Aug 28: Best from the blogosphere

August 28, 2017

Whether your children are tiny tots, teenagers or twenty-somethings, back to school shopping can really break the bank. And depending on the age and stage of the child, smart phones, tablets and laptops can really up the ante.

I have memories of walking through stores with both kids randomly throwing “essentials” into the shopping cart and having to carefully filet their selections before we reached the cash. Inevitably, every year after the big shopping trip I also discovered a stash of duplicate items left over from the previous year.

Here are a series of articles with ideas that can help you keep your back to school costs in line.

Money Crafters’ Heather Levin offers 14 Tips to Save Money on Back to School Supplies & Shopping List. She encourages readers to hit up the Dollar Store for some incredible bargains. She also suggests that you start looking for coupons in your Sunday paper, and search online for coupons at sites like RetailMeNot, which even has a special section on their site for back to school coupon codes.

10 Back-To-School Shopping Tips that Save Money on recommends that you stick to your list and hold off on buying trendy gear until after the school year starts. She also encourages families to round up a couple of other parents with kids the same gender but different ages, and host an annual clothes swap. “Trade toys and books, too! You’ll save a bundle,” she says.

Tips from RealSimple on How to Save on Back-to-School Shopping by Amy Leibrock include focusing on getting the best price for the most expensive items on your list through coupons, incentive programs, rebates, weekly specials and online-only deals. Also, once you’ve decided where you’re going to shop, she says look for discounted gift cards for those stores on sites like CardSwap. You’ll save as much as 25% on cards recipients don’t want.

Learning how to save money and make smart financial choices is the focus of the blog myMoneyCoach. How to Get the Most Out of Your Back-to-School Budget advocates balancing the purchase of pricier name brands with generic products by offering to pay the first $20 or whatever your budget will allow for the item and letting your child pay for the rest. Younger kids can use gift money towards their “wants” and older kids can use part-time earnings to top up what they’d prefer to buy.

And finally, 6 tips for frugal back-to-school savings on Bankrate reminds readers to comparison shop online first to try and avoid impulse buying.Following the brands you use and the stores you regularly shop at on Facebook and Twitter, as well as signing up on mailing lists, can also net you back-to-school savings.

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 on and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

How social media can help you find a job

June 20, 2013

By Sheryl Smolkin


For most people graduating from college or university this spring, getting a job is a top priority. But a job hunt is no longer as simple as reading the want ads and sending out resumés. It’s all about networking and effectively leveraging social media.

One study by Jobvite, a company that sells recruiting software, found the use of social media by recruiters to reach candidates is at an all-time high. Results show that 92% of respondents were using or planned to use social media in 2012, up almost 10% from the 83% using social recruiting in 2010.

LinkedIn is the social media site that is most targeted to business networking. While it may initially appear like simply an online bulletin board for business profiles, it is so much more.

Here are some ways you can use LinkedIn more effectively in your job search.

  1. Post a complete profile: Make sure your profile is complete. Describe your job experience and education in reverse chronological order. Search for jobs you may be interested in and include key words in your profile that will help recruiters find you. Update your profile including recent projects or work samples regularly.
  2. Connect with others: Link to everyone you know and everyone they know who may be able to help you. If you want to link to someone you don’t have a relationship with, ask for an introduction from one of your contacts. When “people you may know” pop up on your LinkedIn site, connect to these people where appropriate. I currently have 573 connections that link me with over 6 million people.
  3. Get recommendations: Ask people you have worked with and for to write brief online recommendations explaining the work you did and how you did it.
  4. Get endorsements: You can ask a broader group of contacts to click on the skills and expertise related to the key words in your profile to endorse you for those skills. Reciprocate and endorse them for relevant skills.
  5. Status updates: To keep you top of mind, post regular status updates. Links to articles, conferences and research related to your professional skills will keep you “top of mind” when internal and external recruiters are looking for candidates to fill positions.
  6. Other social media: LinkedIn now gives you the ability to link your blog post to your profile. You can also post to both LinkedIn and Twitter at the same time. However your twitter post will be cut off if you exceed the 140 character limit.
  7. Find companies: Find out where people with your background are working by doing an advanced search for people in your area who have your skills. For example, if you are a web developer in Saskatoon, search profiles in your postal code using keywords like JavaScript and XHTML to see which companies employ people like you.
  8. Check if a company is hiring: Companies with a LinkedIn page typically post open positions. While you can go directly to the company’s website, it is helpful to be able to do your research all in one place. There may also be information about the last people hired and internal promotions.
  9. Get to the right HR person: If you are interested in a position, see if you can find someone within the organization in your network who is willing to walk your resumé to the hiring manager or HR department. There may be added incentive if the company pays referral bonuses to employees who help them find a candidate for advertised positions.
  10. Secret job requirements: Job listings rarely spell out exactly what a hiring manager is looking for. Search for a company name. The results will show you who in your network connects you to the company. If you can find an inside contact, he/she may share the scoop on what is really required for the job.

Even if LinkedIn is your primary social media tool for job hunting, you should check your privacy settings and be very professional at all times on all social media. Recruiters and hiring managers will always Google your name. Pictures of a rowdy party tagging you that were shared by “a friend of a friend” could come back to bite you.

Have you used social media effectively to find a job? Send an email to so*********@sa*********.com and share your ideas with us. If your story is posted, 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:

27-Jun Summer activities Inexpensive summer activities for kids
4-Jul Summer vacation Visit Canada. Take a road trip.
11-Jul Travel insurance What you need to know about travel insurance