Author Archive

October 31

Save Money on Prescription Drugs

Posted by on October 31, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Prescription Drugs

According to CBC, Canadians spent about 23 billion dollars on prescription medications, which roughly equates to about $667 per person on an annual basis in 2012 to 2013 ($667 per person is the national average across Canada).  British Columbia has the lowest spending across Canada with $511 per capita and Quebec has the highest spending, with $820 per person being spent on an annual basis on prescription medications alone.   I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of money and a lot of medications.  Although a lot of the time, we are fighting against faulty genetics when we have to take medications, there are ways in which we can save some money on prescription drugs.  Although we are very lucky in that medications are subsidized by the government according to your income, prescription medications can still be costly.

Here are a few ways to save money the next time you fill your prescription drugs.

Ask your Prescriber for a Higher Dose

One great way to save money on prescription medications according to WebMD is by asking for a higher dose, but of course this only works if your medication is a pill form rather than a capsule form.  For example, for certain costly medications like cholesterol pills come in doses of 40mg and 20mg and 10mg (etcetera etcetera).  These are also the same cost (e.g., the 40mg costs the same as the 20mg tablet).  If you are prescribed a 20mg dose, you can ask your prescriber to write 40mg tablets and to have the pharmacist cut the pill in half (or you can do it, just buy a pill cutter).  This will save you half of what it would normally cost.

Get it Filled All at Once

The key here is to get it dispensed less.  Oftentimes you will get one month’s worth of medications and then have to return to the pharmacy to pay for another month, and repeat once more…, but you may be able to get three months worth just by asking.  That’s two less trips to the pharmacist and less dispensing fee cost.  Win-win if you ask me!

Go Generic

Another way to save money on prescription medications is to ask if there is a generic version of the medication.  Oftentimes, the pharmacist will usually substitute for a generic option (or ask you if you would like that).  However, one reason why prescribers may be wary of generic medications is that it is often difficult to tell whether there will be the same effect as the brand name medications.  The brand name medications are the ones that are involved in the drug trials and therefore considered more “reliable”.  With brand name prescription drugs, you are paying for the marketing, and the research and development costs.

Talk to Your Primary Care Provider and Pharmacist

This is where it pays to get to know your primary care provider.  A lot of the time, doctors are very busy (as we know).  Oftentimes, pharmaceutical companies and drug representatives are busy visiting doctor’s offices to provide samples, to provide lunchtime teaching sessions, and to show your primary care provider the most recent novel new drug that is out there.

Oftentimes, these new drugs can be expensive because of the marketing associated with it, because they are brand-name and not generic.  Your doctor may know of an alternative that is not so expensive.  All it takes is a discussion and your doctor should be able to suggest an alternative that may work well.  Of course, there are some medications that cannot be substituted for generic, like certain thyroid medications because the composition varies between manufacturers.

Talking to your pharmacist will be helpful too.  Ask what their dispensing fees are.  Dispensing fees vary between pharmacies.  Here in British Columbia, it can vary anywhere from $5 to $12 (that’s over 100% of the lower end cost)!

Go Au Naturel

Finally, one of the best ways to save money on prescription drugs (especially drugs for cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions that can be improved with lifestyle changes) is to change your lifestyle.  Oftentimes we think it is easier to “pop a pill” rather than make lifestyle changes, but changing your lifestyle for the better is so much more rewarding and effective (no side effects!).  Watch this video for some inspiration by Doctor Mike Evans, titled “23 and a half hours”.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any tips on how to save money on prescription medications?

Photo credit: Mattza

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October 24

5 Ways to Save Money While in School

Posted by on October 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Ways to Save Money While in School

Whether it is your first time in university or college or whether you are returning back to school after a long period of being in the workforce, it is generally agreed upon that school is expensive.  Although furthering your education can help you develop your career and improve your income by leaps and bounds, it might not feel like this at the time.  You might just feel like a poor student.  However, sometimes being a poor student does have its perks, and so being able to save money while you are in school becomes less difficult and easier to accomplish.

Here are some strategies that will help you save money while you are in school.

Max Out Your Student Perks

Just like Gail Vaz-Oxlade suggests in this Moneysense article on saving money at school, max out your student benefits.  The rest of the world knows that you are a starving student, why not take advantage of it while you can?

Bus passes, museum tickets, concert tickets, Greyhound bus pass, Air Canada flight passes, Vancouver International Film Festival tickets… the list goes on.  There are many places that offer a discount for students.  One of the most recognized student discount pass (especially if you plan to go abroad) is the ISIC card, or the International Student Identity Card.  It lets the people from the foreign places you plan to go to know that you are a starving student.

Hit the Student Gym

If it’s already included in your fees, why not use it so you are saving money on a gym membership or a monthly yoga class?  Student Universe also states that most schools have a student gym and some even have classes like yoga or pilates that you can take.  These classes are normally very expensive so it makes sense to take advantage of it while you have a student gym pass/ access to enjoy.

Get a Part-Time Job

I personally worked throughout University (both times I went) with a part-time job.  Sure, there were times when I felt really time-crunched, however, I think working allows you to prioritize and to focus on things that matter.  Plus, knowing that you will finish your education program without as much debt as you could have had is priceless.  I believe that working gives you the onus to prioritize and get organized, two skills that are essential as a student.  Of course, you cannot work so much but personally I like to feel productive and I like the organization.  Being organized in my life helped me become organized for my main job.  Although, I only worked 10-15 hours per week with the part-time job in the evenings and weekends.

Buy Used Textbooks

Skip your university or college bookstore, the best place to buy your books is (like most things nowadays) online.  From Bargainmoose, here are some places that you can buy used text books.  Personally, I saved a few hundred dollars buying my textbooks from Amazon.com and then picking it up across the border, rather than going to my university bookstore to buy the books that they recommended.

You could also take advantage of the coupons we have here on Bargainmoose for stores like Bookmob and Textbook Rental and even rent your textbooks.

All you need is the ISBN number from the list your instructor tells you to get, and you just plug that into Amazon.com or Amazon.ca.  Of course, there are a lot of other places to buy your used text books, instead of Amazon.com.  The great thing is that you can resell your books to Amazon.com and then get a gift card for the value of your used books.  No fuss, no muss really.

Pack Your Lunch

Finally, just like for those who work full-time, packing your lunch or avoiding that daily coffee is going to save you ton of money in the end.  Considering a lunch is at least $5 to $10 per day, that’s at least $1000 per year (averaging 4 lunches per week).  That is enough for a last minute ticket to Mexico for spring break!  Besides, packing your lunch is good for your waist line too, and at least you know what you are putting in the food.  Knowing that you are saving day by day is priceless.

Bargainmoosers, are there other ways that you saved money while in school? 

Photo credit: Beraldo Leal

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October 17

How to Make Money Using Airbnb

Posted by on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Make Money Using Airbnb

Airbnb has hit the world by storm and has quickly become one of the most common ways people use to stay in another city or country. With hotel costs becoming more and more expensive and without having access to a kitchen while you are in a hotel, living in someone else’s apartment or suite or even spare room makes much more sense.

Airbnb is in over 190 countries around the world.  While I have not used Airbnb yet I definitely plan to in the near future.  As an Airbnb host, you can choose how much to rent your place out and when.  For a great run down of what Airbnb actually is (the online rental marketplace), check out this great Investopedia post.

What are  the Costs?

The costs to the host are minimal (technically).  Airbnb charges you a 3% fee once the reservation goes through.  The traveler, on the other hand, has to pay a 6-12% fee on top of what you charge as a host for their reservation.

Some other costs include property damage.  While no one wants to think about this, it can be a reality.  You add a security deposit to each booking and Airbnb covers damages up to $1,000,000 but it is a good idea to read the fine print on Airbnb to see what is covered or not.

Also, before you list your place, it is a good idea to look at the laws and jurisdiction in your community to make sure you are allowed to rent out your place, as you may need to apply for a business license from your city in many cases.

Here are some ways in which you can pimp out your pad and market your listing to make sure people want to stay at your place:

Take Advantage of the Professionals

Airbnb offers a professional photographer to come to your place in most cities.  The process is simple but you need to be present with the photographer during daylight hours.  The process is really free.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s especially important when you are considering listing your place out on Airbnb.

Response to Requests ASAP

According to Smart Cookies, one way in which you can be profitable and successful with your Airbnb listing is to ensure that your response rate is high.  Respond to requests within 24 hours because a lot of the travelers booking on Airbnb are last minute travelers and you don’t want to miss their booking request.  Your response rate is listed and shown on your Airbnb host page.  This is something that you can easily control and manage, and there are no reasons why this should not be followed up on.

Include the Little Things

Little things turn into big things as we know.  The little touches, like towels included, coffee and tea amenities, and WIFI (actually that is a big thing because WIFI these days is seen as a necessity and not a ‘perk’) are going to give you big bang for your buck.  Even parking can be expensive and people want to know that they can park their car hassle free, especially in big cities when parking is a pain to get.

Feedback is Key

Forbes has a great article on “Seven Tips to Make Bank on Airbnb” and one of them is to make sure you get verified, which means getting feedback and reviews.  When someone is searching for a place to stay, it is hard for them to trust you when you don’t have any feedback.  People want to know they are staying at a reliable place that other travelers felt were reliable too.  That’s why some websites like Tripadvisor do so well.  Basically this is like Tripadvisor within Airbnb already embedded.  You want to make sure people like your place and want to write a good comment.

There you have it, hopefully these tips help you with your Airbnb listing or at least inspire you to think about getting on the Airbnb bandwagon.  If you need a little push, use this coupon code from Bargainmoose to get $25 Airbnb credit just for signing up!

Bargainmoosers, have you tried using Airbnb or tried renting out your space with Airbnb?  What have been your experiences?

Photo credit: Matthew Trentacoste

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October 10

Save Your Money While on Parental Leave

Posted by on October 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Your Money While on Parental Leave

We all know how expensive a baby can be, let alone having to work on reduced income such as paternity or maternity leave.  Many new parents often underestimate just how much that first year with the baby is going to cost them.  While we are very fortunate in Canada to have the option of one year of maternity leave, the great thing is that we have the option to stay for the full year, or if we want we can return to work earlier.

Here are some ways to plan ahead and also some ways in which you can try and save money for your baby’s first year.

Figure How Much You Will Get

Handy websites like Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits from the Government of Canada will help you figure out how much you will be able to get every two weeks.  For 2014, the maximum amount that you can receive per week is $514 and you are able to receive 55% of your maximum insurable earnings, maxed at around $48,600.  Knowing how much you will receive will help you figure out how much you need to save for your baby’s first year.

You are eligible for parental leave benefits if you have worked over 600 hours in the past 52 weeks, as per BrighterLife.

Figure Out How Much It May Cost

If you are able to plan ahead, you can budget how much you’ll need to save before the baby arrives to ensure a smooth transition.  The last thing you want to stress out about is finances because there are so many other things to worry about.  Like making sure the baby is fed, or what to do so you can get more sleep!

Baby Center has a fantastic baby cost calculator that can estimate the total first year cost for your baby.  The average first year cost for a baby is just shy over $6,000 if you don’t have any regular childcare or daycare in your first year.  Of course if you are planning to feed your baby formula this cost fluctuates too.  There are about $2,000 worth of one time costs that you could use for your next baby if you have one.  In summary, the costs for your baby’s first year are individualized and can fluctuate widely.

Ways to Save Money While on Parental Leave

Canadian Family suggests that you cut down on wants and just focus on needs.  Hand-me-downs are a great idea because children often outgrow their clothes so quickly.  In addition, meal planning works well for your family (not your baby of course) because you or your partner may be too exhausted to cook on a daily basis.  With the luxury of time on your side, maxing out those home cooked meals works well to save on food costs.  Another way to save money is to see whether using cloth or disposable diapers is cheaper for your budget.  In general, it is more economical to use cloth diapers (and even more economical if you wash it yourself) if you use a cloth diaper pick up service.  And it is better for the environment.

The Government of Canada also has a great financial checklist of things you should do after your baby arrives here.

Can I Work During Parental Leave?

Many new parents want to work during parental leave, even if they are odd jobs here and there because, hey, anything helps!

This post from Canadian Budget Binder helps summarize whether you are able to work while on parental leave in Canada.  While it may be tempting to earn a little cash on the side, the amount gets reduced from your maternity leave and employment insurance earnings, so it might be wise to have a cautious look first before you start pulling cash in.  Basically if you work too much you could get your maternity leave benefits clawed back.

Hopefully this post answers some questions about how much you might get while on parental leave, how much your baby’s first year will cost, how to save money during parental leave, and whether you can work on the side.  Having a first baby is both overwhelming and exciting, congratulations on your new bundle of joy!

Bargainmoosers, how did you make it work during your maternity or paternity leave?  Do you have any tips for fellow Bargainmoosers?

Photo credit: Roberto D’Angelo

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October 3

Save Money on Movie Rentals in Canada

Posted by on October 3, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Movie Rentals in Canada

With Blockbuster and Rogers Video store standing vacant and empty, to me, Friday nights just aren’t the same anymore.  I miss Blockbuster and Rogers Video stores.

I am obviously going through video store withdrawal even though I have Netflix available at home.  I find that the movies that I want to watch aren’t often on Netflix and I don’t really know where to watch them or access them without going to the illegal route of downloading them from some torrent site.

Here are a few ways in which you can replicate that old feeling of perusing the movies for a suitable movie to rent and enjoy with some buttered popcorn at home.

Red Box 

This is probably the closest thing to Blockbuster as you can get.  You have probably seen one of these red boxes at your local Safeway or 7-Eleven stores.  Although you can’t physically touch the DVDs in the Red Box box, they are certainly very cheap to rent (unless you are bad at returning the DVD back to the box in which case it will be expensive).  If you download the Red Box app you can check your local Red Box’s inventory to save you the hassle of going there and realizing that the movie you want to watch is not available. In addition, if you sign up for their texting service/reminders they often text you a free coupon code for a free movie rental on a monthly basis.

At $1.50 plus tax for a movie rental (but just for the night) and with the ability to browse online and hold your rental, Red Box is a great substitute for Blockbuster.  The one downside is that it will be difficult to find older movies that you have been meaning to watch.

Check Out your Public Library

Another great option that is absolutely free is to check out your local public library for some movies.  Some public libraries nowadays even allow digital movie rentals (meaning you won’t even have to visit the library in person).

Netflix

Of course, the popular option is to go with Netflix.  With recent movie titles and tons of options for movies and even television series, this option is the way to go if you ever want to cancel cable.  I pay $7.99 per month (though I believe they are raising their fees) for a lot of movies and television shows (a little too much option if you ask me).

For me the downside is that there are some movies that I have been wanting to watch but they are not available on Netflix when I search them up.

Apple TV

With this, you have to pay $99+ for an Apple TV device first, but it allows you to download or stream movies on demand.  The selection is pretty good but I found that it took a long time to download and rent the movie (maybe it was just my Internet at the time) and when I had friends over watching the movie, I didn’t download the movie quickly enough.  Also, the cost for renting a movie is about $5 or so depending on which movie you want to watch.  The good thing was that there is a pretty decent selection.  I remember looking up Roman Holiday or Breakfast at Tiffany’s and was able to find that.  Definitely would not be able to do that on a Red Box kiosk.

CinemaNow

I personally haven’t tried watching a movie through this system but I am excited to do so and plan to do so.  I was able to find a movie that I have been wanting to watch for a long time but was not able to find it on Netflix and I do not have Apple TV anymore.  Renting a movie gives you access to watch it for 30 days and you have 48 hours to finish the movie before it disappears from your account (which is similar to Apple TV I believe).  The cost is $3.99 for the movie I want to watch.  For new releases, the rental fee is $4.99.  You can also buy the movies you want to watch as well (obviously more expensive than $4-5).

 Bargainmoosers, how do you watch your movies nowadays?  Which one is your favourite?
Photo credit: Kenneth Lu
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September 26

Save Money on Banking

Posted by on September 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Banking

Without us knowing, banking fees can really eat up our monthly and annual budget.  According to Canadian Living, Canadians spend an average of $185 a year on banking fees, which is more than the average family spends on going out to the movies ($171).  Now, wouldn’t you rather watch double the big screen flicks and spend less money (or hopefully zero money) on banking?

Personally I would rather watch more movies on the big screen or spend that money with something more purposeful than giving money to the bank.

Apparently, most people do not realize that they do not have unlimited banking transactions.  A lot of us do not review or understand our current banking package (I know I don’t, to be honest- I don’t know exactly how many transactions I am allowed but I know that I don’t go over the allotted amount).

Stick To Your Own and Visit the ATM Less Often

By stick to your own, I mean using ATM’s that are your bank.  Every time you go to another bank’s ATM machine you get dinged at least $3-5 for your being disloyal.  These fees add up over time and really break your monthly budget (unnecessarily, I might add).   Also, if you are charged each time you use the ATM, a very simple way to reduce your banking fees is to visit the ATM less often.  Financial Plan agrees, visit the ATM less often to save money.  Personally, I only go to the ATM every two weeks when I get my paycheque.  I use my credit card for most things and carry very little cash with me.

Avoid the Teller Like the Plague

Although the tellers and customer service representatives are really nice and friendly, using them to withdraw your money may necessitate unnecessary service charges to your account.  In this case, unlike MacDonalds fast food restaurants, smiles are NOT free at the bank (well not usually anyways)!  I personally do not go to the teller for anything unless absolutely necessary, like ordering a money order or getting a bank draft or something.

Minimum Balance It

Of course, at a lot of banking institutions if you keep a minimum balance in the primary account they will reimburse your monthly banking fee.  I see that they reimburse my fee each month otherwise, it will cost me $9.95 each month for the banking package I have.  If you are strapped for cash, you can also use your minimum balance amount as a form of emergency savings too.  This will motivate you to try and keep the minimum amount (usually $2000 to $3000) in your account.  If you do need to dip into it you will be motivated to save your money so you don’t have to pay the monthly fee again.

Try No-Fee Banking

Finally, one very easy way to eliminate all chance for cost and all chance for going “over” your budget for banking (e.g., making too many ATM withdrawals) is to go to a no-fee banking account.  This comprehensive websites by nofeebanking.ca has a great list of no-fee chequing accounts and no-fee savings accounts that will not cost you a dime.  One of the most popular ones is the President’s Choice Financial banking account and also the Tangerine (previously ING Direct) Thrive Chequing account.  The great thing about both of these accounts is that you can use the ATM’s of big banks like CIBC for example (for PC Financial).

Personally, I think that saving money on your monthly banking fees and expenses is one of the easier things to do to reduce your monthly budget.  It may take a little bit of time (for example, switching to a no fee provider such as President’s Choice Financial would entail you filling another direct deposit form at work and switching any other automated payments) but it is well worth it in the long run.  And you will only have to think about it once.

If you’re interested in looking at other ways to save money on banking, check out last year’s post on saving money by avoiding banking fees for more tips on how to save money on your banking budget.

Bargainmoosers, do you pay for your banking?  How do you save money on your banking fees?

Photo credit: Billy Wilson

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September 19

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

Posted by on September 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on your Next Hair Cut

In a recent survey, the average woman spends over $700 a year on hair cuts and hair maintenance (not including shampoo and conditioner or other hair products) alone.  I personally consider my hair routine low maintenance.  I have long hair and get it cut twice a year along with highlights twice a year.  Usually this sets me back around $500 a year.  The hair cut and highlight usually costs me around $200 after tax and tip at the salon I was going to for a long time.  With the haircut being around $60+ for a simple haircut and the highlights being over $100+ the average cost was around $200 each time I went.  That is why I was only able to go twice a year because I refuse to spend more than $500 a year on my hair.

Since then, I have changed what I do for my hair and things are much more simpler and less costly with frankly, not too much difference.  I know that hair loyalty is important, but if you don’t find that your hair stylist is being innovative, or if you do not have as much loyalty as you thought you did, it might be a good idea to think about jumping ship and doing something different with your hair to save a few hundred dollars.

Here are a few ways for you to save money on your next hair cut:

Try a Student

One surefire way to save money on your next haircut is to look for the beauty schools in your city and inquire when the next hair cut is.  They will have discounted hair cuts but with brand name salons.  Oftentimes the hair stylist teacher will be present so the chances of the student making a mistake is quite minimal.

Use Groupon or the Daily Deal Sites to your Advantage

Recently, this is how I save money on my hair cuts.  I check out Groupon or other daily deal sites for my hair salon ghat I am a favourite of.  The price of a cut and colour can often be at least 50% off from the usual price.  This allows me to go to hair salons that I would not normally go to because of the reduced price.  So instead of the $200 cut and colour (highlight), I pay about $100 less than what I would normally pay.

Go on Craigslist

If you are flexible, have time in your schedule (especially during the day) and want a new style and are open to different ideas, check out Craiglist and look for salons who are looking for hair models.  Oftentimes the students need to do a hair cutting technique that needs a cooperative model, such as a hair bob.  I think this is a great idea for those who are open to new hair styles and want a free haircut.  The only downside is that the meetings are during the day and you have to be agreeable to basically the hair cut they are trying to do for that day (which is often a bob style cut or a pixie cut).

Get a Blowout Instead

Moneycrashers suggests that most people who feel like they need a new style or some change can try having a blow out from their stylist instead of getting their hair cut.  Blow outs are significantly less costly and can give a sense of newness and change without the prices of a hair cut and colour.

Find a Freelancer

A few years ago I used to go to a freelance hair stylist who worked out of her own home.  I was able to skip the salon price (the middle person, really) and have a cheaper cut and colour that way.  It was a great win-win situation.  MSN Money agrees with the idea of seeking out a freelancer.

I have personally tried pretty much all of these ideas with the exception of getting a blow out instead of a hair cut and all of these have worked well for me to reduce my cost from $500 a year for haircuts to approximately half that amount and frankly, there isn’t much difference in my hair style and colour.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your hair cuts?

Photo credit: Gemma Bou

Moose Rating (2 votes)
September 5

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Posted by on September 5, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

Paying monthly for Internet can be costly, and these days it is becoming more and more of a utility, or need, rather than a ‘want’.  The big Internet service providers in Canada, like Rogers, Telus, Shaw, and Bell have a big hold on the pricing of the monthly Internet fee that you pay.  Canadians pay an average of $45 per month on Internet (according to Financial Post).  When you add taxes and fees that adds up to well over $50 a month.  Some people pay even more for this for fast Internet, Internet “25″ (high speed Internet that I use) starts at $65 a month regular price and on promotion sometimes you can get it for $35 a month.

If you are just paying for Internet (no cable) it is easy to say, switch to an alternative Internet Service Provider to save money, however, this is easier said than done.  We are all attached to the security that well-known companies such as Telus and Shaw give us, and we pay for the around the clock (or more reliable at least) customer service.  I am one of these people as well.  I have always used either Shaw or Telus Internet here on the west coast.  Although a foray into the alternative Internet Service Providers is alluring, I have found a way to continue to pay reasonable prices for Internet without having to go to an alternate Internet Service Provider.  If I am forced to pay a lot of money for Internet then I will probably switch one day.

So, if you are interested in saving money on your Internet bill, here’s how. It just takes a bit of organization, polite manners, some research, and a phone call.

How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill

I have been paying $30 for my Internet “25″ regularly.

First, find out how much you pay for your Internet and what your speed is.  You can find this information out easily by looking at your bill.

Second, find out if you are on contract or not.  Here in western Canada, Shaw and Telus pride themselves on not tying their clients down to contracts.  So I am not in a contract and this allows me to stop or cancel service on my whim and whenever I want.

Third, look for promotional pricing.  For example, both companies are having a promotion for Internet “25″ for $30 for the first six months.  Sometimes I find that they have more promotional pricing closer to the September season when it is time for students to go back to school.

Fourth, call the company you are with and ask to cancel your subscription to their Internet (you have to do this close to the period that your promotional pricing ENDS).  Keep organized, jot it down, write it in your calendar.  I personally set a reminder to myself on my iPhone.  Call them within one week of your promotional pricing expiry (please note that your Internet usually will be in service one month after your billing date).

Fifth, be nice, polite, your pricing is really at your CSR’s (customer service representative) mercy.  The more polite (but perhaps assertive) you are, the more they will accommodate your needs.  It’s easier to catch flies with honey right?  Tell them that *the other company* has promotional pricing and you would like to cancel your Internet and switch to the other company.

At this point, the CSR usually offers you a deal to match the price of the other company for the same duration (e.g. 6 months).  You should not have to sign a contract or anything.

Write the new date in your calendar or set a new reminder to yourself, and in about six months (sometimes three months), repeat steps 1 to 5 again and you are good to go!

Of course, it goes without saying that if you don’t have cable (I just subscribe to Netflix) you will save more money, however Internet by itself is usually more expensive than when in a bundle.  This strategy (making a phone call) should save you money so you do not have to pay for a bundle!

Bargainmoosers, how much do you pay for your Internet?  Do you have a bundle or do you just pay for Internet itself?

Photo credit: Stian Eikeland

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August 30

Save Money On Home Organization

Posted by on August 30, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Home Organization

The leaves are changing; fall is coming, and there’s nothing better to get you ready for the school year than a little bit of home organization.  Sometimes when we are not organized we end up spending more money because we can’t seem to find anything, feel more stressed, and accumulate more clutter.

Why is it important to organize your home?

First off, it’s important to organize your home in order to save money because you’ll be less inclined to buy duplicates. When we do not take stock of what we have, we are unaware of what we have, and then we end up buying more items and wasting money.

Apartment Therapy also suggests that when you organize your home, you’ll feel less clutter, you’ll feel more happy in your home, and ultimately you will feel less inclined to redecorate. It is this restless energy that comes from a cluttered home that may prompt people to redecorate and change things up.

Finally, Apartment Therapy also agrees that when you have a place for everything to go to, you will save time finding things (not to mention frustration). This frustration and stress is a cause of medical bills, sick time, and according to Life Hack, stress is a factor and cause in 80% of our medical bills, so it makes sense to reduce stress as much as possible.

Here are some ways to save money on home organization. Doing something to help you feel organized and allowing you to save money simultaneously? It’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers can be created easily and probably provide one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ fixes in terms of home organization. After all, it is Murphy’s Law, things just naturally get messy in your drawer the more often you open and close it, right? According to HGTV, all you have to do is grab some strong cardboard or plastic, and divide it up. Alternatively, you could spend a little bit of money at the local dollar store to find some drawer dividers. Gone will be the days of mess and disorganization in your drawers!

If you’re hard pressed for time to make some drawer dividers, another thing that works well is using ice cube trays for small knick knacks that add clutter, such as rubber bands, paper clips etc.

Re-Use Jars with Lids

Who needs fancy Mason Jars? Premeditated Leftovers, a blog about natural and frugal living doesn’t think you need fancy mason jars to organize your home.  Just reuse the jars with lids that you have. Mayonnaise jars, food jars, pasta jars: they are free Mason jars in disguise. Besides, you are helping the planet by reducing and re-using.

Printable Organizing Lists

A Cultivated Nest (a great blog about inspiring frugal ideas for your home and garden) has a great list of ten printable organizers from other great blogs that will help you save money. Describing everything from a printable sales cycle planner, coupon binder pages to a monthly budget chart, this is a great post to keep bookmarked.

Cheap and Easy Organization Tips

Check out this post on A Cultivated Nest on inexpensive home organization ideas that can be easily implemented without having to spend a fortune on an expensive home organization place like The Container Store. One great example that I love is the cracker box container lid holder. It easily stores your Tupperware or Glad container lids and keeps them organized. One thing I would do is to cover it up with some wrapping paper or paint to make it more elegant looking.

I would personally love to see my home more organized than it currently is and I think that I need some shelf dividers and some more baskets to hold things, because I am finding my place a bit cluttered. I am a huge fan of the Ikea dish divider (I use it as a shelf for my clothes in my Expedit shelf) and plan to get more. Time to make a trip to Ikea!  Also, it is time for some late summer/early fall cleaning if you ask me.

Bargainmoosers, do you have ways in which you save money on home organization that you can share?

(banner image credit: Becky Wetherington)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
August 27

Save Money On Your Child’s Extracurricular Activities

Posted by on August 27, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Your Childs Extracurricular Activities

The New York Times states that the average family spends about $601 annually on summer activities for their child. This does not include the rest of the year. Now that summer is almost over and school is back in session, it is time to think about the extra-curricular activities to put your child in this year.

In Canada, the situation isn’t any brighter (especially with high cost of extracurricular activities such as hockey). According to Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan, a non-profit organization that helps families save for post-secondary education, the average Canadian family spends about $1500 on hockey related expenses and can spend upwards to $10,000 a year on hockey. This is more than the average a Canadian family saves for post-secondary education on an annual basis, which is $1455 a year.

Even more interesting is that The Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan also found that 38% of Canadians have (or have known someone who) borrowed money to put their child in extracurricular activities and even deferred their own retirement in order to put their child in extracurricular activities.

Obviously we all want the best for our children, but perhaps it should not be at the expense of our own retirements and post-secondary education savings (or post-secondary “something” whatever they want to do, perhaps it is a gap year studying abroad or traveling abroad). This is especially true since children often change their minds with certain activities and one thing they like this year might not be the same thing last year. Or even one thing they like this month might not be the same as last month (especially relevant if you spend the aforementioned $1500-$10,000 on hockey that year only to find out your child does not like it after two months).

In any case, here are some ways in which you can save money on your child’s extracurricular activities:

Limit Activities

Fox Business recommends picking and prioritizing extra curricular activities.  Find out what your child is interested in and pursue that, instead of trying to juggle three to four different activities at one time. They suggest that you discuss with your child and get them involved in the decision making process (especially if they are older) that you cannot pursue three to four different sports or activities for them at a high level due to cost. Getting your child involved in the decision making process helps them feel empowered and also helps your wallet feel empowered because they can choose what they really want.

Buy Used or Rent

The Centsible Life recommends that if you are putting your child into music lessons or music classes, look at buying used musical instruments or renting.  The same goes for sports equipment, buy used or rent if possible.  When I was a child, my mother rented my musical instrument and I was always very cognizant of that and appreciated it. I later on ended up buying it (it was a rent-to-buy program) and was happy that it was a used instrument instead of a perfect new instrument.  It gave the instrument more character.

Check Out your Local Community Centre

Additionally, Money Crashers also suggests that you say no to expensive activities and set a limit. The local community centre is a great choice because it allows your child to try an activity for three months or less (sometimes even just eight weeks) in order to ascertain if there is enough interest to commit to a year of the same activity. Even better is that the local community centre is usually close to home, which means less commuting and driving to and from activities, which is another source of expenses. I took swimming lessons at my local pool and took ice skating lessons at my local community centre.

Sign Up for Free Activities

If there are free activities available at school, sign up for these. Lots of places offer introductory classes (such as karate) for free. It is a great way to get your child exposed to different activities and to see if your child has any interest.

Extra curricular activities are an essential part of being a well rounded individual and part of a healthy childhood; however, they shouldn’t cost your retirement!

 Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your family’s extracurricular activities?

(banner image credit: USAG-Humphreys)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
August 24

Avoid Spending A Fortune At Your Next Visit To Ikea

Posted by on August 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Avoid Spending A Fortune At Your Next Visit To Ikea

There’s a reason why Ikea is so popular.  Ever since I was a child, I used to be obsessed with looking at the Ikea catalogues. I’m still amazed at the beautiful layout and design ideas that the catalogue pages depict.  From the marketing design to the free children’s playroom (which I loved as a kid, by the way) and very economically priced hot dog and soft serve ice cream, the trip to Ikea is designed for you to invest your time and money. I think that most people agree: it can be very hard to get out of Ikea without spending any money.

Here are some ways in which you can save money during and after your next trip to Ikea:

Go With a Plan (and a List)

One of the easiest ways to spend money is through the slow meander through the display area in Ikea.  According to the Globe and Mail, the average shopper spends about two hours wandering through Ikea.  This is not surprising since the average size of Ikea is akin to roughly six football fields. The strategically placed items are meant to make you buy on impulse (all those cute things near the cashier are meant to make you impulse buy).  I found it very interesting that on average, 50% of customers who shop through Ikea purchase something, which is much higher than the average women’s wear boutique, per the Globe and Mail article.

If you head to Ikea and plan your purchases beforehand, you could head through those six football fields with less temptation and more direction. You will head straight to the warehouse section, find your aisle and get out of there without buying a lamp, a terrycloth stuffed animal, or some kitchen utensil that you probably do not need.  This article from The Consumerist concurs that the Ikea business thrives on add-on sales.

Take Advantage of Sales

If you sign up for their mailing list, you will get to know firsthand when the bedroom collection or bathroom collection goes for 30% off.  Unfortunately it’s a little bit of spam, but considering Ikea stuff rarely goes on sale, this might not be a bad idea.

In addition, Ikea has Wacky Wednesday sales where they have an item that goes on sale for a very reasonable price. It does mean making a trip out to Ikea during a weekday, and sometimes the items are not necessary (meaning it would also be an impulse purchase if you bought it).

Finally, head to the As-Is section of Ikea.  The mark downs tend to be very generous and very reasonable.  Best yet, the As-Is section is full of items that are already assembled for you (that Allen Key is the bane of a lot of people’s existence, I’m sure). One person’s dislike is another person’s treasure, isn’t it!

If You Live in the States…

In the American Ikea stores, you can sign up for a $25 coupon if you spend more than $250 and are planning to move. In addition, if you sign up for the Ikea Friends and Family Program you can get a free cup of coffee and get information on the special discounts just for members. It is free to join. I don’t think we have any great deals like this in our Canadian Ikea stores, but hopefully in the future there will be.

After Your Visit

After your visit to Ikea comes the dreaded task of assembling the furniture with the aforementioned Allen Key.  I found that it was useful to pay someone (I found someone on Craigslist) to do it because it saved me time and frustration. For me, I could spend my time being more productive as opposed to spending hours trying to assemble something properly.

However, asking your friends to help out (handy friends, might I add) is a great solution too!

Get Some Ikea Hack Ideas

If you are bored with your Ikea furniture and want to make it a bit more unique, especially since everyone is buying the same furniture, head to this great website called Ikea Hackers.  It is filled with creative and easy ideas to make your Ikea furniture a bit more unique.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money at Ikea?

(banner image credit: kaktuslampan)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
August 1

Save Money On Summer Travel

Posted by on August 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Summer Travel

With gas prices at all time highs, people are sticking around for summer travel.  Many people (including me) are planning last minute close getaways and avoiding the trans-Canada road trips: 28% of Canadians are going to limit their summer traveling and enjoyment to $100 or less according to the Toronto Star.

Here are a few tips on how to save money on your next summer trip.

Choose Alternative Accommodation

I had trouble finding a place to stay during the long weekend because most motels and hotels were booked. The only accommodation on booking websites such as Hotels.com or Orbitz were expensive hotels that were hundreds of dollars a night. Alternative accommodation that is much more reasonable includes airbnb (check out the latest coupon codes for airbnb available on Bargainmoose here) and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner).  Oftentimes if you can’t find what you are looking for in terms of dates, you can email the owner to see if there is availability and to see if they can accommodate your needs.

If possible, find accommodation that contains a kitchenette or simply fridge so that you can prepare your own meals and save money on dining out.

Plan your Meals

Speaking of saving money on dining out costs, like many things in life, organization is key.  If you are able to plan ahead with your meals, bring a cooler (if it is a short three to four day road trip) and buy groceries ahead of time, you will save a lot more money than if you ate out for your meals.  This of course is dependent on if you have accommodation that has a kitchenette.  If it does not have a kitchenette, see if you can get at least a fridge so you can put certain foods in the fridge, and it may help you skip spending money on a breakfast.  The Motley Fool blog recommends getting accommodation with a kitchenette as well so that you can cook and save money.

Make Sure Everyone Chips In

Of course if you are traveling with your immediate family you probably won’t need to utilize this app, but if you are traveling with friends or extended family or anything where you would want to keep a tally of who spent money on what, the best app to use for this is the Payback App.  It is easy to use and calculates exactly how much you owe your friends, and vice versa.  All you have to do is input who the people chipping in are, and then input the expenses, and press “It’s Payback Time!”  The best thing about it is that it is a free app, too!

Time it Well

US News suggests that you plan your summer holiday to avoid the long weekends.  Everything is more expensive (and booked up) on long weekends, including gas and accommodation (because available rooms will be more expensive).  They suggest that if you are going to travel on a holiday weekend, you should wake up early so that you can avoid traffic and therefore save money on gas. The less time you are on the road, the better for that tank of gas and the better for your psyche as well.

Get Organized

As mentioned earlier, organization is key. The Chicago Tribune has a great article on some must-have travel apps before you start your vacation. For example, CityMaps2Go allows you to look at the map for a city without having to use wifi.  Avoiding the roaming charges while trying to find the destination you are heading to will definitely save you money.  I often fall into this trap and have to turn on roaming data because I am lost.  Therefore, an app to help you with data loss is where the focus for donations should be targeted at. Another app that is very helpful is TripIt. This app allows you to organize your itinerary so you have access to it all in one convenient location. Instead of looking for emails or files, just access TripIt and you can have access to your itinerary, trip bookings, flight details, and even restaurant reservations.

Hopefully these five tips to save money on summer travel will be of use to you this summer or maybe even next summer.  Have a great summer everyone!

Bargainmoosers, what is your favourite way to save money on your summer vacation?

(banner image credit: motiqua)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
July 25

Keep Cool In The Summer: Save Money On Air Conditioning

Posted by on July 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Keep Cool In The Summer: Save Money On Air Conditioning

With the summer weather in full swing, many people are having to turn on the central air conditioning because they can’t sleep at night without it on.  Air conditioning, much like heating your home in the winter, can suck up a lot of energy, pollute the environment, and most importantly, it can put a dent in your utility bill unnecessarily.  According to Wikipedia, 88% of single family homes constructed in 2011 in the United States have built in air conditioning, along with 99% of homes in the Southern United States and 62% of homes in western United States.  That’s a lot of air conditioning (and a lot of energy use)!  Of course, if you (like me) don’t have air conditioning in the home, these tips will help you keep cool. I am happy that I do not have air conditioning; I keep the thermostat at zero in the summer and enjoy my low energy bills.

Here are a few ways in which you can save money on air conditioning, by having to avoid the need to turn air conditioning on.

Close the Windows

Contrary to popular belief, if you close your windows during the day you will keep cooler than if you opened them.  If you think about your home like a container that absorbs heat, when you open the windows it allows the heat to get into your home and stay there.  This also applies to closing your blinds and shades once the sun rises, since the suns rays will heat up your home if you leave blinds and shades open.

Of course, this is easier said than done, because who doesn’t want to keep their window open to smell the fresh air, see the blue sky, and hear the birds chirp?

Use a Fan

Fans are a great way to keep cool and use significantly less energy than air conditioning.  For example, a ceiling fan uses about 10-100 watts of energy whereas a central air conditioner uses about 2000-3000 watts of energy (source:  Yahoo Shine).  That is at least 200 times the amount of energy!

If you don’t have a ceiling fan, stand-up or table top fans are great too. Another way to maximize your fan is to put a bowl of cool ice in front of it to circulate cool arctic frozen air.  How fun is that?

Check Your Lighting

If you haven’t already, switch your regular joe incandescent light bulb over to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL’s). If you think about it, over 90% of an incandescent light bulb’s energy is wasted on heat instead of producing light (source: eBay Green).  When you have a whole household full of incandescent light bulbs, that’s a lot of energy wasted and a lot of unnecessary heating in your home.  Of course, make sure you turn off any lights or electronics that you do not need turned on to save on energy and to prevent any unnecessary heating in your home.  When your electronics are in standby mode, they still emit heat unfortunately.

Insulate Your Home

This strategy and home improvement is a win-win for both summer and winter, so it’s a no-brainer to implement.  Attic insulation can help keep your home cool by not allowing the cool air to escape. Although this does not necessarily decrease the heat in your home per se, it helps keep it cool.  According to Good Housekeeping, if you have central air, you should make sure you use seal ducts at vents and registers to prevent the cool air from escaping- if you do not do this, you can allow up to 20% of the cool air to escape.

In addition, Conde Nast also recommends that you seal your air leaks with caulk.  A simple job (grab a caulking gun at your local hardware store) will give impressive results.

Keep Cool In The Summer: Save Money On Air ConditioningCool Down with a Drink

Despite using these tips you may still want to turn on the air conditioning.  If all else fails, head to your local lemonade stand and support your neighbourhood budding children entrepreneurs!  I love seeing children sell lemonade- wish I did that as a child.

Bargainmoosers, what is your favourite tip to keep cool in the heat of summer?

(banner image credit: Kenneth Lu)

wishes

Moose Rating (4 votes)
July 19

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Posted by on July 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Sometimes it takes me the entire month of September to get back on track to get organized and ready for back to school.  Sometimes it just takes me a week or two.  No matter the amount of time it takes for you to get you and your family organized for back to school,  organizing for it is a necessity for a productive and happy school year.  There are great ways to get organized, and most of these do not require that you spend a fortune to do so.

Here are some ideas and way to save money while you are organizing for back to school.  Many of these are do it yourself projects and do not require expensive supplies.  In fact, most of these supplies can be picked up at your local dollar store.

Magnetic Lunch Chart

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

This great idea from the Martha Stewart website is a fantastic way to get your children involved in their weekly meal planning.  This will likely reduce the chance that they will swap their lunch or not eat their lunch because they are the ones involved in decision making (well, one hopes, anyway!).  All you have to do is download the template and print it on magnetic paper.  Another added bonus is that it makes grocery shopping easier because you have the week planned out.

Set up a Craft Closet

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Arts and crafts necessities such as pens, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, felt markers, scrap paper and construction papers tend to adhere to Murphy’s Law and create a big mess in your home.  Laura’s Crafty Life has a great idea to use a clear shoe organizer to store the arts and craft supplies so that they are easy to spot and easy to access.   Shoe organizers are very cheap and are usually under $10, and $10 for peace of mind and organization is well worth it, in my opinion.  I am a big fan of shoe organizers behind the door, but mine is filled with shoes rather than arts and crafts for now.

Backpack Central

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Another great idea is to create a back pack central area (much like the cubby holes and jacket and backpack area that your child has at school).  This idea from Pinterest incorporates your children’s names, a cork board, and a list of chores or homework that they need to do that evening.  It’s a great way to regroup and refocus once they return home from school.  It might also make mornings a little more manageable because things are organized and in the right spot!

Create a Command Central

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Another great idea from the Martha Stewart website is to create a command central.  This is where all the schedules are, where the calendar is kept, and where the organization is at its finest.  A check list for each child is helpful and encourages your children to set goals for themselves, mark their checklist and feel like they accomplished something.  It is also a great way for them to develop skills to get organized.  Another reason this is a great project idea is that all the stationary essentials are easily accessible and visible, you’ll be replacing less things that get “lost” all the time.

Mason Jar Organization

Save Money Organizing For Back To School

Mason jars are beautiful and very reusable.  This great idea from the One Hundred Dollars a Month blog teaches you how to create cute mason jar holders labelled with chalkboard paint to keep your children’s pencils, crayons, and other stationary organized.  Not only are these jars functional, they are beautiful to look at and super easy to make.  All you need are mason jars, chalkboard paint, and some chalk.

Back to University Apps

For those of you who do not have children, but are going back to school, CBC has a great list of apps that are free but are great for back to school.  My personal favourite for organization is Dropbox.  It has saved me from a ton of clutter and it is free.  Here are five free cloud computing services to consider if you’re not a fan of Dropbox but are in need of some organization.

Bargainmoosers, do you have other DIY organizational tips for back to school?

(banner image credit: Lyn Lomasi)

Moose Rating (4 votes)
July 11

Save Money On Working Out

Posted by on July 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Working Out

Since the beginning of this year, I have made a conscious effort to work out and to incorporate personal fitness and exercise into my weekly routine.  It all started with training for the half marathon that I did earlier this year.  I realized that incorporating exercise does not have to be expensive – you just have to have the will power and the motivation to do it.  Motivation is free (and simultaneously priceless).

I have never been one to join the gym (I prefer to be outdoors rather than cooped up indoors) so I never was suckered into buying $30 to $100 monthly gym memberships.  This is probably the key to saving money on working out.  I believe that if you are going to join a monthly membership you should join something that has a set schedule or set times that you need to make a commitment to.

The recommendations for a healthy fitness level is 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week (four to seven days a week).

Here are some ways in which you can add some fitness to your weekly routine without breaking the bank:

Free or Frugal Fitness Ideas

  • Take up running:  There’s a reason why there are so many runners out there.  It is a relatively cheap workout that allows you to have high aerobic activity and a high amount of cardio.  The only costs are initial ones, as you have to pay for running shoes and running gear.  Run clubs are usually free to join and a great way to meet people.
  • Work out as part of your commute:  This is probably one of the best ways to incorporate fitness into your weekly routine without adding to the budget and without adding too much to your already busy schedule and US News agrees.  If you live within biking distance to work, biking is a great way to put in a workout.  Also if you live within running distance you can also run to work.  Check out if your office has showering facilities.
  • Workout at home:  Although this is probably difficult to stick to for most people, if you have the self-discipline, working out in the privacy of your own home is a great idea.  Pilates videos, yoga videos, even P90X videos are low cost and can continue to help you work out for years to come.  I have used the same yoga video for the past eight years and haven’t gotten sick of it yet.
  • Utilize your Amenities: If you live in a condominium or another facility with amenities such as a gym or a pool, make full use of it!
  • Check out your local community centre: When I needed to use the treadmill to get my run in during the cold icy winter, I often went to the local community centre gym.  To work out it only cost $2.50.  That’s pretty good if you don’t plan to go that often and you just need to use the gym facilities infrequently.  Oftentimes, pool access is also similarly priced and reasonable.
  • Check out daily deals sites: Fitsugar suggests that daily deals sites often have great workout or intro classes available.  I purchased a kayaking weekly session for half of the regular price (saving $50)  just by doing a quick google search.

Although frugal and free fitness suggestions are great, sometimes it can be hard to stick to these, which is why people often go for the expensive workouts and gym memberships – to get the motivation and external accountability. There are ways to increase your self-motivation and internal accountability; Huffington Post shares how to increase motivation and will-power:

  • Write it down. This announces to the universe your intentions and keeps you accountable.
  • List reasons why working out is important to you – list the benefits, list the importance of achieving these goals
  • Reward yourself when you reach sub-goals.
  • Predict sabotage thinking and think of ways to act on these thoughts – for example, making excuses for not to exercise.
  • Put reminders in your calendar. This works well for me because if I schedule it into my calendar, it increases the likelihood that I will complete the exercise task.

Bargainmoosers, do you have other frugal and fun fitness ideas that you use?  More importantly, how do you motivate yourself and keep yourself accountable?

(banner image credit: Heather Dowd)

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