7 Ways to Spend Thanksgiving Alone


Happy Thanksgiving!  If you’re like me you don’t live near your family and therefore you aren’t travelling home for the long weekend.  Many of us celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday and we’re continuing to get into the holiday spirit over the weekend with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  I am one of those people, even though I’m alone.  Just because you’re not with family doesn’t mean you can celebrate Thanksgiving.

No one says you need family to enjoy the holidays so I say you start your own traditions because that’s what I did.

Here are some fun ways to celebrate Thanksgiving if you can’t be with your family:

Catch up on your favorite TV shows

I LOVE spending free days warm in bed under the covers.  I really enjoy binge watching old TV shows on Netflix such as Gilmore Girls because they are commercial free.  Not only does it save time, but I don’t have to channel surf to avoid the commercials.  If you don’t have Netflix pop in a DVD and have a movie marathon or log on to the channel’s website to catch up on missed episodes of your favorite shows.

Make a meal for one – or two

Even though I was alone with BF for Thanksgiving there was no shortage of food.  We still cooked  a big dinner with all the fixings such as mashed potatoes, creamed corn, gravy and hot dinner rolls.  We’ll be eating leftovers for the next few days and that’s just the way I like it.  The only think I can’t make is stuffing, so that will have to wait until the next time I see my mom.

Go for a walk

Sunny, warm-ish weather is not always a given on Thanksgiving so take advantage of the fall weather over the next few days before the snow starts to fall.  Fresh air can do wonders for the mind and soul.  Go for a walk around your neighborhood or through the woods if you live nearby – just make sure to get home before dark.

Volunteer for those in need

You’re not alone if you’re without family on Thanksgiving, a lot of people are.  Unfortunately some of those people aren’t as fortunate as we are.  If you’re in the mood to do good during the holidays then volunteer at your local soup kitchen, women’s shelter or homeless shelter to help those in need.

Go on a road trip

A couple extra days off work is the perfect reason to take a long weekend road trip.  Just make sure to avoid large tourist cities if you don’t like crowds.   I was in NYC from Saturday until Wednesday and although I missed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, I’m glad I got out before the crowds started to pour in.

Make a list for your Black Friday shopping

What’s better than waking up today to major discounts at your favorite stores?  Nothing I can think of.  I made my Black Friday shopping list last night, complete with a spending limit so when I woke up this morning I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  BF and I are heading out to Best Buy and IKEA very soon.

Read a good book

I will probably read two books from now until the end of the year.  The holidays put me into relaxing mode and I like to get into a good book.  Last year I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and cried my eyes out.  Right now I’m reading Girl on the Train; I’m 30 pages in and so far not impressed.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

How are you spending Thanksgiving weekend?

Photo from Pixabay

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