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How to Survive Cold and Flu Season on a Budget

No one likes getting sick. This year, in the past week it seemed like a large number of my friends were battling cold and flu bugs. At our house, we were as well. It was no fun. No one likes waking up at 2 am in a coughing fit and no one likes taking their little one to the hospital for a brief stay. Both happened in our house last week.  So how can you survive cold and flu season on a budget?

With the reality being most of us take unpaid time off to battle the flu or cold, each bout will affect the pocketbook. So how can we best be ready? Prevention matters but when it happens it is best to listen to your body.

The Flu Shot

Flu shots have been proven to lessen symptoms or even help you get through the season flu-free. This year though there are several strains that are resistant to the shot so what is a family to do?

Rest

Do yourself and your work/school mates a favour and take the time to heal. Rest. One of the best things you can try to do is sleep. Sleep helps you to build your immunity system and helps fight germs. Sleep is a free way to help your body get better.

Wash Your Hands

Handwashing frequently especially in this season matters. Handwashing helps prevent illness but it also helps it from running through the family as well.

Drink Water

Water is good for you. It helps to flush out impurities. I have been drinking at least 2 litres a day of water. For me I have added a few drops of lemon essential oils to help flush toxins away. Even adding fresh lemon will help.

Eat Well

There are many foods that help fight food and colds.  Mushrooms, green tea, sweet potato and chicken soup are on the list. We keep cans of chicken noodle soup stocked just for sick days.

Stock Your Medicine Chest

There is nothing worse than having to do a run to the pharmacy when you feel terrible. I do quarterly checks on our basic meds and stock the cabinet when things are on sale. We buy just enough and I do check the expiry dates.   We keep Advil, Neo Citran, Vicks Vapour Rub, Gravol, and a few other medications on hand. Did you know you can often find these for sale? Remember to check your flyer apps like Flipp for sales and rebates. Other apps you may want to check include CheckOut 51 and Caddle.

We also buy Kleenex when it is on sale. Even after using about 3 boxes in our house last week I think I have a few left in my stash.

What are your favourite ways to save and battle a cold or the flu?

 

How to Best Start An Emergency Fund in 2018 Living Pay Cheque to Pay Cheque

Many Canadians are living pay cheque to pay cheque. It is a plain fact. If this is you, please know you are not alone. I’ve been there done that. If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start saving a bit of money in 2018, let us start with the best way to start an emergency fund in 2018 even when you are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Yes, it can be done.

The Reality Check

First up, before you can move forward, we have to look at our past. We have to look at our current and past habits. Can I challenge you to look at your budget if you have one? If you don’t have one you want one, stat! For me, the best way to do this was to track my spending. Write down every penny you are spending as a family. This may seem daunting at first but by carrying a small notebook with me, I was able to track my spending. You can do it too!

The Road Map

If you don’t already have a budget in place, this is where you start. Look at what you have been spending. Look at your priorities. I was surprised at how much I spent in certain areas in mindless ways. Every penny does matter when you are living pay cheque to pay cheque. Set your priorities, if savings is a priority that you really want go for it! Find areas you can cut or do less. Starting small is ok. Even $10 a week makes a difference over time.

If you need help on how to set a budget here are a couple of posts from friends of mine that helped me:

  1. 7 Steps to a Budget Made Easy

2. Gail’s Guide to Starting a Budget

Quick Start Your Savings

I know as I look around my home there are several things I am not using. Right now, there is that bread maker I got last Christmas and used twice, there is the old camera collection that is gathering dust, and the pile of books I have read. Take a look around your house, what if you sold these and started your nest egg, your emergency fund with the proceeds? Most of us have a few things we can sell for a profit. I use Kijiji when I have things to sell.  By selling even $200 in goods it gives you a starting balance.

Add to Your Income

For those of us who are parents, it can seem hard to find the time to add to our income. It isn’t always easy for anyone. You can freelance your skills if you have one. I know several friends who supplement their income writing for blogs and brands. I know some younger girls who babysit. Others I know dog walk. What could you do for a few hours each week to supplement your income? Can you ask for more hours at work? Use this income minus transportation costs to go straight into your emergency fund.

By taking these actions, I was able to start my own savings account when I was living on less than $26,000 a year in Toronto. It can be done. When there is a will there is a way. Let me know what are you doing to ensure you have an emergency fund?

 

 

 

Tips for Hosting the Best Holiday Dinner

 

Can you believe it, Christmas is just days away! There is so much to do!  If you’re like me, your mind starts racing… gift lists, shopping trips, recipe ideas, and there are more holiday dinners than you can count on both hands. Where do you start?

If you’re like me, hosting a holiday dinner are at the top of the list. How do you ensure they go off without a hitch? Here are a few simple tips and tricks that will make every meal a hit:

  1. Make a list and check it twice. There are great organizational apps (I like to think of them as my virtual assistant) that can help you prioritize. From stocking up your pantry and creating menu ideas to managing RSVP lists, storing these items in one place can help you organize and strike off those to-dos!  Plus, the feeling of accomplishment you get when you check an item off your list is always a bonus (whether it’s on paper or on your phone!)
  1. Get the fancy silverware and dishes ready. Holiday feasts and festive parties mean bringing out your best silverware and serving dishes. To refresh your silver, try Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. Just rub a paste of three-parts Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and one-part water onto the silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Then rinse thoroughly and your dinnerware will be sparkling-ready to impress your guests!
  1. Expect the unexpected. For that unexpected guest who drops by, not-so-holiday-specific items like stationary, pens and notebooks are a nice last-minute gifting idea that anyone will appreciate. Taking a non-holiday themed approach means items can be purchased well in advance of the holiday shopping rush.

  1. Keep messes to a minimum. Having a trusted stain fighter on-hand to tackle those holiday spills and stains is a must! My go-to products are the OxiClean MaxForce Foam Laundry Pre-Treater and MaxForce Spray Laundry Pre-Treater. Both can treat wine stains, gravy spills and stains from sticky fingers to keep linens and napkins table-ready for next season. The Pre-treaters can stand for up to a week before washing.
  1. Pamper yourself! Treat yourself to that festive latte, Santa-shaped cookie, or extra hour in bed without the guilt! You deserve it for all your hard work, and it may be just what you need to keep your spirits up and stay energized for your next dinner party!

What are your tips for easing dinner party prep and clean-up stress? I’d love to hear them! May you have a great holiday dinner with friends and family.

* this post has been sponsored by Church and Dwight and I have been a brand ambassador for them for the last 3 years. We love our Church and Dwight products! 

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Online

Common sense tells us we are all at risk for identity theft? So how can you best protect yourself? Especially from online attacks?

There are some simple things you can to ensure your personal safety online.  Personally, I have had my wallet go missing and I hate to admit it has happened more than once. I know for me I got the sinking feeling and worried most about my identification. Since many of our lives and daily transactions are now done online, it is just as important to protect our online identities.

No one is exempt from online identity theft. We have seen thousands of people impacted each time a company gets compromised. Even the credit bureau, Equifax was recently compromised. Fraud is a real issue and it impacts many Canadians on a yearly basis. A couple of years ago Interac invited me to an evening out where I learned lots about the dark web and the real dangers that lurk at every turn. So how can we can we best protect ourselves from identity theft online? This is important to know as many of us right now are doing our Christmas shopping online.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft Online

  1. Create a seperate shopping ID account. When you shop, do you use the same email address as all your social accounts? Don’t! Create a seperate account with very limited permissions. Use this for banking and shopping.
  2. Watch what you share online. In the age where many of our lives are online, don’t overshare personal info. You never know who is watching. Share what you would share if you were giving a speech with a megaphone.
  3. Sign up for a credit monitoring service and get alerts. Did you know you can get alerts every time  your card is used? Credit Karma offers a free service. This means if new credit is opened in your name you are alerted as well as any major changes even a creditor reporting late payment.
  4. Don’t carry non essential ID. Do you carry your SIN card? Stop! Carry what you need.
  5. Be careful where you store your credit card information. In the age of the internet of things it is easy to have your card info stored in many places. Be mindful where your information is being stored. It may not be that secure over time.

Remember an once of prevention helps especially when it comes to your credit.

Put Your Best Self(ie) Forward #ChurchandDwight #ad

Are you like me? Do you take selfies every day? I may not always post the photos I take on social media but there are plenty of ways to put your best self(ie) forward. From the equipment, you use, ( I have a special mic and light I use for mine) to the prep work there are lots of ways to get ready for this season of selfies.

Gone are the days of shoving embarrassing holiday photos in a drawer never to see them again. Whether its Instagram, Facebook or everything in between, you can’t hide from an onslaught of holiday photos that you cannot escape from. I bet you’re thinking – so, what’s the secret to selfie success? It’s the prep you do even before the presents are wrapped and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care…!


Don’t let a stain spoil the occasion

Get the kids to pick out their holiday outfits well before the festivities begin. Nobody likes to find a stain on their favourite outfit, or worse, notice it once a photo has been taken.  Have them check for stains and spills and use Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean 3-in-1 Power Paks to get the job done. OxiClean stain fighters help to remove stains, plus the formula freshens and deodorizes with the freshness of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda.

Keep up the good smile

Maintaining good oral health shouldn’t be reserved for the holidays. However, if you need to brush up (pun intended) on your smile, I suggest switching to the Arm & Hammer Spinbrush Sonic Pro Pulse Brush. Can you believe that its brush removes two times more plaque than the regular, manual brush? That’s because its head spins around as you brush to reach back corners. When paired with Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant Bright & Strong toothpaste, you’ve got a winning combo to strengthen and clean. And smile your best for that selfie, teeth showing!

 

Cut down on prep time

Beauty prep, that is. If you’re like me, that fabulous blow out only lasts a day before you need to rinse and repeat. Until now. Dry shampoo is the latest trick up my sleeve. I love Batiste Dry Shampoo — it instantly refreshes hair between washes by absorbing excess oil from the roots and leaving hair looking and smelling clean and fresh. Now I no longer stress when I’m running behind schedule and don’t have time for a full wash or styling session before heading out to visit the in-laws. Batiste Beautiful Brunette dry shampoo plus a hint of colour compliments medium, brunette and auburn hair tones. Genius!

What is your favourite selfie success story?

*this post is sponsored by Church and Dwight. I have received financial compensation for this post as always my opinions are my own.

Teaching Our Children About Money Twitter Party #TangerineFLM #ad

Ever think about money? Ever think about where you learned the money concepts you follow today. If you live in Canada, you most likely did not learn about money in elementary school. You definitely didn’t learn about savings, investing, TFSA’s or retirement.  When it comes to what we know about money it was our families who taught us.

My parents taught me you have to work hard to earn every dollar but both of them lived pay cheque to pay cheque. Savings and investing was never talked about. My grandfather was an astute businessman who bought and sold properties. If you drive an hour north of Toronto, he owned many cottage lots that he sold off in the fifties one by one. He is the one who taught me to work hard but also have your money invested and that it could grow.

How do you pass on what is important to your children?

How are you teaching your children about money?

Money concepts are not part of the curriculum much here in Canada. Financial literacy isn’t taught to our children. It is up to us the parent to teach children about money.

Do you feel you know enough to be able to teach them well?

Even young children can understand basic money conversations. I know I started talking to my own daughter about money when she was five. It all started with a piggy bank and later a bank account. I also instilled in her the importance of giving back no matter the income level.

This week, join @TangerineBank and @RobinTaub as we talk about teaching our children about money.

 

Here are some great teaser tips from Tangerine to get you started.

 

Hope to see you at the Twitter Party on Tuesday night for a great conversation with Robin Taub. There is NO RSVP and there are 4 prizes being given away!

 

 

 

 

It’s Time to Start Talking Financial Literacy- It’s Financial Literacy Month in November #FLM2017

It’s my favourite time of the year. For the fourth year in a row, as November begins, Canadians are encouraged to talk about money during Financial Literacy Month. For 8 years I have hosted online money conversations. Financial education is important to me. When I started this blog my goal was to share my story and give Canadians access to the experts. Over the years I have been blessed to host some of the very best money experts on my #CDNmoney chats and been parts of hundreds of online money conversations.

For the last four years, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has helped lead the money conversation in Canada with the Financial Literacy Month. They work with organizations from the private, public and non-profit sectors to improve the financial literacy of all Canadians. They have even worked with bloggers like me. The theme for the conversation this year is:

“Take charge of your finances: It pays to know!”

Throughout the month, FCAC will feature weekly sub-themes that bring attention to the benefits of basic money management practices at different stages of life and encourage Canadians to reduce debt and save for the future. They are:

Week 1 (November 1-4) – Achieve financial well-being What does it mean to be financially fit? Are you struggling to be fit? This is a great place to start this conversation. Do you have a budget?

Week 2 (November 5-11) – Live within your means Did you know most Canadians spend more than they earn? Have you tried to live within your means? This week we will be talking about what it means to live within your means.

Week 3 (November 12-18) – Manage money for student life I have a teen daughter, she is a college kid. Teaching our youth, our teens while they are young sets them up for long-term success. Can’t wait for this conversation.

Week 4 (November 19-25) – Teach children about money I have talked about this topic for years. Did you know most Canadian kids don’t get taught financial literacy in school?  As parents, we must be teaching our kids.

Week 5 (November 26-30) – Know your financial rights and responsibilities  Do you know we have rights and responsibilities that go beyond taxes? We will talk about these are well.

To help celebrate and carry on the conversations, Tangerine is celebrating with 3 Twitter Parties

Twitter Party Details

 

Twitter Party Details

  • Theme: Live Within Your Means
  • Date: Thursday, November 9, 2017 at 7:00pm ET
  • Guest: Kelley Keehn @KelleyKeehn
  • Host: TangerineBank @TangerineBank
  • Hashtags: #TangerineFLM#FLM2017
  • Prizing: 4 X $100 MasterCard Gift Cards
  • Eligibility: Canada excluding Quebec

 

Twitter Party

  • Theme: Teach Children about Money
  • Date: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 at 7:00pm ET
  • Guest: Robin Taub @RobinTaub
  • Host: Tangerine Bank @TangerineBank
  • Hashtag: #TangerineFLM #FLM2017
  • Prizing: 4 X $100 MasterCard Gift Cards
  • Eligibility: Canada excluding Quebec

About Tangerine Bank

Tangerine is a direct bank that delivers simplified everyday banking to Canadians. With over 2 million Clients and close to $38 billion in total assets, we are Canada’s leading direct bank. Tangerine offers banking that is flexible and accessible, products and services that are innovative, fair fees, and award-winning Client service. From no-fee daily Chequing and high-interest Savings Accounts, Credit Card, GICs, RSPs, TFSAs, Mortgages and Investment Funds through its subsidiary, Tangerine Investment Funds Ltd., Tangerine has the everyday banking products Canadians need. With over 1,000 employees in Canada, our presence extends beyond our website and Mobile Banking app to our Café locations, Pop-Up locations, Kiosks and 24/7 Contact Centres. Tangerine was launched as ING DIRECT Canada in 1997. In 2012 it was acquired by Scotiabank, and operates independently as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

 

This is a sponsored Post. We were compensated to write this post, but as always opinions are our own.

 

Two Things You Can Do Today to Start Living Frugally

Ever feel overwhelmed at the thought of living frugally. Sometimes we are living on tight budgets, paycheck to paycheck and things can seem daunting. Sometimes we say we are too busy, we don’t have enough cash flow to make any changes. Ever talked yourself out of making a change? If you ever wished you were more frugal, today is the day to start. There are two things you can do to start this journey today.

Learn to Prioritize

It’s great that you want to save money. Really, it is but it does take effort. If you want to start living frugally you must be committed to a lifestyle shift.  Please realize I do not spend oodles of time each day thinking of ways to save money every day. After a while, it does become automatic but first, you have to learn to say no, you have to learn how to prioritize. Yes, you will need to cut some things. When I cut the cable, it seemed like I would have nothing to watch but I have found ways to watch great shows while maintaining my budget. You will learn you need to cut the fluff to make room for things that are actually important like planning for the long term, thinking of family vacations, that major purchase you have dreamed of making, retirement and the like.

Set Realistic Goals

Have you made the commitment to live a more frugal life? That is great! Let’s build on that commitment, by setting realistic goals. Let’s get cozy. Sit down with your spouse or family and have a real talk about what is important to you as a family. What are the things you love? What is important to you? Knowing what is really important to you as a family moving forward will help you set realistic goals. You will know your why.  Pick two or three.

Start with two or three long-term goals, if you choose more you may get overwhelmed. For instance, if you set the goal of being debt free, taking a trip, planning for retirement, planning for an emergency fund all at once you may feel overwhelmed. It is okay to take baby steps but you have to get started and the best way to do that is by making two or three realistic goals. Once you have those goals in place, you can chunk it down it to smaller goals.

Here is an example:

You want a new car and you plan on saving so you can pay cash for that car. Your car budget is $10,000 and you would like to purchase that car in the next two years.

You have to save $5,000 a year or 416.00 per month or 96.00 every week.

When you lay out your goals, know where the money is coming from, if you have cut from one area you can move that money to your savings. Are you going to also sell things to help get you there? Are you going to look for extra work? Part of realistic goal setting is knowing how it can be achieved. Make a plan, the work the plan.

Yes, making goals takes time but it is time well spent. Once you have started working on your goals, you will want to track your progress as this will keep you motivated.

By learning to prioritize and making goals you are starting to take baby steps to a frugal rewarding life. If you were just starting on a frugal lifestyle what tips or tricks have worked for you?

 

Getting Your Back Yard Canada Day Ready

If you’ve visited your local home and garden store in the last couple of weeks, you likely noticed that the seasonal aisle is stocked full of BBQs, patio furniture, and oh-so-fabulous backyard lounge chairs. Everything is red and white and definitely Canada Day ready. It can definitely be tempting as it is to toss out the old stuff that’s been sitting in your garage all winter – or worse, taking a beating outdoors for the past few months – a few simple, budget-friendly tips and tricks will help to make everything old look new again. It’s easy to get your backyard Canada Day ready.

1.      Make old, new again. There’s nothing worse than removing your patio furniture cushions from storage and realizing they’re all stained. Before you think about tossing them, give them a clean. Mix OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover with water and let the cushion covers soak for 1 to 6 hours, depending on the severity of the stain. Wash as normal and your cushions should come out stain-free and look brand new. This is great to get those cushions Canada Day photo worthy. 

2.      Win the weeding war. Did you know that watering your weeds makes it easier to pull them out? If it hasn’t rained in a few days, water your weeds before yanking them. Fun fact: If the soil is moist, you are also less likely to disturb any plants nearby. With all the rain we have had in Toronto this shouldn’t be a concern but might be a great trick for other parts of Canada. 

3.      Save with a little scrubbing. There’s a simple solution for removing dirt, grime, and stains from patio furniture and even your deck. Mix OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover with water (following the instructions on the package) and apply the solution to almost anywhere. Let stand for a few minutes and scrub as needed. It will leave everything looking neat and clean again. There is nothing worse than dirt when you are throwing that family barbecue. 

4.      Wheel your way to wonderful. Re-arranging rather than replacing is also a good way to give new life to your backyard. Consider moving planters and patio furniture to different spots within your space to give it a wonderful new look and feel. Remember, you’re not alone when moving heavy items like lounge chairs… there are wheels to help! Wheeling your furniture around doesn’t eliminate all the hard work but will put less strain on your back.

5. Add Simple decor items.  Have red and white items in the house. Bring them out for your celebration. Did you know those white Christmas lights make for a great late night get together as you watch all the fireworks going off in your neighbourhood.

Be prepared that after a weekend of weeding and wheeling, your back, arms, legs – yes, your whole body – may be aching with pain. Make sure you leave yourself enough time on Sunday evening for a warm bath and a few hours curled up with a good book or movie. Before going to bed, rub and soothe your sore muscles (all of them!) with Rub A535 Extra Strength Heating Cream. The best things about this product is that it works fast and is non-greasy so you can put it on right before going to bed and it won’t stain your sheets.

Have you started prepping your yard for your Canada Day celebrations? What’s different this year?

*I am a #ChurchandDwight ambassador and have been compensated for this post, as always my opinions are my own. 

Mothers Day Gifts

Mother’s Day Gifts from Hallmark #LoveHallmarkCA

Becoming a mom is one of the best experiences a woman feel. I remember the first time I held my daughter, motherhood was something I always wanted. Even though motherhood did not come under perfect circumstances for me I have been blessed and changed by motherhood.  This Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day to celebrate all the moms we know.  We cherish all the times and special moments we have shared over the years. We talk, we share and we have bonded more over time and memories.  I won’t be able to spend the day with my mom since she lives far away, but I will give her a call and chat on Mother’s Day.

I recently received a box full of Mothers Day gifts.  It was a rainy day and I couldn’t wait to get outside and use my new umbrella. The Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf is one of my favourites. It is something that just adds style to just about any outfit I put on. It has been a great fashion accessory and has been spotted wearing it often.

Mothers Day Gifts

Mothers Day Gifts from Hallmark

Mothers Day Gifts

There are a variety of gifts that will be a sweet addition for anyone’s taste. Your mom will love any of these Hallmark items.

  • Catalina Estrada Springtime Petals
  • Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf
  • Signature Gift Bags
  • Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Cuff Bracelet
  • Blue Ceramic Tea Mug with built-in Infuser win a
  • Catalina Estrada Hummingbird Haven
  • Catalina Estrada Blue Rose Cosmetic Bag
  • Signature Greeting cards

Shower mom with love and make it a special day full of fun and memories to last a lifetime.

mothers day gifts

It’s time to enter and win a special gift or two for Mother’s Day. One lucky reader from Canada will win a Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Scarf

and a Catalina Estrada Flourishing Blooms Cuff Bracelet.

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