Tag Archives: Real Simple

What activities are folks planning for a pandemic winter?

Many of us have long had problems dealing with the cold and darkness of a Canadian winter. But this year, we will be adding in the problems of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Save with SPP took a look around to see how folks are planning to spend their first full winter of the pandemic.

Since one strategy to surviving the pandemic is to be outdoors, sporting goods businesses are reporting very brisk business in winter recreation equipment, reports CTV News.

“It’s been quite a marked change from the normal August and early September sales,” Paul Zirk, general manager of The Destination Slope and Surf Outfitters in North Vancouver, tells CTV. “It’s been really up and it’s been really focused on winter sports. This year, our track as far back as mid-July was ski-focused and winter-focused and at some weeks triple what we expected.”

Hot sellers include skis and snowboards, snowshoes, and heavier winter clothing, the article notes.

The Real Simple blog rhymes off 49 different winter activities that you can try this year.

Sledding, hiking, skating, snowball fights, and stargazing are on the list, as well as things like enjoying a family night in front of “a roaring fire,” enjoying winter favourites like hot cocoa and mulled wine, and cozying up with a bowl of homemade soup. The article also lists crafty ideas, like making a birdfeeder or knitting a scarf.

Global News reports that it is important, during the upcoming colder months, to avoid isolation. Psychologist Dr. Ganz Ferrence tells the broadcaster that people “should be planning now for what they’ll do to stay busy and safe once the temperature dips below zero.”

Ideas include skiing – downhill or cross-country — snowshoeing, skating and tobogganing. If you’re too old or not well enough for outdoor activities, at least get outside, urges Dr. Ferrence.

“Just to get that fresh air, that sunshine, whatever it is, seeing that the rest of the world still exists is much better than just giving in to being shut-in,” the doctor says.

Be sure to stay in touch with friends and family during the winter, when visiting is limited by poor travel conditions. Using online tools like Zoom to meet loved ones is a great idea, Dr. Ferrence says. “The best is face to face — being able to touch and feel and everything — the next level though, is this. Being able to see somebody and look in their eyes, see their facial expressions, their tone of voice,” he tells Global News. “Underneath that is phone.”

One group of Canadians that has long chosen against toughing out our winters – Snowbirds – may find this to be a tough season, reports the Globe and Mail.

With border restrictions in place, and COVID-19 outbreaks at high levels in popular winter vacation states like Florida, many Snowbirds may have to give up their travel plans this year, the article reports.

Renee Huart-Field and her husband live in P.E.I. and normally vacation in Florida’s Gulf Coast. Because their dogs usually come to Florida too, they aren’t keen on flying, and the border crossings by vehicle are severely limited, the article notes. So they must decide whether to winter on the Island, or travel elsewhere in Canada.

“People sort of think well, gee, must be nice to have that dilemma. But it’s not,” Huart-Field tells the Globe and Mail. “As you get older, the winters become harder… It’s a health thing.’”

If you’re a retiree and hope to do a little travelling, and have some fun in the winter sun, a little retirement income goes a long way to helping you reach those goals. If you’re still a long way from retirement, there’s plenty of time to start saving – and a wonderful option could be the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. The SPP is quite unique, in that it not only offers you a savings program for your working years, it helps you convert those dollars – grown through SPP’s professional investing team – into an income stream once you’re done with the workforce and ready for the leisureforce. Why not check them out today!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

What the pros can tell us about managing money better

We all want to be great managers of our money. And the road to great money management must be paved with good intentions. But the “shiny objects” of life distract us from running a tight fiscal ship, so we mostly see a lot more money going out than staying in. Debts mount and the piggy bank remains defiantly empty.

So what are the experts doing that we aren’t? Save with SPP scoured the web to try and find out.

From the Real Simple blog, money management tips include paying bills on time – even tiny bills – and using cheaper, lower-fee online banks.

Time magazine stresses the importance of patience and discipline. “Don’t make major money-related decisions in a hurry or at a time of great emotional stress, such as when the stock markets tank or soon after a loved one has died,” Time advises. Take time to breathe, the magazine suggests.

At the Titan’s Lair blogspot a key bit of advice is “knowing where your money goes.” With a budget, you know where every dollar is going, and that knowledge gives you the power to make savings, the blog advises. Budgeting, the blog adds, helps you stay out of debt and the related pitfalls of high fees and compound interest. As well, it will leave room for retirement saving. “Saving now and managing your money correctly will definitely benefit you in the long run,” the blog advises.

Noted financial guru Suze Orman, quoted on the Mint.com blog, says a key tactic is to “take a hard look” at finances, and to avoid making excuses for what’s not going right. It is important, she notes, to separate what people want from what they need. That will “cut the fat” out of their financial problems, the article states.

So to recap all this advice – don’t let unpaid bills pile up. Pay attention to fees. Take your time with major money decisions. Be aware of where every nickel of your money is going, and cut the fat where you can. Be realistic and separate needs from wants.

Following this more self-disciplined approach will help you tackle any debt you may be carrying, and will free up money for retirement savings. And as we all know, a great way to build those savings is by signing up for the Saskatchewan Pension Plan. Your money will grow, the fees are low, the track record is impressive, and there are many ways to turn your savings into a lifetime income stream.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

Jul 27: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

Barbecuing is the obvious alternative when you don’t want to cook inside and heat up the house on a hot and muggy summer day. But feeding a crowd can get expensive if you entertain frequently or if there always seems to be a gang of hungry teenagers foraging for food in your fridge. This week we feature blog posts that have useful tips for cheap and cheerful summer barbecues.

First and foremost you need a grill. Barbecue Bible’s Steven Raichlen offers 8 questions to ask yourself before buying a grill or smoker. How much can you afford? Charcoal, gas, wood-burning or other? How many people will you be cooking for? What foods do you enjoy grilling or smoking? Is portability important? These questions and others will influence your purchasing decision.

Real Simple has 10 Money-Saving Ideas for a Summer Barbecue. Some examples are:

  • Skip the porterhouse steak in favour of a great flank steak.
  • It’s super easy to make do-it-yourself rubs and sauces.
  • Maintain your grill properly so it will last as long as possible.

In 7 Tips for Hosting a Low-Budget BBQ Readers Digest says don’t stress about impressing your guests with an elaborate menu. Instead of trying difficult recipes, serve simple dishes that you know they will like. Plus, if the kids at your barbecue are picky eaters, your uncomplicated menu is bound to please them.

Tiphero says the way to have a cheap and successful barbecue is to make the most of the meat you purchase by serving skewers. It breaks up the meat with some veggies to make for a nice, filling snack on a stick. Skewers are a great presentation and work wonderfully for portion control.

And finally, Stockpilingmoms gives 7 tips to a fun and cheap BBQ. What about a hot dog or bratwurst bar? Grab hot dogs, bratwurst or sausages for less than a steak, chicken or burger would cost.  Pick out regular, wheat, onion and poppy seed buns.  Offer different fresh or grilled veggies, relish, chili, and all your favorite condiments for a fun spin on a typical barbecue.  Let everyone build their own dog mixing and matching classic flavors to create a new favorite.

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.