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July 11 2013

#RFDChat - Travel Tips & Tricks with Expedia!

By Jerowe Ragudo



Join #RFDChat on Wednesday, July 17 at 3pm EDT / 12pm PDT for an interactive Twitter chat with Expedia and Social Media Expert, Carla Young on the best ways to save money on travel! (Not sure what a Twitter chat is? Read below!)

Topics We’ll Cover:
  • When is the best time to get deals on travel?
  • How far in advance should you book to get the best deals?
  • How can you maximize your travel using points or rewards?
  • and much more!

Participate & Win!
We're giving away a $500 Expedia travel voucher and $250 in Bon Appétit Gift Cards (valid at Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, Kelsey’s and more!) Winners will also be announced on this page as they're drawn. To enter, just follow @RedFlagDeals on Twitter and RSVP below with your Twitter handle in the comments section below. It's that simple!

To participate:
1. Follow @RedFlagDeals on twitter.com/redflagdeals
2. LIKE RedFlagDeals on facebook.com/redflagdeals
3. RSVP with your Twitter Handle in the comments below (to be eligible for the draw during the chat).
4. SUBMIT a question. If we use your question in the chat, you win a prize!
5. Join #RFDChat on Twitter via tchat.io on Wednesday, July 17th at 3pm EDT / 12pm PDT.

About Twitter Chats:
A Twitter chat is an interactive discussion hosted on Twitter using a keyword hashtag(#) to track the topic. Participants and panelists will answer questions and share tips on a particular topic theme adding the hashtag to the end of their answer.

To participate in a Twitter chat, simply follow the hashtag(#) using Twitter Search OR login to tchat.io using your Twitter ID and the chat hashtag(#). Don’t forget to add the chat hashtag(#) to all your answers so your response is seen by other chat participants.

Q&A - Answered By Expedia.ca

Q1: When is the best time to get deals on travel?
Q2: Is there a worst time to get deals on travel?
Q3: How far in advance should you book to get the best deals?
Q4: What’s the best way to find last-minute travel deals?
Q5: Is it better to book hotel and flight together?
Q6: How do you find local deals when you arrive?
Q7: Is it better to book tours and buy tickets before you leave?
Q8: How do you find coupons and discount codes??
Q9: How can you maximize your travel using points or rewards?
Q10: What are some other ways to save money on travel?
Q11: What is the most cost effective way to travel within Canada? (Submitted by @unrash)
Q12: Which days of the week are actually the cheapest to book a flight? (Submitted by @billy_pg)
Q13: Is it a good idea to just wait until the day before and book a last minute getaway? (Submitted by @nicolebans)
Q14: Do you have tips for saving money when travelling with small children? (Submitted by @jentamar)
Q15: Do you have any money saving tips for when you take a road trip (Submitted by @kitty)

Q1: When is the best time to get deals on travel?
Holiday travel is always in demand and prices often match demand. Before you book, take a closer look at how your vacation can work around peak holidays as well as the ‘shoulder season,’ – the time between high and low season when a usually low demand for travel can equal some great deals.

Back To Questions


Q2: Is there a worst time to get deals on travel?
Popular times of the year, including holidays and March Break, and large scale events such as major sporting events, and festivals tend to drive high demand for travel. As a result, some travellers may find destinations more expensive during these peak periods. If you are planning on getting away during a busy season, or there is a big event in the location you are going to visit, book travel as early as possible. The demand will be even greater the longer you wait and chances are the price will go up too.

Back To Questions



Q3: How far in advance should you book to get the best deals?
If you can, consider booking about three months in advance to secure the best deal. If you can’t commit to booking too far in advance, an effective way to get the most travel bang for your buck is to keep on top of seasonal or last minute deals.

Back To Questions


Q4: What’s the best way to find last-minute travel deals?
If your calendar can accommodate last-minute travel, consider signing up for last-minute e-mail alerts, which can bring big savings right to your inbox. Expedia.ca’s ASAP (A Suddenly Amazing Price) sales offer last minute deals that could save travellers up to 50% off participating hotels and getaway packages. Expedia.ca’s App, available for both Apple and Andriod users, offers mobile-exclusive hotel deals that can equal immediate savings – money that can be spent enjoying other aspects of your trip. 

Back To Questions


Q5: Is it better to book hotel and flight together?
Yes – bundling is a great way to save money and time that would be spent researching endless hotel options! Canadian travellers can save on average $300 when they book flight and hotel together on Expedia.ca. Not only does this help to simplify the booking and planning process for travellers, but it also provides great savings.

Back To Questions


Q6: How do you find local deals when you arrive?
Assuming you’ve arrived to your destination without a hotel reservation, the best way to find local deals on the ground is with the Expedia App. The Expedia App has access to thousands of hotels, flights, car rentals, cruise ship itineraries as well as on the ground services –with mobile exclusive hotel discounts that only the country’s leading online travel provider can offer.  Thanks to recent upgrades, the app now allows travellers who book on Expedia.ca to access their entire itinerary easily and conveniently - no matter where they are. Looking for a map to guide you through an unfamiliar airport? Need to know where to get a cup of coffee before your flight? If you have a smartphone, you will be able to find everything you need with the quick touch of a button.

Back To Questions


Q7: Is it better to book tours and buy tickets before you leave?
Expedia.ca recommends booking tours in advance by searching for discounts that are readily available online and that you just won’t get when you’re on the ground. For example, Expedia.ca has a full Activities Page where you can purchase discount tickets to some of the most popular and sought after destinations and activities in the world.

Back To Questions


Q8: How do you find coupons and discount codes?
Email alerts are a great way to get exclusive deals that are only available to subscribed customers. For example, if you sign up to receive Expedia.ca email alerts, you will be notified of the best travel deals that aren’t available to the public.

Back To Questions


Q9: How can you maximize your travel using points or rewards?
Expedia.ca has partnered with TD Canada Trust. Now, not only can you use your reward miles on travel, you can use them confidently with the world’s most-visited full-service online travel company. Whether you book online or via phone, you not only enjoy an easy-to-navigate, one-stop planning and booking experience, but will also enjoy peace of mind knowing they can reach Expedia For TD travel representatives, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Back To Questions


Q10: What are some other ways to save money on travel?
There are many ways to save money on travel!

Be Flexible: As a traveller, flexibility comes in all forms, so keep the following in mind when planning your upcoming summer and fall travel.

Consider alternative airports: If you live within driving distance of two or more airports, be sure to check fares for all of your options. Some airlines offer special fares for flights into specific airports that you can easily cash in on. The same applies if you live close to a U.S. airport such as Buffalo or Seattle and you can also check out Expedia.ca’s Border City Deals to save on upcoming travel.

Think twice about your departure date: Check the days (or weeks, if possible) before and after your initial choice of travel date as sometimes even a small adjustment in date can save you money.

Be willing to make a stop or connection on your flight: You can sometimes save by considering flights that stop en route, so if your schedule allows you could save big.

Back To Questions


Q11: What is the most cost effective way to travel within Canada? I always find it cheaper to go South or to Europe and haven't enjoyed my own country yet. (Submitted by @unrash)
Ultimately, whether you’re travelling within Canada, the US or Europe, the key to making sure you have an enjoyable, and cost friendly, vacation is to do your homework before leaving home.

For many of us, reading online reviews has now become a mandatory part of our travel research process. Tools such as Expedia.ca’s Verified Reviews, as an example, is a collection of over 7.5 million hotel reviews from actual travellers. You can also sort through the rating by date submitted, language, and photos to ensure they find the relevant content quickly. Remember to check for all in-pricing and consider bundling your various travel components to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck, regardless of which side of the coast you’re headed.

Back To Questions


Q12: I've noticed cheaper rates Tuesdays and Wednesdays and more expensive Fri-Sun. Which days of the week are actually the cheapest to book a flight? (Submitted by @billy_pg)
Prices can change from day-today. If you’re looking to get away, but don’t have a set departure or return date in mind, you can save a lot of money. By not having specific requirements such as a particular hotel or travel date, you can book the least expensive option and get away.

Back To Questions



Q13: How do last minute deals work? If I don't care where I go, is it a good idea to just wait until the day before and book a last minute getaway? (Submitted by @nicolebans)
If your calendar can accommodate last-minute travel, consider signing up for last-minute e-mail alerts, which can bring big savings right to your inbox. Expedia.ca’s ASAP (A Suddenly Amazing Price) sales offer last minute deals that could save travellers up to 50% off participating hotels and getaway packages.

Also, if you’re feeling spontaneous, take part in Expedia.ca’s Spontaneous Summer Sale where you can save up to 50 per cent on select hotels worldwide this summer.
 

Back To Questions


Q14: Do you have tips for saving money when travelling with small children? (Submitted by @jentamar)
Yes, we have several tips for ways you can save money when travelling with children.

1)    Be budget savvy – The costs of a family vacation often add up, thereby contributing to the total sum. To help keep the budget in-check, look for seasonal sales, last minute and border city deals and make sure to bundle hotel and flight together to help get the most bang for your buck. Sites like Expedia.ca also show all-in-pricing so you will know upfront exactly whether the family vacation of your dreams is within your holiday budget. 

2)    Start packing early – No parent wants to waste time or money shopping while on vacation for the things they’ve forgotten to pack. To dodge this avoidable stress and unwanted costs, don’t wait until the day before to pack; rather start with a little each day to ensure you don’t forget anything important.

3)    Bring snacks (and lots of them) – As you’re packing, think of the number of snacks you’ll need to take with you and then double that amount. Not only will snacks keep your child entertained, but they will also avoid crankiness that can result from being hungry and the inflated costs of buying snacks on the go. Plus, you never know what you’ll find (or not find) on the menu, or what the cost will be for these food options, so it’s a good idea to have a few kid-friendly food options on hand at all times.

4)    Book Ahead – Once you’ve selected your destination, start planning your itinerary. From destination activities like theme parks, water parks and museums for the kids to shopping, tours and golf outings for the parents, Expedia.ca offers some great deals activity options to ensure a memorable, lively and price friendly holiday.

5)    Look for Extras – Many hotels offer free perks such as free breakfasts, tours and other activities when you book. Hotels often offer these types of ‘extras’ when you book through travel partners like Expedia.ca so be sure to keep an eye out for added perks and benefits that can help you save.


Back To Questions


Q15: Do you have any money saving tips for when you take a road trip? (Submitted by @kitty)
If a week-long vacation is not in your budget, then consider getting away for just a weekend. Whether your destination is to Sauble Beach for some R&R, or to Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls for a little more excitement, weekend getaways provide travellers with much-needed, and well-deserved, time away while staying on budget.

Back To Questions


Today's Winners: $25 Bon Appétit Gift Cards
@debd1960
@rallo74
@Ro_Fo
@nomnombearinyvr
@Unrash
@milkandcocomama
@archy0050
@elrednaxela
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Today's Grand Prize Winner: $500 Expedia.ca Travel Voucher
@eleenie

Comments

May 07 2013

20 Newest Target Canada Stores Open Today!

By Amanda Aikman

Happy May 7! What's so happy about it? Well, if you've been looking forward to a Target Canada store opening near you, 20 more locations will be opening their doors today.

Here's the list of May 7 openings:

  • Calgary: Chinook Centre, Forest Lawn Shopping Centre, Market Mall
  • Edmonton: Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre, Mill Woods Town Centre, West Edmonton Mall
  • Grande Prairie: Prairie Mall
  • Red Deer: Bower Place
  • Sherwood Park: Sherwood Park Mall
  • St. Albert: St. Albert Centre
  • Campbell River: Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre
  • Coquitlam: Coquitlam Centre
  • Cranbrook: Tamarack Mall
  • Delta: Scottsdale Centre
  • Kamloops: Sahali Centre
  • Vernon: Village Green Centre
  • Victoria: Tillicum Centre
  • Brandon: Shoppers Mall
  • Winnipeg: Kildonan Place, Southdale Centre

And next week the Shoppes at Shawnessy in Calgary and Pine Centre in Prince George will see their Targets open on May 14. You can view the latest Target flyer in the RedFlagDeals.com flyers section. For more information on your local store visit Target.ca.

Comments

April 24 2013

#RFDChat - Savings Made Simple with Gail Vaz-Oxlade (Host of Till Debt Do Us Part & Money Moron)

By Kory Jazbec

Join #RFDChat On Apr 25, 2013 & Learn How To Save Your Money!

Thanks everyone for a great chat. Gail's responses to the answers are below.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @RedFlagDeals


Join @RedFlagDeals on Thursday April 25 at 3:30 pm EDT / 12:30pm PDT for an interactive Twitter chat on the best ways to save money! (Not sure what a Twitter chat is? Read below)

RedFlagDeals will lead the discussion with Canadian financial writer and television/radio personality Gail Vaz-Oxlade (Host of Till Debt Do Us Part & Money Moron) who will share tips on saving money and how to live money-smart!

Topics We’ll Cover:
  • Why do so many people find it hard to save?
  • Should you save money or pay off debt?
  • How do I get into the habit of saving?
  • Where should I put my savings?
  • and much more!

We Are Giving Away Over $400 in Prizing!
During the chat, we'll be giving away:
  • 2 Keurig Mini KUB31R brewing systems (includes an exclusive RedFlagDeals.com mug!)
  • 10 $25 WalMart gift cards

To participate:
  1. Follow @RedFlagDeals on twitter.com/redflagdeals
  2. LIKE RedFlagDeals on facebook.com/redflagdeals
  3. RSVP with your Twitter Handle in the comments below (to be eligible for the draw during the chat).
  4. SUBMIT a question. If we use your question in the chat, you win a prize!
  5. Join our #RFDChat on Twitter via TweetChat Thursday, April 25th at 3:30 pm EDT / 12:30 pm PDT.

About Twitter Chats:
A Twitter chat is an interactive discussion hosted on Twitter using a keyword hashtag(#) to track the topic. Participants and panelists will answer questions and share tips on a particular topic theme adding the hashtag to the end of their answer.
To participate in a Twitter chat, simply follow the hashtag(#) using Twitter Search OR login to TweetChat using your Twitter ID and the chat hashtag(#). Don’t forget to add the chat hashtag(#) to all your answers so your response is seen by other chat participants.

Q&A - Answered By Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Q1: What’s your favourite way to save money?
Q2: How does one get into a savings habit and build emergency fund?
Q3: What are some ways to teach kids to save?
Q4: Should a recent graduate save for the future or pay off their student loans ASAP?
Q5: Low income earners: high interest savings, TFSA, life insurance, RRSP, GIC or health plan?
Q6: How much money does one need to retire comfortably?
Q7: Looking for a new home: Pay down the principal of the current mortgage or save money separately towards a bigger mortgage?



Q1: What’s your favourite way to save money?

  • 1. Save your extra paycheque. Most people set up their budgets to accommodate two or four paychecks a month, depending on their pay schedule. Sometimes you get an extra cheque in the month and that can been a boon to your Savings.
  • 2. Keep a jar in your car and every time you pick up a coffee, grab a sub or munch on a muffin, drop a buck in your jar. This will be your Fast Food Tax. If you can find the money for coffee, you can find the money to save!
  • 3. Save your “savings.” If you save $5 by shopping the sales, using coupons, or just by being a smart shopper save it. Take that $5 and stick it in your SAVINGS container at home. If you don’t, you’ll just spend it somewhere else and then you won’t have saved a penny.
  • 4. Reward yourself. If you have the discipline to use a credit card the pay off your balance every month, use a card that gives you cash back or a useful reward like grocery points. Then take the cash you saved by using points and add it to your Savings Account.
  • 5. Use a change jar to accumulate your change and at the end of every month or two, roll it up and add it to your Savings. Want to give it a boost? Add a fiver to the jar on the weekend.

Back To Questions


Q2: How does one get into a savings habit and build emergency fund?

Keep track of every cent you spend and what you spend it on. At the end of each week, add up what you’re spending and see if you can spot Spending Mice that are nibbling away at your Savings. Look for ways to plug the holes in your unconscious spending.

  • 1. Allocate a specific amount of cash (less than what you’re currently spending) to your Small Indulgences category. When the cash runs out, you can’t buy anything. Save the rest.
  • 2. Substitute other sources, like the library for the bookstore or a homemade lunch for the food court or local restaurant.
  • 3. Leave your plastic at home if the temptation to spend is so overwhelming you can’t get it under control. Walking around with just a $20 bill in your wallet to see you through the day is a great way to feel less pressure to spend. (Make sure you have a full tank of gas!)

Back To Questions


Q3: My son is 3.5 yrs old & is starting to realize what money is. What are some ways to teach kids to save? (Submitted by @loucheryl)

At 3.5 he’s still a little young for an allowance, but that should be the main focus once he’s 5 or six. For now, give him a Loonie a week and talk to him about how you use money. Help him learn that money spent is money gone, so don’t keep dipping into your wallet.

Back To Questions


Q4: Should a recent graduate save for the future or pay off their student loans asap? (Submitted by @_dube)

New students should focus on getting their debt gone as quickly as possible. You’re paying 6% on that student loan and no savings account is paying more than 2.5%. But even as you pay down your debt, save a little something – say $50 a month – so you don’t lose the savings habit.

Back To Questions


Q5: For people with low income, is it better to put money into: high interest savings, tax-free savings account, life insurance, RRSP, GIC or health plan?

Low income earners have to a) make sure they’re not going into debt, b) set aside a little something for the future (using a TFSA makes sense). Since no one is counting on your income life insurance is less of a need. And most Canadian health plans are more expensive than people think.

Back To Questions


Q6: How much money does one need to retire comfortably?

Aim to have 11 x your salary socked away by the time you hit age 60.

  • If you’re in your 20s, that means saving 6% of your income for retirement each year.
  • In your 30s with no savings yet? Up that to 10%.
  • In your 40s already? You’ll have to sock away 18% of your income to hit the mark!

Back To Questions


Q7: Looking to move to a new home. Is it better to pay down the principal of the current mortgage or save money separately towards a bigger mortgage? (Submitted by @PaulineGrantTO)

Whichever you do has exactly the same effect. Make sure as you're paying down your mortgage your also setting aside money for emergencies and for retirement.

Back To Questions

Today's Winners: Keurig Mini KUB31R brewing systems + RFD mugs
@KarmicEvolution
@SausanSumar
Today's Winners: $25 Walmart Gift Cards
@cantoncathy
@natfield84
@Mrskellygreen
@loucheryl
@_dube
@Margiela888
@donnaelle
@cindylee137
@PaulineGrantTO
@mommykatandkids

We have tools to help you save
  • Flyers - Use our flyer section to find the week's sales and increase your savings with coupons
  • Coupons - If the flyer deals weren't hot enough, head over to the coupon section and find coupons to pile on extra savings
  • Cashback - Buy online from these RFD partners and earn cash back! Yes, it's like we're paying you for shopping online through us. We're constantly adding more partners so check back often!
  • Bargains Insider Newsletter - This weekly newsletter brings the highlights of the website to your inbox.

Comments

April 05 2013

RFD Takes a Look at Tax Software Programs

By Kate Musgrove

Tax Season is here and the filing deadline is just over three weeks away. If you're doing your own taxes, you'll want to take a look at RedFlagDeals.com's Tax Software Comparison chart.

Many of the programs offer the option to pay only upon submitting your return so if you're interested, you can try more than one and see what nets you the best results. (And, if wouldn't be RFD if we didn't mention that if you're looking for a deal on your software, check out the tax software deals here.

Comments

March 08 2013

Get Outta Town (for less)! The Latest In Low-Season Travel Deals on RedFlagDeals.com

By Amanda Aikman

Need a vacation? Well, you've picked a good time! From the beginning of the year to the beginning of April is a great time to take advantage of low-season rates on airfare, hotels, activities and more.

We've noticed some strong travel offers coming through our Hot Deals forum and our front-page deals recently, take a look:

And once your plans are underway, don't forget to stop by the RedFlagDeals.com Travel forum for tips, tricks, and advice on your upcoming journey!

Comments

March 04 2013

Target's First Canadian Stores are Opening Tomorrow!

By Kate Musgrove

Canada's first Target stores are set to open tomorrow, March 5! That's a bit of ahead of schedule (it was originally announced they would open in Spring 2013) but we'll take it!

The first stores to open are in southwestern Ontario -- one in Guelph, one in Milton and one in Fergus. Eventually, there will be more than 125 Target stores in Canada.

Poll

Are you excited about shopping at Target in Canada?

Let us know!

This poll is now closed.

This poll is now closed.

  • Yes, I can't wait!
    20%
  • I'm on the fence -- I want to see what the prices/selection are.
    46%
  • Nope, not interested!
    33%

Based on 5827 votes.

Comments

February 04 2013

The Canadian Penny Gets Cut

By Kate Musgrove

February 4 Update: After much fanfare and even a brief extension, the Canadian penny officially stops being distributed today. For now, it's likely you won't notice any real change -- there are about 35 billion pennies in circulation and recalling them completely will take an estimated 3-4 years.

Originally posted March 29, 2012: The federal budget for 2012 has just been released and with it came the announcement that pennies are to be eliminated in Canadian currency -- the last ones will be minted this April. They will stop being distributed by the Royal Canadian Mint this fall and the government will work from there to withdraw them from circulation. Despite knowing that each penny costs about a penny and a half to make, I'm still a bit surprised by the announcement -- I've been using pennies all of my life!

The post-penny plan is to round prices up or down to the nearest five-cent increment, after tax. I am curious if this will feel like more or less trouble than just counting out pennies at the cash!

Poll

The Penny:

how do you feel about the announcement today that we'll stop minting pennies next month?

This poll is now closed.

This poll is now closed.

  • It's a great move -- pennies are more trouble than they are worth.
    58%
  • I'm not a fan -- I wish we were keeping them!
    41%

Based on 453 votes.

Comments

February 01 2013

What's New: The Source Opening 20 New Stores; Best Buy Closed 15 + Target is Coming

By Kate Musgrove

There are some big shifts coming across the Canadian retail scene. Here's a look at what's new:

Comments

January 10 2013

Is This The World's Worst Signature?

By Jeff Chan

President Barack Obama is about to appoint Jacob Lew, his current Chief of Staff, as the next US Treasury Secretary. All newly issued US currency will bear his signature.

Jack Lew Signature
Jacob Lew's signature if it were to appear as is on US currency.


Kevin Roose of New York Magazine calls it the world's worst signature. Many others have mocked it since it first appeared last Fall.

Would you work on a new signature that looked less like the trajectory of a Nolan Ryan curve ball if you knew it would appear on a gillion dollars worth of money?

Comments

January 08 2013

#RFDChat - Goodbye Debt! Tackling Holiday Debt & Much More

By Jeff Chan

Join #RFDChat On Jan 17, 2013 & Learn How To Tackle Your Holiday Debt!

Join #RFDChat. It's live now!

Join in the discussion by following #RFDChat and today's guests - @RedFlagDeals, @TD Canada & @CarlaYoung

Participate & Win!

We're giving away $500 in Loblaws gift cards! Winners will also be announced on this page as they're drawn. To enter, just follow all the panelists on Twitter and RSVP below with your Twitter handle in the comments section below. It's that simple!

Q&A - Answered By @TD Canada


Q1: How can we reduce credit card debt, especially after a season of spending?
Q2: What types of debt management tools are available to get our finances under control?
Q3: What is the best way to avoid the temptation to overspend on credit cards?
Q4: How can we break the credit card habit and put a stop to our addiction to debt?
Q5: How can we change our spending habits and start saving money every day?
Q6: What’s the best way to find opportunities to save money on everyday purchases?
Q7: How much should we have in an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses?
Q8: How do we use budgeting to find opportunities to cut expenses?
Q9: How should you use a budget to manage our finances?
Q10: Is it better to focus on reducing debt or should we also try to save money?
Q11: Is there such thing as good debt?



Q1: How can we reduce credit card debt, especially after a season of spending?

Getting out of debt after a season of spending is possible if you have a plan in place. However, before creating a debt repayment plan, you need to be disciplined to cut back on your spending. You may be surprised to discover some costly habits that have been sabotaging your finances. Maybe you've got a "cheap" muffin and coffee habit – which ends up costing $3 per day or over $1,000 a year. Track your spending on a fresh piece of paper or a spreadsheet on your computer – then create a budget to determine how much you can afford to put towards your debt repayment given your current income. This TD site can help you: here.

Ideally it’s always best to pay off your credit card balances in full, so you’ll avoid paying costly interest charges. But if that’s not possible then pay off as much as you can (more than the minimum balance). The more money you put towards your bills, the less you’ll have to pay on interest charges – and the less expensive those holiday purchases will turn out to be. Here’s a TD debt repayment calculator that can help: here.

Once your debt is paid off, you can then re-allocate that money towards savings so that your money can now grow.

Back To Questions


Q2: What types of debt management tools are available to get our finances under control?

There are a number of tools available to help get your finances under control.

  • Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) Financial Toolkit: Here you’ll be able to learn about managing your debt. They’ll ask you questions to better understand your situation and provide you with practical tips.
  • TD’s Get Organized site: TD can help you review your accounts, define your goals, create a budget and manage cash flow.
  • TD’s Debt Consolidation Loan Calculator: TD can help you find out how much you’ll save if you merged all your consumer debt into one monthly payment.
  • TD’s Debt Repayment Calculator: This tool will show you how long it will take to get out of debt.
  • TD’s Debt Management Tool: This tool helps you list your outstanding debts, find out how much you owe and what your debt service ratio is.

Back To Questions


Q3: What is the best way to avoid the temptation to overspend on credit cards?

One of the best ways to steer away from overspending on credit cards is by creating and sticking to a budget. Budget a monthly amount that includes necessities like paying the bills and groceries. Then add an amount that you can shop with that will still leave you with a safe cushion of savings. Make it reasonable and stick to it!

Other tips to help you from the temptation of overspending are:

  • Don’t bring your credit card with you when you shop. Instead, learn to shop with cash.
  • Before you head out, create a shopping list of items you NEED and WANT. If possible, jot down prices so you’ll have an idea of how much everything will cost. You might find a few items in the WANT column scratched out once you total up the costs. Once it’s finalized, stick to this list.
  • Buying gifts? Personalize them. Instead of spending more money to buy a gift, give them something from the heart! Examples can be photo albums, personalized frames, digital movies, or baked goods. The best part is that they will likely cherish it more and you didn’t have to overspend in making it. It’s a win-win!

Here’s a neat budgeting tool from TD to help you get started:Try the tool

Back To Questions


Q4: How can we break the credit card habit and put a stop to our addiction to debt?

Today people tend to overspend for a number of reasons, whether it’s keeping up with their friends, the neighbours – or simply the self-entitlement by having ‘things’, and, credit cards make it that much easier to overspend because of their sheer convenience. Almost every store accepts a credit card, but, no store will make you buy the item you want from them. You make that decision.

Wants vs. Needs
If you’re someone who has an addiction to debt, we recommend that you first stop bringing your credit cards out with you. Then re-evaluate your ‘wants vs. needs’. If you want to buy something, ask yourself, ‘Can I go without this?’ If the answer is yes, don’t buy it. Or alternatively, try the ‘3 Day Rule’ where you write down all the things you really want – and, after 3 days, if you still really want them then figure out how to adjust your budget to allow for this new purchase (i.e. forego going out for coffee for a few weeks, eat at home for a month?) Chances that many of these impulse purchases turn out to be less important once the novelty or initial ‘glitz’ wears off. Breaking your addiction to anything, including debt, is usually successful when you can take your mind off things. Why not substitute a day at the mall with a day of ice skating or staying at home with family and friends?

Think of The Consequences
If you let your spending get the best of you, there may be severe consequences if you don’t have the cash to support your payments. On top of stress and its effects on your family, the financial toll includes calls from collection agencies, a negative credit score and ultimately - bankruptcy. If you feel like things are starting to spiral (or they already have), then you’ve achieved the first step – Acknowledgement of the problem. That’s usually the biggest step but the right step. Next, speak to someone at your bank who can guide you in getting back on track!

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Q5: How can we change our spending habits and start saving money every day?

Make it automatic. Contact your financial institution and arrange for automatic transfers from your chequing to your savings account on a regular basis (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly). If you have your pay cheque deposited directly to your bank account, time the transfer so that it takes place on the same day as you receive your pay. This way, you “pay yourself first” like David Chilton says in the Wealthy Barber. Choose an amount that is reasonable and try to increase it over time.

Year-round Savings Snowball Start fresh in January and automatically deposit $1/day into a savings account. Do this every day in January and you should have $31 in savings. In February, increase the amount to $2 daily, $3 in March and so on until you are saving $12 a day in December. Even before you factor compounded interest, you should have saved $2382 by New Year’s Eve. This is a great exercise in starting small and increasing your savings over time.

Set up a budget. It’s important to follow a budget to cut down on unnecessary spending. A great tool to help you get started is TD’s Cash Flow Calculator

For example, if your goal is to have a kitchen makeover in the next 5 years, then visualize it – cut out your favourite photo and stick it on your fridge. Calculate how much the kitchen would cost and how much you’ll need to save over the next 5 years. Then open a savings account, personalize the account title “My New Kitchen” and then set up an automatic transfer of funds to begin saving towards your new goal. Try implementing this idea towards all your short/long term goals related to life, finances and retirement. The key is to visualize it and then implement it.

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Q6: What’s the best way to find opportunities to save money on everyday purchases?

Try eliminating things like daily coffees, magazines, or junk food. Put the equivalent of what you spent on these items into your savings. Over time, you’ll get the same sense of satisfaction from the savings as you would from purchasing.

Empty your wallet/purse of change at the end of the day into a “savings jar” or piggy bank. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save if you don’t have easy access to it!

Start pre-authorized transfers from your chequing to your savings account that coincide with your paycheque. Many online banking platforms allow you to set these up for any amount you choose.

Save every time you spend. Most financial institutions have a savings program that automatically transfers money every time you use your debit card. TD’s savings plan is called Simply Save and it puts money aside whenever you use your TD Canada Trust Access Card for debit purchases or ATM withdrawals. The plan automatically sends an amount as low as 50 cents to $5.00 per withdrawal from your chequing to your savings account.

Use RedFlagDeals. Another great way of saving is simply looking for the best price possible. So keep on visiting sites such as RedFlagDeals.com that help you save on everyday purchases.

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Q7: How much should we have in an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses?

Having an emergency fund is important for unexpected expenses which may arise, or to simply keep money aside for a rainy day. Typically you would want the balance of your emergency fund to be the equivalent of your three-month take home salary. However, how much you put aside could differ depending on your lifestyle and needs. What I would recommend is taking a snapshot of all your monthly expenses for one month, including mortgage or rental payments, food, transportation and other major fixed expenses. Tally up the totals and simply multiply by 3, to get an idea of what your optimal emergency fund should be.

Having full access to your fund is important. When deciding on investment options, consider products that are fully redeemable rather than those with locked-in terms (such as GIC). A popular choice is a High Interest Savings Account. It’s flexible, earns high interest daily and can be withdrawn anytime without penalty.

To learn more about planning ahead, check out TD’s Planning site.

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Q8: How do we use budgeting to find opportunities to cut expenses?

Budgeting is the key to understanding where your income is going every month – so that you can stretch your dollar and find more money to build your savings. If you’re looking to cut expenses, then you need to review all of your Variable and Fixed expenses. Make a list, write each expense down (with the monthly costs), tally up the totals and review.

1. Variable Expenses: This is the first area to tackle because you can control how much you spend on things like groceries, gifts, clothing, entertainment, restaurants etc. Here are 3 examples:

  • Cut out specialty lattes – Even just one $4 latte a week could save you $208 a year
  • Brown bag your lunch – Substitute a homemade lunch with a $10 takeout lunch even just once a week – it’ll save you around $520 a year
  • Bottle up your water- If you gave up just one $1 bottle of water a day, you could save $365 each year

If you follow these tips diligently, then you’re on your way to saving over $1,000 a year! Learn to incorporate this into your daily routine and embrace even being a bit frugal (so you can spend money where it matters). Find more tips by checking out TD’s Get Saving site

2. Fixed Expenses: These expenses typically cannot be adjusted … or can they? This consists of the necessities including rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, cable, phone etc. Look into bundling your insurance, get rid of those extra T.V. stations you don’t watch, shop around for a better internet package, waste less water, conserve electricity by waiting for off-peak times (you can typically defer the start time on dishwasher or laundry cycles). Another way to cut money is to reduce the interest paid on your credit card, which will help you payoff your debt faster. Contact your credit card provider and find out if they have another credit card with a better rate and simply transfer the balance over.

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Q9: How should you use a budget to manage our finances?

A successful budget should help you hold yourself accountable to what you can and can’t spend. The following is a five step process to help you get started in building your budget.

1. How much money do you have to work with? Write down what you end up getting paid every pay cycle. If you’re paid bi-weekly, multiply that number by two to find your monthly income. And if applicable also include government payments, investment income or additional income (including child support etc). Here’s how you can work out your numbers:

Example: Bi-weekly Pay: $1,500 X 2 = Monthly Pay: $3,000
Total Monthly Income: $3,000

2. Find out where you’re spending your money. Review the last three months bank statements to learn about your spending patterns. Categorize your spending in the following sections: rent or mortgage payments, utilities (water, electricity, heating costs), groceries and household items, entertainment (restaurants, other outings) etc. Track them on spreadsheet or consider programs like Quicken or Mint.com.

3. Now that you know where you’re spending your money, you need to make sure that you’re meeting your fixed expenses:

• rent or mortgage payment: $1,200
• utilities (water, electricity, heating costs): $160
• insurance (car insurance, home insurance, life insurance): $150
• communication (home phone, cell phone, internet, television): $150
• loan payments (car loan payments, etc.): $200
• savings (RSP contributions, TFSA/non-registered savings contributions): $150
Total fixed expenses: $2,010

Now subtract your total monthly fixed expenses, from your total monthly income. If we use the above example, it would be $3,000 - $2,010 = $990. You’d now know that you have $990 monthly or $495 ($990/2) every two weeks to spend on other expenses like food, gas, personal care, etc. because your fixed expenses are now accounted for. If you plug in your numbers and you’re not in the black, don’t worry, creating a budget is the first step to better organize your finances so that you’re not spending more than you’re bringing in.

I’d also recommend that you consider putting at least 10% of each pay towards savings (i.e. RSP contributions, TFSA contributions) as you want to ensure that you’re taking care of your future financially too. I included that in our example ($1,500 X 0.10 = $150).

4. With that taken care of, you have crossed off your fixed expense items and you’re left with the $990 monthly ($3,000 - $2,010) or $495 ($990/2) every two weeks, to take care of discretionary expenses like:

• groceries
• auto expenses (gas, car care)
• entertainment (restaurants, other outings)
• personal expenses (clothing, etc.)


5. The most important step; sticking to your budget.

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Q10: Is it better to focus on reducing debt or should we also try to save money?

There are many schools of thought on whether to pay off debt first, given that the interest rates are typically higher than rates of returns on savings. While there are compelling arguments on both sides, I still feel that the practice of saving, regardless of interest rates, is important because it establishes a positive discipline, and helps you develop a nest egg that can grow and compound over time. The key is to save money automatically and this can be easily done as most banks are able set up pre-authorized transfers that can take place weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

One short term savings strategy that I like is putting the re-occurring savings into a High Interest Savings Account (HISA) that's held within a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). I think this combination offers a lot of benefits because: 1) Funds are automatically saved (no temptation to spend). 2) Funds are earning higher interest than a regular savings account. 3) Savings are accelerated because income is growing tax-free. 4) Funds invested in a HISA are principle guaranteed up to $100,000 by Canada Deposit Insurance Corp. This saving strategy can help you build your nest egg until you’re ready to diversity into other kinds of investments. To learn more about savings tips, tools and calculators check out TD's Get Saving site

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Q11: Is there such thing as good debt?

This is a good question and the answer is – yes, there is.

Good Debt can be referred to as the kind of borrowing that will pay off for you in the future – like a mortgage, student loan or even an RSP loan. A reasonable mortgage with payments you can handle would likely fall in the “good debt” category because you’re investing in something that will likely increase in value over time and, when all is said and done, you get to own a home! Or additionally, student loans may fall in this category because the payoff is education and possibly more earning power in the future. An RSP loan will allow you to make a contribution now, with the benefits of either lower taxes or a tax refund – plus you get to invest the funds that’ll grow tax deferred until you’re ready to retire. In these situations, the type of debt you’ll be carrying is considered good because you’re using temporary credit to get ahead in your future.

The type of debt that you should be cautious of is consumer debt, especially if it’s more expensive to service like high interest retail credit cards for example. This kind of debt should always be paid off as quickly as possible; otherwise you’ll be paying high amounts of interest with little to show for it.

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Got any more questions we couldn't cover today? Ask below in the comment section and someone from TD Bank will get back to you!

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