Girl holding a credit card

Building blocks of credit

Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and can be a tool that can help your future.


The word credit may be scary or viewed as something negative, but it can be the opposite. Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and is a tool that can positively help your future. Looking to get a mortgage? How about a loan for a new set of wheels? Building and having a good credit score is essential throughout your life and enables you to borrow money for these life events.

Importance of credit

Building credit is important as it identifies how you manage debt. By paying back the money you borrow with on-time payments, it shows you can responsibly manage debt and sets you up for the future.

A credit score will be given to you based on your credit behaviours. Credit scores range from 300 up to 900 points. When you’re first starting out, you’ll be at the lower end of the range. As you build your credit and display good credit behaviours, this score will increase. A score of 700 or above is considered good while a score of 800 or above is considered excellent. As good behaviours help improve your score, it’s important to note that bad credit behaviours can decrease this score. This score is with you forever, and it’s important you display positive credit behaviours.

You may think playing it safe by avoiding credit all together is the way to go, but in fact, it may be hindering you in the future. Without credit, you can’t show if you can manage debt responsibly which can impact your ability to get a loan, mortgage, etc.

Building credit

Start building credit as soon as possible. Start by applying for a low limit credit card after high school and paying the entire balance monthly. Credit cards are a great credit-building tool and can offer great additional features and benefits above and beyond just helping to build credit. Benefits from credit cards can range from insurance coverage to rewards points and even cash back to help pay your balance!

Good credit behaviours

Remember, good credit means you display positive credit behaviours showing you can responsibly manage debt. You can do this by:

  • Paying your monthly bills (utility, cell phone, etc.) on time each month. Consider setting up automatic payments.
  • Understand your spending and talk to a financial advisor to ensure the credit you have (credit cards, loans, etc.) is manageable and fits within your financial situation.
  • Pay your credit card balance in full each month. Remember your credit card statement ‘due date’ is the date the money is due on the account and payments typically take a few days to process. Make payments at least 2-3 days prior to your due date to account for processing times.
  • Do not apply for multiple loans or credit cards all within a short amount of time. Each time you apply for a loan, mortgage or credit card, the issuer does a hard credit inquiry or ‘a hit’ on your credit score showing that your credit has been checked. Excessive applications could affect your ability to be approved as it may look like you’re a riskier borrower or could be perceived as desperation.

Understanding your credit score and how your behaviours impact this score is important.  You can do a soft inquiry (an inquiry only visible to you and that doesn’t affect your credit score) by using www.transunion.ca. We also recommend speaking to your financial advisor. They’ll work with you to understand your credit and create a plan to help you reach your financial goals.

As you can see, credit doesn’t need to be a bad word. Building and developing good credit behaviours early on, help set you on the right track for life. Contact your financial advisor today to see how credit can be a positive for you.

What questions do you have about building your credit? Ask below and we’ll be sure to answer.

girl taking picture of food

Do you have the fear of missing out?

In a society of technology, we continually face the pressure of spending money – seeing what our friends are doing and purchasing and feeling like we have to keep up. This fear of missing out (FOMO) can have a big impact on our finances.


The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. In a time where social media impacts spending habits, people are often urged to “keep up” and are constantly looking for the next big purchase, rather than save – because you can’t Instagram your savings account balance, but you can Facebook that vacation and Tweet that new pair of shoes. So, is the fear of missing out putting you into debt?

FOMO & debt

According to a recent study by public relations firm Citizen Relations, 56% of Canadian millennials (those aged 18 to 30) feel driven to live beyond their means because of social media. It’s the “fear of missing out” on trips, events, meals, shopping, sales – the list goes on.

Keeping up with your friends’ spending can be linked to social media as often when you make a big purchase you share it. If you miss that trip with your friends you are constantly reminded through social that you’re not there from their posts. Another study from Credit Karma found that nearly 40% of millennials have gone into debt to keep up with their peers. In an age of destination bachelor and bachelorette parties and destination weddings – how do you limit yourself to only spend what you have while still being able to afford the important life moments.

Say no to FOMO

  • Ask yourself “why”
    Before making a purchase ask yourself, “Am I making this purchase because I can afford it and it will make me happy?” or are you purchasing because your friends have it? Being able to identify a want vs. a need is an important question to ask yourself before you spend.
  • Limit yourself
    Figure out what works within your budget and set that as your limit. If you can afford to go out once a week for dinner and drinks with friends then stick to that. Find other solutions to going out, like inviting friends over and everyone brings a bottle of wine and appetizer.
  • Social media detox
    Limit your time on social media. Constantly keeping up with social media can directly relate to the feeling of keeping up.
  • Evaluate who you’re following
    Clean up the accounts you are following on social media by unfollowing stores and blogs. The less you see, the less temptation you will face to “swipe up” and swipe your credit card.
  • Buy for you – not your friends
    Recognize that everyone’s budget is different. We all have different incomes and expenses, so going on the expensive trip or upgrading your kitchen may have fit into your friends budget, but might not fit in yours and that’s OK.
  • Ignore the pressure
    Just like in high school, saying “no” to your friends might seem hard, but your friends should understand that sometimes you have other financial obligations. Finding an alternative hang out plan or trip that is affordable or further in the future that gives you time to save are great solutions to avoid the pressures of going out to spend.

Remember, FOMO is not an excuse to put you into debt. We’re not saying you should deny yourself of every experience, but instead when making purchases ensure 1) you can afford it and 2) it is making you happy – not your friends. Folding to the pressures of social media and your friends will not help your budget and will affect your finances later in life. It’s important to recognize the pressures of FOMO spending habits so you can spend responsibly.

Mom talking to son, with piggy bank, about money

5 Activities for Young Kids: Introduction to Money

Introducing your kids to money early on can create a foundation for financial knowledge and positively impact how they manage money later.


When I was a kid, it wasn’t the coin value that made me rich, but instead the number of coins I had. My friend could have three loonies in her hand, yet if I had five nickels I was the one who had the most money!

Understanding the value of money when we’re young can be hard, especially as we’re just starting to learn the concept of numbers, counting and math. It’s recommended you start talking to your kids about money early to help create a foundation for financial knowledge.You can build on this knowledge by continually discussing money and introducing new financial concepts as they grow. Having these conversations will provide them with strong financial literacy skills and an understanding of managing money, helping them to make smart, responsible decisions with their money in the future.

To get you started, here are a few ideas on how you can introduce the concept and value of money to your kids at an early age.

Role playing

Set up a pretend store or restaurant and take turns playing the role of customer and worker. The worker will be responsible for advising how much the purchase is and providing change. As the customer, you’ll be responsible for making purchases and giving money to the worker. If you do not have enough money, you may have to decide on which items are a need vs. a want. Role-playing will not only introduce the concept and value of money but also allow you to discuss the difference between needs vs. wants.

Sort & stack

A great way to introduce money and show the different values of money is through a sorting and stacking activity. Grab your piggy bank, empty onto a table and have your child sort the coins by size, and any bills by colour. Afterward, show them the different sizes and colours and how each equates to a different value. Once they understand that each coin or bill is worth a different amount, take it one step further and show them how much of one coin or bill would be needed to equal the same amount as another coin or bill (e.g., five nickels = one quarter or four $5 bills = one $20 bill).

Play a board game

Have a family game night and help teach the concept of money by playing games such as Monopoly™, Payday™ or the Game of Life™. Allow your child to be the banker, with some help, of course, to teach them the different values of money, counting and providing change.

The $5 dice game

Grab some dice and coins (or create your own) and see who can get to $5 first! In this game, players take turns rolling a die and collecting coins for their pot, based on the following values:

1 – Nickel

2 – Dime

3 – Quarter

4 – Loonie

5 – Toonie

6 – Lose a Turn

The winner is the first player to reach exactly $5. If collecting a coin would cause for the player to go over the $5, they lose their turn. Change it up by choosing your own dollar amount to try and reach. This game is a great way to teach your child the different values of money as well as develop their skills in adding and budgeting by not going over.

Flyer price tag activity

To help understand how much money would be needed to purchase a treat from the candy store, or the latest toy, play the Flyer Price Tag game.

Grab your local flyers and have your child pick out items that they’d want to buy. Cut them out (including the price) and place on the table. Then, using real money or money you’ve created, place the exact amount needed in order to make that purchase. Depending on age, you can also introduce GST and PST and how to account into the amount of money you’ll need to buy the item.

Take it one step further, and use the money your child has saved in their piggy bank. This can help teach them how much of their money they’d need to spend in order to get that item. If they do not have enough for that item, it allows you to start the conversation of savings. This also is a great activity to talk about needs vs. wants and making smart decisions on how you spend your money.

When talking to your kids at an early age about money, be sure to keep it fun to help them stay engaged. Use real-life examples of things that interest them to help them relate to what you’re teaching.

Talking about money can be hard – when we’re young and when we’re adults. Introducing and talking about money early on allows our kids to gain confidence and not be scared to ask questions when it comes to money. It can also positively influence their behaviours on managing money, as they get older.

Do you have another fun game or activity for kids that introduces the concept and value of money? Tell us in the comments below.

person holding pen looking at investments

Investment terminology 101

Choosing an investment best suited to help you reach your goals can be hard, especially if you’re unsure of what all the different investment options are. Get up to speed with the latest investment terminology here.


Financial well-being means having the confidence that you’ll be able to achieve your financial goals and dreams. Investing your money is one way to help reach these goals and dreams but knowing where or how can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out.

The type of investment you choose should be based on your goals. The investment options will look different depending on if your goal is short-term or long-term. Below is a list of different investment options, their purposes and the benefits of each, to help get you started.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

  • A great way to save for retirement.
  • There is a limit on how much you can contribute each year – refer to your RRSP deduction limit statement on your Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Variety of investment options including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and rates based on your risk appetite.
  • Any contribution you make, you can claim as a tax deduction on your income taxes. You won’t be taxed on this money until you withdraw it. The ideal time to withdraw these funds is in retirement when your income is lower, meaning fewer taxes you’re having to pay on your income.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

  • A perfect way to help you save for your child’s education.
  • Federal government grants and incentives are available to help your savings grow faster.
  • There is a lifetime maximum of $50,000.
  • Different types of plans and deposit options, working for all unique family situations.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

  • Great way to save for just about anything!
  • Use to save for short- and long-term goals including weddings, emergencies, vacations, retirement and more!
  • Variety of term and rate options to choose from including flexible options.
  • 100% tax-free – you don’t pay taxes on money earned or withdrawn.
  • Maximum yearly contribution amount of $5,500. Unused contribution amounts carry over year over year.

Term Deposits & Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

  • A term deposit can be used to invest in RRSP, TFSA or regular savings
  • Have the potential to earn a higher interest rate than a savings account.
  • Variety of rate, term and redeemable/non-redeemable options.
  • Generally term deposits and are used if wanting a low to no risk investment option.
  • Different interest rates for different term lengths. Typically, the longer the term the better the interest rate available.

Mutual Funds

  • A mutual fund can be used to invest in RRSP, TFSA or regular savings
  • Short- or long-term marketplace investment options available.
  • Variety of options available for all risk appetites – low, balanced or high growth.
  • Investments aren’t guaranteed. Potential for larger returns but with higher risk.
  • It’s recommended you work with a trusted financial advisor for advice and fund management.

Market-Linked Guaranteed Investments

  • Great for investors who are seeking both security and potentially higher returns than the more familiar secure investments.
  • Bridge product between term deposits and mutual funds.
  • Can be invested through an RRSP, TFSA or on its own to build your wealth.
  • Investment is 100% guaranteed and your return will depend on how the stocks perform during the length of your investment term.
  • Variety of options with a variety of term lengths to fit your schedule and goals.

When it comes to the world of savings and investing, there are many things to know. We recommend sitting down with your financial advisor to understand your investment goals and determining which investment solutions are best suited for you.

Excited to get started investing in your future? We are too! Contact us today to get started!

couple looking at tablet

Pay Yourself First

Paying yourself first means saving first and spending what’s left over. This blog teaches you all about the why, how and where.


You’ve heard the term ‘pay yourself first’ many times, but what does it actually mean? For us, ‘pay yourself first’ means saving first and spending what’s left over – to put money into your savings each payday, as soon as you get paid and before you’re tempted to go and spend on something else.

But why?

Paying yourself first not only helps you reach your short and long-term goals, but you may also be surprised with all the benefits you’ll begin to see, including:

  • Setting saving as a priority;
  • Creating positive financial habits;
  • Being in control of your finances and future; and
  • Improving your overall financial well-being.

By spending only what’s left over after you save, you’ll also begin to understand your needs vs. wants a bit more, and understand how your previous spending habits may have impacted your saving habits.

But how?

Determine your short and long-term goals and the amount you want to save. Prioritize these goals from most important to least important.

When starting the pay yourself first method, start small to become comfortable with saving first, and spending what’s left. As you become more comfortable with the method, increase your contribution amounts.

A great way to ensure you don’t break away from this habit is to set up automatic money transfers each payday to move money automatically over into your savings.

But where?

There are many different ways to save money and your short and long-term goals can help determine which type of account you may need.

For example, if you’re saving for retirement, you may consider putting your savings into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan or Tax-Free Savings Account. If you’re looking to build your wealth, you may consider putting into a term investment or Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

Talk to a financial advisor to help understand what savings tool may be best for you and to set up an account.

Being in control of your finances helps you be in control of your future. By paying yourself first, you’re taking a positive step in creating good financial habits and contributing to your overall financial well-being. Now it’s up to you – start paying yourself first… on your next payday!

income tax form

Smart ways to spend your income tax refund

It may be tempting to spend your income tax refund on a new pair of shoes or a fancy dinner, but that good feeling of splurging is only temporary. Consider spending your income tax refund using one of these options.


According to the Canada Revenue Agency, close to 90% of Canadians who have filed their 2017 income taxes received a refund, with the average refund being $1676. Do you anticipate receiving a refund this year? If so, how do you plan on spending it?

It may be tempting to use all of this money to splurge on yourself but that good feeling you get from splurging is only temporary. Here are a few smart ways to spend your income tax refund – helping you feel financially-well now and in the future.

Pay off debt

Have a balance on your credit card or line of credit? Working to pay off your student loan or car loan? Consider using your tax refund to reduce or eliminate this debt. Putting towards your debt will not only reduce the amount of debt you have but also decrease/eliminate the interest you’re paying on this debt.

Emergency savings fund

Are you prepared for an unexpected emergency such as job loss, injury or illness? If your car engine went on you tomorrow, do you have money set aside to have it fixed? An emergency savings fund ensures you’re prepared for life’s unexpected curveballs. Use your refund to start or contribute to an emergency savings fund. Unsure how much you may need? Check out our Importance of having an emergency savings fund blog to help you out.

Extra payment on your mortgage

Some mortgages have the option to make extra payments allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster – check your mortgage agreement to see what extra payment options you may have. Consider using your refund to make an extra payment on your mortgage, which will be applied directly to the principal amount. This will not only reduce this debt faster but also reduce the amount of time you’ll be paying off your mortgage.

Put into an RRSP

Retirement may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Help reach your retirement goals quicker by putting your refund into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Check out our Retirement Planner Calculator to see if you’re on track for your retirement goals.

Put towards your child’s education

Post-secondary education costs for your child can add up quickly – will you be ready? Consider putting your refund into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help pay for the costs of this education. Our RESP Calculator can help you figure out the cost of your child’s post-secondary education and map out the savings required – through individual contributions and government grants.

Save the money in a Tax-Free Savings Account

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) allow you to save money in an investment tax-free, with a maximum yearly contribution limit of $5,500. These accounts are great tools for saving money for short and long-term goals and give you the flexibility to withdraw the money you save at any time. Saving for a family vacation or a new car – consider using a TFSA to get you started. Check out our TFSA Calculator to see your potential benefits to investing your tax refund into a TFSA.

However you choose to spend your tax refund, be sure to do so wisely. A new pair of shoes may be nice, but your return on investment would not compare to using one of the options above. We’d love to chat and see which option may be best for you. Contact us today!

jar labelled budget with coins in it

The importance of having an emergency fund

Life happens and sometimes an unexpected curveball is thrown our way, threatening our financial well-being and causing stress. Having an emergency savings fund helps us be prepared for these unexpected life events.


If your furnace broke down tomorrow, do you have the money to fix it? What about if you were laid off from work, do you have money set aside to cover daily expenses until you got back up on your feet? Or what If you got hurt while playing a sport causing you to be off work for six weeks, would you be able to cover your mortgage payments, bills, groceries, etc.?

Life sometimes throws us a curveball, threatening our financial well-being and causing us stress. An emergency savings fund helps us be prepared for those unexpected life events.

What is an emergency savings fund?

An emergency savings fund is money you’ve set aside for life’s unexpected events such as the loss of a job, a debilitating illness or injury, or a major repair to your home. It provides you with a financial safety net and gives you comfort knowing that you can tackle any of life’s unexpected events without adding money worries to your list.

What if I don’t have an emergency savings fund?

Without an emergency savings fund, you’re living on the ‘financial’ edge, hoping to get by without running into a crisis. If an emergency does happen, it can cause a little problem to turn into a big, expensive financial situation. It can also cause a lot of additional stress.

As well, without an emergency savings fund, many people turn to debt instruments such as credit cards and lines of credits, to help cover costs. Depending on your financial situation, this could cause even more money worries as it’s only a short-term solution.

How much money should I save for an emergency?

When looking at the amount you need to save for an emergency, a good rule of thumb is three to six months’ worth of expenses. Calculate this amount using a budgeting tool. Over a few months, track the amount you’ve spent on your needs including housing, utilities, food, insurance, transportation, debt and personal expenses. Once you’ve completed this, you should have a good idea of the amount you should set aside for emergency purposes.

How can I save for an emergency?

Making regular payments into a savings account each payday is the simplest and most effective way to save money. It may not seem like a lot to begin with, but don’t let that discourage you. Over time, if managed properly, the fund will grow to the required amount.

When should I use my emergency savings?

When determining whether to use your emergency fund, ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Is it unexpected?

An unexpected emergency is one that you didn’t anticipate occurring, such as:

  • Loss of a job;
  • A debilitating illness or injury; or
  • Major repair to your home or vehicle caused by circumstances out of your control.

Annual reoccurring expenses, such as property taxes, would not qualify as an unexpected emergency.

2. Is it necessary?

Needs are often confused with wants and you’ll need to determine if the unexpected emergency is a want or a need. For example, if you have a water leak in your kitchen and you have to put in new flooring, this could be considered a need or an emergency. On the other hand, if your flooring is old, and you want an updated look, this would be considered a want and you’re emergency savings should not be used.

New items are great; however, your emergency funds should not be used for them.

3. Is it urgent?

When an immediate need arises, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’re going to pay for it. When making a decision on whether the expense is an urgent need, determine if it will affect your ability to provide the basics for you and your family.

Remember, the money you have set aside should only be used if you have an unexpected, immediate expense. If you do use money from your emergency savings, be sure to replenish the money as soon as you get back on your feet by making regular payments.

Life may throw you curveballs, but being prepared will give you peace-of-mind knowing you have money set aside for those unexpected events. It will also help your overall financial well-being and reduce stress.

Are you prepared for an emergency? We’d love to help you get started – contact us today!

Variety of icons related to finances

#FinLit: understanding common financial terms

Being financially literate means you understand all things money. Here are a few #FinLit terms to get you started feeling confident about your money.


Financial literacy is a critical life skill and is just as important in life as any other basic life skill. Being financially literate means, you understand all things money – how it works, how it’s generated, how to manage it and how to invest it. It also means having the knowledge and confidence that allows you to make smart, responsible decisions about your money.

A poll by Angus Reid Institute shows that Canadians are lacking this confidence when it comes to understanding common financial terms. RRSP vs TSFA. Simple interest vs compound interest. Do you know what these terms mean?

It’s time to get confident about your money and we’re here to help. Below are a few terms to get you started. Understanding these terms will not only increase your financial knowledge but will also help you start feeling confident about your money and the decisions you make.

Savings account vs. chequing account

Savings accounts are a place where your money is meant to grow and shouldn’t be used for everyday spending. Many savings accounts earn interest, helping your money grow faster and making them a great tool to use for your saving goals.

Chequing accounts are a place to deposit your money, such as your pay cheque, and use for your everyday spending. The money you want to save should be moved from this account into another account, such as your savings account, to take away the temptation of spending elsewhere.

Simple interest vs. compound interest

Simple interest is calculated on the original amount, or what we like to call the principal. For example, if you were to deposit $1,000 into an account with an annual interest return rate of 3%, you’d receive $30 in interest each year. After 10 years, you’ll have earned $300 in interest and have a total of $1300.

Compound interest is calculated on the principal amount AND on the accumulated interest of previous years. For example, if we used the same example as above, after the first year you’d receive $30 interest. In year two, the interest would be calculated on the principal amount and on the interest you previous incurred. ($1030 x 3% = $1060.90). After ten years, you’ll have earned $343.92 in interest and have a total of $1,343.92.

Note: Compound interest is the type of interest applied most often when it comes to accounts, investments, loans, credit cards, etc.

RRSP vs. TFSA

RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) allows you to contribute money into an investment that you can use as a tax deductible. This money will be taxed when you withdraw it. RRSPs can be invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. and typically are locked in for a period amount of time.

RRSPs should be left until retirement, if not you can be charged a penalty. There are a few ways you can borrow money from your RRSP such as buying your first home, but you will have to pay back this amount by a certain time to not be penalized. More information can be found here.

TFSAs (tax-free savings accounts) allow you to contribute money to an investment but is not tax deductible. The positive with this type of account is that you aren’t taxed when you withdraw the amount or on the earnings. Each year there is a maximum amount you can contribute to a TFSA – find the yearly contribution limits here.

There is a bit more flexibility when it comes to TFSAs as you can take the money out whenever you’d like. This flexibility though can be a negative though as it can cause the temptation to spend vs. using as a long-term saving tool.

Variable vs. fixed

A variable rate means your interest rate changes as interest rates change and can go up or down. If you have a variable rate on a loan, your payments will be the same but the amount you pay towards your principal may vary. In other words, if the variable rate decreases, you’ll put more money directly towards your principal. If the variable rate increases, less money will go towards your principal and more will be applied to the interest.

Fixed rates stay the same and won’t change even if the other interest rates change. A fixed rate will stay the same for the length of time you have set.  The benefit of a fixed interest rate is that it protects you against any increases in interest rates.

Having knowledge of these eight common financial terms can have a huge impact on your financial well-being and allow you to make informed decisions when it comes to your money.

Are there other financial terms you wish you knew more about? Tell us in the comments below and we’ll do a blog about it!

couple standing in middle of road with heart balloons

Cheap date night alternatives: Winter

Looking for a few date night ideas that won’t break the bank? This blog has you covered with several cheap date night alternatives and even a few double date bonus ideas!


Date night can get expensive especially if going out for dinner and to a movie.  If you’re strapped for cash but still want to impress, here are a few date night alternatives for some of our favourite date night activities.

Instead of going out to eat…

  • Make a meal together. Take a look in your fridge and pantry, pick a recipe, then head to the grocery store to pick up any remaining ingredients you’ll need.  Not only will you get quality time together in the kitchen, but also something yummy to enjoy!
  • Double Date Bonus: Invite another couple over and have a cooking competition. Pick a recipe and set a time limit to complete. Your friends can be the judge.

Instead of going to the movies…

  • Have a movie night in. Pick a movie from your collection, Netflix or borrow one from your local library. Get cozy on the couch or build a fort (because who doesn’t love a fort) to enjoy the movie from. Don’t forget your favourite snack!
  • Double Date Bonus: Invite another couple over for a double feature. Pick a movie and tell them to bring their favourite as well. You may have to do rock-paper-scissors to see which movie you’ll watch first.

Instead of going for drinks…

  • Consider visiting a local coffee shop or make coffee at home. Not a big coffee drinker, what about some hot chocolate? Add some fun by playing a couple of games such as Go Fish or Connect Four.
  • Double Date Bonus: Board game night can be a lot of fun, especially with another couple. Ask your guests to bring their favourite board game and put a pot of coffee on! Create memories and laughter especially with games such as Pictionary or Speak Out.

Instead of going skiing or snowboarding…

  • Head to your local hill and do some old-fashioned tobogganing. Don’t have a toboggan? Get creative and make your own using things such as cardboard, cookie sheets, tarps, garbage bags, etc.
  • Double Date Bonus: Have a few couples meet you at the hill and have a competition. Create your own Olympics – who can make it down the hill and back up the fastest? Best trick move? Don’t forget to pack a thermos of hot chocolate to stay warm.

Instead of winter walks…

  • Strap on a pair of skates and go skating at your local rink. Some cities even offer free skate rentals.
  • Double Date Bonus: Invite a few couples to join you and start up a fun hockey game. Be sure to bring a few sticks and a puck to get the game started.

Date night doesn’t need to be expensive. Sometimes it’s as easy as bringing the activity home and putting your personal spin on it. What other date night alternative ideas do you have that can help you save money? Share with us by commenting below.

weights at a gym

Choosing a gym membership right for you

Finding the right gym or fitness program can be difficult. Here are a few tips and tricks to find a place that fits you and your budget.


As February continues, your New Year’s resolution motivation of going to the gym more often may be starting to wear off so finding a gym or workout routine that works for you and that you enjoy will help keep that motivation to continue going.  Here are some tips and tricks that can help you find a gym or fitness program for you and your budget.

Be sure to:

Do your research – With many different gym or fitness program options, doing your research and looking at reviews is so important! Narrow your search by making a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves to see what’s important to you. Use existing members or friends as a resource and ask them what they like and dislike about it.

Try before you buy – Almost all gyms and fitness studios offer trial periods allowing you time to assess the machines, amenities, cleanliness, etc. Fitness studios such a spin, yoga, or barre usually offer a discount or free pass to test out their different classes. Take advantage of these trial periods to find the gym or fitness studio perfect for you.

Be aware of contracts & fees – Be aware of extra fees and contract details before signing up. Can you pay monthly or do you need to commit to a year as a member? Are there any penalties to break your contract? Any hidden annual maintenance fees? Getting all the information up front will help you choose a gym that fits your lifestyle and your budget.

Assess:

Value vs. quantity – Track how often you’re going to the gym or fitness studio to determine if a punch pass or monthly pass is best for you. Punch passes are great if you’re not going often, but if you’re going frequently ensure you’re not paying more for punch passes than if you were to buy an unlimited monthly pass. Also, as a bonus, an unlimited pass may come with perks such as discounts on fees and merchandise, specialized classes, waiver of late cancel fees, extra perks such as towel or refreshment services and more! Find out what you get for each level of membership, so you can decide what’s a must have or nice to have.

Location – It’s no secret that the more convenient something is the more likely you will be inclined to attend. When picking a gym, it’s best to consider location convenient of when you’re most likely to work out. If you plan on working out over your lunch break at work or school, select a gym that’s close to there. If evenings and weekends are your preference, you should select a gym that’s close to home. On days when you’re crunched for time, having a gym close by will make things easier on your schedule.

One size doesn’t fit all – Just because your friends enjoy a particular workout, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll love it. You need to find the right workout for you, so you can enjoy being there and see the value in spending the money on your fitness.

Detail orientated – When you walk into a potential gym, pay attention to all the details. Is the lighting too bright? Too dim? Is the music too loud? Are classes too crowded? Overall cleanliness? Are machines broken down? Things that may not seem important during your initial tour can become major annoyances in the future.

In the end, the most important thing to consider is if you’re at a place you enjoy going to and one that fits your budget. Fitness shouldn’t cause extra stress, instead, it should help relieve stress so taking your budget and lifestyle into consideration is key to finding the right place for you.

Do you have any tips on selecting the right workout routine? Share them with us!