Archive for Frugal Tips

3 Creative Spring Break Ideas to Surprise Your Family


Spring break is a great time to create a new experience for your family that will provide lasting memories. The best way to take advantage of this time is to think outside of the box for activities. Here are three spring break ideas you probably didn’t think of, but are sure to provide some thrills:


1.      Last-minute getaway – Sometimes waiting until the last minute pays off, and this is often the case with beach vacations. If you’ve had it with winter and are feeling the urge to escape with your family to someplace warm, now is a great time to check your favourite travel site to see if you can get a good price on a hot holiday.

Before booking, remember that there are some considerations that go hand-in-hand with travelling across borders. A big one is travel insurance. Western Financial Group recommends speaking with your insurance broker who will help ensure that you have coverage that meets the unique needs of every member of your family.


2.      Dogsledding in the Rocky Mountains – Imagine taking in the majestic Canadian Rockies while racing through the snow on the top of sled. Dogsledding in the mountains is quickly gaining in popularity and there are now several operators catering to groups of all sizes. Whether you are a dog-lover or not, the power and discipline involved will have you in awe. Just be ready to yell “mush!”


3.      Links and slopes on the same day – Skiing and golfing might not seem compatible, but for a brief window in March, they can be. The large elevation changes in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley let you tee off in the morning and end your day carving some tracks on the hill.

If you plan on driving to the Okanagan, keep in mind that you will likely encounter some wintery conditions along the way. Western Financial Group reminds people to make sure they keep their winter tires on their cars until late April and to ensure they have an emergency kit stashed in their trunk before setting out on a road trip. This kit should include blankets, food, water, candles, matches and an adapter or batteries so you can charge your cellphone.

Whether you are taking on a brand new adventure this spring break or pursuing your favourite hobby, have fun and stay safe! More information on travel insurance is available at

#CommentsWays to Save: Day 7- Bulk Cooking Basics



Have you ever thought about cooking in bulk so you could free up some time and save some money? Some people cook for an entire month over a day or two. One of my friends lives by cooking for a month and creating meals she can simply grab from her freezer. When I can I love to spend Sunday preparing food for the week ahead. Bulking cooking definitely does free up your time. Now there are some bulk cooking basics that are important to remember.

Prepare Ahead

Sometimes thinking about cooking in bulk can get a bit overwhelming but by doing the prep work you will be on your way. What is the prep work?

1. Think about what you want to achieve. Are you cooking for an entire month? all meals? or just dinner? For me I do just dinners and have simple breakfast and lunch meals ready that take no longer then 15 mins of prep time.

2. Make a list, check it twice. Planning for your meals is important, what will you cook, do you have a great recipe everyone loves? If you need bulk cooking ideas I really suggest Pinterest as a great resource. Write down what you want to cook, and make a list of ingredients. I also check my favorite money saving apps to see what is on sale. ( For me here mine are Flipp and Checkout 51. In the states you might also like some of the coupon apps)

3. Think about your storage. How will you store this food? Do you have the freezer space? Check and make sure. Do you have the containers needed? I grab what I need from the dollar store. I stock up on aluminum trays and plastic freezer bags. For some things I do recyle plastic containers. Don’t forget labels.

4. Shop with a List. Remember that list I had you make? Well it’s time to hit the grocery store with your list.


Cook Day/ Days

1. Start early. By getting an early start to the day you are giving yourself time to enjoy the cooking experience.

2. Do your prep work. We chop all our vegetables, open up the cans, get the spices ready, and basically prepare chef stations. Since I do this for a week I have 7 stations I set up on my table.

3. Boost your energy. It’s going to be a long day, so to boost my energy I enjoy music while I cook. I turn on my favorite country tunes and well I have been known to break out in dance in my kitchen.

4. Start cooking. Tine to get cooking. In our house this is a family affair with both me and my daughter cooking. She is the better cook and even studying culinary arts in her high school. So feel free to get some help in the kitchen.

5. Everything cooked, now it’s time to store it all. Make sure you package the containers, freezer bags with proper labels. What needs to go on the label? Contents, date made.

Clean Up

Time to do the dishes and return your kitchen back to order, at this time I also use some oil and diffuser to get rid of any unwanted odors.

Have you bulk cooked? How many meals have you prepped at one time?



#Commoncents Ways to Save: Day 4- How To Save Money Using Social Media



Sometimes your social network can really be your best friend when it comes to saving money. By using social media you can stay on top of great deals, coupons, contests you can win, and great DIY projects that can have you saving hundreds of dollars even thousands every year.

By using your social network in smart ways you can soon be saving even more. There are so many ways to save using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. From all 4 sources I have found great coupons, deals, and even have won some great prizes.

Twitter Can Save You Money

1. Create Lists that Help You Save. Follow people and brands that are know for sharing great deals, tricks and tips. Here are my go to people on Twitter.


2. Attend money saving chats. Every week there are 3 great chats, that are all about living better on a budget. I host the #cdnmoney chats on Tuesdays at 7 pm EST, I also reccomend the #WBChat hosted by @Wisebread on Thursdays at 3 pm EST and the #MCCchat on Fridays at 4pm hosted by @MoneyCrashers. Those ones are great especially for my American friends.

3. Folllow the hashtags to maximize your savings. Some of my favorites are: #coupon, #savings, #cdnmoney, #giveaway, #win, and #freebie.

Facebook Can Save You Money

For Facebook my strategy is a little different. Here I follow the brands and stores I love. They often share coupons that are just for their Facebook fans. I also belong to a few Giveaway groups, and a few that are about life hacks, DIY projects and budget travel.

Instagram Can Save You Money

Here I follow some great frugal people who share great DIY project inspiration, brands that I love that often do contests via Instagram, and friends who often share a great deal.

Pinterest Can Save You Money

For Pinterest I have created several boards that all save me money. I think of Pinterest as my private library that I am sharing with friends. I love frugal healthy recipes, great upscaling projects and there are lots of great money saving tips to be found with some exploration on Pinterest.

How have you been using social media to save you money?



#CommonCents Ways to Save: Day 3-A New Money Attitude



Ever heard the saying ” Your thoughts control you”, the same goes for how you look at money. Sometimes an attitude adjustment is needed before you can really begin to save money. Sometimes you need a new money attitude.

Ask yourself how do you look at money? I know for me I have had to adjust my attitude a few times.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you spend when you have money in your wallet? Do have the attitude, it’s there I can go and shop?

Do you think you will never have enough money?

I can’t help my child get to college?

If I want something I always have my credit card. I can pay it off?

I am not out of money till I am out of credit?

When I am bored I head to the mall?

All I get are bills in the mail?

So ever have those thoughts? I know I have had a few of them over the years. So how do we shift our attitudes about money? I know two things that have worked for me over the years.

1. Have an attitude of gratitude. Be thankful. Cultivate an attitude of having pleasure in all that you do have in your life. There are always others who are hurting more, have loss more, who need it more. Always. Be thankful in the moment and that that gratitude seep into every inch of you.

2. Be content. Enjoy what you have. Don’t always be looking for that next buy, planning that next car, that next tech toy when the one you have works just fine. Make do, be content in what you have already. So often we get caught in the race to be like our peers, and some times we go into debt to get there. Stop it. Be content in what you have.

By cultivating contentment and gratitude first I find I have been able to make a shift in my thinking. I no longer have to run to the mall to get that newest thing, I also know that God does provide for my needs, and he will continue to do so. After surviving a divorce, cancer scare, and a fire I am grateful for all that life brings. It helps me to know that even on a small budget I can be a money saver.

What about you? Have you had to shift your attitudes? What mindset keeps you on track?

#CommonCents Ways to Save: Day 2- Love for Less



With Valentine’s Day around the corner it is time to start thinking about ways to save on romance. Time to think about ways we can show our love for less whether it is dealing with our sweethearts or our family. What are some ways to save money on Valentine’s Day or any day you want to show someone you care.

Think outside the Box

Last year I wrote a post about some inexpensive ways you could show someone how much you care. There are lots of great craft ideas on Pinterest. You could make something or even cook a favorite dish of the one you love. Valentine’s Day does not always need to be about the spend. You could even give each other a nice long massage, write a love note, or create a scavenger hunt.

Get the Best Price on Flowers

Does your sweetie love flowers as much as I do? Stay away from ordering them online. Hate to say this but most often the best deals on flowers are at your local big box stores. Last year a nice bouquet of flowers at Metro cost less than $30.00 compared to the $50 roses I priced online. Now I did notice a couple of Groupons that were for flowers so you might want to check out your local group buying site to see if you can score a deal.

Saving on Babysitters

Valentine’s Day is a popular date night for many couples. Why not share a sitter? If you have 2 kids and your friends have 2 kids it might make sense and you save money on sitting. The other thing you can do if a babysitter is out of budget, it do a late night candle lite dinner at home after the kids are in bed.

Gift Shopping

It seems at this time of year it is easy to find deals on lingerie and chocolate. Make sure you check local flyers as well as look online. I found some great deals this week on both. If you are shopping online always remember to check for promo codes that might get you a discount or free shipping.

Saving on Dinner

This is one of those days that finding a deal for dining out can get difficult. Be careful when buying on group buying sites like Groupon. Check the black out dates, often Valentine’s Day is included. With that said some restaurants will do specials just for that day. Check often for perhaps a fixed menu. It might be a great way to save.

The other way to save on dinner is to do it at home. You could make a serious production of it. Break out the best table cloth, light a few candles, and make something decadent.

Whatever you decide to do for Valentine’s Day there are lots of ways to show your love without breaking the bank. That makes sense to me.

Join @ChristaClips and I for the #CDNMoney chat tonight, Tuesday Feb 3rd as we talk about Love for less. The chat starts at 7pm EST. What tricks and tips do you have when it comes to saving your pocket book at Valentines Day? Share your ideas in the comments or come join us on Twitter for a great chat.



#CommonCents Ways to Save: Day1-Menu Planning



Over the years one of the easiest ways for me to save money each and every week was to menu plan. For me menu planning makes common sense. Have you ever menu planned? do you do it now? For years I was a regular weekly menu planner but then I  got busy and well I often found myself  simply designing a meal last minute from whatever was in the house. This is not always the best bet especially if you are trying to eat a healthy well balanced diet. So what am I doing now? How can one use menu planning to help them save money?

Why menu plan?

Most of us are last minute meal planners and I can’t tell you how many nights I turned to my phone and ordered in simply because I didn’t like what was in the house. By knowing what is ahead you save money on ordering in, make less trips to the grocery store and you actually eat healthier meals. For me that is a win.

How to menu plan?

For me I start with taking a quick look at my favorite Pinterest boards, my cookbooks, and my Flipp app ( it is a great app that puts all my flyers on my mobile device), I clipp what I want to cook that week, grabbing the best deals I can on fresh and frozen items. I do also check my Checkout 51 app and my Zweet app to see which coupons are available as well that week.

I also make sure I check my fridge and cupboards to see what I still have on hand and what items I may need to add to my shopping list. This way I both make sure the leftovers get used up and that I am not missing any ingredients when it comes time to make my dish.

Now in the store if I do spot a really great deal, I can sometimes substitute for a more expensive item on my list. Got to love a great managers special just make sure you aren’t over buying.

After you get home, have your meals planned post it to your fridge, that way you are always ready.

By menu planning you cut your overall food costs and often you eat much better. Let me know do you menu plan?

If you need more tips or want to read some great blogs that participate in Menu Monday head over to my friend Laura’s blog. She has been hosting a great Menu Monday round up for years now.



A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

A New Blog Series: #Commoncents Ways to Save

Through out the month of February, I am bringing back a 4 week blog series on how to save on absolute everything. It is all about finding and using common sense to save more money each week, each day in simple ways so we can  live richer lives while not breaking the bank. I will be using the hash tag #commoncents to share all the tips and tricks this month. It is a special 28 days series so you will want to come back to check out new tips that go live every morning.

Some of the topics I will be covering include:

  • Menu planning
  • The Right Money Attitude
  • Bulk Cooking
  • Transportation
  • Using Tech to Save
  • Tackling Wardrobe Costs
  • Entertaining on a Budget
  • Extreme Couponing Canadian Style ( I will have some tips for my US friends as well)
  • The Shopping List
  • Cutting Cable Costs
  • Making Homemade cleaners
  • Saving Money on Romance
  • How to save Money for Valentine’s Day
  • Wants vs Needs
  • Saving Money on Banking fees
  • Group Buying: Yeah or Nay
  • Using Social Media to Save
  • Educational Spending
  • Saving Money on Your Health
  • Learning to Say No

These are just some of the topics I will cover over the next 4 weeks as well as some surprises I have in store. Join me on this journey and lets see how we can save more so we can have rich lives while spending less.

Have a topic you want me to cover let me know.Leave me a comment.  Have ideas of what else works your comments and insight are always welcome.

7 Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget

Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

Simple and Easy Ways to Eat Healthy

One of the goals I am working on this year is continuing to work on being a healthier me, the lifestyle changes continue. One of the things I am working on the most is eating better, making better food choices. I even gave up Diet Coke, which was a struggle, believe me.

So how can I eat healthier on my limited budget:

Eat Real Food

Trust me I was eating way too much processed food, even if it has a healthy label it is often better to eat the real thing. Guess what? The real food is cheaper, and another thing to note you can even price match real food on sale making sure you get the best deal.

So avoid the boxes and prepared stuff and you are well on your way to really eating healthier.

Buy Proteins on Sale

I like to stock up my small freezer especially when I spot a sale. We stock eggs, chicken, tuna, ground turkey and even ground beef. I also have a thing for game meat and love when I can find some bison.

Buy Frozen Fruit and Veggies Especially Off Season

You can often get these at half the cost of fresh especially off season and guess what by choosing frozen you are making the healthier choice. They are healthier because when packed right after being picked they are full of nutrients. Yeah!

Visit Your Farmers Market

I have been getting some great deals at my local farmers market, now it is not always the cheapest but I have been able to find some great organics and at the end of the day they sometimes even drop the price so they do not have to take things back.

Use Technology in Your Favour

We all know I love to price match if you are a regular reader of my blog. Did you know you can even price match on things like apples and meat? Apps like Flipp let you do just that. If you also use Checkout 51 you can check for additional sale items that can leave money in your wallet and that makes sense.

Drink Water

Since January 1st, I have had Diet Coke twice. For me that is a huge win right there! Now I find myself actually drinking water. I bought a Brita Water pitcher and it filters my tap water which is a good thing. It’s cheaper than bottled water and soda. When I crave the carbonation I use my Soda Stream to carbonate the water, and I add lemon or line or both to my glass just for taste.

Be Prepared

One of the things that has me ordering in, or turning to fast food or processed meals is not being prepared, when I menu plan I am better prepared for everything meaning I eat better healthier meals. Menu planning is part of it and it needs to be done to keep me on course.

What about you what tips and tricks help you eat healthy on a budget? How did you transition to eating healthier?




How to Price Match in Canada

How to Price Match in Canada

How to Price Match in Canada




Last week I was talking with a girlfriend about how to save money. She was all excited as she had downloaded the Flipp app but wasn’t sure how it could really save her time and money. I thought everyone knew about price matching. Here she loved being able to grab the flyers on her phone but she wasn’t getting the best value for her dollar so I told her I would do a complete guide to Price Matching in Canada. Now if many of you are like my girlfriend who really does want to save more time and money this year, this is one simple way to do so.

So How Do You Price Match in Canada? 

 How do You Define Price Matching?

 A definition– When  a retail store agrees to match a lower advertised price from a rival store and sells you the same product for the lower price, that’s the simple definition of price matching.

Many retail stores have couponing and price matching polices and guarantees. It is all about adding value for you the customer. Get to know your favorite stores price matching policies.

Price matching policies often don’t just apply to items you are going to purchase, they can actually apply to items you’ve paid for recently. Cool, right?

Example 1: I just bought a dress from retail store A.. I walk into retail store B, see the exact dress (brand name dress and bar code are the same). I can then check and see if it is advertised, if it is, I can return for a refund of the difference.

Example 2: I just bought a new tv at my favorite retailer and they lower there own price with a set amount of time (normally 14 days), you can request a refund of the difference.

If you check your flyers using an APP like Flipp you can really keep track of your favorite retail stores prices.

There are Different Types Of Price Matching Policies

Every retail store has a different price matching policy. The stores I frequent are Walmart, Target and No Frills. I have also price matched at Future Shop and Canadian Tire, but there are many more retailers that have a price matching policy. Check out your favorite store’s policy. Many of them can be found on the store’s website.

The Simple Price Match

The simplest  price match means a retail store which match the price you can receive the same price advertised from another store. For example Target’s Price Match Guarantee states that they will match a lower price if a customer finds the exact same item for less in a current and locally printed flyer.

Example A: I see an item price at 25.00 at a Canadian retail store in their flyer, I can clip it on my Flipp app (yes, Target is one of the Canadian retail stores that allow apps to be used when price matching), and then show that clipping at cash register at the store. Because I am also a  Target Red Card holder, I save another 5% on top of that as well. Now if I happen to have a coupon for the said item I can also use that as well, further reducing my costs.

The Beat By a Percentage Price Match

1. Another way retail stores price match is by beating the price by a percentage of the difference, usually 10% and that can rack up on big ticket items. For example, Best Buy’s Lowest Price Guarantee guarantees that they will not only match the price but beat it by 10% of the difference.

Example: I find an item I want to buy advertised in a flyer for $450.00 that sells at Best Buy for $500.00. I would not only be price matched at the $450 but be given an additional discount of 10% of the difference. Making me save more, in this example since the difference is $50.00 we would get (50.00×0.10)=$5.00 so we pay $445.00

2.You will find a lot less policies like Home Depot’s Price Guarantee specifies that they’ll beat a competitor’s lower price by an additional 10%.

Example: If an item sells for $500.00 and you find it advertised for $450.00 at another retail store then you get a an additional 10% off the lower price. So instead of paying $450.00 we will pay (450.00 x0.10)=$45.00.  so we pay $405.00

Price Match With Rewards

Some retail stores like Canadian Tire want you to be a loyal customer so they  choose to match lower prices and  offer loyalty reward incentives. Canadian Tire’s Price Match Guarantee notes that they will match competitor pricing and give 10% of the lower price in Canadian Tire money. Canadian Tire money can be used to purchase other items in their store. It is their loyal reward program.

So all of this sounds easy peasy, right? Well sometimes it isn’t. So how can you make life easier for your self.

How to Have the Best Price Matching Experience


First things first, make sure the items you are trying to price match are identical. They must be the same. This is the first rule of thumb. Barcodes, model numbers, quantity, size of packaging all must match.

Some retailers make you bring in the advertised flyer, others will gladly accept a clipping from an app like Flipp. Know your favorite retailer’s policy.

Sometimes even the cashier does not know the store policy, so if I ever have an issue at a retailer I print out the store policy and have it with me.

At the store it is normally fairly simply.

Let the cashier know that you would like to match a competitor’s lower price. Have your price matches ready. I do this by opening my flipp app or having my flyer in hand.

Show the cashier or app or flyer. Remember they can always check any price match so be aware some cashiers will or they might be new and not know their own store policy. I have found kindness works in these situations.

Once you have shown your cashier they match. With Flipp it means tapping your clipping so it goes back to the retail flyer so they can verify an active ad then you have completed a price match. Time to Celebrate!

What if they say NO? Ask why?

I actually ran into this on Black Friday and found a clause in the store policy that exempted days like Black Friday and Boxing Day. If you think they should be matching it ask for a store manager. Show them their policy or ask to see theirs if you have not printed one off. If speaking to the manager doesn’t work I have even called a head office while in store.

Sometimes You Can’t Price Match

Remember this simple rules, if you don’t you simply can’t price match.

  • Products must be identical in brand, size, weight, colour quantity and model number.
  • Product must be in stock
  • A  copy of the competitor’s flyer or ad must be provided. Some stores do not accept photocopies or flyers printed from online others do not, check the policy.
  • Some retailers accept price matches from across the country, others do not.

There are often Exclusions.  Some normal ones:

  • Online prices can not often be matched
  • Goods from a store like Costco that requires a paid membership.
  • Clearance Sales
  • Limited Time Sales like in Boxing Day.
  • Display merchandise.
  • Bid pricing or volume discounts.
  • Item cannot be combined with any other offer.

I have learned over the years that price matching can save me time and money. No more long lines at stores that have that one great deal when I can walk to a local store that offers a great price matching policy and has the same item in stock. Over the years I have saved thousands of dollars and been able to stretch my budget especially my grocery budget by price matching on a regular basis.

What stores have price matching policies?

These are just a few I found online. These are in alphabetical order.

There are also many other ways to save money besides price matching. Want to save more at the grocery store try couponing, use apps like Check Out 51, Zweet and Changio to save more and always watch for for opportunities to use SCOP (Scanning Code of Practice here in Canada). Overall, once you have experienced your first price match and see how easy it is you will kick yourself for not starting sooner.

* this is not a sponsored post, however, I am the Community Manager for the Flipp App. This post gets me no monetary gain, just wanted to share some great info.



How to Be Happy on a Budget

Happy on a Budget

Happy on a Budget


Recently I have been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which got me thinking about money and budgeting and happiness. I also just wanted the documentary Happy on Netflix. So happiness has been on my mind. Really there are so many ways to have peace,joy and yes even happiness on a budget. Money has never bought happiness and it never well So how can we be happy on a budget?

First we really do need to remember that Money does not buy happiness. You can not buy the things that bring happiness in the long run.

So what can you do today to be happier on a budget?

Count your Blessings

Gratitude is a very powerful thing. Once we get grateful we tend to see things more clearly. We tend to be thankful for what we have been blessed with even on the days when that is very little. I remember in the days and weeks after the fire, first and foremost I realized how insignificant  things were. My daughter and I were safe, I was happy with that.

Friendship is Important

Friends on the journey that is life makes everything ok. Make time for friends, enjoy each others company. We can all get caught up in the grind of the day, but when you stop for a moment and simply get caught up it makes you smile, it makes you laugh and sometimes it even makes you cry. But all the time my friends have brought the greatest joy into my life. If you have just moved, if you find yourself lacking friends, step outside yourself and go and get to know some new people and remember friendships take time to cultivate.

Serve Others

Some of my happiest moments are when I am giving to others. Helping others over the years has taught me many lessons. It has taught me that even when I have been struggling I have something I can contribute. When we serve others even in simple ways it brings joy not only to them but to ourselves. Serving others rarely costs you anything but time and a smile.

Take time to Laugh

My father taught me one of life’s big lessons, how important laughter is. There were very few days in his life that he did not share a joke or a smile. He loved to tease and laugh. My father was not a rich man in the material sense but he was very rich in the happiness that existed in his life.


I know not all my readers believe in God, but for me I have found prayer and even hearing the words of Allah (God) bring a peace and joy and real happiness to my life. Getting together often inside a faith community often brings contentment, peace, joy and even happiness.

Learn Something New

I have always loved to learn new things and over the years have had several hobbies from photography, to reading, to learning new skills including how to even set up a blog. Learning something new always brings a smile to my face. It’s like getting a light bulb moment on demand.

I have learned I do not need much money wise to be happy. I have learned that peace, joy contentment and happiness are a matter of a thankful heart that is reaching out where and when they can and taking time to enjoy and laugh with those I care about. What about you what brings you happiness?