Thinking About Becoming A Web Designer

A well designed website is an important part of many business plans. A website might help a company make a strong first impression with potential customers, allow customers to shop online, ask questions, or find information about your company. Web designers are relied on to help create websites that are functional and attractive to help businesses and individuals achieve their goals. This is a career that will keep you interested by constantly challenging your creativity, your problem-solving skills, and your technical skills.

A diploma in web design is a path you should consider if you’re interested in a career that relies heavily on both technology and creativity. Web designers need to feel comfortable with technology, since they’ll be spending their days working on a computer. Programs such as Photoshop and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors are commonly used by web designers, and HTML and CSS are also common technical skills. These are just some of the tools which web designers use to create pages that both look great and are highly usable.

Successful web designers also tend to have some artistic or creative ability. They might be skilled in several art techniques, such as graphic design or drawing. They also need to be skilled communicators and have strong problem solving skills. If you’re communicating with the client or discussing a project with teammates, being a good listener and able to get your meaning across are important skills.

Web designers can find work in a variety of settings. They may work as part of a team in a large corporation, join a small business, or decide to work freelance. Web designers often work collaboratively as part of a team that might include web developers, programmers, content creators, and graphic designers. Web designers can find employment in the huge variety of industries that use websites, in many cities across Canada, which makes this career a great option for people who don’t necessarily want to be tied to one place.

Web design standards and aesthetics are constantly evolving. What was considered cutting edge just a few years ago is painfully out of date today- and that is not the impression any business wants to make. Each project will require a different perspective and will challenge you in new ways. There will also always be new programs and tools to learn about in order to keep your skills up to date. Additional training, webinars and volunteer work are all great ways to update your skills and make your resume even more competitive. A career in web design will mean a lifetime of learning and trying new things, so your days will never feel stale!

Web design is a growing field, with opportunities in many industries and locations. If you love the internet and enjoy making things beautiful and functional, you might want to consider taking a college course to learn web design!

Mobile Apps Can Help You Save Money On and Off the Road


You probably pay close attention to the cost of fuel and your monthly car payments, but there are a number of other driving-related expenses to be aware of. Your driving style can impact your car’s efficiency and your insurance rates, not to mention your chances of paying a speeding ticket! Whether you want to save money on your next road trip or your daily commute, it helps to download time and money-saving mobile apps that can help you cut your expenses.

Saving at the Dealership

One of the first areas to save money is at the car dealership. As you start looking at new and used cars, you’ll want to compare the listing prices of a variety of makes and models so that you know what a fair price looks like. Tools like the eBay Motors,, or Car Sales apps are all ideal for shopping around to find local dealers with the best prices. These apps also allow you to read car news, reviews, and side by side comparisons so that you can find a car that offers the best value for money, without feeling pressured by the auto dealer.

Saving on your Monthly Bills

Insurance and driving costs can quickly add up if you’re not careful. If you have a teenager behind the wheel or want to improve your own insurance rates, you might want to consider installing a telematics box and corresponding app like Intelligent Marmalade. These record your performance as a driver, helping you save hundreds on your premium as you can prove that you or your child is a safe driver. The My Cars app for Android is also useful, allowing you to record your fuel, efficiency, and maintenance costs to work out an accurate budget each month.

Saving Money on the Road



Finally, there are a number of apps designed to help you save money on the road, from avoiding speed traps to finding cheaper parking. Apps like Trapster, CamerAlert and iSpeedCam give you a warning when you’re near a speed camera, with users sending in updates for the most accurate information. The price of fuel can be a major concern for many drivers, and there’s nothing as annoying as loading up your tank just to see a cheaper option only a few miles down the road! Apps like WhatGas Petrol Prices in the UK or GasBuddy in the USA help you find the cheapest fuel in your area, including the different grades and price points available. Another easy way to blow money on fuel is by sitting in traffic for hours. The Waze app is an example of a way to use technology to avoid traffic jams, using real-time information to send you alerts and divert your route to the smoothest option.


Apps like the ones mentioned above can help you save money as a driver from the moment you start looking at a car to the daily costs of car ownership. It’s worth putting your smartphone to good use, as you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run!

Commoncentsmom Welcomes the Ultimate Blog Party #UBP14

Ultimate Blog Party 2014
Welcome to CommonCentsMom if you are a visitor from the biggest blog party there is hosted by my friends Susan and Janice at 5 Minutes to Mom, I say Welcome! This is my 7th party! I have known the girls for years and well I have even partied with them in person, which was nice to do.

Me and Chris Brogan on University Ave

Now to introduce myself, I am Hollie the owner and creator of CommonCentsMom, and was the sole writer till just a couple of months ago. Now I have a writer who writes a wee bit of the content here. Here name is Christa and if she is writing you always know it.

I am an old time blogger having created my first blog in 2002 as a way to keep my family and friends informed about our lives (us being me and my daughter who is now 16)

I write about family stuff like raising a daughter who was badly bullied, and had mental health issues on top of her being on the ASD spectrum. I will say I have a 16 year old who is amazing.  I also write about personal finance and give frugal living tips. When that isn’t keeping me busy I also write some product or event reviews and even host some giveaways. I also like to write about budget travel and technology when I can.

Talking of giveaways now there are 2 that are live through the time line of this party with another large one going live tomorrow (its worth more then $200,so you might want to check it out). The first one is for any Turtle fans and the other for Vitapath fans. All my contests are for my Canadian readers.

What are my loves? Right now I am busy getting healthy. I use the #healthyme hashtag to share updates. I am also a convert to Islam (yes that means I am a Muslim mom) so on Saturdays I am at a Turkish dergah in worship. I also love to dance and am trying to get to a dance class once a week.

The are the typical kinds of posts you can find here. I am also a brand ambassador for Flipp, Netflix Canada and Church &Dwight. So I do write about those 3 brands and host giveaways from them as well.

PicMonkey Collage


I should also let you know I along with Christa host a great money chat each week from 7-8 pm EST on Twitter. Follow the hashtag #cdnmoney to follow along. Some weeks are even sponsored and have prizes.

Now talking about prizes as a thank you for stopping by my party post I am giving way a little gift to someone who leaves a comment on this post. What will you get? A surprise paypal amount..:) I will use to select someone on April 17th.

Have fun, and visit lots of blogs this week and thanks for stopping by.


Five Years of Twitter


5 Years of Twitter

It seems like yesterday that I started on a voyage and I had no idea that it would lead to the most amazing roller coaster ride. Five years ago, in the days when no one had a million twitter followers, I signed up for a twitter account.

What a time it has been!

Let me say this, signing up for a Twitter account was one of the best choices this mom could of made. At the time I lived in Nova Scotia, was at my wits end as my daughter was enduring the worst 2 years of her young life, I was a single mom on the brink.

My life changed because of twitter.

I have made some great friendships…I am proud to say I can call a number of really smart people friends. Some are the people you read about on Forbes lists. Some are just like your neighbour across the street. They have taught me, challenged me, and inspired me.

I watch the world change on Twitter. When the hurricane first hit Haiti, I saw the good that Twitter could do, then I watched the Middle East change because of the ability to communicate on social sites like Twitter. I could have my hand helping or even listen as amazing scientific events took place.

Within the first few months on Twitter I attended my first Twitter Party..who knew 5 years later I have hosted so many that thousands have attended. I started the first personal finance chat on twitter so we could have real conversations about money on a regular basis. I am proud to say a few brands have thought those conversations were and are important too, so much so they even sponsored some of those conversations.

I got hired because of my Twitter stream. I started working in community management because of the relationships I had built on Twitter, and have  been blessed now to start creating my own Community Management Monitoring business.

I have some pretty exciting things happen too on the journey..from winning some amazing prizes on Twitter like a trip to SOBcon, that I ended up giving away, to having my welcoming Tweet to Oprah in the New York Times.

I have no idea what the next 5 years will bring, but I do know I am sure it is going to be an amazing ride. Thank you to each who follow and tweet with me, each of you are so important to me, and I am thankful every day for all of you.

*CommonCentsMom the Blog started on Feb 10th, 2008

* I started blogging though on Nov 2, 2002 on MSN spaces, then Xanga and Blogspot before coming to WordPress.



Apps that Save You Time and Money on Groceries: Flyer Apps + Price-Matching

Christa Clips shares her top 2 flyer apps that she uses for price-matching
Top 2 flyer apps to replace paper flyers when looking for sales and price-matching

Saving money at the grocery store has become so slick thanks to all of the new mobile apps out there. Whether you want to save on the sly or are an extreme couponer, there are two types of FREE mobile apps to help you cut your grocery bills:

  • Flyer apps – used for finding the best sale price and price-matching
  • Cash Back Rebate apps – used for claiming money back by snapping a photo of your receipt

At a recent #CDNmoney twitter chat, co-hosts Christa Clips and Common Cents Mom lead a lively discussion about Mobile Apps that Save You Time & Money at the Grocery Store. In this post we’ll recap some of the tips & tricks that the #CDNmoney community shared when it comes to using apps for grocery flyers and price-matching. Check back in for our next post about the Cash Back Rebate apps!

instantly turn a regular price into a sale price!

Finding the lowest possible price for each item on your grocery list is the foundation to being a savvy shopper. Many stores will price-match or ad-match their competitor’s advertised prices and the new mobile apps for viewing grocery flyers make the checkout process super slick: simply show the cashier the flyer on your mobile app and they’ll adjust the price. With only a couple of extra seconds of time, you can instantly turn a regular price into a sale price! 

Tip: Putting items on the belt in the same order will speed up the price-matching process if you’re ad-matching multiple items (which we HOPE you are!)

Price-matching isn’t for everyone. Not everyone has access to stores that will price-match, or perhaps the extra planning and care at the checkout stage just isn’t your style. No worries! Identifying how you currently use your grocery flyers to save money will help you decide which grocery flyer app is best for you:

a) “I look at the weekly flyers to see what’s on sale at my favourite grocery store and I plan my meal plan and grocery list around those items.”

b) “I look at the weekly flyers to see what’s on sale at all local grocery stores and I plan my meal and grocery list around those items. I price-match the sale prices at one store.”

c) “I make a grocery list of what I need then check the flyers to see if any of the items on are on sale at a store that I can visit.”

d) “I check the flyers to see if any of the items on my grocery list are on sale at stores that I can price-match.”

If you’re a price-matcher (b and d) you’ll most likely love the search and clipping features of Flipp. If you’re a flyer browser (a and c), we think Reebee is the most visually appealing flyer app.

Flipp – currently available for iOIS and Android devices, Hollie and I agree that this is the most comprehensive grocery app to date – in fact, she has signed on as one of 6 Brand Ambassadors for Flipp in 2014! Type a grocery item into the search bar to find the lowest price. Once you’ve decided which store you will visit or base your price-matching on, use the handy clipping feature to add that sale price to your Clippings page. Do this process for each item on your grocery list and the app will arrange them in a tidy shortlist of clippings no matter how many store flyers you’re using!

Flipp allows you to "clip" items from multiple flyers and sends them to your shopping list. Never pay full price again!  photo:
Flipp allows you to “clip” items from multiple flyers and sends them to your shopping list. 

When shopping, simply “flipp” through your clippings when the cashier is ringing in your items and I say “I’d like to price-match this flyer price, please!” Flipp has a great cache system so you don’t need wifi or data access to recall the list and flyers that you’ve previously opened on your device. Travelling? Use Flipp in any Canadian or U.S. city.

Techie Tip: Deleting items from your clippings list right after you’ve bought them will keep your app clutter-free and keep your price-matching fluster-free!

Reebee is a greener way to view your grocery flyers! Photo:
Reebee is a greener way to view your grocery flyers!

Reebee – this app is available on Android, iOIS, and BlackBerry which makes it the most accessible flyer app, although it does not have the search and clipping features of Flipp. Reebee is our preferred substitute for paper flyers in terms of browsing to see what’s on sale because it’s the same layout as the paper flyers and there is never anything expired to delete (Flipp’s clipping list needs to be manually emptied). If you’re a price-matcher but don’t have an iOIS device, you can also use Reebee to “flash at the cash” just make sure that the date and store name are showing on the screen by tapping lightly on the bottom right corner. Reebee also has a strong cache system and as long as you have opened page 1 of a flyer, you can access that entire flyer without wifi or data access.

Techie Tip: make your own “clippings” list like the one offered by Flipp by taking individual screen shots of the items that you’ll be price-matching, then simply scroll through them in your photo gallery when you’re at the checkout.

Go green by using these mobile apps to view your flyers.

And stay in the green by using the apps to save on your weekly groceries! 

Both apps are FREE! Download Flipp to your iOIS device or to your Android here. Download Reebee to any Android, iOIS, or BlackBerry device.

Ready to add more layers of savings to your grocery shopping? Stay tuned for our upcoming post about the mobile apps to claim cash back with your grocery receipts. Sound too good to be true? I’ve typed this post on my iPad which i PAID for with these cash back rebates! ~Christa Clips


Christa Clips shares her Save-at-Home-Mom story on her blog along with frugal living tips. Christa is partnering with Common Cents Mom to share posts with more ways to save on groceries, shopping, and household costs.


Nominated for Three Awards

square-2013Just found out that CommonCentsMom has been nominated for three awards from the Canadian Weblog Awards, and not only that I am one of the jurors who will be judging some of the catergories.

CommonCentsMom was nominated in the areas of Life, Finance, and Lifetime Achievement (which basically means I stuck to writing). I am very honored to of been nominated as I said when it cames to awards these were the ones that mattered to me, and I would never nominate myself of my blog, so when I got the email today I did a little happy dance, and then when I realized it was in 3 categories it was a sweet sweet surprise!

If you want to get to know some of the best Canadian blogs there are in several different niches hope over to the nominees page. I know every year I have found cool blogs for me to fall in love with.

Whoever nominated me, thank you, you just made my week!


The Benefits of VoIP Hosted PBX Solutions


As a small business owner, you may not have the finances to set up a customer care department and you may have lost several potential clients because you did not answer their calls on time. It sure makes a lot of sense to invest in a VoIP hosted PBX system.  There are many advantages offered by a reputable and reliable PBX provider. Here are just some of the advantages that users can look forward to:


Reduce Start-up Expenses and Get Considerable Monthly Savings

You do not have to worry about buying or leasing PBX equipment. You do not have to employ staff for maintenance. All you require are IP telephones and voice gateway that is connected to your router or modem.


Work Smarter with World Class Features

You will be glad to know that flexible phone system features are loved for their time saving capabilities. These features also help improve communication with employees, business partners and customers. User-friendly features include Call Forwarding, Voicemail, Call hold etc.


Experience High Voice Quality

Reputable VoIP hosted PBX providers have complete control over their network and are able to provide real Quality of Service. You will be able to hear callers loud and crystal clear, thanks to the high definition voice feature.


Easy Set Up

VoIP hosted PBX system is super easy to set up, you will be using your new phone system within minutes of installation. You do not need any type of training to be able to use this communication system.


VoIP Hosted PBX for Small Businesses

A VoIP hosted PBX solution for small business is designed specifically for small enterprises, there are some providers that allow this to simply mean little quality, reduced feature sets or support. However, a reputable provider believes that a hosted PBX for small businesses should include every feature and capability accorded to bigger companies. Both small and large business hosted VoIP solution should be the same. The standard features are definitely the same – a small business’ VoIP should include the ability to handle voice mail for every staff,  make and receive phone calls over the internet and add basic features such as auto attending greetings, call forwarding, music on hold etc. Aside from providing basic features, top quality hosted VoIP solutions will conveniently handle call recording, conferencing, direct dialling, ACD queues, call transfers between extensions and every other capabilities that every business requires. All these things must be possible with workers situated within the office premises or working remotely – the business phone system must be able to allow the use of VoIP on cell phones, branch offices, landlines and home phones.


There is clearly a difference between a phone system meant for the business environment and one meant for a residential use. Residences do not have the need to make call transfers or route phone calls to departments. However, there are ones that can be used for home businesses, the system also comes with quality features. One of the features that a good phone system has is the recording feature. This is indeed an essential feature on any good phone system. Leaving a recorded message for both day and night callers will ensure that your business will never miss a single call from a prospective client or customer, even when the office staffs have all gone home. Most customers may not want to leave a message because they are concerned that you may not return their call. However, one way to ensure that customers leave a message on your voicemail is to ensure that your recorded message assures them that you will call them back as soon as you get their message.







Blissdom Canada

How Does One Write About Life Changing Moments?

Blissdom CanadaHow does one write about life changing moments? About those moments that bless you and scare the heck out of you at the very same time? This past weekend I ended 16 days of conference going. It had started at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference just over two weeks ago, and included Social Media Week Toronto and TedX Toronto, and ended at Blissdom Canada. It was 16 days of learning, growing, networking and being challenged..

Then it came down to 2 moments at Blissdom Canada that probably will change the way I do everything for what I hope is forever.  I had the opportunity to sit and speak with Glenn Canning, for those who don’t know who he is, he is Rehtaeh’s dad. If you do not know who she is, she was a young woman who was gang raped, and then to make matters even worse photos were taken and distributed online. Glenn and I got to have a private conversation parent to parent about “that” school, “that” neighbourhood, which happens to be where my family lived for awhile. We also talked about the mentality of school officials in Nova Scotia, the health care system and so much more during our conversation on the sofa. You see I could relate to some of what Glenn is going through as I started talking about bullying, school inaction and the lack of mental health care for kids in Canada 5 years ago.

If you have not followed my blogs for all my years I have an older blog where I wrote about Rachel. You can find my first post on the topic here on Simply Hollie, an older blog of mine. This post about schools in Nova Scotia was written in 2009.  At 10,  my daughter told me she would rather die then go to school because of what she was going on there on a daily basis. By the end of the grade 6 year, after Rachel went through a school transfer and even more bullying, I decided it was time to come home to Toronto.

When I got here it became increasingly difficult to access helps here in Toronto, in the TDSB, and even here it seemed the school board and the medical system, with its wait times which I first wrote about here were letting my pretty amazing kid languish. I made hard choices, even  created an infographic. Yelled, and even fought to finally get her a hospital bed and as for therapy, I had to go private as the wait time to see a doctor would still have my teen waiting. 18 months ago Rachel spent time in the hospital for mental health issues many which to this day I believe were escalated by the bullying she endured..but in the 18 months since that hospitalization, my teen has had therapy, has been on meds that help her, and well she is thriving. For my teen there is more then just hope at the end of the tunnel. She is a happy well who is teaching the TDSB who had written her off, how wrong they were, one who has volunteered to help where she can. Really I am a proud mom. But lately I haven’t written much about those dark days, I wanted to sweep them behind us. I was fearful they would rear there ugly head, and hold us back from our goals, would hold me back from finding that right job. But I was wrong, every day there are teens here in Canada going unserviced, uncared for, they are hurting and those of us who have felt the pain need to take a stand. There is a need to continue the conversation so we can have real change for the future kids who will need services. Glenn reminded me that I need to be one taking a consistent stand for our kids. It is a must if we want change.

Another life changing moment came just about an hour later during the Social Media Etiquette hour when my friend Neil was pulling a prank on the audience, well actually he was teaching a lesson with an actress named Susan. As Susan once tweeted something mean towards a celebrity and thought nothing of it, he was then setting up the stage as if she would have to explain her actions to either the celebrity or her own daughter who had been fighting being bullied. Well I took a deep breath and had to think about everything I have written over my last 15 years online, what would I change? When I posted mean how was I impacting others, even my teen. How would I explain myself to my teen specially when I have been battling against bullying for the last 5 years..was I a hypocrite? I thought long and hard about when I complain online, how I treat others, and had to give myself a gut check. Most of the time I do pretty ok, but there have been times when I have not been perfect. I must try better, I must do better. I say I am for diversity and kindness. Now I have to really show it.

For me these were my milestone moments of Blissdom Canada. For me, it was a fabulous conference that got me thinking once again about the things that really matter to me, and that is good right.

I enjoyed the speakers, the power hour, and even having a stranger (new friend) for a roommate. The Bliss Chicks who put together the conference did an awesome job. If you were there what were your take aways.

Blissdom Canada 2010

Twas the Night Before Blissdom Canada and All Thru this House

It’s the night before Blissdom Canada 2013, and I am reminiscing and remembering the last 3 years and the explosion in blogging. The explosion in the diversity of blogs.

Three years ago for the first Blissdom Canada, I was wait listed for a ticket that came at the very last moment, but then I couldn’t get time off work, so I sold my ticket, and another went in my place. I still however got to party and meet so many bloggers.

This was me that night..It was the first time in I had worn hijab to an event, to a major event. As a Muslim woman I don’t do costumes. I was asked about the scarf on my head that night. So I gladly explained it as a symbol of faith. I am not often recognized as a Muslim, as I am a white Canadian.

Blissdom Canada 2010

So this year, 3 years later this Muslim frugalista is excited that 2 Muslim moms (who are fulltime Hijabis from Quebec) are Community Leaders. 3 years ago, Blissdom Canada was mostly made up of white Canadian bloggers. There was little diversity. Three years later, there is a real diversity in the blogosphere in Canada. From Masala Moms, to Canadian Mom Eh, to FateKeep, to the Halal Foodie, each month there seems to be new bloggers that really do represent the wonderful diversity that is Canada. I am very grateful as I looked around more and more I am seeing that diversity in leadership.

3 years ago we were just learning so much about Social Media, and now several of us who were in that room three years ago earn our living in the world that is now Digital Strategy. We were figuring out our voices, reinventing, learning to brand. Now there are many that have become Digital leaders.

There is much that happens at a conference, there is the fun, the brands to engage with, but more then that there are lessons to learn, conversations to have, lives that will be touched and changed simply by attending a this night before Blissdom Canada, I am excited, to nervous to sleep, thankful that I get to attend again this year, open and ready for the road ahead, and anxiously awaiting where we might be three years from now.

Canadian Personal Finance Conference

Recapping the Canadian Personal Finance Conference

Last weekend  was the Canadian Personal Finance Conference here in Toronto. Seventy bloggers and financial writers gathered together to talk about writing, taxes, investing, and to hear from some of Canada’s best financial writers and editors.

Canadian Personal Finance Conference


It was a time to hang with with fellow frugalistas Cassie from Mrs January, and Kerry from Sqwakfox, two of my favorite frugal writers. It was great to get tips from the both of them. I loved hearing from Ellen Roseman who makes a career out of fighting the rights of those who find they are not getting customer satisfaction. I also enjoyed hearing from Dev Basu, who I got so many SEO tips from, so expect some changes in how I do things on the back end of this blog.

Do you write about money? I suggest you get a ticket for next year. Really every year I learn more, and make wonderful connections. I am thankful that my friend Donna Marie sponsored me so I could attend the event.