Posts Tagged "money"


The best time to buy things in 2020: You love to shop, so why not get the best deal? – National

by BBG Hub

If you’re a savvy shopper, chances are you like scoring a serious deal.

But between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and Travel Tuesday, it can be hard to know exactly when the best time is to make a purchase.

From welders to surgeons, the most in-demand jobs for 2020

So when is it a good time to buy a new phone or book that vacation?

Here, experts share their shopping tips so consumers can get the best deal possible.

Laptops, cell phones and technology

It may feel as if a new cell phone model comes out every week, but knowing the product cycle of a brand can help you save money.

Sylvain Sénécal, a marketing professor at HEC Montréal, said manufacturers often have sales around the time of a new product release. These vary based on brand, but he gives the example of Apple iPhones: when a new model comes to market, older models are often slightly discounted.

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“Maybe some retailers also have [older] products left over, so they will discount those products,” he said.

New models of electronics often come out in October or early November, personal finance and travel expert Barry Choi said. If you can hold off on buying a device as soon as it’s released, you can often get a deal on Black Friday, which is in late November.

Tips for Thrift Store Wardrobe Shopping

Tips for Thrift Store Wardrobe Shopping

“I knew that Google always had a sale on Black Friday, so I didn’t buy their new Pixel phone on launch day,” Choi said. “I waited a month and a half and I was right: it was $250 off.”

Plus, most manufacturers often scale back on deals until big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Sénécal added. This means if a TV or speaker is going to go on sale, your best bet outside of old-model sales is on these days.

“We won’t see many big discounts from brands because they’re waiting for that moment; they know that people will shop seriously during these specific days,” he said.

“There’s no need to put out discounts just before.”


Sénécal said new appliances are often brought to the market in the fall.

This means manufacturers will often mark down existing models to make room for new ones during this time, resulting in discounts for consumers who are happy with an older make.

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4 financial resolutions to really get a handle on your money in 2020

Choi said you can often still score deals from brands like LG in January and February.

“If you want a discount on older models you can get a deal because a lot of merchants are trying to push out their inventory,” he explained.

Gym memberships

Gyms and workout studios will often offer new clients deals before the new year, but Choi suggests waiting until January or February before taking advantage of deals.

The reason? Many people pay for memberships in early January before discovering how often they will actually use the gym, which can be a bad financial decision.

Instead of signing up for a year-long membership on Jan. 1, try the gym or workout studio for a month to see if you like it, Choi said. Come February, you’ll know if the purchase is worth it.

How to understand your money and get a grip on your finances

How to understand your money and get a grip on your finances

“If you give it that month, six weeks, then you really get a good idea and know if you’re committed,” Choi said.

Flights and travel packages

You don’t need to book a vacation a year in advance in order to get a discount. Choi says if you’re looking for a tour, booking a season ahead is often enough for a better rate.

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For a summer tour, start searching in the spring. Likewise, any fall tours should be booked in the summer.

When it comes to airfares, Choi says airlines have sales throughout the year. By subscribing to airline newsletters, you can be notified as soon as a seat sale is happening.

“Airlines always have different deals, like Boxing Day, Blue Monday — but those are one-day events,” he said.

Hidden fees and other things to know before booking a cruise

Travel companies like G Adventures, however, often have sales during specific times of the year, including in January.

“Companies such as Air Canada Vacations, Sunwing [packages], they both frequently have discounts at this time of the year where you can save anywhere from 20 to 50 per cent off depending on where you want to go and what type of property you’re looking for,” Choi said.

The more flexible you are with your travel dates and location, the better. Choi said if you have a specific date in mind, like March break, you’re less likely to score a deal.

“If you’ve got some flexibility, you’ll be able to save money in some way.”

Winter clothing

Winter clothing can go on sale as early as Black Friday, but nearly every retailer clears out cold-weather gear starting on Boxing Day.

Choi said these deals often extend into February and March, meaning you can still get discounts well into the new year.

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Money123: How to build credit from scratch

Money123: How to build credit from scratch

The problem with waiting until January, however, is that stock is typically low. This means your clothing size may sell out in December, so waiting to save a bit more money on a further markdown will be useless.

Choi said it’s best to buy winter clothing as soon as it’s reduced so you get what you need.

Late December and early January is also a great time to buy any winter sporting equipment, he said. This can include skis, snowboards and skates.

“A lot of merchants are again trying to clear them out as they’re trying to bring in bikes for the spring,” he said. “They want to get rid of the excess stock, and of course, that means big discounts.”

Holiday decorations

Come Dec. 26, Christmas-related items typically go on sale. These include wrapping paper, decor and holiday-themed gift sets.

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The same goes for other holidays, like Valentine’s Day or Easter, when retailers clear out candy, gifts and cards.

Choi previously told Global News that anything a store has overstocked for the holidays is a good option as well, which could include clothing, toys, video games or electronics from big box stores.

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“Quite often, you see big sales on those items because they’re just trying to clear everything out that they didn’t sell for over the holidays.”

Pro tips

For online shopping, Choi suggests using a browser extension like Honey or Dealhack. These tools scan the internet for deals and promo codes and automatically apply relevant discounts to your purchase.

Money123: Retail tactics that get you spending

Money123: Retail tactics that get you spending

You can also sign up for retailers’ newsletters to get notifications when they are having sales, Choi said. Sometimes brands will even send out discount codes to subscribers or special offers.

Sénécal warns, however, not to get too spend-happy on days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. While you can certainly score some great deals, many items won’t be marked down as significantly as the select, promoted products are.

“The idea is to attract consumers with a couple of these big deals, but obviously there’s a limited quantity of these items,” Sénécal said.

“People go and visit the store or the website to look for that specific product, but then if it’s not available anymore, they still see all these exciting deals. So maybe they’ll settle for the second-best option that’s 30 per cent off, not 60.”

This year, we’re hoping to take the focus away from making resolutions and put it towards resetting some of the most important parts of our lifestyle: everything from our finances to parenting and more. Each day this week, we will tackle a new topic with the help of the Global News’ ‘The Morning Show.’ Read them all here.  

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Don’t fall for these ‘money-saving’ schemes targeting holiday shoppers – National

by BBG Hub

Holiday marketers have your number — and they know how to entice you to spend.

You try to rein it in, but two favorite strategies can lead to spending more, according to a 2018 survey by the Center for the New Middle Class, a research organization funded by Elevate, which lends to credit-challenged borrowers.

Consumers who shopped at sales were 50 per cent more likely to say they spent more than they expected. Among shoppers who used coupons, 38.5 per cent said they overspent.

READ MORE: Christmas shopping could put 62 per cent of millennials in debt

Many shoppers try to be careful instead of making a spending plan. Using a budget can feel like it’s wringing the joy out of a happy season. Why? Giving feels good, says Jeff Kreisler, co-author of Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.

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But simply being careful doesn’t work, “because a lot of the reasons we make poor financial decisions are unconscious,” says Kreisler, who is editor in chief of, which applies behavioral science to the marketplace.

However, you can position yourself to recognize — and overcome — overspending triggers.

Use the best defense: A holiday budget

Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, a financial coach and founder of the Fiscal Femme website, advises setting aside time — not over an hour — to list holiday expenses.

Build in a buffer, because you’ll forget some things. But you’ll be better off if you have a number in mind, she says.

Be realistic, not rigid, about your budget. Otherwise, controlling expenses can seem so futile you don’t bother trying, she says. “It’s like being on a strict diet and figuring if you cheated and had a cookie, you may as well eat the whole bag.”

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

Gifts ideas under $50 for everyone on your shopping list

If you worry about overspending, consider getting a prepaid gift card in that amount, Kreisler says. It can help you stay aware of what you are spending and what’s left.

Having a successful holiday spending plan may also inspire you to create a budget to help you achieve financial goals throughout the year.

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Understand how sales can cost you

Shopping sales can be smart, but only if you’re strategic and aware of the psychology at play.

Kreisler says if you see a $100 cashmere sweater marked down to $40, your brain registers “saving $60.” Train yourself to translate that to “spending $40” and compare how it fits into your spending plan.

Then, figure out how much the sweater is worth to you. Would you still want it if $40 was the regular price? It’s the same sweater and the same money but minus the rush of feeling that you got a deal.

READ MORE: Friends, bosses and in-laws — How much should you spend on holiday gifts?

Watch out for impulse purchases, too.

Gerstley says she’s encountered products she never knew existed while shopping (think cell phone sanitizer or weighted blanket) and suddenly wanted them. Badly.

She’s a fan of “the 48-hour rule”: Put the item back on the shelf or abandon your virtual cart, and if you still want it 48 hours later, go ahead and buy it. Often you won’t, she says.

Understand that marketers use one-day sales or even shorter buying windows to create urgency. Fear of missing out can lead to poor decisions; buy only the items you intended to anyway.

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Know the trouble with coupons

Coupons can save you money — or tempt you to upgrade because of your “savings.”

Kreisler says a coupon is great if you’ve been waiting for a discount to buy something specific on your list. If you’ve done your research and buy the item you intended to, using a coupon to drop the price, then you really are saving.

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

Ask an Expert: Holiday Parenting Tips

As with sales, it’s important to focus on your spending, not your “savings.” If you have a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase or $30 off a $100 purchase, would you spend more to “save” more? Stick with what you intended to spend.

Keep these tips in mind as you shop

Kreisler offers these additional tips for spending less:

— Imagine how the holidays would be different if you spent a little less on a particular gift. Would it really detract from the joy?

— If you cannot afford to reciprocate with a gift of equal monetary value, consider giving something else of value, such as offering an evening of child care or creating a painting. Write a note about why you chose the gift especially for the recipient.

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— If you want to trim your gift list, discuss it with friends and family shortly after the holidays, when warm feelings abound. Announcing it late in the year isn’t a great idea.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Own a house with your partner? Here’s what happens if you break up – National

by BBG Hub

The last thing you expect when you buy a home with your long-term partner is to break-up shortly after.

But that’s exactly what happened to Nora, who asked Global News to change her name for privacy reasons.

Nora and her boyfriend dated for about three years before they decided to buy a house together in an Ontario suburb.

At the time, she was given financial advice to put the home in her name because she was earning more money while her partner was finishing school. Nora also took advantage of the government’s first-time homebuyers tax credit.

READ MORE: ‘Normalize it’: How to discuss adoption, donor conception with your child

Only a year after living in the home together, Nora and her boyfriend split. They didn’t have any formal agreement about their property and who would be responsible for paying what.

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Their mortgage was in Nora’s name, and the couple had another personal loan, too.

“I ended up getting a lawyer because I was very unsure [of my rights] and it was a ton of money we were talking about,” Nora said.

“She unfortunately advised me that he could get up and walk away if he really wanted to, and I would have to take him to court to try and get the money that he owed,” she said.

Must-have tips for first time home buyers

Must-have tips for first time home buyers

Thankfully, Nora and her ex-boyfriend came to an agreement through her lawyer. The pair decided they would sell the house, and he would be responsible for his half of their outstanding debt.

“I was, in all honesty, very lucky, but it was incredibly stressful,” said Nora.

“I had no idea the sort of risk I took.”

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The importance of a cohabitation agreement

Nora’s experience is not that uncommon. More Canadians are in common-law relationships today than in the past, data shows, and many are buying homes together.

More than one-fifth of all couples — 21 per cent — were living common law in 2016, according to Statistics Canada. This is a big jump from about 6 per cent in 1981.

READ MORE: More millennials are signing prenups — and experts say that’s a good thing

What’s more, the government agency says many adults now choose to live common law before marriage. The latest available data found that 39 per cent of married 25- to 64-year-olds lived common law with their current spouse before getting married.

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But common-law partners don’t have the same rights married couples do, and many don’t understand the risks of buying a home together, says Diana Isaac, a family lawyer at Toronto’s Shulman Law Firm.

In Ontario where Isaac practices, common-law couples do not have any automatic rights to property like married couples do. This means if a couple lives together but their home is only in one person’s name, as in Nora’s case, a cohabitation agreement is important.

A cohabitation agreement is essentially a contract that outlines how a couple will deal with assets like property and spousal support should they break-up or one person dies, Issac says. It helps prevent future legal issues, and clearly outlines who owns what.

Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting

Denmark’s new divorce laws mean couples have to wait before splitting

These agreements are especially vital if property is only in one person’s name (i.e. “on title”) but both parties put money into it. Cohabitation agreements are also valuable when one partner moves into another person’s house, and begins contributing to the household.

This is because if a couple splits, each person keeps whatever they technically own — including property.

“If the person is not on title and they have contributed to the home, the title would take precedence,” explained Isaac.

“The individual that is not on title would have to prove their contributions by way of a trust claim in order to have an equitable interest, which becomes very complicated and very costly.”

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In cases like Nora’s, if she and her boyfriend didn’t come to a post-split agreement, she would have been on the hook for the house, Isaac said.

READ MORE: Canadians fear debt almost as much as they fear death

“When that mortgage statement comes through and your name is on there, you’re responsible for it.”

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Laws vary across Canada for common-law spouses

Common law legislation varies from province to province. In Ontario, couples are considered common law if they’ve lived together for three years or more. If they have a child together, a couple becomes common law sooner.

In B.C., couples are considered common law if they’ve shared a home in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or they’ve lived together under two years but have a child together.

Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit

Money 123: the drawbacks of home equity lines of credit

The Civil Code of Quebec currently does not recognize common-law couples (or “de facto spouses” as they’re called in the province). In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that Quebec does not have to give common-law spouses the same rights as married couples.

In 2018, efforts were put forward to change Quebec’s legislation regarding common-law couples.

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In Manitoba, all laws in the province governing property rights of married couples are applicable to common-law partners who have been living together in “a conjugal relationship for at least three years.” Common-law couples can also register their relationship at the Vital Statistics Agency.

It is important couples understand the laws in their province so they can make informed decisions. Isaac suggests couples talk to a lawyer to draft cohabitation agreements prior to moving in together.

READ MORE: ‘The current system is broken’: changes coming to Sask. divorce and separation laws

Nora wishes she knew about Ontario’s laws earlier. She wants unmarried partners to know it’s important both parties protect themselves if they’re going to put money into property together.

If her ex didn’t agree to cover his half of their home, it would have been up to her to figure it out.

“When it was deemed that there was no way this relationship was going to be salvageable … I had no interest staying in [the house],” she said.

“It just had too many bad memories.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canadians fear debt almost as much as they fear death: survey – National

by BBG Hub

When Canadians were asked in a survey to rank their biggest fears, death was ranked the highest — and debt was a close second.

In fact, respondents said they are more afraid of debt than they are of public speaking, climate change and even spiders.

The October survey, conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, collected data from 1,052 Canadians over the age of 18.

READ MORE: How Canadians go from student debt to default

Forty-three per cent of Canadians reported that they lose sleep over their finances, with the top concerns keeping them up at night being debt (57 per cent), a lack of savings (55 per cent) and retirement planning (22 per cent).

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Among the most common financial fears were surprise or unexpected expenses (44 per cent) and not having enough to retire (38 per cent).

Generational differences

These fears aren’t completely unjustified. Recent data from IPSOS found that the average Canadian is $200 or less each month away from insolvency, including 26 per cent who report having no funds leftover at the end of the month.

Should Canadians be worried about the debt the government has accumulated?

Should Canadians be worried about the debt the government has accumulated?

The report also provides some interesting insights into how different generations think about finances. Millennials and Gen X reported being most concerned about having enough savings to retire, while Gen Z is most worried about unemployment.

Although the age ranges are debated, millennials are generally understood to be born anywhere between 1981 and 1996, while members of Gen Z were born in 1997 onward. Gen X is loosely defined as being born between 1965 and 1979.

The closer Canadians get to retirement, the more worried they become about their retirement savings. Only 26 per cent of Gen Z reported feeling worried about having enough money to retire, while 36 per cent of millennials and 40 per cent of Gen X said the same.

READ MORE: Your car-loan payment may be way too high. Here’s what’s happening

However, younger respondents were more likely to avoid dealing with financial problems.

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Thirty-two per cent of millennials with occasional financial fears reported avoiding calls from a lender, and 30 per cent said they’ve avoided looking at their credit card statement at some point.

The results also show, however, that younger generations are becoming more comfortable with asking peers for financial advice.

Flashfood app helps save money on groceries and reduce food waste

Flashfood app helps save money on groceries and reduce food waste

Forty-one per cent of Gen Z and millennials said they occasionally ask peers for advice, compared to only 20 per cent of Gen X respondents.

This could have to do with how different generations view money. According to the report, roughly 50 per cent of Gen X view finances as a “private matter,” compared to 37 per cent of millennials and 29 per cent of Gen Z.

The results of the survey may surprise you, but they didn’t shock Monisha Sharma, head of business development at Credit Karma.

READ MORE: Canadian consumer debt just keeps growing — but here’s why it’s not a problem yet

“I was most surprised to see Canadians are as afraid of debt as death, [but] this makes sense when you consider so much of what we are afraid of is rooted in the fear of the unknown,” she told Global News.

Sharma has seen first-hand how finances can be intimidating and overwhelming.

“Without having a full picture of their finances and credit health, it can be very stressful to know where to start,” Sharma said.

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These are the 3 money disorders to look out for: expert

These are the 3 money disorders to look out for: expert

“Anecdotally, we’ve heard from members who will sometimes spend money that they don’t have when they feel stressed. That can perpetuate the cycle of debt because it leads to stress when the next bill comes.”

The number of people who lose sleep over financial fears is especially worrisome for Sharma.

“This is concerning from a financial standpoint, but also for Canadians’ overall health and well-being,” she said.

Sharma recommends first getting “in-the-know” about what could be causing your financial struggles, and then devising a plan to improve them.

Possible reasons why Canadians struggle with money

Personal finance expert Barry Choi believes the financial woes of Canadians stem from one central issue: the cost of living is rising, but wages are staying the same.

“Costs just keep going up,” he told Global News. “Tuition costs, post-secondary education, student debt … that’s nothing new.”

“It’s getting higher and higher, and it seems like wages aren’t catching up.”

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Another thing that can contribute to financial fears is the Canadian real estate market, which seems to grow more unattainable by the day.

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“For young people, especially in Canada, if you live in major markets [like] British Columbia or Ontario, real estate is a big concern for many people,” Choi said. “They’re seeing the cities they grew up in and they already don’t feel like they’ll ever be able to afford a home [there].”

Ultimately, Choi says some tough decisions will need to be made by upcoming generations if they want to be able to climb out of debt and eventually retire.

Steps you can take to feel better about your finances

For starters, moving away from expensive markets, like Vancouver and Toronto, to smaller, more affordable markets can make a huge difference in how much you’re able to save — but that’s easier said than done.

Choi also recommends living with your parents for as long as possible, if that’s an option available to you.

“If your parents aren’t charging you rent or a minimal amount of rent, that obviously will benefit you a lot,” he said. “I feel like a lot of my peers moved out a lot earlier than previous generations, only to get saddled with debt.”

READ MORE: Instagram influencer racked up $10K in debt for online fame, and Canadians aren’t immune

Choi isn’t suggesting living with your parents into your 50s, but “it’s not really a bad thing” to stay at home a little bit longer than usual, he said.

The easiest action people can take, at any age, is closely examining their budget over a period of a few months.

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“If they don’t have a budget, they should start making one,” Choi said.

Need to do groceries? Here are 3 things to consider to save money

Need to do groceries? Here are 3 things to consider to save money

Sharma backs this up.

“Our survey found 44 per cent of Canadians would rather organize their closet than plan a budget,” she said. “However, knowing how to make a budget that works can be a key way to prepare so you don’t feel so anxious about your finances.”

If you have a budget, track it closely for a few months to see where you’re losing a lot of money.

READ MORE: Here’s a $50 grocery list for an entire week of healthy eating

“Often you realize, ‘Hey, I’m spending too much on subscription services. I don’t really need Netflix, HBO and cable all at the same time,’” Choi said.

“If you live in a condo, do you really need a separate gym membership if you’ve got a gym in your building?

“It’s the small things. Cutting back on that will help increase the cash flow.”

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In attempting to cut “the small things,” Sharma recommends managing money expectations with family and friends.

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“It might seem awkward at first, but talking with friends and family about expectations for spending can help a lot,” she said.

Does your debt make you undateable?

Does your debt make you undateable?

Finally, Sharma says it’s important to track your credit score — even if it seems intimidating at first.

“It’s important to have an idea of your credit health because having poor credit could increase what you pay for loans, prevent you from renting an apartment and even disqualify you from financial products,” she said.

Learning how to improve your credit — like “making on-time payments and paying off balances,” said Sharma — and implementing those changes can be a huge help.

Invest in your future

When it comes to saving for retirement, Choi recommends focusing less on learning about how to save and more on how to advance your career.

“Saving is important, but your best investment is in yourself,” he said. “Increase your skills, get a job promotion. Increasing your earning potential is almost more important.”

That said, the earlier you learn about personal finance, “the better off you are.”

READ MORE: This student racked up $100K in student debt — here’s how

“A lot of people are turning to friends, which is a good start,” Choi said. “Blogs, personalities, even TV segments are out there. But you can even just pick up a book.” (Choi’s favourite is Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School.) 

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“If you read one book, you’re instantly already in better shape because you start to understand the basics. Once you understand the basics, you can build that foundation.”

Money 123: How to buy a car without plunging into debt

Money 123: How to buy a car without plunging into debt

Combining all of these small actions — reading books, understanding your costs and reducing monthly fees — will slowly improve your finances over time.

“There’s no reason to be afraid,” Choi said. “Once you’ve established [a relationship] with money, you can rebuild from there.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hiring a babysitter? Here’s how much you should pay them – National

by BBG Hub

When Lauren Bondar and her husband have work commitments or want to go out on a Saturday night out, the first thing on their minds is finding someone to take care of their children.

Bondar, a public relations worker at a Toronto-based firm, has a 20-month-old daughter and three-year-old son, so leaving the kids at home alone is not an option.

The options — namely nannies or babysitters — have different pros and cons. Most nannies will have set rates and no wiggle room for negotiating, says Bondar, while babysitters or teens open to minding children are more likely to be willing to haggle.

READ MORE: Parents feel squeezed by child-care costs. Here’s where they want help

Bondar finds nannies typically charge between $15 and $18 per hour of care. Teens, who often ask their parents for advice about rates, will cost you anywhere from $12 to $15 an hour.

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If either a babysitter or a nanny asks you to propose a rate, Bondar recommends considering the minimum wage and asking around for suggestions. There are babysitting and mom Facebook groups, where people trade advice or you can ask other mothers you know, but Bondar warns that the goal shouldn’t be to find the cheapest option.

“You don’t want to undercut people who are helping you look after your children because I don’t think that fosters a long-term reciprocal relationship,” she says.

The going rate for babysitters climbing to minimum wage and beyond

The going rate for babysitters climbing to minimum wage and beyond

Deciding what to pay your babysitter and nanny doesn’t just depend on their level of experience. The length of time you’ll need child-care for, the time of day and how many kids should be part of the calculation.

Bondar says having two children instead of one doesn’t mean that she typically pays more because she is often leaving the children in the evening, when they will be in bed and hopefully asleep for most of the time.

Even daytime gigs where the kids will be taken out somewhere don’t often vary in price, she says.”In the summer, we had one of my son’s camp counsellors, who was a teenager, come take him out for the morning with another friend of his, who also went to camp,” Bondar recalls.

READ MORE: ‘Babysitting while Black’: Woman calls police on man looking after white children

“I didn’t ask her rate, but we offered her $20 an hour, and had two almost four-year-olds with her. She seemed thrilled by that and it seemed fair knowing she had two kids.”

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Bondar says she doesn’t tip her babysitters, but finds other ways to ensure they understand how grateful she and her husband are for their service. “If we were to get home at 10:30 at night, we pay them until 11,” she says.

Actions like that can go a long way during the holiday season, Friday nights or on weekends, when the demand for sitters and nannies is higher and babysitters could have several families calling looking for help.

Winning the Canadian female vote – Part 2: Child care

Winning the Canadian female vote – Part 2: Child care

“You want to treat the person fairly from the onset, so if you call them and you are in a pinch, when you need them last minute, they’re more inclined to help you,” says Bondar.

If you’re relying on family to mind your children, you can often find yourself in a position of not knowing whether you should pay them or not.

Bondar says she doesn’t pay her father-in-law when he watches the kids, but would fork over money for family members that aren’t grandparents. “I don’t have a little cousin in town, but if I did I would absolutely pay like $15, like I would for a teenager,” she says.

“I’m sure they would insist not to, but I would want to order them dinner or give them a bit of money because they are helping you out.”

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© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Skincare brand Sunday Riley wrote fake Sephora reviews for 2 years: FTC – National

by BBG Hub

Skincare brand Sunday Riley reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the U.S. on Monday after the brand was accused of writing fake reviews on Sephora’s website for two years.

Sephora, one of the biggest beauty retailers in North America, can show customers hundreds of products ranked based on ratings and user reviews.

The FTC noted employees of Sunday Riley were told to write fake reviews on the website, while also “disliking” negative reviews, CNN reported. The company was also charged with two violations of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Sunday Riley agreed to no longer use employees to write fake reviews, the FTC reported. But the company did not admit to the allegations or receive further punishment.

READ MORE: Vancouver restaurant owner fires back at one-star online review

“The Commission’s investigation confirmed the whistleblower’s claim and found that the scheme to generate fake reviews of Sunday Riley products involved Ms. [Sunday] Riley herself,” FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter said in a statement.

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“Rather than relying on satisfied customers to generate real buzz about her products, she directed her employees to write glowing reviews and bury negative ones, while offering detailed instructions on how to avoid detection.”

The Texas-based company posted fake reviews from 2015 to 2017, the report noted. A former employee accused Riley, the company’s CEO, of faking the reviews in 2018 on Reddit.

READ MORE: How to spot growing trend of fake online reviews

In one example, Sunday complained to employees that two of her products were rated “too low.” The CEO wanted to see an overall rating of the products jump from 4.2 to 4.8 or more.

“On another occasion, a manager directed employees to discuss how a Sunday Riley acne mask ‘increases radiance and doesn’t dry out the skin like all other acne masks do’ and ‘works incredible [sic] well compared to the cheaper masks out there,’” the report added.

Earlier this week, Amazon also came under fire after watchdog company Which? found that fake reviews for some of the site’s top-rated and highly reviewed products were misleading customers, the Independent reported.

The watchdog company tested eight products made by “unknown” Chinese companies and sold in the U.K. The company found the Onson cordless vacuum cleaner and headphones by a brand called Yineme did not live up to their reviews. In fact, the products were of poor quality and difficult to use.

“Customer reviews should be a helpful resource for shoppers choosing what to buy and billions of pounds are spent every year based on this feedback, so it’s vital that Amazon takes stronger action to ensure people can trust the information they see online and aren’t duped into buying poor-quality products,” a spokesperson for Which? said.

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Importance of online reviews

The FTC further added that over the last several years, businesses have heavily relied on online reviews to boost sales. One study found one-star rating increases on Yelp, for example, lead to a five to nine per cent increase in sales for the restaurant.

“Another study found that a one-point boost in a hotel’s online ratings at sites like Travelocity and TripAdvisor is tied to an 11 per cent jump in room rates, on average,” the report added.

Many beauty consumers rely on online reviews on sites like Sephora for help making purchases themselves.

Another report from Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center showed when five reviews are added to a product, that product is 270 per cent more likely to be sold, LinkedIn Business reported.

“Our research found that as products begin displaying reviews, conversion rates escalate. Having five reviews causes purchase likelihood to increase by a factor of nearly four times,” the report noted.

And while five-star reviews make a product stand out, they can also lead to suspicion. The report found products rated 4.7 to five, for example, were less likely to be purchased compared to items rated 4.2 to 4.7.

And, not surprisingly, readers always read bad reviews.

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“Readers are skeptical of reviews that are too positive and, in many cases, a negative online review is seen as more credible. Additional research by social commerce specialist Revoo indicates that consumers spend four times as long on a site when they interact with negative reviews, with a 67 per cent increase in conversion rate.”

How to spot fake reviews

Donna Dumont, a marketing and social innovation expert at Mount Royal University in Calgary, previously told Global News there are ways to spot fake reviews.

She said that generally, products with fake reviews get called out very quickly — customers tend to challenge positive reviews by leaving negative ones. If you notice a product has five stars followed by many low-star reviews, it could be a sign the top reviews are fake.

“You’d probably see a trend there and see much more negative reviews versus the very small of percentage of positive if they’re paid.”

READ MORE: Calgary business owner acts fast after false online customer review

Also, expand your research. If you’re buying a new sunscreen, for example, try finding reviews on multiple sites, including skincare blogs, beauty magazines and even on-camera reviews on YouTube.

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If you’re still unsure, you have to take the risk to test the product yourself, she said.

One way to work around this is to ask people you know and trust or read reviews on news sites by neutral parties.

— with files from Tomasia Dasilva 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Money disorder’: When spending leads to cycles of self-destructive behaviour – National

by BBG Hub

It’s not uncommon to have a complicated relationship with money. Some people love to save, and others love to spend.

But for some, it’s more complex, and spending money can lead to a vicious cycle of self-destructive behaviour.

In the book Mind Over Money, co-author Brad Klontz calls such behaviours “money disorders.” He’s an associate professor of practice in financial psychology at Creighton University in Nebraska.

READ MORE: 12 ways to save money on your next grocery bill

Money disorders are defined as “distorted beliefs about money we develop from our financial flashpoint experiences,” Klontz previously wrote in an article for Psychology Today in 2010.

“Financial flashpoints are painful, distressing, and/or dramatic life events associated with money that are so emotionally powerful, they leave a lasting imprint.”

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Klontz outlines three main kinds of money disorders: money avoidance (including financial denial and rejection), money worshipping (like compulsive buying) and relational money (such as hiding spending from your partner, also known as financial infidelity).

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Election 2019: How campaign financing works

By identifying these kinds of disorders, Klontz hopes to help people confront their “money beliefs.” They will then be able to “spot them when they are creeping into [their] minds] and revise them into healthier, more productive ones.”

It’s more than just being “bad with money,” Klontz said in an interview with Huffpost U.S. in April.

Money disorders don’t currently appear as legitimate clinical diagnoses in the “most widely-used medical classifications of diseases and medical disorders in Canada,” said registered psychologist Melanie Badali. Namely, that’s the DSM and the ICD.

READ MORE: Canada election: What federal leaders have pledged on the economy

However, experts like psychotherapist Jupiter Vaughan see how there could be a connection between past experiences, learned behaviour and spending patterns.

He once had a client who was responsible for financially supporting their parents as a teenager, and it shaped the way the client felt about money as an adult.

“Their relationship with money became very distorted,” Vaughan said. “The appropriate [financial relationship to have with your teenager] is to say, ‘here’s an allowance. Please mow the lawn.’ Not ‘help us keep our house.’”

Money Smarts: Impact of financial abuse

Money Smarts: Impact of financial abuse

As an adult, the client had trouble accepting gifts from others. “They were more comfortable with the opposite … with buying things for other people,” he said.

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In the experience of registered psychotherapist Suzanne Dennison, it’s also common to struggle with problematic spending as a symptom of another disorder.

She’s seen people dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety buy something “to make [themselves] feel better or distract [themselves] from everything else that’s going on,” she said. “If I’m out of control, I can take control.”

The different kinds of money disorders

According to Klontz, there are six main types of money disorders.

Financial denial is trying to “minimize money problems by refusing to think about them altogether.”

Financial rejection means you experience guilt “whenever money, of any amount, is accrued.”

Hoarding happens when “stockpiling objects or money provides a sense of safety, security and relief of anxiety,” he said.

READ MORE: How to tell if a side hustle is worth the hassle

Compulsive buying is categorized as “overspending on steroids.” Klontz said people who suffer from this often learned as a child that the ritual of shopping can provide “temporary escape” from worry and anxiety.

Financial infidelity it when you make purchases “outside an agreed-upon budget” with your partner, or lying to your partner about “the cost of a big-ticket item.”

Finally, financial enabling is when you want to give money to others “whether you can afford it or not.”

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How to recognize the symptoms

The first sign that you may be spending money in self-destructive way is that the people around you voice concern.

“Multiple people in your life saying, ‘you know, I think you’re spending too much money on something,’” Vaughan said.

They’re also likely to urge you to rein in the spending, or see a financial advisor.

Why women should be more open about finances

Why women should be more open about finances

However, the problem with money-related issues is that family and friends may be less inclined to voice concern because it’s considered rude or too personal.

“Money is such a weird thing,” Vaughan said.

“It’s not uncommon for people to not be told by somebody other than their family or their spouse, because people feel it’s none of their business.”

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READ MORE: What’s the best way to generate cash from your investments in retirement?

Another sign is that you’re not actually happy about the things you’re buying.

“You realize that, when I’m doing it, I don’t feel in control,” Vaughan said.

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“I’m just buying things that afterwards, when I leave the store, I ask myself, ‘why did I buy it? I don’t even like it.’”

How to unlearn poor spending patterns

The good news is that with the help of a therapist and a financial expert, “everyone can change their money mindset,” Tracey Bissett said. She’s the president of Bissett Financial Fitness.

The first step is to “get an assessment of reality,” she said. This will likely come from those people around you who express concern about your spending habits.

“Don’t discount what they’re saying, especially if you hear the same thing from a few people.”

Stop stressing about your living costs

Stop stressing about your living costs

Once you’ve come to terms with the problem at hand, you will need to “develop a plan, which may include working with a financial coach and/or a psychologist,” said Bissett.

“When I work with people, we focus on their values and goals so that we can create a plan that aligns with what they want their life to be like. Everyone should be focused on what specifically is important to them.”

To shift your perspective away from spending, Bissett recommends focusing on gratitude.

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READ MORE: How quickly should you pay off your student loans? Two money experts share their stories

“This is a proven technique to change your money mindset,” she said. “By appreciating that you woke up in the morning, were healthy enough to get out of bed, have clothes, shelter and food and so on, you start thinking about things as possible and that your life is filled with goodness.”

The last step is to set the plan in motion, and not to worry too much if mistakes are made along the way.

“Recognize the positive changes you’ve made in your life and get yourself back on track without beating yourself up,” Bissett said.

“Be kind to yourself … you will make missteps.”

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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12 ways to save money on your next grocery bill – National

by BBG Hub

It’s easy to overspend at the grocery store.

Sometimes we stock up on too many sale items, other times we get distracted by in-store promotions and often, you’re entire grocery list can change as soon as you walk into a store.

READ MORE: Here’s how a family of 4 could save $3K in groceries every year

Experts will tell you the best way to cut back on costs is to go with a plan — but it can get difficult to start this process. Start with a meal plan, knowing what you want to cook during the week is the best way to ensure you stick to your budget.

Also, go in with a list. Not only will you save money by setting yourself a budget, but you won’t be tempted to pick up those extra items.

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Below, five experts share their top tips on how to save money on your next grocery bill.

You need to start with a plan

“When you dedicate a couple of hours one day to plan out your meals it helps you to be efficient and organized when it comes to grocery shopping,” said registered dietitian Anar Allidina. Start by looking at what’s on sale at your favourite grocery store and come up with meal ideas around those items.

“Plus, by planning your meals your grocery list will be more streamlined and you will likely have fewer grocery store trips and only buy what you need when you are food shopping.”

Get the right apps

Price matching apps like Rebee and Flip can also help, Allidina said. “It takes just a few minutes to look up items that are on sale elsewhere. All you need to do is take a screenshot of the item that is on sale and show the cashier and they will match the price for you.”

Here’s how to eat on a $65/week budget if you live alone

Here’s how to eat on a $65/week budget if you live alone

However, not all Canadian grocery stores offer price matching, so make sure you are aware of the grocery store’s policy before you fill up your cart. “You will be surprised at how much you can save by doing this.”

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Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Going shopping when you’re hungry can easily lead to overspending on food you may not typically buy, said Shahzadi Devje, a registered dietitian and host of the Morrocco Real Food Adventure based in Toronto.

READ MORE: How to save money on groceries every month

We often end up spending more money on junk food. “Shop when you’re less vulnerable to opt for high-calorie foods that may be of low nutritional quality.”

Seasonal food is cheaper

“Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they’re in season,” Devje said. “Find the best buys of the season and purchase in bulk and freeze.”

She also recommends visiting your local farmer’s market to find further deals on local produce. “The prices don’t include shipping costs, which saves you some bucks.”

Not all food has to be fresh

“Buying some food frozen can also help you cut down on cost,” Allidina said. “Frozen produce can sometimes be better than fresh because they’re picked at harvest time and flash-frozen (so all the nutrients are intact) as opposed to fresh veggies and fruit that have traveled from long distances.”

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How much of your budget should you spend on groceries?

How much of your budget should you spend on groceries?

The options are also endless these days. You can find everything from frozen spiralized zucchini noodles to cauliflower rice to cubed butternut squash.

Give beans and lentils a chance

Not only are these plant-based protein sources cheaper than animal protein, but they are also nutritious. “Canned beans and lentils are fine and a great price point but buying dried beans and lentils and prepping them yourself is a major money saver,” Aillidina said.

Order groceries online for pick-up

This may sound odd, but ordering groceries online and picking them up later on will help you save in the long-run — even with an added fee, said Jessica Moorhouse, a millennial money expert and financial counsellor based in Toronto.

“When you order online then pick-up later, you can more easily stick to your grocery list of what you actually need instead of succumbing to impulse buying or hunger shopping which we all do when we’re at the grocery store.”

Bigger is cheaper

Registered dietitian Jessica Tong of Vancouver says instead of buying individual packages of items, look for larger sizes.

“(For example buy a) large block of cheese instead of individual portions, and cartons of 18 eggs instead of six or 12.”

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Look into grocery store reward programs

Again, this also depends on where you live in Canada, but several grocery store chains include reward programs for shopping at their stores. This can include cash-back credit cards or a points system for free groceries. Moorhouse says they are usually free to sign up for.

Tong says stores like Safeway or Metro use the Airmiles rewards program. “If you set your reward preference to cash miles, the miles you accumulate can be used as money off your grocery bills. This is a great way to save money or splurge on gourmet products.”

READ MORE: How a family of four can eat healthy on a budget of $200 a week

Personal finance expert Barry Choi of Toronto adds it does come down to research and figuring out which program works best for you. He recommends also looking into in-store offers. For example, the PC Optimum program often offers 20 points through their Shoppers Drug Mart brand. These points can be used towards groceries at Loblaws or No Frills.

Actually look into what’s on sale

Not only should you meal plan around what’s on sale during the week, but Choi said by simply buying fruit, vegetables and protein on sale will save you anywhere from 25 to 50 per cent in savings. And if you’re up for it and have the time, shop around: sometimes you can find multiple deals at a variety of stores.

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Go to local ethnic grocery stores

For major urban centres, Choi says you can save a lot more money on protein, fruits and vegetables buy shopping at local ethnic grocery stores. Besides this, you will also find a variety of produce.

Stop buying expensive brands

We all have our favourite go-to brands and often, it comes down to taste preferences. But Devje argues when it comes to some products (think flour, sugar, salt and spices), store brands are much cheaper.

$220 per week: That’s the cost of groceries for an average Canadian family

$220 per week: That’s the cost of groceries for an average Canadian family

“Read the nutrition label and ingredient list carefully to compare products, and be sure you’re getting the most for your cash”

Choi says tomato paste, dried beans or even barely, for example, is another product that doesn’t need to be expensive.

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© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Student discounts 2019: The ultimate guide to discounts across Canada – National

by BBG Hub

We all know that a great way to reduce debt while in post-secondary school is to keep a budget. But another way to save some money and cut expenditures is to take advantage of discounts available to students.

“Many businesses, stores and restaurants offer a discounted student rate with proof of enrollment (student card, student discount cards/apps, etc.), which can turn into a big savings for you,” notes the Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan.

That’s especially true for some of the biggest retailers across the country. Many outlets offer deep price cuts on everyday items, even if they don’t broadcast them.

READ MORE: Boy dashes first-day-of-school jitters by consoling boy with autism

So what’s a student to do? If you’re not sure if a store offers a discount, go ahead and ask. You may end up finding more deals than you were bargaining for. And always carry your student ID.

You may also want to peruse the below list of discounts available to students across Canada. From clothing to tech toys, just about every necessity is covered.


Adidas: offers 30 per cent off full-price and an additional 15 per cent off outlet items online to a select number of schools across Canada. Students need to have a valid university email address.

ASOS: This store offers 10 per cent off full-price items online.

Banana Republic: Save 15 per cent on full-price, in-store purchases.

Champion: This store offers 10 per cent off purchases online.

Club Monaco: Both full-price and sale items are 20 per cent off with your valid post-secondary ID. If you’re shopping online, submit your email to receive a code.

Endy: This store is offering a back-to-school sale from Aug. 25 to Sept. 3. Customers will receive $65 off any size of Endy mattress using the promo code SCHOOL65.

Express: This store offers 40 per cent off full-price items, in-store with valid ID and online.

Forever 21: This store offers 15 per cent off full-price items online.

J.Crew: The store offers 15 per cent off when you’re shopping in-store and show a valid school ID at checkout. The offer is only valid on purchases made at J.Crew, J.Crew Factory and J.Crew Mercantile stores.

Kate Spade: Show your student ID and receive 15 per cent off your purchase.

Nike: This store offers 10 per cent off purchases online.

Puma: This store offers 20 per cent off purchases online.

Roots: Students save 15 per cent with SPC cards on regular-priced and sale merchandise.

Sally Beauty Supply: Save on products with your Beauty Student Card from Sally Beauty Supply. You’ll get monthly specials and special email offers to take advantage of.

ShowpoProvides affordable, on-trend clothing for young women and offers all students a 10 per cent discount.

Staples Canada: Between Aug. 7 and Sept. 10, consumers can get a free $10 gift card if they spend over $50 in-store or online.

Ten Thousand Villages: Participates in the SPC Program, a student-exclusive membership that provides discounts and special offers at participating retailers across Canada, both in-store and online.

The Home Depot: From Aug. 15 to Sept. 5, save on Google Home Mini (discounted from $79 to $35), Google Home Max ($399 to $299), and Google Home (30 per cent off). From Sept. 12 to 19, save 20 per cent on select Philips Hue Bridge and indoor Luminaire products.

Tilley: Offers 10 per cent off when you sign up for their email newsletter.

TOMS: Students can get free shipping on all orders of TOMS Shoes; the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy.

TopShop: Students get 10 per cent off. Visit the website for more information.

TO112This beauty and lifestyle brand offers $15 off any purchase over $40.

Urban Outfitters: Save 10 per cent off on specific days with your student ID. Sign up for the Student Program to be told when to use your discount.


Apple: Apple offers special pricing on Apple computers, select software and third-party products to post-secondary students, parents buying for a post-secondary student, and faculty and teachers. Find out if you qualify for education pricing here.

Adobe: Full-time students can receive discounts on software, such as 60 per cent off on Creative Cloud.

Canon’s Student CPS program: Canon Canada offers access to student-specific pricing discounts, membership-exclusive promotions and a 20 per cent discount for repair parts and labour on eligible products.

ESET Internet Security: Students can purchase ESET Internet Security for the same price as their basic protection (for example one device/one year for $39.99).

Henry’s: Show your student ID at your local Henry’s store to receive a 15 per cent discount on Cameron filters, tripods, bags, flashes, video supports and rigs, and lighting equipment and accessories. Also receive a 10 per cent discount on Aputure LEDs, monitors and mics when you show your student ID.

Microsoft: The Microsoft Store offers up to 10 per cent off to students and parents during back-to-school and throughout the year. Visit the Microsoft Store website for more information. Offers highly discounted software (up to 90 per cent off) or free software for eligible students, including titles from Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, VMware, Norton, etc.

Travel and transportation

Air Canada: Air Canada and StudentUniverse teamed up to provide student discounts on airfare. Air Canada also offers the Student Pass, which is a prepaid package of four or six one-way flight credits for one student. You can fly anywhere within Canada or between Canada and the U.S., starting at $134 per flight credit.

Greyhound: A student ID will save you 10 per cent and an ISIC card will save you 25 per cent on a regular adult fare.

StateFarm: Student car insurance is available for post-secondary students looking to find cheap auto insurance.

VIA Rail: Travel between major Canadian cities with an Unlimited Semester Pass starting at $499.

Zipcar: Zipcar has partnered with many schools to offer discounted membership rates to students. Search for your school on Zipcar’s website and register with your school email address. Sign-up rates are usually around $20 for students.


GoodLife Fitness: Student memberships are offered here, including four-month term membership options.

Books and Magazines

The Globe and Mail: The Globe and Mail offers post-secondary students reduced subscription rates for the newspaper and Globe Unlimited.

The New York Times: College students can save 50 per cent off the regular subscription rate. Check the college rate page for all the details.

Tickets and Admission

Art Gallery of Alberta: Free admission to Alberta post-secondary students and youth 17 and under.

Art Gallery of Ontario: All visitors who are 25 and under receive free, unlimited admission to the AGO. Click here to learn more.

Canadian Opera Company: If you’re under the age of 30, you can buy opera tickets for only $22.

Ontario Science Centre: Students with valid ID pay $16 for entry.

National Ballet of Canada: Sign up for the free youth pricing program and get steeply discounted tickets for day-of performances. This deal is open to people aged 16 to 29.

Ripley’s Aquarium: Offers 20 to 30 per cent off admission during February reading weeks and the month of April.

Royal Botanical Gardens: Student discounts on both single entry and annual membership.

Royal Ontario Museum: Students get into the ROM for $14.50 any day of the week. On Tuesdays, admission is free with a student ID.

RELATED VIDEO: Metallica’s Kirk Hammett talks ROM horror exhibit with Alan Cross

Restaurants, bars and food

Arby’s: Students save 10 per cent off their entire meal when they use their ID.

Buffalo Wild Wings: At many locations across Canada, students can receive 10 per cent off your meal. Just ask your server to see if the deal is available at your location.

Bulk Barn: Students receive 10 per cent off on Wednesdays with valid ID.

Burger King: Students can receive 10 per cent off their meal by showing their student card.

Dairy Queen: Students receive a discount of 10 per cent off their purchase.

Hard Rock Cafe: Hard Rock Cafe locations worldwide offer a 10 per cent discount for students with a valid ISIC card.

Metro: Get 10 to 15 per cent off your groceries on student discount days at participating locations.

Spring Rolls: Save 15 per cent off your meal with valid student ID.


Amazon Student: Students receive 50 per cent off Amazon’s Prime service, which includes unlimited two-day shipping, after a six-month free trial. They also receive exclusive offers and discounts and eligibility for sweepstakes and contests.

Apple Music: Apple Music also offers a student deal of $4.99 per month.

FedEx: When you’re shipping a package, you can get 20 to 30 per cent off by showing your student ID.

General Motors college discount: Students receive discounted pricing on a Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac or GMC vehicle. Visit the website to see if you’re eligible.

ISIC Canada Card: The International Student Identity Card is your student discount card in Canada and around the world. It offers discounts on planes, trains, laptops from Dell, reduced pricing on Microsoft office, and savings with over 40,000 discounts worldwide.

Nearest: Nearest helps students save money while supporting local businesses — every business can add student deals to their free profile listing on

SPC Savings Card: If you’re a student, all you need to do is show your SPC Card at thousands of participating locations for savings every time you shop. Offers vary but most are 10 to 15 per cent off.

Spotify: Get Spotify Premium for $4.99 for students.

UNiDAYS: Become a member of UNiDAYS to access a world of discounts from your favourite brands. They offer fast, free, exclusive deals for students.

Did we miss a student discount? Let us know below.


© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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The people who make money tracking Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle’s wardrobe

by BBG Hub

From Meghan the Duchess of Sussex’s recent maternity clothing to Kate the Duchess of Cambridge’s love of L.K. Bennett wedges, the women continue to be trendsetters when it comes to their fashion choices. So much so that bloggers have made careers out of tracking who and what they wear.

Susan E. Kelley founded the website What Kate Wore in 2011, when Britain’s Prince William got engaged to marry Kate Middleton.

“I had another blog, and anytime I wrote about Kate, there was this huge boost in readership. And so I talked about it with my husband. I said, ‘You know, do you think people would really be interested in reading about what Kate Middleton wears?’”

READ MORE: Royal baby christening: Meghan Markle and Prince Harry won’t announce Archie’s godparents

The site really took off when the royal couple took a tour of Canada and the United States a few months after their wedding.

“She’s changing outfits multiple times a day, and people loved it. There was this enormous interest in it, and it exploded on Twitter and on Facebook and it kind of rolled on from there,” Kelley said during an interview at her home in Okemos, Michigan, near Lansing.

Christine Ross of Lovettsville, Virginia, is co-editor of a website that follows the Duchess of Sussex’s style, called Meghan’s Mirror. The site actually launched before Meghan started dating Prince Harry, because Ross’ co-editor, Amanda Dishaw of Toronto, was a fan of Markle’s TV series Suits.

WATCH: Wedding fashion in the Royal family

Once Harry and Meghan were spotted together in public, the actress’ profile went up. And so did visits to their site.

“When Meghan was seen at the Invictus Games with Prince Harry in Toronto, it just exploded, and all of a sudden it was like, ‘OK, this is serious. This is real. This is happening,’” said Ross.

“People were so interested in what she wore and the charities that she worked with and the messages that she was sending, and the site just really took off from there.”

So, how exactly do these bloggers figure out who the duchesses are wearing?

READ MORE: Kate Middleton makes rare public speech to raise awareness on addiction

Kelley says for official engagements, the Palace provides a minimal amount of information about the clothing worn.

“Kensington Palace will tell reporters at the scene the primary designer she’s wearing,” said Kelley, adding that the Palace doesn’t reveal who made Kate’s accessories.

But it also comes down to a study in repetition.

“Kate has designers that she goes to again and again,” Kelley said.

For Meghan’s Mirror, Ross says she and her team have studied fashion and will examine the Duchess of Sussex’s wardrobe down to the tiniest of details to get it right.

“Every time there’s a new picture of Meghan, whether it’s a paparazzi photo or an official event, there’s a mad rush to our computers, and we really just start Googling,” she said. “It comes down to a really unique knowledge of the brands that she loves. Meghan tends to stick to the same designers over and over again, and we sit down and analyze things like stitching or buttons. … We’ve become very good at (it) as we’ve learned more about her style.”

READ MORE: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry announce first royal tour ‘as family’

Ross says Meghan’s Mirror considers itself an ultimate resource for fashion info on Meghan, including an archive of anything she’s worn in public.

“We’ve worked really hard to curate our archives where you can find exactly what she’s worn and all the details about it, and you can also get mirror Meg styles at a fraction of the cost. So every time she steps out, we really work hard to add everything she’s wearing, from the earrings to the shoes to the jacket, all on to our archive so our readers can go on there, click and shop those styles.”

They also sell Meghan’s Mirror-inspired items, including jewelry on

What Kate Wore also links to clothing Kelley calls “repliKates,” shoppable items similar to something the Duchess of Cambridge has worn.

Tracking the duchesses can be time consuming, especially with the time difference from the U.S. and London. “There are a lot of very early mornings for me,” Kelley said. “But the real crunch comes when they go on tour, because multiple tours have been in time zones that were 12, 14, 16-hour time differences. I just know I’m not going to see my husband. We’ll pass each other in the hallway.”

All in all, it’s still fun work.

“We have readers in places where I never thought people would be interested,” Kelley said. “There’s like 200 countries who have read the blog.”

She’s also launched sister sites What Meghan Wore and What Kate’s Kids Wore .

— Rancilio reported from New York. Rudy Estrada in Washington, D.C., contributed.

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