money saving tips

Being able to create and manage a budget is a skill. Honestly, it’s not a difficult thing to pick up. You need to figure out how much income you have and then allocate funds towards your various expenses. If you have more expenses than income, you need to make some changes. The hardest part is sticking to your plan. If you have tried budgeting but are having a hard time, maybe these other money saving tips will help you. Unless you are already doing everything humanly possible to save money then listen up!

1. Start somewhere
You can’t save money if you never start. If you can’t afford to save money then you can’t afford to purchase a coffee on the go. When I say start somewhere, I mean start by contributing a small amount of money consistently to a savings account. If you don’t have at least one savings account, open one. The tiny bit of interest you make is better than making nothing. Each time you get paid, put $2 away. If $2 is easy for you, do $5 each time. Again, if $5 is easy, increase the amount. The key here is to not make it a challenge.

2. Don’t pay bank fees
I really don’t get why anyone would willing pay bank fees if they don’t need to. After college I was paying between $5-$10 a month to use my debit card and transfer funds between different accounts within the same bank. It didn’t make senses to me, so I left and switched to a company that offers no-fee banking. I get unlimited transactions and don’t have to pay when I use my debit cards or transfer money from one account to the other.

3. Shop around
It blows my mind how some stores prices compare to others. This is a huge thing at grocery stores and even gas stations. The $2 or $3 price difference on hummus or milk adds up. The extra 3 cents a litre on gas will add up to. You don’t need to obsess over this (although you would save more money) but it’s something to be aware of. If I am doing groceries, chances are I am hitting up at least two different grocery stores. The same goes for clothing, once you have made a decision to purchase something in particular.. look around. If you’re in no rush for that specific item then look for sales, price match and keep your eyes peeled at stores who might have the same item for less.

4. Focus on debt repayment
Nothing sucks more than owing money you don’t have. For most of us, a mortgage is one chunk of debt we will be paying into for years. Student debt, credit cards and various loans are priority when it comes to repaying debt. High interest rates make it difficult to stay on top of and for some may become a vicious cycle of making minimum payments and not seeing any progress due to the interest rate.

5. Make money off of junk
Selling clothes, furniture and other objects you don’t want or need anymore is a great way to make some quick cash. I used to donate all my clothes but now I am all about reselling them through businesses that sell clothing on consignment, or through apps like VarageSale. Get rid of some clutter or clean out your junk drawer and see what you can sell.

6. Buy previously loved stuff
Being on your own and furnishing a place nicely can get costly. I picked up a lot of stuff for my place through online market places such as VarageSale. I picked up a kitchen table, chairs, a desk and a few other things for my place that were previously loved. This is a great way to save money! Clothing, fitness equipment, there are so many things people are selling online and some of the stuff is even brand new in the original packaging.

7. Eat out less
Going out for dinner or even grabbing a meal on the go is more expensive than making your own meals. Depending what you eat when you are on the go, you will likely even notice that you are eating better at home too. This goes for bringing your own lunches to work too!

8. Cancel your cable
I haven’t had cable TV in years. Sure, sometimes it does suck but it’s not that bad. I have a digital antenna that picks up a handful of TV channels like CBC, Global, TVO and City. I don’t pay anything for them; except the cost of the antenna which was likely equivalent to one months cable bill. The cost of a subscription to Netflix or another on-demand option like Crave TV is much more ideal in my opinion.

product review: munchpak

So if you follow my blog, you know I’ve been trying to eat more consistently. I am not only trying to eat more frequently and more nutritious meals but I’m also trying to cut back on my sugar intake. I literally binge sugary foods in the evening. I can’t picture myself eliminating sugar completely, but I would like to get in control of my cravings. MunchPak is a subscription box service that sends you a box full of snacks. The items inside are perfect for all your cravings: candy, chocolate and salty treats. If you’re anything like me; you get cravings for sugar, chocolate and for salt. I can’t say I’m proud of it, hence why I am constantly working on this. MunchPak is an option to help this. If I could limit myself to the contents inside each month, I’d be laughing!

I received the MunchPak Original, which contains 10 or more items for only $19.95. You can opt in for less snacks, or for more snacks. The MunchPak Mini will cost you $9.95 for five or six snacks. The FamilyPak costs $39.95 is the best value and includes 20 or more items. The items inside come from far and wide. Japan, Indonesia, the UK, etc. This is a great option for anything who loves European chocolate or trying new goodies from around the world. The best part is that they now ship worldwide! Shipping rates vary based on your location.

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So what did I get?
I got a mix of chocolate, candy and chips in my MunchPak! To be honest, I was scared to try some of the items just because I was unsure what exactly they were based on the packaging. Thankfully, I couldn’t pass up on trying new stuff. There weren’t any items inside that I didn’t like. I’ve linked each item below incase you want to pick up a certain snack. They sell their past items individually too!

Rap Snacks Potato Chips (Fetty Wap) Honey Jalapeño flavour 
It’s like the team at MunchPak knew I loved Fetty. I was a bit hesitant when I read “honey jalapeño” but I love hot foods and I like honey. They tasted like your typical American potato chip but the flavour was unique. I really enjoyed it!

Bourbon Petite Baked Potato Chips – Salt flavour 
These are from Japan. Basically, they best way to describe these chips are to call them mini Pringles. They were the same shape, texture and taste as the original Pringles. I really enjoyed these chips and shared them with my best friend who also approved!

Rowntrees Randoms Fruit Jellies
These sweet, chewy gummy candies are from the UK and made by Nestle. They contain an assortment of “random” jelly candies. You could find a strawberry, blackcurrant, orange, lime, lemon and cherry flavour within the pack! The packs are made up of four different textures and shapes. Again, would eat them again!

Lotte Double Dip Pepero
Okay, these were new to me. I’ve never seen a biscuit-like stick covered in chocolate. Not to mention double dipped in both white and milk chocolate! I really enjoyed eating these. They are a product of South Korea. I would totally pick these up again.

Hello Kitty Green Tea Wafer Cookies
So these aren’t something I would typically pick up if I saw them at the store. I do love green tea and wafer cookies but the combination to me seems odd. That isn’t until I gave it a try. I was impressed, I liked them! You can taste a natural green tea flavour while munching on the stick. The flavour comes from the matcha cream on the inside. This is a good product that came all the way from China.

DIY Candy – Coris Chocolate Covered Banana
Ok, these were my least favourite snack of the bunch. The DIY candy idea is really cool and apparently pretty huge in Japan. The pack came with soft yellow banana flavoured candy and a pack of chocolate dip and sprinkles.  The chocolate wasn’t horrible, but I didn’t eat it all. The sprinkles would decent but the soft banana candies were the best.

Milka Bubbly Chocolate
Move over Aero bar. The new guy is in town – straight out of Switzerland. This is very similar to an Aero bar, it was one of the best treats included. A full size (if not larger) bar of milk chocolate with air pockets through out. The smoothness and light taste were a total hit. I couldn’t help myself but to eat this in two days.

Meihi Choco Baby 
Japan is on the ball! These are perfect to kick your chocolate cravings with little guilt. They are little bits of chocolate that come in a dispenser for easy snacking. The dispenser helps you control how much to eat, but I mean – you might get carried away. They are really good and I haven’t seen anything like them over here in Canada before.

Fini Roller Candy – Blue Raspberry 
This was the first time trying a candy from Spain. I certainly was not disappointed. We have something very similar in Canada. This is a candy belt candy, covered in sour sugar. Aka, the best! The sour is easy to tolerate and the flavour of the blue raspberry has me salivating as I reminisce and write this.

Kabaya Sakypanda
This product from Japan is a sweet biscuit covered in both milk and white chocolate. The come in the shape of a panda head which was a cute. I liked the taste overall and I’m not really a biscuit type guy. Enjoying these with a glass of milk would be next level good!

So, if you’re looking for a subscription box for yourself or to gift.. check out MunchPak. You can browse their online store and purchase some snacks individually as well. I’m pretty hesitant when it comes to trying new foods; especially ones from around the world but I was not disappointed. Be sure to check out my Instagram to see the treats outside the packaging for a better look! Happy munching… I’m going to eat some vegetables now.

what are crystals for healing?

Crystals are a result of atoms, molecules and/or ions that come together and solidify. Crystals form through a process called crystallization. There are a large variety of crystals that form in various sizes, shapes and colours. It all depends what the crystal is made up of and how it has formed. The use of crystals in alternative medicine has increased over the last few years although this is an ancient practice. Each type of crystal carries its own use and healing properties. Some people feel the benefits of healing crystals by carrying one or more with them each day; others may use crystals during meditation. I’m not well-versed on the topic but I know that some practitioners will place various crystals on different body parts to correspond with their various chakras.

I chatted up the lad at the store were I picked these up to see if she knew much about the crystals. She told me that the best way to know which ones to buy are by seeing which of the crystals you find yourself attracted to, or the ones in which you feel a connection to. I picked up some crystals and thought I would share what they look like and the benefits behind each one.

Amazonite
It is said that Amazonite will enhance creativity, intellect, intuition and psychic ability. Because of the relation to the throat chakra, Amazonite is said to be beneficial to all forms of communication. It’s calming effect and contribution to building self-esteem are said to lessen stress and self-defeating behaviours. Others credit Amazonite for helping with their eczema, muscle cramps, and for helping their nervous system. It’s also known for delaying both tooth decay and osteoporosis.

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Chrysocolla
Chrysocolla is a gentle stone. Its energy works in a harmonious way. It can help ease fear, anxiety and  guilt. This stone is known for bringing hope to those who may need it. Chrysocolla is physically used for treating asthma, pneumonia, muscle cramps, arthritis, and tension headaches. I love the idea that this one can be used to purify places and to remove negativity from people.

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Rhodochrosite
Rhodochrosite helps you feel buoyant and cheerful. You may feel dynamic and active with this one. This one is popular for it’s work to boost self-confidence by bringing a sense of realistic balance to life. I liked how this one is said to be good for digestion, your heart, your kidneys, pancreas, and thyroid. It inspires a fresh attitude, as well as a courageous heart. This one aids love and puts you in touch with your emotions and helps one to pursue their dreams.

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Topaz
Topaz is a balancing and calming stone. Topaz can balance emotions, release tension and for some; can bring joy. Topaz cleans the aura and promotes relaxation. It brings spiritual love and peace. It also is said to bring true love, hope, creativity and individuality. This stone will aid gout, blood disorders, lack of appetite, tuberculosis and help reverse aging.

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Selenite
It is understood that Selenite has a direct effect on the emotional body. Although, unlike stones that soothe and calm the emotions, selenite helps to connect us with our true spiritual feeling and path. This one is known for it’s connection with truth and honesty. Selenite promotes good business practices and honesty in all types of relationships. Selenite is often related to the promotion of fertility and to increase the libido. This one is known as a protector of pregnancy and motherhood.

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Azumar
Azumar help the body and mine release anger, fear, and frustration. It also replaces these emotions with serenity, confidence and joy. Azumar is a stone of insight and communication.  It works wonders in healing and brightening the emotional body.

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Please keep in mind that healing crystal meanings are spiritual supports to healing and are not prescriptions or healthcare information. I’m not a professional, nor do I consider myself an expert in crystal healing.

product review: soapstones natural skincare

Cruising through Instagram, I came across a post that showcased some piña colada lip balm. If you know me, you know my love for pineapple/coconut flavoured stuff. Drinks, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, hand soap.. whatever! I just love the smell and taste of piña colada stuff. I reached out to see if Soapstones Natural Skincare was interested in working with bloggers and to see if they would hopefully collaborate with me. They let me pick a few items that I would put to good use and enjoy and sent them my way.

I was super excited to open my package and see that they had sent an aluminum-free deodorant, a bottle of body wash and two piña colada lip balms. Soapstones is a Canadian company based out of Huntsville, Ontario. Being a Canadian company just made me want to work with them even more. But wait, it gets better. Soapstones takes pride in creating products that are not only good for those who use it, but they are also conscious of the environment and giving back to the community. A portion of their proceeds are donated back to the community in order to help develop youth leadership skills.

Piña Colada Lip Balm
The limited ingredients include beeswax, cannabis seed oil and soy wax. For 15ml, a standard size stick it will cost you $5. It’s pretty reasonable considering the effort that would go into making lip balm and packaging it with quality ingredients. The balm itself is soothing upon application and lasts. I’m a sucker for lip balms and have been using this one all week. My lips feel great! You can try their other scents: maple, raspberry, vanilla, peppermint or lemon.

Stones Muskoka Body Wash
For the most part, I used body wash in the shower. That being said, I have been using bar soap for the last couple months. Since the body wash arrived, I’ve been using it instead. The scent is great, I can’t really put it into words. It smells like men, but not too overbearing. In fact, I think ladies would enjoy it themselves too! It’s comforting to know that the body wash contains no parabens, no DEA and no PEG. It’ll cost you $16 for 250ml which should last you a while if you’re using a loofa! The body washes come in a variety of scents (over 10 to pick from) and of course they offer an unscented version.

Stones Deodorant
It may be TMI, but my armpits don’t like deodorant. I have to constantly switch between Old Spice, Adidas, Dove+ for men, and Saje. If I use the same deodorant for several days in a row I get a burn like reaction. It’s not cool. I remember telling my mom about it when I was like 16 and living with her. She said “so get a new deodorant,” thanks mom. I’ve been using the Stones Deodorant for the past four days and it seems my armpits like it! My Saje deodorant is pretty good, but it’s unscented and you have to apply water on it before each application. The deodorants from Stones are aluminum-free, vegetable based and easy to apply. They are lightly scented, so it’s not over the top either. You can pick between cedar and saffron scent, fresh water, or their Muskoka scent. I received the Muskoka scent and have nothing but the best to say so far!

If you’re interested in ordering from Soapstones Natural Skincare, you can shop online and receive free shipping for orders over $75. There is something nice about supporting Canadian businesses that put an effort into giving back.

cooking for one // chicken fingers

I love cooking. I have been crafting my culinary skills since I was a little kid. I would help my parents out in the kitchen as much as I could growing up. In high school I took the food and nutrition class offered through the school. I also peer-helped in the food and nutrition class the year after I completed it. My favourite take away from this course was the recipe book we created. It included all the recipes we made through out the school year. Fast forward several years later and I am now cooking for one on the reg. I came across the recipe book last week and remembered the homemade chicken fingers we made in class one day – they were so good! We made them with sweet potato fries too. So this week, I made them for myself and they were totally worth blogging about.

So, what makes them unique? Well it’s a bit more than just a piece of chicken battered. I mean, it is just a chicken finger but it’s what I use to make the batter stick that adds a ton of flavour! I’ll break it down quickly, they are super easy to prepare and are pretty quick to cook.

First thing, cut a chicken breast into thin slices, about an inch or so wide. In one bowl, mix your wet ingredients. This is just mayo and honey dijon mustard mixed together. I added a bit of pepper to the wet ingredients though. In a second bowl, you mix the dry goods. This is just panko crumbs and some spices. I switched it up a bit from what we did in school and used garlic powder and a bit of cajun to add some more flavour to the crusted batter. In school we used thyme and salt and pepper.

One at a time, I covered the chicken strips with the wet mixture and then coated the strips by tossing them in the dry mixture. Super easy! Then I placed them on a baking sheet, setting them on tin foil first to help make the clean up easier. I baked them at 400 for about 15 minutes, flipping them once. You can play around with the temperature and cook time, depending on your oven and desired crunch!

single on valentine’s day

Just so you know, I am single AF. Being single is nothing to be ashamed of on Valentine’s Day. Let me tell you, I’ve seen enough people close to me continue unhealthy relationships that aren’t going anywhere for the sake of it. This certainly has opened my eyes to committing to a relationship. Some people are just the type of people that always need to be in a relationship but I’m the opposite. If you can’t be happy, healthy and fun while you are single then chances are your relationship is just trying to fill a void. I’m not a relationship expert, nor do I have experience in long term relationships but I am confident I know what a shitty relationship looks like.

So, Valentine’s Day. It’s not just for couples. In my opinion, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love. You can love people, places and things. So for those trying to impress this year: take your partner on a date to their favourite place and do some of their favourite things.

Now for those single pringles who aren’t about bashing this holiday – like me, I’ve got some ideas for you! I’ve got a few ideas you can do to make the most of Valentine’s Day, take a quick read.

1. Treat yourself
Since the majority of people around you are likely spending half a car payment on their loved ones, spend a quarter of a car payment on yourself. Okay, that may not be the best way to get my point across. The point is, treat yourself to something new and exciting. It doesn’t have to cost you a lot, after all; it’s your money. Buy a new pair of PJs, splurge and get a poutine, maybe you spotted a cute mug online – buy it! There are so many ways to treat yourself and it doesn’t have to be a physical object. You can treat yourself to a new experience or you can pamper yourself. Here is a blog post on how I pamper myself.

2. Get out of the house
Switch up your routine a bit. Instead of going home after work, hit up the mall or go for a walk and explore. It’s refreshing to do things differently, no matter how set in a routine you are (guilty).  I mean, if you’re a bitter single person than maybe this isn’t the best idea. Personally, I love seeing people happy so love-y couples don’t bother me. I do enjoy seeing how businesses and other people celebrate Valentine’s Day. The fun store fronts, seeing people dressed up, embrace the festive day!

3. Live it up with your single friends
You’ve gotta know someone who is single. Go out together, have a fun friends date! You can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a friend just as you would with someone you are dating or married to. Meet up for dinner and drinks, wine and apps anyone? If you’re not into that idea, then hit up the casino – gamble $20 away! There are so many things you can do to have fun.

4. Chill and relax
No doubt about it, this will likely be me. I’m making a mean dinner for one and hanging out with Ellie (my dog). It’s cost effective and nothing to be ashamed of. Damn, maybe I’ll even treat myself by not wearing my Invisalign all night – look out; going big haha. Of course I’ll pick something up for Ellie, that dog is spoiled. Maybe I’ll start Riverdale on Netflix. Damn, maybe I won’t even cook and I’ll treat myself to some take out.

5. Start swiping
And if you need a little pick me up, download a dating app. Tinder, Grindr, Bumble – whatever. I think everyone will admit that the attention you can get from dating apps helps to boost your ego. Damn, people want you! It’s definitely one way to pass time and who knows.. if you are looking for a relationship you might just find the one!

Whatever you do, just remember you’re not alone. It’s better to be single then to be in a relationship that you don’t see a future in. Love yourself before you seek love from someone else!

cooking for one // banana energy balls

So, this isn’t really cooking but it is good food; so hey. This is actually a really simple recipe, I just kind of put a few ingredients together and hoped for the best. Luckily, they did turn out okay. There were no measurements, I just kind of eyed it out as per usual. Sorry if you hate that – it just works for me. These bite size treats are a nice little snack but they also made for a tasty treat after dinner. Really I just mixed a few simple ingredients together and then let them get cold and solidify a bit more. I was impatient, so I tossed them into the freezer for 10 minutes and then put them into the fridge for another 20 minutes.

So what did I mix? One ripe banana, mashed. About half a cup of quick oats. A little bit of cinnamon. A tablespoon or so of honey. And a generous blob of all natural, crunchy peanut butter. Oh, and sweetened coconut flakes. I simply mixed these together with my hands until the mixture was thick and sticking together easily. I then made bite size balls and set them on a plate. This made about ten balls, you could easily the double the recipe with another banana, adding a bit more coconut flakes and some more oats.

Enjoy this quick and easy snack!

timing is everything

By 25, you wanted to be married with three kids. You’ve thought how great having a girl first would be. Hey, if you had it your way, you would have two twin boys a couple years after your first child. You wouldn’t be sleeping in the same bedroom you were when you were thirteen either. Post-secondary would be complete and you would have landed your dream job making a salary you can life off of. You would be climbing the corporate ladder, or maybe you would have started your own business. You would have a benefit plan and a pension. Maybe you would have a dog, travelled more, owned a luxury car or a house with some land surrounding it. But for most, everything you have wanted; hasn’t happened.

Truth be told, you can plan as much as you want. You can set goals and you can accomplish goals but at the end of the day, you don’t have as much control over things as you might think. Working hard, being ambitious and working endlessly to get what you want doesn’t mean you will get what you want. After all, timing is everything. What I’m trying to say is that when we were younger we had an idea of what we wanted our lives to look like by a certain age. You can do all you can to achieve what you want, but somethings just won’t happen in time and a lot of things are out of your reach no matter how realistic you are being. Sure, we can date; move out; go to college; apply for jobs; finance a car; get a mortgage but in reality – you can also not find someone worth your time, you can have fertility problems, you can live with your parents, you can graduate school and not work in your field and someone else can get that dream job you interviewed for.

Yes, I am down with the idea of goal setting. It is important to know what you want. But what I’ve also came to realize is that not achieving your goals by the time you wanted to can sometimes drive you into distress. It’s time to get over it and just keep swimming; go with the flow and be patient. Don’t compare yourself to your peers, your family or to those you follow on Instagram.

Our stories are all different. Remember to be optimistic and to be patient. Trust that everything will fall into place as long as you continue to strive for what you want. Don’t let other people get in the way of what you want.