Author Archive

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)
February 18

13 Free Apps to Help You Organize Your Life

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

13 Free Apps to Help You Organize Your Life

Has your life ever felt so chaotic that you can hardly remember what day of the week it is, let alone what time your kids’ soccer practice starts at? Luckily, there are a number of applications out there to help you organize your life better without costing you a single penny. Whether you need help keeping track of your to-do lists or remembering your online banking password, one of these apps is sure to make your life a little bit easier with only a click of a button.

To-Do Lists

Although there’s nothing wrong with going old-school and writing down your to-do list on a piece of paper or post-it, when you’re constantly on the go, sometimes it’s much handier to have a virtual list you can access via your computer or mobile phone. My personal favourite to-do list app is Workflowy because it’s simple to use and allows me to make as many lists and sub-lists as I want for absolutely free. Other great (and free!) to-do list apps you can try out include Remember the Milk, Toodledo, Todoist, and Cheddar.

Important Files

When my husband and I planned our wedding, backpacking trip through Thailand, and our big move from Vancouver to Toronto, there was one app that helped us through it all: Dropbox. What we liked most about it was we could access important files from anywhere and it was super simple to share files with our friends and family. For instance, for our Thailand trip we shared copies of our driver’s licenses, passports, and plane tickets with our families via Dropbox in case anything happened to us while we were overseas and they needed immediate access to these important documents.

Social Media Profiles

I don’t know about you, but I have so many different social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest…), it gets harder and harder to keep track of everything without using a social media management app. That’s why I use apps like Hootsuite to make it easier for me to stay in the know and contribute to online conversations. You can also use SocialOomph, Spredfast, and Summify to get the job done for free too.

Online Passwords

Although memorizing your passwords is always safer than writing them down, it can be difficult to remember every single password for all of your online accounts. Fortunately, there are apps like LastPass and KeePass to securely keep all of your passwords in one place. Just make sure to do your diligence first before handing over any private information to any app or website.

Life Goals

When I was a young, ambitious student, I used to write down all of my goals on a piece of paper and tape it to my bedroom wall as a reminder of all of the achievements I hoped to make that year. As I’ve gotten older, my goals have shifted focus from academic success to leading a fulfilling life, and one app I’ve found extremely helpful has been BucketList. It’s a free app that helps you organize your life goals and tick them off when they’ve been accomplished, while also giving you suggestions on new goals you should consider for the future.

Bargainmoosers, what apps do you use to keep your life organized?

(Image Credit: Johan Larsson)

Moose Rating (5 votes)
February 11

Refund Tips For the 2013 Tax Year

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

Refund Tips For the 2013 Tax Year

It may seem like it’s the season of love with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but another season is also upon us…tax season. Although most people hate this time of year because it means going through piles of receipts, crunching a lot of numbers, and possibly paying the taxman even more money, it can also be looked at as a time to be creative and see how much money you can save (or get back in the form of a tax refund). Here are just a few ways you can be smart and get some of your hard-earned money back this tax season.

First Time Donor’s Super Credit

Giving back is a great way to support causes you care about and your community, but it’s also a great way to increase your tax rebate too. In 2013, in addition to the regular Charitable Donation Tax Credit, the Canadian government created the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit as a way to encourage more people to become charitable donors. This new credit can be applied to donations made on or before March 21, 2013 and can only be used by people who have not claimed a Charitable Donation Tax Credit since 2007. What it gives you is an extra 25% back on top of your regular credit on donations claimed up to $1,000. That means you can get up to 40% back on donations of $200 or less, and 54% back for the portion of donations over $200 up to $1,000. For more information on in this new tax credit, make sure to visit the CRA’s website.

Education and Textbook Tax Credits

Going to school isn’t just a great way to develop your skills, it can also help reduce the amount you owe come tax time. The government created these credits to assist students in reducing their tuition and textbooks costs, and considering how expensive post-secondary is these days, they can sure come in handy. The best part about these credits is that you carry them forward to future years when you need them the most. You can also transfer them to your spouse, common-law partner, parent, or grandparent as well. More information on these tax credits can be found here.

Children’s Fitness Tax Credit

Here’s one good reason to get up early on a Sunday morning to drive your kids to soccer: a big fat tax credit! You can claim up to $500 in eligible expenses and get up to $75 back per child, all the while your kids are staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle. For a complete look at what this credit entails, check out this nifty video from the Canada Revenue Agency.

Children’s Arts Tax Credit 

Similar to the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the Children’s Arts Tax Credit is a way to get money back when you enroll your kids in an arts, cultural, recreational, or developmental program. It follows similar rules as well, allowing you to claim up to $500 and get a maximum of $75 back per child. An important thing to remember is you can claim an extra $500 for both this tax credit and the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit if your child has disabilities.

Public Transit Tax Credit

You can do your part to improve the environment and help yourself when doing your taxes by choosing to travel by public transit. No matter if it’s by bus, streetcar, subway, train, or ferry, as long as you buy a monthly or annual pass that permits unlimited travel within Canada, you can claim the total amount for a Public Transit Tax Credit. That

Bargainmoosers, what tax credits are you planning to take advantage of this year?

(Image: Images_of_Money)

Moose Rating (2 votes)
February 4

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

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

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what first comes to mind? A heart-shaped box of chocolates? A Valentine’s Day card? An extravagant public display of affection? For me, it’s always been pink frosting and anything sweet. I usually try to bake something to bring to the office or to share with friends and family for Valentine’s Day, but at the same time I always try to stay within a limited budget to avoid going overboard. Thanks to some very creative and budget-conscious bloggers, I’ve rounded up five delicious and cheap Valentine’s Day treat recipes to share with anyone else who has as a big of a sweet tooth as I do.

Red Velvet Cookies

Is there anything more heart-warming (or delicious) than a batch of homemade red velvet cookies? Costing you a fraction of the price of store bought cookies, this recipe from Mindfully Frugal Mom is sure to be a hit at the office or your friend’s Valentine’s Day party.

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

Valentine’s Day Smoothie

Healthy and tasty, this smoothie is sure to give that special someone a big smile when they wake up on Valentine’s Day. Thanks to Frugal MomEh! for this festive and frugal recipe!

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

Love-Red Cherry Cheesecake

What better way to say I love you than with a to-die-for cherry cheesecake? To sweeten the deal, this recipe from Budget Savvy Diva only requires six ingredients, so not only is it easy to make, it won’t break the bank either.

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

Rice Crispy Hearts

Simple, yummy, and always a crowd pleaser, Today’s Frugal Mom offers a unique spin on the traditional rice crispy square that will cost you less than $5 dollars to make. Now that’s a frugal treat I can really sink my teeth into.

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

Treats in a Jar

For those of you who are short on time, but still want to make something special to hand out to your friends and family on Valentine’s Day, this may be the recipe for you. All you need are some Valentine’s Day themed candies (think pink M&Ms, Hershey’s Kisses, or Red Hots), a few mason jars, and some decorative ribbon or special handwritten messages. The inspiration for this sweet treat comes from The Frugal Girlsblog.

Delicious & Cheap Valentine’s Day Treats

Bargainmoosers, what are your favourite Valentine’s Day treats?

(Image credit: Smiley’s Sweets; Ken’s Oven)

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January 28

Frugal Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Posted by on January 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Frugal Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

With Valentine’s Day only a few weeks away, you may be racking your brain for a gift idea that will impress your special someone but won’t put a big dent into your wallet. Remember, it’s always the thought that counts when it comes to giving a great gift, so walk away from that jewelry or electronics store and try out one of these frugal Valentine’s Day gift ideas instead.

Memory scrapbook

Do you have a collection of concert tickets, dinner receipts, and old photos of you and your partner? Don’t throw them into the recycling! Use them to make a one-of-a-kind memory scrapbook that you both can cherish for years to come. If you want to go the digital route and have hundreds of couple photos taking up space on your computer, make a slideshow using iPhoto or another software program so you can reminisce about all of the good times you’ve shared so far.

Romantic homemade meal

There’s nothing quite like setting up a romantic meal-in complete with lit candles and The Notebook to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone. To keep costs low while avoiding coming off as a cheapskate, try to find a recipe that incorporates ingredients you already have in your kitchen. To save money on your movie rental and Valentine’s Day decorations, make sure to check out what your local library and dollar store have to offer.

Love letter

You don’t have to be Shakespeare to write a thoughtful, heart-melting love letter to tell your loved one how you really feel. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper for this frugal Valentine’s Day gift, and possibly a few tissues just in case. If you need a bit of help to get your letter going, LifeHack has a list of great love letter writing tips that will aid in eliminating your writer’s block.

Love Song

Do you know how to play the guitar or piano? Even if you don’t, writing a love song for your lady or lad is a sure way to put a smile on their face for absolutely free. I’m telling you, from my own experience, this really works! No matter how corny or terribly rhymed the lyrics are, everyone has always secretly wanted a song to be written about them. That being said, if you have a feeling that you wouldn’t make it past the first round of American Idol, either get someone to sing the song on your behalf or refrain from belting it out in a public place.

A day off

Saving the best for last, I don’t think there’s anything more romantic than coming home only to find the house completely cleaned, the laundry done and put away, and a husband who insists that I relax while he takes care of all the chores. Of course having a bottle of merlot ready for me and some Chinese take-out on the way doesn’t hurt either.

Bargainmoosers, what’s your best frugal Valentine’s Day gift idea?

(Image credit: ButterflySha)

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January 21

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Posted by on January 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

During the lengthy (and chilly) winter months, it can sometimes seem difficult to find new ways to keep your kids entertained when they have to stay indoors. Although a visit to the museum, aquarium, or science centre may seem like the way to go, if you’d like to avoid paying the hefty admission prices, staying inside and making some unique crafts with your family may be a more sensible idea. Since we still have a few more months to go until Spring arrives, here are a few frugal and fun winter crafts you and your family can try out on your next snow day.

Homemade Playdough

Who doesn’t love to play with playdough? With this wonderfully simple recipe from The Imagination Tree, you can make your own playdough out of ingredients from your kitchen for virtually pennies on the dollar.

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Glow-in-the-Dark Jellyfish

All you need are some paper plates, white yarn, and special acrylic paint to make these cool glow-in-the-dark creatures. Kristin from Craftiments provides step-by-step instructions on how to make the jellyfish crafts. Just make sure place them in bright light for 30 minutes before turning the lights off to see them glow.

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Caterpillar Clothespins

If you want a craft that is both simple to make and adorable to play with, these caterpillar clothespins are just what you might be looking for. You may need to make a trip to the dollar store to get some pom poms, googley eyes, glue, and clothespins, but after that you can let your kids go wild. Thanks to Frugal Fantatic for the great idea!

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Paper Plate Dream Catcher

A great way to ward off bad dreams, this paper plate dream catcher is also a fantastic craft to keep your kids entertained when it’s raining or snowing outside. Full instructions can be found on 4 Crazy Kids blog.

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Paper Bag Puppets

I remember this being one of my favourite crafts as a kid because the number of different puppets you could make was endless. Plus, all you needed to make a whole production of puppets is a few paper bags, some markers or crayons, and some craft paper and glue. Although there are a number of websites with free design ideas to choose from, 86 Lemons provides instructions on how to make animal puppets for everyone to enjoy.

5 Frugal & Fun Winter Crafts for Kids

Bargainmoosers, what are your favourite winter crafts to make with your family?

(Image credits: Franklin Park Library, Tim Pierce)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
January 14

6 Ways to Get Educated for Free

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

6 Ways to Get Educated for Free

Education is incredibly important for us to grow as human beings, but when most of us think of higher learning I’m sure we also think about expensive books and student loans. Fortunately, there are a number of ways we can keep our brains active and continue to learn new skills online for absolutely free. I guess whoever said “you can’t teach a dog new tricks” didn’t know about any of these free learning tools.

Khan Academy

Want to spruce up your math skills? Or are you more interested in learning about art history from the medieval era? Both are possible, and best of all free, through Khan Academy. It’s a free online resource for learning math, science, economics, finance, and humanities that includes reading materials, video tutorials, and quizzes to test your knowledge. When you sign up, the site will track also your progress and provide you with useful statistics about your learning history.

Lumosity

Ok, the programs offered by Lumosity aren’t exactly free, there is a subscription charge to gain full access. That being said, if you just want to do a bit of brain training for no cost at all there is a free trial you get access to when setting up your profile. I played a few games to test my speed and memory, and wow was it a workout!

TED

If you want to get motivated, inspired, or learn something completely new, then TED.com is the site to visit. With over 1500 TEDTalk videos to watch for absolutely free it’s easy to spend hours watching lecture after lecture. For instance, did you know that most of us are actually tying our shoes the wrong way? In Terry Moore’s TEDTalk, he demonstrates how to properly tie your shoes so you’ll never have to tie a double knot again.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

For those of you who crave a bit more structured learning in the form of a formal online course, there are a number of courses offered by colleges and universities worldwide for free, the majority of which are listed on the MOOC List. I originally found out about this from my husband who recently signed up for a free songwriting course through the Berklee College of Music. And if you’ve always wanted to say you’ve gone to an Ivy League school, sign up for one of the free courses offered by Harvard, UCLA, and Yale.

iTunes U

If you can hardly find enough minutes in the day as it is and are constantly on the go, then the iTunes U app might be your perfect learning companion. Whether you’ve got some spare time on your daily commute on the train, or you’d like to put your time to better use during your lunch break, this free app will give you access to a number of learning materials on your iPhone or iPad.

Google Adwords Certification

This may not be of interest to all of you, however if you’ve always wanted to know more about search engine marketing you can now get your Google Adwords Certification for free (Google used to charge a $50 fee).

Bargainmoosers, what other free ways to you know of to educate yourself for free? 

(Image: alamosbasement)

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January 7

How to Break Bad Spending Habits

Posted by on January 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Break Bad Spending Habits

Everyone has one or two bad spending habits, but since it’s a new year there’s no better time than the present to resolve to break them (and actually break them!). There is no excuse for overspending or getting into debt when there are so many easy to implement solutions out there. This 2014, say goodbye to your bad spending habits and say hello to a financially responsible you!

1. Bad habit: Abusing your credit cards / Solution: Live off cash only

If you’ve ever watched Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s show Til Debt Do Us Part, then you’ll know the first thing she makes couples do who abuse their credit cards is to make them live off cash only. It’s a great exercise to wean yourself off credit and become more comfortable living within your means. That being said, living off cash alone won’t get rid you of your dependency on credit, leading me to #2…

2. Bad habit: Spending and forgetting / Solution: Recording all of your spending

If you can’t remember how much you’ve spent on something then you’ve probably been overspending. The only way to really take control of your finances is to keep track of every single purchase. Personally, I try to make all my purchases on debit or credit to keep track of everything, however if you don’t trust yourself with either of those cards and choose to only spend with cash, make sure to get a receipt for everything and write it down in a notebook or an excel spreadsheet. This way you can see what you’re spending too much on, which will help when you make yourself a budget to stick to.

3. Bad habit: Always going over budget / Solution: Make a more realistic budget

Creating a budget is a great idea, but sometimes the numbers in your budget just aren’t realistic. In a perfect world you could spend $10 a month on eating out and be totally fine with it. In the real world $50 may be a more realistic number (unless you only want to order an appetizer at dinner). The best mindset to have when creating a budget is to set yourself up for success, not failure. This may mean trying out a few different budgets until you find one that just works. Then, once you’ve become comfortable with that budget, that’s when you can try to adjust it to cut out expenses and put more into savings.

4. Bad habit: Not put aside money for savings / Solution: Set up an automatic savings plan

For the past 3 years I’ve been happily putting money into my savings and investments accounts with hardly any effort. Nowadays you can easily set up automatic transfers from one account to another, helping you reach your savings goals without the worry. What I’ve done is set up transfers from my main chequing account to my high-interest savings account (my emergency account), my TFSA (my long-term savings account), and my RRSP (my investment account) every paycheque so once I get paid I automatically pay myself first without giving it a second thought.

Bargainmoosers, what bad spending habits do you want to break this year?

(Image credit: x.Jason.Rogersx)

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