with a sale price I save even more. Do you use coupons? On my list of deals, there are several coupons out there that would allow you to stack and save more. Let us know.  I find coupons on several apps, in-store or by following brands on social media. 

5. Be a Budget Minded Bartender

Think about it. Trust me your friends will end up thanking you and are less likely to need a cab home. Serve one or to specialty drinks and then have a mocktail available. I use my Soda Stream and add ginger, lemon and a bit of mint to create one for my friends. Can you think of a signature drink you might serve? Have friends that love to drink, then make the bar BYOB.

When you spend a few minutes checking what you have, making a list and checking for coupons you can always barbecue and be a great bartender on a budget while saving time. Let us know what is one the menu for your Canada Day celebration?