holiday wrapped presents

Giving the gift of time

It’s not about how much you spend on a gift or how big the gift is, but about the emotions and experiences you create. Check out these 30 time/experience gifts, guaranteed to create memories with your loved ones.


Have you ever received a gift during the holidays that you thought was useless junk? If you said yes, you’re not alone! Last year, an Ipsos poll exclusive to Global News showed that one-quarter of people surveyed said most of the gifts they get during the holidays are useless junk.

How we feel about a gift usually comes from the emotions we get from it. Receiving another coffee cup provides us little emotion or satisfaction while receiving some type of experience can cause a variety of emotions and satisfaction, especially those that leave a lasting memory.

This holiday season consider giving the gift of time/experience and making homemade coupon vouchers for your loved ones – guaranteed to create smiles, build relationships and make memories.

Below are 30 voucher ideas to give to your loved ones.

10 ideas for kids

  1. Picnic at the park
  2. Car cleaning – inside and out
  3. Breakfast in bed
  4. Personalized chef for the day
  5. Control of the remote for one evening
  6. Breakfast for dinner – your choice
  7. Backyard camping night
  8. Date night – you pick an activity
  9. Foot rub
  10. Day of ‘I Love You’ – every hour list one thing you love about your significant other.

10 ideas for parents

  1. Sleepover at Grandma’s house
  2. 1-hour reading time with parent or grandparent
  3. You pick the supper menu tonight
  4. Movie night in – your choice
  5. Pillow and blanket fort building contest
  6. Game night – your choice
  7. Stay up 30 minutes past bed time
  8. Pick one item to add to the grocery cart
  9. Day of tobogganing
  10. Day of skating

10 ideas for couples

  1. 1-hour yard work
  2. Breakfast in bed
  3. An evening of babysitting so you can go on a date night
  4. Folding and putting away all laundry
  5. Spa day at home
  6. Cleaning of the bathroom – toilet included
  7. Parents day off – stay in pajamas all day
  8. DIY photo album day
  9. Homemade dinner including serving and kitchen clean up
  10. Design a scavenger hunt for the whole family

 

When creating vouchers for the ones you love consider their age, who they are and what their interests are.

This holiday season remember it’s not about the amount you spend on a gift or how big the gift is but about the emotions and experiences you create. Gifts that come from the heart are usually the best gifts of all.

What other gifts of time/experiences ideas do you have or have you given? Share with us in the comments below.

stack of pancakes with fruit and syrup

No-spend weekend challenge

Weekend spending can add up. Consider taking the weekend off from spending and see how much money you can save. You may be surprised by the results.


When it comes to the weekend, how much do you spend? Think about the last few weekends and all the things you did. Did you eat out at all? Go shopping? Had a coffee date with a friend? When you start to look back at your last few weekends you may be surprised by how many of your weekend activities had a cost to them.

Many of us tend to spend more on the weekend as we’re not working to make money, but instead, we’re out spending the money we worked hard to make. This is because instead of having work to occupy us, we’re looking for ways to keep us busy.

What if you could take an entire weekend off from spending? What could you do with that extra savings? Give it a try and take our No-Spend Weekend Challenge this weekend.

The challenge

What qualifies as a no-spend weekend? It’s taking two days in a row such as a Saturday and Sunday and making an effort to not spend money on non-essential things. No dinners out. No brunches. No weekend coffee. No shopping. It means getting creative with what’s in your fridge and weekend activities, and only spending money on necessities such as groceries if needed.

Game plan

Ready to take the challenge but unsure where to start? We’ve got you covered. To help you succeed, we’ve planned an entire no-spend weekend for you below. All you need to do is accept the challenge and enjoy the savings!

Saturday

Get your day started off with an activity like free yoga in the park, a bike ride or grab your tennis racket and hit the court. In the afternoon, set some time aside to finish that project around the house you keep putting off or doing some of that dreadful cleaning such as washing walls and baseboards. Finishing it will make you feel so good and accomplished without spending any extra money.

In the evening, pack a picnic and blanket and walk to your neighbourhood park for an early dinner in the park. Too cold? Why not have a picnic in the living room?

End the evening with a game or movie night, dusting off games or DVDs in your collection that haven’t been used in a while.

Sunday

Start your lazy Sunday off with coffee and breakfast in bed while watching your favourite TV show. Use items in your fridge to make the ultimate omelette or whip up a quick batch of pancakes using this simple recipe.

Then head outside with your camera or smartphone to take some family photos. Explore your neighbourhood to scout out cool back alley or coloured walls for your backdrop.

For supper, take the pantry challenge and make a Sunday family meal with only the ingredients that you have at home. Spend the rest of the evening doing a puzzle or reading a book, then head to bed early for a good night’s rest.

 

Not spending money doesn’t have to be boring. The key to success is planning ahead so you take out the obligation of spending. The above schedule can be used as just a guideline for your no-spend weekend and feel free to sub in other free activities that you and your family enjoy. Need some more ideas? Try some of these no-spend activities out!

Taking the no-spend weekend challenge may be easier than you think and something you want to incorporate into your life more often. Challenge yourself to a no-spend weekend once a month, or if you’re ambitious, consider having a no-spend day at least once a week. Whatever you decide, remember there are endless ideas out there that don’t have to cost a thing and will help you save dollars in the end!

Completed the challenge? How did it go – hard? Easy? What did you learn? Share your experience below.

school supplies including sneakers, binders and pencils

Back-to-school money saving tips

Back-to-school expenses can add up quickly. To help you prepare – and save money at the same time – we’ve put together a few back-to-school money saving tips.


Back-to-school. Something that parents get excited about but also dread at the same time, especially when they think about all of the expenses associated with it. Some even say (29%) that it’s the biggest stressor during the season, according to a recent Ebates.ca survey.

School-related expenses can add up quickly and range anywhere from $100-$800 once you factor in things such as school supplies, new clothes, school fees and lunches.

To get you ready for school, and help you save money at the same time, we’ve put together a few back-to-school money saving tips.

School supplies

  • Reuse old school supplies. Check to see what supplies you have at home from previous years and only buy what you need. At the end of the school year, collect all items returned and store in a place to easily grab and reuse the next year.
  • Watch for sales and shop around. Many stores put different items on sale each week leading up to school. Research sales at local stores and make a list of which items are the cheapest and from where before heading out to stock up.
  • Looking to save time? Purchase your supplies online through programs such as SchoolStart which puts school supply packages together based on your school’s supply list. With just a few clicks of a button, you can order the supplies on your list and have them delivered directly to your door.

New clothing:

  • Buy used. Kids grow quickly and many times an outfit is only worn a couple of times before being outgrown. Use sites such as VarageSale or visit your local thrift store – you never know what kind of deal you may find.
  • Go through closets and drawers to understand what clothing is needed before heading out. Don’t forget that the weather is starting to change and consider purchasing clothing for the upcoming cooler weather.

Snacks & lunches:

  • Meal plan and prep a weeks’ worth of lunches in advance. Meal planning allows you to only purchase the items you need and helps eliminate waste from uneaten food.
  • Skip pre-packaged items and package portions yourself. Instead of individually packaged cookies, purchase a pack of cookies and divide into individual bags yourself.
  • Purchase snack items in large quantities and limit how many snack items are used each week. Using a basket put enough of the snack items for the week into the basket and store the remaining items in the pantry (up high of course!) Kids can pick a set amount of snacks from the basket each day for their lunch. If something runs out, a different item must be chosen from the basket. Restock the basket each week.
  • Purchase a thermos and pack leftovers from the night before. Thermos are also great for soups, pasta and more, helping change up the typical sandwich lunch.

What other back-to-school money tips do you have? We’d love to hear them – share with us below.

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!

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!

person shopping for fruit at grocery store

How grocery shopping online saved me money

Ever wonder if online grocery shopping is for you? Here is my experience, including how it ending up helping me save money.


With growing technology and constantly changing consumer needs, many grocery stores have begun to offer an online ordering service. Though each store is different, the concept is very much the same – you log onto the store’s app or site, select the groceries you want, schedule your pick-up time (or delivery for some) and never have to walk into a grocery store again.

Over the last few months, I’ve heard more and more about this new technology including the money people were saving yet I was very skeptical to try for myself. Would it really save me time? What quality of products would I receive especially for produce? Would I really save any money doing ordering online vs. going to the store and doing myself? With a non-stop weekend ahead and an empty fridge, I finally decided to give the technology a try. Looking back, I wish I had done it sooner!

My experience

Like I do prior to any grocery trip, I created a meal plan and a list of items I needed for the week. Instead of starting the car, I made myself a coffee, opened up my computer and created an online account at my local grocery store – I was even able to connect my loyalty points to my account.

At first, I was a bit overwhelmed and didn’t know where to start. Do I type in my grocery list items in the search bar, or should I click each category and search from there? I decided to go to each category and search for my items by scrolling through the list. For many, this would work, but because I didn’t group my list into categories, I found I’d have to go back to categories as I missed something on my list. Towards the end, I began to type the item into the search bar to find my item quicker which became my preferred method of the two.

After my cart was full of the items on my list, I selected a time for pick-up, entered my payment information and hit submit. Voila. Done – well that was quite easy. Now I could go about my day until the scheduled pick-up time.

Pick-up was quick and easy. From the time I parked to being back on the road with groceries in hand, it took no longer than 5 minutes. There were a few items I didn’t receive due to being out of stock which was a bit of an inconvenience as I would eventually need to go to the store to grab, but the items I did receive were perfect. The fruits and veggies were fresh and the expiry dates on items were nowhere close to being due.

What I learned

Overall my experience was wonderful and included several learnings and quick wins:

  • Make a meal plan to set the schedule for the week and help create your shopping list.
  • Categorize your shopping list.
  • Search is your best friend.
  • Don’t wait till your fridge is empty – processing times may vary and you may not be able to get schedule your grocery pick up for another day or two based on availability.
  • Substitutes aren’t a bad thing – you can provide notes on preferred alternatives – and reduce inconveniences of having to go back to the store to pick up items previously out-of-stock.
  • You save time and money!

Savings

The best part of all was the money I saved! By doing online, I found I wasn’t tempted by items on the shelf, or items on sale, as I didn’t see them. My cart was only filled with items actually on my list. Looking at old grocery receipts, I estimate I saved about $40 from not impulse buying… if I were to do that each week, that’d be over $2,000 in savings a year! Talking to others, I’ve heard similar stories when it comes to their savings.

If you haven’t tried online grocery shopping and are on the fence, my recommendation is to try it – what do you have to lose? For some, it may not be for you, but for others, you may love it like I do. For me, I was able to spend the time usually spent in the grocery store doing more important things, including spending more time with my family. To top it all off, I saved money that I can now put towards something else, talk about re-occurring savings! For me, it was a win-win!

Woman holding piggy bank

Kick-start your finances: automatic savings

You can’t spend what you can’t see, right? Set up automatic money transfers from your chequing account to your savings account to reduce the temptation of spending somewhere else and keep you on track to reaching your financial goals.


You may have heard the term ‘pay yourself first’ but what does that actually mean? For us, it means setting goals, creating a budget and putting money aside regularly to achieve those goals. An effortless way to do this is by setting up automatic saving transfers.

Through automatic saving transfers, it’s easier than ever to save money. Through the tool, you’re able to schedule reoccurring money transfers between your accounts. Because it’s done automatically, it doesn’t let you think twice about moving the money into your savings and reduces the temptation to spend it on something else. You can’t spend what you don’t see, right?

Once you have your short and long-term goals identified, we recommend opening up different accounts for those that require savings. Talk to a financial advisor to determine what type of account is best for you (e.g., TFSA, RRSP, savings account, etc.). From your budget, determine how much money to transfer into each account and how frequently you’d like to contribute. Then, using online or mobile banking, set up a reoccurring transfer each month.

If you’re paid bi-weekly or twice monthly, we recommend setting up your automatics transfers for each payday. This way, you can have smaller, more frequent transfers that add up to the same monthly amount, but don’t seem to be as large of an impact all at once.

Automatic payments take away excuses and procrastination. There’s no more saying you’ll do it tomorrow as it’s automatically done – making tomorrow, today. By taking directly out of your account, you’ll forget it’s there and won’t be tempted to spend it elsewhere. You’ll also be on track to reaching the goals you set and could be surprised at how quickly it adds up!

Paying yourself first means investing in yourself. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your financial well-being. Now it’s your turn – take the challenge and be one step closer to taking control of your finances today.

brown paper bag lunch of a sandwich and apple

What’s your daily lunch costing you?

Buying lunch may be convenient – and tasty – but the costs can add up over time. Learn how much your daily lunch purchases may be costing you and tips on how to save.


If you’re like me, you’re not a morning person. You hit snooze as many times as possible and you’re usually rushed to get out the door to get to work on time. You haven’t made lunch and decide you’ll just grab something quick from a local restaurant.

Depending on where you work, you may have easy access to a variety of restaurants that makes the temptation to purchase lunch even greater. Add the ‘cheap’ lunch specials and it becomes more of a habit than a once-in-awhile thing.  Unfortunately, it’s not so great for our wallets – let’s look at a few numbers to see the impact.

Looking at 10 different restaurants, I found lunch meal prices vastly ranged with the average person spending anywhere between $8 -$20 – and that sometimes wasn’t even including a drink! A typical lunch purchase will cost you about $14. The number may not seem high, but what does that look like over a year?

Thinking about your lunch routines, how often do you go out for lunch? Once a week? Two – three times per week? More? The more often, the greater the costs:

1x per week = Approx. $728 annually
2x per week = Approx. $1,456 annually
3x per week = Approx. $2,184 annually
4x per week = Approx. $2,912 annually
5x per week = Approx. $3,640 annually

The numbers are substantial once you start adding them up. So how do you save?

The simple answer… pack a lunch. Packing lunch costs a fraction of the cost of eating out and reduces the temptation to run out and grab something. The money you save can then be put towards something else such as a vacation, your retirement or even into your emergency savings fund. Check out the Pay Yourself First video to see how easy it can be.

Bringing the same lunch can become boring, which also can increase your temptation to buy. If this happens to you, consider making one of the great lunch ideas found below.

Packing your lunch the night before will help you save time in the morning and help fight the urge to go out. Even better, you’ll still be able to hit that snooze button one extra time – sounds great to me!

burger with fries

Eating out: kids edition

Looking for ways to save money when going out to eat with the family? Here’s a list of some Saskatchewan restaurants that offer discounts, helping families to save money.


Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from cooking and going out to eat instead. No trying to figure out what to make. No dirty dishes to clean. And everyone gets to pick a meal of their choice! Eating out can add up though, especially for a family. To help save you money, we’ve put together a list of restaurants in Saskatchewan that offer kid-friendly discounts.

Note: Some restrictions may apply. Contact a location nearest to you to learn more.

Fuddruckers: Regina location: Kids can eat for $0.99 every Monday after 4 p.m. (one per adult entrée purchase).  Saskatoon location: For January & February, kids eat free every Monday-Thursday after 4 p.m. (one per adult entrée purchase).

East Side Marios: Every Tuesday, kids eat for $2. In addition, if you sign up for their Mini Mario club, you can receive additional promotions throughout the year.

Humpty’s: Kids eat free on Fridays between 5-9 p.m. One child meal per adult meal.

Montana BBQ: Kids eat free on Tuesdays at participating restaurants.

Perkins: Kids eat free every Monday and Tuesday night between 4-9 p.m.

Jack Keaton’s BBQ & Bar: Kids eat free on Sundays with the purchase of an adult meal.

WokBox: Kids eat free on Sundays with the purchase of an adult meal.

Denny’s: Kids eat free on Tuesdays between 4-10 p.m. at participating restaurants. There is a limit of two free kids’ entrées with the purchase of one adult entrée.

Next time you’re considering going out to eat with the family, why not check out one of the restaurants above. In order to take advantage of some of these offers, some advance planning may be needed – especially for those only offered on certain days of the week. Consider putting the money you save into your savings account to help you reach your saving goals quicker!

Do you know of a restaurant that offers kid-friendly discounts not on the list? Share with us in the comments below.

black background with hanging lightbulbs

Cut your energy costs today

Becoming more energy efficient is a great way to potentially save money. Check out these energy-saving tips to get started.


Thinking back over the last few weeks and the cold weather we’ve been experiencing, how many times did you go and turn up your thermostat? With the days being shorter, have you noticed a change in how often, and long, you’ve needed your lights on?

All of these things impact energy consumption and the costs can add up quickly. Unfortunately, most times we don’t realize the financial impact until we receive our monthly bill. This is especially true during the winter months as our energy usage, and our bills, tend to increase due to the weather we’re experiencing.

When it comes to the power we use, there are many things we can do to reduce what we use and in turn, reduce the money we pay each month. SaskPower provided us with the following eight power-saving tips that can help the environment and reduce your power bill at the same time – and who doesn’t want that!

  • Turn down the thermostat when no one is home. Cooling and heating represents approximately a quarter of residential power bills.
  • Plug in your car with a timer. Even on the coldest nights, your vehicle only needs to be plugged in for four hours. Using a block heater timer can save you about $25 per year on your power bill.
  • Turn off your lights when possible. Shorter days and longer nights mean interior lights in your home are on longer.
  • Convert to LED lights. Along with shutting lights off, you can cut the electricity needed for lighting your home by three-quarters by using LED bulbs.
  • Running a space heater 24/7 can be expensive. To help manage your energy costs, try extra blankets or a sweater first.
  • Only preheat your oven for baking, and only if the recipe calls for it. Most foods like roasts and casseroles don’t need a preheated oven to cook properly.
  • Use the right burner. Using a six-inch pot on an eight-inch burner on an electric stove can waste more than 40 percent of the burner’s heat.
  • Check your fireplace. When it isn’t heating the room and warming your toes, a fireplace may be cooling your house. Make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace isn’t in use to keep cold air out and warm air in.

Throughout the year, also look for in-store rebate programs typically offered by SaskPower in the spring and fall. Through these programs you can purchase energy-efficient products at a discounted price, and in turn reduce your energy costs – that’s a double save right there!

In order to see a difference on your energy bills though, you’ll need to do some work and change behaviours to ensure you’re more energy conscious. A small change may not be as noticeable but when you make multiple changes, and look at the impact over a longer period of time, the results can be shocking.

There’s no better time to start than today. Create a plan on how you can become more energy efficient and figure out the necessary actions to take today! For more information on power-saving tips, visit http://www.saskpower.com/efficiency-programs-and-tips/.