Babies Are Free??!!

babiesarefree.jpgWhen I asked a friend how much I should save for a baby's first year, her answer took me by surprise. She said her baby was essentially free. Free??!! The Globe And Mail estimates that we need approximately $8,000 for the first year alone, which is a much higher amount than “free”. Free in terms of the cost of a new baby is just impossible. Or is it? Now that I have tracked the first seven months of baby expenses, I have to concede that my friend wasn't that far off the mark.

Our Almost Free Baby Story

We began parenthood with the rosy idea that we didn't need much to have a happy, healthy child. We were not going to follow the suggestions of those clever marketing gurus and make our home resemble a baby store. After all, I've heard that there are babies that grew into productive, fulfilled adults, who began life sleeping in a bottom drawer or a laundry basket!

In reality, the journey into parenthood has been quite effortful in many ways. Babies can be expensive, and there are numerous unforeseen expenses that can derail even the most frugal plans. The bright side is that there are also numerous ways to save and spend far less than $8,000!

Using many of the tips below, we've managed to spend a grand total of $54.80* including all taxes, a $35 fee for the birth certificate, and a $25 deposit fee for a daycare waiting list. I've excluded the increased cost of water, hydro, gas, time, etc., that I can't specifically break down and attribute to the baby.

*After subtracting $400 in redemptions at Shoppers Drug Mart. We also make our own wipes and the materials are categorized under our household expenses, as they are regular household items.

Ways To Save On Baby’s Basic Needs

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Stop Using Your Debit Card Canada!

stopusingyourdebitcardcanada.jpgCanadians love their debit cards and I, for the life of me, can’t exactly figure out why. I think it would be safe to say that most adult Canadians also have at least one rewards credit card in their wallets in addition to their debit card, but still many of them simply leave it in their pocket when it comes to making everyday purchases. I see this happen time and time again when I’m watching people in check out lines and when I’m out with acquaintances.

If you’re going to be purchasing something anyway and you can earn somewhere in the range of 1 to 10 percent of the value of the item you are purchasing in rewards, then why not utilize that as much as possible? Of course, the reward you will get depends heavily on how good your credit card is and how good you are at maximizing your rewards, but still something is better than nothing right?

Reasons To Use Your Credit Card For Everything

Not everything that you might need to purchase can be bought with a credit card, but most things can. In some cases, even things like tuition and insurance can be paid with a credit card and be eligible for rewards. Keep reading » about Stop Using Your Debit Card Canada!

40x The Points Is Back At Shoppers Drug Mart!


If you are unfamiliar with the Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum rewards program, then you can catch up by reading our complete guide to the Shoppers Optimum program to better understand the contents of this post.

This Saturday is a 20x Points Day at Shoppers Drug Mart, which is a great promotion in its own right. However, from time to time the stars align in such a way that it becomes possible to get 40x the points when purchasing select products during a 20x points promotion. This Saturday is one of those rare times!

What Products Qualify For 40x Points?

Shoppers has starting carrying a new line of food products called Simply Food which is another one of their store brands much like Life and Nativa Organics. According to reviews I have been reading on various discussion forums the food is very tasty and almost all of the different products they offer are excellent. Here is a partial list of products that they offer under the Simply Food brand:

Chicken Nuggets | Chicken Strips | Chicken Wings | Cookies * | Crackers * | Dips | French Fries | Frozen Vegetables * | Fruit Snacks | Granola Bars * | Jam * | Kettle Chips * | Kettle Popcorn | Pasta Sauce * | Salsa | Shrimp | Tea * | Tortilla Chips

* Items marked with a star have several different flavours or varieties to choose from.

    How Much Is 40x Points Worth?

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    The Famous RBC Avion Transfer Promotions Are Back!

    For those who don’t already know, I am a huge advocate of credit cards for people who are capable of using them responsibly as a means of earning thousands of dollars in rewards each year. More importantly if you choose to have a credit card then you should have one of the best credit cards available that gives you the maximum return for the money you spend on the card. If you are unfamiliar with credit cards or unsure if you have the best possible card for your needs, then you should read through our comprehensive credit cards section to get up to speed.

    The Royal Bank Avion Platinum or Infinite credit card is one of the best and most flexible travel rewards credit cards in Canada. It is actually the card ranked 3rd in the travel category of our study of the best credit cards available in Canada.

    One of the main reasons this card is so good is that you can transfer your points at a 1:1 ratio to either the British Airways Executive Club or the American Airlines AAdvantage rewards programs. Doing so is already a good idea because it eliminates the dollar amount caps on point values that are part of the standard RBC Avion point redemption process. This allows you to book the most expensive routes within a given part of the world without paying more points and thus giving you much greater value. Keep reading » about The Famous RBC Avion Transfer Promotions Are Back!

    5 Air Miles Rewards That Give You The Best Value

    5airmilesrewardsthatgiveyouthebestvalue.jpgWhen redeeming your rewards in any rewards program you need to be extremely careful with your choice of reward. Not all rewards are created equal and, if you make a poor choice, you can easily waste much of the effort you exerted in collecting those points or miles! The same is true with Air Miles. Some Air Miles rewards offer fantastic value but many more will quickly drain your Air Miles account balance without giving you much in return.

    With so many different reward options available and with many rewards, like flights, having a changing value, it can be extremely difficult to know which reward you should choose. Sure that TV looks nice! But if you crunch the numbers, chances are you could get more than twice as much value for your Air Miles by redeeming them for something else and just buying the TV on sale at the lowest possible price. You can read through our complete guide to the Air Miles rewards program to get all the details, but this post will lay out the top 5 Air Miles reward choices that will give you the best value, and here they are:

    Buy 1 Get 1 Free Movie Tickets

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    What Exactly Is The Best Canadian Rewards Program?

    whatexactlyisthebestcanadianrewardsprogram.jpgMany people think rewards programs aren’t worth their time because it seems like are collecting points for years but still don’t get a very worthwhile reward for the hassle of carrying around all that extra plastic in their wallet. Well, that much IS true! But only if you don’t take an active role in earning reward points by focusing on special events, coupons, and promotions so that you earn rewards much more quickly. Taking advantage of a good promotion can easily yield more rewards in one purchase than you could collect in a 5 year period of earning them at the regular rate!

    That said, there is still one rewards program in Canada that stands out from all the others by making rewards so quick and easy to earn that it seems almost too good to be true. What do I mean by this? Well, for example, a couple of years back I was able to purchase some high end electronics, like an iPod for myself and an XBox 360 for my friend, and in doing so earn enough reward points to essentially pay for the cost of the items being purchased. What I mean is that the value of the rewards earned was greater than the total cost of the iPod and the XBox! What reward did I earn, you might ask? Essentially a store credit that could be used to buy food, personal hygiene products, and other general merchandise that I would need to purchase anyway. That’s right, it was as good as cash in my jeans, making the iPod and Xbox basically FREE! Doesn’t that sound too good to be true to you?

    Well, for me, it gets even better! I have actually used this same rewards program to earn as much as $4,500 in free merchandise every single year for the past few years. You read that right, four thousand five hundred dollars! Now there is a catch; the main reason I am able to earn that much is because I have a very serious disease that requires me to purchase expensive medical supplies on a regular basis. These supplies are eligible to earn regular points as well as bonus points during points promotions, so my points add up extremely quickly. The good news for you is that, before I had this disease, I was still able to earn $500 to $1000 in rewards per year quite easily just by purchasing regular everyday essential items.

    So What Rewards Program Could Possibly Be This Good?

    I won’t keep you in suspense any longer! It’s the Shoppers Optimum rewards program by Shoppers Drug Mart. I bet you weren’t expecting that now were you Keep reading » about What Exactly Is The Best Canadian Rewards Program??

    Earn Thousands Of Dollars In Credit Card Rewards

    earnthousandsofdollarsincreditcardrewards.jpgHave you ever wondered what the best credit card available in Canada is? Should you choose one with an annual fee or not? Are travel rewards credit cards worth the hassle, or should you just stick to a simple cash back credit card? Is signing up for a credit card even a good idea at all? These are all very good questions and, with the number of credit cards available in the Canadian marketplace today, making the right choice can seem nearly impossible.

    With people like you in mind who are overwhelmed with the choices and not sure if it is even possible to determine “the best” credit card, we have put together a complete credit card guide that seeks to answer almost any question you might have in regards to credit cards. Not only that, but we have done a thorough analysis of the best credit cards on the market and come up with our own custom scoring system for comparing them in an objective manner. It takes many important factors into consideration such as the return a typical person can get on their credit card spending, the maximum return you can possibly achieve if you do everything just right, how flexible the credit card rewards are, and the quality of the insurance package that comes with the card.

    It is actually our belief that every person who can qualify for a rewards credit card should be using one for every possible purchase that they make, so long as you are able to pay the balance in full every month! Unfortunately, not all people can handle the responsibility of having a credit card and when using one they find themselves overspending and getting deep in debt by spending money they don’t have. But, if you are a responsible spender or saver and you aren’t using a credit card, then you are leaving a lot of money on the table that would otherwise be in your pocket!

    How Much Can You Really Earn With Credit Cards?

    So all of this sounds nice, but when it comes right down to it, how much can you really earn with credit card rewards? Keep reading » about Earn Thousands Of Dollars In Credit Card Rewards

    Save Money Using Rewards Programs

    In the past ten years, reward programs have sprouted up everywhere like a bad weed. At first there were only a few but once the idea caught on in business marketing circles, they grew like wildfire. Programs are available for everything from retail stores, restaurants, and gas bars to airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies. Some of these programs are actually worthwhile while others are nothing more than marketing gimmicks that offer very little in real value to loyal customers.

    When participating in a rewards program, always remember that these programs would not exist if they weren’t benefitting the companies who made them more than they are costing them. It still makes sense to participate in them most of the time as long as you don’t let rewards program influence your spending habits such that you will forgo a better price, or not even look for one, because you want to collect points or miles at your favourite store.

    How To Benefit From Rewards Programs

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    Get The Most Value From Your Aeroplan Miles

    Now that you’ve earned a ton of Aeroplan miles, you need to know how to effectively spend them so all of your hard work earning them isn’t wasted.  You want to get the absolute best value for your miles possible while still redeeming them for an award you actually want and can use.  The information found here will help you to squeeze every possible penny out of your Aeroplan miles!

    Choosing The Right Reward

    When it comes to choosing the right reward with Aeroplan, there is no discussion necessary.  There is only one viable option, flights!  All the other reward options will give at most 50% of the value you could obtain by booking a flight.  You can still look into the other reward options if they interest you, but just know that 99.9% of the time you will be throwing many more miles away than you should be.  If you are considering redeeming your miles for something other than flights you should consider the following options instead:

    • If you ever will need to fly in the future, save the miles for then and buy the item you really want with the money saved.
    • Redeem a ticket for a family member who is flying anyway and have them pay you back the cost of the ticket as a favour to you.
    • Use your miles to gift a ticket or trip to a family member and again use the money saved how you wish.

    Where To Fly

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