Tag Archives: Money saving tips

How to choose a financial planner

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

When I was considering retiring from my corporate job, I sought the advice of a financial planner. He gave me the confidence to pack up my downtown office and embark on a new journey.

Choosing a financial planner at the time was easy, because a retired actuary I worked with previously had attained the Certified Financial Planner designation and started his own business. One significant point in his favour was that he fully understood my entitlements under our company pension plan. I also knew and trusted him.

A financial plan is both an essential part of working towards your long-term financial objectives and a critical tool to help prepare goals for the unexpected. But if you don’t already have a relationship with a financial planner, finding one may seem like a daunting challenge, at least in part because financial planning is not regulated in most Canadian provinces. Some people who call themselves “planners” are simply licensed to sell investments.

One recognized designation is the Certified Financial Planner. CFP certification provides some assurance that the planner is committed to internationally-recognized professional standards of competence, ethics and practice as set and enforced in Canada by the Financial Planning Standards Council. CFP professionals are also subject to FPSC’s continuing education requirements and enforcement processes.

On the FPSC’s website you can search for a CFP in your area. However, choosing a financial planner involves much more than selecting a name. Finding a planner who is the right fit is extremely important because it will affect your financial future.

The FSPC offers the following 10 tips for choosing a financial planner.

  1. Be prepared. Do some independent research to maximize your familiarity with financial planning terms and strategies.
  2. Think about your financial and personal goals. Take the time to reflect on what’s most important to you for both today and tomorrow.
  3. Ask for referrals. Speak with friends and family members whom you trust; ask them if they know of or have worked with financial planners they would recommend to you.
  4. Your due diligence. Get referrals from sources you trust, but also take the time to verify the planner’s credentials by contacting his or her professional body to confirm he or she is in good standing.
  5. Interview more than one planner. Interview two or three planners, either by phone or in person, and ask them to outline their qualifications and experience.
  6. Understand fee structures. Planners are paid in a variety of ways (i.e., commission, fee-only, salary) so understand how a particular planner will be compensated.
  7. Look for competence and ethics. There are a variety of different designations in the financial services industry, and some only require day or weekend courses to earn. Ensure the planner you choose has a qualified based on a rigorous education and certification process.
  8. Get it in writing. Insist on a written letter (sometimes called an engagement letter) outlining the specific terms of the engagement and any potential conflicts of interest. The letter should also clearly disclose the planner’s method of compensation and business affiliations.
  9. Re-assess the relationship regularly. Frequent communication is imperative to a good relationship with your planner. Make sure your planner understands your needs as they change over time, and have your planner update your plan accordingly.
  10. It’s all about fit. If you don’t feel comfortable discussing personal issues with a particular planner, continue your search. Honesty, trust and communication (on both sides) are critical to the success of the planning relationship.

Do you have any suggestions for readers who are looking for a financial planner? 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:

28-Nov Avoiding fraudulent scams Latest scams to avoid
06-Dec Holiday decorations A real tree or an artificial one?
13-Nov Holiday gifts Ways to save money on winter driving

Nov 18: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

blogospheregraphic

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. One of the building blocks of financial literacy is the ability to a develop a realistic budget and stick to it. After all, if you don’t have a roadmap or a financial GPS, it is impossible to figure out where you are going and how long it will take you to get there.

One place to start, is Squawkfox’s new series, 5 days to fix your budget. Kerry K. Taylor shows you how to set up a budget, find your net worth, set financial goals, and track your spending. Plus there are free budgeting downloads and software to make your financial life easier.

The Canadian Budget Binder also has a ten-part series published at the beginning of the year you may find useful.

  1. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 1 – Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 2 – Categories
  3. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 3 – Tracking Reciepts
  4. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 4 – Note-taking
  5. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 5 – 5S Organization
  6. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 6 – Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 7 – Balancing Our Budget
  8. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 8 – Knowing our Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 9 – Reading Our Bills
  10. How We Designed: Our Budget Step 10 – Projected Expenses

Once you have made a budget, to stay on target Robb Engen says on Boomer & Echo, that you have to follow perennial advice from David Chilton (The Wealthy Barber). “Sometimes when people ask you to do something, you’ll have to reply, ‘I can’t afford it.’ It sounds so simple, but few of us have the will power to pass up the chance to go out with friends and family for fear of missing out.

For Robert, a guest blogger on Canadian Dream: Free at 45, matching expenses to income is an important way to stay solvent. That means if you are paid twice a month, try to shift certain big bills like mortgage payments, credit card bills or RRSP savings so all of these amounts don’t hit your bank account at the same time at the beginning of the month.

And finally, teach your children and grandchildren. Blonde on a budget Cait shares personal finance lessons she wished she had been taught in school. They include: how to read a pay stub; how to write a budget; how much to save and why; how to use a credit card; and, how to pay for post-secondary;

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.

Want to save more for retirement? Pack a lunch

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

When I graduated from law school and finally got a job, I decided that I would never pack a lunch again. My reward for scrimping for so many years would be tasty, varied lunches prepared by somebody else instead of a squishy sandwich and a tired apple.

But it didn’t take long for me to realize that when I was working I often didn’t have time to eat out or even pick up a salad. And when I did, I was overpaying for excessively large portions of average or inferior food. By the time my children started school, we got back into the routine of making lunches for all of us most of the time.

Yet 60% of Canadians surveyed by VISA Canada last year reported that they bought their lunch out at least once a week. The majority of those who bought lunch spent between $7 and $13, while just under 10% shelled out between $14 and $25 for each midday meal. Young Canadians age 18-34 ate out between two and three times a week.

These appear to be small amounts, but they really add up. If you buy lunch for $10 a day even twice a week you are spending $1,000 each year. Throw in a $4 fancy coffee on 240 working days, and you’ve spent another $960. If both you and your partner do the same, your total outlay is close to $4,000. For a small fraction of the cost you can lunch on leftovers and for around $100, even invest in a single serving pod coffee maker for your office.

Just think of all the things you could do with an extra $4,000 like pay down your mortgage, top up your retirement account, save for your children’s education or go on a vacation.

Another bonus when you bring your own lunch is that you know what you are eating and can eat less of it. Commercially prepared food is often super-sized and high in both calories and salt. I found that one of the easiest ways to manage my weight was to impose portion control by always making my lunch in the same square plastic container.

There is no doubt that one of the pluses of going out for lunch is the opportunity to get away from your desk and spend some down time alone or with friends. But many offices have a lunchroom with a fridge and a microwave.

One place where I worked, a group of three or four co-workers didn’t just pack pre-made lunches. They brought various fresh ingredients and made lunch for the group. There was always bread in the freezer, sliced meat and salad vegetables in the refrigerator. Multi-ethnic leftovers were particularly yummy.

These days I work from home so going out for lunch is only an occasional treat. But there is no doubt that I have way more money in my pocket at the end of the week than when I worked in downtown Toronto.

Now if I could only resist the leftover piece of pie or the ice cream in the freezer and get to the gym a couple of more times a week, maybe I could get into one of the tailored suits I used to wear when I have to go out to an occasional business meeting.

Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) has teamed up with Federated Co-operatives and, beginning in November while supplies last, new members will receive a $10 Co-op gift card as a “Thank you” for joining SPP. If you join the Plan during this promotion, you could use your card to buy lunch or purchase lunch ingredients.

Do you have any money-saving hints for readers who need to free up cash to save more for retirement? 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:

21-Nov Money management How to choose a financial planner
28-Nov Avoiding fraudulent scams Latest scams to avoid
06-Dec Holiday decorations A real tree or an artificial one?

How to find a holiday season job

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

Whether you are saving for retirement several years from now or you are already retired and want to augment your income, the upcoming holiday season is the prime time to get a part-time or temporary job.

If you are considering seasonal work, playing Santa Claus at the local mall may not be on your wish list. But there are lots of other jobs available at this busy time of year. Examples may include:

  • Sales associates and cashiers in retail stores
  • Gift wrapping and customer service positions
  • Waiters, bartenders and other restaurant/catering staff
  • Various positions at hotels, resorts and ski lodges
  • House sitters, pet care, dog walkers, groomers
  • Baby sitting and child care.

How do you find out who is hiring?

Many employers advertise both full and part-time positions on their own websitesKijiji, Craigslist and job boards like monster.ca and indeed.com. In early October on saskjobs.ca 13,205 jobs of all types were posted in communities across Saskatchewan.

But don’t just let your fingers do the walking. In a recent article, Monster Senior Contributing Editor Mark Swartz says you should grab a handful of resumés, put on comfortable shoes and hit the streets. Arriving in person lets you apply for jobs on the spot. And if you get there during the day when it isn’t too busy, you have a better chance of speaking with a manager.

Here are some other ways you can find seasonal work:

  1. Contact a previous employer: If you have done full or part-time work before and your employer was satisfied, chances are they will jump at the chance to hire you again. A known entity beats combing through piles of resumés to find a suitable candidate.
  2. Apply for multiple jobs: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Apply for more than one position so if the first one doesn’t work out you have something to fall back on.
  3. Temporary placement agencies: Companies looking for seasonal workers often list them with a temporary agency. They may need replacements for people taking vacation or additional staff at their busiest time of year.
  4. Social Media: Use your Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook account to search the site for local companies that are hiring. Be sure to ask your contacts on each site for any job referrals.
  5. Posting ads: If you are interested in pet sitting, see if you can post an ad at the local pet store or veterinary clinic. Ads for babysitters and child care will attract attention on school and community billboards.
  6. Shopping Mall websites: Check out mall websites. For example, the Midtown Plaza in Saskatoon has listings for open positions at various stores.
  7. Get the word out: Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, former co–workers, etc. and ask them if they know of any companies that are hiring for the holiday season.
  8. Be adaptable: Employers often hire seasonal workers because they are open longer hours during the holiday season and regular staff can’t or won’t work on holidays. If you are prepared to work whenever you are needed, you will be a much more attractive candidate.

Do you have hints for readers looking for seasonal or part-time work? 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:

14-Nov Work expenses Why you should pack a lunch
21-Nov Money management How to choose a financial planner
28-Nov Avoiding fraudulent scams Latest scams to avoid

Nov 4: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

blogospheregraphic

Within the last few weeks the push to expand the Canada Pension Plan has been gathering steam in Ontario and PEI. Here are some articles from the mainstream media that will bring you up to speed on the arguments pro and con.

Push to expand Canada Pension Plan gaining steam

Grow the CPP – A better way to save | Canadian Labour Congress

CPP expansion would be too late for poor retired Boomers: study …

Time to put Flaherty on the spot | Toronto Star

CFIB: Canada can’t afford CPP expansion | Financial Post

But I really like Tim Stobbs’ take on the argument that we can’t expand CPP because higher payroll taxes will kill jobs. On Canadian Dream: Free at 45, he says, “Raising a tax won’t kill jobs…it will likely shift some around, but not remove them from the total.  So don’t hide behind that as an excuse to avoid changing a program that will help the majority of people save for retirement.”

But even if CPP is expanded, it will take a generation or more for Canadians to realize the full benefits of an enhanced program. That’s why you need to save and invest on your own. Find out how to maximize your savings for retirement and other objectives in 5 Financial Principles from a 34 Year Old Millionaire Investor.

If you have a workplace pension and are wondering about whether or not you should also contribute to an RRSP, take a look at this archived blog from Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

And as the year comes to an end, many of us will be faced with the dreaded performance review. On Brighter Life, Gerald McGroarty offers 10 tips to help make your year-end appraisal an occasion for celebration, not frustration.

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.

8 ways to save on a cruise vacation

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

If you are planning a winter get-away, you may want to consider a river or an ocean cruise. Several years ago, my husband and I discovered the benefits of unpacking only once, great food and entertainment and the opportunity to visit multiple destinations in a relatively short period of time.

But cruises can be expensive. And depending on the cruise line and the destination, paying extra for airfare, land tours, alcoholic beverages and gratuities can really add up.

Through trial and error and chatting with other cruisers, here are some hints we have come up with that may help you to better afford that exotic winter cruise you have been dreaming of:

  1. Do your research:
    Whether you book early or get last minute deals, shop around online. Depending on where you want to go and when you want to get away, there are lots of bargains out there. Also ask friends for recommendations and check online ratings.
  2. Don’t travel at peak times:
    After the Christmas rush several years ago, my husband and I took a seven-day Western Caribbean cruise from January 7-15 for $1,362.90 for the two of us, and we were upgraded twice at no cost to a suite with a balcony.
  3. Get as much included as possible:
    Both of the European river cruises we took included all meals, wine and land tours. While we could have purchased a package with air fare included, we opted to use airline points, further reducing the overall cost.
  4. Buy a cheaper cabin:
    Inside cabins without windows are the least expensive. Chances are with all of the activities on the ship and in port you will be spending very little time in your cabin. And again, particularly if you are a return customer, you may get upgraded. We booked an outside cabin with “an obstructed view” for our Panama cruise this winter and got bumped up to an unobstructed view for the same price.
  5. Research local tours:
    We have always taken the tours offered by the cruise line as we know they will get us back to the ship on time and the cruise line ensures a fairly consistent product. However, particularly where there is a larger group traveling together, you may have a less expensive and much more personalized experience if you hire a local guide.
  6. Stick with what you like:
    If you travel with one cruise line and like it, stick with them. Cruise lines all have loyalty programs and typically give discounts and on-board ship credits to regular cruisers. You will also get advance notice of sales and special deals.
  7. Consider a repositioning cruise:
    Many cruise ships migrate either north in the summer or south for the winter. Rather than sail the ships without passengers, cruise lines discount these “repositioning” cruises to make them attractive to passengers who prefer less port-intensive cruises. These cruises are usually longer than a week and include more “at sea” days.
  8. Work as a shipboard lecturer:
    Shipboard talks and activities are part of the at-sea ambiance. If you have a desired area of expertise, you may be able to give lectures on-board and, in return, get all or part of your vacation paid for. If you are interested, check out the following agencies that specialize in placing speakers and workshop facilitators on cruise ships: To Sea with Z, Sixth Star Entertainment & Marketing and Compass Speakers and Entertainment .

Do you have hints for readers planning an economical winter get-away? 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:

07-Nov Augmenting your income Seasonal jobs
14-Nov Work expenses Why you should pack a lunch
21-Nov Money management How to choose a financial planner

October 28: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

blogospheregraphic

This week we have random posts from some of our favourite bloggers that consider how you can save for retirement, invest your savings and spend your money after retirement.

Robb Engen on Boomer & Echo thinks that many media money makeovers are unrealistic, and that we really need to prioritize our financial goals. He shares his portrait of the ideal saver.

When it comes to spending and saving money, for many of us monthly mortgage payments take the biggest chunk out of our earnings. From the archives of the Canadian Finance blog, Nelson Smith offers 6 ways to save thousands on your next mortgage.

Saving is not enough. You have to invest your money in a way that both minimizes risk and maximizes growth of your account. A Young and Thrift blogger explains how he finally overcame his inertia and invested the $100,000 cash he had in his accounts. Spoiler alert: He topped up his TFSA and RRSP and then invested in ETFs.

But the Canadian Capitalist says we can learn a thing or two on how to invest our own money from the manner in which the CPPIB invests our surplus Canada Pension Plan contributions.

And finally, however much you save and whatever your plans are, Kevin Press tells us how you choose to spend your retirement will be a compromise. That’s because recent Sun Life research revealed seven ways men and women disagree about retirement.

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.

Raising funds goes global

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

Whether you are starting a business, writing a book or spearheading a charitable cause, you may need to raise money. Crowdsourcing or crowdfunding web sites allow you to globally market your campaign well beyond the boundaries of your own community or province.

For example, you can raise money on Indiegogo for just about anything including community, health-related and environmental projects. In fact, in June 2012 Max Sidorov, a Toronto college graduate used Indiegogo to raise over $700,000 to send tormented school bus monitor Karen Klein on a vacation, with lots to spare.

In another recent project, Courtney B.C. resident Shawn Wood almost tripled his initial goal of $5,000 to finance a dream wedding for his fiancé Emily Niinmets who has terminal lymphoma.

And even celebrities are getting in on the act. In a six week campaign, author Margaret Atwood raised U.S. $94,995 (original target $85,000) to develop an online event space where artists and performers can connect with fans and aficionados called Fanado.

You can opt for one of two funding models.

  • With flexible funding, you pay 4% to Indiegogo if you reach your target amount, or 9% if you do not. This encourages people to set reasonable goals and promote their campaigns through other forms of social media.
  • A fixed funding option also costs 4% if you reach your objective, but if you do not, you receive nothing and your contributors are refunded.

Currency exchange fees may also apply and there is a 3% fee for credit card processing plus a $25 wire fee for non-U.S. campaigns.

Your campaign is built online using the Indiegogo platform and will typically include one or more videos and text. One-click social media integration, direct email and announcement features are designed to help spread the word, raise awareness and increase funding. Indiegogo also uses an algorithm they call the “gogofactor” to select the most active campaigns featured on its homepage.

Kickstarters is another popular crowdfunding site limited to raising money for creative projects. The catch is that unless you raise all the money you need, you don’t get any of it. If the project is successfully funded, the credit cards of all contributors are charged on the same day and Kickstarters deducts a 5% fee.

Until recently it has been largely inaccessible to many Canadians as participants had to satisfy the requirements of Amazon Payments including having a U.S. bank account and a major U.S. credit or debit card.

However, with the recent launch of Kidstarters Canada, this popular platform is more accessible to creative Canadians. For example, The Aesthetic Studio of Toronto has raised $96,708 (original goal $55,000) to develop little customizable robots and entrepreneur Y.Z. (full name not provided) has raised 147% of the money he needs to develop a token card  designed to hold 8 Toronto Transit Commission tokens and fit into your wallet’s credit card slots.

A research report released last year by industry publication The Daily Crowdsource says crowdfunding has gone from a $32 million market to a $123 million market in the past two years.

Ninety-three per cent of successful campaigns offer donors incentives for contributing. For example, Toronto-based Matthew Ogelsby’s drive to raise $10,000 to expand his comic book series, “Romantically Apocalyptic Books of Captein” generated $51,873. For a $10 donation, contributors got pdfs of two previous books. CDs, greeting cards and an autographed print were added to the package for larger donations.

Kickstarters reports that the average crowdfunding campaign tries to raise $5,000 and 56% of all campaigns fail. With an average campaign target of $3,700, 80% of Indiegogo projects fail.

“The most successful campaigns are proactive, have a good pitch and find an audience that cares,” says Indiegogo spokesperson Rose Levy.  “The campaigns with the greatest challenges are those where participants think all they have to do is post their story and the money will pour in.”

The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission has recently passed equity crowdfunding rulings that allow backers to reap eventual financial returns on investments. The investment scale for businesses and start-ups is much larger than for typical donation-based crowdfunding campaigns.

The Ontario Securities Commission issued a progress report stating their interest in moving forward with the development of a regulatory framework for equity crowdfunding. However, the report highlights the difficult balance that must be attained to provide investors with adequate protection against the risks of investing through this new marketplace without imposing excessive regulatory burdens on issuers and funding portals that would unduly impede the effectiveness of this means of raising capital.

For the pros and cons of crowdfunding, see this CBC article. Filmaker Ian MacKenzie has compiled a list of crowdfunding sites with links for various purposes.

Have you had a personal experience with crowdfunding as a donor or a fundraiser? 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:

31-Oct Winter travel Planning your winter getaway
07-Nov Augmenting your income Seasonal jobs
14-Nov Work expenses Why you should pack a lunch

Oct 21: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

blogospheregraphic

Over the last year the blogs at savewithspp.com have focused on ways you can spend less and save more. By paying yourself first and allocating a fixed amount to savings each month, you can put your savings plan on autopilot. Here are some additional ideas from some of our favourite bloggers.

Before you start socking away your savings, most financial advisors will tell you to set aside a three to 12-month emergency fund. Tom Drake on Canadianfinanceblog.com discusses why an emergency fund really matters and how to build one.

In Where to find your savings Gail Vaz-Oxlade says nickel and dime-ing is really worth it. If you save $5 a day 20 days a month and put the money in your retirement plan earning 7% on average, in 20 years you will have $55,000. That’s got to be worth $5 a day, and a little time to find it!

Robb Engen on boomer& echo identifies lifestyle enhancers such as cable television, shopping at Costco, paying for a housecleaner and children’s activities as potential budget busters he is keeping a close eye on.

It’s fine to cut corners, but if you think the Fraser Institute got it wrong in a report that says you can raise a child for $3,000/year, you are not alone. Squawkfox blogger Kerry K. Taylor explains why daycare, accommodation and transportation costs have to be factored in to get a true picture.

Finally, Thanksgiving may be over for another year, but Canadians have much to be thankful for every day. Check out Kevin Press’ Brighter Life blog that summarizes findings of an OECD online report that outlines seven reasons to love living in this country.

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.

Halloween on the cheap

By Sheryl Smolkin

SHUTTERSTOCK
SHUTTERSTOCK

As soon as the back to school displays come down, stores shift their marketing efforts to selling Halloween costumes, decorations and treats.

A survey conducted by Harris/Decima for the Retail Council of Canada reports that in 2012 Canadian households with children plan to spend an average of $75 on Halloween purchases. Fully half who planned to spend on Halloween said that 75 per cent to 100 per cent of their budget would go on candy.

But we all have neighbours or friends who up the ante by turning their front yards into elaborate haunted houses complete with sound effects. And for some reason, your lace shawl and a home-made crown can’t compete with an expensive princess costume from the Disney store.

So how can you do Halloween on the cheap and still keep your family happy? Here are a few ideas.

  1. Manage expectations: By October 31st it is often rainy and cold in most parts of Canada. Therefore elaborate costumes that will be covered by a coat won’t even be seen. Tell your child if a store-bought costume is unaffordable and present other more practical options. Make-up and a hat can go a long way.
  2. Organize a costume swap: Use social media and invite your friends with children to a costume swap. Not only will you get rid of all the stuff that no longer fits, you may end up with some real gems for almost nothing.
  3. Be crafty: If you are a busy, working parent and don’t do crafts, skip this one. Otherwise, check Pinterest for creative costume and decorating ideas that use low cost and recycled materials you already have around the house.
  4. Visit a thrift store: Take the kids on a trip to the local thrift or second hand store. Great finds like used prom gowns, dramatic capes and dashing fedoras can be key elements of creative costumes.
  5. Buy on sale: The day after Halloween, most costumes go on sale. While it is difficult to know whether this year’s Batman will want to be next year’s Darth Vader, it may be worth stockpiling a few costumes in bigger sizes will give you a head start on next Halloween.
  6. Healthy treats: The most economical option is to buy in bulk and package treats in ziplock bags.  However, parents are more worried about safety than ever. So unless you give out factory wrapped individual items, they will likely end up in the trash. But you can read ingredients and offer more nutritious choices like pretzels, popcorn, raisins, fruit leather or sugarless gum.
  7. Have a party: If there are few children in your neighbourhood, it may make more sense to invite a small group of your children’s friends over for a Halloween party. Dim the lights bob for apples and tell ghost stores or rent a spooky (age-appropriate movie). Hot dogs or pizza, cut-up veggies and dip and home-made cupcakes are inexpensive, easy to serve and clean up.
  8. Buy less: There are few young children in our neighbourhood anymore, but every year I dutifully buy several boxes of chips or chocolate bars to hand out. We never give it all out, and my husband and I end up eating the leftovers. I tried buying stuff we don’t like but then we just end up pitching the rest, which is a waste of good money.

Can you suggest other ways to do Halloween on the cheap? 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:

24-Oct Charity How to raise money for almost anything on Indiegogo
31-Oct Winter travel Planning your winter getaway
07-Nov Augmenting your income Seasonal jobs