Tip #1

You’re pregnant! Break out the sparkling apple juice – and your calculator. It’s time to get real with your finances, and that means figuring out how your reduced maternity leave income and the costs of having a wee one soon will affect your household budget.

Tip #2

Luckily for us, maternity clothing has come a long way since our mother’s mumus. Yes, you adore that hot pink paisley blouse. But if you buy only a few coordinating items in neutral colours and styles, dramatic and inexpensive accessories will make you look like a prima preggo.

Tip #3

Some provinces now allow you to apply for your newborn’s Social Insurance Number immediately after the birth. Take advantage of this – the sooner you get that SIN, the sooner you can start contributing to a regular RESP. Even a small monthly contribution will add up, especially considering the matching 20% government grant. Cha-ching!

Tip #4

The permanent exhaustion that accompanies a new baby in the house is a great excuse for ordering in every night, but you’ll be eating your way through their diaper and degree money. Give meal planning a try, and you’ll save calories and cash.

Tip #5

Dance, swimming, soccer, hockey, music, gymnastics. It’s all available for your tiny tot, sometimes at startling prices. Resist the temptation to over-register your preschooler, and instead try one activity per season. It’ll leave time for spontaneous fun too! Check your local community or recreational centre first for cut-rate classes on those your can’t miss.

Tip #6

Overwhelmed by massive toddler birthday parties that seem like nothing more than gift grabs? Us too. Here’s a tip – it’s ok to decline! And unlike weddings, you don’t have to send a gift in absence. Reclaim your Saturday mornings for cuddles and cartoon instead of celebration chaos.

Tip #7

Dedicate a three-ring binder to storing receipts and warranty cards for all the significant baby products you buy. It’ll make it easier to get a refund or exchange if anything is recalled. Stay up-to-date on Canadian recalls at
Health Canada’s Website.

Tip #8

Registering for your baby shower is a great way to help your guests ensure they buy something you actually need. Be sure to add a few big ticket items to the list, in case a group of friends or coworkers want to go in on a gift. It can also make returns easier if you accidentally receive doubles.

Tip #9

If you’re going the disposable route, buying a pack of diapers at each grocery visit may not save you money, it will spread out the financial burden once baby, and takes one more thing off your To Do list during those crazy first few months.

Tip #10

Setting up a weekly date night is a marriage saver, even if all you do is talk about the kids (it’s hard not to, I know!). If you don’t have willing grandparents or aunties and uncles, find another set of parents you can swap sitting with on a weekly basis.

Tip #11

Skip the prepackaged convenience boxes of raisins, snack packs of crackers, and single serving juices. Instead, buy in bulk and repackage single servings yourself in reusable containers. What’s better for the environment is also better for your wallet!

Tip #12

Pay attention to your fruit basket. If you realize you won’t consume fruit before it goes bad, slice and freeze it for future smoothies, or pair with overripe bananas for a unique twist on your tried and true banana bread recipe.

Tip #13

If you’re an avid coupon cutter, take a good, hard look at your pantry and freezer. Is it filled with food you bought just because you had a coupon? Most households aren’t very adventurous with their menu, and a food item isn’t a good deal if it sits gathering dust or freezer burn.

Tip #14

Bet you didn’t know empty space is costing you money! It is – in your freezer. If your freezer is underused, fill pop bottles or ice cream buckets with water and let them freeze to fill up the space. They run more efficiently when close to full. Better yet, be a savvy shopper and fill the space with screaming deals on frozen food!

Tip #15

Forgo the clothing club that requires you to pay a certain amount of money a month for an annual win, and start a clothing swap instead. Hosted by a different group member each month, it’s a great way to revitalize your wardrobe and turn your trash into someone else’s treasure.

Tip #16

There’s a reason it’s called ‘guiltware.’ The real reason home party shoppers spend so much money at these events is because of subliminal peer pressure and guilt. Take a catalogue but skip the party – if you really want something a week, a month, or a year later, you can contact the sales rep and spend money on your own terms.

Tip #17

If you participate in some sort of rewards program with your credit card or bank, check and see if they offer merchandise redemptions. You may never earn enough for a luxury vacation, but you might have enough to replace ancient kitchen appliances or snag a free movies passes for date night.

Tip #18

Never, ever, buy anything at first sight. If you can’t go back for the items a few days later after having time to reconsider, at least leave the store for ten minutes. Distance doesn’t make the heart grow fonder when it comes to spending money – it usually offers much needed perspective.

Tip #19

Unplug all appliances when not in use. All appliances continue to draw electricity while the products are turned off. In fact, studies suggest nearly 75% of all electricity used to power electronics is consumed by products that are switched off.

Tip #20

Rethink your vocabulary. Telling yourself or your children that you can’t afford something creates negativity around money and spending. Instead, say, “I’m choosing not to spend my money on this product,” – it’s a more accurate statement, and gives you back control over your emotional relationship with money.

Tip #21

Cut back your television package and not only will you save money, but you’ll have more time to spend with your loved ones. The average Canadian watches more than 25 hours of boob tube a week – imagine how much more smoothly your house would run if you steal back even just a few of those hours for sleeping, playing, or meal planning.

Tip #22

Bust out the lawnmower (or better yet, the push mower). Mowing your lawn more frequently and at a higher height creates shorter clippings and keeps your lawn well fed, and requires less watering. Speaking of watering, skip the sprinkler and water by hand. You’ll be less likely to overwater.

Tip #23

Invest in mitten clips or go old school and string your child’s mittens through their jacket this winter. You’ll save time searching for accessories (single mitt clips can be used to attach hats to jackets too) and save money when these items are accidentally left at school.

Tip #24

Making crayons is a fun activity to do on a cold winter day. Gather up old, peeled, broken crayons, soak off the paper in warm water, and have your kids sort them by colour. Chop them into smallish pieces and drop into mini muffin tins. A few minutes in a 350 F oven, cool in the freezer, and pop out onto a cloth, and you’ve got fun new crayons in themed colours perfect for playing or gifting.

Tip #25

Instill a love of cooking in your kids as early as 20 months. They can pour, mix and help find ingredients in the pantry even at a young age. It’s a great bonding experience, and encourages participating, conversation, and eating at home instead of eating out.

Tip #26

Considering enrolling your children in music or art classes? Pondering over soccer versus hockey? Not to discount the arts, but sports are, well, discounted. The Child Fitness Tax Credit is a great tax credit for specific athletic programs. Ask if the program you’re considering is eligible.

Tip #27

If you’ve been carrying a balance on your credit card, ask for a lower rate, even if you have to give up your rewards program. Better yet, meet with a bank’s financial services advisor to talk about available debt consolidation options and cut that credit card up!

Tip #28

An hour a week of strategic meal planning will save you hundreds a month in groceries, and reduce food waste. A few cookbooks and a notebook is all you need to start trimming many dollars off your food bill (and a lot of last-minute-fast-food calories from your waistline).

Tip #29

Examine your cell phone bills and usage on a regular basis. It might be time to call your provider and see if there’s a less expensive plan, or one that better accommodates long conversations with your mom or your obsessive mobile Facebook updating.

Tip #30

Less is more, even in cleaning. Try getting away with using a little less of everyday items, like dish soap, shampoo, bubble bath, and laundry detergent. Buying one less bottle of each annually will make the small savings add up.

Tip #31

Have you discovered Freecycle.org yet? This addictive newsgroup allows you to post your soon-to-be-someone-else’s-treasures that you’re willing to part with for nothing. In return, you can find literally everything and everything you might want for free too. My biggest budget saving Freecycle find was a brand new, never used composter.

Tip #32

Killing time online? Get hooked on entering online contests and sweepstakes from reputable companies, and you could snag great gear for yourself, your home, or your kids. Be sure to create a free email account in case they ignore your “no emails from advertisers” requests.

Tip #33

You only buy those $120 hoodies and $90 stretch pants because they’re the best quality, not for the famous curved symbol on the back, right? Admitting you’ve gotten brand-happy is the first step to curbing rampant consumerism. Better, and cheaper, alternatives are out there – find them and save!

Tip #34

Get garage sale ready! There’s nothing like holding a garage sale to earn quick cash, realize how much crap you waste money on, and humble you about how that high end high chair was an “investment.”

Tip #35

Have you ever come across something at a store and thought, I could make that? Why not actually go home and try? Handmade items are the perfect gift, and are sure to be cherished, not returned for store credit because it was a duplicate of another gift.

Tip #36

A night at the movies doesn’t have to give your ATM card the shakes. Ask your corporate friends if they get social club deals where you can buy passes for less or redeem rewards points for a few. When there, choose the least expensive popcorn deal and definitely share.

Tip #37

We all know small children like the packaging better than the presents, so why do we keep buying them expensive plastic toys? Re-purpose “waste” for hours of fun. Empty yogurt cups, plastic spoons from takeout, straws and more can be used in the bath, sandbox or at the beach. Plus you don’t have to stress if another toddler walks off with a few of these toys.

Tip #38

Need a new whatchmacallit? Before you head to a department store with your wallet, ask your friends, via email or a social networking site, if anyone has an extra. You’d be surprised at how many people have extra microwaves, toasters, televisions or end tables gathering dust in their storage they’d be happy to pass on for just the feel-good.

Tip #39

Why are we blaming our grandparents for ruining the environment when they knew better than us the value of reducing and reusing? ‘Make it last’ was that generation’s motto, and it should be ours too. Taking proper care of your possessions by cleaning and storing them properly will help you stretch out your per use value on the things you own.

Tip #40

A home-packed picnic at a playground you’ve never visited is just as exciting to your kids as a pricey trip to the zoo or science centre. Think outside of your neighbourhood for walks and parks and a whole new adventure awaits your kids.

Tip #41

You don’t have to be penny pinching to appreciate the appeal of line-dried clothing. Your whites will be brighter, your clothing fresher smelling, and they’ll wear out more slowly. And yup, you’ll pinch a few pennies too. Combat stiffness with just a few minutes in the dryer.

Tip #42

We could always use another reason to get out with our girls, so why not start a bi-monthly swap party? Make it a potluck event and rotate homes, with everyone bringing stuff they no longer need to trade – books, knick knacks, clothing, toys, even pantry staples!

Tip #43

Garage-saleing can be a nice way to let dad sleep in Saturday mornings if you have an early rising toddler. You can find great stuff for your kids, your home, yourself, for pennies on the cost of new. Great finds include $1 planter pots you can fill with flowers for hostess gifts, books for next to nothing, and don’t forget, you’re helping reduce your dependence on needing new and keeping stuff out of landfills.

Tip #44

Annual coupon books are a waste of money if you don’t use the coupons, or only want one or two. Check with your friends and see if they’ll go splits with you on one, or if they’ll let you pilfer from their book once they’ve pulled out the ones they’ll use.

Tip #45

Dedicate a three-ring binder to storing receipts and warranty cards for all the significant baby products you buy. It’ll make it easier to get a refund or exchange if anything is recalled. Stay up-to-date on Canadian recalls at
Health Canada’s Website.

Tip #46

Registering for your baby shower is a great way to help your guests ensure they buy something you actually need. Be sure to add a few big ticket items to the list, in case a group of friends or coworkers want to go in on a gift. It can also make returns easier if you accidentally receive doubles.

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