Category: finances

Saving For Your Child’s Future #RESPwithRBC

A university and college education is essential for students. For me it meant studying in a field I love, Kinesiology, while also experiencing my first time living away from home. Up until that point I had led a sheltered life at home with my parents purchasing all of my material needs and taking care of all the bills without ever including us in these discussions. Heading to university away from home was the ideal dream for so many of us – we all had this vision of awesome parties, living in a posh environment with cool new friends and our own space.

The part that we as young adults never realized? The total cost for this education and experience. 

My parents had started an RESP when I was in my early teens but were not able to contribute as much as they had hoped to before I went off to school. I had enough to cover my first year of tuition (which was just under $5,000 CDN) but I never took in to consideration the cost of textbooks, supplementary fees, rent and utilities for the lovely apartment we had to have. In my first year alone I paid an extra $1,000 for textbooks and most of them were used. When I lived at home my parents were there to take care of all the money issues but for the first time in my life I was left to deal with my finances on my own and I was running out of money. Like many students I had to turn to student loans, OSAP and credit cards. Access to this credit was so easy and it didn’t feel like “real” money so it kept adding up. To be honest I felt like I had been lied to all those years about money – no one had taught me about savings, budgeting and credit. It was all to easy to rack up over $15,000 CDN in debt.

When I gave birth to my first son I was in my second year of undergraduate studies. After I gave birth, we knew the best gift we could ever give our son was an education and to achieve that we opened him up an RESP. I never wanted my son to feel the way I was feeling – hopeless and beginning to drown in debt. I wanted him to have some financial freedom when choosing post-secondary education. To me this was the most important decision as parents we would ever make. It is also the decision that I am the most proud of. The years keep speeding by and before I know it both of our boys will be ready to make the leap to post-secondary education.

With the wealth of information out there about the rising costs of post-secondary education as well as the importance of that education I am always surprised when parents say they don’t have an RESP or that they plan on financing with credit when the times comes. RBC has put together a fantastic resource of information on their website for families looking to save for post-secondary education.

Some of you may not have heard about RESP’s before and that’s okay too! Here is some information for you from RBC about these special savings accounts:

What Is An RESP?

  • A Registered Education Savings Plan is a tax sheltered account that helps families save for post secondary education.
  • You can combine flexible payment plans and direct government assistance (we received $700 in grants because I myself was a student when I first opened up my son’s RESP) to maximize savings.
  • The beneficiary only needs to be a Canadian citizen and have a social insurance card to set up an account (super easy!).
The Benefits of a RESP
  • Easy and affordable payments over a long period of time allows you to maximize savings ($50 a month over seventeen years adds up to a lot of money for your child!).
  • The Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Bond: the Government is giving you money to save for your child’s education! This is extra money above what you are contributing and only increases your savings over time.
As someone who has been in the position of graduating with a large amount of student debt I can not begin to stress enough the importance of saving for your child’s education.
Here are my own personal tips for families out there looking to save for their child’s post secondary education:
  • It is never too early nor too late to open an account. Head into RBC to meet with an advisor, learn more about your options and set goals.
  • Save based on your own financial situation. I know that I personally can not afford to save as much as I wish I could but every little bit counts.
  • Be open and honest with your children. Sit down with them and talk about money, tuition and savings. Let them view their own statements, open their own bank account and deposit money into their RESP. Let them take pride in saving for their education.
RBC has a fantastic giveaway live on their Facebook page right now where you have the chance to win one of four prizes of $500 to go towards an RESP. You have nothing to lose so head over and get yourself entered! This would make a fantastic start towards an RESP if you haven’t opened one yet or a great top up in an account you already have open!
On October 1st join RBC on Twitter as we chat all things RESP and more! You also have the opportunity to win one of six $100 gift cards! Just make sure to use the hashtag #RESPwithRBC – looking forward to chatting with you!
Disclosure: I am part of the RBC RESP blogger program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. Images from RBC used with permission.
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Keeping Groceries in Track with the Longos Mobile App #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.

What is the number one item you have on you at all times? If you are anything like me it is your smart phone. My smart phone has mobile apps that keep track of my appointments, connect me to work, remind me of important dates and keep track of my to do lists. This is crucial for me. Our day to day life is constantly on the go and without my mobile apps I would be lost. One of the hardest things to keep track of? Groceries! Between school lunches and soccer practices by mid week our pantry begins to look bare. With the Longos mobile app I am able to add items to my grocery list as I notice they go missing – no more waiting to get home and add it to the list on the fridge (which never seems to remain on the fridge for very long?!).

Grocery items count for the largest expenditure in our variable budget in our house so I always like to make sure I am not only getting the best deal but not double purchasing items, letting produce go to waste or making frequent trips to the grocery store. In the past I used to go to the trouble of waiting for my flyers to come in the mail, making a written list and then combining that with my written running list that I kept on my fridge (if it wasn’t lost somewhere along the way!). I spent a lot of time doing this and half the time I would forget items.

The Longos Mobile App (which is free!) allowed me to browse all categories that they carry in store (from bakery to cleaning to vitamins!) at my own convenience through my smart phone. This meant I could browse and add items from my desk at work (where I usually remember forgotten grocery items and then subsequently forget them again), at the soccer field, waiting to pick my kids up from school – I was no longer tied to writing my lists down at home. Each item also shows it’s current or sale price and a rating from other customers. I was even able to scan my products at home to see whether or not my local Longos carried them – which I may or may not have had a lot of fun scanning multiple items in our house! If you still love paper you can even email yourself a copy of the list to print out and bring in store with you. You can also connect your Thank You Rewards card to maximize in store savings.

I could now head out to Longos as part of the #CollectiveBias campaign at my own convenience with my handy list on my mobile app. All I had to bring was my purse, myself and with two kids in tow trust me this was to our advantage!

I was able to hand off my mobile list to my kids who were then in charge of ensuring we picked up every item on our list. Our youngest (who is not old enough to read) loved that he could still take part as the list is partially visual with a picture of the item so he was able to pick out items based on this (don’t you just love little shoppers?!!). This actually improved our overall shopping experience as I am sure many of you can relate to – shopping with children can be a nightmare unless they really feel involved.

Having a mobile list to compare prices to and quickly scan through actually sped up the whole shopping process. We were able to easily identify the items we needed, confirm the price and move on. It almost turned into a game for the kiddies.

Just like that we had a successful shopping trip! Every item on our list was picked up and then removed from our list, the boys thought it was the most incredible game ever, snacks for school lunches were picked up as well as some for Mom and Dad – success!

What kind of strategies do you use at home to keep track of groceries? Would mobile apps fit into your life easier?

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How to Save Money on Everyday Items Part II: Finding Coupons

While I was off on maternity leave I became obsessed with coupons (yup I can admit it – I was and still am obsessed!). I was extremely overwhelmed with them at first. There are so many different kinds, different rules and each store has their own policy in regards to accepting coupons. Don’t let this discourage you! You can cut off some of your grocery budget with them (I find the most savings is found when you combine them with price matching – you can read more about my price matching tips here). You can find coupons for all sorts of items, not just food, I recently used some getaround promo codes and they saved me so much money!

So you know you want to coupon but how do you find them? Companies have made it super easy for us to save. You can find coupons not only in store but online or even delivered in your newspaper (if you are so lucky!). I will break it down for you as best as I can.

In Store

Some stores will have coupons directly in front of the product and others will have coupons on a board in front of the main entrance (these are usually coupon zone coupons that can only be used at specific stores – so make sure to read clearly!). My favourite stores to look for coupons are Sobeys, Metro, No Frills, Fortinos and Shoppers Drug Mart. I will occasionally find coupons at Food Basics as well. These coupons are helpful but tend to be for newer items in store. You can also sometimes find coupons attached to personal hygiene products which really goes a long way!

Ordering Coupons Online

My favourite way to find coupons? Online of course! There are some pretty great sites out there that will allow you to order the coupons you specifically want and will use. The four main ones are P&G Brandsaver,, Websaver and GoCoupons. Each site offers a variety of different coupons to choose from. Some are available to print while others you can select and they will mail them to your home. Some companies will also have coupons available through their Facebook page that will link them to one of the above mentioned coupon sites.


Many homes are very fortunate and will have weekly coupon inserts sent to them in their newspaper! We just had this service start with us and I am super stoked for it! We have had Redplum come twice already. Also look out for coupons in flyers for stores that you like to shop at or clothing retailers.

Coupons matched with price matching allows you to save a great deal of money on your grocery budget section. We usually save anywhere between fifteen to thirty dollars each grocery trip between coupon use and price matching. Which may not seem like a lot but add them up over a course of a year and bazinga! Extra savings that we can put towards our home.

Do you use coupons? Why or why not?

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Save Money Renting Textbooks with #CampusBookRentals

Having just completed my undergraduate degree five years ago I can state that undeniably one of the greatest (and most difficult to budget for) are your textbooks. There is no way to get around this cost because textbooks are essential to each course. The most frustrating part is that even though they are essential you can go a whole semester with using them once a week or less. I have some textbooks that I had purchased six years ago that look brand new!

Campus Book Rentals is the perfect alternative choice when looking into purchasing textbooks. Instead of purchasing, you can rent the required textbook saving 40-90% off bookstore prices! Yup – 40-90% off of the bookstore prices. I am not sure about your courses but none of my textbooks were below $75! Imagine those savings?! Not only are you saving on the textbook price but the textbooks are shipped to you for free and returning is free as well. During the flexible renting period, you are also allowed to highlight the textbooks without fear of extra charges. Perfect for making important mental notes to come back to.

Campus Book Rentals also participates in donating a portion of each of textbook rental to Operation Smile. Operation Smile is a fantastic organization that works around the world to help provide safe, effective and free cleft lip and cleft palate reconstructive surgery. They work in over sixty countries raising awareness of this life threatening condition. Since 1982, they have provided over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults.

Campus Book Rentals also has a great new program called Rent Back where students can send their used textbooks to Campus Book Rentals, who rents them out to a student and you make money off of that rental. When it is returned they rent it out again and you also make money on that rental as well. This could make you as a student 2-4 times more then just selling your textbook! You can watch this video for more info.

Have you ever rented out textbooks? Were you also like me shocked at the prices of textbooks?

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Oink: Teaching Financial Literacy and Independence #review #giveaway

Teaching our children financial literacy skills is incredibly important. It gives them the strength, knowledge and independence to help them grow as stronger young adults. But how do we teach our children these skills? Money can be such a sensitive topic for people and others may not feel comfortable discussing bills, savings, etc. The tricky part can be in how to get these conversations rolling.
Image from


Oink (previously Virtual Piggy) is an online piggy bank where children and teens can safely (and securely!) spend, save their allowances, create wishlists, donate and more. Most importantly, Oink opens up the door of communication so we can have these important financial chats with our children (that do not always happen when we give them their allowance in cash and they disappear quickly and I speak from experience there – never seen a nine year old run to his room so quickly before!).
Oink has set up quite a few safeguards for children when it comes to spending. A parent must first set up their own account linking it to their child’s account. Parents can then set a number of parameters depending on the age of their child, the amount of independence they feel is right, etc. Parent’s can set up funding goals, choose how much a child can spend in a single transaction, how they are alerted for these transactions and if approval needs to be given before these transactions can go through. Oink works with kid friendly retailers online and when your child goes to make a purchase they simply click on the “Virtual Piggy” at checkout. This video by Oink really helped walk me through the whole concept and understand our accounts better.

I love how Oink not only allows my son and I to have important financial conversations but also how it empowers him to make good financial decisions on his own. I was quite proud to hear him say that he did not want to spend all of his money on one toy because then he would have nothing left! He wanted to save a portion of his allowance and the other part he would save until there was something he really wanted. Oink gives him the tools to independently save his allowance, create a wishlist that we can go through together (you know all those “wants”) while still allowing me to monitor from a distance to make sure he is safe. It allowed me to feel confident in his choices and help us to speak more freely about money and budgeting for our wants and needs.
The best part of Oink? It is 100% free to use! Yes you heard that right! Both the child and parent account are completely free to use, save and spend online!
Oink is also a Parent Tested Parent Approved Winner. They have met the high standards of other parents just like you in order to earn that designation which is well deserved!
You can also check out their website which has a wealth of financial knowledge and tips. They have great tips on starting money conversations when paying bills or shopping along with helpful resources for families. You can also keep up to date with them on FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Oink is giving one reader a chance to win a $100 in gift card credit at
This giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18 years of age and older. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. The only compensation from this post is the giveaway for you my readers.

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