Smart Ways to Use Your Credit Card on Black Friday


I am writing to you direct from NYC today.  I’ve been here since Saturday to partake in all the holiday festivities and pre Black Friday sales.  I am happy to say thanks to good ol’ New York City I am officially DONE my Christmas Shopping.   Yes that’s right, I’m done!

This is unusual behavior for me, but thanks to the wonder of online shopping and all the stores for their awesome deals I am done my shopping  before December 1.   However I know that some of you probably haven’t even started.

Last night I had the pleasure of joining other personal finance experts Barry Choi, Vanessa’s Money and RateHub for the #cdnmoney chat.  It’s a weekly Twitter chat where experts answer questions and share their favorite money tips.  Last night it was all about how to use your credit card wisely while #BlackFriday shopping.

Here are some of the great tips for all you savvy shoppers out there from our Twitter chat next week:

Always watch where you swipe

More shopping means more credit card transactions and believe me when I say your fraud radar should be on high alert this time of the year.  Thieves are out in full swing during the holidays so make sure to always keep an eye on your credit card when using it in stores.

Look for sales

Your favorite items are probably on sale this time of the year, but that’s no reason to buy at the first store you visit.  Check flyers and online stores to compare prices and make sure you get the best deals possible.  If that means lining up tomorrow at midnight then so be it.

Check for bonus points promotions

Having a great rewards credit card comes in handy this time of the year.  I am happy to say that all my holiday purchases were put on my credit card.  It was enough to put me over the next rewards level and I exchanged in all the points and ordered myself a Starbucks gift card – Merry early Christmas to me.  If you’re looking for a new credit card use this tool to find the best credit cards in Canada.

Don’t be afraid to ask

If you don’t find what you want don’t walk away.  Find a sales associate to help .  It never hurts to ask them to check the back store for more items.  At the end of the day they are there to help and  you are there to shop.  You don’t want to wake up early and wait in line only to find your item is sold out.

Check your inbox for promotions

Before you head out and hit the stores check your inbox for email promotions and deals.  This is especially helpful if you’re not sure what you want to buy for everyone on your list, but know you need to get something.  I always get great gift ideas from being on a mailing list.

When using your credit card for holiday shopping don’t forget to spend within a limit and pay off the balance to avoid excessive interest charges.

What’s on your wish list this Black Friday?

Photo from Pixabay

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Man in Your Life


The holidays are in full swing and although I am not a huge fan of cold winter weather I absolutely LOVE this time of the year.  There is something so comforting about the look and feel of Christmas.  In all honesty – even though it may sound superficial – I really love the look of wrapped gifts under a full decorated Christmas tree.  However I hate shopping at the mall during holidays.

Holiday shopping brings out big crowds, and although malls are beautifully decorated I try to avoid them at all costs.  I do most of my Christmas gift shopping online, this is partially because my family lives in a different state and partially because it’s so convenient.

Here are the best Christmas gift ideas for every man in your life:

Bottle Breacher

This is for the beer bottle and wine drinker in your life.  All the Shark Tank fans out there will be very familiar with this handy little gadget.  Bottle Breacher is a bottle opener made from a 50 caliber bullet and the best part is that it can be custom engraved.  This is by far one of the manliest gifts I’ve ever seen – it’s also the gift I bought for BF this year.  That’s right come Christmas morning this will be wrapped and under my tree.  I am still waiting for it to be delivered to Canada, but I’m sure it’s on its way.

Sports memorabilia tree ornament

My Dad is a huge Cleveland Browns fan so this year I bought him a Christmas tree ornament with a Cleveland Browns football player hanging on it.  I originally did this last year for BF and he liked it so much that I decided to buy one for the other man in my life.  The best part is I purchased it on Amazon and had it shipped to my Dad’s address at no additional cost.  He’s totally going to love it.

Their favorite book

I think a good book is a universal gift.  It works for birthdays, housewarmings, graduations, weddings and of course Christmas.  This is usually the go-to-gift for my Dad because he’s an avid reader, but not this year.  Fiction novels, biographies and even niche books like the Guinness Book of World Records or the history of a sports team are great gift ideas.  A few years ago I bought my best friend the biography of Anna Nicole Smith and to this day it’s one of her favorite books.

A night out with the guys

If the man in your life is an avid sports fan, why not give him a night out with the guys.  Both BF and my Dad are huge UFC fans so for Christmas I am buying them both the Pay Per View fight on December 14.  I also chipped in money for delivery food and beer so they can invite their friends over and make a whole night of it.  Of course I had to tell them both about it, so it won’t be a surprise but it seems like a gift they’ll both enjoy.

What are you buying for the man in your life this Christmas?

If you are thinking about shopping on Black Friday, you can find out everything you need to know at The Penny Hoarder.

Photo from Pixabay

Creating a Budget Chic Wedding  


The average wedding costs $30,717. For a single day, it’s hard to justify when anyone getting married is also likely saving for his or her first home and/or planning to start a family.

Not to say your wedding day isn’t important, but is it worth $30,717? This is a question I ask myself constantly in the midst of my engagement to be married. I know two things: 1) I don’t want to throw down over $30,000 on my “Big Day” but 2) I also have expensive taste.

With these disparate forces at play, I have set out on a journey to create a budget chic wedding. Here are some of the ways I’m saving money and keeping the wedding bill below average.

Decide what’s most/least important

First off, you need to decide what’s most and least important to you as a couple. For us, the most important things were photography, food and drink, and the areas we felt we could save money on were the wedding rings, dress and tux, invitations, music and décor.

Even still, we’re trying to save money in all areas, even those of greatest importance to us. I negotiate with all vendors and I’ve saved thousands of dollars on the venue and photography. I knew my budget chic wedding will photograph well and look nice in vendors’ portfolios, and I used this as a bargaining chip. And I cut the cake – quite literally.

Wedding Rings

The vintage look is all the rage in wedding rings, so why not get an actual antique? That’s what I did and I saved thousands of dollars. There’s some unwritten rule pushed by the marketing departments of diamond jewelers that the engagement ring should cost two-three months’ salary. I think mine was two-weeks’ worth and I get complimented on it constantly for its originality. (Yes, I picked out my own engagement ring and wedding band, which was one weeks’ salary)

The Dress

As a modern bride, I plan to buy my dress off-the-rack. I’m even thinking of wearing a skirt. I honestly can’t even tell the difference between a cheap poufy dress and an expensive one – they all look the same to me, and it’s an overdone, dated look.

Take a cue from style star Olivia Palermo and try something different. To be fair, Palermo’s dress is likely not inexpensive, but it’s easy to replicate for under $500. (I’ve looked into it)

Furthermore, don’t burden your bridesmaids with $300 polyester dresses they’ll only wear once: the current trend is mismatched dresses in the same colour hue, so adopt it.


Wedding invitations are one area where you can easily save a few hundred dollars or more. Even if you are not totally down with evites, there are a few online vendors that offer modern, high-quality stationary at a fraction of the price of traditional stationary providers.

Minted and Wedding Paper Divas have a great selection of designs to fit any style and palette. I sent out “Save the Dates” via Paperless Post and plan on snail mailing the invites using one of these online vendors.

Additionally, I created a wedding website where guests can view detailed information on the wedding like the schedule and accommodation options, and where they can RSVP. This saves on printing, and there are many wedding template websites to choose from. I ended up picking Riley & Grey after receiving a 50% off offer, but I also looked at Squarespace and Appy Couple, among others.


“That wedding had the best DJ,” said no one ever. So, for this reason and budget considerations, I’ve opted to build my own playlist. The venue has promised a “plug and play” sound environment, so I’m bringing my iPad equipped with Spotify. You can splurge on Tidal, but I’ve heard it’s not really worth it.


If you can, choose a venue that looks great on its own and fits your theme, then you won’t have to fill it with decorations. I’ve booked a stark, industrial converted warehouse and my theme is “industrial chic.” (If you’re curious what this looks like, check out my Pinterest Board) Décor is going to be minimal and flowers will consist of mostly greenery and shrubs. My dad is building a wood backdrop for the altar using old barn board and I will add a few knick-knacks here and there, but the theme is already played out in the venue setting.

Finally, if like me, you waited to come of age to actually afford a wedding, you can borrow a bunch of your friends’ decorations. They spent a ton of money on their weddings in their 20s, and now I’m 30 and have my pick of second-hand décor!

Additional financial considerations

  1. Start a wedding fund. Instead of getting married and then paying off the wedding, we set up a wedding fund that we contribute to monthly. It’s making for a long engagement (two years!) but we will actually have the money upfront to pay for the wedding.
  2. Skip the registry. Unless you actually need plates and pans for your new home, skip the registry. Your guests will likely give you cash in its place that you can use for the honeymoon.
  3. Get a travel rewards or cash back credit card. Charge all wedding-related expenses to a rewards credit card and see your cash back balance or travel points grow, which can be used to recoup some of your expenses or fund your honeymoon.

Author: Kerri-Lynn McAllister is the Marketing Director at RateHub.ca, a website that compares mortgage rates, credit cards and deposit rates with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money. Kerri-Lynn is getting married in August 2016.

Photo from Pixabay

Relationships and Your Money: Are You Doing It Right?


Do you consider yourself good with money?  Do you consider your spouse to be good with money?  Some of us may say yes, others may say no and some of us may be unsure.  Well today we’re going to put your money knowledge to the test.  Of course there is not a one-size-fits-all answer to the question “How should I manage money in my relationship?”

However there are some common money issues that can become a sore spot in relationships.  If you’re ready to take the next step in your relationship having the money talk is a good idea sooner rather than later to avoid any surprises that could lead to financial struggles later on down the road.

Think about how you deal with these common money issues in your relationship.  If you’re wondering if  you and your sweetheart are making the most out of your money ask yourself these three questions to get the conversation started.

Who controls the money in your relationship?

Finder, a personal finance education resource and comparison site, conducted a survey on America’s biggest money mistakes. The survey polled almost 2,000 Americans, and they found that 19% of Americans surveyed said they let their partner control our finances – and regret it.

One spouse may earn more than the other in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean the breadwinner has to control the household finances.  That may work for some couples, but in my experience it leads to animosity in the relationship.  I couldn’t imagine having to ask my boyfriend for money to spend, but maybe that’s just our relationship.

Does having children fit into your financial plan?

It’s no secret that kids are expensive.  My Dad always says he loves his two daughters, but his life would have been very different if he didn’t have children.  Having kids isn’t for everyone, BF and I don’t plan on having kids because it just didn’t fit into our plans when we were younger and now that we’re in our mid 30s it seems to be too late.

The survey found that people with higher incomes, $100,000-$149,000, were the most likely group to say having children was a money mistake.  Sometimes couples prefer to travel or enjoy a more luxurious lifestyle over starting a family.  That may be O.K., but it’s a conversation that couple’s need to have when planning their lives.

Did you overpay for your wedding?

Some people spend tens of thousands of dollars on their wedding day because it’s probably the biggest party they will ever host.  Others seem to think that spending that much money on one single day is a financial mistake.  I am not married, but I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle.  I would like my wedding day to be beautiful, but not if it costs more money than I can afford.

I wouldn’t want to start my happily ever after with a ton of debt because I know firsthand just how stressful money woes can be in a relationship.  According to the recent survey men were more likely to admit paying too much for a wedding as one of their financial mistakes.

Now going back to the original question, how is money in your relationship?

Photo from Pixabay