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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.

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.

Dad taking selfie with son and daughter

Costs of raising a child

Having a baby is a very exciting experience, but what some may not realize is how much money is needed to raise a child each year. To show how the costs of raising a child add up, we’ve broken down a few child-related expenses to consider.


On average, a Canadian spends approx. $10,000-$15,000 each year raising a child. From diapers to clothing, activities, braces and post-secondary education, the costs start to add up year after year. And that’s just for one child. If you have twins or multiple kids, that amount may double, triple or more!

When planning on having a child, money should be a factor you consider. Understanding your finances and how much you’ll need to raise a child can help you determine if the time is right now, or maybe not for a few more years.

To show how the costs of raising a child can add up, we’ve broken down a few child-related expenses to consider.

One-time costs in the first year:

A car seat, stroller, crib, change table and baby monitor are just a few of the items you’ll need to purchase when having a baby.  All big-ticket items with larger price tags. It’s recommended you start putting money aside during your planning stage to cover these expenses when it comes time to purchase. Also, consider adding these items to your baby shower registry and asking family and friends to contribute to the larger items to offset costs. Purchasing second hand is also a great option for reducing costs; however, if you do this remember to look at expiration dates.

Food, diapers & clothing:

Baby necessities such as diapers, food and clothing can have a large impact on your monthly budget. On average, a baby uses more than 2,700 diapers in its first year. With diapers costing an average of $0.20-0.25 each you’re looking at roughly $550 a year in just diapers – that’s not including baby wipes, diaper rash cream, etc.

Additional costs can also include formula and baby food depending on your approach to feeding your baby. Whether choosing to breastfeed or not, formula feeding should be considered when factoring money as sometimes, even if planning on breastfeeding, unexpected factors may not allow for you to do so.  As well, as your child grows, they’ll begin eating the same foods as you and though you may not be buying baby food anymore your weekly grocery budget will increase.

Childcare:

Depending on your child’s age, you may pay anywhere from $250-$1,200 a month for childcare. Typically, the younger the child is means the more you’ll pay for childcare. Something to be aware of is that many childcare providers only take a few infants and young children at a time and it’s recommended you begin looking and putting your name on a waiting list as soon as you can to secure a spot for when you return to work.

Post-secondary education:

Though university may be 18 years away, it’s never too early to start saving for your child’s post-secondary education. Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are taxed-deferred savings accounts and allow you to contribute as much money as you like up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. To help your money grown faster, the federal government also contributes a percentage of money to the RESP each year based on your contributions. Check out the ‘What to know when it comes to RESPs’ blog to learn more.

Costs related to raising a child may vary per family due to each unique family situation. To understand how much raising a child may cost you, we recommend completing Money Sense’s Costs of Raising a Child Calculator.

Whether you’re thinking about having a child now or in the future, it’s important you understand the costs related to raising a child and create a financial plan.  Talk to a financial advisor today to get your plan started.

Parents – what financial advice do you have for other parents, based on your experiences? Share in the comments below!

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.

hands with money

Kids & Money: Have the #MONEYTALK today

It’s important to have the #MONEYTALK with your kids. We talked with Jacques D. to learn how he talks to his kids about money and the tools he uses.


Teaching your kids about money when they’re young can help set them up for success in the future. Not only will they have an increased knowledge and understanding of managing money when they become adults, it can also positively influence their behaviours when it comes to managing their money.

The biggest questions parents ask are how early should I start talking to my kids and what things should I teach them? We sat down with Jacques DeCorby, Conexus’ Vice President of Retail Banking, and Dad of three, to learn more about how he has the #MONEYTALK with his kids and the tools he uses.

When did you first start teaching your kids about money and what are some of the things you are teaching them?

We started talking to our kids early teaching them about the value of money and the power of savings and giving behaviours. We also talk a lot about a need vs. a want and have discussions on how money makes them feel, whether they’re saving it or spending it.

Do you give your kids an allowance? If so, when did you start and how did you determine an amount to give?

We started giving our children an allowance all around the same time, with the oldest being about ten and our youngest being five. I don’t recall how we settled on an amount to give them, but it was an amount that we could fit into our budget as well as help our kids see the value of money. We haven’t adjusted this amount, but it does make sense to periodically review the amount as it could illustrate the influence of inflation.

When teaching your kids about managing money, are there any tools you use?

We use the save-give-spend tool – pay yourself first with savings; give back and support your community; and, the remainder can be used for discretionary spending. In our household, we agreed on the split of 40-10-50 but another common split is 20-10-70.

We use this tool when splitting any money they receive including their allowance and money as gifts. With my oldest starting a part-time job, we also use this tool to help him manage his pay cheque. Though we have set these split percentages, they do have the option to put more into their savings if they chose. With three boys, it is interesting to see their different personalities – our oldest can’t spend it fast enough while our younger two are more focused on saving.

Another tool that we have introduced is the Conexus Credit Union app. At a certain age, our kids started getting their own electronic devices and phones and we made sure they added the app to their device to show them how to use it. It’s always fun to watch their reactions as they see their savings grow.

What advice do you have for parents wanting to teach their kids about money?

Save. Save. Save. Plan. Plan. Plan. Budget. Budget. Budget.

When talking to your kids about managing money, identify savings and set targets and milestones. Expose them early to different short- and long-term savings vehicles. Most importantly, let them make some spending decisions on their own after you’ve had the discussion on needs vs. wants. For example, if they really want that pack of gum at the store, have them purchase it using their own money. Be sure to follow up from time-to-time to talk about their spending decisions and ask them how it made them feel and if they’d do anything differently.

Also, as your kids become older (teens), I recommend parents start introducing the concept of credit ratings and the importance of building and maintaining a strong one.

By teaching your kids about money, what impacts can this have for them later in life?

By teaching your kids about money they’ll have an increased knowledge and understanding of managing money as they get older. More importantly, they will build positive behaviours and money management skills that will help minimize stress later in life that tends to affect so many other aspects of our overall health and well-being – physical, mental, social/family, occupational to name a few.

Any other advice you’d like to add?

It’s important that young people also start to build a strong network of trusted advisors around them including financial advisors. Talking about money can be hard, and introducing them early to money allows them to gain confidence and not be scared to ask questions when it comes to money.

Thanks Jacques! These are all great tips and advice. Financial literacy is important for all ages. We can’t wait to start having the #MONEYTALK with our kids and using some of the tools you shared with us today!

Do you talk to your kids about money? Share with us in the comments below including what age you started talking to them about money, tools you’ve used, other advice you have and more.