Our Favorite Toy Purchase during the Pandemic

Today, I was looking at what my daughters were playing with and I realized that they have consistently been playing with this purchase since March of 2020! That doesn’t happen often around here! However, I have been trying to be way more intentional with the toy purchases that I make. My main criteria has been toys that have open ended play capabilities and toys that appeal to both girls. (Ages 5 and 9.)

This toy that I purchased in March meets the criteria and has been the most loved purchase!

Magnetic tiles for the win! These have been by far our favorite toy purchase!

In the picture above, they are currently being used as a house for Peppa Pig and Calico Critter toys. (also favorites!) The particular tiles I bought are PicassoTiles. If you can snag the set for less than $60, you’re getting a great deal!

We also own Magformer tiles, but the girls love this style way more because they can create floors so their little toys don’t fall through.

I’d love to know, what has been your favorite toy purchase lately?

5 Places to get Fun Family Christmas Pajamas in Canada

The count down is on for Christmas! Every year, I’m on the hunt for cute matching Christmas pajamas for my daughters. But this year, finding the best family Christmas pajamas is going to be on the agenda!

This year just feels like it needs to be extra festive in our home. With the events of this past year, an extra dose of Christmas cheer will not disappoint! If you are feeling similarly and think a pair of matching Christmas pajamas for every family member is a must, then you will love this list today.

Below, I have found 5 Canadian, budget-friendly places to get family Christmas pajamas with so many adorable options. Enjoy!

The best family Christmas pajamas

Urban planet

Urban Planet has a great selection of “Fammy Jammies” that are currently priced at $9 – $23. The selection includes onesies, 2 piece pajamas, robes and pajama dresses. Here are a few cute ones to look at:

Shop online at Urban Planet to see the full selection! Shipping is free on orders of $100 or more.

Old Navy

Old Navy Canada has a big selection of holiday pajamas! Lots of plaid designs and fun Christmas themes too! There are flannel pajama sets, pants, tees, onesies and even fuzzy Christmas socks! Prices are regularly $14.40 – $54.99, but Old Navy always has some sort of coupon code. Here’s a glimpse at the selection:

Shop online at Old Navy Canada to see the full selection. Shipping is free on orders of $50 or more.

Carter’s/Osh Kosh

Carter Osh Kosh is where I normally end up finding matching pajamas for my daughters. So they have great kids pajamas, but they also have adult sizes! (Not many right now, but I have a feeling they will add more!) They have classic plaid, snowmen, candy cane and more. They are currently on sale for 25% off, but I want to say they go on sale even more, if my memory serves me well. Here’s a sample of their selection:

Shop online at CartersOshKosh.ca here for the full selection. Shipping is free on orders of $50 or more.

The Children’s Place

The Children’s Place is also another great Canadian option for family Christmas pajamas! Right now, they have a lot of sizes available and they are on sale for 30% off! So fun! Here’s a selection:

Shop online at The Children’s Place here. Shipping is free on all orders!

Walmart

Walmart Canada has a good looking selection of matching Christmas pajamas online! Prices vary quite a bit. Here’s a look at some of the selection:

Shop online at Walmart Canada here. Shipping is free on orders of $35 or more.

A couple of honourable mentions are:

  • Amazon.ca: Nice big selection, but you may have a bit of a challenge finding the right sizes.
  • Joe Fresh: Perfect if you just want some pajamas for the kids. They don’t seem to have any holiday pajamas quite yet either.

Did you find any great budget-friendly options from the list above? Also, if you get Family Christmas pajamas, where do you normally purchase them?

Other articles you may enjoy:

The best budget-friendly family Christmas Pajamas! Here's a round up of 5 places to buy matching family pajamas in Canada on a budget! Is there anything more festive than the whole family matching on Christmas?

How to Save Money on a Tight Budget

How to Actually Save Money on a Tight Budget

You’re living on a tight budget. You may have already cut back on your frivolous purchases, but you’d like to save even more money and don’t know where to start. It may take a bit of creativity, but it is possible to find extra savings!

Here are some ideas to help you save money on a tight budget:

Keep your receipts

Most people who feel they are broke and have no way out, actually change their perspective when they find out how much they actually already have and waste. Keeping track of what you spend each month can help you make changes to your spending habits which could account for a large chunk of change in the bank.

Evaluate

Evaluate what really is a necessity in your life. Is cable TV really needed at this time or can you use some creativity to occupy your time otherwise? Maybe you have both a land line and a cell phone and perhaps cancelling one is a possibility. Taking a good look at all your recurring expenditures and really evaluating what is an actual necessity (and getting rid of those things that aren’t) will really help you save money on a tight budget.

Prioritize

In North America, people are continuously living outside of their means. It’s impossible to save money if you’re living a $100,000/year lifestyle on a $35,000/year salary. Prioritize what is important to you at this time and get rid of the rest. You may want to put the kids in piano lessons and guitar lessons, but you can’t afford to do both. Pick one, then move on.How to save money on a tight budget

Cut out a convenience item

Start by cutting out one convenience item at a time.  Do you typically buy packaged cookies?  Start baking your own.  Rather than purchasing high priced, chemical laden cleaning products, make your own!  (Check out my own homemade cleaning kit.)  By cutting out one convenience item at a time, you’ll be making little strides towards your savings goal!

Earn more

Of course, earning more money is a great way to add to your savings.  Take on a part time job, ask for a raise, turn a hobby into a side business.  Just make sure you save your extra, don’t spend it!

Sell what you don’t need

You’ve all heard of Kijiji, Craigslist Facebook Buy & Sell Groups and eBay, I’m sure.  I’m also pretty sure you have stuff around your home you don’t need anymore. Sell it on one of those previously mentioned sites or have a garage sale, then head to the bank and make a deposit!

Collect change

Make a jar for your spare change then throw it in there.  Empty your pockets and change purses every night into the jar.  Keep going until the jar is full, then pay a visit to the bank to make a deposit. It’s possible to save hundreds of dollars each year this way!

Shop wisely

Pay attention to how and why you shop. You may discover that purchasing Christmas presents during the Christmas frenzy is expensive and tough on your budget. Why not start buying presents during after Christmas sales or seasonal clearance sales? You undoubtedly have a list of the same people you have to buy for every year so when you’re out shopping, keep an eye open for any gifts they may enjoy.

Money may be a little tight, but choosing to do some of these suggestions could help you save thousands. Decide what you can give up to help you save big and reach those financial goals a bit quicker.

What are you willing to do to make a change in your financial situation?  Have you got any other suggestions?

30 Fun and Frugal Easter Basket Ideas

30 Fun and Frugal Easter Basket Ideas:

It’s time to start thinking about Easter baskets and all the goodies you can fill them up with. Nothing is quite as exciting as watching children open their Easter baskets, but, what if you are on a limited budget this year? The good news is you can still fill those Easter baskets with tons of fun without going overboard on your budget. Look at 30 fun and frugal Easter basket ideas so you can fill those Easter baskets without breaking the bank! You will find lots of ideas perfect for making your Easter baskets sweet and special.

The ideas here are all things that I will or would love to gift my kids. Over the years as a mom, I have become increasingly annoyed by all the itty bitty “disposable” toys. So with that in mind, I have rounded up what I believe, to be thoughtful “long term” activity ideas. I hope you enjoy and find something perfect!

1. Lip balm or lip gloss.

Lip balm is perfect for both boys and girls. Little ones will love their own lip gloss.

2. Sunglasses or sun hats

Now that spring is here, hats or sunglasses will no doubt get some use.

3. Candy, gum, sweets

You can’t have an Easter basket without some candy and edible treats, right? I was recently told by my dentist that gum with xylitol is great for fighting cavities.

4. Fruit snacks, nuts, dried fruit

For a healthier option, try fruit snacks, nuts, or even dried fruit for a snack.

5. Playing cards or trading cards

Kids love trading cards and playing cards! A set of Uno cards is always a good idea as well!

6. Toothbrush, kid’s toothpaste

I know my kids love getting new toothbrushes. You can always feel good with gifting that! Pair them with kid friendly toothpaste.

7. Water Wow!

These Melissa & Doug Water Wow books are so much fun for younger kids. Great for road trips and a good quiet activity.

8. Hair ties, headbands, hair accessories

Girls will love having a fresh selection of hair accessories. Choose from a wide variety at your local dollar store.

9. Kid’s gardening supplies like seeds, small pots and gloves

With spring’s arrival this will allow kids to get out and get active in the yard and garden. This seed variety pack looks great!

10. Paint with Diamonds

I am all for a creative activity that will keep kids involved for a long time! These Paint by Diamond kits are sure to be a hit!

11. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty

These Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putties are a little pricey, but oh so mesmerizing. Your local toy store might be a good place to look for these as well!

12. Kid themed drinking cups

Find kid themed plates, cups, and dishes. Kids enjoy having their own dishes to snack on!

13. Popsicle Molds

These popsicle molds are perfect for kids that love to be creative and make their own popsicles.

14. Nail polish, nail files, nail art

This idea is perfect for the little fashionista.

15. Kid themed placemat

Dress up your dinner table with some kid’s themed placemats, also found at most dollar stores.

16. Gel pens

I find gel pens, or any type of pen is a hit with my kids! Especially fun coloured ones.

17. Kid Fanny Pack

Fanny packs of our youth are coming back in style! Pick up a kid friendly one for all your spring adventures!

18. Puzzles

Puzzles are perfect for keeping kids busy on a rainy spring day.

19. Children’s books

Find some fun children’s books perfect for cuddling up with each night. This is a cute one for babies.

20. Coloring books and activity books

Keep kids busy with an assortment of coloring and activity books and crayons. These Paint by Sticker books are so much fun.

21. Crayons, markers, colored pencils

Let the little artist out of your child with an assortment of crayons and other coloring supplies.

22. Stickers, sticker pads, sticker books

Kids never get tired of stickers. Give them a fun spring selection to get creative with.

23. Journals, notebooks, scratch pads

These are perfect for kids of any age to sketch their thoughts and doodles on. These Scratch & Sketch books look really fun!

24. Pick Up Sticks

A fun classic game of Pick Up Sticks is always a good idea and will last a long time!

25. Playdough, cookie cutters, dough roller

Encourage fine motor skills with an assortment of dough and accessories.

26. Craft kits, mini painting kits, craft supplies

For the budding artist, craft supplies are always fun.

27. Writing Tablet

LCD writing tablets have been a favorite in our house for several years now! Ours actually live in the car and get pulled out and played with every time we go somewhere!

28. Sidewalk chalk

Sidewalk chalk is perfect for staying busy on a spring day!

29. Beach toys, beach buckets, sand castle tools

Summer is just around the corner and kids will no doubt love having beach toys on hand.

30. Push Pop Bubble

These Push Pop Bubbles are so fun! A great quiet sensory toy to bring along anywhere you go! Adults even have fun with these 😉

As you can see, these Easter Basket options are fun, affordable and long lasting. Head to your local dollar store or Amazon and see these treats and more, perfect for filling up your Easter baskets this year!

I’d love to know, what do you put in your kids’ Easter baskets each year? Let me know in the comments below.

How to Stick to Your Budget

How to Stick to your Budget

Setting a monthly budget is one thing, but actually sticking to your budget each and every month is another!  In today’s society, you’re constantly bombarded by temptations that can lead you away from your plan.  TV commercials, an enticing “sale” sign and a beautiful store display can all tempt you to spend outside of what you can afford in your budget.  Never mind that you may not like to delay gratification for something that you want today!

But, the truth is, what you decide to do today will determine your future.  Having a budget in place to help eliminate debt and not consciously sticking to it, may make our lives enjoyable today, but will give us much misery in the future.

Here are some tips to make sticking to a budget a bit easier:

Set specific financial goals

Since you’ve most likely put a budget in place so you can attain financial goals, it’s important to get specific by providing numbers and deadlines for your goals.  For example, instead of “My goal is to save enough for a down payment on a house”, a better one would be, “My goal is to save $2,083 a month for a 20% down payment on a $250,000 house in 24 months”.  Setting specific goals gives an idea of how well or how poorly you’re doing.  In turn, possibly enticing you to be more disciplined with your budgeting or allowing yourself a pat on the back!

Be realistic

In terms of goal setting, it’s important to set goals that are reasonable.  Not ones that are setting you up for failure right from the start.

It’s also important to be realistic when you’re setting up your monthly budget.  Say you’ve discovered that you spend, on average, $800 a month on groceries after you’ve tallied up your receipts from previous months.  Don’t decide that having a budget of $500 for groceries is “totally doable” since you have to “reach your financial goals as fast as you can because you’re so excited”.  This is just setting you up for failure. I’m not saying it’s not impossible to eventually get your budget down to $500 a month, you’ll just want to work slowly, one step at a time, at reducing your monthly grocery budget.How to stick to your budget. These are some fantastic budgeting tips to make sticking to a budget easier!

Have accountability

Think about the last time you started a workout routine or tried to kick a bad habit; having a partner by your side, holding you accountable is crucial. Involve your family (or a very good friend) in your plan. Explain why you need to scale back on some areas, and get their input and encouragement on those things. From here, review your budget once a week with your family (or very good friend) to make sure that you’re on track.  Not only is it good to have someone help keep you on track, it’s great to have someone helping you celebrate your successes!

Use cash

If you leave your debit cards and credit cards at home and only bring the amount of cash that you have budgeted, then that’s all you’ll be able to spend. So if your budget allows you $100 at the grocery store each week, then only bring $100 with you.  (These printable Cash Envelopes are a fantastic tool to help you organize your cash.)

You’ll be more likely to avoid those unnecessary items that might otherwise end up in your cart. They may not seem like a big deal because they’re only a few bucks, but when you end up at the checkout with $110 worth of items, you’ll be forced to put some things back, making you prioritize and forcing you to stick within your budget. If you had your debit card with you, chances are you’d think “It’s only a few dollars”, and you’ll find yourself short at the end of the month.

Remember your goals

As you go about the daily life of living within a budget, it’s important to remind yourself often of why you’re living on a budget. Is it because you want to save enough for that winter vacation? Or maybe it’s to pay off your consumer debt. Regardless, it’s important to constantly remember your financial goals to help fuel the excitement of what’s to come, if you manage to successfully stick to your budget. It could help to write down your financial goals and carry them around with you in your wallet or purse. Every time you pull out your cash and look at those goals, you’ll be reminded of the reason you have a budget.

Reward yourself

When you divide your big goal into several mini goals, make sure you reward yourself each time you accomplish one of those mini goals.  Not only will this help spur you on, you’ll also start to feel as though your big goal could definitely become a reality if you stick to it.  Your reward may be as simple as a long bubble bath or a bowl of ice cream; or as extravagant as a fancy dinner out.  Of course, as long as it is still within budget! Here are some great ideas to treat yourself for free.

What are the things that you do to make sticking to a budget easier? Let me know in the comments below.

No Spend Declutter Challenge: Day 18

Can you believe we have reached the last day in the No Spend Declutter Challenge? It’s so hard to believe we’ve been working away for nearly a month! I still have areas of my house that need some fine tuning, but overall, I’m quite happy! I think I brought in 5 boxes/bags to the second hand store.

One thing I wish I would have been better at, is using stuff we already have in our pantry and freezer. I feel like I still spent the same amount on groceries as I do every month.

Day 18 Declutter Task:

We’re going to close out the month with something that I like to do about once a month or so. A digital declutter. This is when I go though my email accounts and delete emails I no longer need. Unsubscribe from newsletters that don’t interest me any longer. Unfollow social media accounts and delete photos off my phone and computer that are no longer needed.

It’s sort of a mindless task, but feels so good to have only the stuff you need and the stuff you love in the end!

How often do you do a digital declutter?

Day 18 No Spend Task:

Remember when a couple of weeks ago, our task was to create “wants” list? Well, today, we’re going to revisit that list.

When you revisit your list, cross off the things you realize you no longer want. With the items that are still on the list, I want to encourage you to try buying used, borrowing from friends or family, or asking in a local Buy Nothing Facebook group.

I know you will will feel just as satisfied with those options when you receive the items you want!

I’d love to know, after nearly an entire month of not spending unnecessarily, how many things do you no longer want or need?

Thank you so much for joining me this month! I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I will be posting each task in the Simply Frugal No Spend Declutter Challenge Facebook Group. This is where most of the discussion will be happening.

I will also be posting random progress reports throughout the challenge over at Instagram! Follow me on Instagram @simplyfrugal and use the hashtag #nospenddeclutter to get updates and see what others are up to during the challenge!

If you do not use social media, I would love to read your comments on each task, right here, below each challenge post on SimplyFrugal.ca!