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Marcelle Instant Eye Makeup Remover Pads Have Been Recalled

Marcelle Instant Eye Makeup Remover Pads Have Been Recalled

By Ambia Staley

One of the golden rules all makeup wearers know they must live by is that at the end of the day, one must always remove every speck of makeup in order to help maintain clear and healthy skin. Unfortunately there's been a recall issued on a product that should have been working to do just that.

Earlier today, Groupe Marcelle Inc. issued a voluntary recall of their Marcelle Instant Eye Makeup Remover Pads from the marketplace due to the possibility of mold contamination.

The recalled products have the UPC codes 059599673521 or 056599679424 printed on the back of the container as well as the lot numbers (L)15J1394, (L)15K1394 and (L)15L1394 printed on the bottom. The lots in question were sold some time between December 9, 2015 and February 16, 2016.

Healthy Canadians is reporting that approximately 23,050 units of the Eye Makeup Remover Pads were sold in Canada during this period, so be sure to check your bathroom cabinet. If you find that you do in fact have the product in question in your home, it's advised that you stop using it immediately and return the item to Marcelle or the store in which it was purchased.

While there have not been any reports of incidents or injury so far, it's better to be safe than sorry -- especially with a product that comes so close to your eyes.

Get The Skinny On The New Basic TV Packages

Get The Skinny On The New Basic TV Packages

By Thomas Kenzaki

One of the biggest complaints people have about their TV service is that it’s just too darn expensive. Another major complaint is that to add on the specific channels you do want, you need to add big bundles which include a lot of channels you don’t want.

The CRTC listened and as of March 1 2016, all TV service providers must offer a basic package of channels for no more than $25 a month. These packages must include a minimum set of channels as mandated by the CRTC. Beyond that if you want extra channels they need to be available in small bundles or through individual pick-and-pay options. The pick-and-pay option isn’t mandatory until December however some providers are offering this now.

Let's take a look at some of the basic packages being offered by a few major players.

Bell:

  • $24.95 a month for 20 channels
  • No US networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS)
  • Pick-and-pay channels available starting at $4
  • Fibe TV customers are required to have Fibe Internet

Rogers:

  • $24.99 a month for 30 channels
  • Includes US networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS)
  • No pick-and-pay channels available yet

Shaw:

  • $25 for 40 channels (25 if you don’t count non-HD duplicates)
  • Includes US networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS)
  • Some pick-and-pay channels available starting at $3

Of course, the real question is, are the skinny cable packages really a cost-saver? The answer appears to be... maybe? Whichever company you go with you’ll also need to rent or purchase a receiver at an additional cost. That alone might mean the skinny cable package is a worse deal than going with one of the standard packages. It all depends on the amount of channels you want to add on. Unfortunately, you’ll need to sit down, break out the calculator and do the math to see what makes most financial sense to you.

One popular alternative to the new basic TV packages among our forum members is free over-the-air (OTA) HD programming using a cheap antenna. You can pick up a bunch of popular HD Canadian channels like CTV, City TV, CBC and possibly even some US channels if you’re close enough to the border. If you’re unable to get OTA signals due to distance or other reasons or simply love sports and foreign language stations (often only legally available through subscribed TV service), basic TV packages could be a good way to save some money (even if some providers don’t seem to want you to subscribe to them).

Let us know in the comments below what you think of these new plans.

Rexall Purchased by US-Based McKesson for $3 Billion CAD

Rexall Purchased by US-Based McKesson for $3 Billion CAD

By Kate Musgrove

Here's a bit of breaking retail news for you -- the Rexall chain is being purchased by the US-based health services group McKesson. The purchase price is $3 billion CAD. Rexall, which is based in Edmonton, has 470 locations across Canada and they will retain the Rexall name post-acquisition.

With the Lowe's/Rona deal in early February this is the second acquisition of a large Canadian chain by a US retailer in a month. With the low Canadian dollar is essentially acting as discount for US and foreign firms, we'll probably see more acquisitions as the year progresses.

While the deal is in motion, it's not a sure thing -- it still needs to be reviewed and approved by the Competition Bureau and the Investment Canada Act.

March 2016 Video Game Release Dates

March 2016 Video Game Release Dates

By Ambia Staley

With a net worth of nearly $100 billion, the video game industry is a force to be reckoned with. From the casual mobile gamer playing Candy Crush on their way to work, to the hardcore gamers who go for days without getting up from their chairs, nearly everyone plays games to some extent. Whether you consider it an upside or a downside, one of the effects of this massive industry is that new games are coming out left and right. If you're an avid gamer, it may be hard to keep track of all the games you need to buy at any given time. We've decided to help make things easier with a monthly list of video game releases!

March 2016 is packed with tons of hot new game releases across various platforms, as well as a few HD versions and cross-system ports. Some release highlights for March include The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD and Pokkén Tournament for the Wii U, Hyrule Warriors Legends for the 3DS, and Alekhine's Gun for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. The highly anticipated Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display is also finally hitting the market March 28 along with some exclusive games!

Without further ado, here's a list of games being released in March!

  • Alekhine's Gun (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - March 1
  • Far Cry Primal (PC) - March 1
  • Heavy Rain (PS4) - March 1
  • Mortal Combat XL (PS4/Xbox One) - March 1
  • The Witch and the Hundred Knight: Revival Edition (PS4) - March 1
  • Tron Run/r (Xbox One) - March 1
  • Xblaze Code: Embryo (PC) - March 1
  • BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma Extended (PC) - March 2
  • Crazy Pixel Streaker (PC) - March 2
  • Black Desert Online (PC) - March 3
  • Blue Rider (PC) - March 3
  • E.T. Armies (PC) - March 3
  • Action Henk (PS4/Xbox One) - March 4
  • Into the Stars (PC) - March 4
  • Ironcast (Xbox One) - March 4
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U) - March 4
  • Path of Exile: Ascendancy (PC) - March 4
  • Ultimate Chicken Horse (PC) - March 4
  • Shardlight (PC) - March 8
  • Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - March 8
  • Hitman: Intro Pack (PS4/Xbox One/PC) - March 11
  • WWE 2K16 (PC) - March 11
  • Disney Infinity 3.0: Marvel Battlegrounds (PS3/PS4/Xbox One/Wii U/PC) - March 15
  • UFC 2 (PS4/ Xbox One) - March 15
  • Need for Speed (PC) - March 15
  • Samurai Warriors 4: Empires (PS3/PS4/PS Vita) - March 15
  • Necropolis (PC) - March 17
  • Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (3DS) - March 18
  • Pokkén Tournament (Wii U) - March 18
  • Lichdom: Battlemage (PS4/Xbox One)
  • République (PS4/PC/Mac/iOS/Android) - March 22
  • Stranger of Sword City (Xbox One) - March 22
  • TrackMania Turbo (PS4/ Xbox One/ PC) - March 22
  • Alienation (PS4) - March 23
  • Dead or Alive Xtreme 3* (PS4/PS Vita) - March 24
  • Killer Instinct: Season 3 (Xbox One/PC) - March 24
  • Slain! (PC) - March 24
  • The Descendant (PC) - March 24
  • Hyrule Warriors Legends (3DS) - March 25
  • Adrift (PC- Oculus Rift) - March 28
  • Chronos (PC- Oculus Rift) - March 28
  • Edge of Nowhere (PC- Oculus Rift) - March 28
  • Eve: Valkyrie (PC- Oculus Rift) - March 28
  • MLB The Show 16 (PS3/PS4) - March 29
  • Nights of Azure (PS4) - March 29

Dates TBA:

  • Battlefleet Gothic: Armada (PC)
  • Crossing Souls (PC/Mac/Lin)
  • Miitomo (iOs/Android)
  • Stars Beyond Reach (PC)
  • Days of the Tentacle Remastered (PS4/PS Vita/PC/Mac/Lin)

*Note that Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 will not be released for distribution in North America, however the Asian release version is region-free for both systems and includes an English language option.

Are you picking up any of these upcoming titles? Which games are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments!

Apple's iPhone Trade-in Program: How to Trade In Your Old iPhone for an Apple Credit or Gift Card

Apple's iPhone Trade-in Program: How to Trade In Your Old iPhone for an Apple Credit or Gift Card

By Simon Hung

While the release of the iPhone 7 is many months away, speculation is abound with possible designs, specs, features and perhaps most importantly, price. This particular iPhone release should be interesting, since Apple has been known to adjust product prices based on the value of the Canadian dollar, which is projected to be rather dismal later this year. As a result, the iPhone 7 could cost significantly more than previous generations and those looking to upgrade may want to get whatever value they can out of their device to help recoup the costs.

We covered different methods to sell your phone back in September and while we did mention Apple’s trade-in program then, we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at their program, since it may be an attractive option for many people thanks to its convenience and availability.

Overview

Apple introduced their iPhone trade-in program in Canada back in March 2014, giving iPhone owners an easy option to trade-in their old iPhones for Apple Store credit towards a new device. Initially exclusive for iPhones and with a maximum trade-in value of $275.00, the program has since expanded to include iPads and even non-Apple devices, providing a maximum credit of $500.00, as of February 2016.

The program is run by telecommunications distributor Brightstar in conjunction with Apple and is aimed towards those looking to upgrade their phone or migrate to iOS, as selling your phone through methods like Craigslist or Kijiji can be frustrating and time-consuming, whereas Apple’s service is quick and convenient.

How It Works

There are two methods to trade-in your old device -- online or in an Apple Retail Store. Trading your device in-store is the most convenient for those with access to an Apple Retail Store, as you will receive a credit that you can use towards the purchase at an Apple Store immediately, meaning you'll receive no down-time if you plan on upgrading.

If you choose to use the online method, you’ll have to fill out a short questionnaire about your device and you'll receive a quote. If you accept their quote, a box will be shipped to your address, where you package your phone and send it to Brightstar. Once your device is verified to be as you described, you’ll be sent an Apple Gift Card via mail. While you don't have to leave the comfort of your home, you will be without a phone for a short period of time while you wait for your gift card to be delivered.

In both cases, your quote will vary depending on your product’s age, cosmetic appearance, physical condition and overall functionality.

Physical condition is factored into your phone's value, so you may not receive much for a damaged phone.

Benefits

  • Convenience -- you don’t have to deal with haggling, scams, listing fees and other perils of selling your phone through methods like Kijiji
  • Instant quotes -- you can receive a quote for your phone immediately online to get a rough idea of what you’ll be getting, whether you plan to trade you phone in-store or via mail
  • Time -- trading your device in-store will get you an immediate credit that you can spend

Drawbacks

  • Advertised quotes -- while Apple advertises a maximum trade-in value of $500.00, this quote can be a little misleading as it usually reflects the highest-end devices in their lineup, while older devices will receive lower payouts
  • Value -- trade-in programs almost always give you a lower amount relative to its market value, because of the convenience that they provide. If you have the patience and persistence to sell it yourself, you’ll typically receive more for your device
  • Gift cards -- while this may not be an issue if you plan to shop at Apple anyways, any credit you receive will have to be spent in an Apple Store, where products seldom go on sale
  • Time -- while in-store trade-in credits are instant, having to send your phone away and subsequently wait for a gift card to be delivered can be time-consuming depending on where you live
Only a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus will net you the maximum trade-in value of $500.00.

Things to Remember

  • Wipe your phone -- issues with privacy and security have been prevalent on the news lately and you'll want to fully wipe your phone before trading it in
  • Value degrades over time -- while iPhones retain value well over time compared to other phones, their value does drop steadily after new iPhone releases. Trading your phone in before a new iPhone release will get you the most value
  • Bring your ID -- to prevent fraudulent trade-ins, you must be 18 years of age or older and show ID to use Apple's trade-in program

While there are some caveats to using Apple's trade-in program, the benefits can outweigh the disadvantages if you want convenience and simply want to receive some value back on your old phone without having to go through the hassle of selling it online. It's also an ideal option for those with older generation hardware that is unlikely to attract interest from the classifieds market. Plus, given the uncertain nature of future iPhone pricing, getting something back for an aging phone is always better than getting nothing at all.

There's a New Starbucks Canada Rewards Program Coming in April -- Here Are The Changes!

There's a New Starbucks Canada Rewards Program Coming in April -- Here Are The Changes!

By Kate Musgrove

The Canadian Starbucks Rewards Program is rolling out some big changes in April -- here's a look at what's coming!

The biggest change has to do with the value of the reward stars. Currently, Rewards members get 1 star per visit. Starting April 12, they'll get 2 stars per $1 spent. Currently, Gold-level members can redeem 12 stars for a free drink but in April that will change to 125 stars for a free drink.

By and large, the change seems to be aimed at discouraging order-splitting, which is a common tactic for earning more stars under the current system. Right now, if you need to get three drinks and you order them one at a time, you'll get three stars. If you order them all at once, you'll just get one star. Order-splitting can definitely slow down how fast a line is moving, and we've definitely all experienced an out-the-door lineup at Starbucks. It also seems to discourage small orders -- with the old system, you would earn the same reward for a drip coffee or a supersized $6 Frappuccino while now, the drip coffee drinker will accumulate rewards much more slowly.

They're also doing away with the Welcome level of the rewards program and will just have Green and Gold levels. Everyone who signs up will be a Green-level member right away, and their rewards include:

  • Free Birthday Drink or Treat
  • Free In-Store Refills on Brewed Coffee and Tea

You'll become a Gold member if you earn 300 stars in a 12-month period. With Gold status, you get all of the Green-level rewards, plus you can redeem 125 stars for a free food/drink item and you'll have access to Monthly Double-Star Days, one day a month in which you can earn four stars per $1 spent rather than two. (The date will vary each month, and Starbucks suggests you opt-in to their email list to be notified of your day.) No matter what level member you are, the Starbucks Rewards stars will expire. They're valid six months from the month you earn them in (so if you earn 25 stars in the month of June, they will expire on January 1).

Each of your current Starbucks Rewards stars will be multiplied by 11 when the new program launches. So if you currently have 5 stars, you'll have 55 in the new program.

For more details, you can check out the Rewards Program FAQ here. And, if the price of coffee has got you down, McDonald's is offering free coffee from February 29 to March 6!

Saks Fifth Avenue's First Canadian Location is Open!

Saks Fifth Avenue's First Canadian Location is Open!

By Kate Musgrove

The first Saks Fifth Avenue location in Canada opened today at the Toronto Eaton Centre, so I went down for a quick peek at products, pricing, selection and everything else! First things first -- if you're a Saks shopper, it's definitely cheaper to shop in-store than online. For every item that I looked at, the price was significantly lower in-store than it was on Saks.com -- even with the duty-free offer running right now. Here are a couple examples (all the online prices do not include taxes, duty or shipping):

Burberry Peyton Fringed Suede Crossbody Bag - $1139.04 CAD online versus $975.00 CAD in-store.

Alexander McQueen Skull Tattoo Silk Scarf (54"x54") - $551.61 CAD online versus $470 CAD in-store.

Alexander McQueen Padlock Mini Zip Satchel - $1855.42 online versus $1285.00 CAD in-store.

Burberry Small Two-Tone Laser Cut Leather Bucket Bag - $3574.74 online versus $2995.00 CAD in-store.

I'm curious to see if the prices are still cheaper in-store in a month or so. It's likely that the current difference has more to do with the recent fluctuations in the dollar than an actual pricing strategy, since it seems like the online price is set in USD and then automatically updated according to the current USD/CAD exchange rate, while changing the price tags in-store would require quite a bit of manual updating.

Prices aside, here's a bit more about the store itself. While the entrance is quite grand, with doormen in uniform holding the doors open for customers, the effect is lessened a bit when you approach a second set of doors about six feet in and have to open them yourself. After the second set of doors, you're in a lobby of sorts with the option to turn left and enter Saks or turn right and go into Hudson's Bay. The fittings and displays are luxurious (and there's one section of carpet that was alarmingly plush -- it was like walking on sand) and the product selection is quite broad, with tons of high-end brands represented. While the store was quite busy today, it wasn't overly crowded and all of the systems were up and running. Like most high-end stores I've visited, the price tags on products were very well-hidden -- which can be off-putting. Although the store is 150,000 square feet, it's spread over three floors with a small footprint and feels quite easy to navigate.

While I'm not the target Saks shopper, I'm thrilled that they're establishing a presence in Canada and I hope they do well. More selection (and competition) is always a positive for Canadian shoppers. The next Saks location is at Sherway Gardens and it's scheduled to open on February 25.

Here's a quick rundown of some the designers available at Saks Fifth Avenue in Canada:

  • Alexander McQueen
  • Burberry
  • Chloe
  • Christian Louboutin
  • Diane von Furstenberg
  • Dolce & Gabbana
  • Dior
  • Fendi
  • Jimmy Choo
  • Manolo Blahnik
  • Prada
  • Rag & Bone
  • Saint Laurent
  • Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Stella McCartney
  • Valentino
First World Solutions: Products to Help Solve Your Trivial #FirstWorldProblems

First World Solutions: Products to Help Solve Your Trivial #FirstWorldProblems

By Simon Hung

Life is complicated. You may not be $53 million in debt like our friend Kanye West, but we've all experienced problems in life that can ruin our day, whether it's something minor like having a price-match rejected or something unfathomably terrible like McDonald's giving you five McNuggets when you ordered six.

Luckily, we live in an age where there are some nifty solutions to many trivial problems. You've probably heard or used the term "first world problems" at some point in the past few years and we've compiled a list with a few of our personal #FirstWorldProblems along with crafty solutions on how to solve them.

Problem: You’re ready to sleep but the lights are on
Solution: Philips HUE Smart LED Dimmer Kit

There are easier ways to turn off your lights.

Picture this -- you’re comfortably in bed and ready to dream about dating celebrities, the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup and other fantasies. You realize that you forgot to turn off your lights, so you have to get out of bed, walk to the switch, turn it off and crawl back into bed. It’s a struggle. You could buy The Clapper, but we suggest the Philips HUE Smart LED Dimmer Kit. The kit comprises of an 800 lumen LED light bulb and a wireless switch that you can place anywhere (like your headboard), giving you quick and effortless control of your lights.

Problem: Your friends or co-workers are jerks
Solution: GateKeeper

Rogue messages are one of the cheesiest office pranks.

If you work or study in an office environment and regularly use a computer, you’ll know that office warfare is serious business. You’re safe as long as you’re near your computer, but should you need to step away, you could be opening yourself up to unwanted wallpaper changes, rogue Skype messages and other pranks. You could just lock your computer, but that’s extraneous mouse movements and clicks that you don’t want to do. The GateKeeper is a small device that you put on your keychain and it works by automatically locking your computer whenever you walk away from it and unlocking it when you return.

Problem: Your pets are jerks
Solution: Programmable pet feeders

Who needs an alarm clock?

If you're a dog or cat owner, you likely know the feeling of having your face pawed at in the morning. In many cases, your pet may just be seeking attention, but it could also be because they're hungry. Programmable food and drink dispensers are not only great for pet owners on vacation, but they're also a handy tool for owners who want to get some extra minutes of rest instead of getting out of bed to scoop a few cups of kibble.

Problem: Cables are annoying
Solution: IKEA furniture with integrated wireless charging

IKEA is saving us from cable nightmares, one nightstand at a time.

Cables are the trolls of the technology world -- they tangle on their own, you can never find one when you need it, they’re too short when you want them long and too long when you want them short. IKEA is one of RFD’s favourite stores and they’re here to rescue us from cable hell with their line of stylish furniture with integrated wireless chargers. Affordable and minimalist, the furniture uses the Qi wireless charging standard so some devices that feature Qi don’t even need adapters, though IKEA also sells cases for phones that don’t support Qi.

Problem: You need background music while in the shower
Solution: UE Roll Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Ditch the headphones and precariously-placed music player and use a waterproof Bluetooth speaker.

Unless you’re an incredible vocalist like Beyoncé, Adele or DJ Khaled, your singing ability likely won’t win you any awards. That shouldn’t stop you from belting out "Single Ladies," "Hello," or "All I Do Is Win" when you’re in the shower, but it can be a little awkward to sing without music to back you up. Headphone wires are cumbersome and you risk ruining your music player with a wrong tug of the cable, so use a waterproof Bluetooth speaker like the UE Roll so you can keep your phone or music player at a safe distance and stream your favourite tunes while in the shower.

Problem: You won’t let a shower stop your Netflix binge
Solution: Waterproof phone/tablet cases

Designed for underwater use, waterproof phone cases are great if you use your phone in the tub.

Whether you’re binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix or don’t want to miss any action during a live sports game, don’t let a shower get in the way of your entertainment by using a waterproof case that you can take with you in the bath, shower or hot tub without worrying about damaging your gadget. The example that we provided also includes a strap that you can hang onto a shower hook so you don’t even have to hold your device.

Problem: Using your phone while wearing gloves
Solution: Touchscreen-compatible gloves

An alternate solution to use your phone while wearing gloves.

Forget about talking to your phone using voice commands -- half the time your phone will misunderstand and you don’t want to look like a weirdo. Touchscreen-compatible gloves are the type of product that you initially laugh off because you never think you’d need them (like a selfie stick or ShamWow), but once you own a pair, you’ll wonder how you lived without them. Never struggle to expose a thumb again by owning your own pair or go the DIY route by sewing some conductive thread onto the fingertips of any pair of gloves.

Problem: Your bed sheets easily get loose
Solution: Sheet Straps

The only thing more uncomfortable than recent Adam Sandler movies are unkempt bed sheets.

Whether you move around a lot in your sleep, have rambunctious kids or your dryer has gradually shrunk your bed sheets, it’s annoying to sleep with the feeling of loose bed sheets. This cheap solution includes four elastic straps that you can secure to the corners of your sheets, letting them remain taut and eliminating the need to constantly fiddle with your sheets to tuck them under your mattress.

Problem: Tacos
Solution: Taco holders

Taco 'bout an annoying food!

Tacos aren’t a problem, per se. They’re delicious, but holding them upright is a pain. You can splurge and buy taco shells that stand on their own, but if you get the weight distribution slightly off, they topple. Or what if you’re a fan of soft tacos? These cheap holders allow you to hold two tacos upright if you need to free your hands for other taco-related activities.

Problem: Using your tablet while on the toilet
Solution: CTA Digital Tablet Wall Mount Bathroom Stand

One way to avoid an unsanitary disaster.

We’ve all done it -- we've all taken a tablet or phone into the bathroom to pass the time, but one slip or ill-advised fidget and your expensive gadget could quickly become a bio-hazard. Never worry about that disastrous scenario by using one of these unique tablet stands, complete with integrated toilet paper holder for maximum convenience and efficiency.

Problem: Using your tablet while in bed
Solution: Clampable phone/tablet holders

Avoid smartphone-related face contusions with a stand that clamps to your bed.

Forget Pilates, P90X, CrossFit and other workouts. Have you ever tried using a phone or tablet upright in the air for more than five minutes? It takes an extreme amount of endurance not to get fatigued and drop it onto your face. You could rest it sideways on a pillow, but then you'll have to lay on your side and balance it. Instead, get yourself a tablet holder that you can clamp onto your bed frame or a breakfast-in-bed style stand so you can comfortably lay in bed while enjoying those Paul Blart: Mall Cop marathons.

Have any first world problems of you own? Have you ever bought or MacGyver'd a solution to a trivial problem in your life? Have you ever felt the outrage of being stiffed one McNugget in a McDonald's McNugget combo? Let us know in the comments (we do read them!) and be sure to share this with anyone who may suffer from these dilemmas!

Starbucks Express Comes to Union Station!

Starbucks Express Comes to Union Station!

By Thomas Kenzaki

Toronto commuters rejoice! Starbucks has finally opened up a location at Union Station. Now you can hop off your train, head over to the newly renovated York Concourse and grab a Venti Chai Tea Latte or whatever else floats your boat. Be warned though, this isn’t your traditional Starbucks store.

Gone are the comfy chairs (or any seats at all for that matter) and hipsters on their Macbooks pretending to study or do work. Instead this new location is their first Starbucks Express Store in Canada.

What this means is that they’re all about getting you in and on your way as fast as possible. Think of it similar to a fast food drive-through but without the cars. An employee takes your order while you wait in line. You then head over to the cash to pay and pick up your order from the pick up area. It’s Starbucks’ hope that this will cut down the wait times by half.

With Union Station already having a McDonald’s standalone McCafe store and a small Tim Hortons kiosk, it was only a matter of time before Starbucks showed up to the party. With Toronto’s Union Station seeing 250,000 commuters daily (me included), the added variety is sure to be appreciated.

Have you been to the store at Union Station yet or would you like more of these to pop up around the city? Let us know in the comments below.

Here's What's Happening at the 2016 Canadian AutoShow

Here's What's Happening at the 2016 Canadian AutoShow

By Paresh Pandya

Few events could convince me to get out of bed in the midst of a severe cold snap, save one -- the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow. This event showcases the best in design and engineering with over 1000 vehicles on display at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The show also gives the public a glimpse of where we're headed in the coming years. With two buildings full of cars of trucks well what can I say but please hand me my parka and long johns, I guess I’m going out!

Honda Canada was on hand to accept the Canadian Car of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) for the 10th generation Civic. This is a well-deserved award following the correction of some rare missteps in the previous model. The legacy of the Civic nameplate, a best-selling car in Canada for 18 consecutive years, was riding on the success of this redesign and Honda did not disappoint. The new model brings back the essence of a Civic with new engines to give it a more spirited drive. Overall dimensions have increased compared to the outgoing model, resulting in more room for both passenger and cargo. Materials have been given a more premium feel, and happily, the controversial two-tier dashboard has been eliminated in favour of a more pleasing conventional design. Wrapped in a modern coupe-like body, it takes styling cues from its bigger brother the Accord. If the sedan isn't for you, joining it will be a coupe, a hatchback, and in a Canadian first, a Type-R. There is no doubt the 2016 Civic will make a very strong case for claiming its 19th year as a best seller in the Canadian market.

Chevrolet led the charge for innovation with 7 all-new award winning vehicles including the 2017 Bolt EV. Although recent oil prices have provided a counter-argument to the high upfront costs of an electric vehicle (EV), Chevrolet remains committed to the technology. Steve Carlisle, President and Managing Director of GM believes "the future will be electric, connected, shared, autonomous and multi-modal." In other words, they envision a future made up of many forms of transportation alongside a sharing economy (think Uber) where outright car ownership may be diminished. The Bolt EV fits into this vision offering a very practical 320 KM range off of a single charge. More than just a car, the Bolt EV will leverage OnStar 4G LTE mobile technology turning it into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot. This will give the driver and passengers access to apps and services without relying on their cellphone. In the future the car will use this connectivity and predict an accurate range projection based on time of day, weather, driving habits, and topology. Outwardly the car appears small, but by using a flatpack battery gives the Bolt EV with 479 L of cargo space, more than a Honda Fit. To me though the most exciting feature is the "Full Display Mirror." This technology will debut in the 2016 Cadillac CT6 and will also find its way to the Bolt EV. With the flip of a switch, the rear mirror changes into a high resolution display screen. Using a rearward, exterior mounted camera, the driver will be given an unprecedented wide angle, real-time view. Passengers and cargo will no longer be an obstruction, increasing the safety and driver confidence.

While cars are the main draw for the show, increasingly auto manufacturers are adapting to remain relevant in a highly connected social world. Ford introduced the very ambitious FordPass. More than just an app, FordPass is intended to be a rethink of our mobile lifestyle encompassing different aspects of car ownership and acting as a hub for different technologies and initiatives. On the app side through the Marketplace, we'll be able to find and reserve parking spots before our trip starts, remotely start our vehicles, and find out the overall health of our car. Ford Guides is a free mobile concierge and will provide one-on-one help for any of the FordPass services including road side assistance. FordPay is a digital wallet system which will work with strategic partners to pay for mobility expenses. FlightCar is where Ford is looking towards a future of declining car ownership. At launch it will allow travelers to borrow vehicles, but in the future the platform will evolve to allow for car sharing, ride sharing, and access to various other forms of transportation. A rewards system will be native to FordPass to give drivers recognition for their loyalty. Finally the digital platform will be supported by FordHubs, urban storefronts that will give customers the ability to explore new innovations, sign up for exclusive events, and offer help with your mobility questions. The FordPass will be open to anyone, although some features will be tied to Ford's in-car communication and entertainment system (SYNC). It's not a stretch to see this as an evolution of what it means to be a car manufacturer into a far-reaching transportation solutions provider. Need to get from Point A to Point B but you want to use a mix of light-rail, car rental, and buses? That's the type of question FordPass hopes to answer.

The Canadian International AutoShow gives show-goers a look at award winning vehicles available in show rooms today, a look at what's coming out in a few months, and a broader vision of where we're headed in the future. And of course there's a healthy mix of exotics, both new and old, interactive exhibits, contests, and if you're lucky, some cool freebies. It's never been a more exciting time to be an automotive enthusiast!

The 2016 Canadian International AutoShow is running February 12-21:

  • February 12: 12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • February 13-20: 10:30 AM - 10:00 PM
  • February 21: 10:30 AM - 6:00 PM

Box Office Prices: Adults $23, Youth (13-16) $16, Children (7-12) $7, Children under 6 are free. Further discounts and offers may apply. Check their website for more details and deals.

Nordstrom Rack to Open Its First Canadian Location in Toronto in 2018

Nordstrom Rack to Open Its First Canadian Location in Toronto in 2018

By Ambia Staley

Upscale department store Nordstrom announced plans to open its first Nordstrom Rack location in Canada in 2018. In a press release from the company, Nordstrom announced the store is set to open in Toronto, within One Bloor, a condo building currently under construction at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor and just steps away from the Yorkville shopping district.

Nordstrom Rack is the off-price division of the Nordstrom brand, which is popular with shoppers for its discounted brand-name apparel and accessories. Karen McKibbin, president of Nordstrom Canada stated, "We want to be a part of compelling locations across the country and this is a great first step. We look forward to getting our doors open to serve customers in Toronto."

While Nordstrom's first plans to bring their Rack stores to Canada in 2015 ended up being delayed, it looks as though this second attempt will move forward.

Nordstom currently has full-line store locations in Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. The department store is set to arrive in Toronto later this year, with a location in Toronto's Eaton Centre opening in September, in Yorkdale Centre in October and a third location at Sherway Gardens in fall 2017.

Vancouver: 10 Dinners for $10 or Less!

Vancouver: 10 Dinners for $10 or Less!

By Amanda Aikman

With an abundance of world-class dining options, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on a good meal in Vancouver. While Tojo’s and Gotham Steakhouse are happy to take your money, it is possible to eat well and still make your rent or mortgage payments. Check out these local spots for delicious dinners priced $10 or less.

1. Meat & Bread - 370 Cambie St. and 1033 West Pender St., Vancouver

Raising the art form from fast-food subs to simple, high quality perfection, these guys are true "sandwich artists." Tuck into their famous $9 Porchetta Sandwich (made with crackling and salsa verde on a fresh ciabatta bun). From jerk chicken to a mouthwatering meatball number to a grown-up grilled cheese, Meat & Bread will send you to sandwich heaven for $9.50 or less.

Meat & Bread's Corned Beef

2. Bon's Off Broadway - 2451 Nanaimo St., Vancouver

The $2.95 all-day breakfast special at Bon's Off Broadway is a Vancouver rite of passage. This cheap plate of greasy goodness has been a beloved East Van hangover cure for years. Sure you can enjoy burgers, fish and chips and spaghetti here, but getting toast, eggs, fried potatoes and bacon or sausage with the coins you found in your pocket from the night before is the real draw.

3. Mega Donair - 912 Clarke Rd., Port Moody

When you want a delicious donair, a fresh donair, a GIANT donair, head to Mega Donair in Port Moody. Regular and super-sized chicken, beef, lamb or falafel donairs are less than $8. If you’re extra hungry, tackle the Mega size for $10.59-$14.38 — it’s earned the distinction of largest donair available in BC. Pitas here are baked fresh to order and toppings include spicy carrots, hummus and assorted fresh veggies.

4. Budgies Burritos - 44 Kingsway, Vancouver

Stuffed with fresh and filling ingredients, the meat won’t be missed in these vegetarian burritos ($8 or less). Try The Henry, with kielbasa Tofurkey sausage, or The Poser, with veggie ground round – both include rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa and lettuce or cabbage. Tasty tacos are available for $3.25 a piece or two for $6 and quesadillas, nachos and tortilla soup round out the affordable menu.

Budgie Burritos' Tacos

5. Lucy's Eastside Diner - 2708 Main St., Vancouver

Satisfy your comfort-food cravings whenever they strike at this inviting, retro-inspired diner. Open 24 hours, seven days a week, Lucy’s dishes out to-die-for diet-busters like the Mac N’ Cheese Pulled Pork Hoagie for $10 or the Lucy’s Reuben hot dog topped with corned beef and sauerkraut for $8.50 (both come with fries or salad).

6. Lido Restaurant - 150-4231 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond

Lido specializes in Hong Kong diner food ($9.99 white pepper pig stomach soup, anyone?). A substantial menu of Western- and Chinese-style dishes is also available, from which you can pick any two items for $9.95. But the main attraction here is the pineapple butter buns. This customer favourite is a bundle of warm, fresh and doughy deliciousness stuffed with a slab of butter for only $3.

7. Tung Hing Bakery - 1198 Kingsway, Vancouver

For less than four bucks, you can take a culinary trip to Vietnam with the Banh Mi sandwiches at Tung Hing. Options include lemongrass chicken, honey garlic sausage and vegetarian. Add something from their tempting selection of baked goods, like the generously sized egg tarts for less than a buck each, and you’re still only out $5. Cash only.

8. Save On Meats - 43 West Hastings St., Vancouver

Enjoy generous portions of tasty classics like the Traditional Breakfast for $4.99, the Legendary S.O.M. Burger with salad or fries for $7.95 or the meal-sized Tex-Mex Poutine for $8.95. A cup of hearty chili on a rainy Vancouver afternoon will set you back a measly $3.95. The community-minded Save On Meats gives back to the Downtown Eastside with much-needed meals and clothing through their token program.

Save On Meats' Croque Madame

9. Volcano Sushi - 1861 Commercial Dr. and 1991 East Hastings St., Vancouver

With sushi joints rivaling Starbucks locations in quantity, Vancouverites are spoiled for choice. This spot is a definite contender for top marks with its low-cost dinner specials and inventive sushi combos. Try the Volcano Special Combo, which includes half-and-half tuna and salmon maki, half-and-half California and dynamite roll and a volcano roll for just $6.95.

10. IKEA - 100 Lougheed Hwy, Coquitlam

You don’t need an Allen Key to put together a cheap meal at IKEA. With $0.75 hot dogs, $2 cinnamon bun-and-coffee combos and $1 breakfasts, affordable food options make the flat-pack furniture giant a go-to spot whether you need a new sofa or not. A kids’ menu and free baby food (with adult meal purchase) makes it a good deal for the whole family.

10 Valentine's Day Gifts for That Special Geek in Your Life

10 Valentine's Day Gifts for That Special Geek in Your Life

By Ambia Staley

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if you're looking to earn a special place in the heart of a certain geek in your life, you may be searching for the perfect gift. A few months back, we created a list of holiday gift ideas for the geek on your shopping list. This time, we're following it up with a list of great Valentine's Day gift ideas for that special geek in your life!

1. Harry Potter - "Always" Necklaces ($6.99 - $7.99 on Amazon)

Want to show your love to your favourite Potterhead? Pick them up one of the many necklaces available on Amazon featuring this popular quote from Severus Snape. While it might be a little bit of a bittersweet gift considering the recent passing of Snape's film actor, Alan Rickman, it is still a great way to show your eternal devotion to the one you love.

2. Star Wars - I love You/ I Know Rings ($19.99 USD each on ThinkGeek)

Show your love with a matching ring set for you and your beloved geek featuring one of the most famous exchanges between everyone's OTP --besides Poe and Finn-- Han and Leia. While to most people, Han's response is completely arrogant, any Star Wars fan is sure to view it as a grand romantic gesture and love the engraved rings.

3. Doctor Who - The Doctor/ Companion Rings ($9.99 USD each on ThinkGeek)

Doctor Who fans are pretty devoted to the long-running series, and most probably have a favourite couple, whether it be Ten and Rose, Eleven and River, Amy and Rory, or Twelve and his eyebrows. Pick up a pair of these officially licensed rings -- which you can mix & match -- and you and your Valentine can be the Doctor and companion, two companions, or even two Time Lords!

4. The Legend of Zelda - Heart Container Pendant Necklace ($17.13 on Etsy)

Heart-shaped jewellery is the go-to Valentine's Day gift for many, but you can step it up with this Legend of Zelda Heart Container Pendant Necklace. In the shape of the heart containers found in Skyward Sword, you'll be doing double-duty by adding something cool to your geek's collection while showing them how much you love them.

5. Sailor Moon - Crystal Star Compact ($124.55 on Amazon)

There is an entire generation of female (and even some male) anime fans who grew up with Sailor Moon. To this day, many of them revere the manga and anime as one of their all-time favourite romances. Want to tug at your Valentine's heartstrings with a sentimental gift? Gift them with an item from the beloved story, like this detailed replica of Sailor Moon's Silver Crystal Star Compact! This compact has a quality metallic gold finish complemented with different coloured stones -- and it even comes with realistic sound effects, making it almost like the real thing. Just don't be surprised when your geek starts yelling "Moon Crystal Power, Make Up!"

6. DC Comics - Funko POP! Harley Quinn Pink Hearts Figure ($12.50 USD at Hot Topic)

Harley Quinn has always been a DC Comics fan favourite since her introduction in 1992. You can pick up this exclusive pink hearts POP! figure, which perfectly fits the Valentine's Day theme. Bonus points if you pick up one of the many Joker figures to go with her, so Harley can be with her Puddin' this Valentine's Day.

7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies ($15.17 at Chapters Indigo)

Jane Austen books have always been a literary favourite for the romantic. If your geek loves zombies and romance, they may enjoy reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded and slightly altered version of the classic tale. With the movie adaption of the novel out in theatres now, you can also score some bonus points by making a date night of it!

8. Geeky Charm Beads ($4.99 USD and up at ThinkGeek)

Pandora beads and other similar charm beads are popular with many girls -- and even some guys! Instead of picking up the normal boring beads from jewellery stores, shops like ThinkGeek offer enough geeky charms from all the best fandoms so you can potentially create an entire bracelet. Most beads fit regular leather straps as well as Pandora-brand straps, so you can mix & match should you be adding to a bracelet your Valentine already owns.

9. Heat Sensitive Pixel Heart Mug ($14.99 at HMV)

If your Valentine is a fan of The Legend of Zelda, or other classic games, they'll get a kick out of this mug. A fun and geeky twist on the typical heart-themed gifts, this mug features an 8-bit inspired heart decal that "fills up" the heart when hot liquid is poured into the mug. Heath potion and fairies may not exist in the real world, but with this mug and some hot caffeinated "potion", you or your Valentine will feel just as rejuvenated.

10. Binary Code Love Print ($21.14 on Etsy)

Want to be straight forward about your feelings with that computer geek in your life? Hand them this binary code wall print and they'll know exactly how you feel. This cool handmade print features an "I love you" message written out in the computer code with customizable pops of colour.

Bonus: For the Geek Searching for a Valentine - The Geek's Guide To Dating ($15.15 at Chapters Indigo)

Are you or a geek you know looking for a little help in the love department ahead of Valentine's Day? This hilarious guide to dating reads just like one of your favourite game guides. It's packed with walkthroughs, cheat codes, and more, all to help geeks navigate the perils of dating and love.

Are you, or is your Valentine a geek? How are you planning to celebrate Valentine's Day? What are some of your most wanted gifts? Be sure to let us know below!

Toronto-Area Goodwill Stores To File for Bankruptcy

Toronto-Area Goodwill Stores To File for Bankruptcy

By Ambia Staley

There's finally been an update on the sudden closure of 26 Toronto-area Goodwill locations last month.

In a statement made earlier this week, Goodwill Industries of Toronto, Eastern, Central & Northern Ontario's CEO Keiko Nakamura announced that the company will be filing for bankruptcy to preserve its assets. This will be done for the benefit of Goodwill's principal creditors, who are also former employees of the company. Nakamura went on to add that Goodwill will consider making a proposal to creditors that will would annul the bankruptcy and allow for some stores to reopen if approved.

The Canadian Airport Workers Union, which represents the majority of the 450 affected employees issued a statement in response that it will be "closely monitoring" both the bankruptcy and proposal. It also supports a restructuring process that will help get its employees working once more.

Goodwill Industries International made a statement last week, calling the Toronto-area closures "egregious acts" that are not in compliance with membership standards. As a result, Goodwill Industries of Toronto, Eastern, Central and Northern Ontario has been disaffiliated with the brand, and no longer have the right to use the Goodwill name, trademark, or logo.

What do you think of these latest developments? Do you think there is hope for the Toronto-area Goodwill locations?

Tax Time Poll -- Answer These Questions and Be Entered to Win a $50 Gift Card!

Tax Time Poll -- Answer These Questions and Be Entered to Win a $50 Gift Card!

By RedFlagDeals.com Staff

RFD readers, there are a few things we're curious about as we head into tax season. We've set up a couple poll questions below, and if you respond to the polls and then leave a comment that you did, you'll be entered into a random draw for a $50 gift card.

We'll draw a random winner from the comments below on March 15, 2016 and notify them by email. Unfortunately, this contest is not open to residents of Quebec.

Danier Leather Enters Insolvency After $27 Million in Losses

Danier Leather Enters Insolvency After $27 Million in Losses

By Kate Musgrove

Danier Leather has announced that they've entered insolvency. Insolvency is intended to protect the company from creditor lawsuits as it seeks a buyer. It's not bankruptcy, but if they can't find a buyer, that will be their next step.

Danier Leather lost $27 million between 2014-2015, with nearly $20 million of that loss occurring in 2015 alone. They have stated that they expect to lose even more money in 2016, although they specify that they have enough cash to keep their stores open and pay staff as they work towards a solution.

What do you think went wrong for Danier Leather? Jeffery Wortsman, the current CEO, said in September 2015 that Danier was "not aligned to current fashion trends" which led to significant sales decline and a build-up of unsold inventory.

Roll Up The Rim Has New Ways to Win!

Roll Up The Rim Has New Ways to Win!

By Thomas Kenzaki

It's my favourite time of year! No, I don’t mean Christmas. It’s Roll Up The Rim time at Tim Hortons. This once a year event is back for its 30th anniversary and I was happy to discover that this time around, there are more ways to win than ever before!

Besides checking under the the rim of your cup to see if you won, you can also play Rrroll Up Replay and Rrroll Up At Home. Rrroll Up Replay is an online way to win prizes by simply registering for an account and rolling up virtual rims. You can get a new virtual cup every hour with a maximum of five at a time. Rrroll Up At Home, which is new this year, allows you to upload receipts from your Tim Hortons home line of products (Tassimo discs, Keurig K-Cups, teas, ground coffees, etc.) and receive a chance to win a prize.

Long gone are the days where the best prize you could win was a box of Timbits. These days you can win some serious stuff! This year you can win a 2016 Honda Civic, a LG 4K TV, Tim Hortons gift cards and so much more. All in all there are over 250,000 prizes to be won (although the best prize most of us will see is a free coffee or donut).

Tim Hortons is a daily staple for a lot of us already so why not take a peek under the rim. You never know, your cup might just be a winner. Just think of all the sleep you’d lose if you threw away a grand prize winning cup.

For a complete list of rules, check out the official Roll Up The Rim To Win website. And be sure to leave us a comment telling us the best prize you’ve ever won playing Roll Up The Rim!

A Recurring Nightmare: Common Recurring Charges and Tips on How to Control Them

A Recurring Nightmare: Common Recurring Charges and Tips on How to Control Them

By Simon Hung

Recurring payments have exploded in popularity over the past few years, partly due to the growth of low-cost monthly subscriptions services. While a few dollars per month may seem like a nominal amount to pay for a service, the total cost of all of your recurring charges can easily add up to hundreds of dollars per year if you don’t keep track of them.

This is especially true with yearly subscriptions, as it’s easy to forget about the charges, like if you're one of 2 million people who still pay for AOL dial-up Internet. To help you navigate recurring charge treachery, we’ll be listing a few common ones that may be sneakily taking money from your bank balances. The main focus will be on charges that are relatively easy to avoid, control or cancel, rather than charges that are ridiculous and unavoidable, such as hydro delivery charges or monthly utilities bills.

Video Streaming
Common examples: Netflix, shomi, CraveTV, Twitch.tv, Vessel

Some video streaming services don't offer the same content value as Netflix.

Netflix has become a staple in many households, as the prospect of having on-demand access to hundreds of films and TV shows is worth the cost. Piggybacking on its success, we've seen the rise of other video streaming platforms such as shomi and CraveTV, as well as the rise of premium sites like Vessel, a paid service where YouTube content creators can upload their videos seven days before they go live on YouTube. While they are nice services to have, the lack of content on certain platforms when compared to Netflix makes them a poor value.

Music Streaming
Common examples: Spotify, Apple Music

Whether you’re a fan of hardcore gangster rap or emotional orchestral scores, many of us can’t live without music. Streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music have grown to prominence to give you an almost unlimited library of music for a monthly fee. While these services are convenient, it can cost upwards of $20.00 per month and can quickly decimate mobile bandwidth limits. If you can live with ads every few minutes, consider sticking to the free version of Spotify to save money, even if they don’t have any Taylor Swift songs.

Sports Streaming
Common examples: MLB.TV, NHL Gamecentre Live, NBA League Pass

Access to live sports has been the Achilles heel for many cord-cutters, as sports programming is largely unavailable outside of cable. However, there are popular streaming services such as MLB.TV and NHL Gamecentre Live that charge upwards of $200.00 per month to stream live games. Promotions (such as MLB.TV’s $3.99 USD offer) make these services irresistible to sports fans, but it’s important to remember that many of these have automatic renewal clauses when you sign-up. For example, if you took advantage of the MLB.TV promotion this past September and haven’t cancelled, you will be charged $129.99 USD for the upcoming season unless you cancel.

In-Game and In-App Purchases
Common examples: free-to-play games, DLC content

In-app purchases (screen shot from The Simpsons: Tapped Out) can get pricey very quickly.

One of the sneakiest of charges today may be in-game and in-app purchases, whether it be a $1.00 upgrade in a free mobile app or $20.00 downloadable content in a full-priced console game. The “free-to-play, pay-to-win” platform has made it incredibly easily (especially for kids) to absentmindedly pay for in-game upgrades that can easily add up if left unsupervised. Even Kanye West has ranted about the ease of racking up substantial bills via in-app purchases.

Telecom
Common examples: hardware rentals, overage charges

It’s no secret that many Canadian telecoms have been accused of using questionable billing tactics. For example, Bell removed their maligned $2.80 touch-tone fee in mid-2015, only to subsequently raise the price of all landline plans by $2.80. A common charge that can easily be avoided are hardware rental fees, such as modems, which are often leased to customers for upwards of $15.00 per month. It’s almost always more cost-effective to purchase a modem outright or even buy one from a third-party store rather than pay a monthly fee for the duration of your service.

Banking
Common examples: balance charges, withdrawal fees, ATM use fees

Like telecoms, banks are notorious for charging exorbitant fees to their customers, including balance charges if you're below a certain threshold, withdrawal fees on certain accounts and ATM fees if you use an unaffiliated machine, just to name a few. Banks sometimes offer leniency depending on account standing and how long you've been a customer, though fees and charges can only sometimes be waived at the discretion of your branch manager. The best practice is to be wary of your account limits to avoid potential charges and asking your branch to waive fees is a good idea if you're unexpectedly charged.

Paper Statements
Common examples: utilities bills, ATM receipts

If you’ve received a paper statement in the mail in the past few years, there’s a considerable chance that you may be paying for this once-free service. Most major telecoms, including Rogers and Bell are charging upwards of $5.00 per month if you wish to have a paper bill delivered. Many cite environmental concerns for the charge, which is noble, though it’s likely that the charge goes directly into their pockets, which is blasphemy. You can usually remove this fee by updating your account online or calling customer service.

Computer and Web Services
Common examples: free trials, Amazon Prime, LinkedIn Premium, Windows 10 Solitaire

At one point, you've probably signed up for a free trial for a product like an Internet security suite and had to enter your credit card information. It's important to read the terms of any free trial you sign up for, as many trials that require credit card data are usually auto-renewal subscriptions that will charge you once the trial period is over. There are a plethora of web services that charge a small monthly fee to seem insignificant, such as LinkedIn Premium or even Solitaire on Windows 10, but if you don't use them, cancel it.

Donations
Common examples: charitable donations via phone or Internet

We’ve all been approached by one -- those friendly, clipboard-wielding charity representatives on the street who compliment your clothes and ask about your day, only to pull you aside and give a sales pitch about their charity. While it is noble to donate to any charity, keep in mind that some charities will bill you on a monthly basis for donations. This is especially true with impulse donations made via credit card, where you may not be fully aware of the exact terms of donation.

Novelty Subscriptions
Common examples: monthly gift boxes, fruit of the month clubs, crowd-sourcing

Crowd-sourcing has become a popular method of supporting products and services in recent years and while most are simply a one-time payment, some crowd-sourcing sites like Patreon charge monthly to help fund your supported cause or product. While crowd-sourcing and other services like monthly snack deliveries or fruit of the month clubs are fun, they can become quite costly if you pay for more than one.

Tips
  • Evaluate your needs: Take a look at which services you pay for and which ones you actually use regularly. If you don't use a service often and can live without it, cancel it.
  • Budget: There are tools such as YNAB (You Need a Budget) that can help you manage your finances. While YNAB is (ironically) a subscription service, it is free for students with proof of enrollment.
  • Check twice, pay once: Examine credit card charges at least twice a month to ensure you know what you're paying for. See something unfamiliar? Google the merchant name or call your card provider for more details.
  • Set text notifications: Many online statements are not updated in real-time, but many banks (including BMO, Scotiabank and TD), allow you can set up text alerts to notify you immediately if your card is used for anything, allowing you to easily track your spending or potential fraud.
  • Look before you leap: Carefully read the payment terms when signing up or buying anything with your credit card and keep an eye out for a 'per month' or 'per year' suffix next to prices.
  • Parental guidance: Enable parental controls on your phone, tablet or console to require authentication for every in-app or in-game transaction. Teaching your kids about in-app spending can also help to reduce the damage that some kids will unknowingly cause.
  • Elephants never forget: Neither does your phone -- set reminders to notify you of any transactions that will be charged to your credit card at the start of the month to ensure that you never forget.

Save money and frustration by getting rid of unwanted services.

Ultimately, the onus is on you to prevent any unwanted charges from occurring. Keeping track of your subscription charges and everything in between can be tedious, but the stress of having an unwanted charge levied against you can be stressful. With diligence and careful spending, you can easily mitigate and control your finances to make things more manageable.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use to track your money? Let us know and share this article with anyone you know who may need help controlling their frivolous spending habits!

Lowe's Acquires Rona for $3.2 Billion

Lowe's Acquires Rona for $3.2 Billion

By Kate Musgrove

After a lot of negotiating (and an unsuccessful buy-out bid in 2012), American retailer Lowe's has bought Rona for $3.2 Billion CAD ($2.3 Billion USD). The deal was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors at both companies. Rona was founded in 1939 and has 496 stores across Canada. Lowe's has been looking to expand in Canada and independent of this acquisition has plans to open twelve new stores in Canada over the next two years.

While overall reaction to the acquisition is positive, Parti Québécois leader Pierre Karl Péladeau has come out in opposition, saying that Quebec would lose another company headquarters. However, the Canadian head office for Lowe's will be in Boucherville, Quebec, which is home to the current Rona head office.

Overall, I feel like the acquisition is a net positive for Canada, although I suspect that the low Canadian dollar could encourage more foreign-based acquisitions in the Canadian market in 2016. Who do you think could be next?

8 Tips for Travelling on a Low Loonie

8 Tips for Travelling on a Low Loonie

By Ambia Staley

With the Canadian Dollar the lowest it's been in years, and projections to go even lower in the next year, you may be thinking about putting off your yearly travel plans. However, there's no need to pack away your suitcases and sun hats just yet! With a few modifications, as well as some careful planning, you can make the most out of your vacation without going broke. We've collected a few simple tips that will help you save on your next getaway.

1. Follow the deals: Don't care where you go, as long as it's somewhere that's not home? Follow the deals! Travel sites often post cheap vacation packages that you can snap up within your desired price point. Some airlines also hold flash sales from time to time, with great deals on flights within specific dates. Ever consider going to Iceland? Airlines such as Iceland Air and WOW Airlines encourage tourism to the small nation by frequently offering return flights for as low as $400, or vacation packages starting at $650.

2. Travel off-season: If you're set on going to a specific location, you may want to consider travelling off-season. You'll have to do a little research to find out when the off-season for your particular destination is, but it might pay off in the end. Not only are flight prices traditionally cheaper, but many local hotels and businesses tend to offer deals and discounts during these times of year in order to get people in the door.

3. Fly Smart: This is a very loaded tip, but be sure to do your research when it comes to booking flights, as it will be sure to pay off! As previously mentioned, you can save a little when flying to a destination off-season, but also consider flying on weekdays and non-peak hours, when there tends to be less demand for flights. In addition to this, if you're in no particular hurry, consider mix & matching airlines as well as transiting through other cities on your way to your destination. Thinking about going to Europe? Previously mentioned WOW Air has many low budget options for travellers willing to transit through Iceland on their way. While it may seem like a pain, these methods can end up saving you hundreds of dollars in the end!

4. Go Where the Money is: If you're worried about the Canadian dollar being so low, travel somewhere where the money is worth around the same amount, or even less than our dollar. Many countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, or Korea have currencies that are worth less, or about the same as the Canadian dollar, making them more appealing for travel and shopping.

5. Cut Corners on Packing: Many of us have a tendency to purchase everything brand new before we leave. There's no need to pick up a brand new suitcase, shoes, clothes, and toiletries before leaving. Don't have a suitcase? Borrow one from a friend or family member that isn't travelling. If you know that you'll be buying things on your trip, hold off on purchasing new clothes until you arrive -- this way you'll only end up spending money once, and not twice. Worried about airport size restrictions on liquids, so you purchase brand new travel-size toiletries every time you travel? Skip that step and head to shops like Dollarama where you can find affordable travel kits packed with small empty bottles in which you can pour your favourite shampoos and lotions to take with you on your travels.

6. Do Your Homework: This is a very important step that can prevent you from throwing away extra money. Before you leave, read up on as much as you can! Check cost effective methods to get from the airport to your hotel so you don't waste money on a taxi. I was once told by a former coworker that the first time he went to Japan, he thought Narita Airport was in Tokyo, so he could just take a taxi into the city. Fun fact -- it's actually in the prefecture next to Tokyo, so he ended up shelling out $200 right after landing in the country. It also helps to make sure that your hotel is conveniently located. If you find a steal on a hotel room, but all the tourist locations you're looking to visit are nowhere near it, you might end up tossing away more money on transit costs, than you ended up saving on accommodation. Not only can doing your homework beforehand make things a lot cheaper, but it will make your stay a lot less stressful.

7. Don't go alone: I prefer travelling alone, so I understand the appeal, but it might not be the most cost effective option for those who want to save. Instead, bunk up with someone you know! You can split things like hotel costs or apartment rental costs, as well as cab fare. A family I know used this method when travelling to the US a few years ago. They made the trip with another family and were able to split costs on transportation to and from the airport as well as the cost of their hotel suite.However, each family went their separate ways during the day to enjoy their vacation. It ends up saving a ton of money, and you may find this more appealing than cheaper accommodation options like hostels.

8. When all else fails, take a staycation: If you're uneasy about the monetary conversion, one place to know exactly how much you're spending is within your own country. We're lucky enough to live in a huge country with very diverse areas. Hit the road and stay in a nearby city for a few days. Check airlines like WestJet and Air Canada on a weekly basis as they usually have flash sales on Canadian airfares. You can even hit the rails and spend a few days aboard a Via Rail sleeper car. Via Rail typically offers lower fares on select short distance and long distance routes every Tuesday that can save you a few dollars. If you've got a friend or family member in another city, call them up and ask to crash on their couch for at least part of your trip for even more savings!

Are you going on vacation this year? What are some of your money-saving travel tips?