Offering helpful financial and lifestyle advice for everyday Canadians

Archive for the ‘Budgeting: General’ Category

Being Healthy on a Budget


Eating healthy and living on a budget are two things that generally don’t go together. But that is why I’m here. IvyHealthHub has some advice on how to slim down on your waist while on a slim budget.

Welcome to the New Year!!! 2014 is your year!! So, I want to try and make it just a little bit easier for you; let’s try eating healthier on a budget.

Who doesn’t like to save a dollar here or there, but now you can do it in a healthy way! With the right adjustments it is possible to enjoy healthy food for cheap!  Here are some tips to help you on your way:

Plan your meals ahead of time

Take a couple minutes to sit down on the weekend and plan out your meals for the next seven to fourteen days. Also, be sure to write out your shopping list and stick to it. This way, when you are at the store you won’t stray from your list and will help keep you on budget.

Try to cook and buy in bulk

Cooking in bulk help keeps the week easy-flowing. You can either cook a meal early in the week or freeze the other half for another week. You also can separate leftovers from Monday night’s dinner to have for lunch Wednesday and Friday. In addition, you can use leftover proteins or broths for another meal. You can put left over protein over a salad, or in with a bag of frozen vegetables and make a nice higher- protein food to make a healthier stir-fry. However, you may need to be creative with your spices. You may be surprised how many foods with different flavors go well together. (more…)

Highlights From Finance Minister Flaherty’s 2014 Federal Budget

 Hey everyone! Courtesy of the Canadian Press here are some highlights from Canada’s 2014 budget announcement by Jim Flaherty! I bolded some areas of interest at the civilian level!
Not listed: Commitment to 5mbps internet speeds across Canada. Good news for all you members of rural Canada and people with lower end internet packages!

Some highlights from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2014 federal budget

OTTAWA – Some highlights of the federal budget delivered Tuesday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

— The budget is close to balance, with a $2.9-billion deficit and a $3-billion contingency fund.

— Flaherty forecasts revenues of $276.3 billion and expenditures of $279.2 billion.

— The government makes clear it will balance the budget next year by cutting program spending and reining in public service compensation costs.

— The budget proposes to make retired federal public servants pay half the costs of their health-care plan, up from a quarter now. This would raise annual payments for a retired individual to $550 from $261. (more…)

Should You Skip the RRSP Contribution and Pay Off Your Mortgage First?

There are more than a few ways to get yourself to retirement. RRSP’s are a great investment, but so is clearing your debt before you stop earning a regular income. So what should you focus on? Thankfully The Globe and Mail has a great article to help you decide.

The big push is on to convince Canadians to load their extra cash into registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) investments before the Mar. 3 deadline. But though it may seem as though contributing is the only option when it comes time to decide what to do with the money, it’s not.

Many financial planners, accountants and other experts suggest there’s an even better way to work toward a well-heeled retirement down the road: Pay off the mortgage first. And do it as fast as you comfortably can.

That’s exactly what Rock Lefebvre, vice-president of research and standards for the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, in Ottawa, did when he was younger. Rather than invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, he developed a financial strategy that meant paying off his mortgage early. To this day he still advises that most people eliminate consumer debt and then go on to tackle mortgage debt before investing.


How to Live on a Fixed Income Budget

Here is a great article by Francine Richards of Demand Media with 7 helpful steps to living on a fixed income budget from

Step 1

Sit down with your spouse, make a list of each of your expenses, and set them against your income. Work together to set a spending budget, and to see where you can cut your expenses. For example, examine whether you really need all the premium cable channels, and if you can take your lunch to work instead of going out. Rent movies instead of seeing them in the theater. Unplug appliances when not in use, such as your cell phone chargers and your microwave. You may be surprised at how much you can save by taking small steps to cut expenses.



Everyday Savings Tips

Patricia Dawn Robertson writes a very informative piece on living “frugally”, or as we’d like to say, “smart”. Originally posted on

Thrifty living: How to save money every day
Words like “frugal” and “thrifty” get a bad rap sometimes, but living by these values can actually make your life easier and more satisfying. From learning new skills to researching your purchases, discover how thrifty living can help you save money in your every day life.

With global economies under pressure and people worried about their futures, it’s no wonder that many of us are looking for ways to save money and lead simpler lives.

I credit my partner, Grant, for instilling all of my thrifty skills in me. The first time he ever took me out, I surmised that he was no high roller: We had dinner on a coupon deal. At that time, I was mired in debt from credit card–fuelled shopping sprees.

But now it’s cash only and I’m happily on my eighth season of wearing the same well-made winter coat. In 2004, we moved to Wakaw, a small town in Saskatchewan, where I embraced the simpler life with the zeal of the newly converted.

Thrifty living: How to save money every day

“The secret to simple living is to understand that more is not always better,” says Bruce O’Hara, author of Enough Already! Breaking Free in the Second Half of Life (New Star, 2004). “But indulge in the occasional luxury so you won’t feel deprived,” he adds.

Ask yourself what’s most important, says O’Hara. When his brother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, O’Hara’s “someday list” became a “today list.” He found himself taking more risks, such as teaching English overseas, and he embraced the second half of his life. He’s now an ESL teacher living in Ecuador with his wife and two sons.

Try these ideas for living with less. You will be surprised by how much money you can save and how much peace of mind you will gain from having money in the bank by doing simple things like keeping a fully stocked freezer.

Tip: Grant and I celebrate Meatless Mondays every week. I make budget-conscious vegetarian meals such as baked lentil casserole (my favourite) and curried chickpeas with naan bread (Grant’s favourite). For kids, try recipes that are twists on meals they already love, such as vegan sloppy joes (substitute ground tofu for meat and they will never know the difference).

4 ways to save money when you’re shopping

Coupon clipper Taya Knight, who lives in the Okanagan region of British Columbia, put herself on a no-spend challenge three years ago and the habits stuck. “I spend more time with my friends and family now. My husband, Jesse, and I don’t fight about money. I love the impact simple living has had on our bank account,” says Knight, who’s on maternity leave but still pursuing her passion project at Here are her top tips:

1. Combine coupons with in-store sales and pile on the savings. But resist the urge to buy things just because they’re on sale.

2. Buy your clothing at the end of the season and gravitate toward the sale rack.

3. Don’t bother with cable. “Some days, I just forget to turn the TV on,” laughs Knight, who only gets two channels. She likes to spend her leisure time hanging out with friends and family, curling up with a good book, hiking, playing board games and sewing.

4. Take advantage of deals such as free birthday dinners at restaurants and buy-one-get-one-free sales in stores.

Four things to do before you buy

1. Research your purchases.

2. Save up for major expenditures.

3. Nurture your savings account. Find creative solutions for problems instead 
of throwing money at them. Repair items instead of automatically replacing them. (When is the last time you mended a pair of socks or a sweater instead of buying 
a new one?)

4. Ask yourself: Can I borrow the item, rent it, get it used or do without it? Craigslist, Kijiji, thrift shops and yard sales are great sources for used goods.

Three Test Kitchen secrets to saving money on food

1. Prepare your meals. “Even food editors have trouble organizing their meals!” says Annabelle Waugh, Canadian Living’s food director. The best strategy? Prepare. When you bring your groceries home, divide your meat into recipe-size portions or, better still, freeze it in a marinade. Wash your lettuce when you get home so it’s ready to throw into a salad. Making dinner is quick when you just cook your prepared meat, toss a salad and serve it with fresh crusty bread.

2. Ready-made meals are a great help. Annabelle’s favourite tip: “Commit to making one big-batch meal a week (such as lasagna, stew or minestrone). Double or triple the recipe so you can freeze meals. Then you have a ready-made meal when you get home late on a weeknight and don’t have time to cook.”

3. Canning can save you a lot of money. And we don’t just mean jams. Check out The Canadian Living Complete Preserving Book (Transcontinental, $34.95), which has loads of great recipes to help you make the most of the harvest. Jellies, marmalades and conserves are just the start: You can also make pickles, relishes and chutneys, as well as modern takes on salsas, sauces, syrups and flavoured vinegars.

How to use technology to save money

1. Blogs: Take a few minutes every week to check out blogs such as, where author-blogger Deborah Taylor-Hough offers a fresh take on home management (including loads of organizing, decluttering and money-saving tips).

2. Websites: One of my favourites,, offers DIY tips for urban homesteaders, such as this piece of advice: Replace your cleaning products with vinegar, baking soda and castile soap. With these three things, you can clean anything, and you’ll save a lot of money over the years.

3. Online videos: YouTube has instructional videos on everything from crocheting a simple wool hat to fixing your bathroom sink.

Thrifty living: Try new things and learn new skills

1. Learn how to sew. Austen Gilliland, Canadian Living’s senior editor (and queen of crafts), suggests that every budding seamstress get a copy of The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (Reader’s Digest, 1981). Other valuable resources include, a website for avid sewers, and and sister site, which offer fresh family fashions.

2. Cook with a friend. Invite a friend who knows her way around the kitchen over to cook up a storm and freeze the dishes for later. It’s fun, plus perogies, cannelloni and pot pies all come together quickly when two people work together. And it’s nice 
to have dinner ready on a busy night – so you don’t have to pick up prepared dishes.

3. Plant seeds in your garden. There’s nothing more enjoyable than biting into a fresh salad made with ingredients straight from your garden. It just tastes better. For a month-to-month guide on what to plant, when to plant it and how to prepare it, check out From Seed to Table: A Practical Guide to Eating and Growing Green (Insomniac Press, 2009) by Janette Haase. Bonus: Spending time in the garden getting your hands dirty and admiring the colourful plants is also great for your mental health.

4. Do your own car maintenance. Seriously! Take a night class on how to maintain your own car, then order discounted auto parts online. You will be amazed at the money you’ll save just by doing simple things like changing your own oil.

Thrifty living: It’s not always about money  

Build community: Practising frugality can cement friendships and build community. Grant traded a used 1970s CCM bike for a broken canoe (worth $1,500 new) with our DIYer friend Steve. Now both men have some cool man-cave projects on which to exercise their talents, with little up-front investment.

Teamwork: We inherited a fire pit from our friend Maryann when we helped landscape her garden. We also planted some squash for her that Grant had started in our mini-greenhouse using seeds from an organic squash from the grocery store.

Enjoy what you love: On TV-free Tuesdays, Grant and I play cribbage by the fire. But we still enjoy our favourite shows: We don’t mind paying for quality productions on HBO, for example.

[end of article]

Having trouble making ends meet? Learn about the pros and cons of Short-Term Loans.

Reader Testimonial – How I Stopped Living Paycheque to Paycheque

Originally posted on June 6, 2013 on

The following is a Financial success testimonial from Alison! Enjoy!

This year I had a goal of depositing two full paycheques directly into my savings account on top of my regular monthly 10% savings. I was discussing my budgeting and savings plans with a credit counselor and she told me she had never known someone to be successful at what I was planning…challenge accepted! This past month I was able to successfully do this and wanted to share with other frugal minded individuals how I did it so you can too.

My employer pays me bi-weekly, which means I receive two paycheques every month except for two wonderful months of the year when I receive three paycheques. At first this provided an interesting budgeting challenge because there are a few ways to calculate a monthly salary:

1. Take the overall yearly salary and divide it by 12 months.
For example, if I made $39,000 per year and divided that by 12 months, I would get a monthly salary of $3,250. This number is valuable for certain financial situations, but unrealistic for my monthly budgeting.

2. Add up the paycheques received in a month.
In this scenario, if I made $39,000/year, 10 months of the year I would be paid $3,000 and the other two months of the year I would be paid $4,500.

When creating a budget, what was I supposed to do with these three different amounts: $3250, $3000, and $4500? I started by making a decision: I do not want to live paycheque to paycheque. I wanted to create a system that always had me ahead of the game. I also decided to live off the amount of money I am paid for those 10 months of the year involving two paycheques and was determined to put those additional two paycheques, in their entirety, directly into my savings account. Saving 10% of my regular monthly salary is great, but I wanted a better security net.

Here’s what I did:
•Took my lowest monthly income number to create a realistic budget.
•Used helpful tools such as “Budgeting Basics – How to Get Started” found on Simply Frugal and tracked my expenses to determine what was sustainable.
•Created an overall budget that allotted every dollar of my two paycheques per month.
•Determined what money I would need as cash on hand during a month and what I could leave in a separate bank account. For example, grocery money is cash I need to take out of the bank. Gift purchases or dental appointments, while budgeted for, are not necessarily money spent every month. I’ll call these my “planning ahead expenses.”
•Once the budget was nailed down, I totalled all my “planning ahead expenses” and my savings, then divided those numbers in half. This is what I transfer out of my main chequing account every paycheque into sub-accounts. For example, $20 per month is budgeted for gifts, of which $10 is transferred every paycheque to a “Gifts Account.”
•Leave the rest of the money needed for cash on hand or for bills directly debited out of my chequing account to build up my monthly float. My monthly float is every dollar that I will spend during the next month.

Through the month as I deposit each paycheque, I transfer out all of my “planning ahead expenses” and let the rest remain to build up for the next month. Because each paycheque that I deposit into my account is not needed for any immediate expenses, I am released from my dependence on it. When I deposit a paycheque, I have no thought of spending it because I know I do not need it for the current month. This freedom is essential because when one of those three paycheque months comes along, I treat the first two cheques just like any other normal month by transferring out my “plan aheads” and building up my float. Those two cheques set me up for the next month and that third one can go straight into my savings account without a second thought.

Using this system of building up a float is how I stay away from living paycheque to paycheque. I did sacrifice a bit of savings to set myself up in this way, but the benefits are worth it:
•Eliminated the stress of relying on my next immediate paycheque.
•An extra month’s cushion of money if I lost my job, in addition to my emergency fund.
•At the end of every month, I have exactly the amount of money I need in my account to pay my bills and variable expenses for the coming month.

Sticking to this takes planning and discipline, but it is worth it when I see the big jump in savings a couple times a year! It is also worth it to know that being frugal and wise with my money allows me to do something that someone in the financial world thought wasn’t possible.

[end of article]


Personal Finance & Budgeting Tips

Here’s a great, short video from pfhub that illustrates how easy it is to start managing your budget.


Tag Cloud