The Dangers of Payday Loans

I was on Facebook this week and I saw an Influencer campaign for a payday loan company.  A Canadian payday loan company was using mom bloggers to shill the benefits of payday loans.  Let me be very clear about my take on payday loans and why all Canadians should try and stay clear of them. first, these high-interest loans simply do not make economic sense.  I knew I had to write about this topic as well I have taken out several payday loans and getting out of that cycle of debt took hard work.

Payday loan companies say they are a quick and easy way to take care of an immediate financial need. They even tell you there interest rates which in Canada average anywhere from 15-23% per hundred dollars borrowed in 2019. They tell you it is an easy simple way to meet a financial burden. I am here to tell you they are wrong.

Payday loans are like gateway drugs, they can lead to a heap of trouble. Let’s look at the stats:

  • Most Canadians carry some sort of monthly debt forward every month. That number continues to grow.
  • 37% of all bankruptcies in Canada include payday loan debt.

The fact is those that take out these loans are often living payday to payday and can’t really afford the loan in the first place.  Like me, back in the day, I lived payday to payday and struggled to get by. Payday loans came into play when I had maxed out the credit cards and needed to survive.  A simple loan of $300 was repeated several times before I finally got wiser and started adding up the numbers.  Payday loans have the highest interest rate when it comes to loans in Canada and they prey on the poor, that is why in recent years most provinces have capped the interest rates. The law across Canada is currently a Canadian can not pay more than 60% per annum.  Here in Ontario for a $500 loan for 2 weeks, you will have to pay back $575.00 and if you are late there are fees on top of that.

So what can you do if you need money in a hurry instead of a payday loan?

Take a credit card cash advance. Yes, it still has an interest payment but it is far less than a payday loan.

Apply for an overdraft on your chequing account. Again, it has a far lower interest rate.

Already maxed out these resources?

Sell something. Find something you have of value and sell it.

See yourself in need of extra cash, pick up a side gig. Here in Toronto on the Bunz Employment page, I often see someone looking to hire someone for all kinds of temporary gigs. There are at least 50 different ways you can earn $100 online.

Ask to work overtime. Many employers will allow you to work up to their provincial maximums. Here in Ontario that is 44 hours.

Plan ahead. I have written time and time again about the need for an emergency fund and getting one started when you live payday to payday, its hard work. My suggestion, start small even $25 every pay is a start.

Negotiate a late payment.  If it is a car payment, rent payment or the like and you normally pay on time call the lender/landlord and see if you can work out a plan.

Last but not least you can ask for help from family and friends. Get a loan from them just make sure you pay them back in a timely fashion.

 

 

 

Image Credit: recipesbnb.com

10 Recipes You Can Make Just Using a Microwave Oven

Image Credit: recipesbnb.com

Let’s face it – as fun as cooking is, it can get exhausting after a long day. Sometimes, it’s incredibly tempting to get takeout and call it a day. However, did you know that your microwave is the ticket for quick and convenient meals that don’t require much fuss? We often just use our microwaves to heat up leftovers or frozen foods, but these are some recipes that you can actually cook using just your microwave! Let’s jump into the recipes:

 

  1. 2 Minute French Toast in a Cup:

This easy-peasy recipe requires just 2 pieces of bread per cup (any type of bread at all will do!), butter, milk, egg and cinnamon (and your microwave of course!).

 

Click here to see the recipe.

 

For our busy lives, especially in the morning rush before school and work, there’s nothing better than a quick, easy-to-make breakfast. Using your microwave to cook French toast in it might be new to you, but it’ll soon become your staple! If you don’t have a microwave oven, look into purchasing one.

 

  1. Ropa Vieja

This Cuban dish of shredded beef in a tomato sauce is usually slow-cooked to get the unique flavour profile – something most people would never expect to obtain from a microwave! But this recipe shows exactly how you can achieve that, with only 10 minutes of prep time.

 

Click here to check out the recipe.

 

Slow cookers and pots can be quite pricey, so use what you have at home – your microwave! You get a healthy, exciting dish for you and your family, without the stress of hours of cooking and prepping.

 

  1. Lemon Bars

Dessert in a microwave? Yep, you got it! This amazing microwave lemon bar recipe will make you the star at bake sales, or potlucks. Easy, fresh and delicious, make a dessert favourite in your microwave.

 

Recipe can be found here.

 

Trying to do everything can get really exhausting, so instead of feeling bad for buying dessert for your next party, make it yourself in your microwave.

 

  1. Ratatouille

Who doesn’t love a good ratatouille? While this dish is packed with veggies, the traditional version is definitely labour-intensive, with each vegetable requiring dicing and sautéing separately. Your microwave version needs just 10 mins of prep time, with the remaining 20 taken care of by your appliance.

 

Check out the recipe here.

 

We bet you’ve never loved your microwave more! Invite over a bunch of friends, crack open a bottle of wine, and celebrate good food made easy!

 

 

  1. Cinnamon Rolls

It’s another “mug cake” recipe that only takes 3 minutes to make! The next time you have a craving for something sweet and fluffy, don’t fret. Your trusty microwave can handle all your whims.

 

The recipe can be found here.

 

Requiring just a few basic ingredients, most of which you probably already have at home, keep this recipe handy for spontaneous dessert-cravings. It’s also a crowd pleaser when friends unexpectedly drop in, or when you’re in the mood for a treat. The best part? All you have to do is mix the contents and put in the microwave, with the actual cooking being done without you!

 

  1. Mac N’ Cheese

Macaroni and cheese in a mug – really? Another mind-blowing dinner staple that can easily be made, especially for a single serving. On those days when you’re tired from work or school, quickly whipping up this famous comfort food will renew your spirits and have you thanking the inventor of the microwave.

 

Click here for the recipe.

 

The best part about this recipe is that it doesn’t use processed cheese, like the boxed kind. Thus, you’re getting a faster option that is also healthier! Win-win, don’t you think?

 

  1. Margherita Quesadilla

When you’re feeling a little Mexican-inspired but don’t want to spend the time standing by a hot stove, grab these 4 ingredients and your new BFF, the microwave, and boom, quesadillas like the pros. All you need is 1 flour tortilla, 1 sliced tomato, some mozzarella cheese, and 4 basil leaves!

 

Get the recipe here.

 

Quesadillas are a delicious meal that can be eaten for lunch or dinner. Making them in the microwave probably never occurred to you, but this Margherita-style recipe is great when you’re craving a good meal but can’t be bothered to put in the effort!

 

  1. 10-Minute Microwave Enchiladas

Speaking of Mexican food, how about some enchiladas? Another incredibly good, flavourful meal are enchiladas. Traditionally though, these guys can take quite some time to prepare, making them more of a once-in-a-while type treat. Your microwave eliminates all the fuss and gives you ready-to-eat, perfect enchiladas.

 

Click here for the recipe.

The microwave really is the best for this type of meal, seeing as once you combine all the ingredients, all you have to do is stick it in the microwave. When you’re hungry, have a family to feed, and are running short on time, the microwave couldn’t come in handier.

 

  1. Baked Potato

Is it still called a “baked” potato when made in the microwave? Semantics aside, a classic comfort food is the baked potato. What isn’t so comforting is the time it usually takes to make. With the microwave, you can make a baked potato in mere minutes, using all your leftover time for some Netflix binging.

 

Recipe can be found here.

 

The only things you need for this are the potatoes, a paper towel and your microwave! It couldn’t be simpler, and you still get the same amazing taste.

 

 

  1. Couscous Greek Salad

With all the freshness you could want, this is the perfect summer (or any time of the year) salad that is packed with veggies and good-for-you ingredients. Making the couscous is usually the cumbersome part, but thankfully, your microwave can handle it for you.

 

Check out the recipe here.

 

A healthy and delicious salad that couldn’t be any easier to make!

 

These 10 microwave recipes are sure to impress, whether it’s just you for dinner or your family and friends. Being tired from work doesn’t have to mean takeout or unhealthy frozen dinners anymore – your microwave can take your cooking to the next level while you get quality time spent with your family. If you don’t have a microwave, consider grabbing one to make life a lot easier!

How to Prepare Your Backyard for Spring

After one of the harshest Canadian winters I have faced in several years, I am so glad that spring is here. Now I am thinking of my backyard, the garden and all the things that are on my list as I prepare my backyard for the hopefully warmer days soon ahead. Have you gotten into spring thinking yet? Have you thought about how you will prepare your backyard for the spring/summer season? One of the easiest ways to prepare your backyard for warmer weather is to make a list and check it twice. Yes, I make lists for everything.

backyard furniture

How to Prepare Your Backyard for Spring

  1. Clean the backyard: First on my list is to clean the yard. You know, get rid of the leaves and garbage that magically appear after the thaw of a Canadian winter. This is also my time to assess what needs to be fixed, repaired or replaced.
  2. Clean and repair the deck: After a long Canadian winter, it is important to inspect your deck to determine whether or not it needs work.
  3. Tackle any repairs that need to be done: We usually have this done by the Easter weekend. We host a small egg hunt in the backyard so it is important that the yard is safe and ready to use.
  4. Create functional zones in your backyard: We love our garden—there is a play area for the kids, we have a grilling station and two areas for entertaining. With three families in our house, a multi-purpose backyard is a must.
  5. Decorate your backyard: We love adding pops of colour. Our flower beds add colour, and each season we head out and buy a few new pieces. New dishes for the eating area, a new table cloth, placements and pillows are all considered.
  6. Check the toys and play structures: We want to ensure the kids are safe so we always check these out and ensure they are cleaned and replaced when necessary.
  7. Check your cooking area: Does it need anything? Is everything clean? It might be a great time to start looking at the newest grills, or perhaps you want a smoker or a new backyard fire pit.
  8. Make sure the backyard is well lit: We loved adding some cute lanterns we found last year on sale.
  9. Check out flyers, articles and Pinterest boards for inspiration: Also be sure to take a walk through some stores with great outdoor spaces for design inspiration. Do you want a luxe look? You can have that. Do you want a casual space? You can have that too. Check out this article on how to make a statement with your patio.
  10. Make your backyard shopping list: Have you always wanted a great seating area? A new table and chairs? Multiple seating areas? There are so many ways to create a fun and functional space. With all this inspiration, I am sure you will find something new that you will want to try.

This weekend you will want to check out the Leon’s flyer for some great inspiration and sales.  There is nothing better than preparing that perfect spring backyard on a budget.

 

 

 

 

How to keep your new years resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions – How to Keep Them

Yet another year is coming to an end, signifying a fresh start to a hopefully wonderful new year. The coming new year inspires many to start setting new year’s resolutions. The truth is though, while many set resolutions each year, not many stick to them. In fact, many new years resolutions end up broken within hours, days or weeks. The average resolution lasts less than the 21 days it takes to form a habit.

If you are one of those people that can’t seem to stick to their resolutions each year, it’s not as hard as you may think. There are many ways you can set yourself on the path of new years resolution success.

How to keep your new years resolutions
new years resolutions

Take Small Steps

You will be more likely to achieve your new years’ resolutions if you start small. Making big changes all at once will only lead to failure. The truth of the matter is, setting small resolutions with outlined steps are far more likely to be achieved.

One Thing at a Time

Just as it takes time to develop unhealthy habits, it will take time to break them. Don’t overwhelm yourself thinking that you must change all your bad habits at once. Instead, work toward changing one thing at a time.

Talk it Out

Consider joining a support group that will help you to achieve your goals. From workout classes to group therapy, having likeminded individuals to share your successes and setbacks with, will make achieving your new years’ resolutions less intimidating and more achievable.

Don’t be Hard on Yourself

Minor mishaps and mistakes when reaching your goals are incredibly normal. Don’t give up on your new year’s resolutions because of one bad choice or set back. Everyone has their ups and downs and achieving perfection is unattainable. Instead of reacting and giving up because of your mistakes, get back on track and recover.

Help Yourself Stay Focused

Helping yourself to stay focused on your new years’ resolutions is important to achieving them. Have something that reminds you of your goals daily right in front of you. Whether that means hanging a photo on your bathroom mirror or putting a sticker on your debit or credit card, if you remind yourself to stay on track daily, you are more likely to achieve your resolutions this year.

When setting your new years resolutions this year, make sure to start small. Focus on taking small steps and achieving one goal at a time. Having support is also a fantastic way to empower yourself to work towards your resolutions so talking about them to someone can provide you guidance and help to achieve them. Just remember, don’t be so hard on yourself when you make a mistake, no one is perfect. Just stay focused and in no time, you will have achieved all your new years’ resolutions.

How to Avoid Last Second Christmas Shopping

How to Avoid Last Second Christmas Shopping

Christmas shopping can be complicated enough without having to squeeze it all in last second. You know, do you really want to be in the stores in December 23rd and 24th? Between busy stores, empty shelves and long lineups, last second Christmas shopping is not something people look forward to, yet many find themselves in a similar situation over the holidays.

The truth is, leaving your Christmas shopping to the last second only causes you undue stress. Rather than waiting it out, there are some steps you can take to avoid last second Christmas shopping.

Christmas Tree and Christmas gift boxes in the interior with a fireplace

Make Lists

Planning things through creating lists greatly reduces the amount of unnecessary stress you may feel when it comes to Christmas shopping. Having lists ready will make sure that you don’t forget to add anyone you plan on purchasing a gift for, leaving you to run out on Christmas eve when you realize your mistake. Carefully construct a list of those you will be buying for this year and brainstorm ideas for their gifts. This will keep you on task as you check things on the list off, completing tasks as they come.

Shop in Advance

It is almost never too early to start shopping for the holidays. The earlier you start the better. In fact, stating your Christmas shopping early is a great way to save money this holiday season as well. Take advantage of all the boxing day discounts and sales, giving you’re the chance to purchase gifts at a discount and have them ready for the holidays, reducing the need to run out last second.

Shop Online

Shopping online can help you to avoid the long lines at the stores, allowing you to shop from the comfort of your home. Online shopping is a great way to get your Christmas shopping done early, knowing exactly when your gits will arrive at your home. In fact, some online stores offer gift wrapping for a small fee, allowing you to ship your purchased gift directly to the recipient. Being ahead of the game in this manner will allow you to check things off your list rather quickly, without having to go last second Christmas shopping.

Pre-Order Christmas Treats

Don’t leave your Christmas baking and cooking to the last second. After all, you know what you are going to require well in advance. Why not place your orders for Christmas treats, your turkey and more as soon as possible? This will make sure that you have everything you need without having to run out the door to grab last second Christmas cookies.

It is important to avoid last second Christmas shopping as not only can it be stressful and time-consuming, but it can also end up costing you more money. Plan things carefully, making lists for everything you must do, shop in advance, take advantage of online retailers and pre-order your Christmas goodies as soon as you can. Preparing for the holidays is a great way to avoid those long Christmas eve lines in the stores.

10 Tips to Save Money This Holiday Season

The holiday season is the time for giving, love and friendship. Not only that, but it is also the largest shopping time of the year. From Black Friday through to Christmas Eve, there are sales, extended store hours and internet stores opened to meet the high demands of their consumers.

Let’s face it. The Holiday season can get expensive. Rather than putting yourself in debt or flattening your wallet this year, it is a good idea to take measure to save money this holiday season.

How to Save Money this Holiday Season

1. Have a Budget in Place

Before you set off on your holiday shopping spree, it is a good idea to ensure that you have a budget in place. This can help you to avoid overspending.

2. Make Lists

Once you have determined your budget and what you can spend, create a list of those you will be giving gifts to this year, organizing them by the amount of money you will be spending on each person. Having a list, will make sure that you don’t go over budget, keep you accountable and help you to make sure you have everything organized prior to the season of gift giving.

3. Compare Prices

Always make a point to compare prices prior to setting off on your holiday shopping adventure. Make sure that where you intend to purchase a specific gift from, is the cheapest location. There are many apps designed to help you compare prices, print coupons and even reap the benefits of any memberships you have, so remember to always shop around.

4. Don’t Buy on Impulse

Never purchase a big-ticket item impulsively because you may think it’s a great deal. With your emotions high and the spirit of the season consuming you, it is easy to make quick decisions that leave you feeling as though you are drowning in debt. Sleep on it, comparison shop and make sure you can afford it prior to just jumping in head first.

5. Store Receipts

Always store your receipts until after the holiday season. This will help to ensure that you get your money back if there is anything wrong with the item purchased and sometimes if you purchase something at full price and see that it goes on sale at a much bigger discount, you can return the item and get it for the cheaper price.

6. Buy Early

The lowest prices are often found far before the seasonal sales take place. Making sure to go shopping early in the year for presents for the holidays is a great way to take advantage of sales, plan and avoid overspending. In fact, some of the best deals take place after the seasonal sales have ended, so the earlier in the year you start your holiday shopping, the better.

7. Opt for Secret Santa

Rather than individually purchasing gits for every one of your friends and family members, opt for secret Santa gift giving. This makes sure that everyone receives a gift, without everyone having to go overboard with their spending.

8. Visit the Dollar store

Your local discount or dollar store is a fantastic place to visit when doing your holiday shopping. This is because items like wrapping paper, tape, bows and gift tags are generally inexpensive, allowing you to nicely wrap your gifts without breaking the bank.

9. Keep it Simple

Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be complicated. Keep the gifts your purchase simple and straightforward. If you have a lot of people on your list, simple gift cards can go a long way and are an inexpensive way to ensure that its recipient can purchase something they are actually going to use.

10. Know When to Stop

When you have completed your list, it’s time to stop shopping. Avoid mall trips just to browse as this can lead to purchases you didn’t intend to make. Once your list is completed, so is your holiday shopping.

There are many ways to save money this holiday season. It is important to pay attention to details, don’t overspend and know when to stop. The holidays are supposed to be fun and exciting and it’s the thought that counts not the amount.

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist

With Thanksgiving, Halloween and Remembrance Day done it is time to start thinking about everything Christmas. As the Christmas season draws near, it’s incredibly important to start planning for all the tasks that need to be executed to have a holly jolly Christmas. Yes, I get the pun! It is time for the ultimate Christmas checklist.

Early preparation is the key to Christmas success, making sure all the important aspects of the holiday season are taken care of well in advance.

One of the best ways to get yourself organized and on the Christmas ball so to speak is to prepare a Christmas checklist.

The Ultimate Christmas Checklist
Christmas Tree and Christmas gift boxes in the interior with a fireplace

In the Fall Months (October & November – so now)

  • Make a Plan – Now is the perfect time to solidify your Christmas plans. Will you be hosting or travelling elsewhere? Once that has been decided you can make plans from there.
  • Create a Christmas Budget – Creating a budget for the holidays will help to ensure you don’t overspend over Christmas months. No one likes to be paying for Christmas after the holidays.
  • Add Activities to Calendar – As you find out about school performances, parties and more, add them to a master calendar. Keep the calendar in a central location so you know your schedule and plans quickly.
  • Start Baking and Freeze – Anything that can be frozen like bars, bread and cookies are fantastic to make ahead. This will help to ensure that you have desserts on hand for when guests arrive throughout the season.
  • Organize Christmas Cards – Now is the best time to determine how many cards you need, and ensure you have updated all your recipient’s addresses.
  • Shop for Tags and Wrapping Paper – Starting to purchase your gift wrap and tags early will give you the best selection, preparing you for when it’s time to wrap those gifts.
  • Take Your Christmas Card Photo – Get your Christmas card photo taken and ready for creating your personalized Christmas cards.
  • Order Christmas Cards – Ordering your Christmas cards ahead of time will ensure that you have plenty of time for them to arrive and lots of time to send them out.
  • Plan for Overnight Guests – Consider what you will need for overnight guests and make sure to get your house ready for visitors. Replace old towels and sheets and prepare the sleeping arrangements.
  • Make a Master Gift List – Create a list of everyone that you will be purchasing gifts for and general ideas of what to get them. This will help you to save money and time when doing your shopping.
  • Start Christmas Shopping – The more presents you buy ahead, the better.
  • Wrap Gifts as you Buy – Not only will this save you from the chances of your kiddos finding the gifts before Christmas, but it will totally save you time on Christmas Eve.
  • Take Stock of Décor – Go through all the Christmas decorations and take inventory to see if anything needs to be replaced.
  • Take Stock of Place Settings – Make sure you have everything you need for special events and meals and make sure to replace anything that may have broken.
  • Address and Send Christmas Cards.

Over the Holiday Season – (December)

  • Buy a Live Tree – Now is the best time to buy a fresh tree. Just make sure it has enough water so it doesn’t dry out before Christmas. Not into real trees, check the flyers for deals on fake ones.
  • Start Traditions – If your family does elf on the shelf or any other exciting Christmas traditions, now is the time to start them! Perhaps you can decide to donate time together as a family helping someone in need.
  • Finalize Menus – If you will be hosting a Christmas dinner or party, make sure you have all menus finalized and start a master grocery list.
  • Order Turkey – Now is the time to order your turkey, ham or whatever it is you wish to serve for your Christmas meal.
  • Mail all Gifts – Any gifts that must be mailed out of town should be done now.
  • Get non-perishables – Any canned goods, pantry staples and beverages you will need can be purchased now.
  • Deep Clean – Now is the perfect time to make sure your home is clean and organized. In fact, tackling the refrigerator right now will make sure that you have space for the dishes and ingredients you will need to pull off Christmas dinner.
  • Stock up on Batteries – There is nothing worse than realizing you don’t have batteries for the kids toys on Christmas morning.
  • Shop for fresh Ingredients – A few days before the holidays is the best time to purchase all fresh ingredients you will require for your big dinners, parties and Christmas morning breakfast.
  • Set the Table – Setting the table days before the big dinner or party is a fantastic way to save time when the big day comes.
  • Start Cooking and Baking
  • Charge the Batteries on your Camera or Video Camera
  • Finish Last Second Wrapping
  • Finish Cooking
  • Put out Cookies for Santa
  • Relax, listen to Christmas Music and Enjoy the Holiday Season!

 

Early preparation is the key to Christmas success just make sure to use the ultimate Christmas checklist to ensure you are ready to enjoy the holidays this year. Now, do you want an easy printed list? It is my early Christmas gift to you. Simply grab this pdf and it will keep you on track all season long.

Christmas Checklist

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE CHRISTMAS CHECKLIST HERE:

Ultimate Christmas Checklist- Printable

 

How to Save Money on Everything Halloween

The turkey leftovers are in the fridgeHalloween annual fall hike is done so now on minds in this house turn to Halloween. We loved decorating, making treats, shopping for candy and deciding on the perfect costume. With all of the planning and shopping though it is easy to put a strain on your wallet, it is just as easy to save money on everything Halloween.

So how can we save money on everything Halloween? Over the years I have written several posts all designed to help you save on Halloween. You can learn about keeping the money gremlins at bay and how to have a frightfully frugal Halloween.  Now many of the things we do help us save money every year.

Saving money on Everything Halloween does not have to be scary.

So how can you save every year on  everything Halloween?

  1. Year after year, I emphasis budgeting. Is Halloween a line item in your budget? It should be. 
  2. Shop your shed and closets. Get creative, think reuse, reuse, reuse as your Halloween anthem. So many things make for great DIY projects for decor and costumes.  
  3. Check for Freebies. You can often find freebies on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist. I have even seen freebies in the Facebook Marketplace and even on groups like Bunz ( Do you have the bartering app Bunz yet?) 
  4. Host a costume swap with your friends. How many costumes does your child have? I know by the age of 5 my daughter had a few. So the best thing to do was gather some friends who have kids and host a swap. 
  5. Check for coupons. Yes, I used the “c” word! If you are a crafter who loves to get creative, take advantage of Michael’s 40% off coupon that happens often.
  6. Look for deals and price match when and where you can. Remember Flipp, the app shows you all your local flyers and did you know you can price match straight from the app at several Canadian retailers. 
  7. Shopping Online? Use Ebates, it is a portal site that gives you cash back and often savings when you shop at the retailers listed. One of the retailers is Amazon! 
  8. Become Pinterest inspired. Since we love to make Halloween treats and our own costumes I have two boards you can check out here and here. 
  9. Get your pumpkin at a discount. I was at Walmart Canada this week and saw that they had a great sale and a good selection. I would grab one while you can. 
  10. Shop the day after Halloween. You can get ready for Halloween 2019 shopping ahead. Great deals can often be found on November 1st. These can be stashed away for next year.  

Great Ways to Host a Frugal Thanksgiving Dinner

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, many are looking forward to spending time with their friends and family, all while enjoying their favourite foods, drinks and desserts. The truth of the matter is, amidst all that wonderful gratitude, bonding and eating, hosting thanksgiving can put a real dent in your finances. Between the cost of decorations, dessert, the main and the sides and even the beverages, hosting Thanksgiving can leave your wallet feeling less than grateful.

Luckily, there are ways to host a frugal Thanksgiving dinner, all while keeping it memorable and delicious.

Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

Make Your Own Decorations

Rather than going out and spending an inordinate amount of money on thanksgiving decorations, make your own. Thanksgiving decorations can consist of inexpensive items or things you can find around your house already. Things like fallen leaves, small gourds and even pie pumpkins work well as table décor. In fact, you can even hollow out the pie pumpkin to make dessert and place the empty pumpkin on the table with a lit candle inside.

Table setting made with everything found around the house
Its easy to set a Thanksgiving centerpiece on a budget

Shop Creatively

Rather than going out and spending an inordinate amount of money on thanksgiving decorations, make your own. Thanksgiving decorations can consist of inexpensive items, or things you can find around your house already. Things like fallen leaves, small gourds and even pie pumpkins work well as table décor. In fact, you can even hollow out the pie pumpkin to make dessert and place the empty pumpkin on the table with a lit candle inside.  

Make It a Potluck

A potluck dinner gives lots of options and makes for less work.

Thanksgiving is traditionally a potluck like holiday to begin with, so it’s not uncommon to have your guests bring at least one dish to contribute. Rather than taking on all the work and expense yourself, a potluck thanksgiving saves you money, makes sure that every guest has a dish they love and lessens your work load. Just make sure to keep a running tally of what everyone is bringing and ensure there is a variety in the dishes. Otherwise, you could end up with an abundance of different variations of pumpkin pie and absolutely no side dishes. 

Get Creative with Leftovers

A big Thanksgiving dinner can create enough leftovers for many meals to come, but you may find yourself getting sick of turkey sandwiches. Using the turkey carcass to create a delicious turkey stew or soup is a great way to repurpose some of your leftovers and they freeze well too for future meals. Stretching the meal out to serve future meals helps to save a lot of money.

Hosting a frugal Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, as long as you make your own decorations, shop creatively, make it a potluck and get creative with your leftovers, Thanksgiving will not only be delicious, but it will also be inexpensive. Get ready to gobble up your delicious and frugal Thanksgiving dinner and make even your wallet feel grateful

How to Plan a Staycation

Sunnyside Beach

Wouldn’t it be great to escape the chaos and day-to-day responsibilities of our everyday lives for a week of fun and relaxation somewhere far away?  But what if it’s not in the budget?  Airfare, hotel rooms, rental car, dining out, and other travel expenses can make getting away very expensive.  And even if money isn’t a factor, sometimes health issues or work obligations prevent us from going away anytime we feel like it. Downtime is great to take.

But that doesn’t mean when the kids are home from school for summer vacation or March Break that you can’t still have a great time! Why not plan to take a vacation right in your own backyard?  A true Staycation is more than just time off at home, it’s an intentional time of fun and relaxation for your family.  It may take a little effort to do it right, but ultimately, it can be just as fun as going out of town.

  1. Set ground rules. The point of a Staycation is to make it feel as much like a real vacation as possible, without leaving home. To make sure the whole family is on the same page, it’s good to set some ground rules that everyone can agree on.  These could include some or all of the following:
  • No email
  • No computer or video games
  • No work
  • No fighting
  • Family time only—no independent activities
  • No cooking, cleaning or doing laundry
  1. Spruce up your bedroom. Make sure you have cosy soft sheets and that they are freshly washed. Add some scented fabric softener to the laundry so they smell great.  Unplug the alarm clock and hide it in the closet.  Put fresh flowers on your nightstand along with a book you’ve been looking forward to reading.  Fill a basket with your favourite snacks and some bottled water to keep in your room.  Place scented candles around to encourage relaxation.
  2. Be a tourist. Do you live in or near a city like we do where there are lots of tourist attractions?  If you do, you’ve likely never been a tourist in your own hometown.  This is the time to explore where you live.  Visit local museums or monuments, try out a couple of the “hot spots” for dinner, go to the zoo, attend a sporting event or get theatre or concert tickets. Here in Toronto, there are lots to do, and lots of them are free.
  3. Spend time in the great outdoors. Go on a nature walk at a nearby national park. With Rouge Park being a National Park it makes a great spot to get into the outdoors. The TTC even takes you close to the park entrance.  Do you live within a couple hours’ drive from a beach?  Take a day trip. If you’re not close to a beach or hiking area, go to a local park for a game of Frisbee, a long walk or some fishing.  Go camping or watch movies in the backyard. Here in Toronto, you might want to head over to the Toronto Islands which are just a short ride away.
  4. Enjoy a family night in. Play a board game together.  Have a movie night complete with popcorn and hot fudge sundaes.  Work on a puzzle or invent a new game.  Build a fire to roast marshmallows and tell scary stories.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or even travel out of town to enjoy a fun and relaxing family vacation.  I hope these ideas have inspired a few ideas of your own! We are looking forward to our next staycation right here at home.