Category Archives: Save

Pay Attention to Those Money Transfer Fees – They Can Create a Hole in Your Finances

Personal finance is the art and science of handling money and it relates to all the decisions that an individual or family make in relation to their finances. International money transfers are a niche, often overlooked; yet, important part of personal finances. Canadians generally have different reasons to transfer some money abroad at different times. If you don’t need to send money oversea today, that’s not guarantee that you won’t have a reason to send money abroad next month.

  • When a friend or family member lose their wallet or run out of cash while vacationing in Paris, you’ll need to make an international money transfer to bail them out.
  • When you are traveling overseas for business or pleasure, you’ll need to make international money transfers to book your hotel, tours, and get the local currency of your destination.
  • Some other people might need to make international money transfers to buy properties overseas or to invest in other opportunities beyond our borders.
  • If you decide to school or take professional courses abroad, you’ll definitely need to pay your tuition with an international payment of sorts.

Traditional international money transfers with banks are expensive

When Canadians make international money transfers with traditional players such as banks or Western Union, they pay unreasonably high transaction fees without knowing. The worst part is that the fees you pay on international money transfers tend to be arbitrary because traditional financial institutions are not transparent with their charges.

For instance, you’ll be charged minimum fees, handling fees, and flat fees. In addition, your money transfer might be subject to hidden charges such as FX rate commission, and payment method charge – you can pay as much as 5% more if you are transferring money from a credit card.

My research on the margins for money transfers on Royal Bank of Canada shows that you can expect to lose 1.8% in margins to transfer $1000 CAD to USD and you can expect to pay as much as 2.6% on CAD money transfers to Euro. The margins on exotic currencies such as the Thai Baht and Mexican Peso are exponentially higher.

In contrast, a UK-based FC Exchange charges much  lower fees on international money transfers– you can generally expect to pay fees under 1% and as low as 0.5% in fees on large money transfer orders. When you take the exchanges fees into proper account, you’ll notice that the fees do add up irrespective of whether you are make a large international money transfer or multiples of smaller international transfers.

Here’s why you should consider using an online money transfer service

As earlier explained, online money transfer services tend to charge relatively lower transfer fees than banks. For instance, World First Money Transfer is a great alternative to Canadian banks for international money transfers. The company offers competitive rates and it provide a free rate alerts to let you know when the spot price might be attractive for your money transfer. For money transfer companies, moving money from one part of the world to another is the only business that they do; hence, they have core competencies to enjoy the economies of scale. In contrast, money transfers are just one of the many services that banks offer; hence, they tend to incur high overhead costs to process international money transfers.

Secondly, online money transfer companies provide a commendable level of convenience to clients. You can make a quick application with an online form instead of having to go to the bank to make a transfer. Online money transfer companies also allow your recipient to pick up their cash from convenient locations that is not necessarily a bank in different parts of the world.

Lastly, online money transfer companies deliver impressive speed in processing international money transfers. They can process, transfer, and make your money available to the recipient within days or hours. Some online transfer companies are also experimenting with blockchain-based solutions that can facilitate the near-instant transfer of money across borders for pick-up within minutes.

Easy Guide for International Money Transfers

Whether you require to send money abroad to a relative in Australia, pay for a house purchase in the U.S, or remit salary to your overseas employee in India, there’s a cheaper way to handle this than wiring the funds through your bank.

Most Canadians aren’t quite aware of that, but there are companies which grant you access to foreign currencies for a fraction of the cost it would cost you at a bank. These are serious companies which adhere to strict regulators, and move billions of dollars each year. Traditionally, these companies have been used by small internationally-trading businesses, but in recent years, more and more private clients are changing the way they transfer money internationally.

 

What does a transfer even cost?

The reason why these companies have been predominantly used by businesses is the fact businesses tend to understand costs at a higher level than individuals. Most people don’t realize that transferring $100,000 to your U.S bank account (CAD to USD) could cost you as much as $2,500!

 

Let me break down the costs for you.

 

Wire costs (which  banks happily advertise): $10 to $40 per transfer. Doesn’t seem like much for a substantial money transfer.

 

Commission (which banks happily advertise): 0%. Most modern banks and exchange bureaus promote themselves as being 0% commission.

 

Margins (the difference between what it costs banks to buy a certain currency and for how much they sell it): 1-3%, and could be higher if you are exchanging your CAD to an exotic currency.

 

So it all boils down the exchange rates offered at any given time. If they are 2.5% worse than the real rate (the one you see on the newspaper, or on Google) it means you’re paying your bank 2.5% of the lump sum you are transferring to a bank account abroad. Plain and simple.

 

Howcome a simple action costs so much?

Banks will come up with all sort of excuses for this question. “We have to hedge ourselves against risks, we we take a wide margin to stay on the safe side”, they often claim. Baloney, I say. They take as much money as they can because their clients are unsuspecting. Most people don’t even know that the Buy/Sell rates offered by banks are not the real rates in which banks buy currency for. Like with plenty of other cases, banks like to abuse their power and public trust, and they do so very well.

 

What’s the alternative?

There are hundreds of Canadian-facing companies from across the global that offer foreign currency transfers for better rates than banks. If you have been keeping up to date with the money markets you might have heard of Transferwise, for instance, a British Startup which has just launched its “borderless bank account” in Canada (literally hours before writing this post).

 

Reading about various companies and their offering could be quite tedious, though. A lot of the companies are very samey in nature, and it’s hard to pinpoint the differences. They often overcomplicate their websites just to keep a competitive advantage so they not fully reveal their offering, rates and accessibility to currencies.

 

MoneyTransferComparison.com does all the heavy lifting in that sense. It reviews dozens of different companies and aggregates all the information you could find about them online. The best part? All its top recommendations are companies which accept clients from Canada and can transfer from abroad to Canada! Although the site is serving mostly Brits (where this industry is most popular at), it sticks to the largest and most reputable services… and these multi-million dollar companies all have offices in North America!, and bank accounts in the US and Canada.

 

I hope you learned a thing or two about international money transfers and how to save a few dollars if you need to send money abroad.

 

11 Step Guide for Financial Freedom

Most people dream of attaining financial freedom but only a few turn it into reality. If you want to become financially successful, there are few actions that must be on your to-do list for sure: prioritize your debts, Seek options for additional income and part ways of friendship & business.

A famous quote on financial freedom:  A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life.”

Furthermore, we share with you the 11 step finance planning guide which will pave the way towards your financial freedom.  These steps can give you a ray of hope, to begin with, your journey towards attaining financial freedom.

 

Step 1: Have you set your financial goals? If not, then start now.

One of the essential steps in the process of attaining financial freedom is to set your financial goals. Setting your own goals depends on the things you wish to do or possess in life.  Before you start listing your life goals, pen down how much you have in your bank account. This will give you a clear picture of how much you need to save more and the time to achieve those goals.

Step 2:  Look for opportunities to fetch additional income       

If you wish you become a self-made millionaire, then never rely on a singular source of income. Being smart is all about looking for various opportunities to fetch additional income. To fulfill the extra demands, you need to create multiple revenue streams. Jot down the alternate things you wish to do in life apart from your regular job.

Sometimes hobbies can be a source of extra income. If you are passionate about photography or painting, then look for ways to use the spare time to pursue your passion and get money as well.

 Step 3: Set your budget

A budget is a key factor for becoming financially successful. You need to set a budget for everything starting from your monthly bills, shopping, entertainment etc. It will help you to manage your finances and give a clear insight of unnecessary expenses as well.  You can set a monthly routine to check your dues, savings and expenses. Your budget will help to cut-off the unwanted expenses and save more money.

Step 4: Opt for automatic savings

Most people opt for automatic savings without even realizing its benefits. Auto savings option helps in stacking a fixed amount in your savings account every month. You can enroll in your employer’s retirement plan and get the benefits. Keep options of automatic withdrawal as well, if you need money for any emergency purpose.

Step 5: Make clearing your debts a priority

Debt is the biggest hurdle in your journey towards financial freedom. So, make it your first priority to clear-off debts.  Debt is like cancer which grows exponentially with time and becomes your most expensive liability. Once you get your paycheck, set a rule to clear-off the debts.  This will help you in becoming debt-free and clear the path towards attaining financial freedom.

Step 6: Pay off your credit card in full

If you don’t keep a track of the credit card dues, you might end up in huge trouble.  Set a reminder to pay off the full amount of credit card every month, once you get your paycheck. It is better to use credit cards only in case of emergency instead opt for debit cards or cash. This will save you from paying the unwanted interest amount in case of late payment.

Step 7: Never waste time

It is well said: “Time and tides wait for none.”  Try to use your time for maximum productivity. Time is an essential factor that determines success. Invest your time in setting up priorities, life goals, more saving ideas and sources of alternate income.  Relaxation is equally important but utilizing time efficiently is the key to success.

Step 8: Don’t hesitate to negotiate
Most of us hesitate when it comes to negotiating for price, be it any commodity or service. You might be surprised to know that “Negotiation is an art”. If you sport it well, you can save more dollars every year. Most SME’s are open to negotiation, and it’s no harm in trying your luck when you can save more.

Step 9: Stay updated with market trends

Keep yourself updated with the changes in tax laws to get the maximum benefit.  Update your investment portfolio with the market trends for news on stocks and exchanges.

Step 10: Proper maintenance, fewer expenses

Proper maintenance of commodities increases its life span; be it a car, a house or anything. This reduces the unwanted expenses that might occur due to repairing or poor maintenance.

Step 11: Health is wealth

Money is essential but health is everything. Taking care of your health can help you save more. How?

  • No sick leaves
  • No insurance premium
  • Work till retirement & even more.

It is well said: “If money is lost, something is lost. But if health is lost, everything is lost.”

 

In the journey of attaining financial freedom, it is also important to balance your mental peace. Hope this 11 step guide will give you an insight of how to manage money to become financially successful.

 

Jenni is a personal finance blogger who loves to write & educate people about personal finance, money management and frugality. Visit here personal finance blog and share your thoughts.

How to Prevent Delays From Destroying Your Business

Any kind of delay can harm your business. Whether the delay involves late product delivery, lack of response from your customer service team, or overdue payments, the end result is the same: loss of revenue. The goal of any business owner is to strategize ways to stop allowing delays to hurt your bottom-line.

Production Delays

All companies want to deliver the best product possible to their customers. However, during production, delays are often inevitable. Although you don’t want to deliver a second-rate product, how do you manage to satisfy customers who have been anxiously awaiting the product’s arrival? The key is to avoid making promises your company can’t keep. Although you might be anxious to introduce a new product or service to the masses, keep things under wraps until you have a firm release date.

If you have experienced delays in the past with the delivery of products and services, take a close look at what went wrong. Learn from past mistakes to avoid them in the future. If you keep clients waiting too long, they may just take their business elsewhere.

Payment Delays

One of the biggest threats to your business is payment delays. Making a sale is a good start, but collecting on that sale is what truly matters to your company’s sales ledgers. Not collecting your payments on time can affect the cash flow for your business. Suppliers, staff members and taxes must still be paid regardless of your payment woes. Worse yet, a business with too many outstanding payments can end up folding under the strain.

Although you should have cash reserves to keep your business afloat, you don’t want late payments to become a consistent headache. Your goal should be to help your customers make their payments easily and on time. One way to achieve this is through the use of faster payments software. Faster payments software paves the way for safe and secure electronic transactions. Instead of waiting weeks for payments, your company will have debts settled the same day. Users have 24/7 access to a cloud-based software program and can make their payments at their convenience. Due to the speed of the programs, companies always have the latest account data.

Project Delays

One of the highest valued qualities for employees is punctuality. Employers want staff members who show up on time and deliver their work within the expected timeframe. Some procrastinators within your company may be hurting your company by consistently missing deadlines and always having an excuse for why their projects are delayed. Although your gut reaction may be to clean house to solve the problem, there are strategies you can use to inspire employees to get their work done on time.

  • Be clear and concise in instructions. Allow the employees to have options, but make sure the options abide by any time constraints.
  • Focus more on the start date, then the end date. Once employees get going, the end is already in sight.
  • Ask employees to seek out feedback frequently. Don’t ask only for the final product. If employees are forced to check in, they will feel more obligated to stay on top of deadlines.
  • Be flexible to a point. Some delays are foreseeable and you may have to be accepting of them.

Customer Service Delays

However you feel about it, there is a common belief that the customer is always right. And customers want timely service. Delays devalue the service you are providing. Scientific research supports this idea. In a 1989 study published in Advances in Consumer Research Volume 16, researchers found that customers’ perception of service was more negative during delays that occurred in the pre-process and post-process phase of a restaurant.

Not all customer problems can be fixed right away. The ideal strategy is to keep them well informed. Let them know the lengths you’re going to as a way to resolve any issues. Receiving a customer email and not responding for days will not inspire customer loyalty. If you receive a high email volume this can be problematic.

In this case, use an email ticketing system to manage responses. This will at least let the customer know his or her email has been received and your team is working on the issue. If any kind of resolution seems far off, shoot off a quick email to let the client know the cause for the delay. Your customer is likely to be much more understanding if they are kept in the loop.

Stay on top of any company delays to reduce financial and help your business thrive.

Is Pet Insurance Worth the Cost?

Proper pet care is not cheap, but most loving pet parents agree that their pets are a member of the family. Basic veterinarian care is expensive; immunizations, well-pet checks, flea/tick control, and heartworm prevention can quickly eat a sizeable chunk out of your wallet, not to mention the extras that come up with a special needs, sick, or injured pet. The idea of not being able to provide the proper care to an ailing pet is inconceivable to most pet parents, but surgeries, medications, and equipment can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. 

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These are a few of the reasons why over 1.4 million pets are insured throughout North America. Pet insurance can help you alleviate the burden of rising vet costs and in certain situations it can save you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket veterinary expenses. However, if you don’t use the coverage, the monthly payments can take a significant bite out of your bank account.  

Here are answers to the most common questions about pet insurance:

How does pet insurance work?

Pet insurance works much like medical insurance for people, except pre-approval is not required for procedures as long as it is covered in your plan. The customer chooses a coverage plan and pays a monthly premium. You pay the veterinarian at the time of service, then submit the invoice with the insurance claim form to the company for reimbursement. Plans, fees, and deductibles vary by company. Some also require a vet exam prior to issuing coverage.

Do all veterinarians accept pet insurance?   

Pet insurance plans allow you to take your pet to any licensed veterinarian or animal hospital. But unlike human insurance, pet insurance requires you to foot the entire bill upfront and wait for reimbursement later. As soon as the claim form and invoice are submitted, the claim process is started and reimbursements can range from a few days to over a month, depending on the provider.

What kind of coverage is offered?

Most companies have customizable plans and packages. Basic plans often feature coverage for the unexpected injury, such as broken bones, vehicle accidents, and cuts, so if your pet accidentally swallows something they shouldn’t have, you’re covered. More inclusive packages offer coverage for illnesses, geriatric pets, training, well-pet checks, preventive care, medications, immunizations, hereditary conditions, chronic illnesses, and boarding. Never enroll in a plan before you fully understand the benefits and exclusions. If you are unsure about reimbursement amounts, policy limits, copays or any aspect of the coverage a simple Google search will reveal several consumer websites offering comparison charts to review side-by-side differences between plans. 

What about deductibles and allowance limits?

You choose the deductible, and in most cases, you can choose the maximum amount the company will reimburse annually or per incident. The deductible and allowance limit you choose will gauge the monthly premium (e.g., the lower the deductible, the higher the premium). Depending on your budget, coverage can be as little as $14 or close to $100 per month.  

What about multi-pet families?

Some pet insurance companies offer multi-pet plans so a pet owner can have more than one pet on a single plan without having to purchase a plan for each pet, which will reduce the monthly premium. However, the maximum number of pets allowed per plan may be different with each company. 

Are there age limits?

While many companies will not insure pets under 8 weeks or over 14 years old, others have specific packages created for kittens and puppies, or senior pets of any age. The pet’s age is also used to determine your monthly premium.

What if my pet isn’t a cat or a dog?

Even if your pet doesn’t meow or bark, there is insurance coverage created just for you. Pet insurance is available for exotic birds, lizards, hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, potbellied pigs, turtles, and more. Since the addition of exotic pets is relatively new, fewer companies offer this type of coverage. 

Are there waiting periods or age limits?

There usually is a 10- to 14-day waiting period prior to the insurance being granted, but in some cases as much as 30 days. This means, after enrollment, your pet’s coverage won’t begin until the day after the waiting period ends. If an incident or illness occurs during that time, it is considered pre-existing and will not be covered.

Is pet life insurance the same as pet insurance?

Pet insurance and pet life insurance (animal mortality insurance) are not the same. Pet life insurance is available for show animals, service animals, and livestock, which covers end-of-life costs associated with vet care required as a result of an accident or illness, as well as euthanasia, burial, cremation, and the animal’s worth.  
Is pet insurance worth it? Maybe, it depends on your situation… As The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states “there’s no magic formula that will tell you if it’s right for you and your pet.” But you can make a smarter decision if you’re equipped with accurate information and up-to-date facts. So shop around, compare quotes, read reviews, speak to your veterinarian and talk to other pet owners to make a decision that’s right for you.

What’s Keeping You Away From Being A Millionaire?

Many people out there desperately want to be millionaires, and why wouldn’t they? While money may not buy happiness it can buy a better, less stressful and more fulfilled life. However, before you can be a millionaire you need to have the right strategy and know the reasons why you haven’t met this goal already. Who doesn’t wish to win the bucket of thick money? Unfortunately, this future ambition doesn’t get achieved by most people. And when you ask these people why, what you’ll hear are excuses — reasons why they haven’t made their first million.

Here are some reasons why most people never get to make their first million-

  1. You are scared of falling- Those who fear failure, never get to overcome it. And to accumulate great wealth, failure needs to be a part of the process. It is through failure that most of the successful people emerged today. So, instead of resisting failure, embrace it. And don’t see it as a blatant setback, but as you learning the ropes of what it takes to be a success.
  2. You work for someone else- When you work for someone else, you are essentially trading work for money. You either have so much time to trade. Or someone else is in charge of setting the worth of your time. So, while it’s not impossible to reach millionaire status while working for someone else, it doesn’t happen often. You need to find a way to start moving toward a more profitable way of spending your days, a way that pays you for your talent and ability rather than the number of hours you’ve worked or the amount your pay-grade says you’ve earned.
  3. You never act your own good ideas- You are scared that your ideas would fail. And this fear only takes you farther away from that millionaire status. Believe that you can succeed. The more you visualize yourself as a success, the closer you get to your goal. Sure, dreaming alone won’t make you a million, but it’s the first step. And if you lack motivation to dream, read books. You can start with “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill.
  4. You don’t believe in the power of money- As long as you keep seeing money as the enemy, all the points in this post will be of no use to you. How badly do you really want to be a millionaire? As you strive toward your goal, have these reasons at the top of your mind. Stay focused with the right mindset and you’ll be shocked at the feats you’ll achieve and the success you’ll attain. Don’t stop wanting it and with time, you’ll get it!
  5. Your goals are not defined- When your goals aren’t clear, you will be unable to take clear actions. And when your actions are fuzzy, being a millionaire becomes impossible. Find out what you want, plan how you will get there, and get to work.
  6. You associate with the wrong people- The popular saying, “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are” holds very true here. Are the people you’re working with striving to achieve the kind of goals you want to achieve or are they drawing you back? If the answers to these questions are negative, then your millionaire dream might not become a reality. Associate with people on the same mission as you because they are your support system. The right people will help make your journey easier and faster.
  7. You are afraid to step out of your circle- Once you create a boundary; you only limit yourself from what you can achieve. Your background or your qualifications can never prevent you from being successful. Individuals from some of the poorest families have become multi-millionaires today. If you think this untrue, read Oprah Winfrey’s grass to grace story. That should inspire you.

Now, think about how you see your money. Is it a means to an end? Or a strategic tool in your life plan arsenal?

See, think, analyze. What’s keeping you away from your first million?

Tina Roth writes about developing positive habits to help you live a rich and financial independent life. Her Personal finance ProFinanceBlog.Com is created to inspire people to explore more on frugal living and especially, to help you craft a financial secure life.

Transferring Money From Canada to Other Countries

We live in an increasingly international society. People from all walks of life are spending time overseas, traveling greater distances than ever before for family, work, or recreation. These travelers are being forced to transfer their money from one currency to another, and many of them are discovering that finding the best deal is a tall order in this industry.

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This problem is especially pronounced for Canadians. The currency transfer revolution is happening, but for the most part it’s happening outside of Canada. All the action is happening in Europe, where a movement is underway to create new channels of affordable currency transfer for people of all kinds. A generation ago there were very few options for international currency transfer. National governments and the very rich were able to it through banking systems, but the few avenues available to regular people were very few and very expensive.

 

Many of these still exist for Canadians today. Of course, it’s always possible to make transfers like these through Canadian banks like the Bank of Canada, Royal Bank, or other options. But for the most part, this is the most expensive solution for the average consumer or traveler. Banks don’t specialize in currency transfer, though it is a service they regularly perform. Baseline fees are relatively high, especially for low-to-mid level transfers. And bank transfers aren’t built for speed, meaning that if you need to get money from one country to another fast, a Canadian bank will likely fail you.

 

Countries all around the world have been dealing with problems like these for years. As Europe started to hemorrhage immigrants to other countries (and take on a bunch of their own), it became necessary for these people to have efficient ways to transfer their money to family members overseas, and for other purposes. This was a big factor in causing this industry to blow up in the UK over the past 10 years. Old guard companies like Western Union simply didn’t have the infrastructure or customer service (or pricing or a lot of other issues) to truly compete in the digital/mobile realm.

 

The new generation of currency transfer companies exist in this space, which is good for people in Canada. The downside for Canadians is that most of these countries aren’t focused on service to Canadian citizens, so many of the best companies simply won’t be an option. Sending money to Canada through commercial firms? They’ve got you covered. Moving from Canada to the UK? Not so much. This problem is legislative, primarily, as the strict UK licensing most of these companies have undergone doesn’t extend to Canadian citizens.
Nonetheless, there are some really good options which Canadian currency transfer companies should be aware of. Companies like Transferwise have emerged in recent years, providing a versatile mobile solution for small transfers to and from countries like Canada. For larger transfers, Transferwise won’t be affordable, but the pickings are somewhat slim for the best choices out of the UK. The above link has some solutions, however. A little homework, and you’ll be sure to find a choice that is fast, affordable, and up to date with the needs of the Canadian currency transfer customer.

5 Tips to Reduce your Personal Expenses

16% of Canadians are in debt to pay off other previous debts and 6% from personal consumption. This statistic is nationwide in Canada. If you are part of this statistic I highly recommend that you establish a reasonable budget immediately. Creating a reasonable budget means separating your fixed expenses (which are harder to reduce) and your variable expenses and avoiding impulse buying. This post includes 5 helpful tips to help keep your variable expenses at a minimum.

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#1 Reduce Restaurant Expenses

Personally I eat at restaurants more often than necessary. It’s not easy to turn down trying a new locale with friends! Next time, instead of going to a restaurant, invite them over for a potluck or take turns cooking and hosting for each other. Social events at one’s home tend to last longer and if you’re lucky you’ll even have some left overs for the next day. Come winter, you’ll be happy to not be travelling around the city for dinners.

Lunch is another meal we tend to splurge on instead of making our own. It takes time, but you’ll find that lunch preparation quickly becomes routine. Start Sunday and Google search recipes to get lunch ideas for the week. Preparing the full recipe, instead of just one portion, allows you to freeze portions for future meals. Over time you’ll see big cost savings and more personal enjoyment from making your own meals.

 

#2 Use Discounts!

So, I convinced you to cook more…now you have to go grocery shopping! Personally I eat more fresh foods and buy dry bulk items like lentils, rather than canned or frozen to save money (it’s healthier too!). And while everyone is familiar with flyers and coupons for savings, have you heard about Checkout 51?

Checkout 51 is a mobile app that refunds a percentage of your purchase on selected items, regardless of where the purchase was made. To participate, download the app and look at the list. If you need any of those items and bought them at the grocery store, you upload a photo of the receipt and money is sent to your account! Genius right?!

 

#3 Your Morning Coffee

Most of us stop for coffee or tea on our way into work. While this seems like a small daily expense, it really adds up at the end of the month, especially if you’re a venti, pumpkin, soy latte drinker for example. I suggest buying a reusable coffee mug and taking coffee with you from home or drinking coffee at the office. You’ll also avoid buying the muffin at the counter or the hot breakfast.

 

#4 Prioritize Cheap Activities in Your Spare Time (Yes they exist!)

Make a priority of going on walks and hikes. I know now that summer is coming to a close it’s less tempting, but the Fall colours and cool air is beautiful and refreshing. Not to mention Canada is known for some of the most breathtaking landscapes – so get out there and enjoy it!

If you’re less tempted by the whole hiking part of it, why not go apple or pumpkin picking? This is a cheap and fun activity to do with friends and family. It also means a bulk amount of cheap fruit to make delicious pies, crumbles and so on.

If you are interested in cultural events, check your local museums, as each typically has a day where admission rates are reduced and sometimes even free!

Similarly if you like going to the movies you can go on the famous movie-Tuesdays for a discount. Personally I have a Scotiabank Scene card, where I get 1 point for every dollar I spend, and for every thousand points I get a free movie. Since I use my debit card frequently and have had this card for years, I’ve literally gone to dozens of free movies with my Scotiabank Scene Card! The movie theatre has to be a Cineplex Odeon though, as they have the agreement with Scotiabank. You get a few hundred points each time you purchase anything at Cineplex as well, so the benefits feed into themselves. Most major cities also have a discount or dollar cinema as well.

Finally if you’re are of the literary-inclined, you could start a book club with friends.  Just make sure you’re renting the books from your local library or borrowing from a friend.

 

#5 Stop Giving Money to Bell, Rogers or Videotron

Canada suffers from a multi-media monopoly in which the 3 cable providers in the country, can charge you an arm and a leg for TV, while offering poor customer service, upfront fees, credit checks etc. If there is one area that you can cut out, it’s needless cable TV shows filled with advertisements. But this doesn’t mean you have to take up knitting or herding sheep. You can register for Netflix ($7.99 per month, first month free) or Shomi (8.99 per month, first month free) and broadcast to your TV using the one time purchase of a Chromecast. These services are ad free and have a huge selection of TV and movie content.
Did I miss something? Leave us a comment below and tell us the creative ways you’ve found to reduce your personal expenses.

Canadian University/College Money saving guide

It has been almost 15 years since I graduated university (you can do the math to see how old I am), but some things never change – school is expensive.

I was fortunate to be living less than a 20 minute walk to my university and I was able to save so much going to school in my home town but I realize that many students don’t have that good fortune.

I have some money saving tips and some great links that hopefully will save you some cash this year!

1. Take advantage of generous student discounts.

 

Amazon Prime for Students offers college and university students free two-day shipping for six months, and then 50% off Amazon Prime. Amazon Student members receive two-day shipping on millions of items, unlimited cloud photo storage with Prime Photos, and exclusive Student deals.

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Shop at the Apple Store for Education and save up to $250 on a new Mac, and up to $20 on a new iPad. Education pricing is available to post-secondary students, students accepted into a post-secondary institution, parents buying for post-secondary students, teachers and staff at all levels.

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is your passport to fantastic discounts and services at home and around the world. The ISIC card is the only internationally-recognised student ID, making ISIC card holders are members of a truly global club. Every year more than 4.5 million students from 120 countries use their student card to take advantage of offers on travel, shopping, museums and more, worldwide.

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Compared to impulse buying in the store, shopping online gives you more of a chance to calculate costs, cross-compare between retailers and search for any relevant coupons. Plus, if you can snag all of your supplies from the same store, you may be able to reach the retailer’s minimum threshold for free shipping.

Always check before you pay to see if you can get a student discount (doesn’t hurt anyone to ask).

2. Be a savvy shopper.

When possible, try to price match your way to a great deal. If you see an identical product on sale for a cheaper price at a competitor, ask the store you’re shopping at to match the price. As always, you’ll want to check the fine print of a retailer’s price-matching policy to see which products qualify.

3. Read your university/college’s tips for getting ahead or any discounts available.

A great all-around guide I found is this student guide with valuable information on how to save money.

Check with your school’s finance department as they may have a specific information for your city/town or secrets that only apply to that local school.

4. Understand the big picture.

On top of planning to finance your tuition, you’ll also need to factor in additional expenses, including costs for books and supplies, insurance, travel, phone, food, personal items, etc.

Remember that college/university will go by quickly and try to remember the good times but don’t go into too much debt as when you start your career you don’t want to have to take a job just to pay off debt.

Couponing as a Personal Finance Practice – Is It Worth It?

Couponing has been around for decades, centuries probably, but in the last 5 or 10 years, it has really become more popular than ever. It really exploded sometime around 2010 when The Wall Street journal introduced the concept of “extreme couponing” and when TLC started broadcasting their Extreme Couponing TV show. In 2010, nearly four fifths of all people in the US regularly used coupons.

coupons

What we are interested in today is whether it is all worth it. We will be looking at a few factors and try and come up with an objective verdict. So, if you are interested, please stick with us.

Different Types of Couponing

If you are “new” to the world of couponing or if you have very little knowledge about it, you would be very surprised as to the amount of divisions, types, sub-types and expressions there are in the world of couponing. If we are to try and figure out whether couponing is worth it, we need to take a look at the different types of couponing.

For instance, there are the “occasional” couponers who do it from time to time, finding a few coupons here and there and using them the next time when they go to the store. There are also couponers who do it a bit more organized, saving coupons and finding sales which make coupons even more worth the hassle. Then, there are the extreme couponers who spend hours every day trying to find the best deals, who are ready to drive for hours to get the deals and who have entire stockpiles of different products they bought with coupons.

The reason why we had to differentiate between the different types is that they will spend varying amounts of time actually doing the couponing and because they will be making varying savings in the end.

The Time you Spend

Couponing can be quite time-consuming, especially if you wish to be really serious about it. You will need to spend quite a bit of time finding all the coupons, organizing them and finding the stores and the deals. You will also need to find the time to go to the stores even if you weren’t planning so that your coupons do not expire.

For some people, it is easier to find the time than for others. For example, when you work long hours, have other errands, perhaps a side job as well, it will be quite difficult to find the time needed to do serious couponing.

Other Expenses

Another thing that we need to factor in our final “formula” are additional expenses that you might need to procure in order to find and get all the best deals. For instance, there are the newspapers and coupon books that you will have to pay for. There is also the gas you will have to spend in order to drive to all the stores that have coupon deals. If you are a really extreme couponer, you will also need to stock up on your stock room, so to say, perhaps invest in a deep freezer and new storage space.

Bottom Line

In the end, you will need to factor all of this in your calculation. You will want to monitor your pre-couponing and couponing grocery store trips and find out how much you have saved over a certain period of time. Then, you will want to see how much time you spent and see how much money you could have made working instead of couponing. Finally, you will want to factor in other expenses. In the end, you will be able to see if the savings outweighed the money you spent or wasted by not working instead.

Our Opinion

In our opinion and the opinion of most experts, couponing makes sense in moderation. There are savings to be made, especially if you go for Amazon promotional codes and other internet coupons. You just need to figure out what is working for you and what is not. Make sure it makes financial sense for you.