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Back to School Tips: Must-Have Peripherals and Accessories Under $100 for Students

Back to School Tips: Must-Have Peripherals and Accessories Under $100 for Students

By Simon Hung

Batman, Inspector Gadget and Red Green are three of earth's greatest heroes, each renowned for using a wide assortment of gadgets to make their lives easier. Students are similar in that they have a bevy of resources at their disposal to enrich their education and make their quest for a diploma as painless as possible.

Computers are a necessity in schools everywhere, but your laptop can only take you so far and it's worthwhile to augment your expensive gadget with more less-expensive gadgets. As a result, we've come up with this list of must-have peripherals under $100.00 that every student should have.

$0.00 to $20.00: A portable power strip

With great power comes great responsibility, so share power outlets to make fast friends.

In the world of electronics, thin is in. While it’s great because laptops are light and easy to carry, it inevitably leads to a smaller battery and the need to recharge more often. As a result, power outlets are a highly sought-after resource and there’s always that person who hogs an entire outlet. Don’t be that person by carrying this Belkin mini surge protector that often goes on sale for under $20.00. It turns one plug into three and has two USB ports for charging your phone, letting you share power with classmates to ensure that you’re ready for those marathon lectures or Pokémon hunting expeditions.

Honourable mentions: extra USB cables for your phone, free Microsoft Office 365 with a bonus 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, decent pens because regular pens are boring, an SPC Card to get discounts, one or all of these free apps

$20.00 to $40.00: Amazon Prime Student

Get two-day shipping and increase your cardboard box cat container collection with Amazon Prime.

From the essential to the ludicrous, Amazon is your friend when you need to buy anything and the only downside is having to wait for your order to ship. Luckily, students can get a six month free trial of Amazon Prime, which gives you free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible items, unlimited photo storage and exclusive deals! Once the trial is over, you get a discounted rate of $39.00 per year (regularly $79.00 per year), which is worth it for many if you consider the time you'll save shopping on Amazon vs. going to a physical store.

Honourable mentions: a good backpack to carry your supplies, a power bank so your phone never runs out of juice, a label maker so your friends don't steal your stuff, an iron to make your clothes look nice for those important interviews

$40.00 to $60.00: A durable flash drive

That feeling when you forgot to save your work.

Whether a rowdy hooligan pulls a fire alarm during class or you're trapped in a concrete-laced basement with incredibly bad reception, anything that can go wrong will go wrong and when it does, it’s important to save your notes regularly. Cloud storage is a popular option, but sometimes you're unable to access the internet, so a flash drive is essential and useful for when you need to transfer files between computers or store media files. This tiny and spacious 128GB drive from SanDisk is a nice option since it’s small enough to leave in your laptop and durable since it’s mostly made of metal. If you’re clumsy and tend to lose tiny objects, an alternative would be something you can attach to your keys, like this 64GB drive from Kingston.

Honourable mentions: a privacy screen so nosy classmates can't glance at your screen, a keyboard and mouse combo because laptop keyboards are horrible and trackpads are a pain for navigation

$60.00 to $80.00: One good pair of in-ear headphones or multiple pairs of “good enough” headphones

A good set of headphones can help you block out distractions.

There are two types of people in this world -- regular people and those who play obnoxious music on a loudspeaker in public. We’ve all encountered that one annoying person in the library who wants you to hear their favourite tunes whether you like it or not. While you can (sometimes) get them to knock it off with a stern talking to, if you’d rather avoid the confrontation altogether, a good pair of in-ear headphones is a must and serves two purposes -- you can drown out their terrible music with your own and they passively block ambient noise. You can usually find excellent headphones like this set of Sennheisers that will do the job well, but if you don’t particularly care about audio quality or tend to lose headphones easily, you can also find “good enough” headphones for around $20.00.

Honourable mentions: a router for sharing your internet, an Amazon Kindle for reading, a tablet keyboard if you use a tablet for taking notes and can't stand typing on a screen

$80.00 to $100.00: A good laser printer

Printer ink is expensive, so avoid the high cost of ink with a laser printer.

Chances are you’ll be printing a lot of assignments during your time in school, so it’s important to have a good printer. The upfront cost of laser printers is more expensive than inkjet, but they are a better investment long-term. A monochrome printer will suffice for most students, like this Brother model that you can often find for under $100.00. The two essential features that make this printer stand out are wireless networking and automatic duplex. Wireless networking enables you to print via Wi-Fi, which means you don’t need to plug in your printer every time you need to print, while automatic duplex automatically prints documents on both sides of a sheet of paper, which means you’ll use less paper in the long run.

Useless but crafty personal bonus tip: consider using high-quality paper when printing your assignments. This sly move has been known to garner bonus commendations on assignments, much to the chagrin of fellow classmates. Domtar Premium Laser Paper is a personal favourite due to its slight sheen and smooth texture -- it is pricey, but worth it to wage psychological warfare against your classmates and to see their bewildered looks of envy when you flaunt the “nice quality paper” comment on your essays.

Honourable mention: a Keurig brewer so you'll always have your daily dose of coffee or tea

$100.00+ bonus round: An extra monitor

More screens means more places to look.

So you have a fancy new laptop with all the bells and whistles -- maybe you sprung for an extravagant rose gold colour. Regardless of how blinged out your laptop is, the display is likely small and only able to comfortably fit one window on the screen, so you’ll constantly switch windows to go between your word processor, browser, chat client, game of solitaire, etc. The easiest way to combat this and gain so much room for activities is to get an extra monitor. You can typically find good monitors like this Dell 24" IPS model for around $150.00 to use as a secondary monitor while using your laptop screen as the primary monitor. This gives you more desktop space for your windows so you don’t need to constantly alt-tab between programs.

Honourable mentions: a comfortable chair so your back won't ache while studying, an external hard drive to back up your computer, a mechanical keyboard to type faster and more comfortably, an ergonomic mouse because trackpads are still a pain for navigation

Now that you've made it to the end, let us know which peripherals you think are student essentials by leaving a comment! Once you're done with that, maybe you're interested in kitchen essentials or furniture-buying tips for students. Plus, be sure to visit our Back to School page for more back to school deals and tips!

September 2016 Video Game Release Dates

September 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

It may be that time of year for many students to head back to class, but if your gaming hobby isn't cooling down with the weather, there is a brand new list of upcoming releases you'll want to check out! This month sees the release of some of the year's most anticipated games, including Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, DragonQuest VII and Yo-Kai Watch 2 for the 3DS, and of course the long awaited, Final Fantasy XV for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

If you're looking for some games that are already on store shelves, you can check out our list of releases for past months including June, July, and August.

Without further ado, here's a look of what's coming out this September:

  • Earthshock: Festival of Magic (Xbox One/ PC/ Mac) - September 1
  • One Piece: Burning Blood (PC) - September 1
  • Mother Russia Bleeds (PC/ Mac/ Linux) - September 5
  • Just Sing (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 6
  • Touhou Genso Rondo: Bullet Ballet (PS4) - September 6
  • Unbox (PC) - September 7
  • Project Highrise (PC/ Mac) - September 8
  • BioShock: The Collection (Xbox One/ PS4/ PC) - September 13
  • Dead Rising (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Dead Rising 2 (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • Dead Rising 2: Off the Record (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • Dead Rising Triple Pack (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 13
  • MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death (PS Vita) - September 13
  • Mystery Chronicle: One Way Heroics (PC) - September 13
  • NASCAR Heat Evolution (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Never Ending Night (PC) - September 13
  • NHL 17 (Xbox One/ PS4) - September 13
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ PC)
  • Psycho-Pass: Mandatory Happiness (PS4/ PS Vita) - September 13
  • ReCore (Xbox One/ PC) - September 13
  • Avadon 3: The Warborn (PC/ Mac) - September 14
  • Adr1ft (Xbox One) - September 16
  • Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past (3DS) - September 16
  • Valkyrie Drive: Bhikkhuni (PS Vita) - September 16
  • Air Conflicts: Double Pack (PS4) - September 20
  • Cossacks 3 (PC) - September 20
  • Criminal Girls 2: Party Favors (PS Vita) - September 20
  • Destiny: Rise of Iron (PS4/ Xbox One) - September 20
  • NBA 2K17 (PS3/ PS4/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One/ PC) - September 20
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse (3DS) - September 20
  • Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters Daybreak: Special Gigs (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita) - September 20
  • A House of Many Doors (PC) - September 24
  • Darkest Dungeon (PS4/ PS Vita) - September 27
  • FIFA 17 (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One) - September 27
  • Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One/ PC) - September 27
  • Shantae: 1/2 Genie Hero (PS3/ PS4/ PS Vita/ Wii U/ Xbox 360/ Xbox One) - September 27
  • Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice (3DS) - September 27
  • XCOM 2 (Xbox One/ PS4) - September 27
  • Unloved (PC) - September 29
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (3DS) - September 30
  • Final Fantasy XV (Xbox One, PS4) - September 30
  • Yo-Kai Watch 2 (3DS) - September 30

Release date TBA:

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice (3DS)

Are you looking forward to playing any of September's titles? Let us know in the comments below!

PlayStation Plus Subscription Prices Increasing on September 22

PlayStation Plus Subscription Prices Increasing on September 22

By Simon Hung

PlayStation gamers may want to consider extending their PlayStation Plus memberships now, because Sony has announced that prices for PlayStation Plus subscriptions will be increasing by up to $20.00 starting September 22, meaning PlayStation Plus subscription cards will likely be a hot commodity until then.

As per a PlayStation Blog post, the price increase will affect all subscription packages in Canada:

  • Monthly plan - $11.99 per month (previously $9.99 per month)
  • 3-month subscription - $29.99 (previously $17.99)
  • 12-month subscription - $69.99 (previously $49.99)

Current subscribers will be charged the new rates once their subscription ends on or after September 22. As a result, a savvy way to save money would be to buy subscription cards before the price increase, since you can extend your PlayStation Plus subscription before its expiration. There is no limit on how many subscriptions you can stack, so you can theoretically purchase ten 12-month subscriptions and apply them to your account to extend your subscription for the next decade.

We’ve listed a few stores where you can purchase subscriptions. As of August 22, Costco has the best prices for both 3 and 12-month subscriptions and a Costco membership is not required to shop online.

3-month subscription

12-month subscription

In a statement to Kotaku, Sony stated “The new pricing reflects the current market conditions while enabling us to continue providing exceptional value to our members. If you do not wish to continue your subscription, please be sure to cancel it by turning off auto-renewal in your account settings before September 22, 2016.” Those who want to cancel their subscription or turn off auto-renewal can click here for instructions.

PlayStation Plus is a paid subscription service for PlayStation gamers. A membership is required to play online multiplayer on PlayStation 4 and other benefits include free exclusive games every month, additional discounts on games, online game saves, early access to betas and more.

What are you planning to do in response to the price hike? Stock up on subscription cards? Cancel your subscription? Switch allegiances to Xbox? Leave a comment and let us know!

Back to School

Back to School Laptop Buying Guide

Back to School Laptop Buying Guide

By Kevin Ngai

Every student needs a laptop and with back to school deals on now, it's a great time to shop for one. Here is what you need to consider before buying a new laptop for the upcoming school year.

How Will You Use Your Laptop?

Buying a laptop is complex and may seem overwhelming at first. The most important thing to consider when you're choosing a laptop is what are you going to use it for? You want to take your needs into account. A good way to begin your search is to set a budget and make a list of must-have features. Afterwards cross check your list with the specs of any laptop you are considering. This will help you avoid buying more than you need.

Check Your School For Ideas

Your next step starts with understanding what your school recommends to its students. You'll want to check with instructors and TAs, your faculty & department and school IT department. They'll be able to recommend a set of minimum specs for laptops, along with the software you should have in your program of study. This will establish the baseline laptop specs to begin your search. A student in engineering will have completely different needs than a digital arts student.

Be Informed

Do your own due diligence and research laptops that interest you by reading reviews. Along with professional reviews, a ton of information can be obtained by real world experience from user reviews on sites such as Amazon.ca and Newegg.ca. Remember it's equally important to test the laptop yourself before buying. You can read all about a model but you'll need to try it out to truly understand what it's like to type on its keyboard, use the trackpad, or know how well it's really built. Most everyday laptops are available for testing at brick-and-mortar stores. You don't necessarily have to make a purchase in the store, but should at least get some hands-on experience before making any decision.

Types of Laptops

Chromebooks run on an operating system created by Google called Chrome OS. They are budget laptops designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet. It is a cloud computing system that can run on modest hardware.

Gaming laptops are notoriously expensive, big, and heavy. They are designed for high performance and are equipped with the latest mobile dGPUs from Nvidia and AMD in order to play the latest games.

General use laptops are considered budget or mid-range devices with screen sizes ranging from 11" - 17". They are designed to handle everyday computing tasks for the average user.

Ultrabooks are a class of laptop that meet a certain standard of thinness, lightness and size established by Intel. They are often premium machines that are less than an inch thin, with long battery life and high resolution displays.

Business laptops are designed for work and productivity. They are workstations built to be robust and are characterized by a wide variety ports, including easier access to their internals than consumers laptops. Many feature hardware-level security options.

Hybrid laptops or 2-in-1 are dual-purpose devices that are able to serve as both a laptop and a tablet. They come in either a detachable design that sees the touchscreen doubling as a tablet, or in a convertible form where the laptop's screen rotates 360 degrees into a tablet mode.

Choosing The Right Size

Laptops come in all shapes and sizes, however those with a 13" - 15" display remains the sweet spot and best choice for most students. They typically weigh 3-6 pounds, making them light enough to carry to and from classes. The ideal size really depends on how you plan to use your laptop. Going small is a good idea if you plan on bringing your laptop to class daily. Larger models may be too bulky unless you're using the system mostly at your desk as a desktop PC replacement. Laptops with a 15.6" display are the most common size on the market and if you're on a budget, tend to be the least expensive.

Having Enough Power When You Need It

Battery life matters and it's as important as portability -- nobody wants to be chained to a power outlet. Whichever laptop you're considering, you'll want to compare the manufacturer's battery life estimations vs. user reviews to see whether their claims match up. Initially you may think to get the laptop with the largest battery, however, keep in mind, bigger batteries with more cells mean more weight. You'll generally find replaceable batteries in more modest machines, while many higher end laptops use a sealed battery to keep their form factor small. Battery life can be negatively impacted by high resolution displays because more power is needed to drive all those pixels. If you plan to be fairly mobile, I would suggest a laptop that will last at least 6 hours on a charge.

How Does You Laptop Look and Feel?

The look and feel of the laptop and materials used is important. Some laptops are built to last, while others are made from cheap plastic and feel flimsy. When it comes to build quality, you'll want to be hands-on to understand what you're buying. One thing to look out for is flex -- if you press down on the lid or keyboard and see a lot of flex, you should move on. Don't forget to also checkout the hinges to see if it opens and closes smoothly.

As a student, you'll be doing lots of typing. You'll want to pay extra attention to the trackpad and keyboard, as these are the areas you'll interact with the most. Having a laptop with the best specs won't mean much if it doesn't have good ergonomics. Things to consider: how responsive does the trackpad feel and is it multitouch gesture capable? For keyboards you'll want to ensure they're large enough to type comfortably with a solid tactile feedback. You'll also want to check if there are any keys in non-standard places. For non-bilingual Canadians, you may seriously want to consider a laptop with an U.S. English-only keyboard. Bilingual keyboard layouts are known for having a narrow "enter" and "left shift" key.

Choosing Your Operating System

This is a personal preference, however you'll want to pay attention if your school or program has a recommendation. The software you're expected to use in your area of study will influence your decision. Some programs are only available to Windows, while others are more optimized in OS X.

OS X is exclusive to MacBooks. It features an attractive user-friendly interface, easy connectivity with other iDevices and free iCloud storage. It includes an excellent bundled of free apps, such as FaceTime, Garage Band, iMovie and more. There are also fewer issues with viruses and malware. OS X is capable of running Windows through Boot Camp, as long as you purchase a Windows license. The latest version, OS X El Capitan will be available as a free update later this fall.

Windows is the most common OS in the world. Buying a Windows laptop gives you more brands and overall selection to find the perfect laptop for you. Windows systems tend to be less expensive than MacBooks and offer a larger range of programs, especially games. Unlike Apple, you'll find Windows laptops available with touchscreen functionality. Windows 10 is now available as a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and 8 users.

Chrome OS is Google's operating system for Chromebooks. It's optimized for Google's apps and is ideal for someone who spends most of their computing time surfing in Chrome, checking Gmail, social networking, or working in Google Drive. I don't recommend a Chromebook as a student's sole PC, as they can be problematic in environments that don't have access to Wi-Fi.

Knowing Your Specs

Laptop specifications to keep an eye on are the processor, hard drive, memory, and screen resolution. What you need depends on what you plan to do with your laptop. More intensive tasks such as gaming and video editing will require more expensive components.

CPU: The processor is the first component you should consider, as it has the most impact on performance and can make a big difference in the cost of a laptop. The least expensive laptops are equipped with AMD E Series or Intel Pentium CPUs which are fine for web surfing but will struggle to handle serious productivity tasks. The Intel Atom is another low performer but offers longer battery life. If performance matters, don't settle for anything less than an Intel Core M, Core i3 or AMD A Series laptop. I would recommend any Intel's 5th generation Broadwell Core i3, i5 and i7 CPU (models starting with 5xxx) as the processor of choice. However if you're looking to save money, the 4th generation Haswell chips (models starting with 4xxx) come very close with about a 10% drop off in performance and battery life. If you're spending over $500, demand at least an Intel Haswell Core i5.

RAM: When it comes to memory I wouldn't settle for anything less than 4GB of RAM. Most students can get by on 4GB. However if you can find a laptop with 6GB or 8GB of RAM that's a bit more expensive than one with 4GB, that's a good place to stretch your budget. You generally can't upgrade much in a laptop, but can usually upgrade the RAM, which means you can always add more if and when you need it.

Hard Drive: Will you be using your laptop for entertainment as well as studying? If the former is true, a 500GB hard drive should ensure your laptop has enough storage to accommodate your needs. A fast drive is generally more important than a large one. If given the option, go for a 7,200 rpm hard drive over a 5,400 rpm unit. Getting a laptop with a solid state drive (SSD) is a great idea for their performance but can be quite pricey. You will however enjoy super fast boot times, and application loads. Plus they consume less power than mechanical drives which prolongs battery life. If a laptop with a SSD is out of your budget, you can always add one as a future upgrade!

Display: One of the key aspects of a laptop is screen resolution which shouldn't be overlooked. You should always choose the highest resolution display you can get. The higher the pixel density, the more content you can fit on screen, and the sharper images and text will look. Most budget laptops come with a HD 1366 x 768 screen resolution. If you intend to use an external monitor, your laptop screen resolution will be less of an issue. However if you're planning on working off your laptop all day, I would recommend a HD+ 1600 x 900 or a FHD 1920 x 1080 display. This will provide you with more screen real estate, without the need to constantly scroll and allow you to run multiple programs side-by-side.

Staying Connected

The number of ports can fluctuate a lot from models, and the smaller your laptop, the fewer ports it's going to have. It's important to make sure the laptop you buy has all the ports you need. Keep an eye out for the number of USB 2.0, USB 3.0 and USB-C ports. Does it have an optical drive for installing software, watching movies or archiving work? How about a SD memory card slot for file transfer and storage expansion? Does it have a Gigabit Ethernet for networking or if Wi-Fi isn't available. If you intend to use an external monitor, you’ll want to ensure there's a VGA, DVI, or HDMI port. Take stock of the ports you need then double check your laptop options.

Don't Forget External Peripherals

While shopping for a new laptop, you should budget for peripherals and accessories. Will you need a protective laptop sleeve or bag for commuting when you're out and about? When you’re back at your desk, will you need an external monitor, keyboard or mouse? Others accessories to consider are laptop stands, spare charger & battery, adapters, a base station dock, printer, and so on. Some retail stores offer savings on accessories when you're buying a new laptop that may not be advertised, don’t hesitate to ask for a bundle discount!

Future Proofing

With any laptop you're considering, it's worth double checking how upgradable it is and whether you'll void the warranty by doing so. With the exception of Apple and some Ultrabooks, you can usually replace the RAM and the hard drive on most laptops. This knowledge will come in handy as you can compromise to save money on a killer laptop deal with modest specs, knowing that you can upgrade later on. Installing an SSD is my favourite upgrade for any laptop.

Take Advantage of Being a Student

Check with your school's computer shop, they most likely will offer student discounts on laptops. You'll also want to take advantage of student discounts directly from manufacturers. Apple and Microsoft offer educational pricing on laptops with savings up to 10% that's exclusive to part-time and full-time post-secondary students, including parents purchasing on behalf of their child. Another perk of being a student is discounts on software. Microsoft offers a 4-year subscription to Office 365 University (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Skydrive) for $79, while a regular consumer has to pay $99 a year for access to Office 365 Home. Generally while shopping online, all you need is your school email address to access educational deals.

Buying Refurbished

Don't be afraid to purchase refurbished, especially directly from manufacturers. Apple, IBM and Dell offer substantial savings on generally older models that have gone through a stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. They are fully tested to be functional, with any defective parts replaced with genuine components and backed by an 1 year manufacture's limited warranty.

Don’t Exclude The Business Class

Even if you're not a professional or business student, don't rule out shopping for laptops marketed to businesses. Business class laptops are designed for durability and often provide better keyboards, biometric verification and a slew of customizable options. You can usually opt for an extended battery, a higher resolution display, more memory, and storage. Brands to consider, include Dell, HP and Lenovo.

Protecting Your Investment

Extended warranties are a hotly contested topic. I'll be frank: I'm not a fan, they are rarely worth it. They typically cover only manufacturing defects and won't cover accidental damage. If you're tempted to go for one, keep in mind that you can usually buy an extended warranty any time before the standard warranty ends, so if you want to save up and wait on the decision, you can. Remember most major credit card companies will extend your warranty for free as part of their consumer protection package. Although not on all the cards they offer, so be sure to check with your credit card provider.

Those are the basics to get you started. With enough research, you should be able to find the perfect laptop. A laptop is an investment that you'll probably have to live with every day for at least a few years. For many students, your laptop will pull double duty for work and play, it's important to be happy with the one you buy. If it comes down to choosing between a design you love and a minor difference in specs, I'd point out that most mainstream laptops are powerful enough for everyday computing tasks, so go with a sweet looking design. Remember to shop smart, spend where it matters and save some money.

One last word of advice, after you purchase your new laptop, install Prey (free) on Windows laptops or Find my Mac (free) on Apple MacBooks. You want to be able to secure your back-to-school laptop with tracking software in case it goes mysteriously missing on campus!

If you're ready to shop, you can check the laptop tag for a look at what is out there!

Back to School

Back To School Tips: Top 15 Essential Kitchen Tools

Back To School Tips: Top 15 Essential Kitchen Tools

By Elaine Jair

Now that school is just around the corner, I’m sure plenty of you are beginning to prepare for The Big Move. Admittedly, it can be pretty intimidating to have to start managing each meal that you eat, especially when you’re on a tight student budget.

In this day and age, it seems like new kitchen tools are popping up left, right, and center. But as a student, you've got to consider whether or not you really need that garlic press or lemon juicer. Most likely, you'll be living with roommates where space is limited and even if you're moving out on your own, it's important to buy only the essential items to keep your expenses low.

With that in mind, you'll want to stock up your kitchen only with the essentials -- basic tools and small appliances that will get you through the year and help you cut down on the money spent on eating out.

To get you started, here are my top 15 essential gadgets you need to have in your kitchen. While some of these items seem intuitive and obvious, they are probably also the ones that you don't think about until you need it.

1. Knives/Pots & Pans/Cutlery

First off, no kitchen is complete without the obvious essentials: knives, pots and pans, and cutlery. Naturally, you’ll want knives to cut produce and pots and pans to cook with. I would recommend around two knives: a paring knife for fruit and small items and a larger chef’s knife for the bigger items. In terms of pots and pans, you should get a medium sized frying pan, a small pot for soups, and a larger pot for pastas.

In terms of cutlery, always have one or two extra sets lying around in case your friends come over to bum a meal off you.

2. Coffee Maker

Coffee is essential for students, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to spend a lot of money without realizing it. A cup of coffee typically runs between $2 to $3 dollars, depending on where you’re purchasing it from. If you buy one cup a day for 5 days of school, you can easily spend $10 to $15 in a week and $40 to $45 in a month. Instead, purchase a coffee maker and you can cut costs significantly and you can have a fresh cup of Joe whenever you want.

3. Rice Cooker

Another must-have for the cheap student is a rice cooker. Rice is one of the cheapest foods you can survive on when in school and, since it’s pretty plain, you have about a million ways to spice it up and keep yourself from getting tired of it. While you can cook rice on the stovetop, you can also invest in a decent rice cooker for around $20. Rice cookers have a “Keep Warm” function, which means you can start cooking your rice before you head to class and come home to a nice vat of steaming, yummy rice.

Pro tip: You can also make boiled eggs with a rice cooker for a quick and easy breakfast!

4. Blender

For those of you who have an early morning class, a blender is a great kitchen tool to have so you can prep your on-the-go breakfast. Some of you don't get hungry until later on in the day and having your stomach growl loudly in class can be pretty embarrassing. Smoothies are a great and easy way to satisfy your hunger and get your nutrients in. Depending on how much you invest in your blender, you can use the "Pulse" option to quickly dice up fruit and vegetables. On the other hand, those looking to save some money can opt for the single serve blenders.

5. Toaster Oven

My toaster oven was an absolute godsend during my first year of post-grad. Not only can you make toast with it, but you can also use it as a small oven for things like mini pizzas, frozen chicken fingers, etc. On the days where I actually felt like eating "real" food, I could whip up baked chicken thighs in 20 minutes. For students, a toaster oven is a low-maintenance way of cooking as you can just pop the food in, turn it on, and leave it to do its thing while you go and do something else.

6. Crock-Pot/Slow Cooker

If you’re planning on doing more cooking than simply reheating frozen dinners, a slow cooker is an amazing introduction to cooking yummy meals. Slow cooker meals generally require little to no maintenance. You simply throw all the ingredients in, set the timer, and off you go. Not only can you make some hearty stews and chilis with it to warm up with in the winter, it’s also a handy tool for those of you who can’t be bothered to start cooking after a long day of class -- You can prepare your meals the night before or right before you head to class and your food will be ready by the time you get home.

7. Kettle

I love to drink tea, so a kettle was a must for me. While you can always opt for the more traditional kettle, you can also use electric kettles which have the added benefits of silently boiling water and switching off immediately after your water boils. I used my kettle to make tea, but kettles can also be used for heating up water for instant coffee, hot chocolate or preparing cup noodles.

8. Can Opener

One of the easiest ways to feed yourself on a tight budget is with canned food and accordingly, you must have a can opener on hand. Seems straightforward enough, but you'd be surprised at how many students forget to bring one of these until the day they need it and the closest store is closed. On a completely unrelated note, depending on the style you get, your can opener can also double as a bottle opener.

9. Cutting Board

A cutting board is a must-have during food prep. It prevents your food from slipping around the counter and keeps any mess confined to one easy-to-clean board. For those of you renting a place this year, keep in mind that knives can cause damage to kitchen counters, so you'll want to grab one of these to protect your counters and avoid paying fees to your landlord when you move out.

10. Plastic Containers

For those of you who are planning on batch-cooking on the weekend and eating leftovers throughout the week, plastic containers are a necessity. While you can most certainly put the whole vat of cooked food in your fridge, your food will last much longer if you place it in separate containers and keep some in the freezer for later on in the week. Plus, if you’re looking to save money by bringing a lunch, you’ll need these containers to bring your food to school.

11. Microwave

The microwave has long been touted a must-have for those on a tight budget, so it’s natural that it made our list. Perfect for quickly reheating meals, making cakes in a mug, popcorn and more, the microwave is a staple in any individual’s kitchen.

12. Bag Clips/Rubber Bands/Cling Wrap

As someone living on a budget, you’ll want to keep your groceries lasting as long as possible. The best way to do this is by securing every open bag and package with bag clips or rubber bands. Rubber bands are available for cheap and will get the job done. Bag clips are a little more expensive but are better at keeping bags secured. You can get a decent sized pack of clips at IKEA for $2.

For everything else that can’t be secured with a clip or a rubber band, cling wrap is your answer. It’s great for wrapping up opened cans of food, blocks of cheese that you haven’t finished eating, and the tuna sandwiches that you’re bringing to school.

13. Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil is another one of those easily over-looked kitchen essential. It's a must-have to keep your food from sticking when baking and for keeping your food warm when you're taking lunch to school. Furthermore, you'll need tin foil to make baked potatoes for another delicious meal on the cheap.

14. Kitchen Towels

Kitchen towels are essential in the kitchen for wiping your hands dry or cleaning your counter tops. You could always use paper towels, but you would end up going through those quickly and buying fresh rolls adds up quickly. Kitchen towels look nice in the kitchen, are relatively inexpensive, and can be washed regularly, which makes them a good investment.

15. Cooking Utensils

When picking your cooking utensils, there are a few that are must-haves: spatulas, tongs, slotted spoon, and a ladle. Spatulas are best for stirring the pot or mixing ingredients. Tongs are perfect for picking up individual pieces of cooked meat. Slotted spoons are for simultaneously ladling up pasta and draining it. Last but not least, ladles are for soups, stews and the like.

This list isn’t comprehensive by any means and when you're able and if you really want to, you can always add your own gadgets, but it’s a good start for those of you who are moving out for the first time.

If we missed anything in this list, let us know in the comments below!

2017 IKEA Catalogue is Available in Canada Now!

2017 IKEA Catalogue is Available in Canada Now!

By Kate Musgrove

The 2017 IKEA Catalogue is finally available in Canada! For now, you can view it online, although later in the month you'll be able to request a physical copy. The catalogue is over 325 pages this year and it's full of new products and neat ideas! Here are a couple of things that caught my eye.

Draget Shelving -- $39.99: Super sturdy, super cheap shelving. Sign me up!

Knotten Standing Desk -- $189.00: I don't know if it would be possible for me to contain myself to this tiny footprint, but if I could, this desk would sure keep me organized!

Grundvattnet Colander -- $4.99: The colander that I have now sits flat on the surface of the sink so I'm always holding it with one hand and pouring stuff into it with the other. This is a great alternative!

Garnera Serving Stand -- $16.99: Pretty, and, since it's stainless steel, incredibly sturdy.

Flisat Doll's House/Wall Shelf -- $39.99: Kind of dying over this sweet shelf/doll house!

We have to admit, the digital browsing experience was a little clumsy and left me longing for a physical copy of the catalogue more than once. But that won't be out until August 23! (Check back then for a link to order one.)
Rogers to Increase Toronto Blue Jays Ticket Prices in 2017

Rogers to Increase Toronto Blue Jays Ticket Prices in 2017

By Simon Hung

The Toronto Blue Jays are hot and Rogers is looking to take advantage of Blue Jays fever, because they’ve announced a restructuring of their ticket system that will see ticket prices increase for the 2017 season.

Currently, Blue Jays tickets are designated as regular or premium -- regular tickets are for games with standard interest like weeknight games while premium tickets are designated for games with higher interest, such as weekend and giveaway games.

For the 2017-18 season, Rogers has announced new ticket designations that consists of five tiers -- A+ (Opening Day and Canada Day), A (32 games), B (20 games), C (18 games) and D (nine games). Designations for each game will be released at a later date.

While ticket prices have increased in each of the past two seasons, this is the first major restructuring of the ticket system since 2010, when the regular and premium designations were introduced. In addition, ticket prices had not changed between 2010 and 2014, likely due to the fact that the team was mediocre. Rogers has stated that the increases won’t affect all seats in Rogers Centre SkyDome, as some seats (likely high seats in the 500-level) will remain unchanged.

Like Josh Donaldson during team photos, ticket prices are set to grow a little.

Season-ticket holders who renew during the early-bird period (from August 15 to September 8) will see an average increase of 13% for 54 games and an average decrease of 7% for 27 games. Rogers is set to announce new game packs and single-game ticket prices at a later time, though it’s a near-certainty that the changes will affect those tickets as well.

Andrew Miller, executive vice-president of business operations, stated that the change was made to reflect the level of interest in certain games, “It’s acknowledging that 81 games are not equal…a day with a very popular promotion may have a very different level of interest than a typical Tuesday night in April…all it’s trying to do is more appropriately match the values assigned to each of those games with the ticket prices.”

The Blue Jays currently rank tenth in average ticket price at $31.01 USD, according to TSN correspondent Rick Westhead. The team also leads the American League in average attendance this season and are on pace to end the New York Yankees’ 13-year streak of leading AL attendance.

This offseason should be an interesting one for Blue Jays fans, as sluggers José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación are pending free agents and looking for significant raises, along with 2016 All-Star Michael Saunders. Depending on how management chooses to address the roster, the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays may look very different and time will tell if their success will continue next season and beyond. Despite the changes to ticket prices, we don’t think this will have too much of an impact on attendance, as it’s not unreasonable to believe that fans will continue to pack the dome next season as long as the team keeps winning.

CRTC Report Finds Canadians Pay Some of the Highest Telecom Rates

CRTC Report Finds Canadians Pay Some of the Highest Telecom Rates

By Simon Hung

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but telecom rates in Canada are among the highest in the world. Many Canadians likely already had suspicions of this notion, but those suspicions were confirmed in a recent report published by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which compared the average monthly rates of various telecom services from countries in the G7 (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States).

The results of this CRTC report aren't quite as shocking as your monthly bill.

The study, conducted between January and February 2016 with data from six cities (Halifax, Montreal, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg), found that monthly rates for broadband internet, mobile wireless and bundled services consistently ranked among the most expensive compared to other the other G7 countries.

The study was split into five common telecom services and then separated into varying levels of service. While Canada only ranked the most expensive in two categories, they ranked in the top three most expensive in 16 out of 20 total categories. The notable exception was home phone, where Canada ranked fifth or sixth most expensive.

We’ve listed the results of the study below -- the number in parentheses indicates Canada’s rank out of 8.

Broadband Internet

  • Level 1: 3 to 9 Mbps - $41.94 (#3)
  • Level 2: 10 to 15 Mbps - $58.88 (#4)
  • Level 3: 16 to 40 Mbps - $63.48 (#3)
  • Level 4: 41 to 100 Mbps - $78.77 (#2)
  • Level 5: 100 Mbps and up - $114.65 (#2)

Home Phone

  • Level 1: 400 minutes with 10% long distance - $39.52 (#6)
  • Level 2: 1000 minutes with 20% long distance - $55.78 (#5)
  • Level 3: 1600 minutes with 30% long distance - $60.32 (#5)

Mobile Wireless

  • Level 1: 150 minutes - $41.08 (#1)
  • Level 2: 450 minutes and 300 SMS - $48.77 (#3)
  • Level 3: 1200 minutes, 300 SMS and 1GB data - $74.67 (#2)
  • Level 4: unlimited minutes, 300 SMS and 2GB data - $81.05 (#2)
  • Level 5: unlimited minutes, SMS and 5GB data - $96.55 (#2)
  • Level 6: unlimited minutes, SMS and 10GB data with three lines - $231.99 (#2)

Mobile Wireless Data

  • Level 1: 2GB to 5GB - $46.47 (#3)
  • Level 2: 5GB to 10GB - $63.30 (#3)
  • Level 3: 10GB and up - $80.98 (#3)

Service Bundles

  • Level 1: Home phone, wireless and fixed broadband - $161.63 (#1)
  • Level 2: Home phone, fixed broadband and TV - $135.60 (#3)
  • Level 3: Home phone, wireless, fixed broadband and TV - $185.06 (#3)

The results aren’t necessarily ground-breaking, but it is interesting to see how much more we’re paying for services compared to other countries. For example, it costs an average of $80.98 per month in Canada for 10GB or more of mobile data, compared to just $24.47 per month in the UK. You can click here to view the full CRTC report.

The high prices relative to other countries can likely be attributed to the lack of competition in the telecom industry. “The Big Three” of Bell, Rogers and TELUS control over 90% of the telecom market in Canada and many customers are at their mercy when it comes to pricing. Another troubling trend is the acquisition of small-market competitors, such as Rogers’ acquisition of Mobilicity or Bell’s acquisition of MTS, making it difficult for consumers to find options that aren’t under the umbrella of The Big Three.

Let us know how you feel about these findings by leaving a comment and vote in our poll to see what the average monthly telecom costs are among RFDers. If you’re looking for a place to find deals on telecom services, our Ongoing Deals forum is a good place to start!

Back to School

Back to School Tips: Top 12 Essential Kitchen Spices and Seasonings

Back to School Tips: Top 12 Essential Kitchen Spices and Seasonings

By Ambia Staley

Being out on your own for the first time can be daunting, and if you've always relied on mom's cooking up until now, the thought of cooking for yourself might also be a little scary and even unappealing. If moving out on your own comes hand and hand with attending college or university, you may not have much of a budget, so surviving on takeout until Thanksgiving might not be an option.

If you're opposed to the prospect of 4 years of instant ramen, you may want to think about using your brand new kitchen to whip up your own culinary creations. But where do you start? How many ways can you possibly cook a chicken breast?

If you're looking to create some tasty meals that rival Mom's, you'll need to pick up some spices and seasonings. However, there's no need blowing your budget on picking up a variety of fancy spices. If you're looking for some help to get you cooking, we've put together a list of 12 essential and spices that you'll want to keep stocked in your kitchen!

1. Salt

Great for: Almost anything

Probably the most widely used seasoning of them all, salt is a basic that every kitchen needs! Add a pinch to your morning eggs, roasted potatoes, boiled vegetables, or just about anything else to enhance the flavour.

2. Black Pepper

Great for: Almost anything

Nothing else goes hand in hand with salt better than black pepper. The spice can be added to just about anything on your plate to add a little more dimension and flavour, as well as a mild kick.

3. Garlic Powder

Great for: Seasoning meat, garlic bread, soups, sauces, vegetables, and more

Garlic powder is another seasoning you'll want to have on hand at all times. Whether you're constrained for time, or just opposed to the strong smell of fresh garlic, this powder is a great alternative to the fresh variety. Garlic powder can easily be found at just about any grocery store, but be on the lookout, as some powders may have extra herbs such as basil mixed in. You can also opt for a garlic salt, which is just a combination of garlic powder and salt.

4. Chili Powder

Great for: Chili, Mexican dishes, meat dry rubs

Chili powder a blend of a few different herbs and spices, all using some type of chili pepper as a base. It's a great all-around seasoning to keep on hand and can be used to season a pot of chili, a Mexican-inspired dish, or used as a dry rub to add dimension to chicken and beef!

5. Basil

Great for: Tomato sauces, Italian dishes

Basil is a staple for any fan of pasta or Italian cooking. Pasta and tomato sauce are one of the cheapest and simplest meals you can put together, so it's great to have on hand to add some dimension to your pasta sauce. It also pairs well with other entries on this list such as oregano and garlic powder, if you're looking for more depth to your dish.

6. Oregano

Great for: Tomato sauces, Italian dishes, meats, salad dressings

Oregano can be used in just about any dish you're adding basil to, and tastes great in tomato-based pizza and pasta sauces. It's a fairly versatile herb that can be combined with nearly everything on this list and used on meats, veggies and whatever else you'd like. You can also add a pinch into an oil and vinegar mixture for a simple salad dressing.

7. Cinnamon

Great for: Baked goods, desserts, coffees, oatmeal, and more

This popular bittersweet spice can be added to just about anything for more flavour. Sprinkle some in your morning coffee or oatmeal, add it to your baking, or even add a pinch to curries, chili, or stew for more dimension.

8. Ginger

Great for: Baking, Stir-fry, more

Ginger is a great spice with a lot more uses than flavouring gingerbread. You can add it to a stir-fry or sprinkle it on other root vegetables for some extra kick. If you're a fan of East or South Asian Cuisines, ginger is something you'll want to have on hand, as many dishes require its use.

9. Cumin

Great for: Curries, Mexican dishes, stew, chili, and more

If you're seeking a more earthy and savoury flavour, cumin is a great addition to your cooking. It's often used in a variety of Indian dishes, as well as Mexican-inspired dishes and you can even add a bit to chili and stew for more robust flavours. It comes both in seed and powder form, however the powder might be more useful if you'd like the spice to dissolve into your dish.

10. Paprika

Great for: Meats, seafood, chili, soups, and more

Paprika is a great spice that adds colour and a little heat to your meal. You can combine it with other spices on this list like chili powder, garlic powder, pepper for some depth to your meal's flavour. Add it to chili, meat, soups, and more for a little extra kick.

11. Bay Leaves

Great for: Soups and stews

Dried bay leaves are an aromatic herb that complements heartier soups and stews. Just add one or 2 leaves to the pot, and you're good to go.

12. Cayenne Pepper

Great for: Indian and Cajun cuisines

If you want to add heat to your meal, before you turn to the bottle of hot sauce, try adding some cayenne into your preparation. It instantly adds a subtle flavour as well as heat, and it even an ingredient you'd find in many bottle hot sauces on store shelves.

There are of course hundreds of other spices you can make use of in the kitchen depending on the types of meals you want to cook. If you need some tips on how to save on your spice purchases, don't forget to check out our list of places you can get a student discount!

Are there any spices or seasonings you can't live without in the kitchen? Think there's anything else that a new cook should keep on hand? Let us know in the comments!

Back to School

Back to School Tips: Three Ways to Furnish Your Living Space with New Items for Under $500

Back to School Tips: Three Ways to Furnish Your Living Space with New Items for Under $500

By Ambia Staley

With back to school season just around the corner, many young adults are venturing away from their parents' homes and living on their own for the first time. However, with the startlingly high costs of post-secondary school, furnishing the bachelor or bachelorette pad of your dreams may be out of your price range at the moment.

If you’re moving into your own space for the very first time, you might assume that you'll be restricted to shopping for all your items at secondhand shops and garage sales unless you want to empty your pockets. However, with some savvy shopping, you can easily pick up brand new basics from the store for much less than you think!

If you’re unsure of where to look or even where to start, there’s no need to worry as we've done much of the searching for you! Take a look below to see 3 different options perfect for furnishing your new living space for under $500!

Option #1: For the Budget Interior Designer (Total: $438.94)

If you're looking for both style and function, this higher priced option may be for you. Option #1 gives you a variety of furniture items dedicated to your various study and resting needs. This option includes a daybed, which mostly functions as a sleep area away from your work space, but the frame allows the bed to double as extra seating in the event you're entertaining. We've also included an inexpensive desk and chair from Walmart which provides some comfort while you study. Lastly, we've added a decent sized bookcase for your textbooks, as well as an optional armchair if you'd like somewhere comfortable to curl up and complete your readings.

Option #2: For the Multi-tasker (Total: $289.92)

Coming in at just under $300, Option #2 is for anyone who needs functional furniture that serves multiple purposes -- whether it's due to budget or space constraints. With this option, we've opted for the classic student sleeping arrangement, a futon, which functions as a bed at night, and a sitting area during the day. The Lack side table from IKEA can be used as a coffee table, or beside table, and storage ottomans double both as extra seating, and as storage space for anything you can't fit on the included utility shelf.

Option #3: For the Minimalist (Total: $258.90)

Our third option is for anyone who just wants the simplest furniture to serve their basic needs. A single bed frame and mattress can easily be picked up from IKEA for about $160, giving you a more comfortable alternative to something else in a similar price range, like a futon or air mattress. If you don't have a lot of space, you can pick up a fairly inexpensive folding table which can serve as a study, dining, and entertainment area all in one. The folding chairs are inexpensive and can be easily moved around or tucked away when not in use. We've also added a few stools, which are an inexpensive item that can serve as side tables, nightstands, or extra seating for guests. We also noticed that utility shelves, while not the most visually appealing, are some of the most inexpensive shelving units you can find, so we've selected this $15 unit from IKEA, which gives you plenty of space to stack your things.

Of course, it's important to note that these suggestions do not take your province's taxes into account, so be sure to budget that in accordingly! Also, if you're opting for delivery versus heading in-store to pick up these items, your costs can easily skyrocket, so if you don't own a car, see if a friend or family member is willing to drive. And don't forget the little things such as extra bed linens, kitchen utensils, and towels -- these costs can add up as well!

Are you moving out on your own for the first time? Have you already been there? What are some of your money-saving tips for students looking to furnish their new home? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and good luck with the move!

Back to School

Back to School Tips: Eight Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

Back to School Tips: Eight Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

By Simon Hung

What do college textbooks, printer ink and movie theatre snacks have in common? If you guessed “egregiously overpriced,” you’re absolutely correct! In fact, an NBC review in 2015 found that textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation since 1977 -- an increase of over 1,000%!

Buying textbooks can be hard on your finances. And your emotions.

Many students fall into the trap of paying full-price for new textbooks every semester and while it's sometimes unavoidable, there are options out there if you’re looking to save money on textbooks, giving you some financial freedom to purchase more useful things like asparagus water or those little plastic trinkets for decorating Crocs.

To help students on their journey to infinite wisdom, here are eight ways to save money when buying your textbooks.

1. Buy used

Buying used is the most common way to save on textbooks. Some common avenues to buy used textbooks include Amazon, eBay and classifieds like our textbook BST forum. You can even find students who previously took your course trying to sell their textbooks to current students before class. Most campus bookstores sell used textbooks along with new ones, but these tend to sell quickly. Some schools also have an unaffiliated used textbook store near their main campus, which is a great place to look for used textbooks.

Used textbooks are easily identifiable with bright stickers along their spine.

Depending on the previous owner, the condition of used textbooks can vary on a scale of 'lightly-loved' to 'survived a hurricane,' but you can score a good deal on a textbook if you’re willing to live with scuffs or marked pages. If you’re buying online, be sure to account for shipping time if you need a textbook soon, as many sellers ship from the US or overseas, meaning your textbook can take a while to arrive.

2. Buy an older version

Not only do you save money with older textbooks, but you also get that illustrious smell.

Textbook publishers are known to frequently update their texts with incremental changes to keep them up-to-date. As a result, schools will often only stock the latest version and buying a previous version is a savvy way to save money. You don’t want to buy a version that’s too old, but a textbook that’s up to two versions older should be fine. Keep in mind that page numbers may differ and there is a chance that you'll be taught material that’s only available in the current textbook, but that’s what taking notes is for, right?

3. Buy digital

It’s widely known that video killed the radio star, but the same can be said about digital media and print, as digital books are widely available, including textbooks. The main benefit of digital textbooks is that they’re cheaper than their print counterpart and available for download immediately, meaning you won’t have to wait for a book to be shipped. Plus, you only need to carry one reading device as opposed to multiple textbooks. Despite the convenience, 92% of students still prefer print books, according to a study conducted in 2015 by American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron.

Features like interactive media are unique to digital textbooks, but they aren't for everyone.

Some drawbacks of digital textbooks include the inability to easily make notes, screen glare on some devices and the fact that digital books have almost zero resale value since ownership can't be transferred. Plus, digital books just aren’t the same as physical books for some people. There are a variety of online stores that sell digital textbooks, including the Amazon Kindle Store, Google Play Textbooks, iBooks and more. Most books purchased from these stores can be read on multiple devices, allowing you to study anywhere, including in your mind, in your car and you can rewind if you’ve gone too far (oh-a-a-a-oh).

4. Comparison shop

It's important to compare prices at different stores to find the best deal.

If you're set on buying a new textbook for that crisp new book smell, you should always take time to compare pricing at competitors like Amazon, Indigo and even your local bookstore. You’ll sometimes find textbooks listed at a lower price than your campus bookstore and can even take advantage of sales to bring the price down even more. This is especially true for students who have novels on their course reading list, as other stores will almost always sell them at a lower price than your campus bookstore.

5. Visit the library

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card and you can even save money if you visit a library to check if they have your textbook. School libraries will always have at least one copy of every active textbook that can be borrowed for a limited time, usually by the hour. You can legally photocopy small sections of most textbooks under the fair dealing exemption of the Copyright Act -- different schools will have different copying guidelines, so check with your school before copying anything.

You can legally copy small sections of a book for private study, but check with your school first.

Generally, you are allowed to copy a short excerpt from a book as long as it’s used for research, private study, review, criticism or news reporting. The length of a 'short excerpt' will also vary, but it is usually up to 10% of a copyright-protected work or one chapter from a book, whichever is longer. Most Canadian schools share similar policies on copyright, but you can click here to view a PDF of York University’s student copyright policy as an example.

6. Wait

One of the best strategies for saving money on textbooks is to wait until you know which textbooks you'll actually need. Many courses include reading lists with required and suggested readings and it’s common for students to buy all the books before the course begins. By waiting to see if or when you’ll actually need a book, you can budget accordingly and leave out any books you won’t need, as there’s nothing more frustrating than buying an expensive textbook, only to realize you haven’t used it at all.

Good deals come to those who wait.

The main downside is that you may find yourself needing to catch up, especially if your teacher changes the syllabus or if you need a book on short notice. Waiting will likely eliminate the possibility of buying a used textbook, since those often sell out quickly, and you’ll need to take shipping time into account if you need a book soon.

7. Find a friend

Splitting a textbook with a friend may sound like a good idea, but you could end up in a scuffle.

If you have a friend taking a course with you, splitting textbook costs with them is another way to save money. This method is far from ideal, as there are ways this arrangement could sever your friendship to create a rivalry fiercer than Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West. What if one of you drops the course? What if you need the book and the other isn’t home? What if they feed the book too much ice cream to show that they love it more? Like a messy custody battle, there will be times when both of you want the textbook at the same time, especially during exam time. While you do ultimately save money, a chaotic arrangement like this will likely give you headaches and isn't recommended unless you’re desperate to save money.

8. Sell your books when the course is over

Unless you fall in love with Fundamentals of Saline, 19th Edition and want to display it on your bookshelf, selling your textbooks immediately after you’ve finished your course is an easy way to get a return on your investment, especially from the next crop of students taking the course. Most campus bookstores have buy-back programs, but anyone who’s used them will know that they offer pennies to the dollar and their offers are laughably poor. Amazon, eBay and classifieds are common ways to sell textbooks online, but Amazon is probably the easiest and most effective method.

Instead of re-purposing your textbooks, sell them to get some extra money.

You can list and manage items for sale via the Amazon Seller Central page. Selling on Amazon is fairly simple and your listings never expire, so you don’t need to re-activate or bump listings. Students are also more likely to search on Amazon before other stores when shopping for textbooks. When listing a textbook, a good tip is to include your city and course in the description, such as “Ships from Salt Lake City. Used in Professor Windsor’s course, Identifying Salt 101, at Sodium Chloride University.”

You will need ship the book yourself and Amazon takes a 15% cut of the sale, but ultimately it’s better than keeping your textbook to collect dust if you don't have any plans to read it again.

Textbooks are only as useful as their owner, so the best tip we can give is to actually read and use your textbooks. If you have any tips for saving on textbooks, share them in the comments and be sure to visit our Back to School page for more back to school deals and tips!

Keep calm and study hard.
Visiting the Pop-up Casper Snooze Room in Downtown Toronto

Visiting the Pop-up Casper Snooze Room in Downtown Toronto

By Ambia Staley

Don't you ever wish you could just lie down and take a nap during the middle of the work day? It might be hard for some of us, as many companies frown upon booking a meeting room to sleep on the floor for 20 minutes. That's where Casper comes to the rescue with their pop-up Snooze Room experience in Toronto!

All throughout August, Casper will be building these pop-up Snooze Rooms in various places all around downtown Toronto so you can try out their popular mattresses. Since the first set up is just steps away from RFD's headquarters, we decided to take one for the team, take a nap that is, and try out the Snooze Rooms for ourselves.

A view of the Snooze Rooms set up at King Street West and Portland.

When you first walk over to the Snooze Rooms, you'll be greeted by some PJ-wearing Casper reps who will tell you all about the Snooze Rooms and the mattresses within them. If you're looking to catch a few winks in the room, we'd suggest booking an appointment online first, as there was already a small crowd waiting when we arrived at the 11am start time. Luckily, we booked one of the 15-minute time slots before heading over, so once we checked in with a rep, we were promptly handed some goodies including slippers, a sachet of tea from David's Tea, and a $65 voucher towards the purchase of a Casper Dream Mattress. Anyone concerned about the cleanliness of sleeping on the sweat-stained pillow of the person before you, will be relieved to know that the Casper reps also hand each person a clean pillowcase which you must return to them after your rest.

Some of the free loot from Casper.

Once we received our loot, we were taken into one of the nap rooms where we were asked to take off our shoes before heading in. Once inside, the rep tells you a little more about the mattress and room and then closes the blinds and leaves you to dream away.

Besides the bed, the Snooze Room also includes 2 bedside lamps, which you can dim, as well as a ceiling fan for temperature control.

Before entering the room, the Casper reps informed us that the mattresses were made from a combination of breathable latex foam and memory foam that made it supportive without being too soft or too firm. Once we were able to lie back and relax on the mattress, it was easy to see that the reps' statements hold true. Unfortunately, nap time seemed to end in a flash, as a Casper rep comes to wake you up only a few minutes later. We're guessing that out of the total 15 minutes you book, you are allotted approximately 10 minutes to actually sleep. In our case, between getting set up and hearing about the mattress from the reps, we only got a total of 8 minutes in the room.

The view from the outside while a Snooze Room is in use.

While you only get a limited time to nap, it's worth trying out the Snooze Rooms if you've been thinking about buying a Casper mattress, as this is a rare chance to try one out in person before you purchase it. As of now, Casper's products are available exclusively online, with their only permanent showroom in New York City. And even if you're not looking to buy a mattress, just head over for a few minutes of free relaxation in the middle of your busy day!

If you want to experience the Casper Snooze Rooms first-hand, you can find them at the following locations in Toronto:

  • 602 King Street West - August 11-14
  • 80 Lynn Williams Street - August 19-21
  • 2 Bloor Street West - August 23-25
  • 1221 Bay Street - August 23-25

Back to School

Government of Canada Announces Increases to Canada Student Grants and Repayment Changes

Government of Canada Announces Increases to Canada Student Grants and Repayment Changes

By Simon Hung

Students who rely on financial assistance to pay for their college or university tuition received some good news recently, as the Government of Canada announced that some Canada Student Grants will increase by 50% starting August 1, 2016 for students from low and middle-income familes.

The new grant amounts include:

  • $3000 (previously $2000) per year for full-time students from low-income families
  • $1800 (previously $1200) per year for part-time students from low-income families
  • $1200 (previously $800) per year for full-time students from middle-income families

This is welcome news for students and families who qualify for these grants, as money is often the biggest obstacle for students seeking a post-secondary education, especially considering the cost of tuition in Canada has tripled over the past 20 years.

Steven Coté, Director of Policy and Research at the Canada Student Loans Program, estimates that this new initiative will help over 350,000 students per year. Students in all provinces and territories are eligible, except those from Quebec, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as these governments have their own student financial aid programs.

Students can apply for grants through their province and may qualify for funding after an assessment. We’ve listed links to the eligible provinces and territories below.

That’s not all, as the Government of Canada also announced changes to its Repayment Assistance Plan -- as of November 1, 2016, students who have borrowed money from the government will not be required to begin repaying their loan until their income is at least $25,000 per year.

Interest will still accrue on unpaid loans, but this is also welcome news for students and recent-graduates, as financial stability is not a guarantee after graduating and this change gives graduates an opportunity to find a stable job before having to worry about repaying their loans.

Click here to learn more about Canada Student Grants and the qualification guidelines or click here to learn more about the Repayment Assistance Plan via the Government of Canada website.

Back to School

Back To School Tips: Top Ten Apps To Get You Through Post-Secondary School

Back To School Tips: Top Ten Apps To Get You Through Post-Secondary School

By Elaine Jair

Apps are such essentials in our everyday life. From playing games on the go to getting news updates to catching up on social media -- there’s pretty much an app for everything.

With that said, as students, we don't usually think of what kind of apps we need to help us get through school. After all, we always had teachers remind us on the daily what needed to be done, but in post-secondary school, you're on your own. Call me slow, but I've only started using apps to help me with school in my post-grad and now that I'm done my first year, I've learnt that having the right blend of apps is amazing in keeping your school life organized and you on top of your work.

The following is just a taste of some of the more useful apps that I've used this past year and that anybody heading into university or college should consider adding to their collection:

1. Google Drive (Android; iOS)

If you’re working in a team, Google Drive is a great app to share documents and project materials. While you can certainly use the web version to upload documents, having the app on your phone is a great way to stay up to date when you’re away from your computer. Furthermore, you can edit documents using Google Doc and other programs in the Google suite. Apps in the Google suite allow you to collaborate and work on the same document with other people in real time, perfect for those of you who want to share and compile notes with friends.

Aside from its team-centric perks, you can also use Google Drive to back up your own documents, ensuring that you won’t lose all your notes in case you run into any tech-related issues. The best part of Google Drive is that it’s highly integrated with your Gmail account, meaning you can automatically save documents you receive in your email to your Google Drive. And lastly, Google Drive gives you 15 GB of free storage to use across Google Drive, Gmail and Google Photos.

2. Evernote (Android; iOS)

Evernote is a pretty well-known app that has been around for a while for good reason. While you can certainly use it to take notes in class, you can also keep track of handwritten notes and pictures, which is great for the times where you don't have the time nor patience to type things out. You can even link your mobile app to Evernote for desktop and Macs to keep your notes synced and accessible anywhere.

3. Swipes (Android; iOS)

One of the things that I found helped me the most in school was to make lists. Living on your own means you have a lot more responsibilities and making lists is a great way to keep track of everything. One of the most popular and acclaimed list-making apps is Swipes. This app worked wonders in terms of keeping me on top of my readings, daily tasks and more. Things can get overwhelming sometimes with a multitude of readings to do every week and deadlines to meet. Swipes can help with making your tasks seem more manageable and if you're like me, you'll probably feel better once you start crossing things off and seeing your to-do lists shrink.

Swipes can also be integrated with your Gmail or Mailbox account, so you can add tasks from your email to your Swipes app.

4. Google Calendar (Android; iOS)

Another staple in keeping you organized is Google Calendar. This app is great for laying out your school schedule, work schedule, exam schedule and more. Personally, I used Google Calendar to jot down readings for future weeks and all future project deadlines so I knew well ahead of time what needed to be done. If you're a huge procrastinator, this app could help you curb that tendency and save you a lot of stress. You can also set alerts on certain events, which is great for keeping you on track.

Google Calendar offers sharing capabilities, which means you can share your calendar with friends and family so they have a copy of your schedule as well.

5. Your college/university app

Most, if not all, post-secondary schools have their own app now and it's a good idea to download yours. Your school app will allow you to easily check your student account, class schedule, and exam schedule. Plus, depending on the school you go to, most will also offer a "safety" feature for you to call campus security to escort you to your car after staying late at the library or an on-campus party. Having your school's app on hand is also essential for getting updates regarding school events, school closures, news and more.

6. EasyBib (Android; iOS)

For those of you who need to do a lot of essay writing, EasyBib is a lifesaver. EasyBib does exactly what its name suggests – formatting your references quickly in MLA, APA and many other styles. I don't know about you, but referencing texts and articles was one of the most tedious parts of writing a paper. The app itself is super simple and straightforward to use. Bonus tip: If you're referencing a book, use the mobile app is to take a picture of the book’s bar code and the app will generate a citation for you.

7. SoundCloud/Spotify/Apple Music/Google Music (Android; iOS)

Whether you're studying at home, at a coffee shop, or in the library, there's nothing like your favourite tunes to drown out any environmental noises and get you in the zone. There are tons of music apps out there that are free for the most part. Of course, you can also subscribe to services such as Spotify, Google Music and Apple Music for some extra perks, but it's not a requirement for basic music streaming. Whatever your preferred music provider is, having a good playlist is a must for those hardcore study sessions. And for those of you commuting long distances, music is nice to have on long drives or bus-rides home.

8. Mint (Android; iOS)

If you’re moving away from home, keeping an eye on your expenses is extremely important. Thankfully, budgeting is now a lot easier due to the influx of budget apps now out on the market. Mint is one of the more popular budgeting apps in which you can link up your bank accounts and receive real-time updates. If you're looking for other options, check out our list of other budgeting apps here.

9. Runtastic Push-Ups, Sit-Ups and Squats Apps (Android; iOS)

If you're entering your first year of university or college, you're likely to have heard of the dreaded Freshman 15. As a student, it's easy to let your diet slide and forget working out, but it’s important to take some time to get your blood pumping and destress. Not only will a little exercise every day help you fight off the Freshman 15, it's also great as a mini-break during study session. Runtastic is a pretty popular workout app developer and makes a series of great apps for you to do sets of push-ups, sit-ups, or squats and of course, running. However, there are other apps out there to suit your exercise preferences.

10. Allrecipes (Android; iOS)

Last, but not least, those of you moving out on your own will need to start figuring out ways to feed yourself. If you're lucky, your campus will offer you great food options, but on the downside, you'll also be spending a lot of money as well. Enter Allrecipes, an app where you can find tons of simple and inexpensive meal ideas. There's a huge variety of recipes to sift through -- from comfort foods to healthy meals to vegan choices and more. Allrecipes also makes your grocery shopping super easy as it provides a list of the ingredients required to make each recipe in the format akin to a grocery list where you can cross off the items you already have. Plus, the community on Allrecipes is pretty awesome – sometimes you can find additional tips and advice in the reviews section, as well as some modifications that you can make to the recipe.

Granted, every student is different and the apps that have helped me may not work well for you. However, I think that this list is a good starting point for students and, best of all, these apps are all free so there's really no harm in downloading them and trying them out.

If you've got other apps that you find super helpful, let us know in the comments below!

Back to School

Back to School Tips: Student Discounts to Help You Save Money

Back to School Tips: Student Discounts to Help You Save Money

By Simon Hung

Student life can be stressful for young adults with classes to attend, assignments to finish, deadlines to meet, Pokémon to catch and adulting to do.

You can be slightly less poor by taking advantage of some student discounts!

It can also cost a lot of money, as the price of tuition and other essentials can be quite high and it’s common for students to penny-pinch on a regular basis. Luckily, you don’t have to eat a steady diet of ramen or wear the latest thrift store fashions to get by, because there are plenty of stores and services that offer student discounts to help you save money.

You may have also heard of this site called RedFlagDeals.com, where you can find plenty of money-saving deals and tips, including this handy list of student discounts!

General

Amazon.ca -- an extended six-month trial to Amazon Prime and a reduced rate of $39.00/year (regularly $79.00/year) thereafter.
ISIC Canada -- a $20.00 card that gives you access to discounts at retailers including TOPMAN/TOPSHOP, FedEx Office and more! Some schools (like OCAD) offer this card for free.
SPC Card -- a $10.00 card that gives you access to discounts at retailers including ALDO, Little Burgundy and more! A VIP SPC Card is also available for those who aren’t students but want to take advantage of the offers.

Apparel

adidas -- 30% off regular price and 15% off sale merchandise.
Banana Republic -- 15% off regular price merchandise.
Club Monaco -- 20% off regular and sale items, excluding Quebec.
J.Crew -- 15% off in-stores with valid ID.

Computers, Electronics and Software

Adobe -- reduced pricing for the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of software.
Apple -- reduced pricing on select hardware and accessories via the Apple Store for Higher Education. You can also get a free pair of Beats headphones as part of Apple’s back to school promotion with select purchases.
Best Buy -- reduced pricing on select products via the Best Buy Student Pricing Store.
Dell -- reduced pricing on select hardware via the Dell Education Store.
Henry’s -- 10% off select products and 20% off rentals.
Lenovo -- reduced pricing on select hardware and accessories via the Lenovo Academic Purchase Program.
Microsoft -- FREE Microsoft Office 365 subscription and Windows 10 from select schools.
Microsoft Store -- reduced pricing on select products via the Microsoft Store for Education.
Prezi -- a web-based presentation program that’s much easier to use than PowerPoint, a free Edu Enjoy plan with 4GB of storage is available for students.

Entertainment

Rainbow Cinemas -- reduced ticket prices at select theatres.
TIFF Bell Lightbox -- reduced ticket prices.
Various local attractions -- many places like museums and art galleries offer discounted admission for students, making it a great place for a quiet date or to see dinosaurs because they are extremely cool.

Financial

BMO -- various plans at discounted rates, including a Chequing Plus Account with 30 free transactions per month, no minimum balance and no monthly fee.
CIBC -- Advantage Account for Students with unlimited transactions, no minimum balance and no monthly fee.
Credit cards -- check out our Credit Card Comparison Tool to find a variety of great options for students!
PC Financial* -- No Fee Bank Account with unlimited transactions, no minimum balance, no monthly fee, free cheques and access to the CIBC network.
Scotiabank -- Student Banking Advantage Plan with unlimited transactions, no minimum balance and no monthly fee.
Tangerine* -- No Fee Daily Chequing Account with unlimited transactions, no minimum balance, no monthly fee and access to Scotiabank network.
TD Canada Trust -- Every Day Chequing Account with 25 free transactions per month, no minimum balance and no monthly fee.

*These accounts are available to everyone and not only students.

Fitness

Goodlife Fitness -- discounted and short-term memberships are available for students.
YMCA -- many YMCA centres offer a discounted membership for students.

^Note that access to your campus gym and fitness facilities is often included with your tuition.

Food and Groceries

Bulk Barn -- 10% off for students on Wednesdays.
Dairy Queen (YMMV) -- some Dairy Queen locations offer discounts and student-exclusive meals.
Grocery stores (YMMV) -- some grocery stores close to university campuses, such as Metro near Ryerson University, may offer student discounts. Check with your local grocer for details.

Telecom

Bell -- internet packages starting at $49.95/month on an eight month term.
Rogers -- internet packages starting at $45.00/month on a 12 month term.
Shaw -- internet packages starting at $30.00/month on an eight month term
TELUS -- internet packages starting at $35.00/month on a 12 month term, plus a FREE $50.00 prepaid Visa card.

Travel

Air Canada -- up to 15% off select bookings and other perks via the Altitude Students program.
Greyhound -- 10% off adult fares (25% with an ISIC Card).
Various transit agencies -- many public transit agencies offer discounted fares or passes for students. Check with your local transit agency for details.

It's important to note that most of these offers require student identification to redeem -- common examples include a student ID, official timetable or proof of enrollment. Some, such as Dell or the Microsoft Store, use an honour system where you can purchase items with the student discount immediately, but you may have to confirm your student eligibility at a later time.

Coupon clipping is another savvy way for students to save money.

Other money-saving techniques like using coupons and buying items when they're on sale can help maximize your funds if you're a student, giving you more money that can go towards buying education essentials like food that's not ramen, a DVD Rewinder or a plot of land on the Moon.

If you know of a student discount that we missed or want to share any of your money-saving tips, leave a comment to let us know and we'll add it to our list! Don't forget to visit our Back to School page for more back to school deals and tips!

RedFlagDeals.com Will Be Down from 6-10 AM ET on Thursday, August 4

RedFlagDeals.com Will Be Down from 6-10 AM ET on Thursday, August 4

By Kate Musgrove

The RedFlagDeals.com forums are being upgraded and as a result, the site will be down from 6-10 AM ET on Thursday, August 4. During the site outage, you can find updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

If you're curious about the new forums, here's what Tom, our Community Manager, had to say about the new features we'll be getting:

Responsive design
Our forums will now automatically scale to whatever device you use to provide the optimal experience for that screen size. The biggest upgrade here is the experience on mobile devices.

Image uploads within the forums
Want to add an image to your post? You won’t have to use an external image host as you can now upload up to 20 images per post directly to our forum. You have your choice of adding these inline in your post or use a gallery. Images may be up to 10mb in size.

Thread Summary
It’s like a mini Wikipedia entry located under each original post. This new feature will allow most users to start or edit an entry to help bring useful information to the top of every thread. Users are able to access the edit history of this as well to see what was previously contained here.

Trending topics
A new way to look at the Hot Deals forum. There is a new tab within the Hot Deals forum called “Trending”. The system uses a fancy algorithm based off of replies, votes, views and time to identify the most popular threads at the moment and showcases them here. Hot Deals often moves very quickly and it’s easy to miss a great deal. This new tab should help with that.

Search that works
For regular users of our forum, you’d know that search did not always return the best results. Title search was especially bad. Now you should have a much easier time finding the threads and posts you’re looking for.

Video and Social Media embedding
Just paste a URL from Instagram, Twitch, Twitter, Vimeo, Vine or YouTube into your post and it’ll automatically embed into your post. There’s no need for tags. All you need is the URL.

And much more!

Back to School Survey -- Win $50!

Back to School Survey -- Win $50!

By Kate Musgrove

Hi, RedFlagDeals.com readers! We're running a short survey to ask your opinions on Back to School shopping in Canada! After you complete the survey, leave a comment letting us know and we'll enter you in a random draw to win a $50 gift card! The contest closes September 1.

Create your own user feedback survey
Ben Moss Jewellers is Closing All Stores Across Canada

Ben Moss Jewellers is Closing All Stores Across Canada

By Kate Musgrove

Ben Moss Jewellers, a presence on the Canadian retail scene since 1910, has announced that they are going out of business with clearance sales beginning immediately. Their press release credits the "weak Canadian dollar and the soft economy in Western Canada" for their woes. Naveed Manzoor (Chief Restructuring Officer of Ben Moss) said, "After considering all of our restructuring options, including selling all or part of the business as a going concern, we have determined that this is the best course based on the challenges we are facing."

Ben Moss Jewellers has 54 locations across Canada (down from 65 after they closed eleven poor-performing locations in May 2016). They have not yet stated how many jobs will be lost as a result of the closures.

If you're interested in shopping their clearance sales, use this page to find a store near you.

Back to School

Back to School Shopping Checklist: High School

Back to School Shopping Checklist: High School

By Amanda Aikman

Summer jobs, summer romances, and summer "can I borrow the car to attend a music festival with a bunch of people I hardly know and if you don't let me you're the meanest parent ever" requests are wrapping up and the school year is almost upon us. Whether you're shopping for your kids, they're shopping for themselves, or some combination of the two, back to school shopping for high school students is a lot simpler with a little forethought and preparation.

You can start by figuring out how much of your teen's previous fall and winter clothing is still wearable for the coming school year. Naturally, they'll want to freshen up their wardrobe with some stylish new pieces, but if they've got a dresser filled with jeans that fit, they'll likely be able to get away with one or two new pairs instead of three or four.

If your child is paying, or helping to pay, for their back-to-school purchases, they'll of course have much more say in what they buy. But as parents, you'll still want to make sure the basics are covered and their purchases are appropriate for their purposes. To make sure high school kids get everything they need, as well as everything they want, we've created this handy Back to School Checklist to help keep you on track.

Back to School

Back to School Shopping Checklist: Middle School

Back to School Shopping Checklist: Middle School

By Amanda Aikman

It's been a long hot summer, and you're just about done with sleepovers, finding wet beach towels on the floor, and the 24-hour Taylor Swift serenades. While there's still time to ring out some happy summer memories, the back-to-school season is clearly coming into focus on the horizon. If you've got junior-high or middle-school children to shop for, now's the time to start devising your plan of attack for a stress-free and successful shopping experience.

You can start by sorting through, or better yet, having them sort through, their closets and dressers to see what can stay, what needs to go, and what's missing. This is a good opportunity to get your kids involved, giving them a little more responsibility in the back-to-school shopping duties now that they're out of elementary school. If there are no little brothers or sisters in need of hand-me-downs, it's also a chance to teach your kids the value of recycling and helping others by donating their gently worn clothing to local thrift shops or charities.

When shopping, we've heard you should take an 80/20 approach. That means that 80 percent of the items you purchase are interchangeable and durable such as solid tees, leggings and jeans, and 20 percent are the trendier kid-pleasing items that let them express their personal style. To make sure your tweens get everything they need, as well as everything they want, we've created this handy middle school Back to School Checklist to help keep you on track.