4 Tips to Save Money and Have Fun this Summer

As we roll into May, it’s easy to start looking forward to summer and thinking of all the fun that lies ahead. Of course, all this fun can cost money, and for some, the thought of spending a bunch of money on summer is stressful. In order to ease your stress, we have some great ideas on how you can save money this summer, and still have a great time!

Bring on the summer fun!

Tip 1: Use your library card!

We all know the library has books, but did you know about all the other great stuff you have access to through the library? You can sign out passes for all kinds of attractions around Victoria! Here are the attractions that the Victoria Public Library currently signs out passes for:

A free trip to Victoria Butterfly Gardens sounds like a great family time!

Make your stay-cation that much more fun this summer and take advantage of the free access the library provides to these awesome attractions.

Tip 2: Swap houses!

You can swap houses with people all over the world.

Have you ever heard of home swap? It’s a very cool program that people sign up for from all over the world. Members then have the opportunity to swap houses, and there is minimal cost involved. Most of the “cost” is simply the fact that someone will use your home while you use theirs. People often include their vehicles as part of this arrangement, which means you have everything you need when you get there! The great part is you get accommodations wherever you are going, and a minimal amount of money has to come out of pocket. If you’re a family, not only can this save you money, you can probably bring less with you, as the host family will likely have everything you need (think toys, cribs, entertainment, etc.). Whether you want to travel to Singapore or Saanich, home swap can be a great way to find your accommodations. Accommodations can be a huge expense, and with a home swap, you both can take advantage of this great opportunity to save.

Tip 3: Plan ahead!

You can personally negotiate with car rental agencies and hotels. Call and speak to the manager to see how good a deal you can get.

Planning and paying ahead are great ways to save money. Car rentals can be much cheaper if you pay ahead of time, and accommodations will often offer a discount for paying ahead. As well, car rentals and accommodations are businesses you can negotiate costs with directly. When negotiating, ask to speak with a manager.  Use the internet to find the least expensive quote. Use this cheap rate as a starting point in your negotiations.

Speaking of online… research and book everything while in “private” browsing mode (incognito in Google Chrome) as “cookies” aren’t stored in private mode.  As a result, travel sites won’t be able to raise the price knowing your searching habits. Although this is not foolproof, it’s still better than browsing in your regular browser, and offers the chance to save a few bucks.

Tip 4: Don’t use other ATM’s!

Avoid “other” ATM’s, and save those fees!

Saving a few bucks here and there can add up on these summer trips, and another easy way to plan ahead and save is to only use your own bank’s ATMs. Avoiding those ATM fee’s (especially anywhere “touristy”) can be an easy way to save, and it doesn’t take anything more than a quick trip to your own ATM before leaving on vacation.

What recommendations do you have to save money and still have a great time this summer? What are your favourite ways to save money on vacation? We love knowing what works for you and we would love if you shared those great ideas with us all!

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Let’s feed our bellies and not our debt!

Today’s post is about something we all need to do quite often… Grocery Shop! We have a suggestion for a handy app that can make your shopping easy breezy, and some recommended stores to keep your bill as low as possible through price matching. Let’s feed our bellies and not our debt!

Suggested App:  Flipp is the modern way of shopping the flyers from the newspaper. Rather than waiting all week and rooting through the newspaper, Flipp keeps track of all of them in a single spot. The free app makes it easy to choose your favourite stores as well, so these will show up at the top of your list. Not only does Flipp keep all these flyers in the same spot, you can actually make your shopping list by simply selecting the items you want on screen. The app creates a grocery list from the items you choose. When you’re done choosing all your items, the app also has many coupon options you can search as well. You can also search for coupons in your area very easily, you just need to enter your postal code to see what is on sale around you!

This app is perfect for stores that offer price matching as well. Some stores that offer price matching include Save on Foods, Walmart, and Superstore. As long as the store carries the same product, they will offer to match the price of any competitor. This is the perfect kind of opportunity to use Flipp! Make your list using the app, open the app for the cashier to see when you check out, and you will ensure you are getting the best deals from around town under one roof. To save yourself time at the register, place all the items you are planning on price-matching at the front, and let the cashier know your plans. Might as well save money and time, right?

To make everything even more convenient, the app will sync up with your rewards cards (Air Miles, Aeroplan, PC Optimum, etc.) as well. The app does nearly everything you could ever need grocery shopping.

Price matching is a great way to save money on your grocery bill, and Flipp is the perfect app to keep you organized enough to do it! There are other grocery apps out there, and we want to know which ones are you using? How about telling us your favourite ways to save money at the grocery store? The grocery store is where we will spend a lot of our hard-earned money, so anyway to keep the bill down can be a great help. We hope you will find Flipp, and price-matching handy, and can’t wait to hear from you about your money saving tricks at the grocery store!

Author: Adam Lee

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Budgeting tips for the Holiday Season

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to spend time with friends and family, however they can still create a lot of stress when it comes to managing our money. There are holiday parties to attend, holiday gifts to purchase, holiday cards to send out, and our normal living expenses and bills to take care of on top of all that.  So here at Doug Lee & Associates, we have come up with some handy holiday tips and tricks to keep your budget balanced this holiday season. Here are our tips and tricks to ringing in a “balanced” new year:

  1. Embrace the digital age. Why not email a nice holiday picture or “e-card” to friends and family, rather than printing things off and physically mailing them? This can be especially helpful if you have a long contact list for cards. If Grandma and Grandpa still check their mailbox when you ask them if they got your email, maybe send them a physical card, and save your digital version for family and friends that can appreciate it. You might not get rid of that entire mailing list, but surely you can save some money and time going digital rather than relying on the post.
  1. Talk with friends and family about a spending limit. Most of us love to open a present; however most of us are just happy to have the time to spend with friends and family over the holidays. So why not cap the spending on each other, and focus on the time together instead? Set a small dollar limit that everyone can participate in and make sure everyone agrees to stick to it. This way, everyone knows what to expect from each other, and no one needs to stress about “not spending enough”. Besides, we’re all gathering for the food anyway, right?

  1. Speaking of the food… Potluck Dinner! Why not have everyone coming for the big feast bring their favourite dish? This helps spread the cost around and also gives everyone a chance to try some food they may not have otherwise. The key to this plan is co-ordinating everyone and making sure everyone is bringing something different. You don’t want to end up with 5 trays of devilled eggs!
  1. Find the free entertainment. We have all become accustomed to the movie theatre and various other entertainment options being open on Christmas Day, but this doesn’t mean we need to go. Find the street in your city that is best known for Christmas lights and take the family with a thermos full of hot chocolate. Or do a quick google search of free activities in your city that day to see what’s going on around you. If it’s too wet (or snowy of course) dig into that cupboard with all the board games and challenge the family to a friendly game (or an incredibly competitive game if that’s how your family rolls). Whatever your family finds the most fun!

  1. Plan ahead as much as possible. This might be a bit late for this year, but good to note for next year. If you have to travel through the holidays, planning and buying your tickets ahead of time can save money and stress. You can also set aside a few bucks in your budget each time you get paid throughout the year, so that you have your holiday money ready when it’s time to spend. After using our first 4 tips, and keeping tip 5 in mind for next year, you will be a holiday budgeting machine in no time!

Those are our 5 money saving tips for the holiday season. Keeping budgeting tips and tricks in mind can help make your holiday a stress-free and joyous occasion, the way it was supposed to be! We all deserve to ring in the New Year full of confidence and excitement, and a balanced budget after the holiday season is a great step towards this.

How do you keep your budget in line over the holidays? What budgeting tips do you have that you have found success with? We want to hear from you! Share your money tracking ways with us, we love to hear how you save your money, and we’d love to share your tips with our community.

Author: Adam Lee

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Financial literacy month and budgeting

It’s November, which means, here in Canada, its financial literacy month.  Financial literacy is important and we at Doug Lee & Associates have a great post here for you on how to create a budget in six easy steps.  After all, what could make you feel more on top of your finances than nailing down a great budget to follow every month? So here our 6 easy steps to a great budget!

  1. Note your net income. The budget won’t work if you don’t know how much money you have coming in. Make sure you use your net income (the amount of income you have after deductions). This will ensure you are not overestimating the amount coming in.
  1. Track your spending. Begin by listing your fixed expenses (regular monthly bills like rent/mortgage, utilities, phones, car payments, insurance etc.). These expenses are generally harder to reduce, but it’s important to know where your money is going. Next list your variable expenses (things that change month to month, like groceries, gas, and entertainment/recreation). These expenses you have more control over and can likely cut back easier in this area.

**Protip** You can track your spending easily with a pen and paper; however, there are many apps available now that can help you track your spending (like Mint), which are much more visual. These apps have handy visual interfaces and are fully customizable, so you can easily see where your money is going.

  1. Set your goals. Your goals can be short term or long term. Short term goals should take no longer than one year, while long term goals can take many years (think retirement or your child’s education fund). These don’t have to be set in stone, but it should give you clear motivation as to why you are saving your money.
  1. Plan it out.  Now that you are aware of your cash flow situation (how much money you have coming in vs. how much money you are spending), you can create a plan to achieve your goals. Use your fixed and variable expenses to see where you can save money.  Rent money each month isn’t going to change, you will need that to be accounted for always, but maybe you are spending a lot on cable, and Netflix could be a way to still have entertainment while saving money. Wants vs. needs are important to note here and sometimes tough decisions need to be made.
  1. Adjust your habits if necessary. This is where those tough decisions are even more important and we really see what a want vs. a need is. If you go through your budget and you still aren’t bringing in enough to achieve your goals, you will need to adjust your spending. Start with your wants.  Movie night at home instead of the theatre, or having friends over instead of going out might be ways you can save a few bucks each month. If you still need to find more savings, look at your needs as well. You may need internet at home, but perhaps you can use a slower speed or a cheaper provider. It’s important to remember that small savings can add up over time, so don’t overlook these savings!  amazing how saving a little here and there can add up.
  1. Keep checking in. The only way this fantastic budget you have created will work is if you stick to it, and the only way to make sure you are sticking to it is to monitor it. This will ensure you spend as much as you planned, and your savings goals are mostly likely to be achieved. Your budget is not set in stone (you may get a raise, find your expenses have gone up, or reached your savings goal). By checking in constantly, you will be aware of exactly where you stand, and can adjust as needed. All you need to do is continuously check in and use the steps above.

A budget is great way to track your spending and alleviate stress in your house. After all, it’s easier to relax and sleep at night if you know you are financially secure. Financial security is in your hands, and there are many apps out there that can help you track your spending. Tracking your spending is the key to any good budget, so whatever method works best for you is great.

Financial literacy month is a great time to learn new tips and tricks for your finances, or just expand on your financial knowledge.  Although talking about finances is not common, that doesn’t mean we can’t start. Talk to your friends and family about how they stick to their budget as well.  Tell us here how you save your money, and what your favourite budgeting apps are, we’d love to hear it.  After all, the more ways we can all learn to save our money, the better!

Author: Adam Lee

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