Tag Archives: CAA

May 26: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

Although it’s been a cold, wet spring the temperature is finally starting to inch up across the country. And with the end of the school year coming up fast, family vacations are top of mind for many people.

That’s why I thought readers might be interested in Tom Drake’s recent Canadian Finance Blog titled 10 Ways to Save Money on Your Vacation. Saving for your vacation in advance is great advice. Comparison shopping, a CAA membership and finding coupons online for local entertainment are other good suggestions.

Kristen Sarah from Hopscotch the Globe advises on How to Avoid Getting Sick During Your Travelling. She says avoid drinking the water and select restaurants that local people frequent. But if you want to enjoy your vacation, don’t be too paranoid!

In the Globe and Mail, Preet Bannerjee says before you hit the beach, it’s time to do a financial spring cleaning. Just like changing the winter tires, getting the flower beds in order, and scrubbing behind the appliances, it’s about getting your whole house in order. It may not be fun, but it needs to be done.

If your spring plans include a major home renovation, both your bank account and your marriage are in for a stressful time. On yummymummyclub Kat Inokai offers hints on How to Survive Months of Construction with Your Marriage Intact. This is one year when a stay-cation is probably not a good idea. If you can afford it, she says plan to get away from the mess for at least a few days.

And finally, after several months of trying the job as a manager on for size, Tim Stobbs realized he didn’t enjoy it. So he killed his career in management and he’s happy about it.  “It feels good to know for sure that I would be a round peg forced into a square hole.  I could do it but it would significantly uncomfortable,” he says.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Feb 24: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

185936832 blog

RRSP season is almost over for another year so remember to make your Saskatchewan Pension Plan contribution by Monday, March 3, 2014 in order to get a tax deduction on your 2013 income tax return.  But the need to spend carefully and save regularly is an important part of everyday living.

On retirehappy.ca, Jim Yih reports that 7 Causes of Financial Stress including high debt levels, low savings rates and increasingly complex financial markets are keeping many people up at night.

In The Insanity of “RRSP Season” Young and Thrifty blogger Kyle says anyone with a basic handle on grade 9 math ought to know that making periodic contributions to a registered plan (either a TFSA or an RRSP) is a better choice than procrastinating until the last minute and then trying to scratch together the money to fit in under an arbitrary deadline.

Blogger Krystal Yee on givemebackmyfivebucks.com says she will have to dip into her emergency fund and suspend TFSA and RRSP payments for some time because she was recently laid off. But 44 comments from her fans leave no doubt that she will land another great gig before long.

The pros and cons of withdrawing RRSP contributions are explored once again by Tom Drake on the Canadian Finance Blog. While the lost opportunity cost of taking out money and losing RRSP room are important, he acknowledges that in some emergencies RRSP withdrawals may be unavoidable. The good news is that if you need money because you lost your job, you will pay taxes on the money at a lower rate.

Many of you may be aiming for early retirement as early as age 55. However Dave Dineen on Brighter Life reminds readers that some sources of retirement income don’t kick in for another five years or more so you need to have a plan to bridge the gap or early retirement could be a financial nightmare.

And on Boomer & Echo Robb Engen identifies 6 Fees Worth Paying and notes that trying to avoid fees can sometimes be false economy. For example, the return on investment if you buy a Costco card, use an annual fee credit card or join the CAA can easily exceed the initial amount you have to pay.

Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Taking a road trip on the cheap

By Sheryl Smolkin


Even with the sky high price of gas, there are plenty of great reasons to take a road trip with your family. First of all, convenient trains or planes that go directly to your destination may be unavailable. Furthermore, if all you ever do is hop from city to city by air, you miss all the great people and places in between.

But a long car trip can be stressful particularly if you are travelling with young children. Here are some ideas to help you make sure your road trip is an economical vacation to remember, for all the right reasons.


Make a realistic budget for food, gas, accommodation and entertainment and stick to it. That way the afterglow from your family vacation will not be dimmed by unexpected credit card bills when you get home. 

Your car

Have your car fully checked and serviced before you leave. If you don’t already have Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) or some other form of roadside assistance, now is the time to sign up. Consider the more expensive package that will pay for your car to be towed for a longer distance in case you have a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.


Get maps and plot out your route. A GPS is useful, but there is nothing like a hard copy where you can see the whole route at the same time. The CAA sells maps and guidebooks. They will also create a TripTik® for you or you can create your own TripTik® travel planner online.


The selection of food at highway stops is limited and expensive. Bring a cooler and pack a picnic and healthy snacks for the road. Most hotels or motels will freeze your ice packs and you can refill the cooler at local grocery stores before you head out each day. Of course ice cream at local dairy bars is a mandatory summer treat.


Packing a car with car seats, clothes, toys, food and sports equipment for a whole family can be a challenge. Do a dry run before the morning you are leaving to get a realistic idea of what will fit. Then take half out. You may also decide a car roof box is necessary to fit in all the essentials.


Trailer and tent camping can be cost effective accommodation for families. However, if you are not the outdoors type there are hotels and motels to suit every budget. Make a realistic estimate of how far you can safely and sanely drive each day and pre-book. A service like priceline.com allows you to bid on discount hotel rooms and pay for them in advance.


Summer is festival season in Canada. Inexpensive or free concerts under the stars are a treat for the whole family. Coupon books offering discounts for local amusement parks historical sites and sports events can be purchased for many Canadian and U.S. cities. Research local events on the internet before you leave, and where possible plan your stops around the things you want to see and do.


Bring a car charger for your cell phone and keep your phone, tablet computers etc. fully charged. Be aware that cell phone charges can quickly mount up when you are travelling, particularly if you leave Canada and roaming charges kick in. Use Skype on your cell phone or a computer to avoid expensive long distance calls.


Each member of your family needs a passport to travel to the U.S. If you cross at a busy crossing frequently it may be worth getting a Nexus pass to avoid line ups. Check out what you can bring back duty free, depending on the length of your stay.

Drive safely

Follow the rules of the road. Don’t drink and drive. If you are tired find a place to spend the night, even if it is earlier than your anticipated stop. Avoid picking up strangers or hitchhikers. It is dangerous and can put your family at risk.

Do you have ideas about how to have a successful road trip on a budget? Share your tips with us at http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card. And remember to put a dollar in the retirement savings jar every time you use one of our money-saving ideas.

If you would like to send us other money saving ideas, here are the themes for the next three weeks:

11-Jul Travel insurance What you need to know about travel insurance
18-Jul Buying a home Mortgage insurance vs life insurance
25-Jul Telecommuting Jobs where you can work from home