Author Archive

June 3

How to Save Money as a New Graduate

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

How to Save Money as a New Graduate

As thousands of you new grads cross the stage and accept your well-earned diplomas, you may want to prepare for a few unpleasant realities. Although you’ve worked hard for that degree, you’ll have to work even harder to pay down any debts you’ve accrued and start building a nest egg. The job hunt post-graduation is never easy, especially in this economy, but if you stay smart and follow these simple rules you’ll be well on your way to financial independence in no time.

Don’t Stop Living Like a Poor Student

Did you think your days of living like a poor student were over? Think again. Chances are you’ll either experience several months of unemployment after graduation or your first gig will be an unpaid internship. This may mean you’ll have to stay a little longer in your parent’s basement (or move back into it) and continue to live on a shoestring budget. Even if you do score a job right out of school, you may be shocked at how much living on your own can cost. Try to avoid lifestyle inflation and stick to living like a poor student for a little while longer to build up your net worth.

Get a Part-time Job in the Meantime

There’s no knowing how long it may take you to find full-time employment in your preferred field (it took me 8 whole months after graduation). Instead of staying home all day and over-analyzing the cover letter you sent for that last job you applied for, find a part-time job in the meantime. It could be working at a coffee shop or grocery store, or you can look into finding a more flexible on-call gig like being a movie extra or general labourer. Not only will this help keep you occupied until you find your first real job, it will also help you put some money in the bank too.

No Matter How Small the Amount, Start an Automatic Savings Plan

Whether you’re just working a part-time job or you’ve successfully landed a full-time permanent position somewhere, you need to start an automatic savings plan. Even if all you can afford is $100 a month, set it up through your bank so $50 is taken off each paycheque and put directly into a high-interest savings account. The goal for this account is to save up at least 3 – 6 months of your personal expenses as an emergency fund. At the same time, you’ll also want to start paying back any loans or lines of credit you’ve taken out. Rule of thumb is to focus on paying off the debt with the highest interest first.

Start Studying Again

You may have thought you wouldn’t have to crack open another book for some time after graduation, but the best way to put your best financial foot forward is to get educated. If you don’t know where to start, Dave Ramsay, Suze Orman, David Chilton, and Gail Vaz-Oxlade are great authors to begin your personal finance education with. The first personal finance book I ever read was David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber and not only did it make the world of money that much less scary, it also got me excited to take control of my finances and make a plan to attain the comfortable and secure future I always dreamed of.

Bargainmoosers, what advice would you give to new grads on how to save money and avoid getting into more debt?

(Image: nasrul ekram)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
May 27

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

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

 

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

It’s starting to heat up outside, and that means it’s time to starting eating lighter and maybe consider shedding a few pounds to fit back into your swimsuit. To help you get ready for summer and help you boost your healthy diet into high gear, here are 5 healthy snack recipes you can make at home for a fraction of their store-bought equivalents.

Applesauce Overnight Oatmeal Recipe

I found this great and easy-to-make recipe over at the Cheap Recipe Blog. Guest poster Lauren from The Oatmeal Artist explains how it only takes a few minutes to make (minus having it sit over night in the fridge) and it will cost you less than buying a bagel and coffee in the morning.

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

“Cheesy” Vegan Kale Chips

If my husband can make kale chips, anyone can make kale chips. Perfect for satisfying that salty craving, but also healthy and cheap enough that you can eat as much as you want whenever you want. Thanks to Simone Anne for this great recipe!

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

Avocado Hummus

With the help of a food processor, this recipe for avocado hummus from Purely Primal should take you no more than 60 seconds to whip up! What’s interesting about this recipe is it doesn’t actually have any chickpeas in it, but it still serves the same purpose of making veggies and dip that much more delicious.

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

Frozen Banana Yogurt Pops

Popsicles are perfect on a hot day, but they are usually chalk full of sugar and lack any nutrition. Clever Crafty Cook Mama has a solution for that with her amazing recipe for frozen banana yogurt pops. Just get a bunch of bananas, dip them in some yogurt, pop them in the freezer and your done!

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

Date Balls

As found on Tempest’s blog Ellomennopee, this detailed recipe for date balls is easy to make and can be stored for long periods of time since all of the ingredients are dried. Even better, besides the dates themselves, you can just add in ingredients you already have from you cupboard. Now that’s frugal and convenient!

5 Healthy & Cheap Snacks

Bargainmoosers, what are your favourite healthy and cheap snacks?

(Image credit: Jennifer)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 20

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Posted by on May 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

With spring in full swing, and summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how to occupy the kids during their long summer break. Taking them on road trips or to the waterslides are always fun things to do, but here are a few cheaper ideas to keep them entertained for hours right in your backyard.

Tree Stump Tic-Tac-Toe

When I was growing up there was this huge tree stump in the middle of my family’s backyard. I sure wish we had thought to convert it into a giant outdoor tic-tac-toe board as shown on DIY Follow. All you need is a sharpie, a few rocks, some paint, and you’ve got hours of fun for practically free.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Stone Hopscotch Course

Do you have stone or cement steps in on your front and back lawn? All you need is a bit of chalk (or paint if you want to make it more permanent) to turn those boring steps into your very own hopscotch course.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Wooden Pallet Lemonade Stand

I, like many other people I’m sure, have such fond memories of manning my own lemonade stand as a kid on hot summer days. That being said, none of my lemonade stands ever looked as cool as this one. Jill from the blog I Know the Plans I Have for You shares step-by-step instructions on how to build your own lemonade stand with a just few wooden pallets, some paint, and a bit of elbow grease. With this impressive set up, I think kids will be able to charge customers more than the standard 25 cents per glass.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Kiddie Car Wash

Sprinklers are great if you don’t have a pool and the kids want to cool off, but why not go one step further and build your own kiddie car wash? Amanda from A Few Short Cuts gives detailed instructions on how to make one in your own backyard, and even better she also includes frugal building tips too.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Princess Castle

If camping isn’t an option this summer, how about some glamping in your backyard? This would have been a dream for my sisters and I when we were younger, so if you have some little princesses in your family, you may want to take a page out of Lorraine from I Kat Bag’s book.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Outdoor Twister

Last but not least, if there’s a patch of grass you don’t mind painting for the season, this outdoor twister idea will take you a just few minutes to make while giving you endless fun for the whole family. Don’t have a twister spinner handy? Not a problem. You can download the app for iOS for just $0.99 or for Android for free.

Frugal Backyard Fun for the Whole Family

Bargainmoosers, what fun backyard activities do you do with your family in the summer?

(Image credit: ND Strupler)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
May 13

7 Cheap Ways to Experience Vancouver Like a Local

Posted by on May 13, 2014 at 8:00 PM

7 Cheap Ways to Experience Vancouver Like a Local

In just a few days my husband and I will be flying back to Vancouver after a year away. Besides looking forward to visiting family and friends, I’m also really excited to experience Vancouver with a completely new perspective. Living there for 26 years, I left the city thinking I knew it like the back of my hand. Still, in those 26 years I never really played tourist in my own town. There were a number of amazing things about Vancouver that I took for granted, so this trip I’m going to make sure I soak up as much West Coast as I can for as little as I can.

1. Catch some rays at the beach

Having lived in Toronto for the past year, I’ve definitely missed being so close to the ocean and the amazing beaches Vancouver has to offer. That being said, I think the last two years that I lived in Vancouver I only visited the beach twice! This trip I’m going to make sure to soak up some rays at English Bay, Kitsilano, Jericho, or Spanish Banks Beach for absolutely free.

2. Get cultured at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Since Vancouver is known for its gloomy weather, I’ve got to be prepared in case my beach plans get rained out. Luckily there’s the Vancouver Art Gallery that never disappoints located in the heart of downtown. The best part is on Tuesdays they offer donate-what-you-can admission between 5pm – 9pm.

3. Tour around Granville Island

One of my favourite spots in Vancouver is Granville Island. Besides being a hub for playhouses and restaurants, it also has a number of great galleries and viewpoints you can check out for free. There are also some ferryboats that take off from the island, giving you an up close cruise around False Creek, which I’ve always wanted to go on but never got around to doing. Since I’ll be a playing a tourist on my trip, I don’t think I’ll mind paying $15 ($10 for seniors and children) for one of the best scenic tours around the city.

4. Taste test some local craft beer

Vancouver is known for its amazing craft beer, and yet when I lived there I never once went on a brewery tour. This time I’m gathering a group of friends to check out the Granville Island Brewery for only $9.75, and we might visit the Parallel 49 Brewing Company’s tasting room for a few free samples too.

5. Grab a cup of coffee

Besides craft beer, Vancouver also knows its coffee. Sure, you can find a Tim Horton’s or Starbucks on every corner, but the good stuff is hidden in places like JJ Bean, Caffe Artigiano, Elysian Coffee, and 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. For just a couple of bucks, you can experience pure heaven in roasted bean form.

7. Dig into some delicious dishes

When it comes to food, you name it…Vancouver has it. I can’t wait to order some authentic Pad Thai from Bob Likes Thai Food or taste the mouth-watering crispy cauliflower at the Lebanese restaurant Nuba again. Of course, there are also a number of other great restaurants I’ve always wanted to try out too like the geek-themed hot spot Storm Crow Tavern, or Guilt & Co., the pub where you can nibble on a meat and cheese plate, play a game of Jenga, and enjoy a live jazz concert in the same night.

8. Go for a walk in the park

Stanley Park is by far Vancouver’s most popular park, and as beautiful as it is, there’s still one park above any other that I need to make a point of walking in on my upcoming visit. It used to be named Guelph Park but it now officially goes by the name Dude Chilling Park. If I do nothing else on my trip besides get a photo of myself with that park’s sign, it’ll all have been a very worthwhile trip.

Bargainmoosers, what are you best travel tips for visiting Vancouver on a budget? 

(Image credit: Ruth Hartnup)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
May 6

Mother’s Day Gifts on a Budget

Posted by on May 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Do you know what you’re going to get for the most important woman in your life? Sure, you could go the traditional route and get her flowers or a nice card, but why not think outside the box and make one of these unique Mother’s Day gifts for her that won’t cost you near as much as what a bouquet of flowers will ding you on May 11.

Teacup Candle

Thanks to Budget Savvy Diva, making your own teacup candle for your Mother’s Day gift is a cinch. Not only does she include instructions and pictures, she also shares a how-to video to make it easy for anyone to make this unique present.

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Mason Jar Picture Frame

What better way to frame a photo of your family than in a flower vase? Requiring just a mason jar, some paint, and some painter’s tape, you can whip up this sentimental gift in just a matter of hours. Thanks to Home Stories A to Z for the great idea!

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Personalized Kitchen Utensils

If your mother or wife is in need of some kitchen updates, why not start with the utensils she uses to cook with everyday? Choose her favourite colours or write a special note on each utensil, and maybe even throw in an offer to cook dinner for her for the next week. This gift idea was found on Cleverly Simple’s blog.

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Family Bookmarks

The perfect gift for the woman who loves to read, you can make these one-of-a-kind bookmarks using photos of your family and a bit of string just by following Creative Family Moments’ step-by-step instructions.

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Cupcake Bouquet

For the mother with a big sweet tooth, there’s no better bouquet than a bouquet full of cupcakes! All you need is a styrofoam ball, a pot, and some cupcakes (which you can attempt to make yourself, or just buy from the grocery store). Thanks to Crafts n’ Coffee for this delicious treat!

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Garden Gift Basket

It’s gardening season, so this garden gift basket is a great way to say “I love you” for just a few bucks at the dollar store. Credit goes to One Tough Mother Blog for this thoughtful gift idea.

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Breakfast in Bed

If all else fails and you still don’t know what to do for a Mother’s Day gift, breakfast in bed is a classic for a reason. You can even go the extra mile and make a personalized breakfast tray as per 733 Blog’s guide too.

Mothers Day Gifts on a Budget

Bargainmoosers, what do you plan on gifting your mother or wife for Mother’s Day?

(Image credit: Belindah)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
April 29

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Posted by on April 29, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

In just a few weeks time, my husband and I will be celebrating our first wedding anniversary. It sure has been a whirlwind of a year; we got married, visited California for our honeymoon, and then moved from Vancouver to Toronto. We’ve experienced so much in our first year of marriage and I definitely want to make sure we mark this occasion right, while still being budget-conscious. Here are a few frugal first wedding anniversary ideas I’ve found that will help inspire any of you newlyweds gearing up to celebrate your first wedding anniversary without breaking the bank.

Start a New Tradition With an Anniversary Photo

There’s no better way to mark a special occasion than with a photo shoot! We absolutely loved our engagement and wedding photos, and what a great idea to take a new photo of ourselves each year so we can look through them when we grow old, or to show our future children. Hope and John shared a great photo idea on their blog. They took a framed wedding portrait, and then photographed themselves holding it on their one-year wedding anniversary. On Jessica’s blog, The Vanishing Are Running, she combines tradition with modern by taking a photo with her husband wearing paper hats (paper being the traditional gift for your first year of marriage).

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Put Your Love in Permanent Ink

Although everything’s on the internet these days, it’s still fun to see your name and photo in print. Check out your local newspaper to see how much it would cost to place an anniversary announcement in the paper. Sometimes it can be as low as $35.

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Recreate That Special Day

Just like everyone warned us, our wedding went by so quickly we didn’t even get a chance to try out the hors d’oeuvres that were served or enjoy a slice of wedding cake. I’m sure we’re not the only ones out there who experienced the same thing, so why not recreate the same menu you had at your reception and serve it at home with your spouse. It’s a great way to bring up memories of that special day and to save money by eating at home.

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Make Some Memories by Doing Something New Together

Your wedding day and first year of marriage, like mine, was full of memories and new experiences. Instead of just going out for dinner at a fancy restaurant for your anniversary, why not try something new and exciting to kick off year two of your nuptials? It doesn’t have to be expensive to be exciting. It could be going to the drive-in theatre for the first time. Or, it could be facing your fears and going on that big roller coaster at the amusement park. It could even be going on a picnic at a park you’ve never been to. Whatever you choose to do, as long as you are sharing the experience with your spouse, that’s really all that matters.

Frugal First Wedding Anniversary Ideas

Bargainmoosers, what frugal first wedding anniversary ideas can you suggest to newlyweds approaching this milestone?

(Image credits: tico_24; David Amsler; Bruce Fingerhood; Houndstooth4)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
April 22

How to Save Money on Your Southern California Vacation

Posted by on April 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Your Southern California Vacation

Almost one year ago my husband and I flew down to California for 10 days to celebrate our honeymoon. We’d both always wanted to visit The Golden State, but since we had just spent a pretty penny on our wedding and were about to move provinces, we made sure that our vacation in California was both fun and frugal. If any of you are thinking about visiting California this spring or summer, here are a few ways we were able to save money without missing out on anything the West Coast had to offer.

Disneyland

Tickets to Disneyland aren’t cheap, but there are a few ways to save money here and there (just check out all of Clare’s useful tips here). What my husband and I did to shave a few dollars off the entrance fee was to forego the Park Hopper passes (which let you in to both Disneyland and California Adventure) and just buy Single Park passes instead. Not only did we save $35 each by doing this, we also realized that we couldn’t have enjoyed both parks to the fullest on the same day anyways.

As for accommodations, we avoided the pricey Disney hotels, and stayed at the Howard Johnson Anaheim instead. It was significantly cheaper and still walking distance from the park. We also tried to avoid eating or buying anything at the park too. Instead of buying bottled water there at an inflated price, we brought our own water bottles to fill up at their free water fountains. We also didn’t buy any food there, but opted to bring our own snacks like granola bars to keep us fueled up while waiting in line for all the rides.

Universal Studios

My husband and I were really excited to visit Universal Studios (we’re huge film buffs), but unfortunately we couldn’t find any way to get discounted tickets for entry. The one good thing that did come out of our visit (besides having a blast on all the rides!) was that that the park was giving away free tickets to be part of Jay Leno’s studio audience. Apparently they have promotions like this all the time, and we made sure to take advantage. We may not have saved any money while at Universal Studios, but just being at the park gave us something to do the following day for absolutely free.

Hollywood & Los Angeles

The most expensive part of visiting Los Angeles is actually staying in Los Angeles. Even though we searched for the best hotel deals online, it was hard to find a decent room for less than $170/night. Since that was the case, we made sure to save money in other ways. Instead of eating out everyday we bought groceries at food stores like Trader Joe’s and stored them in our room’s refrigerator. We also tried to do a number of free activities, such as visit Santa Monica Pier, check out the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and drive up to see the Hollywood sign.

Wine Country

We really wanted to explore California’s wine country on our honeymoon, but we knew we couldn’t afford to fly up to Sonoma or Napa Valley from Los Angeles. Instead, we decided to stay in Temecula for 3-nights, which is only an hour and a half drive away from downtown L.A. Not only was it a beautiful town full of wineries, it was incredibly affordable to stay there. We were able to get a lovely suite with a private porch overlooking the orchards at the South Coast Winery & Resort for only $165/night just by searching the hotel deal sites. Our wine tour was also very cheap at only $100/person for a full afternoon of wine tastings, pairings, and transportation through Rockin’ Wine Tours.

Bargainmoosers, have you visited California before? What tips & tricks did you use to save money?

Moose Rating (1 votes)
April 14

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Posted by on April 14, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Spring is the time of year when you start getting rid of junk and clutter from your house, but what should you do with all that junk and clutter when you’re ready to clear it out? Instead of just tossing it into the garbage bin, consider upcycling some of it into unique décor pieces for your home. Have a box of glass jars taking up space in your attic or garage? You may want to use one of these ideas to turn your old spaghetti jars into focal points for your kitchen or living room.

Baby food jar spice rack

A great solution to all of those baby food jars piling up in your house, by following Lauren Davison’s instructions you can make your very own magnetic spice rack! Considering these usually cost $2 per magnetic spice jar at the store, this is a great way to upcycle your empty jars and save you money.

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Mason jar lantern

Perfect to set the mood at a wedding or romantic dinner in with your loved one, these mason jar lanterns are easy to make as long as you have some time and a few empty jars on hand. Thanks to Heart Love Weddings’ for this great idea!

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Candle in a jar

Instead of shelling out $15 for a vintage style candle from Etsy, you can DIY your own (and even sell them yourself too!) with the help of Candy and Clothes’ candle in a jar recipe.

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Stained glass jar vase

A beautiful window treatment or table centrepiece, these stained glass jar vases are a great way to add a pop of colour and a hint of elegance for the low price of just a few dollars. Eclectically Vintage’s blog shows you how to hang them with wire around your window, and Six Sisters’ Stuff will show you how to stain them whatever colour you wish.

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Mason jar snow globe

It doesn’t have to be Christmastime to turn your old jars into snow globes. Swap fake snow for glitter and replace the miniature Christmas trees with tiny houses or landmarks from your hometown. Thanks to Miss Fancy Pants for the inspiration!

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Jars

Bargainmoosers, how else can you upcycle your old jars? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

(Image: Wesley Eller)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
April 8

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Posted by on April 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Spring is here, which means you can finally ditch your winter gear (in most parts of Canada anyway), put on your rain boots, and enjoy some family time outside. Instead of just going to the park, here are a few alternative ways you can make some lasting memories with your kids this spring for hardly any money at all.

Go on a real-world treasure hunt

Have you ever heard of geocaching? It’s essentially a real-world treasure hunt! All you need to do is grab your GPS or download a free geocaching app onto your phone, then start your hunt for geocaches (or treasures) hidden in specific locations. What’s really fun about this is when you find the geocache, you have to write about your discovery in the enclosed logbook, then leave something of equal or greater value behind for someone else to find.

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Visit the farmer’s market

What better way to teach your kids about supporting local vendors and eating healthy than visiting your local farmer’s market? Try going there with a recipe in mind and getting your kids to help you find all the ingredients you need so you can prepare it together at home later that night.

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Make an egg carton garden

Spring is the time to start your garden, even if it’s just in an egg carton. To get your kids familiar with the process of gardening and the importance of taking care of a growing and living thing, give each of your kids their very own egg carton to look after. Not only will this teach them about responsibility, but they’ll also get to experience seeing a seed transform into a living plant!. Thanks to Dainty Cate for this great idea and detailed instructions.

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Splash in some puddles

The mess afterwards may not be fun to clean up, but it’s a great way to create some memories and bond with your kids for absolutely free!

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Make homemade birdfeeders

Don’t you just love hearing the birds chirp when you sit down for breakfast with your family? Thanks to Little Love and Sparklin Becks, you and your family can attract birds to your house everyday with these cost effective homemade birdfeeders.

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Go for a family hike

Whether it’s on a local trail near your house, or a steep mountain in a national park, take advantage of spring’s moderate temperatures with a good ol’ family hike. It’s a great way to get some exercise, enjoy nature’s wonders, and bond with your loved ones at the same time.

Frugal Family Activities for Spring

Bargainmoosers, what frugal activities do you plan to do with your family this spring?

(Image: Jim LarrisonGinny Lacey Gorman; Scooter Lowrimore; John Bergquist; Janelle; Janelle)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
April 1

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

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

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

With Easter just around the corner, it’s time to get your kids excited for the Easter holiday without going overboard and spending tons of money on expensive decorations or treats. With a little imagination, a few useful materials, and a bit of time and effort, you can make some long-lasting memories with your family without spending more than a few dollars.

Serve up a bunny breakfast

Being creative with breakfast is a cheap and fun way to get your kids ready for the Easter holiday by using ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Either serve it up on Easter morning or leading up to the big day. This idea was inspired by creations found on B-Inspired Mama!s blog and Pinterest.

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

Get festive with your after-school snacks

If you’re having trouble getting your kids to eat their vegetables, maybe you should make a veggie platter fit for an Easter bunny? For other yummy snacks, try making an Easter-themed salty-and-sweet mix, or turning ordinary cheese puffs into giant Easter carrots. Thanks to Creative Organization, Savvy Mom, and Life Music Laughter for these great ideas!

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

Make some Easter-themed crafts together

There’s no better way to spend quality time with your kids around Easter than to make some fun crafts together! Sassy Dealz has instructions on her blog on how to make kid-friendly puffy paint, and Craft Bug’s blog will show you how to dip dye Easter eggs or turn a normal plastic cup into a googly-eyed bunny!

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

Create your own decorations

You don’t need to go over your weekly budget just to get your home ready for Easter. All you need is some paint and a few other cheap materials to DIY everything you need for a fraction of what it would cost you at the store. Check out these great decoration ideas from The Lady Thing, Serenity Now Blog, and Eclectically Vintage.

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter

Get free Easter books and movies from library

Last but not least, every kid loves a good story to get excited about the holidays, and there are a number of great Easter books and movies you can enjoy together for absolutely free at the library.

Frugal Ways to Get Your Kids Excited for Easter 

Bargainmoosers, how do you get your kids excited for Easter on the cheap?

(Image: Robert S. Donovan)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
March 25

How to Get the Best Deal When Shopping for a New Cell Phone

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

How to Get the Best Deal When Shopping for a New Cell Phone

For the past few months I’d been toying with the idea of upgrading my cell phone. I’ve been carrying around an iPhone 4 for the past year, and although it’s a big improvement from my old Blackberry, it started showing signs of decline once I updated it to the current OS. Since I use my phone all day long to text, phone, email, tweet, and surf the web, I knew that getting a new smartphone and a new plan wasn’t going to be cheap. That being said, I also knew that there were several ways I could get a good deal and negotiate for the best contract possible. In the end I was able to get an iPhone 5S (16GB) plus AppleCare on a two-year contract, costing me only $70 per month for the plan and $150 for the phone. Considering the phone alone is worth $700, I think my deal-finding efforts definitely paid off.

Decide what type of phone you want first

Research, research, research! Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to choosing the best phone for you and renegotiating your cell phone contract. The key thing to remember is that not all phones are alike. Although some phones may seem more popular than others, that doesn’t mean it’s the best phone to fit your needs. Are you a PC user and feel more comfortable using Microsoft products? Then you may want to consider getting the new Windows Phone 8.1. Are you like President Obama and can’t live without that Blackberry keyboard? Then Blackberry 10 may be just what you’re looking for. Once you’ve decided what type of phone you want, then you can start negotiating a new contract.

Talk to the retentions department of your current cell phone provider

Don’t just call the general 1-800 number of your cell phone provider when trying to negotiate your mobile contract. Go directly the retentions department because those customer service representatives’ jobs are all about retaining existing customers and in turn, making you happy. Personally, I’m not a great negotiator so for the past 5 or so years I’ve had my husband negotiate my cell phone contract on my behalf (what can I say, he’s really good at it!), so getting a little help from a family member might be something to consider. It’s also important to know exactly how long you’ve been with your provider to prove just how loyal a customer you’ve been. I’ve been with my provider for close to a decade and I definitely played the loyalty card in order to get a great deal on my phone plan.

Shop around to see what the competitors are offering

That being said, a few years ago when I was renegotiating my contract I was having a really tough time getting a good plan price. For one reason or another, the retentions department was not giving me the price I was looking for so I needed to get a bit of leverage. I started noting down all of the special offers being promoted by its competitors and checking out online forums so I could threaten leaving my provider for a better deal elsewhere. In the end, I got the price I wanted and they solidified keeping me as a customer for another 3 years.

Don’t get sucked into all those useless add-ons

When I negotiated the contract for my old Blackberry a few years back, my main want was to have a no frills phone that cost me no more than $35 per month, but allowed me unlimited texting. At the time they were really pushing me to add on data so I could surf the web on my phone, but I really wasn’t interested in paying an extra $20 for something I knew I wouldn’t use. I held firm with the price I wanted and made sure to never waiver. The end result was me getting a plan for $35 per month, unlimited texting, and free access to my social media accounts. Since I had that plan for 3 years, I know I saved over $700 by standing my ground and not getting sucked into their sales pitch for extra bells and whistles.

Avoid expensive accessories

Lastly, if you want to protect your phone from breaking, it’s always a good choice to get a phone case. That being said, if you go into any cell phone provider’s store, you’ll have a tough time finding anything cheaper than $30 for just a piece of plastic or silicone. One way to get a good deal is by checking out websites like Amazon or Ebay where they can be as low as $5. I was a bit impatient when I got my phone so I immediately checked out one of those cheesy looking kiosks at the mall. My brand new silicone case cost me $15 and works like a charm.

Bargainmoosers, what tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve to get a deal on a new cell phone?

(Image: Sam Churchill)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
March 18

5 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in Toronto

Posted by on March 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Free or Cheap Date Ideas in Toronto

As the snow begins to melt and the temperatures continue to rise above zero, soon there won’t be any excuse for hibernating indoors. Spring is the time to get back outside and show your loved one or crush some fun on the town! To make sure you don’t stretch your purse strings too far, here are a few free or cheap date ideas you and your date can try out in the Toronto area. Enjoy!

1. Check out a TV show’s live taping

This is something I think everyone needs to experience at least once. When my husband and I were in California for our honeymoon we made sure to get to tickets to a live taping of a TV show while we were there. Not only was it really cool to see how they taped the show, but the whole experience was absolutely free! The only stipulations are tickets can sometimes be first-come first-served so you’ll need to arrive at the studio well in advance, or the show will book their audiences a few months prior. For a fun date in Toronto, you can be an audience member on Cityline, George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, and many more shows as listed on Saving Kathy’s awesome blog.

2. Do a brewery tour

Obviously only decide to go on a brewery tour if you or your date are big beer fans, but if you do decide to go, a tour around the Steamwhistle Brewery in Toronto is a great choice. You only need to book you tour 12 hours in advance and the cost will only be $10, $15, or $26 depending on what souvenir you’d like to take home. If you and your special someone are more craft beer connoisseurs, then a tour around the Amsterdam Brewery might be more up your alley. Tours are free, but they only run on Saturdays between 1-5pm on a first-come first-served basis. However, you can contact the brewery to enquire about booking a special private tour on either a Tuesday or Thursday evening as well.

3. Visit the Royal Ontario Museum

A great way to stir up some conversation with your date, if you visit the Royal Ontario Museum in downtown Toronto you can save some major cash by going on a Friday from 4:30pm – 8:30pm. Regular adult ticket prices are $16, but they are reduced to $10 on Fridays.

4. Spice it up at a cooking class

The Ontario grocery chain Longos offers a variety of cooking classes ranging from $10 – $35 per class. Not only do you get to learn how to make some delicious dishes from some of Toronto’s top chefs, you get to eat everything you make too!

5. Laugh ‘til you cry at The Second City

If you want to do something really outside the box on your next date, go to one of The Second City’s drop-in improv classes! They take place every Monday from 6pm – 8pm and it will only set you and your partner back $15 each. If you’re more comfortable being in the audience as opposed to on-stage, you can buy discounted tickets for these hilarious shows if you go as a group of 15 or more, or if you’re a student, or if you buy tickets for non-weekend performances.

Bargainmoosers, if you live in the Toronto area, what other free or cheap date ideas can you suggest to do around town?

(Image: ekelly89)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
March 11

7 Top Money Saving Apps

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

7 Top Money Saving Apps

Want to be better at managing your money on the go? Guess what, there’s an app for that! Actually, there are several apps for that, most of which are completely free. In case any of you are on the hunt for the best money saving apps to add to your mobile or tablet, here’s a list of my top 7 picks for apps that will help you pay off debt, find the best deals, and keep your finances organized all by the click of a button.

DebtMinder ($1.99)

If you are in debt and striving towards financial freedom, you may want to spend the $1.99 for the DebtMinder app to help you on your journey. It will create a personalized payoff plan for you and keep you on track with regular progress reports. This app is available on iPhone and iPad.

Shoeboxed (Free!)

Sometimes the only way to find out where all your money went is by keeping your receipts. But how often do you forget to put them in your wallet, or worse, accidentally throw them in the trash? With the Shoeboxed app, you just snap a photo of your receipt and let the app compile the data for you. Later on you can generate expense reports and export them to Excel, Quickbooks, or other money management software. This app is available on iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Mint (Free!)

If you already have a Mint account, then the Mint app on your mobile or tablet will make your life just that much easier. It’s great a way to make sure your bills are paid on time and to check if you’ve got enough money in your bank accounts no matter where you are. The best part is it’s available on almost any type of device.

Tip-n-Split ($0.99)

Don’t you hate having to calculate the amount to tip or split a bill at the end of a meal? The Tip-n-Split app should be your best friend then because it eliminates all the hassle and does all the work for you. This app is available on iPhone and Android.

GasBuddy (Free!)

Even though gas prices are seemingly always on the rise, with the GasBuddy app you can make sure you always know what gas stations are charging the least amount for a fill up. This app is available on iPhone, Andriod, Windows Phone, and Blackberry.

RedLaser (Free!)

RedLaser is the ultimate shopping app. It helps you find the best deal by comparison shopping for you, it keeps all of your loyalty cards in one place, and it helps you locate local retailers to help you find what you’re looking for in just seconds. This app is available on iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone.

And of course, Bargainmoose (Free!)

The Bargainmoose app is available on iOS and Android. It’s just an app version of the site with some basic features, but could be handy when you’re on the move and you want to keep abreast of the latest hot Canadian deals! If you don’t have it, download it now. 7 Top Money Saving Apps

Bargainmoosers, what are your favourite money saving apps?

(Image: Sean MacEntee)

Moose Rating (1 votes)
March 4

Cheap Ideas for March Break 2014 in Prince Edward Island

Posted by on March 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Cheap Ideas for March Break 2014 in Prince Edward Island

Although Quebec and New Brunswick have already begun their March Breaks, there are still people in provinces like Prince Edward Island that have to wait until the middle of the month (March 15 – 23) to kick off their shoes and relax for a week. On the upside, if you live in Prince Edward Island and plan on staying home for the weeklong break, you still have plenty of time to plan out how you’re going to spend your days, and most importantly how to keep your kids entertained. Here are few suggestions on cheap activities you can do with your family this March Break in Prince Edward Island. If you have any other notable suggestions for March Break activities, make sure to share them in the comments!

Have fun at the art gallery

Want to spark your kids’ creative learning this Spring Break? There are many ways you can do that at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. This March Break they are offering a weeklong art camp for kids filled with activities and guided tours through the gallery. For 5 full days the cost is $160, which is $32 per day. That’s not too bad, especially considering this camp would be eligible for the Children’s Arts Tax Credit.

Get active

Over at the University of Prince Edward Island, you can register your kids for one of their many fitness focused March Break camps. There’s their Fun ‘N’ Fitness camp that’s jam packed with games and sports; there’s their Dance camp focused on jazz, hip hop, and funk dancing; and there’s also their Sports!!! Camp that is focused specifically on soccer, basketball, volleyball, and other team sports. The cost is $140 for 5 full days, which is broken down to $33 per day. This camp would also be eligible for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit.

Step back in time

Get to know more about PEI’s history by visiting any of the 7 museum locations available to the public. For a Family Passport, which gives 2 adults and 2 children access to 3 of the 7 sites, it will only set you back $31.95. For more information on the different museums, visit the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation’s website.

Take your kids to That Fun Place

This entertainment centre was set up by two moms a little while ago because they just couldn’t find a fun place to take their kids when the weather was bad outside. Lucky for you, that’s no longer a problem because That Fun Place will keep your kids entertained for hours now matter what the weather is like. Complete with a bouncy house, plasma cars, gaming stations, and a large playstructure, the best part is the low admission prices. Kids ages 1-4 cost only $4, and kids ages 5-12 are only $6. Alternately you could get the Family Fun Pass which is only $15 for 3 children, then an additional $2 per extra child. Now that’s a deal!

Bargainmoosers, what are your plans for March Break 2014?

(Image: AJ Batac)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
February 25

Free & Cheap Ideas For March Break 2014 in British Columbia

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

Free & Cheap Ideas For March Break 2014 in British Columbia

Since Eva did such a great job with her post on Free & Discounted Ideas For March Break 2014 in Ontario, as a born and bred British Columbian, I thought it would be a good idea to mention some March Break ideas for all of you West Coasters to take advantage of. For school districts in BC, March Break starts on March 17th and ends on the 28th, however in Victoria it goes from March 10th – 21st. In any case, if you want to make the most of your time off with your family without having to go on an expensive trip or spending $100 on exciting attractions, you might want to check out one of these cheap or free things to do this March Break.

Go For a Hike!

Unlike many other provinces in Canada, BC is relatively warm and free of snow in March, making it a great time to get outside for some fresh air and exercise. If you really want to tire your kids out (and yourself for that matter), try doing the Grouse Grind!  Known to locals as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster,” this hiking trail is so popular, over 100,000 people do it each year. The hike up is completely free and the gondola back down costs only $10 per person. If you’re looking for a less arduous but still rewarding hike, check out Trails BC for a list of great hiking trails throughout British Columbia, or Vancouver Trails for hiking areas around the Lower Mainland.

Appreciate the Arts

Art is such an important thing to introduce into your kids’ lives, and luckily during March Break, the Vancouver Art Gallery is holding a special program called LOOK! LEARN! MAKE! for families to explore the Arts together. The program is completely free for gallery members or with normal gallery admission. For anyone living in BC’s interior, the Kamloops Art Gallery is similarly offering Spring Break Art Camps for kids, costing only $15 per day.

Check Out Some Local Hot Spots

One of my favourite places to go as a child was Granville Island in Vancouver. There are always outdoor performers juggling, singing, or playing music, there a ton of unique shops to check out, and the Kids Market used to entertain me for hours! The most this will cost you is the price of parking, and instead of buying lunch you can pack a picnic and eat right by the sea. Another great place to visit is Stanley Park. You can walk along the seawall, play on four different playgrounds, and check out the famous totem poles and First Nations outdoor art. In Saanich on Vancouver Island, there’s also a great guided tour during March Break held by a Regional Parks’ naturalist for free and is open to all ages.

Do Something Outside the Box

The Burnaby Village Museum is a great place for kids to soak up a bit of history while having some fun at the same time. And during March Break from noon – 4pm there will be a special program that includes crafts, entertainment, carousel rides, and a scavenger hunt for only $7 per ticket. Over at the Honeybee Centre in Surrey, you can enjoy a tour, experience the live insect museum, taste honey, and wear a beekeeping costume for only $5 per person or $15 per family of four. And finally at the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre in Vancouver, your family can enjoy an out-of-this-world experience. You can also save some extra money if you have any kids under the age of 5, as their admission is free. Otherwise, the cost for a family to go during the day is $56 and only $38 during the evening.

Bargainmoosers, what are your plans for March Break 2014?

(Image: JeffreyTurner)

Moose Rating (1 votes)