Summer is just beginning, and while parents likely have a line-up of activities ready to go to keep kids busy, many find themselves scrambling to pay for additional expenses that come up while school is out. What scares me is that with the high cost of activities and childcare, many parents allow their kids to play on screens and watch TV far more over the summer months than during the school year. While we love tech.. free play and connecting with nature is crucial for our children.
According to a recent TD survey, 55% of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 take on additional costs during the summer; in fact, 71% of them spend up to $999 per child. EEK! Summer camps, day trips, dance, sports and summer vacations add up FAST. And then the stress follows. At UrbanMommies we believe in reducing stress on parents as much as humanly possible, so we’ve partnered with TD Canada Trust to share a few tips on how to help parents avoid the financial heat wave summer can bring.
TD’s Tips for Saving on Summer Activities
1. Check your rewards balance – redeem some of your loyalty rewards, such as points from your First Class Travel Credit Card, to help fund activities and travel. For example, you can use your loyalty rewards to redeem certain theme park passes or tours and excursions
2. The early bird gets the worm – some organizations may provide a discount on early registration; check the sign up dates and sign up in advance to save a few dollars.
3. Budget and start saving early – save a little money each month and put into your TFSA; online budgeting tools (visit tdcanadatrust.com) can also help you determine how much to save each month.
We all want to be healthier, stronger and hit the ideal ratio of body fat to muscle. But since when have we actually been ‘rewarded’ for being healthy? Sure – you feel better within yourself and may get a few more whistles when walking past a construction site, but it is typically pretty challenging to become healthier. Personal trainers are expensive, deep-fried in restaurants seems to cost less, and finding a healthy meal on the go is a challenge. But being healthy has its rewards.
As many of our readers know, I have been training for a Run Disney event. Not having run more than a few feet and only when necessary (like being chased by a rabid dog), this was a huge challenge for me. Sure it was personally rewarding when I completed the run, but it took so much mental strength to force myself to train and be healthier. Perhaps I shouldn’t need a reward other than feeling good or personal satisfaction, but….
Part of becoming healthier has been my diet, and as a busy entrepreneur and Mom, washing lettuce leaves and chopping veggies is not always in the cards. I’ve always loved to stock my freezer with Lean Cuisine meals so I have something well balanced, filling and healthy when I need to eat in a hurry. Only now have I discovered that I can get rewarded for pulling this healthy trick out of my back pocket.
TheLean Cuisine Rewards program allows you to pop onto the internet and enter a PIN number found inside your favourite Lean Cuisine meal. The more you enjoy, the more you earn. Rewards range from coupons for free Lean Cuisine entrées to exercise balls, weights and home appliances.
Embarking on this new way to feel rewarded, I pulled a Thai Peanut Chicken out of the freezer. (This is where I admit that I didn’t eat breakfast and ate it at 9am after dropping the kids to school.) After four and a half minutes in the microwave, the veggies were still crisp and the chicken was tender. There seemed to be a ton of chicken for a meal that only has 300 calories, 6g of fat and 40% of my daily vitamin A. I was delighted. And energized. I think I may actually go for a run! Ha!
Excited to check out my rewards, I went to the Lean Cuisine website and registered. There are healthy lifestyle tips, a rewards catalogue and you can also create a meal and exercise plan in order to reach specific goals. I, of course, got sidetracked by the rewards and made a wishlist: a Spafinder gift certificate, iTunes music credits, Best Health Magazine and a Hamilton Beach blender. Not that personal satisfaction isn’t enough (ahem) but that makes me want to get healthy.
How do you reward yourself? We can help out a bit – want to enter to win a free Lean Cuisine BONUS PIN code (good for one entrée or to start you off for larger rewards)? Just use this handy rafflecopter form. Canada only, ends 30. May, 2014. Good luck!
Disclosure: This post was generously sponsored by Stouffers Lean Cuisine Rewards, but the opinions and images are my own. For more information, visit Lean Cuisine Rewards.
Ahh. October. Just when you’ve eaten your fill of turkey, forked over a ton of cash for organic pumpkin pie ingredients and filled your house with harvest décor, you realize that Hallowe’en is only two weeks away. Or maybe one. (Your calendar is still covered in gravy splatter.) The turkey coma is replaced by the end-of-October panic attack. You create a list. Lists are fun! Until you realize that you have not one thing checked off yet.
– Costumes for the kids
– Candy for the door
– Extra candy for when you run out at the door
– Baking for the Hallowe’en party at school – Decorations to make your home the spookiest on the block – Rake, lawnmower, yard bags and Mums to tidy up the yard
– A costume for yourself so you can look like a rockstar parent in front of all of the other parents who come to the door (they won’t know you haven’t cut the kids’ nails in a few weeks)
– And along that line of thinking, cleaning supplies to make your front foyer sparkle (The rest of the house doesn’t matter)
And now I’m slightly stressed. But I do like to multitask and thankfully, was approached to try out the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card. I’ve held different Amex Cards for over 15 years and have used a ton of the American Express customer service extras and benefits (Front Of The Line for theatre tickets being one of my favourites) so I jumped at the chance. The company has been great to deal with. Over the years I have been phoned to check on irregular purchases, had cards replaced immediately when I’ve (ahem) lost them, and just last month, used the Amex Members lounge at the US Open to charge my phone and have my swing analyzed. So I’m a huge fan.
Currently, there is a promotion that if you enroll and spend $50 or more on you Amex AIR MILES Card from October 24 – 31, 2013 you can earn 100 Bonus AIR MILES reward miles.
All of the purchases I would be making anyway from my Hallowe’en list will earn me reward miles, and quite certainly also Bonus reward miles. (Because we all know about my family travel obsession.) Any flight or hotel that doesn’t dwindle the bank account makes me smile again and again. I know there are tons of travel reward cards out there as I’ve used many of them. The American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card p is quite different than most.
1. You can use your reward miles to cover taxes and fees on flight redemptions, and no blackout dates or zone limits means I can control my own travel decisions.
2. There are choices in the Card I choose based on my needs (and which I think will look chic in my wallet.) No need to stretch the budget or change existing spending habits (apologies to my poor husband).
I chose the new Reserve Card for myself and feel the $299 annual fee is well worth the benefits.
The Reserve Card:
1. I earn reward miles twice when shopping at participating AIR MILES Sponsors across Canada using my new Credit Card combined with my AIR MILES Collector Card.
2. AIR MILES has introduced FlexFly Redemptions, meaning with this card I can access additional airlines and destinations, departure times and seats not within the AIR MILES Flight Program.
3. Complimentary companion ticket for a short-haul flight once annually
4. Access to an AIR MILES concierge service (loving the sound of that)
5.. Four passes to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide every year. If you’re wondering about the benefits of this while flying with kids, we did an article on it. [link] Of course.
6. Emergency Medical Insurance (Out of province/country), $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance, Car Rental Theft and Damage insurance, Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance, Flight Delay Insurance, Baggage Delay Insurance, Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance. Because I know all of you moms pay really close attention to insurance policies. (This can eliminate the stress of not reading stuff unless it’s about fashion).
How you Earn reward miles:
Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors
Earn 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at other eligible grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada
Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases everywhere else
The other Amex AIR MILES Card options:
The American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card:
1. $65 annual fee waived for the first year 2.Reward miles are earn at the same rate as with the Reserve Card 3. Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance and $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
The American Express AIR MILES Credit Card:
1. No Annual Fee 2.Earn 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors and 1 reward mile for every $20 in purchases you charge to the Card everywhere else 3. $100,000 Travel Accident Insurance
Is your stress dwindling too? Or already dreaming of your dream destination? Psst. You can take the extra Hallowe’en candy with you. Wink.
Disclosure: This article was generally sponsored by Amex AIR MILES. As always our opinions are our own.