Tips for Valentine’s Day on a budget

Valentine_Budget_Tips

If you’re having trouble making ends meet, you don’t have to succumb to holiday pressure and spend money you don’t have just to show someone you love them. Some of our Licensed Insolvency Trustees across the country exposed their romantic side by sharing these great low-to-no-cost tips for having a memorable Valentines Day in 2017.

ALBERTA:

Freida Richer tells us how to have a romantic day in Alberta without breaking the bank!

  • Outdoor skating: Bundle up and head outdoors for skating at Olympic Plaza or snowshoeing at Bragg Creek or the Kanasksis Silver Skate Festival and enjoy Edmonton’s picturesque Hawrelak Park in the River Valley. You can get hot chocolate there or bring some of your own for afterwards and have a romantic winter picnic.
  • Plan and prepare a romantic dinner at home together: Staying in is a great way to save money, and enjoying a meal at home can be more romantic than eating dinner in a noisy, crowded restaurant. Set the stage with candles, and dig out your good dishes and wine glasses!
  • Explore the city: Exploring your own neighbourhood with your loved one is a romantic way to spend an evening without breaking the bank. There are plenty of activities around town that are perfect for a date night on a budget including a Telus Spark adult night a few days before Valentine’s Day, the Penguin March at the Calgary Zoo, cheap seats at the Calgary philharmonic (which start at $25), or try cooking classes at SAIT or  “Get Cooking, MacEwan University”.

HALIFAX:

We discovered Rob McLernon is a romantic at heart when he shared these tips with us.

  • Outdoor skating at the Emera Oval: Plan a romantic outing to the Emera Oval with your significant other and enjoy an evening of skating under the stars. Bring some hot chocolate and snacks for afterwards and have a romantic winter picnic
  • Explore the Halifax / Dartmouth waterfront: Walk the boardwalk, take the ferry across the harbor, and stop into a coffee shop for a snack. Exploring your own neighbourhood with your loved one is an exciting way to spend a romantic evening without breaking the bank
  • Plan and prepare a romantic dinner at home together: Staying in is a great way to save money, and enjoying a meal at home can be more romantic than eating dinner in a noisy, crowded restaurant. Set the stage with candles, and dig out your good dishes and wine glasses!
  • Go snowshoeing: Consider renting some snowshoes or cross country skis (or better yet, borrow equipment from a friend) and head out for a jaunt in Shubie Park or Point Pleasant Park.

CAPE BRETON ISLAND:

Thanks to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia Licensed Insolvency Trustee Blaire MacNeil for these tips for planning Valentine’s Day activities around the island.

  • Venture outdoors: Consider renting some snowshoes or cross country skis (or borrow equipment from friends) and head out for a snowshoe hike around the Clyburn Loop at the Clyburn Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
  • Go to the movies – it’s cheap night: Movie tickets are cheaper on Tuesdays, and Valentine’s Day just happens to fall on a Tuesday this year! Take advantage of cheap night and grab a couple cheap movie tickets for you and your significant other.
  • Cook a romantic dinner together: Staying in is a great way to save money, and enjoying a meal at home can be more romantic than eating dinner in a noisy, crowded restaurant. Set the stage with candles, and dig out the good dishes and wine glasses.
  • Attend a community hall dance: If staying in is not your thing, the Practical Nursing Students are hosting a Valentine’s dance with a silent auction on Saturday, Feb 11 from 9pm to 1 am at Grand Lake Road Fire Dept. All proceeds go towards Loaves and Fishes, and tickets are $15 per couple! Call 902-317-1389 for tickets.

NEW BRUNSWICK:

Kristi Stuart and the New Brunswick team shared these tips.

  • Outdoor Skating: Plan a romantic evening of outdoor skating at the Arts & Culture Park in Quispamsis, or skate to music under the stars at Lily Lake Pavilion in Saint John. Bring some hot chocolate and snacks for afterwards and have a romantic winter picnic
  • Plan a romantic stroll through Rockwood Park: Bundle up, grab your loved one, and embark on a romantic stroll through Rockwood Park. Bring some hot chocolate and snacks and have a romantic winter picnic after your walk
  • Cook a romantic dinner together: Staying in is a great way to save money, and enjoying a meal at home can be more romantic than eating dinner in a noisy, crowded restaurant. Set the stage with candles, and dig out the good dishes and wine glasses!

If your debt load is causing you stress beyond trying to plan the perfect Valentines Day gift, contact one of our debt help professionals near you for a free, no obligation debt consultation.

Find the fun in scrimping and saving – strategies to knock debt out

OK, with the New Year a week in, how is your resolution doing? Finances seem to be one of the items topping the list this year for Canadians. You may have holiday shopping, entertaining or travel bills that need paying. Let’s not forget those credit card balances you’ve been carrying for a while. But how do you make room in an already tight budget and figure out which debt to tackle first.

So, it’s time to look around and find creative ways to ‘scrimp’, cut back, change things up and presto: extra money to apply to that holiday (or old) debt and then eventually add to our savings.

Where to start? There are some easy, tried and true ways that when added together really can result in more money in your wallet.

How about nixing the daily coffee fix? If you buy one $4 latte each day, that coffee habit will set you back $28 a week, about $120 a month and $1,460 per year. Keep that up for five years, and you’ve slurped away $7,300, not including any money you might have earned by investing your cash instead.

Take a look at your cable TV, Internet and smart phone contracts too. Candidly telling your supplier you intend to make savings can actually result in some! Discuss the packages and contracts you have and see where you can remove TV channels that you don’t watch, eliminate phone features you don’t need . . . or perhaps where bundling services can result in overall cost savings. Perhaps you no longer need a landline. And, when your smart phone contract comes up for renewal, consider forgoing the tempting upgrade to new technology and stay off contract with a streamlined package of services at a reduced fee.

We all know that eating out can be a significant drain on finances. So too, can be daily visits to the grocery store. It’s proven that popping in for milk typically leads to the purchase of at least three other impulse items. Instead, take time on the weekend to plan a week’s worth of meals and purchase all the supplies in one shopping trip. Quadruple make and freeze favourites like Chili that can serve several meals. Utilize a crock pot slow cooker too: prepare quickly before you head out the door and return to a meal all ready to go – and a great smelling house! Of course, it always helps to use coupons if you have them (look on line and print off) and check with your preferred grocery store as to which day of the week has the most cost savings and offers.

Other small ways to cut back:

  • Cancel magazine subscriptions or agree with friends to share the cost and circulate the issues.
  • Give up expensive habits like smoking and alcohol.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that can easily cut your energy bill by 10 to 20% (check out the NEST).
  • Stretch the gaps between hair cuts or colour treatments – after all Ombre is a trend.
  • Before shopping for new clothes, clean out your closet and figure out where you can re-style and re-purpose some of what you already have. You may be able to sell some items at a consignment store or re-discover outfits that you can adapt or re-incorporate into your current favourites.
  • Don’t spend a lot of money entertaining your children. They mostly crave time with you . . . so implement fun no-cost family activities like tobogganing nearby, or movie and game nights at home where everyone unplugs from devices and spends quality time together.

The money you save may later help fund a great family vacation!

If you or a family member are facing financial struggles or would like some help with managing your debt, one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available to help and you may not need to go bankrupt. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free from anywhere in Western Canada 310 8888. Visit us online at www.GTDebt.ca or www.GT.Alger.ca.



Which is the best method for paying down debt: Snowball or Avalanche?

Avalanche method recommends paying highest interest debt first, while snowball advocates smallest amount first.

Many of us have used our credit cards, cash advances and borrowed money over the holidays, shopped our way though the malls, ordered online and picked up gift cards for our friends, family, coworkers and picked up those little secret Santa gifts, all of this adding to the costs of the holidays. We purchased a turkey or ham, all of the trimmings, some spirits, made baked goods and bought boxes of chocolates.

Aside from the 5lbs you would like to lose, how many of us are going to be going on a debt diet over the next few months? Which is the best method to conquer those few debt pounds we plan to lose?

Blake Elyea, from our Vancouver office spoke to Canadian Press about some of his thoughts regarding the Avalanche method and the Snowball method, but which will work best for you?

‘Avalanche’ involves paying highest interest first

The avalanche method involves tackling the highest interest rate debts first — an approach that can save you money on interest payments, but may require more willpower if your highest-interest debts are also the largest ones.

“Mathematically that’s the best approach,” Elyea says. “However, you’re not going to see the instant results necessarily as quickly with that approach. It’s going to take more discipline.”

If you’re going to adopt the avalanche approach, you should be checking your balance and tracking progress and making a small budget to reward yourself when you reach your  short term goals.

‘Snowball’ method tackles small debt first

The snowball approach, popularized by U.S. radio and TV personality Dave Ramsey, involves tackling your debts from smallest to largest.

Knocking off the smallest balances first — while maintaining the minimum payments on all the other debts — gives the debtor some “quick wins,” making it a good approach for those who need to see some instant results in order to stay motivated, says Elyea.

“We all like instant gratification,” says Elyea. “We want to see that we’re making progress.”

It’s your choice

Although the avalanche method will save money on interest payments compared with the snowball technique, Elyea says any strategy that involves taking stock of your financial situation and actively tackling your debt load is a good one.

“If you have a structured way you’re going to approach your debt, either method is going to get you there,” says Elyea. “One might take you a bit longer than the other.”

If you are in a position where your debts feel overwhelming, one option might be to get a free consultation from a licensed trustee, not only can a trustee assist with helping you to plan and budget, but they may be able to offer additional debt reduction suggestions such as a  consumer proposal, an informal proposal to creditors, and, in certain situations to file for bankruptcy.

Whatever your financial situation may be after the holidays, if you feel financially hungover, there are options, take stock, develop a plan and reach out for help if needed.

Grant Thornton – Canada | We provide solutions for people with debt and financial challenges.

If you are facing financial struggles or would like some help with managing your debt—one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available, ask us about a consumer proposal. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free at 310 8888.

Excerpts adopted from the Canadian Press article: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/debt-experts-recommend-avalanche-strategy-but-snowball-works-too-1.2886215