Archive for Frugal Tips

How to Shop at a Thrift Store like a Pro

My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

If you’ve been inspired to start shopping at thrift stores to save money after reading about the 5 best things to buy at thrift stores, then you’ll want to make note of this post. I’m going to give you the secrets to making the most out of shopping at thrift stores. Over the years, I’ve developed some tips and tricks for making my thrift store shopping days more productive and less likely to see me come home with stuff I really don’t need.

  • Be Prepared. The Girl Guide motto is highly useful when it comes to thrift store shopping.
    1. Take Pictures – are you looking for the perfect painting for your living room? Do you need accent pieces for your bedroom? Take photos with your cell phone so that you know what colours or design schemes you’re trying to match. Nothing is worse than getting a dark green throw when you needed a light green one.
    2. Measure it! Get a small measuring tape and keep it in your purse or your car. It would suck to find the perfect piece of furniture only to find out you either can’t get it home, or can’t get it up / down the stairs!
    3. Make a List – what do you need? What are you looking for? Write it down in a small notebook or on your phone so that you don’t forget to look for the items you need.
  • I have a kit that I call my Thrift Store Necessities – it includes a notebook, pen, my smartphone (with pictures on it), a measuring tape, and a small flashlight to look INSIDE drawers etc to make sure there aren’t any cracks or splits in wooden furniture.

    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

    My Thrift Store Shopping Kit

  1. Be Persistent – Unless you have a very short list, you won’t find everything on it on the first try. Keep going back to the stores and keep your list current so that you know what you’re looking for. Half the fun of shopping in thrift stores is the hunt!


  1. Be Strategic – If you think you might want something, grab it the minute you see it! Don’t leave it on the rack and think about it – it will probably be gone before you get back to it. Use a cart and put anything you think you might want in it. Then, when you’re done shopping, sift through and pare down to items you love.


  1. Be Efficient – If you need a purse, go straight to the purse section and look around. Don’t be tempted by the books or shoes. Once you’ve looked for the item(s) you are shopping for, then browse. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone else walk out with the item you wanted.

By following these tips, you can become a thrift store super shopper.

Ways to Cool Off and Save Money for Earth Month

ecobee smart thermostats

Here in Toronto today it got warm, really as I walked home to me seemed like a late spring day as the temperature soared. It got me thinking about what lies ahead and the different ways we can save money right now and be prepared for the summer heat.

One of the perks where I live right now, is that my heating bill as well as my electricity is rolled into my rent. I am very thankful for this fast especially with all the increase over the last couple of years. Even with the perk of having this paid for me, I am very mindful of my energy consumption.  We do all the things most families do, like turning off the lights in rooms that are not in use, keeping our thermostat at a reasonable temperature and doing laundry on the weekends. We even have energy efficient appliances and changed out all the light bulbs.

When it comes to summer heat there are things you can do right now to help battle it, and they will save you money and the planet in the long run.

You can change the filter on your furnace, and vacuum well areas around appliances. You don’t want appliances using more energy than they need too.

You can also make sure windows have adequate shade. Mini blinds are a great way to reduce solar heat.

Once you turn on the air conditioning make sure you change the filter every month. Dust builds up quickly and it does effect the flow of air.

All the little things we do though make a difference and that is what is so important. We all can make little choices that when combined together can have a huge impact.

ecobee smart thermostats

One of the ways we can have a huge impact that I just learned about is by having a smart thermostat. I had never heard of these till recently and was excited when Ecobee asked me to tell you about can save up to $150 on a smart thermostat this month.  With a smart thermostat you can adjust your settings from anywhere. Say you go on vacation, you can lower the thermostat and then raise it just before you get in the door. How is that for efficient? With the ecobee Smart Si you can do just that.

If you have hot and cold spots in your home like we do; my daughters room is like the coldest room in the house, you can use the ecobee3(1 remote sensor) or the ecobee Smarter Bundle (3 remote sensors) to help control the temperature accurately.

Canadian customers who purchase the ecobee3ecobee Smart Si or the ecobee3 Smarter Bundle will receive $25 off by entering the code h1save25a at checkout between April 1 and 30.

As Well,i f you’re a Hydro One customer, you can earn an additional $100 by applying to enroll your thermostat in Hydro One’s Bring Your Own Thermostat (BYOT) pilot program by April 30. BYOT allows Hydro One make brief, limited temperature adjustments to a central air conditioning system via the WiFi thermostat during times of peak electric demand (other heat pump systems not eligible at this time). You can also earn an additional $25 if you fill out three brief surveys regarding your participation for a total savings of $125. Get the FAQs about this program here.


Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I was compensated by EnergyHub …program sponsor…. to give you information about Hydro One’s Bring Your Own Thermostat program, but opinions as always are my own and think of how you can help the planet and save. That’s a win/win to me.



Top tips for New Pet Owners

pet tips

pet tips

Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, one thing is certain—you love your furry friend. While owning a pet is exciting, it’s also a big responsibility, and the first few months after you bring your pet home can be overwhelming. It’s important to remember that a pet is part of your family when you’re taking care of them—in fact, a recent study by Western Financial Group showed that half of Canadians with pet insurance purchased a policy in case of emergencies or serious illness, while 26 per cent did it simply because they see their pet as a family member.

Find the right veterinarian

While going to the vet may turn your feline into Grumpy Cat, regular visits are extremely important. Ask friends and do some online research to identify a vet who is a good fit for you and your new furry friend. Regularly visiting a vet helps ensure you are preventing illness, rather than reacting to it, which can help avoid more expensive medical treatments in the future. Schedule regular check-ups to ensure your pet is healthy.

Find the right pet insurance policy

Despite preventative care for your pet, they still can need costly treatments, and pet insurance can protect you from the high costs of an emergency vet visit or procedure. In addition, certain providers, like Petsecure, offer policies that can help lower the cost of regular veterinary visits.


Find the right food

Make sure to talk about food during your vet visit. Ongoing nutritional consultation will help keep weight gain and loss in check, and make sure your pet is getting the nutrition they need.


Keep their teeth healthy

The majority of cats and dogs will experience dental problems in their lifetimes and, given how much they rely on their mouths, it’s particularly important to properly maintain their teeth. A dental examination is part of every veterinary exam and, as always, prevention is better than treatment.

Make sure they’re ready to travel

Once you have a pet, your ability to go on a spontaneous trip is limited. Pet inclusive vacations are a great option! If you’re crossing a border, make sure you have up to date rabies vaccination certification for your dog. Schedule an appointment with your vet to make sure your pet has all of the required boosters—and that you have the required paperwork. Depending on your destination, additional vaccinations may be required. If your pet can’t make the trip, make sure you have suitable alternative arrangements, either with friends or family or with a reputable boarder during your trip.

Make your pet easily identifiable

Identify your pet in multiple ways – through collar and tag, tattoo, and microchip – in the unfortunate event that they get lost. Microchip databases are international and make tracking down your lost animal easier across provinces and borders.

Welcoming a new pet to the family is incredibly exciting. By following the above tips, you can help keep your pet safe and healthy, so you can enjoy years of family fun.

Know a pet lover? Share our story with them.

For more information about home insurance visit:


Before You Take that Spring Break Vacation

spring break

spring break

Here in Toronto it is spring break, and while my teen and I are doing a stay-cation that involves lots of frugal fun right here at home in our city, many of my friends and their kids are getting on planes or in cars and taking off on vacation. Now if you haven’t already booked your vacation, my friends over at have some great tips. If you do already have plans, then there are some important things you need to remember before you leave.

Buy Travel Insurance

My mom and sister both love to travel and one thing they never travel without is
travel insurance.
On one trip, my mom took ill. Thankfully, because she had travel insurance, there were no issues and she got great care even though she was in Cuba.

Check Your Passports

I had a friend last year who got turned back at the airport because her passport was invalid. Remember: you have to have at least 6 months left before your passport expires if you are traveling outside Canada. My friend was unable to go on her trip to Turkey simply because she didn’t check her passport.

Pack Your Medications

Make sure you have enough of your medications in their original packaging to last the entire trip, and bring enough for an extra 2 days, in case there are any travel disruptions. This way you can avoid searching for a fax machine and a pharmacy while you travel.

Take Comfortable Shoes with You

Have a great pair of walking shoes with you. You don’t want to miss out on an adventure because your feet are tired and sore. For me, I wear my walking shoes most of the time when traveling and keep my flip flops for the beach and my heels for those special nights out.

Prepare Your Phone for Travel

Now my sister, when she travels, leaves her data turned off the entire trip to avoid any surprises on her bill. I know I could never do that. Thankfully, if you want data when you travel you have a few options. You can purchase a special data plan for roaming outside the country through your cellular service provider. If you are a Rogers customer you can #roamon for $5 a day using your home data while in the US. Personally, it’s the best plan I found so far for Canadians who have a Rogers cell plan. Additionally,  depending on where you are going, you can buy a local SIM card and plan at a reasonable rate for many countries. You can always check out Roam Mobility if you are traveling in the USA or Mexico (they will ship you a SIM card that will meet all your data needs for your trip). It’s a great way to have data while away. When you have a mobile data plan with roaming, you can always use apps like Skype to stay in touch and save on minutes.

Pack Light

Only pack what you really need. Sometimes we think we need to take a large suitcase but we only use a few outfits. I prefer to travel with one carry on. I take the essentials and leave room in the budget to buy any must have while away. By only using a carry on you save the luggage fees (and yourself from waiting for checked luggage at the airport).

Visit Your Bank

When traveling, I always let my bank know I am going to be away and which countries I will be visiting. I have seen more than one credit card or bank card rendered invalid because a purchase was being made outside the norm for the account, and replacing cards while on vacation is a hassle. By letting your bank know where you are traveling and your dates of departure and return you can prevent the hassle of having your cards cancelled.  While at the bank, also take the time to exchange currencies if you can, you will definitely get a better deal than doing so at the airport.

Before you go on that dream spring break vacation make sure you are prepared.  Take the time to get travel insurance, remember to check your passports, pack your medications plus a little extra, get your phone ready for travel and visit your bank. These errands won’t take too much time out of your day but will let you relax on your vacation knowing that you have everything you need.



The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Check List

spring cleaning
spring cleaning

Next week, spring is officially here. Are you as ready for it as I am? After this bitter winter I am ready to throw open some windows and do some spring cleaning! Yes, me, the one who has survived the winter surrounded by dust bunnies, is ready to do some major cleaning over the next couple of weeks. I always like to try to have my house nice and clean before Easter. So how do I do it? Well I was taught how to clean by my mom who worked cleaning hospitals for years.

Here is what is on my list:

 Make Doormats Welcoming

Doormats are the front line against tracking dirt into the house, so keep them clean enough to function efficiently. Really you want to get rid of all that tracked in salt and dirt from winter.  If they’re extremely soiled, soak them in warm water mixed with a scoop of OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover for six hours then wash as directed – even the toughest stains get washed away! Remember to always follow manufacturers’ care instructions.

Organize Your Closets

Organizing your closet is the first step to organizing the rest of your home. Donate unused clothes and accessories, and declutter! I start here every spring. So far this year I have given away 3 bags to one of my favourite charities and soon I will have even more ready to give.

 For the clothes that you do keep, ensure they are clean and crisp for the new season ahead by laundering them with OxiClean™ Liquid Laundry Detergent. It attacks dirt and tough stains left by Old Man Winter, and will leave them smelling spring fresh.

Wash Walls and Baseboards

For this big job, use a simple mix of vinegar, Arm&Hammer baking soda, and water to get those marks left all winter long by boots, shoes, and hands.  This job actually excites me as I can see such a difference when I am done.

Make your Dishes Shine

 With the arrival of the new season comes the arrival of home dinner parties! Ensure your dish and glasses are guest ready by using OxiClean™ Extreme Power Crystals™ Dishwasher Detergent Paks to tackle tough stains and stuck-on-foods. The best part? No more pre-washing or re-washing necessary so you’ll have time to relax after the party. If you have a dishwasher these really can be your best friend.

Carpet Cleaning

Fabrics that have absorbed a winter’s worth of dirt will need a deep clean to get them ready for another year of wear. Shampooing your carpets is a good start, but for tougher stains, use OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover – simply mix a little bit of the stain remover with warm water as per the instructions on the label and blot with a clean towel until the stain disappears. Always rinse thoroughly with clean water. Allow to dry thoroughly before walking on the treated areas.

 Patio Season

While it may still be cold, you can start thinking of the warmer weather and spruce up of your patio. Remove any large debris such as sticks, branches, and leaves by hand. Next use the sprayer setting on your garden hose to wash away as much of the winter dirt and grime as possible. Don’t forget to properly store away all your winter gear after cleaning it first.

Tackle stains left on outdoor furniture upholstery with OxiClean™ Versatile Stain Remover – it’s chlorine free and colour safe so you can use it on gutters and unfinished decks, too.

Clean Windows and Blinds

For cleaning windows and blinds use a simple mixture of Arm&Hammer baking soda, water and vinegar. I find this is often my multiple purpose cleaner as it’s frugal and environmentally friendly too.

These are all the chores I have to do every spring. What are yours?

*Disclosure-I am a brand ambassador of Church & Dwight, the makers on Oxi-Clean and Arm&Hammer products. I do receive compensation for all of my posts. As always, my opinions are my own. 

6 Tips on How to Get the Most Out of Daily Deal Site Buying

Get the Most out of Deal Site Buying

Get the Most out of Deal Site Buying

Are you looking for a great deal? Love shopping through some of the daily deals sites? I do. Over the years I have gotten some great deals on everything from concert tickets to meals out to even a weekend getaway. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your deal site buying experience.

Not All Deal Sites are created Equal

First not all daily deal sites are created equal, do your homework and check out their social media feeds. Sometimes a simple google search will tell you that a certain deal site is having a huge issue with customer service or delivery times. It is up to you the consumer to do your due diligence.

Check for deals Outside Your Area

Did you know some deals are valid across Canada? across the US? I have seen deals for gift cards to certain coffee destinations that well are valid at each store and the like. Check where deals can be redeemed. Is it truly a local deal or can it be used outside your area. As well, if you are travelling don’t forget to check out the cities that you will be visiting.

Know Your Prices

Looking for a great hotel room rate for a night away? I was going to use a daily deal site for a conference I am attending this weekend but I ended up getting a better deal dealing with the directly with the hotel. Remember the price on the deal site might not be the best price you can find on any given day.

Read the Fine Print

Many of the deals have fine print attached. Some common ones exclude certain dates, some limit the number you can buy. Some have a very quick expiry date. Always read the fine print.

Lower Expectations

Sometimes you may get treated differently when redeeming a deal. You may have to wait for that salon appointment. Restaurants may leave expensive items or ingredients off the menu when they have a deal going on. The reason many do this is they expect deal hunters to be a bit stingy. Hate to say it, deal hunters are not always the best tippers. Be nice and tip on the full value of a service rendered.

Think Outside the Box

Sometimes a daily deal can be the chance to try something new, to see if it is a fit for your lifestyle, a fit for your family. One of the things I have been eyeing are some of the deals on fitness classes. It is a great way to challenge yourself to learn something new, or maybe it is try a new style of cooking.

Some of my favorite deal sites are Groupon, WagJag and Living Social. Do you have a favourite? By remembering these tips as you look for your next great deal you are sure to ensure yourself a great experience at a price point you love.


Three Tips for Frugal Feline Care

cat playing

February is here, which means the end of winter is getting near!Many of us are still in hibernation mode. I know for me with the brutality and cold of this winter I am wanting to stay indoors and hibernate. My sister tells me that even her feline who loves a good stroll outside is wanting to stay in where it is warm. There are some very simple frugal ways you can care for your felines this winter and all year long really.

cat hibernation

 If you recently added a feline to your family they may need some tender loving care. Make the most of your time with your beloved cat this winter, whether they’re a long-standing family member or recently adopted, and what better time than in the season of love to nurture your bond with your pet. Sadly, according to the Ontario SPCA, nearly one-fifth of cats were returned to shelters in Ontario in 2013, post-holiday. The top three reasons included cats conflicting with other pets in the home, allergic reactions, or facing behavioral problems, including litter box issues. There are several frugal ways to ensure your pets are well cared for.

Feed Them Well

 Make sure your cats maintain a healthy and balanced diet. We humans can’t survive on junk and either should your pet.  This may require consulting your veterinarian. Just like humans, cats have different nutritional needs depending on their age and health. Otherwise, stick to quality food and fresh, clean water. Think of meat as the first ingredient you want to see of the list of ingredients on any cat food you purchase.Despite popular belief, milk shouldn’t be their main source of hydration and may actually cause stomach discomfort. You actually will save yourself money longterm if you watch your cat’s diet. Think, less vet bills.

Set the Stage

Just like we want to curl up during the cold winter, so do our cats! That’s why it’s important to make sure your cats are comfortable. Cats are naturally very clean so an untidy litter box won’t do. Try Arm & Hammer™ Clump & Seal™ Complete Odour Sealing Cat Litter, the only litter that forms a tight seal around their mess and destroys it with unique odour eliminators and Arm & Hammer™ Baking Soda. Also, place litter boxes far from food areas and use the North and South, East and West rule. Putting food and litter at opposite ends of your home encourages proper practices.

cat playing

 Encourage Play

Felines are incredibly curious about their surroundings. They’ll pounce on anything that moves, rolls or sways. Pair a scratching post with a ball of string, a feather teaser stick, or even a stuffed mouse – any of these will do the trick! Just be sure the items you bring are safe for your cat and cannot be swallowed or easily torn apart. In our house even, even a ball of string has kept our favorite feline busy playing. Another great toy that our favorite feline loves is a small ball, I think he chased it around the house for days. Most feline toys will cost you very little.

 It’s pretty to simple to take care of your felines this winter, and year round. For more tips and information on taking care of your pets, visit

How to Cut Cable Costs in Canada

cut the cable

cut the cable

Are you still spending a small fortune on cable or satellite television? The average Canadian household spends $123 That is over $1200 a year! Now many are even higher than that if you add specialty channels like HBO, sporting channels and the movie channels. What could you do with that money? Spending a small fortune on cable does not work for me and never has

There are so many ways you can cut your cable costs. Some are radical, some are simple and easy.

We have not paid for cable for several years now. Back when I first cut cable I wrote about how you can Watch Canadian TV for free. It is one of my most read posts. Every day some is looking for how they can watch tv for free.

I also ordered Netflix. Here in Canada it costs me $9 a month and you can have 2 devices watching at any one given time. This works for us as Rachel can be watching her favorite animated shows which are on Netflix while I watch a movie. After 2 years of paying for Netflix, I was invited to be part of the #streamteam so now I even get my Netflix for free.

We highly reccomend the Netflix route, and always have even before I became a brand ambassador.

My current rental situation has me getting basic cable tv as part of my rental agreement.

Are you trying to cut your cable costs? Here are some tips that DO work:

1. Call your cable provider and tell them you are thinking of leaving, see if they can offer you a better bundle. Did you know you can negotiate with your cable provider. If they say no look for a better offer. They exist.

2. Get rid of themed channels. Do you really watch them enough to pay the extra money for them. Most people only end up watching a small number of channels. Count up the number of hours a month you watch them, if it’s less than 10, why do you have them?

3. Do not order Pay Per View movies, or sporting events. You can get a theme package or two for the cost of these.

4. If you love movies, I do recommend Netflix or how about using your local library? We use our Toronto Public Library on a regular basis and they have a great selection. Between Netflix and the library we have more movies then we can watch.

5. Are you renting a box from your cable provider? Get rid of it. You can own your own outright by buying one at many of the big box retailers, I suggest Best Buy for this one.

6. Go on a Media diet. Cut the cable and choose other sources for media input and watch what you are watching. There is more to do then sit and watch media streaming in.

7. If you must keep your cable, think of bundling services. Do your research and choose one source for internet, cable and phone. Remember in every market there is competition so do shop around and find the deal that works for you.

Whatever you decide to do, there are many ways for Canadians to cut cable costs. For my American friends many of these suggestions will work for you as well.

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?