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October 15 2012

What's New: Telus Drops Activation Fees, Globe and Mail Launches Paywall + More

By Kate Musgrove

There's a whole lot going on in the Canadian business world. Here's a look at what's new:

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October 12 2012

National Costume Swap Day is Sweeping the Nation!

By Kate Musgrove

If you're looking for a fun, frugal way to get new and exciting Halloween costumes for your kids (or yourself!) you'll definitely want to check out National Costume Swap Day! It's an initiative that started in the US a few years ago and is now starting to take root in Canada! It's just what it sounds like -- you bring your old, gently used costumes, dress-up clothes and accessories and leave with ones that are new-to-you.

Check here to see if there's a swap in your area. If there's not, you could consider organizing one -- or you could ask around and see if any of your friends with kids are interested in an informal swap. If all else fails, check back here later in the month for some cheap or free costume ideas

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October 09 2012

Free Pumpkin Carving Stencils and Templates

By Kate Musgrove

Fall is in the air, and with that comes fresh apple cider, costume contests and elaborately carved pumpkins! To help you out on that last point, we've complied a list with dozens (or maybe hundreds!) of free downloadable pumpkin carving templates. So whether you're looking for the perfect scary cat or the best Justin Beiber you can carve, read on!

  • Reader's Digest: 27 free stencils that range from simple to silly.
  • Parenting.com: 18 kid-friendly stencils.
  • Redtri.com: 12 templates, including Vampire Pac-Man.
  • Stoneykins.com: 100 free templates plus some other templates available for a cost.
  • Better Homes and Gardens: 25 dog breed pumpkin stencil patterns and about a dozen for cats!
  • KraftCanada.com: tons of templates -- and pumpkin seed recipes, too!
  • TMZ.com: 13 celebrity pumpkin templates including Beiber, Ice-T and Susan Boyle.
  • HP.com: several pumpkin templates and lots of other printable freebies.
  • Dremel.com: if you have a Dremel tool, this site has twenty patterns to tackle.
  • Disney's Family.com: For 2011, you'll find lots of new Disney character pumpkin templates to try.
  • PinkRayGun.com has a great variety of interesting templates including Thor, Walking Dead Zombies, Stephen Colbert as well as characters from Harry Potter, Twilight, Star Trek, and more.
  • MarthaStewart.com: Unsurprisingly, MarthaStewart.com has a huge selection of templates, pumpkin creature instructions, and more.
  • Better Homes & Gardens has some free stencils and pumpkin ideas, as well as carving tips.
  • ThinkGeek.com: There's always a good batch of geeky, funky, user submitted pumpkin templates here. You'll also find a good selection from 2009, from 2010 and 2011.
  • CartoonJr.com: Here, you'll find some great looking Star Wars themed pumpkin stencils.
  • CBC.ca: The CBC logo looks a bit odd in jack-o-lantern form, but there more standard templates that you might enjoy (and they look kid-friendly as well).
  • Nickelodeon site nickjr.com: A good choice for kids with 10 free templates of Nickelodean characters like Dora the Explorer and Moose.
  • The History Channel: Not a bad variety of interesting beginner and advanced stencils... ever seen a Benjamin Franklin jackolantern?
  • PumpkinMasters.com: You'll find 10 free patterns, some simple and some complicated.
  • Celebrating-Halloween.com: over 25 traditional/conventional pumpkin stencils
  • Hersheys.com: 30 Pumpkin stencils, (10 each for easy, intermediate, and advanced)
  • FabulousLiving.com: You'll find 9 "Rock and Roll Heaven" pumpkin stencils with icons like Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, and Elvis.
  • Cyberhaunt.com: Over 20 traditional Halloween themed stencils available.
  • FantasyPumpkins.com: There's a variety of impressive (and challenging) looking patterns. Some geared towards kids as well.
  • BandOfCats.com has 28 cat-themed pumpkin stencils / jackolantern ideas.
  • DLTK-Holidays.com has a few dozen basic templates for you to explore. Many are simple and kid-friendly.

Have fun and practice safe carving!

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October 01 2012

What's New: Top 100 Canadian Startups, Top 10,000 Most Common PINs and More

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a look at what's new, Canada:

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September 26 2012

The Lack Hack: Affordable Furniture With a (Re)Purpose

By Amanda Aikman

I'm pretty clever, if I do say so myself, but it turns out I'm not the cleverest of them all. I discovered this unsettling truth when I spotted the ApartmentTherapy.com post: Hacking the IKEA Lack: One Table, Ten Different Ways. I fancy myself fairly inventive when it comes to repurposing items around the house (though my beer cooler/toilet bowl tank never really took off), but I had no idea the lowly Lack (retails for $9.99-$14.99 at IKEA.ca) could be transformed into everything from a kitchen centre to a LEGO-building station.

With the change of seasons I've been itching to do some redecorating, not always the most practical activity in the fall with the expenses of the holiday season on the horizon. However, with my eyes opened to the Lack hack, I've started hunting down other interesting IKEA hacks. I've got big plans. Why spend a fortune on new furnishings when I can just reinterpret the items I've already got? Wonder if I'm up for the challenge of transforming my son's loft bed into an At At Imperial Walker, or building a floor to ceiling Billy/Benno Bookcase library room? Okay, maybe I'll start with the Lack/LEGO table and work my way up.

Have you created/recreated your own furniture-hacking masterpiece? Brag about it in the comments section!

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September 25 2012

Does Shopping Canadian Matter to You?

By Kate Musgrove

Despite some mixed messages (I'm looking at you, Bellingham, WA shoppers petitioning for American-only hours) heading over the border to shop seems to be more popular than ever. The increased tax-exempt limits announcement this summer was greeted with cheers and excitement from pretty much everyone....except Canadian retailers. So, I'm wondering where you stand. Do you make a point to shop Canadian? Or do you make a point not to shop Canadian?

Poll

Currently:

How important is it for you to buy Canadian-made products or to shop from Canadian retailers?

This poll is now closed.

This poll is now closed.

  • It's not important -- price is really the only factor I consider.
    49%
  • I buy Canadian when I can, but it's not always feasible.
    39%
  • I make every possible effort to buy Canadian products.
    10%

Based on 3076 votes.

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September 20 2012

What's New: Amazon.ca Creates 100 New Jobs in BC, Man Wins $7.2 Million in Microwave Popcorn Suit

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a look at what's new in business, money and everything else, Canada:

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September 13 2012

Back To School - Finance 101 - Money Saving Tips and Q&A

By Jeff Chan



Update: 09/13 - 3:09PM ET - #RFDChat trended in Canada! Thanks so much for all the questions. You'll find a summary of all the questions TD answered. They're great tips for anyone regardless of age or financial situation.

Today's topics include:

  • Teaching your kids about money
  • Teaching teens about responsible money management
  • College - How to financially prepare for it
  • Answering 10 selected questions from the truckload that you all submitted!


Q&A - User Submitted & Answered By @TD_Canada

Q1: RESP contributions — is there an age restriction for making contributions in a child's name? Are there limitations to government grants?
Q2: At what age should a child have his/her own bank account?
Q3: What are some good tips to sticking to your budget?
Q4: Should I let my child apply for a credit card as soon as they turn 19? I heard it was good to establish credit.
Q5: What are some of the loans or line of credit that can benefit post graduate students and what's the usual requirements.
Q6: Should I get a student line of credit to pay my school expenses with? What's the interest and how does the payments work?
Q7: Is it wise to borrow at low interest rates to invest in RRSPs or TFSAs?
Q8: My Bank just told me I could up the limit on my card but I use nowhere close to the limit, should I do it?
Q9: How do I save for my child’s higher education living on bare minimum wage?
Q10: Is it better to pay for purchases with cash or credit cards?



Q1: RESP contributions — is there an age restriction for making contributions in a child's name? Are there limitations to government grants? (Submitted by @matschkean)

There is no age restriction when making a RESP contribution, however you do need your child’s SIN to open the account. Here are a couple of factors that you should be mindful of:

  • A Registered Education Savings Plan allows each beneficiary (child) to receive a lifetime contribution of $50,000.
  • A RESP can be opened for 35 years; but contributions can only be made until after year 31.
  • The year the child turns 17 is the last time they can receive government CESG grant/bonds; however unassisted contributions (no grant) can continue to be made until the lifetime maximum is achieved.
  • The federal government will match contributions up to 20% or $500 per year for every child in the plan. This is called the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). Some families may also qualify for the Canada Learning Bond (CLB) which is an additional top up of 10-20% on the first $500 of contributions in a year for every child. By the time your child goes to school, they could receive up to $7,200 of ‘free’ government money, in addition to your contributions and the income earned within the account.
  • Investments held within a RESP for your child grows tax-free which means your returns are increased.

To learn more about RESPs you can visit the CRA Website.

Here are some other sites you may find helpful: the first is an RESP calculator which can project how much you need to save today, in order to have enough money available once your child is ready for school. The other site will give you a breakdown of how much grant money you will receive based on your annual contributions into the RESP plan.

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Q2: At what age should a child have his/her own bank account? (Submitted by @greenurlifenow)

It’s never too early for a child to have their own bank account. In fact, a parent or guardian can even open an account while the child is still an infant. There are some key advantages to opening an early account for your child. Parents can deposit and save their child’s birthday or monetary gifts for when they're older. As the child continues to grow, the parent can then demonstrate the concept of saving money by either incorporating an allowance or simply showing them how to put coins into a piggy bank. When they are older, your financial institution can give the child their own debit card and access to view their accounts online.

By promoting financial literacy and educating your child about the proper techniques of saving and money management, you will help them form good financial habits that they’ll be able to use in the future. Most financial institutions offer a youth account (available for minors) that has minimal or no monthly fees and offers unlimited deposit/withdraw transactions. Once the child becomes age of majority (based on their province), then they can convert this youth account into a student account that would transition them into their years of post secondary education.

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Q3: What are some good tips to sticking to your budget? (Submitted by @tkwan23)

As a rule, most students have limited funds so it’s important to make the most of what you do have. Even if you have received a bursary or have a part-time job, the monthly costs do add up.

Here are some tips I find helpful:

  • Stay organized: You have to be able to keep track of all the money coming in (part-time jobs, bursaries, student loans, income assistance, etc.) and all the money going out (tuition, books, rent, food, etc.). The idea is not to spend more than you bring in.
  • Create a budget and stick to it. I recommend that you start with a look at your last three months of bank statements and bills for a realistic view of your spending habits and expenses. Now it’s time to work on a budget. A great tool can be found on TD's cash flow calculator, you can even print out a report and analyze your spending. If your main concern is sticking to your budget, allow yourself to spend a certain amount on things like entertainment and clothes per month. Once you meet that budgeted amount, you’re going to have to cut yourself off from spending more.
  • Don’t forget to create an emergency fund. Make sure your budget lets you put away some money to take care of unexpected costs. You may have to fix your car or pay for some extra tutoring. Unfortunately these instances pop up more often than most people think and it’s always better to be prepared for them.
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Q4: Should I let my child apply for a credit card as soon as they turn 19? I heard it was good to establish credit (Submitted by @donnaelle)

Anyone can apply at age of majority but the advice of a parent really counts. Credit cards are convenient and can be a real help especially for students living away from home who need to make an important purchase. It’s also a good way to help younger adults build up a credit history to help them borrow in the future.

To get a card, your 19 year old will have to apply and meet certain conditions to be approved including showing the ability to pay. If he or she is approved then you should talk about how to use credit responsibly -- try to pay in full each month, always pay on time and keep the spending under control. Getting behind on card payments or getting into too much debt can impact their credit rating which they'll need in order to borrow in future, or even rent an apartment and in some cases, get a job.

If you don't think your teenager is ready for this then you may want to consider getting them a supplementary card on your account so they have the benefits of a card and you can see how they handle it.

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Q5: What are some of the loans or line of credit that can benefit post graduate students and what's the usual requirements (Submitted by @djemzine)

A number of lenders offer Student Lines of Credits specifically aimed at post graduate students (obtaining your Masters of Ph.D.) and professional students (programs of Chiropractic, Dental, MBA, Medical or Optometry, Pharmacy or Veterinary). The requirements can vary from bank to bank. However, some usual requirements are:

  • Providing proof of enrollment/registration of an approved accredited school however, some exceptions may apply.
  • Being able to service the debt you will be taking on. This may mean applying with a co-signer; however, some exceptions may apply.
  • Some lenders, depending on your program, may have you complete a Student Budget Worksheet in the applications process.

For more information regarding post graduate Student Lines of Credits at TD, click here.

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Q6: Should I get a student line of credit to pay my school expenses with? What's the interest and how does the payments work? (Submitted by @chi_amy)

A Student Line of Credit (SLOC) can help pay for your tuition, books, laptop computer and supplies if you don’t have the funds to pay for it yourself. Student Lines of Credit tend to feature a competitive interest rate, which can vary depending if you are an undergraduate or a post graduate student. In terms of how the payments work, while you are in school and for up to 12 months after graduation, you will be paying interest only on the balance you use. To see more Frequently Asked Questions related to TD’s Student Line of Credit, click here.

Other options you may want to consider to pay for your school expenses can be:

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Q7: Is it wise to borrow at low interest rates to invest in RRSPs or TFSAs? (Submitted by @mrdisco3)

Given today’s low interest environment, it can be very tempting to borrow money, but what you use that money to purchase will determine whether it’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ debt. Fortunately, RRSP loans fall into the good debt column – debt that allows you to invest in your future and helps you get ahead in the long run (vs bad debt which tends to result from consumer spending that doesn’t pay off in the future).

A RSP loan can be a great way to invest into your future because:

  • The money that you put in will grow tax-deferred, which means your investments will grow quicker than if it was held outside of your RSP.
  • The contribution you make into a RSP is tax-deductible. This means that when you’re filing your annual tax return, you can include the contribution as a deductible amount that will reduce your taxable income. This will result in you having to pay lower taxes or you may even receive a tax credit (which can be put towards further savings or debt repayment)
  • When you’re ready to purchase your own home one day, or, if you’d like to continue your education, you may be eligible to borrow money from your RSP. To learn more about the Home Buyers Plan, check out this link or the Lifelong Learning Plan.

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Q8: My Bank just told me I could up the limit on my card but I use nowhere close to the limit, should I do it? (Submitted by @jennthanasse)

The credit card limit increase was probably offered to you based on your positive credit rating and determined that you would be a good candidate for more credit. Now, this is a very important time for you to consider how credit can help or hurt you. Some students get in over their head with too much credit at a young age when they don’t know how to handle it. The offer of an increased limit can really help you out but may hurt you if you borrow more than you can afford to pay back.

While a credit card with a higher limit does have its advantages, like the ability to make larger purchases, and the availability of funds in case you need them, it can also have disadvantages. You may be tempted to spend more or carry a balance which means you will pay more in interest. Or you might be late with or miss a payment, which could affect your ability to get credit in the future or even to do things like rent an apartment.

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Q9: How do I save for my child’s higher education living on bare minimum wage? (Submitted by @lizzyoday)

Although your finances may be tight, it’s great that you are thinking about saving toward your child’s education down the road. Did you know that even with little or no savings you could qualify for $500 from the Government of Canada to get you started? All you have to do is open a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). The RESP is a special savings plan to help you save for your child’s post-secondary education. With the rising costs associated with sending a child to college or university, an RESP can really help because the government provides grants while the savings grow tax-deferred until withdrawn. You can contribute to a RESP directly from your chequing account and you may be eligible for receiving two grants that are exclusive to this plan:

  • The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) – You can earn $500 now to help you start saving, an extra $100 each year up to age 15, and an extra $25 to help cover the cost of opening the RSP. The CLB is available to children born after December 31, 2003 and families who receive the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS) also known as the “family allowance” or “baby bonus.”

  • The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) – The CESG is made up of the basic CESG and the additional CESG. The Basic CESG is a payment of 20% on contributions made to an eligible beneficiary up until the child turns 17 (total grant not to exceed $7200 per lifetime or $500 per year).

You can find out if you qualify for the CLB, get more information on the basic CESG and see if you qualify for the additional CESG by visiting the CRA site.

Try to start saving right away because the sooner you start the more you will save. Even a small amount every month or every paycheck slowly increased over time will make a big difference. Visit TD’s simple education savings tool calculator here.

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Q10: Is it better to pay for purchases with cash or credit cards? (Submitted by @greenurlifenow)

The principle of money management teaches you that you should only purchase what you can afford to pay. With good reasoning too, because you’ll live within your means, not incur any debt and possibly save along the way. This is a great way to live, however the problem with only paying cash is that you won’t be establishing a credit history that’ll one day be important for larger purchases like buying a home or even paying for rent. Your credit history will follow you through school and into the working world so you want to ensure your credit rating is positive because it will be one indicator for lenders to decide on your ability to carry and pay back debt.

If you’re financially responsible and ready to establish credit, then starting with a secured credit card may be one option to consider because the card is secured against the savings balance in your account. Here are some tips that can develop positive spending habits and a positive credit history:

  • Always pay the minimum monthly payment on your credit card statement.
  • To avoid paying interest, treat your credit card like cash, by only charging purchases you’ll be able to pay for in full.
  • Make your payment on time — write in or program your monthly due date in your calendar for an instant reminder.

Check out TD's site to learn more tips about student life and paying for school.

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Thanks for submitting these questions. You've each won a $25 Cara Foods Gift Card!

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.


Did you know? Almost 275,000 students visit RedFlagDeals.com every month to save money. 82% have indicated they've said money because of us! Check out the student infographic

Today's Winners: $25 Gift Cards
10 random RSVPs win a $25 Indigo Gift Card and the 10 user-submitted questions win a $25 Cara Food Gift Card. Check back here to see if you made the list!

Random RSVP
  1. CathyCanton
  2. BhuDeo
  3. lizzyoday
  4. tkwan23
  5. rcskjoseph
  6. marsbarjewelry1
  7. Adinagator
  8. RebTheCatSitter
  9. Cojack123
  10. beachrockinc
    Q&A
  1. matschkean
  2. greenurlifenow
  3. tkwan23
  4. donaelle
  5. DjEmzine
  6. chi_amy
  7. MrDisco3
  8. jennthanasse
  9. lizzyoday
  10. greenurlifenow



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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September 11 2012

Baby's First Ride: Stroller Shopping Advice From The RedFlagDeals.com Forums

By Amanda Aikman

When my now-husband and I bought our first car together it cost $900. Granted, none of the windows opened and it sounded like it was being powered by demonic monkeys whenever we drove uphill, but it got us from A to B and we loved it. When, a few years and a few cars later, we set out to shop for our first baby stroller, we were shocked to realize that that set of wheels could easily cost double what our first set of wheels did.

I was under the Bugaboo spell from the get-go, a spell my husband broke when he found out they cost $1000+. We did a lot of research and a lot of flip-flopping before finally settling on the mid-range Ion from Valco Baby. It served us well until our little guy got a little bigger, then we ran into some steering issues and switched to an umbrella stroller. Under the advice of other parents, including those in the RedFlagDeals.com Parenting forum, we went for The First Years Ignite umbrella stroller (for $40 on sale at Walmart at the time) -- much cheaper than the designer models out there, but a great lightweight stroller that has served us well through all seasons for over a year now.

Amanda's son goes antiquing in his first stroller
Amanda's son, and future RFD'er, goes antiquing in his first stroller

For those of you making that first big stroller purchase, I strongly recommend talking to other parents and doing your research before taking the plunge. In my pre-parenting days I figured a stroller was just a seat with wheels and a handle -- turns out there's loads more to consider. Like seat recline, safety harnesses, car seat compatibility, height, bassinet attachments, sunshade, forward or parent facing seating, and tire type (pneumatic, plastic, foam-filled etc). And then you have to consider what you're using it for: city living (small enough for transit and shopping aisles), off-roading on trails, jogging. Will you be using it in snow? Will you want a sit and stand attachment to accommodate a toddler? Do you want it to fold up and store in your trunk easily? Do you have $4495 to spend on The Roddler Kustom Series stroller (well, at least it's not $4500)?

For more stroller discussion check out these RFD forum threads:

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September 05 2012

What's New: Mobilicity Joins Forces With Loblaws, Scotiabank Promises "Few Changes" for ING + More

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a look at what's new, Canada:

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