Showing posts with label Frugal Living. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Frugal Living. Show all posts

Vancouver Craft Brewery Guide

In recent years, Vancouver has become one of the well-known craft brewery cities.  Much like Portland, we not have a big hipster community and along with that, comes all the cool craft breweries - with affordable tasty beer!

We have been enjoying our  new affordable hangouts and here are a few that we've tried recently:

2$ sampler, 7$ flight 4.5$ glasses
framboise noir: nice thick raspberry texture, light alcohol taste, very refreshing
hefeweizen: not your usual diluted hefeweizen. This one was quite thick and strong taste, refreshing wheat flavor
middle drink, not super memorable
IPA: as usual, hoppy

ultimate lowest price, 1$ samplers, 3$ glass
tried porter, grapefruit, IPA, geezer, pilsner
nothing was extra spectacular, the IPA was the usual hoppy IPA taste, the pilsner was a normal budweiser style taste, the porter and geezer had a nice levels of coffee flavor. The grapefruit beer was not intensely grapefruity but had the aroma

IPA and porter
IPA was the usual hoppy IPA

3$ glass
had tastes, IPA and stout

stronger hoppy IPA, stout was nice and thick

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How to EARN money while you SHOP

How to EARN money while you SHOP

It's inevitable...even the frugal-est of people sometimes have to go on a shopping spree...but that doesn't mean that you can't do it smart.  If you've read my post about splurging for an Apple MacBook, then you'll know that I've found a way to get a big discount on my purchase.  What I didn't disclose in that post was that I also found another cost saving by signing up to Ebates Canada.

Is Ebates a scam you ask ? Really, this site seems too good to be true, but after reading through their website and have seen commercials on TV, they looked pretty legit.  Ebates is a "cash back shopping" and has been around since 1998.  They've only really started in Canada in 2012 and have international counterparts in the US, Korea, China and Russia.  If you're still skeptical, they have good reviews from highly regarded organizations like Cosmopolitan, Yahoo, CTV News ..etc.. If you're STILL not convinced, they have  Better Business Bureau rating of A+.

It's rare that there are any deals you can from Apple, but Ebates offer 1% cash back from Apple Canada... which is a lot when you consider how expensive Apple products are !

Here's what my cashback looked like from my last purchase:

Ebates Canada Apple

It really does work !!

Not buying from Apple ? Don't worry, they have tons of other well know brands you can shop from.

Ebates Canada Shop

It's true you can actually earn money while you shop ! So lesson of the day is just because you want to save money doesn't mean you can't buy anything just need to shop smarter!

Will you be using Ebates to shop smarter?

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Grocery prices - what you need to know to stay on budget !

Product Review of Brooklyn Olde Lantern

Do you ever do your groceries based on what you want to eat ? I think most people do, but those impulse buys at the grocery stores might cost you if you're not careful and you stock up on "sales".  When we do our groceries we always have a reference price in our head to makes sure that we're in fact are buying something on "sale".  It doesn't happen very often, but some groceries might mark up their price and then slash it go make it seem like you are getting a big discount.

So how do you know or get a reference price to compare ?  I went to Google and found this list from Statistics Canada
Unit2015 PricePrice in Lbs
Round steak1 kg18.418.35
Sirloin steak1 kg21.289.65
Prime rib roast1 kg28.1612.77
Blade roast1 kg15.947.23
Stewing beef1 kg15.827.18
Ground beef, regular1 kg12.295.57
Pork chops1 kg12.935.86
Chicken1 kg7.413.36
Bacon500 g6.84
Wieners450 g4.37
Canned sockeye salmon213 g4.71
Homogenized milk1 l2.49
Partly skimmed milk1 l2.34
Butter454 g4.61
Processed cheese food slices250 g2.88
Evaporated milk385 ml1.81
Eggs1 dz3.28
Bread675 g2.83
Soda crackers450 g2.73
Macaroni500 g1.52
Flour2.5 kg5.12.31
Corn flakes675 g4.91
Apples1 kg3.731.69
Bananas1 kg1.670.76
Grapefruits1 kg2.731.24
Oranges1 kg3.26
Apple juice, canned1.36 l2.1
Orange juice, tetra-brick1 l4.19
Carrots1 kg1.880.85
Celery1 kg2.771.26
Mushrooms1 kg8.383.80
Onions1 kg1.770.80
Potatoes4.54 kg5.552.52
French fried potatoes, frozen1 kg2.721.23
Baked beans, canned398 ml1.34
Tomatoes, canned796 ml1.67
Tomato juice, canned1.36 l2.37
Ketchup1 l3.47
Sugar, white2 kg2.811.27
Coffee, roasted300 g6.41
Coffee, instant200 g6.74
Tea (bags)724.46
Cooking or salad oil1 l4.12
Soup, canned284 ml1.02
Baby food128 ml0.94
Peanut butter500 g3.57
Fruit flavoured crystals2.25 l1.74
Soft drinks, cola type2 l1.99
Soft drinks, lemon-lime type2 l1.9
Paper towels (rolls)22.59
Facial tissue2002.6
Bathroom tissue (rolls)42.6
Shampoo300 ml3.88
Deodorant60 g4.4
Toothpaste100 ml2.45

I hope you find this list helpful ! What other methods help you stay on budget?

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8 Phone apps to earn some cash !

There is an app for that ! Here are a few apps that can put some money in your pocket !

1) EasyShift

How it works:

Youíre asked to review Shift instructions and product specs, while collecting information in stores. With this redesign, the focus was to make that experience even more effortless. Everything from finding to completing Shifts needed to feel fluid, responsive, and easy to understand.

Earn cash anywhere.
Find quick jobs at local stores and shops.

Take photos of products, check prices, and review promotions. Itís as easy as shopping.

Earning potential: $3- $15
Payments will be made via PayPal and can be processed within 48 hours.

2) App Trailers

How it works:
Preview trailers about apps and earn points while youíre at it. Help the app makers improve their app trailers by sharing honest opinions about what they need to add to complete the trailer.

Earning potential: You get paid half a cent for each video you watch. For trying out a demo (of an app), you can get paid between 9 cents to a dollar. Joining via a friendís referral code may give you a head start of 50 points.

3) Iconzoomer

What to do: Take photos of what is asked in your assignment: your lunch, your drink, or the shoes you are wearing, and earn money for each snap. Share a comment about the snapshot (if you got a feedback you want the manufacturer the know, this is your chance), and thatís it.

Take photos of food and fashion products, send your photos in to the Icon Zoomer developers and designers, and earn PayPal cash for completing assignments.

Read more:

Earning Potential: Average Pay: $5+

4) Gigwalk

What You Do: Choose a gig or small errand around your town to complete.

Earning Potential: $10 to $15 an hour.

5) Shopkick

What You Do: Get "kicks" (points) just for walking into a store! You can trade those points in for rewards. Also, you can see which discounts are happening at any store you're in.

Earning Potential: $5+

6) TaskRabbit

What You Do: Choose between tons of random tasks, from moving furniture to taking photographs.

Earning Potential: $5 to $50

7) GymPact

What to do: Exercise at the gym and earn money. Once youíve made a week-long pact on GymPact, you get paid for every day you go, and you have to pay for every day you skip. Those who get to the gym to exercise get to claim their monies from those who didnít!

Earning Potential: Youíre getting $0.50 to $0.75 per workout which must lasts a minimum of 30 minutes. And you get to follow your exercise regime, and keep fit and healthy.

8) ESPN Streak For The Cash

What to do: Think you know your sports team? Then name your predictions for each game and make sure you get the longest winning streak of the month. To make it tougher, you have to make the call for 10 different sports and maintain your streak.

Earning Potential: The longest winning streak for a team or a player will win a monthly grand prize of $50,000.

Do you have any other apps that you use ? Comment below !

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My travel checklist to South Korea

I'm going to Korea !  ...but after the excitement sets in, the real planning begins. So... how should i start planning my trip to Korea ?  First, let's look at some practical stuff :

Travel Plugs - Electricity Outlets

Things i always forget to check until last min is the types of outlets are used.  Here's the information for the electricity outlet in Korea

korea electricity outlets

Apparently, their plugs are similar to  France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey !

Currency Conversion

Korea's currency is called Won

For Canadians, the conversion is similar to 1 Canadian dollar - 10,000 Won

Cellphone/ Sim Cards

Apparently if you are planning to use you're North American phone in Korea, it might not work because it is not compatible with their celluar network... Don't think it will be worth it to invest in a sim card if i'm going to be there for a few days...but that leads us to...


They have ample of FREE PUBLIC WIFIs from what i've heard.  Apparently free wifi in Seoul is a government initiative to offer 10,000 free public wifi zones !! More info here -


Since i'm familiar with Hong Kong's transit system, Korea has a similar one where you can get a re loadable card (by paying a deposit) and refilling money on it. This card is called the "T-Money".  You are also able to use this at convenient store...similar to the "octopus card" in Hong Kong.

Other options are M-Pass (which is similar to day passes) or Seoul City pass plus (which is a single fare ticket)

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Planning a Europe trip on a budget

Ever heard of how affordable traveling in Europe was?Well, i finally had the chance to experience it myself..and i have to's true! With enough research and guts, you can find affordable accommodation, food and fun times.

My itinerary was quite packed for the 10 days i was there.

  1. Vancouver -> Frankfurt (lay over of 7 hours!...gave me a chance to explore the city)

  2. Frankfurt -> Florence 

  3. Florence -> Venice

  4. Venice -> Cinque Terre

  5. Cinque Terre -> Pisa

  6. Pisa -> Nuremberg

  7. Nuremberg -> Biberach

  8. Biberach -> Frankfurt/Vancouver


this was actually a very last min trip for me...i decided to go two weeks before i left!  there was a change in my work that made me take this opportunity to travel.  with that said, i was way beyond the three month booking period for cheap airfares, but even with limited discount i got away with some pretty good deals going to


i was on this site a LOT during the planning of my trip, checking out what times would the most optimal for my itinerary.  One trick i learned, that probably saved me some money, was to CLEAR MY COOKIES once in a while.

Air Transat

i also checked Air Transat during my research and ended up getting my flight home with them.  The only catch with Air transat is that they only fly a few days a week.  But if your schedule fits, it can easily get a flight in the $1100 range from the West Coast to Europe.

Ryan air

Famous for their cheap intra-europe flights ! my flight as around 60 euros, which was considered more on the expensive side from Pisa to Nuremberg.  But there are other options for cheaper depending on your flexibility.

If you're really pinched for your penny or you want to go to smaller towns in Germany, this coach company is a good place to look.


Trains prove to a reliable form of transportation in Europe too.  I've been on quite a few trains, new and old during my trip...especially in Italy... word of caution, looking at train schedules are a bit tricky in Italy!

Trenitalia - Itally

DB Bahn - Germany


Now that you've planned all logistics, it's time to look for a place to stay !

I went and booked my places on Hostelworld.  It's a pretty trustworthy site, and you can book directly on there.  We've had some pretty interesting places - like camping in Venice!

We also tried Airbnb in Germany and it worked out great.

Know anymore planning tools?  Let me know!

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Join a free tour in Florence!

Lots of time when you're travelling, you actually have no idea where you're going.  You might have an idea of all the tourist landmarks you want to go to, but actually finding your way there might be in an adventure on its own!

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To get a good idea of your surrounding, I always like to join a tour to see what's around.  We found this free tour that took us to all the tourist attractions in florence, and turns out there are many of these free tours in europe. all you need to do is give the tour guide a tip "free" in a sense that you don't have to pay for the tour guide up front, but it's a nice and expected gesture that you tip them in the end. this tour was pretty good.  One thing to keep in mind is that because it's free, you might be a big walking target for watch your belongings !

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Free tour florence

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My affordable alternative to Nutella

nutella alternative

I've recently become a huge fan of Nutella (yea I know I live under a rock...) and was hoping to wait for sales to go on before I get my jar ( I don't like to buy things when they're not on sale!) ..but i was down to the very last scoop and had to look for a solution fast!

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I was wondering if other "no name" brands had the same hazelnut goodness and I found it at Walmart for HALF the price!  I wasn't sure if the taste would be slightly different, but when it's mostly just hazelnut and chocolate..what can go wrong?? So I took the chance and didn't regret it at all!  Usually i would see Nutella for sale for around $7..but this was half the price.

Sometimes brand name just doesn't make a different... what are your thoughts?

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How to stay connected in Europe - Where to get sim cards

It is great having a phone that was manufacture unlocked because it gave me the freedom to use my phone with other sim cards/mobile providers while travelling.

I did a bit of research to see what deals are available in Italy, and i started with TIM.  When getting a sim card and activating it in Italy, you have to give them your passport information.  So in case you don't already carry your passport with you - bring it to the phone store !

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I found this post most helpful which summarizes going with either TIM / Vodafone / Wind / Trebelow

The following was taken from Donald Strachan's blog:


The “TIM per smartphone” option is still one of the best deals around for a visitor. It costs 3€ per week, renewed automatically each week after activation, for 300 Mb of data. If you run out before the week is up, you can renew early (you will receive a text with instructions; reply with SI and you are refilled with data). To activate TIM per smartphone, just text TIMSMART3 ON to 40916 from your TIM line. There are a couple of further options to consider: TIM per smartphone mese (1 Gb valid for up to a month for 10€; text TIMSMARTMESE ON to 40916); and TIM per smartphone 4G (500 Mb at 4G/LTE speeds valid for a week for 6€; text TIMSMART4G ON to 40916).

Note, though, that TIM 4G coverage is limited to some cities only. Most of the country is covered with 3G only (and remote areas, not even that: slow EDGE speeds are still out there).

It is free to activate any of these options, as long as you do it by text or phone. In a TIM store, they will probably charge you an activation fee (often equal to the first payment of your prepaid plan). Here is the online TIM store locator.

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Vodafone Italia

Voda’s data-only add-on isn’t quite as generous as TIM’s: it costs 3€ per week for up to 250 Mb with the Mobile Internet option. However, Voda has fantastic all-in plans for mixing up talk, text and browsing. Vodafone UNLIMITEDoffers unlimited in-country Voda-to-Voda minutes (it costs a further 1€ per day for 200 minutes to anyone, debited automatically from your first call), unlimited texts and 1 Gb of data per month (at 4G/LTE speeds for no extra money, until May 31, 2013) for 11.90€.

Smart 350 is slightly better if you want to do more talking: 350 minutes to everyone, 350 texts to everyone, and 1 Gb of fast data for 9.90€ per month. Note, that’s a promotional price, and may rise after June 9, 2013. (It may not… prices on Voda’s all-in tariffs swing around a lot; check the updated tariff sheet they keep in most Vodafone stores.) Here is the Vodafone online store locator.


As with Voda, you get the best out of Wind with a minutes plus texts plus Internet plan. The All Inclusive plan has 120 minutes, 120 texts and 1 Gb of Internet for 7€ per month (until June 9, 2013; the regular price is 17€ per month, but after June 9 another promotion will almost certainly come onstream). To activate, text ALL SI to 4033. You can increase that data allowance to 2 Gb for an extra 2.50€ by activating the Internet No Stop add-on. Or make it 10 Gb of Internet by activating the Mega Unlimited add-on for 12€ per month (text UNLIMITED SI to 4033). Here is the Wind store locator.


The advice on 3/Tre remains the same: this is very much Italy’s “fourth” network. I have struggled in the past to find a signal in remote, rural areas. But if you expect to be city-tripping only, this is worth a look—mostly because the plans are straightforward and cheap. All-In Small costs 8€ per month for 120 domestic minutes, 120 texts and 1 Gb of high-speed Internet. Alternatively, don’t bother with a plan (other than the Power10 .10€/min. pay as you go rate) and addSuper Internet: 5€ for up to 3Gb of Internet valid for 30 days. Here is the Tre/3 store locator.iPad plans in ItalySIMs for iPads, iPad Minis and Android tablets are available on every network. Tre’s plan is the simplest and cheapest: the Super Internet package offers 3 Gb of Internet valid for a month for 5€; Tre SIMs usually cost 7€.Prices and plans on Vodafone and TIM vary with browsing speed (cheaper for standard 3G, pricier for HSPA+ [42.2 Mbps, in theory], priciest for 4G/LTE). TIM has the cheaper “starter” plan: Internet Start offers 2 Gb of browsing within a month for 12€ (plus 5€ activation fee). Pay a little more for Voda’s Internet Go package (20€/month) and you get 5 Gb of traffic at 3G speeds. For heavy use, TIM’s Internet 4G tariff allows up to 15 Gb of traffic in a month, at 4G/LTE speeds, for 35€. TIM and Voda SIMs usually cost 5€.

How do you stay connected when you travel?

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How to find affordable wedding veils

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For the longest time I was u see the impression that I could only get my veil at a dress shop or make my own. Either I when to sacrifice money (~ $100) at the dress shop or time (find material and sew the lining of the veil).  But I have found the perfect solution today ! I went into Michaels for a browse and I stumbled upon this item in the wedding aisle.  It was just what I needed. Something simple and didn't cost me an arm and a leg. The total cost was under $30 !  I tried it on and was a bit crinkled from being Ina box but it's nothing I can't fix. It has two layers and comes down to my finger tips.  It also comes with the comb.

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Here is what the packaging looks like :

cheap wedding veil

Best solution to my wedding veil dilemma ! What do you think ?

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