Category Archives: Save

Totally Money Blog Carnival – #52

Welcome to the Totally Money Blog Carnival. This is the 52nd edition.

This was my first ever crack at running a personal finance blog carnival and I have a greater appreciation for the job of an editor now! It was a lot of work and really interesting reading about new personal finance concepts and new articles.

[box type=”info”]If you want to be featured in upcoming editions, please use this submission form.  They are also still looking for carnival hosts. [/box]

Please enjoy!

The majority of articles submitted this week was the one the 2 things we are assured of in life: death and taxes! So this week’s theme is taxes!

[box type=”info”]What are you doing to minimize the amount you pay for income taxes this year? I am personally maximizing my tax returns by contributing more money to my RRSP (a 401K equivalent to my US readers).[/box]

Editor’s Choice:

I now present my editor’s choice picks this week.

Crystal presents 5 Tips on How to Improve Your Credit Score posted at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Improving your credit score seems like it should be a fairly easy thing. Pay your bills on time, and you should have a good credit score, right? Well, that is not always the case. While it is always a good idea to pay your bills and to pay them on time, simply paying on time will not always guarantee a great credit score because other factors are involved.

[quote style=”boxed”]Your credit score is important for your mortage rate and borrowing opportunities, Crystal gives some great tips.[/quote]

Erika presents Taking control of our finances posted at Newlyweds on a Budget. How one young couple hopes to take control of their finances, pay off debt and save money in 2012.

[quote style=”boxed”]I love to read tips for young couples – all these tips add up.[/quote]

MR presents Are Famous Personal Finance Authors Too Rich To Understand You? posted at Money Reasons. Do rich personal finance authors forget what it’s like to live in the middle? Do you think personal finance bloggers walk the walk and talk the talk better?

Ben Demeter presents 11 Most Evil Things the Banking Industry Did in 2011 posted at Credit Card Assist Blog. Ben created a summary of the most egregious, harmful and predatory activities of the banking industry as a whole in 2011.

[quote style=”boxed”]As a major stockholder of Canadian bank stocks, it was interesting reading this article and seeing the difference in the United States.[/quote]

Colin Williams presents How To Help Your Children To Save Money posted at humble savers. Helping your children to save is a major step to making sure that they will be financially secure in later life.

[quote style=”boxed”]We are having a little one in a little under two months and we plan to making sure they have a good start in life.[/quote]


Fanny presents How to Create an Airtight Budget in 2 Easy Steps posted at Living Richly on a Budget. If you’ve ever created a budget and then failed to stick with it, you’re in good company. There is a way to get everything in order before you make your budget that will not only make it easier to create, but also help you adhere to it.

Kennedi presents How Do Most People Spend Their Money? posted at Face and Fitness. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, half a household’s money goes to housing and transportation. If we could trim just those two costs … we’d have a ton more to, ahem, “save” (or spend on makeup!)


Linsey presents Working from Home. . .With a Toddler posted at 1099 Mom. I can imagine that for most Moms, there is at least one “high-needs” kid in the household. Working from home with one in your care, however, takes a delicate balance of being attentive and not allowing yourself to be completely run over.

Bob presents 24 Legit Home-Based Business Opportunities posted at Christian Personal Finance. If you are like many, the thought of starting a home-based business has probably crossed your mind at some point. With the economy being what it is, layoffs all around us, and an increasing desire for many to escape the rat race and work from home many are trying to start a home-based business.

Teacher Man presents Afraid of Life? Grad School Isn’t the Answer posted at My University Money. Many have of course moved on to jobs, others to careers, and still others are pursuing leisure travel or other whims. One option I am seeing taken more and more is to go back to grad school.

Brad presents Upgrade Your Resume By Going Back To School – Just Remember To Bring Along Your Tablet posted at RESUME Mag. With the launch of the newest app for the iPad, iBooks 2, Apple has set out to reinvent the textbook. Here are five ways that this makes it easier to go back to school and upgrade your resume.


Darwin presents Mortgage Activity Gone Wild Due Record Low Rates – Are You Taking Advantage? posted at Darwin’s Money. Last week, there was a 20 percent surge in mortgage activity driven primarily by refinancing activity from record low rates. The mortgage banker’s association said seasonally adjust refinances were up 26 percent while home purchase loan activity was up 10 percent. Something’s Working! What are you going?

Stephen Vanderpool presents Building a Credit Score from Scratch: 6 Easy Steps posted at NerdWallet.

Building credit is something of a Catch-22. Without a credit card, it’s hard to build a credit history. Without a credit history, it’s hard to qualify for a credit card. So how does someone start from scratch to build a credit score? Honest answer: By starting at the bottom and beginning the long upward climb.

Eddie presents 5 Rules to Teach Your Kids About Credit Cards posted at Finance Fox. Some parents think that credit cards are evil and that keeping kids on the other side is the only way to keep them safe. My parents just never had the time or true knowledge to share anything with me about credit cards.

Shaun presents Get Your Family Out of Debt posted at Smart Family Finance. There are ways to get out of debt if you put your mind to it, and focus on being debt free.

Mike presents Create A Plan To Earn More Rewards Points posted at Rewards Cards USA. One of the biggest complaints that many people have regarding their credit card rewards is that it takes too long to earn the requisite number of points to redeem for anything worthwhile.

Mike presents Scotia Rewards Program Review posted at Rewards Cards Canada. The Scotia Rewards program is a points-based system where members are awarded one Scotia Rewards point for every $1 in purchases charged to your ScotiaGold Passport Visa account or ScotiaGold Passport for business Visa account.


Sustainable PF presents The Real Reason Nobody Is Buying Electric Cars posted at Sustainable Personal Finance. Thus far, the Volt has been a giant flop. There are all sorts of reasons why, all of which are different symptoms of the same root problem. Let’s see if you can figure it out.


Miss T. presents How to Build a Bird Feeder out of Recycled Materials posted at Prairie Eco Thrifter. Here are four quick, simple ways to build a bird feeder from recycled materials that you probably have laying around.

Glen presents How to Save on Groceries When You Have a Food Intolerance posted at Parenting Family Money . When you discover you have a food intolerance, your diet has to change. But you’ll find that groceries get expensive. Save with these tips.

SB presents 8 Tricks to Get Cheap Flight Tickets posted at One Cent at a Time. Over the years, I learned to be more observant, practical, and strategic with my flight ticket purchases. They became some of my techniques in looking for cheap flights. If you want to get them at a bargain, take note of these tips.

Peter presents Is Multi-Generational Living for You? posted at Bible Money Matters. Multi-generational living can be a positive experience for many families, but think carefully about all of the consequences before agreeing; make sure your parents have also considered all of the repercussions. If both parties are agreeable to compromise, the situation may work very well for you.

D.J. presents Seek Alternatives to Save on Your Monthly Phone Bill posted at The Family Wallet. If you are looking to pay off debt or just to trim your household budget, one good place to look to make further cuts is your home telephone service. With so many options currently available, you may find that you don’t even need your home phone service or the expense.

Lisa presents My New Sofa, and Why It’s Covered in Tin Foil posted at Thriftability. From wardrobe updates to home furnishings, thrift stores have made a huge impact on my life, and effected the way I save money. Shopping at thrift stores not only helps me stick to a budget: it also helps recycle pre-owned items which may have ended up in the landfill previously.

Wayne presents Cheap Movie Alternatives posted at Young Family Finance. It isn’t uncommon for young families to be strapped for cash. When you are looking for creative ways to save money without making a huge sacrifice, it is time to get creative. With the popularity of motion picture, it is hard to give up movies. Yet, going to the movies is not getting cheaper.

Money Management

Pam Whitlock presents How much control should kids have over their money? posted at The MoneyTrail Blog. Letting your child make spending decisions can make some parents uneasy. However, kids need to become actively engaged with their money so that money management becomes a relevant part of their life.

Marie presents Ways Your Teenagers Can Increase Their Spending posted at Money Spending Mommy. If your teen is short on cash, here are some ideas that he could use to earn the money he needs.

Barbara Friedberg presents Biggest Money Story of 2011 or How to Get a Decent Return on Your Cash posted at Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance. Money Magazine selected their Top Money Stories of 2011. Initially, I began to dissect their list and intended to write about them all. But, I got stuck on the low interest rates for savings. This is a huge topic and decided it warranted an entire article.

Lazy Man presents Reviewing My 2011 Goals posted at Lazy Man and Money. With 2011 now a distant memory, it’s time to go back and look at my goals for 2011. That’s one major benefit of blogging, there’s accountability baked into everything I do. In 2011, I had set 5 goals, most of them business-related.

Squirrelers presents Stock Market Returns and the Super Bowl Effect posted at Squirrelers. Correlation might not mean causation when it comes to assessing data. That said, there’s an interesting trend involving stock market returns and the Super Bowl. Taking this into account, who do you want to win?

Real Estate

Don presents Live A Life of Wealth posted at MoneySmartGuides. If I were to ask you to describe what being wealthy means to you, how would you answer? A young me late teenager would have answered that question as follows: Wealthy to me is a huge house with an outdoor pool, but now I see wealth differently.

Kyle presents How People Buy Real Estate with “No Money Down” posted at The Penny Hoarder. Some of my favorite infomercials include the ridiculous ‘No Money Down’ real estate videos. If you haven’t already wasted your $360, allow me to spill the beans.


Boomer presents How Much Do We Spend On Our Pets? posted at Boomer & Echo. The average dog owner claims to spend over $1800 annually on each dog while the average cat owner spends around $1400 on each cat.


Sandy presents Applying All the Right Deductions to Increase That Return posted at Yes, I Am Cheap.

Michael presents Turbo Tax 2012 Review posted at PT Money Personal Finance. A review of the differing versions of Turbo Tax 2012, including their customer support.

Jill presents How Do Tax Brackets Work? posted at My Dollar Plan. Are you getting ready to file your taxes? If so, you might find yourself needing a slight refresher on how tax brackets work.

Daniel presents Should Tax Evaders Be Given A Safe Haven? posted at Sweating the Big Stuff. The IRS has given tax evaders who have hidden money in offshore accounts a chance to avoid jail time, netting the IRS at least $4.4 billion.

Everything Finance presents College Credits and Deductions Available When Filing Your Taxes posted at Everything Finance. While there is no doubt that the price of education is outpacing inflation, the government does allow small ways to lower your overall cost.


Kevin presents My Budget Spreadsheet is Too Much Work posted at Thousandaire. My budget spreadsheet is too complicated. I’m making things easier on myself and switching to

Corey presents Confessions of a Street Canvasser posted at 20s Finances. Have you ever been walking down the street in New York City, Boston, DC, Chicago, or San Francisco and been stopped by a young person carrying a clipboard and wearing a charity t-shirt? This strange phenomenon has a name ‘ street canvassing.

Amanda L Grossman presents How to Save Money on Dieting posted at Frugal Confessions. Comparing diet program costs is one way to maximize the amount of money you have to spend on dieting or to make you run the other way with your hard earned money, see how they stack up against one another!

Kevin presents 3 Frugal Ideas for a Romantic Valentine’s Day posted at Invest It Wisely. Remember, there’s no need to spend a fortune on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes, a bit of cheap fun is all you need.

Matt presents Should You Get a Loan for Your Car or Pay Cash? posted at RamblingFever Money. In this hypothetical example, two sisters pay the exact same amount monthly for their cars over a five year period. One sister ends up with a 1-year old car worth $20,000 and the other sister ends up with a 5-year old car worth $11,000. How is this possible?

Jen presents Everybody Can Have an Emergency Fund! posted at Master the Art of Saving. If you don’t have an emergency fund at all, then why not start with a goal of $100? Sure it’s not going to be too helpful should a big financial emergency.

Jeffrey presents Making Space For Roommates: Are the Savings Worth the Hassles? posted at Money Spruce.

Hank presents How I Recently Invested In A Rock Band posted at Money Q&A.
There are tons of other great projects on Kickstarter that you can invest in like the new Crowfield album. Kickstarter is a great way to invest in a rock band and other awesome projects.

How to download and watch legal and free movies for Canadians

Many of my friends joke with me that I don’t watch movies. I have not seen Jaws, any of the Star Wars, Harry Potter, or even Avatar. I enjoy watching documentaries and dumb comedies.

[quote]Analyzing the audiences at Cineplex movie theatres across Canada, watching movies is not going away anytime soon.[/quote]

The stock pays a nice 5.1% dividend yield at the moment but the Price/Earnings Ratio is at 29.60 at the moment. This is a little too pricey at those levels for myself.

With the price of admission to a movie close to $12 (depending where you live in Canada), I wanted to share some free resources to watch and download movies online in Canada legally.

[box type=”tick”]Several websites are available for free to Canadians that allow you to watch free feature-length movies online.[/box]


This is a fully licensed video-on-demand site, packed full of free movies, documentaries and short films to watch online.

Active since 2009, they support independent film and filmmakers, by acquiring new and classic indie movies for the site and making them available online for people to watch and enjoy.

Global TV

Global TV has a special section that lets you view several older movies but still great titles like, The Professional and All The Pretty Horses.  The section changes every month.

YouTube Movies/Free Section

You can watch feature length movies, shorts, and trailers on YouTube. They are always adding new movies frequently including classics, documentaries, and independent films.

Rogers on Demand

Did you know that Rogers had FREE movies available in addition to their regular pay-per-view online movies. You do not have to be a Rogers customer either. They currently have Lovely & Amazing, Saw, and The Big Kahuna.


Crackle is the place to experience free entertainment: full-length movies, TV shows, and original series from genres – all uncut, uncensored, and unbelievably free.

Crackle has a vast distribution network that ensures that you have access to Crackle everywhere: on your favorite video site, your television and your mobile device.

Some movies include: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Revolver, and Passengers (with Anne Hathaway).

Free Movies at the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive contains free movies, films, and videos. This library contains thousands of digital movies uploaded by Archive users which range from classic full-length films, to daily alternative news broadcasts, to cartoons and concerts.

National Film Board of Canada is a website where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Enjoy documentaries, animations, alternative dramas. Free for personal use.

CTV Canada

They have their made-for-tv movies available online to watch for free.

Why you should beware BMO’s 2.99% new 5-Year Fixed Rate

BMO announced yesterday, the lowest advertised 5-year fixed rate ever for a Canadian bank at 2.99% for a 5-year fixed .

Here is the main restriction in the fine-print:

[box]Once you close, you cannot discharge this mortgage for five years unless due to a bona fide sale of the property.[/box]

Why this is not a good deal?

  • Most people refinance their mortgage within 3 years so this really isn’t the best deal. You are possibly stuck with a mortgage you cannot get out of.
  • Monthly payments can only be increased by 10% instead of typical 20%.
  • Annual-lump sum capped at 10% instead of 20% of balance.
  • Only available until January 25, 2012
  • Must accept amortization period of 25 years instead of 30 years.

I personally believe that there is a very good chance that your variable rate will outperform this fixed rate over 5 years. This fixed term has a lot less flexibility as well.


5 reasons StudioTax is the best FREE tax filing software in Canada

Tax season is getting started and it is time to start thinking of your RRSP contributions and tax free savings accounts.

My favorite tax software, StudioTax, has released their free pre-certified version, which means you’ll have to download an update in the middle of February before you can NetFile.

[box type=”download”]It is available here[/box]

What is StudioTax?

StudioTax is a Windows bilingual personal Income Tax preparation software made by Canadians for Canadians. StudioTax is distributed using a free licensing model. No license key or registration is required to download, install and use StudioTax.

[quote]I have personally been using StudioTax for over 5 years and have never had any problems. Their are other programs available, Turbo Tax Tax ChopperUFile Online , including the old paper method![/quote]

5 reasons why StudioTax rocks

100,000+ downloads

BHOK IT Consulting produces StudioTax and with over 100,000 downloads it is starting to gain more popularity.

Import previous returns by StudioTax

You can manually inport previous years returns into StudioTax 2011 – this keeps the data entry lower.

Why pay over $20 + taxes when their is a great free product?

StudioTax is free for personal use, regardless of income.

Great interface and Canadian made

I am a strong believer in supporting Canadian made software. This company has done some great work (there website needs work though!).

Handles complicated returns well

I minored in finance and I am comfortable with most software and even though I own a small business and have rental income StudioTax has everything I needed to file correctly.

How to get free tax advice from Turbotax

Starting February 6 2012, Intuit Canada is providing its TurboTax customers with free one-on-one tax advice. This first started as a paid offering when it was introduced two years ago but it’s now free for the country’s 5 million users of the popular tax software package.

[quote]This is a good value added service for TurboTax customers.[/quote]

Available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout tax filing season, a team of tax experts will be fielding questions by phone or online chat. “Unlike most tax stores, we don’t lock up at 6 pm, make you book an appointment or waste your weekend in a strip mall,” said Intuit Canada managing director Jeff Cates in a press release issued Monday.

The service “really is free” and applies between February 10, 2012 and May 4, 2012.

For more on the service, click here.

Guide to cancelling your Rogers cell phone service

My wife and I decided recently to eliminate our cell phones and use one service for our telecommunication needs.

[quote]We were sick of paying fees and were more of a nuisance than a convenience.[/quote]

This is a guide that shows you what you should look at when cancelling your Rogers cell phone.

Rogers Early Cancellation Fee

According to Rogers, this is there current cancellation policy.


* Applicable to all plans: Local airtime usage, data usage and/or text messages over that allotted in the plan, long distance and roaming charges, additional wireless service options selected and applicable taxes are extra and are also billed monthly. An Early Cancellation Fee (ECF) applies if, for any reason, your service is terminated prior to the end of the service agreement. The ECF is the greater of (ii) $100 or (iii) $20 per month remaining in the service agreement, to a maximum of $400 (plus applicable taxes), and applies on each line in the plan that is terminated.


My wife had to pay a fee of $100 which is what applied based on when her current contract would end. This is understandable based on the contract and their policy.

She paid her final month and early cancellation fee and then Rogers sent her this final invoice. Look at the invoice closely.

[highlight]If you received this invoice, what would you pay? $0.00 or $144.20?[/highlight]

When she called Rogers and had the headset on speakerphone, the agent told us that her balance was $0.00 but he was happy to accept a payment of $144.20.

She explained that why would she pay this if she had no balance. The agent stuck to their original statement that they will accept the money.

This was just one example of how cell phone companies can take advantage of people with that pay invoices with zombie accounting (new term I made where people pay any invoice without looking at it closely).

If you just got into a cell phone contract and want to leave the contract, you can use Buyer Remorse. It applies to all contracts with the exception of house sale contracts, and contracts that state otherwise. This gives a person 14 days to get out of any contract they enter into.

[box type=”tick”]My advice is to always look at your invoices and never pay any invoice without a closer look.[/box]


Disclosure: My wife owns shares in Rogers Communications (RCI.T)

How to find discount ski tickets

Skiing is an amazing winter sport. It is also very expensive (equipment, rentals, transportation, lodging, lift tickets).

Here are some tips to save you money skiing.

Some ways to save you some money when skiing this winter:

1. Discount Websites.

Have you heard of websites like or They offer discounted rates from 15 to 80 percent off, depending on the ski resort and time of year.

2. Buy early in the season.

The early bird gets the worm. If you avoid paying the day of skiing at the ticket window, you will save some money. Many resorts have advanced ticket pricing that will save you valuable dollars.

3. Ski mid-week.

Most resorts drop their fares starting in the middle of the week.  Try to ski at non-peak times.

4. Buy your lift tickets at Costco or a pack of tickets at a local supermarket.

Most ski-hills have affiliations with either Costco to sell lift tickets at a discount or with a supermarket to sell a pack of 6 or 10 lift tickets and save 15%.

Could you live on $1,000 a month?

I know I would love to try!

A new online game called Spent lets you see what it’s like to make the tough choices necessary to get by on that amount of income.

The interactive game was developed by a team at McKinney, a national advertising agency based in Durham, N.C., as a pro-bono effort to raise awareness of Urban Ministries, a local emergency services outfit seeing heavy demand in the tough economy.

Spent challenges users to experience what it is like –- and what tradeoffs must be made — to get by on $1,000 a month.

[quote]Spent has been played more than 1.7 million times, says Janet Northern, director of communications for McKinney.[/quote]

The game Spent cleverly makes use of actual economic data and links to social media to get its point across.

The game — it’s more of an exercise, really — first allows you to apply for different jobs at different rates of pay, like a waiter at a restaurant or a temporary typist.

Next, it poses a series of choices and lists the accompanying cost for each one, plus its respective impact on your cash. If you’re lucky enough to get a job as a waitress, for instance, ($2 and change an hour, plus tips), but drop a stack of plates and break them, do you fess up and pay for the damage or hide the evidence to avoid busting your budget?

It sounds like an interesting game and I wanted to pose the question out to our readers – could you live on $1,000 per month?

Do you know who Andrew Hallam is? The Millionaire Teacher

I first heard about Andrew Hallom from The Wealthy Canadian (awesome Canadian PF blog).

He is set to publish a new personal finance book, called Millionaire Teacher in September 21, 2011. At the moment he is teaching high school English at Singapore American School. He will be taking the next school year off to promote his book and spread financial awareness.

Most people wouldn’t expect a school teacher to amass a million-dollar investment account. But Andrew Hallam did it, long before the typical retirement age.  And he wants to show you how. With lively humor and the simple clarity you’d expect from a gifted educator, he demonstrates in Millionaire Teacher how average people can build wealth in the stock market by shunning the investment products peddled by most financial advisors and avoiding the get-rich-quicker products concocted by an ever widening, self-serving industry.

Using low cost index funds, coupled with a philosophy in line with Warren Buffett’s, he guides readers to understand how the stock and bond markets really work, arming readers with a psychological advantage when markets fall. Readers will learn that young investors should hope for stock market crashes if they want to grow rich. Millionaire Teacher shows how you can spend just 60 minutes a year on your investments, never open a financial paper, and avoid investment news, while leaving most professional investors in the dust.

The number 1 lesson he teaches is:

[highlight]If you want to get rich, you have to live below your means.[/highlight]

It sounds like an interesting premise, his blog is located at

Do young Canadians know interest rates are at historical lows?

The results of this survey, shows that: More than 1 in 3 Canadian homeowners aged 30-39 are unaware interest rates are near historic lows.

In reading this quote by the President of Manulife (ticker symbol MFC), many young Canadians are not on top of their finances.

[quote]“It’s concerning that many younger homeowners believe today’s interest rates are normal when, in fact, they are at near historic lows,” said Doug Conick, President and CEO of Manulife Bank of Canada. “These younger homeowners may be taking on more debt than they will be able to afford if interest rates rise. While there is no expectation we’ll see rates like those of the 1980s, a rise of even a few percentage points could have a significant financial impact on this younger generation of Canadians.” [/quote]

When I received my first mortgage (five years ago), interest rates were a major obstacle in choosing my first condo. Real estate is expensive in Victoria with a single income.

I bought not what a mortgage broker or online calculator told me but what my budget and bank account told me.

Sometimes you need to take the advise of your banker/mortgage broker but also budget or do a what-if scenario with them.

[box type=”tick”]Ask them this question, “What if the interest rates go up 2-3%? What will my payments be?”[/box]

If that number is affordable, stick with the variable rate mortgage over the fixed rate mortgage.