Tax Tips for Canadian Freelancers

It is almost tax time for Canadian tax filers but did you know Canadians who are self-employed receive an extra six weeks to file within. Your documents are due June 25th, however, if you owe the tax man the interest on payments starts on May 1st this year. So what tax tips do I have for freelancers who may have just started living the gig lifestyle or just started working for themselves?

Keep Accurate Records

Can I confess something? The first few years I had my blog I kept no records, but that is ok because I earned no revenue from my blog. It was a passion project, a hobby. Once it became an income earning blog it was important to have accurate records of payments, gifts received and expenses.  It was and is important to keep accurate records for seven years.

Declare It

I know many freelancers who “forget” income. Did you get paid with a gift card my blogger friends? That counts as income? Did you receive product for writing a review, that is income? Are you earning money from a side hustle while working a full-time job? You have to declare that as well.

Expense It

When you start working for yourself, you quickly learn how many things you can now expense. Your home office becomes an expense, that laptop you just bought, your cell phone that you are using for your business is an expense, those new daycare toys, those new tools. The list goes on.

Some of my favourite write-offs include:

  • Transportation to and from gigs, conferences, or seeing clients.
  • Reasonable food, beverages, and entertainment expenses. (Food bloggers love this one.)
  • Learning( take a course, you can write it off if it relates to learning skills you need for what you do.)
  • The Home Office ( take the square footage of your office space divided by the total square footage of your home to calculate the part you can deduct)
  • Car Expenses( use your car for what you do, keep logs and repair receipts)

These are just a few of the things you can claim as a freelancer if you have the receipts, that is why it is so important to keep careful accurate files.

Save It

You should be saving some for the tax man. You definitely do not want to be left owing the tax man. I recommend saving at least 30% of your income for CPP and taxes.

File It Yourself

Even a busy small business owner can file their taxes themselves with the ease of the TurboTax Home & Business software. Your personal tax return and your business return are one and the same. Remember you do have to fill out a Statement of Business Activities.  One return will cover your entire life and that is a good thing!

If you would like more tax tips for the Canadian freelancer or small business owner, check out the TurboTax Canada blog

Win

Leave a blog post with your tax tip for freelancers and you can win a copy of TurboTax. There are 5 copies to win!

* Giveaway is open to Canadian tax filers and the giveaway closes April 25th at 12:00 am.

 

 

 

Why 2017 is the Year of the Rewards Credit Card in Canada

There is a war going on. It is a war for your loyalty and spending dollars. Credit card providers want your business and they are going to extremes to get you to become loyal to them.

Did you know that credit cards are the most common form of payment in Canada? Over 42% of Canadians turn to a credit card first. Kind of scary right? But with that simple fact, every time a consumer like you or me turns to our credit card, the credit card provider is earning money, and that’s why they want you to use their brand.

Credit card providers are working overtime to get our loyalty. Competing amongst themselves to offer lower interests rates is one arena for battle, but another is rewards programs. This year, more than ever before, credit card companies are offering bigger and better sign up bonuses with more generous rewards programs.

Incentives and perks are getting better and better for Canadians. Points are becoming easier and easier to collect, with payouts becoming more substantial. Cashback cards, for example, are starting to offer higher dividends, while travel options are also on the rise.

Lovers of travel can quickly earn points by regularly using a rewards card. Weekly groceries alone go a long way to building up your tally, but there are many ways to get clever to maximize your point payout.

When selecting a card, look for one with a sign up bonus. Some cards, for example, will come stocked with points valued at $150 or more. It’s also worth looking into the social profiles associated with each card because certain options offer bonus point events connected to retailers. These events earn bonus points when you use your card with an associated retailer, helping you eclipse the cost of a flight even faster.

But while it may seem obvious, don’t let the points blind you. Sometimes when you see your points building up to the point where you can get a free trip you will become inclined to spend more just for the points. As with any credit card, avoid carrying a balance and paying interest charges. A good points system does not equal low interest.

So where can you find the best cards right now? You can check in with your bank, but it’s easier to find a place to compare options from across the board. Check out the LowestRates.ca Find the Right Card comparison page. It’s a good place to see all the different options available.

As we look at the remainder of 2017, and into the years ahead, sit back and enjoy the credit card points wars unfold, as the ultimate spoils will fall to you.

Cut the Clutter: Cleaning Your Closets

Cuttheclutter

It’s time! From personal experience, I have learned I like stuff. It can accumulate quite fast. As a blogger, we often get sent stuff to review, swag and gifts. Then there is the fact I work for a toy company. Then there is the stuff I buy. It all adds up. Having lived in the same home now for five years, we have lots of stuff. I am living in clutter. It is time to cut the clutter and to live with the stuff I love, will use and need.

Join me this month as I cut the clutter and live with the stuff we love. I was at an event two weeks ago and one of the speakers mentioned, if you live in clutter, you do not get much done. I believe this to be true. So where do we start? I am starting with my closet.

How do closets get so overcrowded?  We start with just a few basic pieces, and then as we get older and head out into the work world, we seem to need more to wear.  And if we have a walk-in closet and not enough clothes to fill it . . . we need to buy more!

We even hold on to clothes that no longer fit because we’re hoping they will fit again one day.  Clothes that need repairs because at some point we’ll get them to the tailor.  Or clothes we don’t really like because we spent so much money on them.

It’s time get realistic about the clutter we have in our closets and start getting back to basics.  You only need ten essential pieces, yes ten!  Here’s how to start paring down and decluttering:

closet purge

Step No. 1: Confront your closet head-on. Do you even know what’s in there? First, empty your closet of everything. If you do not love it. If it does not serve a purpose, it will not go back in your closet. Start by grabbing everything you love. If you hesitate, for even a second, you don’t love it, and you need to ditch it.

Let’s start with the clothes. Place the clothes you love on your bed and arrange them by type: jeans, pants, sweaters, etc.

Step No. 2: Take a look at everything on the bed to see if a pattern emerges. Is everything black? Or maybe you chose clothes that only have comfortable fabrics. Did you select only your best-fitting jeans? Did you leave all the dresses in the closet?

By looking at the clothes you love all together, you will start to see a pattern. Maybe you like striped tops. Or only love pants and jeans. Next time you’re thinking about buying something new, think back to this moment and about how the new piece would fit in with your favorite items?

See that loved dress you haven’t worn in two years? Is it just taking up space? Can it find a new home?

Step No. 3: Put together outfits. How many different ways can you mix your key items to create different looks? Lay out as many outfits as possible.  Next, take photos of your outfits so when you don’t know what to wear, you can refer to the outfits you already put together.

Step No. 4: Edit. Are there some favorite pieces that you weren’t able to make outfits with? Take them out of the pile. Are there things that do not fit? Are you saving them for when you lose weight? Get rid of them. Clothes you have not worn at least once in the last year need to go.

Step No. 5: Pick and choose. Are there any essential pieces missing? What are your needs?

Step No. 6: Fix or donate. If an item doesn’t fit right or needs a replacement button, take it to the tailor.  If you don’t want to spend the money, get rid of the piece. Don’t let it stay around, taking up space if you can’t wear it.

Step No. 7: With everything out of your closet, store away non-seasonal items. Vacuum sealed bags work great for this. You want to create space.

Step No. 8: Think about where you are placing your loved items.  Which were the key pieces you used to create the most outfits? Put them back in your closet or on shelves where they are visible and accessible. Make it a joy to go into your closet.

organized closet

This is just the first step to a clutter free life. Let’s cut the clutter in our homes and lives this month. Join me on the journey and let’s see where this takes us.

 

 

 

New Job First Job First Tax Return-What Does It Mean for Your Wallet #CDNmoney

In today’s world, all of us go through major life events more often. We are a fast paced world with change being part of the fabric of our every day. This past year, there were some major shifts in my life. I went from being a freelancer to having a full-time role with a great company. I love my new job. My teen is also facing change as she graduated from high school and well it is time for college and the work force. So what do all these changes mean come tax time? These are normal changes that almost every Canadian family will face at one time or another.

new_job

What Does a New Job mean?

First, let’s talk about the taxes. Whenever a Canadian gets a new job with a new employer, all of your employment insurance and Canadian pension plan are reset for the fiscal year. This means you may be due an overpayment come tax time. Check for this.

If you were paying into a retirement savings plan with your employer make sure you understand what this new job means for that old plan. Know your rights and obligations. Do the research.

Have Your First Job?

Having that first job is exciting. My teen’s first job was at her high school helping after school with a fellow student who needed supports in place at the end of her school day. Since every ; this receives a basic tax credit of $11,000, my teen was not required to fill out a tax form but here are the reasons she will.

Many first tax returns have to be submitted in paper. It allows the government to set the first time filer up on the CRA system, this also allows you to file online in the future if you qualify. The younger you do this first return as well sets the timeline for when your RRSP contributions begin.

Student-using-laptop-in-a-university-library

Starting college or university, or are you there and you haven’t filed your first return yet?

First, your tax return is used to determine if you are eligible for things like GST and the Ontario Trillium Benefit here in Ontario. Even if you have zero income, you can qualify for these payments.

As well to use your tuition, education and text book credit you have to submit them on your tax return in the year they occur even if you are not going to use the credit till the future.

There are several credits that you are intitled to as a student that you can save or transfer to a parent. The tuition amount can either be claimed by a student be transferred or carried over toward a future year.

With so many questions and because life can change on a dime, filing using TurboTax Canada makes sense. Every step of the way you are asked questions that enable you to get the best return. We love how fast and easy it is as well.

If you would like to win one of 5 copies of TurboTax Canada here on my blog, simply, leave a comment on this post, or you can join us for the #CDNmoney chat on Tuesday, March 28th at 7 pm ET as we talk about new parents and tax returns. There will be more chances to win that night as well.

Want more tax tips ready the TurboTax Canada blog and follow them on Twitter.

*Blog Giveaway ends March 27th at 11:59 pm and is only open to Canadian tax filers. This post has been sponsored by TurboTaxCanada, but as always my opinion is mine. 

 

 

How to Make a Profit at Thrift Store Shopping

 

 

Hello Common Cents Mom readers, from Sneaky Pete the Savvy Thrifter. I’m writing this guest post, reacting to the article on Torontonicity, Secrets of a Thrift Store Technology Picker, which I thought was pretty clever. But I also reckoned I might share with you some of my own tactics for Thrift Store picking and especially the game we call Pick-n-Flip.

Pick-n-Flip – Participants shop local and then sell items online. We play over an entire shopping season (three months). No I’ve never won. And I have a half dozen friends who play the game with me, and they’ve never won either (you have to end the season in profit). Its a tricky thing and unless you watch yourself you could become a ‘hoarder’ when your merchandise doesn’t ‘flip’.  The secret to being a successful picker is to have buyers waiting in the wings, or at the very least a physical store shelf to properly display items for resale. If you don’t have that you’ll probably destined to become a Hoarder.

Meyersberg Flea Market near Campbellford Ontario – 26 Feb 2017

Thrift stores and flea markets are poor places to prospect for bargains compared to estate auctions, yard sales and community rummage sales. The last three venues are essentially clearing houses, and this is where most pickers find impossible deals and maximum profits reselling rare merchandise.

But let’s remember, auctions and yard sales are special occasions; they are time-sensitive events. Finding and buying anything at one of these big sales usually requires traveling some distance and waiting in crowds before bidding in live auctions. Thrift stores by contrast are everywhere, and easily accessible. and you can buy whatever you find right on the spot.

The charity thrift store model essentially resells donations from the public, . These stores are not charities; they’re for-profit businesses which donate a portion of the proceeds to charity. Rural community thrift bazaars like the Meyersberg Flea Market pictured above are better places for finding bargains as locals really don’t know international prices or even the market prices set in neighbouring urban centers.

the iron mongery behind the counter of neighbourhood thrift store Homemade iron ‘broad axe’ for sale,, only $79 including the Hickory wood handle!

For example, when visiting the Meyersberg flea market be sure and visit the iron monger who sells handmade iron broad axes for what Sneaky Pete perceives as a mere fraction of their true market value. What cottager wouldn’t want a homemade iron implement like the one seen above on hand to split kindling and log wood for their fireplace? You just don’t see this stuff, or these prices here in Toronto.

Salvation Army and Value Village are two of the biggest chains here in the city, but there are many smaller shops, Like even Black Market Vintage on Queen, seen below. has deals that frugal moms might miss while knowledgeable Fashionistas can spot vintage North American classic clothes that are still cheap and plentiful here, but hard-to-find and expensive overseas.

Black Market Vintage on Queen – photo courtesy of BlogTO

When Picking for Profits in Toronto Area Thrift Stores…

Experienced shoppers who do set about ‘picking’ through Value Village and Salvation Thrift Store shelves might be tempted to peruse the clothing section looking for vintage leather jackets, flight suits, satin shirts, and handmade Alligator skin shoes.  Or they might wander the kitchenware aisle hunting collectible coffee mugs, Jadeite cups and saucers, and real silverware. While there, experienced pickers would be surely scour the bottom shelves looking for unusual shaped chocolate molds.

A quick search for rare books usually yields something in every store in Toronto. Sneaky Pete seeks out original graphic novels, and ‘official’ corporate colouring books and Big Little books.  Near the book section there’s generally two racks of paintings and commercial art; like this vintage Lucas film poster art which sold for $60 new and is available here in Value Village today for ten bucks. That’s a steal.

Star Wars storm trooper Lucas Film poster 1983 Star Wars storm trooper Lucas Film poster 1983 for sale in Value Village for $9.99

Finding such obvious bargains at these places often requires perfect timing because every picker worth her salt knows that Star Wars stuff sells – but what else is there? How else can you know what’s in demand before you buy the item in a thrift store?

Kijiji ‘Wanted’ Lists can become Daily (or Hourly) Shopping Lists

Why not take a minute and explore online the many ‘Wanted Lists’ published online everyday? The Toronto Wanted section of Kijiji,and on Craigslist and other smaller (less frequently updated) ‘swap and shop’ type sites – check the lists once or twice a day. Desperate people on these pages are always looking to replace proprietary phone chargers and battery backs and power adapters etc. Lori mentioned how Standard Telecom buys and sells office phone networks, and to keep a particular eye out for the Nortel 9417CW.

battery chargers for technology Value Village thrift store tech picker

And this brings Sneaky Pete to reflect on the tenacious Thrift Store price tags (also mentioned in Torontonicity’s Thrift Store picking article). How does one remove those pesky stickers off painted surfaces, and especially plastics.without damaging the finish?

Lorpon Labels, sticker adhesives, glue on labels strengths, Canada

The tiny square paper price tag labels on items for sale in Toronto area thrift stores are often welded right onto the objects with the objective of deterring label swapping and other fraudulent activities that happen in these stores. View the entire adhesives cheat sheet from the product label printing experts at Lorpon Labels to understand which combination of oils and soaps to use (Sneaky Pete uses peanut butter) to remove those pesky price tags off plastics and other smooth surfaces

computer chips - price tag

A2ZPC computer repair store in Toronto buys and sells used computer chips

There’s about eight bucks worth of rare earth metals (including gold) in a desktop computer, and even more in a laptop computer.

The good people at KPDI digital solutions agency in Toronto accept e-waste from thrift stores which scrap for charity and Sneaky Pete sometimes helps out in the fun.
Tech scrapper at KPDI com digutal solutions agencyTech scrapper at KPDI com digital solutions agency
Broken computers and laptops are not ‘junk’ until they have been stripped of the chips and capacitors. When stripping computers search for monolithic capacitors, rhodium and  Tantalum capacitors. Its common for these chips to have silver conductors, but more importantly the rare earth metals inside these cylindrical components are worth more than gold. Do not open them up to look, as they are toxic and worse the metal will oxidize quickly and be worth less money.

Polaroid camera for sale in Thrift Store, image courtesy of Torontonicity Polaroid camera for sale in Thrift Store, image courtesy of Torontonicity
Old Polaroid cameras are almost always worth the asking price if they still work. See here this definitive article on buying selling Polaroid cameras by Dan Finnen shows this camera and how to appraise its value with links to the (his) Polaroid camera section on eBay.

Lastly – Ask to see what’s not on display, or behind the counter

Sometimes the managers of donation based thrift stores have problem pieces which they don’t know how to display or price properly. They may be convinced to sell these difficult objects to you for whatever price you divine assuming you can prove some market price index using eBay or another online catalog. Even more fruitful is to find items with problems you can solve at home – repairs, missing components, and TLC.  What”s hidden behind the counter, and not on display is sure to be more interesting than the rest of the rummage.

10 Uses for Baking Soda in Your Home

Bakingdoda1

You may find baking soda listed in the ingredients of many of your favorite recipes, but did you know that it also has some great household uses? We love using our Arm & Hammer Baking soda every day here at home. There are so many uses for it!  Here are 10 great ways you can use it save time and energy when cleaning around the home.

Microwave Cleaner:

If you’ve got a grungy microwave, clean it quickly and easily by adding a couple of teaspoons of baking soda to a bowl of water and place in microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, depending how dirty it is. When the microwave stops, keep the door closed to give the steam from the heated bowl of water a few minutes to work. Remove the bowl and take a moist, warm cloth and wipe the inside of the microwave. The grime should wipe off easily.

Grease Buildup On Range Hood:

If you have grease buildup inside the hood, you can easily clean it with baking soda. First, make a thick paste with baking soda and water. Take a cloth and wet it with hot, soapy water; then scrub the grease with the paste in a circular motion. Wipe off as much of the grease as possible then rinse the cloth in a bucket of hot, soapy water. Reapply the paste and repeat until most of the grease is removed. Once the majority of the buildup is gone, wash the hood with hot, soapy water to remove any traces of the paste.

Dirty Stovetop:

Sprinkle baking soda around the stovetop generously then spray hot water (boiling if possible) over top, enough to dissolve the baking soda without making it run all over. Let it soak for about 30 minutes then scrub it clean.

Smelly Dishwasher:

Freshen your dishwasher up by sprinkling a layer of baking soda on the bottom. Close it and let it sit overnight. The next day use a damp sponge to scrub the baking soda into the inside walls and door of the dishwasher. Remove most of the powder then run a full cycle on empty to remove any last traces.

Mattress Freshener:

When stripping the beds down to wash the sheets; freshen up the mattress by sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda on top of it. Let it sit for a few hours then vacuum the powder up.

Trash Can Deodorizer:

Mix 4 teaspoons Eucalyptus oil with 4 cups of baking soda. Store it in an airtight plastic container. After cleaning the trash can, sprinkle a handful of the mixture inside the dry can.

Blood Stain Remover (Laundry):

Blood stains, if fresh, can be removed by washing in cold water. If the stains are hard and dry, soak for a few hours in cold water with a pinch of baking soda. Wash the clothes in cold water. Never wash blood stains in hot water.

Slippery Sidewalks:

Generously sprinkle baking soda on icy patches on walkways. It’s friendly to your sidewalk than salt and makes a slip free zone.

Curling Iron Cleaner:

Clean the gunk off of your curling iron by scrubbing it with a paste made from baking soda and water, then wiping clean with a damp cloth. Be sure the curling iron is turned off and unplugged first.

Crayon On Walls:

Remove crayon scribbles from walls with a paste of baking soda and water then use it to gently scrub the marks. You could also just sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and rub clean.

*I am a brand ambassador with Church and Dwight, however, we have used baking soda in our house for many years. I was taught most of these tricks by my mom and grandmother. As always my thoughts are my own. 

Life, Death, Taxes and Your RRSP

Life, Death, Taxes and RRSP

In the past few years, there have been deaths of my friends, co-workers, fellow bloggers and their mates. All were under the age of 50. All left their families ill prepared for their untimely deaths. Most did not have wills. Most had not planned their estates; many left behind young children without a parent or a financial plan in case something happened. In this month, where we celebrate love, one of the most loving things you can do is plan for your death. Having an estate plan is one of the most loving acts you can do for your family. Yes, it is a difficult conversation to have. It is an essential one if you do not want to leave a mess for those you love.

Last week, I had a great conversation with Christine Van Cauwenberghe, Vice-President, Tax and Estate Planning at Investors Group. We had a great conversation about life, death and estate planning.

Estate Needs Analysis

Many Canadians do not want to think about death. I know it is a conversation I dread. The first step to being prepared for it though is to have an estate needs analysis done. If you have small children, it’s essential. Meet with a financial advisor who can help you develop a plan.

Your estate plan is simply a part of your financial plan. Do you want your estate to have enough money to cover day-to-day expenses if you are not there? Do you want to pass on a legacy to your children? These are just a couple of things to think about as you plan your life and death.

family

Naming the Beneficiary

In my conversation with Christine, one of the things she emphasized was to never have minor children named on any insurance plans or RRSPs as the beneficiary. It is better to name the estate and to have an executor in place to take care of the financial needs of the children.

Her suggestion was never to name a young person under the age of 30 as a direct beneficiary. There are several reasons for this. If you die without a will in place and have left your kids as beneficiary, the money they inherit is held by the government for the children until they reach the age of eighteen. If you need to feed them, clothe them etc., you have to apply to the court for access. Really, if you do not have a plan in place, you are leaving a mess for your spouse and are not able to provide care for your children in ways that you may want too.

Minimizing the Tax Hit

Death, taxes and probate fees go hand in hand. Have your will written in such a way that unregistered investments, such as real estate, will pass outright to your spouse or you can use the principal residence exemption to eliminate the capital gains tax.

Have your estate administrator consider, whether it is in your family’s best interest, if an additional spousal RRSP contribution in the year of your death might help lower taxes. While speaking with Christine Van Cauwenberghe, Vice-President, Tax and Estate Planning at Investors Group she said, “Ensure that all possible tax deductions, such as medical expenses and donations are also included in the final tax return.”

estate-planning-

Gifts and Family Disputes

Some people try to avoid taxes or simply because they want to see their loved ones enjoying a certain item, will choose to gift an item before death. This is generally not recommended, but if you do decide to give one child part of their inheritance before you die, you will want to somehow equalize your estate through your will to ensure all are being treated equally to ensure there are no disputes.

There are so many things to think about when creating an estate and a financial plan which is why it is best to include an expert in the conversation. Investors Group has experts in tax and estate planning and I know I am now better prepared after my conversation with Christine.

A comprehensive plan really does look at all aspects of your life. It is best to be prepared for life, retirement and even death. Have you designed a plan for your life yet? Check out the Investors Group site to learn how you can be better prepared with a comprehensive plan. It really is more than just thinking about RRSPs.

Life Hacks to Spend Your Tax Refund On

Young woman inside sitting on window seat and laughing while loo

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

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

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

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

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

Reduce Debt

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

Add to Your Emergency Fund

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

Invest in Yourself

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

Get Your Health in Order

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

The One Big Thing

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

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

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

budget friendly date ideas

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

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

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

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

1. Star Gazing

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

2. Groupon and Living Social deals.

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

3. Museums.

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

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

bike-ride-1871378_960_720

 

 

4. Rent Bicycles.

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

5. Go for a walk downtown.

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

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

Tax Trends that Will Effect You in 2017

Taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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