Places Kids Eat Free

places where kids eat free

Most people enjoy going out to eat from time-to-time. There’s no mess to clean in the kitchen, no hassle and, for the most part, it is usually a great experience. Going out to eat with the family can get pricey though, which is why many restaurants have begun to offer days where kids eat free. [Read more…]

How to Get Cheap, or Free Christmas Decorations

There’s not much I love more than Christmastime. Though I’m far from being a minimalist, I certainly don’t enjoy ‘’stuff’’. I generally don’t like trinkets or things surrounding me. I like clean, open and tidy. The only exception is when it comes to Christmas. I love Christmas decorations. I count down the days every year that I can decorate the house, complete with little Christmas trinkets, lights, garlands, trees, you name it we have it. I have a lot of sentimental attachment to my Christmas decorations and probably have a good story, or memory, with just about every Christmas decoration I own.

Though my collection has accumulated since my childhood, I do go through everything every year and phase things out as I add new ones. Given that Christmas is already an expensive time of year, cheap, or even free, Christmas decorations are my favorite kind.

Thankfully now that I have a kid, my stash of free Christmas decorations is growing quickly. I remember being a kid and wondering why my mom had such an attachment to ornaments and decorations my sister and made for her when I saw them as being less than perfect. Now that I’m a mom, I totally get it. Free Christmas decorations made by your kids are the very best kind to add to your collection. If I’m being honest I don’t keep every single thing that my daughter makes, like every picture she colors, but those special ones, the tree ornaments she makes for us, no matter how ‘’cheap’’ they are, are my favorite. In my option, the best free Christmas decorations are ones that are homemade.

Obviously not everyone who is looking for free Christmas decorations, has kids. One easy way of getting free Christmas decorations is to look no further than your online classifieds. I know both our local (within the neighbourhood we live) and our city, has a ‘’free’’ section and this time of year there is often free Christmas decorations listed. I know if I was looking to get rid of a few things  I would bundle them up in a box, take a picture ad post it for free, this isn’t the time of year I’m looking to profit from a sale, I’d just rather someone else enjoy my free Christmas decorations.

Though this isn’t totally free, an easy way to build your Christmas decoration collection for cheap is to organize, or attend, a Christmas ornament (or decoration) exchange. Usually you provide one decoration or ornament per person attending and everyone there also supplies one. So if 10 people were in attendance (including you) you would go home with nine new, free Christmas decorations. There is a small upfront cost (though there are millions of ways to DIY or potentially find free ones to exchange) but you stand a chance to gain quite a few nice new things for your collection.

If you’re looking to start, or grow your Christmas decoration collection, it doesn’t hurt to see what you can get for free. As mentioned, it’s an expensive time of year and arguably, Christmas decorations aren’t a necessity, but if you’re anything like me you enjoy having them around. Look to see what options you have for free Christmas decorations and go from there. Save your money for more important parts of the season and don’t waste it on stuff just to have it.

Have you every acquired or been given free Christmas decorations? What were the circumstances?

How Much Should You Spend for Christmas if You Are in Debt?

I had to go to the store a few days ago to get groceries and other necessities. As I navigated my cart down the isles I noticed the many Christmas displays scattered throughout the store.

While Christmas creeps ever closer many people get stressed about the holidays. There’s the tree to put up including lights, garlands, and ornaments. Holiday baking also has to be fit somewhere into busy schedules.

But there are also gifts to buy and wrap for the holidays. For some this is the biggest stressor of them all. This is especially true if you are in debt.

In fact, how much should you spend for Christmas if you are in debt?

Determine What You Must Buy

The first thing to do if you are already in debt is to figure out how much you absolutely must spend. To do this, begin with a list of everything you must spend money on.

Include cards, gifts, food, and decorations. Don’t forget to include the things you don’t see, such as postage to mail the cards or shipping for gifts to far away friends and relatives.

Since you can’t do anything about the debt you already have, all you can do is try to avoid accumulating more. Try to limit holiday purchases to what is absolutely necessary. Buy simple gifts that are unique but not expensive.

You can also look for alternatives that will be less costly. For example, instead of mailing cards this year, cut these cost altogether by sending electronic versions instead.

Compare to Your Budget

Now things get a bit tougher. You must figure out how your budget can absorb the extra expenses of the holidays.

Make a list of expenses and bills you have to pay between now and Christmas. Include food, rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and any other “musts”.

Weigh these expenditures against your income. The difference is how much you can spend for Christmas.

Slash Spending

If your Christmas budget isn’t going to be enough to cover what you must buy, try slashing your spending between now and then.

Cut out all restaurant meals, or at least go places where your kids eat for free. Lower your grocery bill by cooking at home as an alternative. You can also help by eliminating unnecessary things like alcohol, soda, and many snacks.

Turn your thermostat down a notch or two and grab a sweater or blanket if you are cold and need to warm up while at home.

Anything you can do to slash your spending adds dollars to your Christmas spending budget.

Dig Up Extra Cash

If you have a partner or spouse, it may help you to share your concerns with them. After all, they are half of the equation, so why not let them help you?

Don’t throw in the towel and grab your credit cards to solve your money problems. Instead, put your heads together (two heads are better than one they say) and come up with creative solutions.

Why not call your creditors to see if you can lower any of your bills, such as your cell phone bill? Or, sell some of your unused stuff online to gain a little extra cash?

You might even be able to make a little extra money by driving for Uber or Lyft. Or, hire yourself out to others doing odd jobs, walking dogs, cleaning houses, or anything else you can think of.

Christmas is coming whether or not each of us will be ready. Rather than stress or agonize over it and your debt, do something about it.

Figure out how much you should spend for Christmas if you are in debt and stop the cycle of adding to it every holiday season.

How much do you spend for Christmas each year? Do you go into debt during the holidays?

Ed Rempel Unpacks the Smith Manoeuvre – How It May Help Risk-Tolerant Investors

According to recent census data, almost two-thirds of Canadians are saving for retirement and are busy contributing to registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs). 65.2 percent of households are engaged in saving for retirement, which is a robust figure when compared with the national household savings rate that recently fell to 4.6 percent.

However, while that mark is encouraging, that still means that more than a third of Canadians are not saving for retirement. Many believe that, while those in the prime of their earning years (ages 35 to 54) and members of the middle class are more easily able to devote resources to retirement planning, the younger members of the workforce do not have the same financial wherewithal–for reasons that range from indebtedness to lower salaries. A rise in housing prices relative to wage growth in large metropolitan areas in Canada has also presented a significant obstacle to young and middle-aged savers.

“Many people who would like to save now have to dedicate money to a large down payment on a house,” explains Ed Rempel, a certified financial planner and chartered professional accountant. “And it’s taking them longer to pay down their mortgages, so they have less time to save for their retirement.  That’s part of the problem.”

Ed Rempel, who runs a financial blog called Unconventional Wisdom, is a leading expert on the Smith Manoeuvre, a process that simultaneously allows homeowners to pay down their mortgages more quickly, while investing for retirement. “The Smith Manoeuvre provides an efficient strategy for homeowners to use the equity in their homes to invest without using their cash flow,” Rempel adds. “It allows people to convert their mortgages into tax-deductible credit lines that they can then use to make investments for their retirement.”

The Smith Manoeuvre may be an efficient investment strategy for those who, as mentioned above, want to start planning for retirement, but who are faced with the prospect of paying down a long-term mortgage before they can devote their resources to retirement investing. The strategy works well for those who have a long-term outlook and a risk-tolerant attitude with respect to their investments.

“The main benefit of the Smith Manoeuvre comes from the long-term compound growth of investments,” Rempel further explains. “You can invest for your future without using your cash flow, you receive tax deductions, and you can pay off your mortgage faster. It’s a great option for investors who are willing to stick with the strategy.”

To implement the Smith Manoeuvre in more general terms, a homeowner must have a readvanceable mortgage, which is a mortgage that’s also linked with a credit line. Rempel has a free Ed’s Mortgage Referral Service on his blog to help homeowners get the best readvanceable mortgage for the Smith Manoeuvre. As a homeowner makes mortgage payments and pays down a portion of the principal, that portion is available as credit in a credit line — he or she then borrows from the credit line to make conservative and tax-efficient investments.

The investment credit line is tax-deductible, so, using the Smith Manoeuvre, the homeowner can receive tax refunds, which can then be used to pay down the mortgage more quickly. The homeowner also borrows from the credit line to pay the interest on the credit line; capitalizing the interest is a key part of the strategy and allows a homeowner to invest without having to resort to using his or her cash flow.

Ed Rempel is the only accountant in Canada working with the Smith Manoeuvre and the only financial planner combining the strategy with comprehensive financial planning. He explained that the Smith Manoeuvre can be a helpful choice for investors who have a time horizon of 20 to 30 years when it comes to their investment portfolio