Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I want to wish a Very Happy New Year to all my readers. Sometimes, coming up with posts is not easy, but knowing you are out there, makes it easier.

Have a blessed new year and we will connect again in '10.

P.S. January 1st is a statutory holiday. All banks and major retailers will be closed.

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift Cards

For some, the thought of going from mall to mall, shop to shop looking for that perfect gift, is really what the Christmas season is about. For others like me, I am indecisive and usually end up getting something the receiver does not like. That's why I like to give the gift that keeps on giving, gift cards. I've had discussions with people who think gift cards are cold and impersonal. That they are easy ways to get out of truly looking for and spending time to find a gift that the receiver would love. C'mon, let's be honest, most gifts end up being returned because it's either the wrong size, make, colour or fit. At the end of the day, it's the wrong gift.

My opinion is, why not save yourself and the receiver the hassle of returning a gift when they can pick their own. It's not the same as cash, in that, with a gift card, you are directing the receiver where to go. Unfortunately, the problem with giving cash is that it can be used on things that you might not have intended it to be used on, like bills. With a gift card, your receiver is forced to spend it on something for themselves, from a particular store.

Gift cards are availabe everywhere. For the coffee lover, why not a Tim Horton's, Second Cup, Timothy's or a Starbucks gift card? For the new mom, maybe a Toys 'r' Us or Babies 'r' Us or a Shoppers Drug Mart gift card. For the handy man, Home Depot, Home Hardware or Canadian Tire. For the overworked and stressed woman, a gift card for a particular spa or a mani-pedi and for those picky teenagers, an i-Tunes, VISA, MasterCard or American Express gift card. The options are endless.

Information on gift cards:
  • businesses are required to fully inform consumers at the time of purchase how and where gift cards can be redeemed, used and replaced. Whether only at corporate stores, outlets, specific locations, etc.
  • Gift cards that expire are prohibited, unless they are issued or sold for charitable or promotional purposes, or if they are for a specific good or service such as a haircut, because it is not expected that a business would make the same product or service available indefinitely.
  • handling charges or fees are prohibited , except in limited circumstances. 
Contact your Consumer Affairs Department for specific provincial legislation.

Happy Shopping and 
Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2010 Smart Consumer Calendar

 2010 Smart Consumer Calendar has arrived. This calendar is full of  tips and advice to help you be a better, smarter and wiser consumer.

The calendar features different consumer protection themes each month such as tips on gift cards, buying or selling a home, dealing with an energy supplier, and buying cars and fitness club memberships.
Get your free copy from Service Ontario.

Life after debt

Bad credit does not have to be the end. After having gone through bankruptcy or a consumer proposal, many people might think that their credit is shot and that there is no way of ever getting a good credit score.

Without a decent or good credit score, you will not qualify for personal or car loans, lines of credits or even a mortgage. There are many companies out there that are willing to help you re-establish your credit after going through some debt troubles.

One of those companies I have had the personal experience of working with is Prudent Financial Services. Prudent specializes in personal loans, car loans and mortgages. By getting a loan with PFS, not only is it an opportunity to re-build your credit but (unlike banks), they will not lend you any more money than you can afford to re-pay. They are easy to work with and have very flexible repayment schedules.

It's nice to know that credit problems are not the end, and that there is life after debt.

Click here for more information on PFS Loan Centre.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stocking up your pantry for Christmas

Only 29 more shopping days 'til Christmas. Christmas at my home this year is going to be a tight one financially, but that does not mean it is going to be a bad one. My lights are up outside my home to get me into the festivities. Inside, I am checking my pantry, my fridge and my freezer to see what I have, what I need and what I want. I am making a list (and yes, checking it twice) to make sure nothing is left off. With each pay, I try to buy at least 5 to 10 items I know I will need to either make Christmas dinner, appetizers to offer guests or snacks around the house for my family. I try to stock my pantry now and save meats for closer to the day, as this is usually the time meats (turkey, ham and chicken) go on sale. Since I don't have a deep freezer, space in my fridge freezer is limited. Before I go grocery shopping, I add to my original list, items I need for Christmas. These items I know I will not be using immediately. As I buy these products, I cross them off my list. This way, I know what I have and what I still need.

Meal planning is important during the holidays, that way you know what you need to buy and what you can avoid. Plan out breakfasts, snacktime, dinners and what to serve guests when they drop buy. Don't forget drinks and desserts. Christmastime is also a time to treat yourself, so if there is something at the grocery store you have had your eye on all year to try, this is the time to do so. You deserve it.

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Stork Craft Crib Recall

More than 2.1 million Canadian-made drop-side cribs are being recalled following reports of four infant suffocations. The cribs were made by Stork Craft Manufacturing of British Columbia. The cribs were sold in the U.S. and in Canada and include those sold under the Fisher-Price brand.

Calling the company may prove unsuccessful (as their lines are continually busy) and they suggest emailing with the following information, all of which can be found on the bottom right corner of the mattress baseboard:
-model number of the crib

-date of manufacture
-country of manufacture

Stork Craft is requesting parents include complete shipping information in order to receive a free repair kit that will modify the cribs so the sides are fixed.(Courtesy of

Happy Shopping!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Making money of H1N1

You cannot go anywhere these days, turn on the TV, the radio or internet without hearing or seeing something about H1N1 or swine flu. It seems to be the topic du jour. This post is not about how to cure swine flu or how to prevent catching it, it is however on how to not be ripped off by all the institutions and people that want to profit off of this pandemic.

In Canada, thousands have lined up in malls and civic centres day after day to receive vaccinations. Most have lined up for 3 hours or more. Imagine being in a shopping mall with small children. They would at some point get hungry or bored. This would be a perfect opportunity for parents to get food or a toy to keep their child(ren) occupied. In this case, food courts and various stores will profit.

The obvious, are the pharmaceutical companies that are making billions off the vaccines and seeing an increase in their stock values. Then there are the others, like pharmacies that are seeing the sales of surgical masks go up (companies that produce surgical masks are turning profits), an increase in the sale of vitamins and cold and flu remedies. Health food stores that have a seen a rise in sales, as everyone is trying their best to prevent contracting swine flu. Hand-sanitizers are flying off the shelves, therefore producing profits for the manufacturers. In addition, companies that produce "anti-bacterial" anything are sure to see increase in sales.

It seems, if marketed correctly, anyone can make money off swine flu. As sad as it is, there are those that will try their hardest to capitalize off others' fears about this pandemic. As consumers, at a time like this, it is very easy to have fear drive our decisions. Although the intention is right, the motivation (fear) behind our decisions may not be. Fear is not a justifiable reason, because it only leads to panic and bad decision-making. Bad decisions always end up hurting us in our pocketbooks. In dealing with this event, one needs to take their time, assess and reassess, ask questions and most importantly, be logical. Do not be hasty to shell out your hard earned money on frivolous, dubious, unproven "stuff", because there are those out there who will be trying and waiting to get you to do just that. Good Luck!

Happy Shopping!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009 notifies people of new specials at grocery stores in Canada (Victoria, Vancouver, and Toronto)

They post the latest flyers and top deals each week from all grocery stores. The entire website is free and they also have printable coupons organized by categories so they are easy to find.

They are adding more cities each month, including Calgary and Winnipeg in the next few months.

Check them out!

Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Insurance rates going up

Once again, consumers are having to shell out more money for car insurance in Ontario. At the end of 2009 car insurance rates will be going up an average of 9%, 10% if you live in Toronto. Ontario not only has the most expensive insurance in Canada, it is the most expensive in North America. As usual, the insurance companies are trying to protect their asses by blaming Ontario's "expensive rehabilitation" costs and of course, where do those costs go? They are passed on to policy holders. The insurance industry wants the government to limit the amount of claims, this will then save on what they (insurance companies) pay out for accidents, repairs, etc. They claim these savings will then be passed on to the consumer, until then they have no choice but to increase rates. Sounds like a load of crap to me. Even if that was the case, insurance companies have been known for their greed, so much so, they would find another reason to hike up rates. What does the government have to say about all this? They claim insurance rates are better now than they were 6 years ago. Wow! Really? How putting together a concrete policy to stop Ontarians from having to forever fork out money for insurance rates that seem to have no ceiling? Oh, I know why, because the more consumers pay, the more money the government makes. Unbeliveable!

Unhappy Shopping!!

Interac and Credit card mistakes

Although banks set daily debit limits, one of the biggest mistakes consumers make when they are paying for a transaction by debit is not double checking the amount that has been inputted by the merchant, to make sure it is correct. I've personally had the experience of almost debiting the amount of $5008 for a $50.08 purchase (it would not have gone through because my daily debit limit is $1000.) I noticed before I continued on with the purchase transaction and it was cancelled. Consumers have to be wary and vigilant.  Most consumers would only notice the large amounts like my $5008 and would probably think well what's a penny here or there? But a penny here and a penny there adds up, and besides, it is your money. Why pay more for something you don't have to?

Credit card purchases are also another opportunity for merchants to make mistakes when inputting your tab. Before signing for your purchase, ensure the purchase amount is correct. With a credit card, after signing, you are declaring that the amount is correct. If an error cannot be rectified with the store, then it should be corrected with the credit card company. You will have to provide proof of the error.

Noticing these mistakes before you complete your transaction will not only save you money it will save you time and energy. Keep any eye out, pay attention and you will experience less headaches and annoyances on your next shopping trip.

Happy Shopping!!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The end of the mom 'n' pop shop

Unfortunately the days of the mom 'n' pop shop are long gone. I realized this today when I got up nice and early to do some shopping for an event I was having. My first destination was the liquor store at 9:20am, only to find that they don't open until 10am. As I stood there, I could see the employees trying hard to not make eye contact with me. As if to say, 'if we make eye contact we will be compelled to open the doors for you.' After about 5 minutes of waiting in my car, I decided to leave and go elsewhere for my drinks. Even then, because the sale of alcohol is controlled by my province, I only had the option of going to 1 other place for my purchase. After that, it was off to the bank. I reached the bank at 9:50am. At 9:59 and 57 seconds, one of the employees unlocked the door, just in time for them to open at 10:00am. It actually took him 3 seconds to unlock the door.

Later on in the day, I stepped back out to run an errand. I reached the store at 5:07pm, only to find out they closed at 5:00pm. Although I was pretty annoyed by that, it turned out I wasn't the only one. Another customer who had reached there at 5:04pm also found their doors locked and was fuming.

What has happened? It used to be that even a few minutes after closing hours, stores would make the exception for one or two customers to quickly come in and make their purchases. Opening a few minutes early was a nice gesture that said, 'don't stand out there in the cold waiting, c'mon in and get what you need.' I'll tell you what has happened, corporations realize that whether or not we make it on time for their operating hours, we will show up again tomorrow or the day after that, as we have no choice. We don't have many options for places where we can buy our liquor, do our banking or even get our prescriptions and they know it and are taking full advantage of it. Local stores which were run by a lovely older couple are long gone. I think they can only be found in places where there is a population of less than a 1000 or so. Our options no longer exist and unfortunately we now have to heed to the beck and call of the almighty corporation.

I miss the little shops, and every time I pass a small store that is now struggling to stay in business, I think of a much easier time, not so long ago. *Sigh*

RIP mom 'n' pop shop.

Happy Shopping!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Staying away from credit card debt

As many Canadians continue to charge their credit cards, they are increasing their debt loads at an alarming rate. Getting into debt can happen very quickly, getting out of it is not so easy. Below are some tips for avoiding getting into serious credit card debt.

  1. Do not apply for too much credit. Limit the amount of cards you apply for and have to two.
  2. Use your card sparingly, for purchases such as gas and groceries.
  3. Only charge amounts on your card that you know you can pay back before your next credit card billing date. Do this to avoid paying interest charges.
  4. Choose a low-interest credit card over a rewards or points credit card if you intend on carrying a balance. Rewards cards are nice, but often come with higher interest rates.
  5. Do not use your card for frivolous, spur of the moment purchases. Using your credit card for an expensive pair of shoes you might never wear is a waste of money. Always plan your purchases.
  6. File your credit card receipts for 3-5 months. After the fifth month, look back at your purchases and see which ones you could have avoided. You might be surprised to find that some or many of your purchases did not have to be done by credit. This will prompt you to think about future purchases.
  7. Leave your credit card at home if you are going somewhere you know you will be tempted.
  8. Credit card companies periodically increase the credit limits of their customers. If this has happened to you, call your credit card company and request your limit to be decreased. This will keep your debt load low.
  9. Shred your credit card receipts instead of throwing them away to avoid identity theft.
  10. Notify your credit card company of any unauthorized purchases or any discrepancies.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Living in an abundant country like Canada, it is easy to take the basic necessities of life for granted. Access to food, clean water, clothes, education, free speech are some of the things many of us overlook. As we watch the news or read the newspaper, it is easy to feel detached from this chaotic world around us. Wars, natural disasters and persecution are just a few of the headlines that scream out at us. While the media tells us that the economy is making a comeback, on the streets and in many homes, the news is different. Some of us are unemployed, homeless, sick, hungry or just trying to make ends meet.

This Thanksgiving, while celebrating with friends and family, working, walking, bike riding, whatever, take a moment and give thanks for all that you have.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Free Calendars

It's getting to that time of year when 2010 calendars are coming out. There are many companies offering free calendars, you just have to know where to look.

For the next several months, I will be posting (as I find them) sites and companies that are offering free calendars. If you know of any, please send me the information (company and/or URL) and I will post it.

Free Calendars:

Joyce Meyer Ministries

The New Yorker


2010 Smart Consumer Calendar

2010 Milk Calendar 

2010 Great Ontario Outdoor Adventure

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

About is a new website for Canadians to find online coupons for Canada.
First off, I’d like to say that is the Canadian counterpart of, which has been in the online coupon business for ten years.  Granted, is new, but it’s got the experience to help you save money. is one of the only true online coupon websites in Canada.  Once you hit the homepage, you instantly realize the possibilities.  Thanks to the easy-to-use and effective search front, any coupon is within a quick search.   Also, our twelve categories, seasonal rotational banner and prominent social media presence make finding the right coupon and connecting with a breeze! works to ensure saving money is easy for you. We've built relationships with each of our retailers to ensure that our coupons are valid, trusted and always working.
And using our coupons is simple. For example, to save on your hotel stay, visit the specific webpage for Orbitz Canada ( Click on the coupon you want to use, and the webpage will be redirected to Orbitz's own website. Then just book your hotel to receive an additional 10% off your hotel stay!
At, we update our coupons daily as retailers are always offering deals and offers based on the season, collections and more, so check back often for new coupons! We've worked to streamline our website as much as possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through any of our social media networks. (Courtesy of

Happy Shopping!!

Campaign for no TV tax for Canadians

As if Canadians are not taxed enough, here comes another 'tax' that is trying to hide behind the guise of a 'fee for carriage.' TV networks want us to believe that this new 'fee' will be used to help local television.

Canadians are coming together to say NO to this 'tax.' Below is some of the information that can be found on

Saying that this is no time to ask Canadian families to pay up to $10 more per month on their cable and satellite bills, a coalition of Canada’s leading cable and satellite providers today launched a campaign to Stop the TV Tax at

The campaign responds to the attempts by the large television networks to hide behind the issue of local television funding in order to obtain a new tax, a fee-for-carriage, on cable and satellite subscribers. The Coalition has launched the Stop the TV Tax campaign in order to ensure that Canadians hear the whole story. (Courtesy Read more...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Customers contributing more to bank profits

Recently, I was charged $40 NSF (insufficient funds) for a stop payment I made on my account for a pre-authorized transaction. The company I was to pay was notified and a new date was set up for them to withdraw funds. The stop payment was placed a few days before the withdrawal was to occur. Placing a stop payment on an account is supposed catch the transaction and although the original payment will go through the account, it will be returned into the account and marked as 'stop payment', avoiding an NSF charge. Bank of Nova Scotia charged me $12.50 for this service.

According to them, since I did not have the funds to cover the original payment that the company was going to take out, I am being charged for NSF. My question is this, if I had the funds to cover my payment, why would I need to put a stop payment? Is my bank kidding me? I am being charged $40 because I used a stop payment for what it was intended.

This is apparently their new policy. I've requested this 'policy' in writing, as I was never notified by phone, email, message center, mail or in person regarding this new 'policy'. When I was placing the stop payment on the account, I was not informed at that time either. What the bank has also failed to do is reverse my NSF fee or my stop payment fee, for a total of $52.50 in charges. I have left a message with them to request the reversal of one of these charges.

I am sick and tired of banks sneaking 'new policies' in at every whim and not notifying customers. It's interesting how these policies always seem to favour the banks' profits. It's also funny how they use their rules to try and sell you their products (VISA card, overdraft, personal line of credit, etc.) which are supposed to help you save money and avoid unnecessary 'charges.'

It looks like the banks have found another way to take more money away from hardworking consumers, (who are already feeling the financial pinch) and add to their already billions of dollars in profits. As consumers, it is our responsibility to check our bank books and transactions often and to take up any discrepancies with our banks. Most of us work too hard for our money to watch it being 'stolen' by institutions that already have way too much.

Happy Shopping!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

No Junk Mail Please!

Prior to living on my own, I never realized the amount of junk mail that was received by consumers. Everything from home improvement to food to clothing. My average weekly amount is usually 10 pieces of mail. Rarely do they ever reach my house. I put them right back in the mailbox. I browse through them, look at what I might be interested in (usually not many) and I slot them back. I can't say it has decreased the amount of  junk mail I receive but it does decrease the amount of unwanted mail I bring into my house that end up in the recycling bin.
Online searches  regarding junk mail came up with the Red Dot Campaign. It is a campaign with basically two purposes in mind; first, to stop marketers from inundating consumers with advertising and second, to stop waste as a result of unaddressed marketing received in the mail.

Sites on reducing junk mail:
Canadian Marketing Association
National Do Not Call List


Happy Shopping!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Home Renovation Tax Credit, not Rebate

In an attempt to get Canada's economy moving, the federal government has introduced the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC) for the 2009 tax year. Many people are under the misconception that after a home renovation, when receipts are submitted to the government, they will receive a rebate of up to $1,350. I have seen the commercials and they can be very misleading. The way the term credit is used in the commercials, it can be easily misunderstood as rebate.

This is a tax credit and not a rebate. Credit means you may use the amount to decrease your taxes payable on your income tax return; rebate is when you first spend the money and then get a portion back.

Not all home renovations are eligible. There are exclusions.

The HRTC applies to eligible expenses of more than $1,000, but not more than $10,000, resulting in a maximum non-refundable tax credit of $1,350.
It applies to eligible purchases made after January 27, 2009, and before February 1, 2010.

For more information click here.

While you’re here, you might want to take a look at other tax credit opportunities that may apply to you; there are some rather interesting ones, such as the SRED program, which allows businesses conducting scientific research and experimental development to receive cash refunds and/or tax credits for their work.

Happy Shopping!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lotto Max

Super 7's last draw is September 18, 2009 and is being replaced by a new game called Lotto Max. Lotto Max will cost a minimum of $5 to play and has jackpots starting at $10 million which can reach up to $50 million.

Game details:
  • Draws will be held on Friday nights, starting with the first draw on September 25
  • Players will receive three chances to win (seven numbers each) per $5 play
  • In order to win the jackpot, players must match 7/7 numbers (from one to 49)
  • Odds of winning a jackpot are one in 28.6 million per play
  • Odds of winning any prize are one in 6.6 per play
  • If a jackpot is not won it will "roll" to the next draw date, with MAXMILLIONS jackpots created after the $50 million mark is reached
  • The base jackpot is $10 million and will grow until won or until reaching $50 million (courtesy of

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rogers™ feedback and thank you gift

I recently received a phone call from Rogers inquiring as to how I enjoyed my service. I figured it was a routine phone call, so I answered the customer service rep's questions such as 'how do you like your service', 'are there any questions or concerns regarding your service', etc.

Then out of nowhere, the customer service rep says, 'I can save you money',

I replied, 'whaaaat'?

She says, 'yes, I see that you are paying too much for your home phone and I can save you $15-$20 a month.'

I started to ask the technical questions: with taxes, without, locked in or not, does it include international, Canada, US? She explained all to me and I accepted the new 'deal'.

Then came the shocker....wait for it.....'because you are a good customer, you have a choice of $10 gas card or $10 grocery gift certificate to pick from.'  

'Seriously? Gas or food? Well, if I had no gas in my car but I was full, I could walk somewhere. I opted for the $10 grocery gift certificate (I can make a good meal for my family with that).

She put me on hold and came back to inform me that I get a $20 gift certificate because I have numerous Rogers products (That's 2 good meals).

My reward will arrive in the mail in approximately 12 weeks. I am watching my mailbox.

Happy Shopping!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tips for Saving Money

  1. Open an ING account and have your funds automatically deposited into it.
  2.  Save the Rest at Bank of Nova Scotia automatically deposits $1 or $5 into a separate account for short term savings such as a vacation or car repairs.
  3. Start clipping coupons. Search online, newspapers, magazines and in-store.
  4. Make a list before going grocery shopping and eat first before you go. Once at the grocery store, shop on the outer perimeter of the grocery store, this is where all the fresh food is kept. Vegetables, fruits, breads, meats and dairy. Don't forget to stick to your list. 
  5. Plan your meals, at least a couple days in advance if not longer. There are some wonderful meal plans online. Search under meal plans.
  6. Start using cash. Leave your debit and credit cards at home. By doing this, you won't give in to impulse spending.
  7. Budget. Write out your expenses and allocate your funds accordingly. Don't forget to include some fun things like entertainment. Stick to your budget. You might get off track once in a while, but do not make it a habit. Too many times off course and the budget won't work.
  8. Shop for items when they are on sale. 
  9. Adopt the jar method. Allocate into jars, money for those expenses that are not fixed, for example: gas, entertainment, groceries, transportation, spending. Once the funds in the jar are finished, the do not get replenished until next payday. This method works best by pay period.
  10. Open an RRSP account. You can start as low as $25/mth with most banks.
  11. Swap children's clothing with friends. Kids grow up so fast, it gets expensive buying them a new wardrobe everytime.
  12. Shop at second-hand stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village and Once Upon a Child.
  13. Watch movies at home instead of going to the theatre. 
  14. Make gourmet meals at home instead of going to an expensive restaurant. 
  15. DIY. Learning to do-it-yourself will save you hundreds of dollars a year. Everything from home improvements to interior design can be done by you. It just takes time and patience. 
 If you have any money-saving tips, please email me and I will post your suggestion.

Happy Shopping!!

    Monday, August 31, 2009

    Free stuff for New Moms

    It can be very overwhelming for a new mother or a mom-to-be. Fortunately, there are companies that realize this and want to help. With freebies such as bags, formula, coupons, literature and advice, these goodies make the transition to motherhood a little bit smoother.

    Below is a list for new moms or moms-to-be to receive free stuff for themselves and their babies. (If you know of any others, please send me an email and I will add them to the list. Your sharing will be greatly appreciated.)

    Nestlé Baby

    Similac Welcome Addition Club




    Heinz Baby Club

    Happy Shopping!!

    Thursday, August 27, 2009

    Building consumer loyalty through rewards programs

    Rewards programs is a marketing tool businesses employ to build customer loyalty. Programs such as Optimum at Shoppers Drug Mart, Air Miles, Aeroplan, Cineplex Odeon's Scene, and Petro Canada's Petro-Points are all designed to get you, the consumer shopping at specific locations.

    Rewards vary from one program to another. Air Miles offers free flights along with gift cards, gift certificates and merchandise. With enough points collected, Optimum offers money off of purchases at Shoppers Drug Mart. Petro-Points offers merchandise, savings on fuel and discounts on your CAA membership, Scene offers free movies, free concessions and free iTunes.

    Reality is you can't join every program, however by being passionate about a few, avid collectors have travelled and received merchandise they wouldn't normally obtain for themselves. In the last year, I have received groceries, clothes, movie nights out, money off purchases, discounted fuel and car washes, all without taking out a penny.

    When businesses realize they are building loyalty, they are apt to giving customers better service and selection. In the end, both retailers and consumers win.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Avoid being the victim of online identity theft

    Identity theft is a major problem. You or someone you know has probably been a victim of fraud. Unless people are denied credit or perhaps receive a bill, most people do not realize that they have been victimized. If you have ever bought anything online or have joined any type of 'group' online where you have had to give your name, date of birth and where you are from, fraudsters can pick up information and gain access to your Social Insurance Number(SIN), address, bank accounts and credit cards.
    Identity theft is almost impossible to prevent, as the people who commit it are always thinking ahead, but there are things you can do to minimize your chances of becoming a victim.


    Avoid using your real name whenever joining online sites.

    Avoid giving your real birthdate on online sites. If it is a public site such as Facebook, Twitter, etc., make sure the option is there to not broadcast it on your profile page.

    Only shop from reputable online vendors such as Amazon or Ebay with secure payment options like PayPal.

    Keep your credit report up to date. Contact credit report companies and ensure that your information is accurate. If you see any discrepancies, contact the company right away.
    Equifax, TransUnion and Experian

    If you have been victimized, call the company and explain the situation.
    Call your local police and report the crime to

    More information on how to prevent being a victim of fraud.

    Happy Shopping

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    The Customer is King??

    Today, I probably had one of the worst customer service experiences imaginable.

    I approached an ice cream truck to buy ice-cream for myself and my children. I gave my order, which included a dipped cone, to the saleslady. I watched her do a poor job of filling my cone, almost drop it and then attempt to 'dip' it in the chocolate coating, which in turn was done even more carelessly. When she handed it to me, I could not contain my shock and disgust and politely requested that she prepare another cone. She responded by telling me, she would not give me another one. I then withdrew my order for the ice-cream altogether. This incredibly rude and belligerent woman snatched the ice-cream from me and called me a fool as I walked away. I asked her what she said and an argument ensued, in which I told her that she had no customer service skills and should be ashamed of herself for conducting herself in the manner in which she was doing. I also told her I would be contacting her company and filing a complaint.

    This is just another example of the incredulously poor customer service that seems to be a part of the Canadian business landscape. Unfortunately, customer service does not appear to be of much importance to these companies. For them, it's about the bottom line. Make money and don't worry about how the customer is treated.

    My husband, in an interview (with a manager at a very popular and well established Canadian department store-the oldest corporation in the world) was asked what he thought was the most important element to make one a successful sales associate. He responded that he thought it was having good customer service. The manager responded by laughing and then proceeded to tell him that 'they' were not in the business of providing customer service and that 'they' don't care about customer service. He continued to say that the most important element of the job (in order to be a successful sales associate) is making the sales, making the money.

    The old adage, 'the customer is always right' should hold true to businesses. When the bottom line is all companies are after, in the end, it's not only the consumer that loses out, it's the companies as well. I will not be buying ice-cream from the ice-cream truck again.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Car Insurance

    Car insurance varies across the country. For some provinces, the government is in the business of selling insurance, while in other provinces, the government will not touch it. We all want the best insurance rates and the best way to get that is to go through an insurance broker. They will do the shopping around for you. If you choose to find your own, remember when dealing with insurance companies, it is best to do your homework first before calling them.

    Get a copy of your driver's abstract. Have a clear idea of what is on it, tickets, points, suspensions, etc.

    Clear up any discrepancies. If an infraction was to have dropped off and it hasn't, inquire as to why and how you can have it cleared.

    Get a copy of your auto claims history report from CGI

    If you are not using a broker, shop around. There are many of insurance companies out there, be sure you do your homework to get the best rate.

    The law requires that all drivers in Canada must have car insurance and the basic policy and minimum coverage levels are set by the government in each province. This means that by and large, in each province the terms of the insurance policy you receive from one insurance company to the next are virtually identical. However, the rates charged for a given car and driver can actually vary by hundreds and even thousands of dollars between insurance companies. (courtesy of

    For more information on car insurance regulation and requirements in Canada, visit

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Store Brand vs. Name Brand

    You walk down the aisle of your favourite grocery store, you stop for your usual brand of apple juice, cereal, oatmeal, crackers and countless other items. Beside your trusty name brand is the store brand. The packaging is just as nice, the amount of food in the box or can is the same, do you dare trust the store brand?

    Most shoppers would probably say they would stick to their brand name. Citing excuses such as the store brand is not as tasty, quality ingredients are not used, etc. Like most things these days, there are many generic brands of products we use everyday to be found at the grocery store. I have not been taken in by the fancy packaging of brand name manufacturers and have opted for the store brands of some of my favourite products. The results were as comparable or even better. The truth is, some of the companies that manufacture the brand names also produce the store brands.

    On your next shopping trip, try the store brand, it just might surprise you.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    New Home Upgrades

    Buying a new home is very exciting. The thrill of owning your own space, not having to worry about living in someone else's dwelling and not to mention the investment factor. Paying down on a mortgage means more equity in your home and hopefully more money in your pocket one day. But back to the buying process and namely upgrades.

    Upgrades in a new home are those things that make your house a home. Those "luxury" items you don't think you can live without in your new home. There are hundreds of upgrades available for new homes, everything from soaker tubs, ensuites, pot lights, fireplaces, different types of flooring, cabinets, knobs, skylights, etc. Although these items help in making your new home look like the model home you've dreamed of, they come at a price. A very high price if you are not careful. It is not unusual for new homeowners to spend in the upwards of $20,000 to $50,000 and more for upgrades. This is fine...if you have the money. The problem with buying upgrades from the builder is that most are of a substandard quality. New homeowners should realize, with time and patience, they can buy upgrades for their homes on their own at a better price and receive better quality. It might take a little bit longer, as most people are short on cash after moving into a new house, but well worth it.
    New homeowners should be wary of spending money on an investment they will not see a return on. Spend your money on items that will appreciate your home and you would have spent your money wisely.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    Loblaws slashing prices

    There is a price war brewing in Canada between grocery stores. Loblaws issued a statement saying that they were slashing the prices of over 3000 items in their stores because of declining sales. Sobeys and Metro have not announced any price cuts....yet. It might just be a matter of time before we see their prices go down as well. Read more below.

    Globe and Mail

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    Comparing Diapers

    Having had my third child in less than five years, I think I am a little bit of an authority on diapers. When I had my son, I was intent on using brand names, after all, they are the ones you see on commercials, they have the snazzy websites and send you all those free coupons when you sign up with them online. I became a Pampers girl. By the time my daughter came along two years later, I had switched to Huggies. Not because I loved them or their performance, but because some friends had given us 2 boxes of what they had left over. Being on maternity leave and being low on cash sometimes, I would opt for the store brand diapers. Parents Choice at WalMart, Presidents Choice Teddy's brand and Comfort Fit from Shoppers Drug Mart. To my amazement these diapers performed just as well, if not better than the brand name stuff. I found they came in the assorted sizes like the brand names, they were just as absorbent with little leakage, they had no strong odours, they had pictures of popular childrens' characters and the best part was that the price was a fraction of what the brand names were charging. By buying the store brands, I was saving an average of $5 per case.

    If you go through as many diapers in your house as I do, that's a pretty significant savings. The only time I buy brand name now is when I have a coupon and they are on sale. If not, I am more than happy treating my wallet to a break and buying store brand.

    For those hooked on brand names, I have attached some links to get coupons.



    I would love your reponses on your experience with store brand diapers. Email me.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Wednesday, August 5, 2009

    Safety 1st Air Protect™

    As any parent knows, the strength of your child's carseat is very important. Unfortunately, many parents do not find out the the strength of a carseat until an accident occurs. Safety 1st has come out with a new carseat with Air Protect™ Technology. It's primary focus is head protection of your child to avoid injuries or fatalities.

    Air Protect™ Technology has been designed to defend against the biggest threat to children on the road today; side impact collisions. Side impact are by far the deadliest type of collision for children, accounting for one in three child fatalities; nearly all of which are caused by head trauma. (courtesy of:

    To find out more about this new technology and carseat, click on the link below:

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009


    The web is a great place to find freebies, from coupons to free products, there are hundreds of websites giving things away. With some you have to register and others just require you putting in your mailing information. Below, I've compiled a list of some of the great sites you can visit to get some free stuff. If you know of any other sites and want it to be added, feel free to send me an email.


    Canadian Free


    Red Flag Deals

    Free Stuff Hot Deals


    I Love




    Btemplates (templates for blogger)







    Happy Shopping!!

    Saturday, August 1, 2009

    Dollar Store Shopping Spree

    If you do not have a "dollar store" near where you live or don't know what they are then you must live on the moon. Even then, I think there might be 2. Whether it be Dollarama, Everything for A Dollar Store (EFADS), Buck or Two or a mom 'n' pop shop, these stores are everywhere, with their lure of $1 or 2for$1 items. In February 2009, Dollarama went from being a dollar store to now a $1.25 and $1.50 store. I didn't know if I could go back, for fear I wouldn't be able to afford anything. No fear, I didn't notice a difference. I find these stores great for a host of products, whether it be dishwashing gloves, birthday cards, party supplies, wrapping paper, hair accessories or activity books for my children. Heck, I have even bought tights and socks. I really like these stores for their convenience however, I am selective about what I buy from there. I never buy baby products, grocery items (except for chips and pop) and I try to stay away from small toys because of possible choking hazards or lead content. I will however buy bigger toys that I know will not go into my children's mouths. Walking into a dollar store with $10, now there's a shopping spree. Zipping through the aisles collecting one item after another. It's nice to know that in these "tough economic times", there is still somewhere a $1, or excuse me, $1.25 can be spent.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Friday, July 31, 2009


    I'm sorry to all my readers for the absence. I've been in the maternity ward. My little girl arrived early June, and now having had time to settle in with her, I am ready to get down to business. Don't be surprised if there seems to be more baby consumer news than usual.

    Good to be back and thanks for your support.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Long Distance Phone cards

    If you have ever called anyone overseas, then you at some point have had to use a long distance phone card. There are hundreds of them out there, and depending on where you are calling, you can get one suited to that area of the world. The cards are meant to be an alternative to traditional long-distancing calling plans, where most times, you have a long or short-term commitment, depending on your plan. You buy these cards based on how long you think your call will be and whether you are calling to a cell phone or a landline. They cost anywhere from $2.50 to $20. If you don't use up all the minutes, they are supposed to be there for you to use next time. However, there is a daily fee that is charged and taken out of the money you have available on the card. You might find that, if you do not use your card within 2 weeks, this fee will eat up the remainder of your calling card and you will have to get a new one.

    The problem with these cards is that in the beginning, they were a good deal, with no commitments and for considerably cheap, you could make a long distance phone call. But recently, these cards have not been working as well as they promise. I make long distance calls to Africa often, and have found that the connections have not been clear or I cannot get connected at all. Meanwhile, my funds were being eaten up. Eventually, I got tired of calling their customer service and have stopped using these cards altogether. While searching for a long distance provider, I ran into Comwave. I have found their rates cheap and their service very friendly and easy to use. The connection to Africa (at least) has been excellent. If in search for a long-distance plan and not getting much out of those phone cards, check them out.

    Happy Shopping!!

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Payday Loans

    You may have seen companies around your city or town — or seen websites — that offer "payday loans". Payday loans are small loans that a borrower usually is required to pay back on or before his or her next payday (whether that payday is from a job or from some other income source, like a pension). Payday lenders often limit the loan to about 30 or 40% of the expected net amount (i.e., the amount after taxes and other deductions) of the borrower's next paycheque. Usually, the borrower writes a cheque to the lender for the amount that was borrowed, plus all of the interest and fees. The cheque is usually post-dated to the next payday, and is usually cashed at that time.

    Before you consider applying for a payday loan, remember this: payday loans are the most expensive way to borrow money, so consider all of your options. To learn more about payday loans, please visit the website of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, where you will find an informative brochure entitled The Cost of Payday Loans. (courtesy of Industry Canada)

    Wednesday, July 29, 2009


    With the state of the current economy, a lot of people are hoping to ride it through by either drowning their sorrows or hoping to win it big with gambling. Like with most difficult financial periods, people still find the money for alcohol, cigarettes and gambling. This is great news for lotto retailers and casinos but not so good for the rest of us who are hoping that by twist of luck, that is how we will make our millions. Already very addictive, lottos and casinos have not seen a downward swing in players like other venues and activities have. This is in part to the "maybe" factor. MAYBE tonight's my night; MAYBE I'll pick those lucky numbers; MAYBE I'll be at the right machine. The truth is, the likelihood of hitting it big with the lotto is 1 in 14,000,000 and the odds at a casino is just as big. This is not to say I am against gambling, absolutely not, I enjoy the occasional "scratch and win" and I am part of a lotto group at work. It is just sad to see many people who (these days) are so down on their luck, turning to something which in the long run will turn into a bigger problem. Play responsibly and as the OLG says, "know your limit, play within it".

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Filing your Taxes

    As tax season is fast approaching, popping up will be companies that can prepare your taxes for a "small" fee. To those that have others prepare their taxes, use reputable companies. See the Better Business Bureau for more information.

    For individuals in the low income brackets, CRA holds tax clinics where your taxes can be filed for you at no cost. Contact CRA for more information.

    You can also find out if the NETFILE service is an option for you.

    Happy filing!!!

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Life Insurance

    I know life insurance is one of those things most families figure they can do without, but really, the truth of the matter is that, in this life you just never know, and you don't want to leave your family with debts.

    My husband and I recently amended our life insurance policies. It's something we had been putting off, but with a third child coming, we figure no better time than the present. Our "insurance lady" was very helpful in explaining the different terms - term life vs. whole life vs. critical, 10 or 20 year policies.

    When looking for an insurance agent, make sure they are licensed and that they take the time to ask about your needs and explain different options. Be wary of solicitors over the phone, these are usually the banks who promise that you can be insured without a medical exam. This is true, but when it's time for payout, these institutions have been known to find loopholes in order not to pay the client or their families. Be careful of this.

    It's never too early to get life insurance, for us, we found the ideal time was when we got married and bought a house.

    Remember the earlier you start, the better.

    Happy Shopping!!!

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Day Olds

    Several years ago, I was expressing to a co-worker how expensive my grocery bill was becoming, she suggested I look at buying day-olds. Right away, I thought of old, hard, dry, crusty bread, that the grocery store couldn't get rid off, and now were reduced. She explained to me that they were still fresh and as the grocery store baked more and more, they had to get rid of the older ones. Well, I took her advice and ventured out to the day-old section of my grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised, not only did I find fresh products, but I found myself buying products which I normally wouldn't buy if they were regular priced, but because of the reduction, I could now I afford one or two.

    Well, I didn't stop there, now when I shop, not only do I check the day-old section of the bakery, I also check for reduced fruits and vegetables and reduced meats. I find this greatly reduces my grocery bill, and my family has had some excellent meals out of these great finds. Look for these deals next time you go grocery shopping and think of it as the clearance sections of your grocery stores.

    Happy Shopping!!
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