Here’s my Christmas Shopping Strategy
Skip Christmas. My kids never let me choose this option
Buy everything progressively throughout the year starting in the spring, to both save hassle and money.
Order everything from online (this is what I did this year)
If those first 3 options don’t work for you then this one is your best bet
Here are my key tips:
- Sit down and make a list of all the things you are going to buy. Do a bit of internet research to confirm prices so you know what to expect
- Plan your attack, know which stores you are going to and where they are
- Do not go to the mall on the weekend, lookup their hours and pick a weekday evening when they are open late, and then go 2 hours before closing
- Don’t deviate from the list
My Favorite Appetizer…. Devil’s on Horseback
With the holiday season here, I thought I would share my favorite appetizer recipe. Forget bringing boring bread and dip, or even worse….. chips. I’ve got a dish for you that will wow your audience.
Not only is this dish super easy to make and tastes great, but it’s exotic and will make you look like you actually know what you’re doing in the kitchen.
Now don’t get scared off because this dish uses dates…. trust me, once they are wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cheese they become the sweetest thing known to man.
7 Things I Said Before I Had Kids
I read an interesting article from another dad blogger today -> kzoodad.com/2014/10/7-things-before-kids/
I found it funny but I only agree with some of his finding (in my life anyway)
Things That are the Same for Me
- Then – My children will play outside. TV will be limited
- Then – My children will respect and listen to me
- Then – My children will keep my house clean
Things That are Different for Me
- Then – My children will eat what I cook
- Then – My children won’t be lied to – I’m not going to lie to my children.
- Then – My children won’t eat fast food – The food served to my kids will be organic and healthy
- Then – My children won’t destroy my things
So I think it’s important to eat healthy food. When I got divorced I vowed to cook my kids a healthy homemade meal every night, which usually consists of a classic Canadian staples, a meat, a vegetable and some other accessory like rice, pasta or potatoes.
I almost always use fresh ingredients and cook from scratch, but we all have those busy nights where we reach for the package sidekick item. Last night I choose the Fettuccine Alfredo.
While I was boiling the milk + water, I was reading the nutritional information and I was surprised (well not really) to see that one package had 16g of sugar and 1,640 mg of salt. That seems like way too much! Not to mention that I made two packages.
Alternative to sidekicks?
So I went to my holy grail…. Google… and searched for “Homemade Sidekick”, and one of the first hits looks great!
Here is the link to the full recipe http://kitchensimplicity.com/one-pot-garlic-herb-pasta/
This dish looks so simple, it’ll probably only had 3 minutes to the prep time of a packaged Sidekick, and I’m sure it’s much healthier:
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
- ½ cup milk (or almond milk)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 8 oz. bite size pasta (regular, whole wheat, or gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoons cream cheese spread
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Add a small bit of oil to a medium-sized skillet or saucepan set over medium heat.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Stir in broth, milk, garlic powder, parsley flakes, and pasta. Bring to boil.
- Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 6-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid has been absorbed and pasta is al dente (tender but firm).
- The cooking time will depend on the type, size and shape of pasta. Stir in cream cheese until melted.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let sit for a couple of minutes before serving.
- Sauce will thicken as it cools.
I’ll be trying this dish sometime soon, I’m sure it’ll be great.
What other pre-packaged items have you replaced with homemade dishes?
New Christmas Decorations Lights
So yesterday’s post was all about online shopping…. Well today I’m going to go against all that advice and tell you about a bricks and motor deal I just got.
This will be my first Christmas as a single dad, and since the evil one kept all the Christmas decorations, I’ve got to start from scratch.
Has there ever been a better invention than Online Shopping?
I think not!
OK, maybe that’s hyperbole on my part, but online shopping has literally made my life better. You see one of the things I hate the most is shopping, there is nothing worse that walking through a mall, that is overcrowded, with so many overpriced products, and stupid store employees getting in your way, can I help you sir, no, I came for black socks and there is no way I could need help with that!
Not to mention that I’m frugal, so shopping is an exercise is seeing things I don’t really want to spend money on, half the time I get frustrated and leave without buying anything.
Importance of setting Financial Goals
Being a single parent is often challenging on the pocket book. Many of us live pay cheque to pay cheque. Thinking of big financial goals can sometimes be stressful. But unless you have goals you’ll never move forward. By setting goals you create a target, and by having a target you can stay focused.
You goals can be simple, like build a $1,000 emergency fund, or complex like get debt free and start a new business.
I’ve posted my own personal financial goals, along with their target date and status on my Personal Financial Goals page.
Below are a list of important financial goals that you may want to consider adopting in your life.
Why you need a Sinking Fund
First off, what the heck is a sinking fund?
Basically, it’s a commonly used financial practice by governments and companies. Essentially it’s a reserve of money that is saved up to pay known future debts.
Part of a balance budget
So, if you are on your way to financial stability, you are probably working on completing the following list of tasks:
- Making a budget and sticking to it
- Getting out of debt
- Building up an emergency fund
- Building up a Job Loss Protection Fund
- Contributing to your TFSA, RRSP and RESP (if applicable)
Step 6 should be to create a sinking fund.
Who wants a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus?
I’ve never been a points collector. I do use a cash back credit card as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. But generic points always seemed like a hassle to me.
Then I stumbled upon this article How to Live Like James Bond for a Weekend, and that lead me to this other article about travel hacking “How to Travel Around the World for $418.” And I was hooked on the idea of leveraging sign-up bonuses.
I’ve sat on this idea for the last 6 months because signing-up for multiple credit cards affects your credit score. So I was waiting until I bought my house. Now that I have and I still have great credit I started signing up for credit cards, with the plan to churn them yearly for the sign-up bonus points
© Sean MacEntee - Flickr.com
For now I’ve focused on FYF (First Year Free Cards), since it limits my exposure while learning about this new world.
What is the best Credit Card Reward Program?
I was going to write a lengthy comparison article, that delves into the pros and cons of various reword types….
But I’m feeling lazy, and the internet is full of those types of articles all ready.
So instead I’ll be brief and tell you which one I use, why it’s the best and then give some links to great articles the dig into the details.
MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard