Smart Shopper

Best Father’s Day Gifts -Unique AND Useful

Posted by on May 22, 2016 in A frugal Life, Frugal For Everyone, Smart Shopper | 24 comments

Best Father’s Day Gifts -Unique AND Useful

I truly enjoyed this search for the best Father’s Day Gifts. I had no idea that all these fascinating and unique products were available so it was quite an eye-opener. Who would have thought of watches with wooden bands or a computer mouse that looks like a car or a golf bag attachment that let’s your phone/tablet record your game? What amazing choices there are and how lucky the dad who will receive one of these gifts. Before I get started with the list I do need to explain a few things. My search took me to Amazon simply because Amazon has many thousands of products which meant all the searching could be done on one site. As the saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I agree and have therefore added the images below. Clicking on any of the thumbnails will take you to the Amazon site for enlarged views of the product. Think of it as browsing a Father’s Day Gift Catalog. Be assured that clicking does not mean buying. On that note, I am an Amazon associate and if you do decide to buy from Amazon, I would be delighted if you would order through my site. No cost to you but I will earn a small commission. The Best Father’s Day Gifts: Starting off with one of the neatest items, at least in my opinion, is this wooden watch handcrafted from high quality natural sandalwood with no two pieces of wood exactly the same. It includes a day/date calendar. Definitely a huge step-up from the tie and sock gifts of yesterday. Craft beers are all the rage these days. Wouldn’t these beverage chiller sticks be the perfect accessory for dad’s favourite craft beer? All you do is put the stick in the freezer for 45 minutes then insert into a bottle of beer (or other beverage) to keep the drink cold. Father’s Day is the one day to go all out spoiling dad and I can’t think of a better way than with this folding chair. The chair has a detachable insulated cooler, an electronics pocket, a fold-out side table to hold books, tablet, camera and drinks, etc. keeping everything within easy reach. Perfect for keeping dad comfortable on the beach, park, or the deck. How about this portable BBQ suitcase? You have to admit, this one is very unique. Easy to carry around, this stainless steel charcoal grill can accommodate cooking for 2 people and includes a convenient mess-free ash catcher. If dad is into thrillers, “Make Me (with bonus short story Small Wars): A Jack Reacher Novel” by the #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lee Child will be super appreciated. Of course, it will probably mean he’ll become too engrossed in the book to be able to take time out to BBQ. Best make other plans for dinner. I love this nifty Mobile Printer w/ZINK Zero Ink Printing Technology that is compatible w/iOS & Android Devices. It prints 2×3 colour photos directly from Mobile Phone or Tablet via Bluetooth or NFC Technology. Great for dad – lucky him. The PhoneSoap 2.0: UV Sanitizer & Universal Charger, as seen on SHARK TANK, isn’t only unusual, it’s also extremely useful. Phones are covered in disease-causing bacteria. PhoneSoap 2.0 safely kills 99.99% of germs utilizing bacteria-zapping UV rays. The germ-killing UV-C light used by the PhoneSoap 2.0 is scientifically proven to banish bacteria found on everything from door knobs, toilet seats, toilet handles, dirty laundry, and more. Fits and charges any phone or tablet and has a universal phone charger w/USB port.   For...

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Barbecue Buying Guide – Types and Options

Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Product Information, Smart Shopper | 25 comments

Barbecue Buying Guide – Types and Options

Barbecue season is here and with that in mind I decided to check the best time to buy a new barbecue and types and options available. The time to find the biggest savings on a new barbecue, gas grill, smoker or outside oven is at the end of the summer, namely August and September, when retailers clear out their inventory to make room for winter products. However, with barbecue season starting not everyone will want to wait to buy or replace their barbecue until summer is over so they’ll be pleased to know that June will also offer some good bargains. Below are the most common types and features to be found at retail outlets. Buying a Barbecue: What’s available? Barbecues have come a long way since the little Hibachi grill. I checked out a few at a home improvement store and found barbecues in all sizes, from small portable ones that are perfect for balconies or to take along on day-trips to extra large ones that are fancier and more involved than the most up-to-date kitchen appliance. But no matter the choice, there are certain things to consider before buying. Choosing the right heat source is one of those things to think about – do you want convenience, flavour, easy start, fast heat, etc.?  Electric (great for apartment or condos) Natural Gas (need to be hooked up by a professional – easy start, even temperatures) Propane (easy start, even temperatures, can be converted to Natural Gas) Charcoal (said to provide the best flavour but takes longer to get started and heat up) Smokers (requires logs – slow cooking) Pizza Ovens (very expensive – limited use) Each of the heat sources provides a different flavour but whether it makes enough of a difference to pay more for any particular heat source is not something I’m convinced about. Other than the smoker, which would definitely give a unique flavour, I doubt most of us could identify the heat source in a blind taste test. The size of the grill matters. Unless you do a lot of entertaining it is recommended you choose a size that meets your normal requirements – how many people will you normally be feeding? What size meals will you be cooking? What type of meals? Looking at the grill you should be able to picture how many burgers, chops, steaks or other food you’ll be able to barbecue at any one time. A grill that’s too small will turn out to be time-consuming, a grill that’s too big will waste fuel. All grills, no matter the size or heat source, should accommodate the different heat temperatures requiremed for searing, cooking and finishing. Do you need a side burner? I have one on our barbecue and wouldn’t do without it. It’s used for all kinds of purposes, frying onions, cooking corn on the cob, heating chili to making soup. The side shelf is another convenient feature that I wouldn’t want to do without as it holds everything within easy reach – from tools to dishes to condiments. Grates: Here you want to know how well and even grates hold heat, how easy they are to clean and how well they will stand-up under normal use. Grates are available in: Cast Iron – long wearing as long as they don’t get damaged – holds heat well to ensure even cooking. Porcelain Coated Cast Iron – most popular- food doesn’t stick, heat is evenly distributed, and these grates last longest of all the grate types. Porcelain Enameled Steel – food doesn’t stick to grate – must be carefully handled...

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Stop Fraud – Recognize. Prevent, Report

Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Frugal For Everyone, Smart Shopper | 34 comments

Stop Fraud – Recognize. Prevent, Report

This post “Stop Fraud” was prompted by a couple of incidents that happened to me recently. I was having some website issues which somehow seemed to leave me vulnerable to pop-ups. When I signed in to my bank account, there was a pop-up, very professional with the Bank’s logo, asking me to complete a customer service survey. I decided to go ahead and complete the survey – I was then given a choice of FREE products, all I had to do was pay shipping and handling. For that they needed my credit card information, which of course I wasn’t prepared to give them. That was as far as I went with the survey but I did call the bank’s Head Office to report this, changed my passwords and did a deep virus and malware scan. The second scam was one we’ve all heard about but this is the first time I actually experienced it. I received an email from someone who had money to invest in our country and wanted to partner with me. I don’t know what the rest of the email said because as soon as I saw that the email was deleted. It should actually have been forwarded to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre but I wasn’t thinking, I just wanted to get rid of it. The third scam happened a while back via my phone. I received a text message that I had won a $1,000.00 Walmart gift card. The Red Flag here was that I had never entered a contest so failed to see how I could win. I did call our local Walmart to inform them and they were already aware of this scam going on. Seeing as the scammers are out in force I decided it was time to renew the scam alerts. The only way we’re going to stop fraud is to recognize it and be aware of the latest scams. Scammers approach in different ways: by phone, pop-ups, email, snail mail or door-to-door. There are two things they want – access to your money and/or to your personal information, including your social insurance number. If you don’t know who you’re dealing with, before giving out any information, call one of the numbers at the end of this post to verify the person/business’ identity and legitimacy.  From the Competition Bureau: “Fraudsters are professional criminals that know what they are doing. Fraudsters rely on some basic techniques to be successful. These include: developing professional-looking marketing materials; providing believable answers for your tough questions; impersonating government agencies, legitimate businesses, websites, charities, and causes; pretending to be your ordinary supplier; hiding the true details in the fine print; preying on areas of vulnerability, including those needing help with loans or finding employment; asking for fees in advance of promised services; threatening legal action to collect on alleged contracts; falsely claiming affiliation with reliable sources, such as legitimate news sites to support their products or services; and exchanging victim lists with other fraudsters.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The most popular scam right now has scammers calling by phone impersonating Revenue Canada/Internal Revenue agents. They may tell you that you are getting a refund (of a large amount), all they need is some personal information and your bank account number in order to process it, or, on the flip side, that you owe them a lot of money and you need to pay right now.  They may tell you a warrant for your arrest is being prepared as they speak and will be activated immediately if you fail to pay. They may give you a phone number or website to...

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MARCH into Spring – MARCH out with Savings.

Posted by on Mar 6, 2016 in Smart Shopper | 32 comments

MARCH into Spring – MARCH out with Savings.

March is when we start looking forward to Spring and saying goodbye to Winter. March is also a great time to take advantage of some pretty good buys. The retail industry runs on sales cycles which are determined in large part by what’s happening at the time. This March, besides St. Patrick’s Day, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, there are a number of Awareness Days, all of which are used by retailers to increase sales. This is great news for the consumer. With smart shopping and taking advantage of the best deals, the consumer can save a bundle. Daylight Savings Time starts Sunday, March 13/16, the perfect time to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Both the batteries and detectors will be on sale this month for this very reason. St. Patrick’s Day will promote the sale of: Corned Beef Potatoes Good Friday (March 25) and Easter (March 27). Look for the following sale products starting around the middle of the month. Meat -Ham and Turkey Dairy – Cream, Eggs and Butter Bakery – Dinner Rolls, Cup-Cakes Baking Supplies – Flour (white), Cake Mixes, Pie Crusts, Rice Krispies, Sugar (Granulated, Brown and Icing), Chocolate Chips, Nuts, Coconut, Canned Pie Filling, Canned Frosting, Marshmallows Baking Pans, Foil Wrap, Plastic Wrap Once Easter is over, all the leftover Easter goodies will be on sale. That should keep the chocoholics busy and happy. March Awareness Days and related Best-Buys and Savings: National Frozen Food Month – Frozen foods are just as nutritious as fresh – often with less waste – so don’t be afraid to stock up: Fruits and Vegetables Chicken, Lamb and Fish Ice Cream, Ice Cream Novelties, Frozen Yogurt Other March Food Sales: Produce: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Chard, Cucumber, Lettuce, Kale, Mushrooms, Peppers, Potatoes, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes Fruit: Avocado, Bananas, Lemons, Limes, Mangoes, Pineapple, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tangerines National Spring Cleaning Month. Everything needed to turn the house upside down for a really good Spring Clean will be offered for sale this month. However, before buying any Spring Cleaning products, Please read this first The labels do not always mean what they imply. For closet clear-outs you may first want to read about online consignment shops You could  earn some money while cleaning-up or replace your clean gently-used clothes with some different ones. Other March Best-Buys: Sports Gear – both Winter clearance of ice skates, skis, hockey equipment, etc. and pre-season sales of Summer equipment – bikes, all kinds of balls, tennis/badminton Books – Gardening, BBQ, Patios and Decks Travel – Luggage and Vacation Clothes Winter Clearance – You’ll probably be able to find exceptional deals on winter equipment, shovels, snowblowers, etc. Pre-season sales on Air-Conditioners, Barbecues, Patio Furniture, Lawnmowers and Gardening Equipment Clothes – clearance of Winter Clothes and pre-season sales of Spring and Summer Clothes Outdoor Exercise Equipment, Athletic Wear, MP3 Players, iPhone and iPods, plus their accessories Digital Cameras, and Home Theaters. With all these great deals being offered during March, there’s probably something on the list that is just what you’ve been looking for. Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share.          ...

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Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart

Posted by on Jan 24, 2016 in A frugal Life, Health, Smart Shopper | 36 comments

Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart

Do you know how many celery stalks you need for 1 cup chopped celery? Or how many cups of lettuce in 1 head of Romaine? This vegetable measure – cup equivalent chart provides the answers. By all accounts we will be paying more for all fruits and vegetables this year. With the Canadian dollar trading at $0.74 compared to the US dollar and with much of our produce imported from south of the border Canadians especially will be caught by the price increase. Comparison shopping is one of the best ways to find the best buy but how can you do that when you can’t compare sizes? Fresh produce is sold by the pound or kilogram; frozen produce is sold by the ounce or gram while canned goods are sold by ounce or millilitre. Trying to figure out the best deal using those measurements is a bit of a nightmare. The vegetable measure – cup equivalent chart takes the guesswork out of comparing. Once you know the size equivalent in cups it becomes much easier to compare prices and find the best buy. Example, I gathered prices for fresh, canned and frozen beans and easily worked out the best price using cup equivalency: 1 lb fresh green beans @ $3.49/lb = 3 cups or $1.17/cup;  15 1/2 oz. can of green beans @ $1.79 = 2 cups or $0.90/cup and 750g frozen green beans @ $2.97 = 5 cups or $0.60/cup. Easy to calculate and see that in this case, the frozen green beans is the best buy. There is one other advantage to knowing the cup equivalents: Since recipes usually call for cup measurements of vegetables, knowing the cup equivalent let’s you know exactly how much you need, thereby eliminating waste and saving you money. Because there is such a variance in the size of vegetables the cup equivalent is not exact but is close enough to provide a base for comparison.  The vegetable cup equivalent shown is for trimmed and chopped vegetables unless otherwise noted.     Vegetable Measure – Cup Equivalent Chart ASPARAGUS 1 lb/450g: 12-15 large/16-20 small spears 14-16 oz/398-455ml: 12-18 spears 10 oz/280g 16 oz/450g FRESH CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 3 Cups 2 Cups 1¼ Cup 2 Cups BEANS 1 lb/450g: 30 to 40 beans 15 1/2 oz/440ml 14 oz/400g 1¾ lb/750g FRESH CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 3 Cups 2 Cups 1¾ Cups 5 Cups BEETS, Superfood 1 lb./450g: 5 medium 16 oz/455ml FRESH CANNED 2½  Cups 2 Cups BROCCOLI, Superfood     1 lb/450g Florets 1 Medium Bunch, chopped stalks and florets 10 oz/280g 16 oz/450g FRESH FRESH FROZEN FROZEN 2 Cups 3½ Cups 1¼ Cups 2 Cups BRUSSELS SPROUTS 1 lb/450g: 28 to 36 sprouts 10 oz/280g FRESH FROZEN 4 Cups 2 Cups CABBAGE 1 HEAD = 2 lbs/900g Shredded 1 lb/450 g Shredded 1 lb. Cooked FRESH FRESH FRESH 8 Cups 4 Cups 2 Cups CARROTS 1 lb/450g: 6-7 medium or 4 very large 1 lb/450g grated 1 lb/450 g pureed 16 0z/455ml FRESH FRESH FRESH CANNED 3 Cups 2½  Cups 1½ Cups 2 Cups CAULIFLOWER  1 medium HEAD = 2 lbs/900g Florets 1 lb/450g Florets 16 oz/450g FRESH FRESH FROZEN 1½ Cups 3 Cups 4 Cups CELERY 1 Bunch = 1 lb/450g = 8-10 stalks 2 medium stalks, no leaves FRESH FRESH 4 Cups 1 Cup CORN 2 medium EARS husked, kernels 12 0z/350ml kernels 16 0z/454ml creamed 10 0z/280g kernels 16 oz/450g kernels FRESH CANNED CANNED FROZEN FROZEN 1¼ Cups 1½ Cups 2 Cups 1¼ cup 2 cups KALE, Superfood 1 lb/450 g raw leaves 1 lb cooked 15 0z/427ml 10...

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The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing

Posted by on Jan 3, 2016 in Smart Shopper | 38 comments

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing

The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing infographic, in the sidebar of my blog, provides a quick overview of how to start couponing without becoming overwhelmed. I was asked to add this infographic to my blog and since my blog is about being frugal and saving money I felt it fit in very well. But now I’m going to ask a favour. Would you give me your opinion about it in the comments? I will be leaving the infographic in place for a month and your feedback will decide whether or not I will extend it beyond that time. All reports indicate that the price of groceries will be going up quite a bit during 2016, therefore starting the year with useful money-saving tips – such as couponing – seems appropriate. Clicking on the infographic will provide the Guide to Couponing details so I’m not going to be repeating what’s included there other than to highlight or clarify some points. The Busy Mom’s Guide to Couponing: Number 1 of the Guide states – Start Small. It you are new to couponing this is probably one of the best pieces of advice you’re going to get. So often people decide to start couponing and go all out, collecting coupons here, there and everywhere. Of course, this means they quickly become overwhelmed and decide couponing is not for them. That’s a shame because using coupons does save money and it can be done without taking up all your time.  The Guide to Couponing shows you how. Time things right (#4). Buy at the right time. This is one of my favourite ways to save and I’m glad to see it included in the infographic. You can also read more about this in one of my previous posts Maximizing Coupon Value Know each store’s policy. There seems to be a trick to this. I googled Walmart.ca Coupon Policy with no result. I next googled Walmart Canada Coupon Policy and there it was. It’s all in the wording. This also works for Return Policy, Shipping Policy, etc. If you aren’t successful the first time, just change the wording a bit. Every store has their own set of policies so what applies to one doesn’t necessarily apply to others. It pays off to know the policies at least for the stores you frequent the most. If you’re new to couponing or just want a refresher, click on the Guide to Couponing Infographic and the Link Maximizing Coupon Value for loads of useful money-saving information to start the year off right. Happy New Year, everyone. Talk to you again next week, Lenie If you enjoyed this post – others will too. Please share. Would love to have you follow me on Pinterest  or  Twitter or browse my Etsy...

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