Archive for November, 2010

Maximize Your Budget by Travelling to the U.S.

Maximize Your Budget by Travelling to the U.S.When we first wrote this post the US dollar and the Canadian dollar were at par or very close to it. Many people on both sides of the border are planning trips across to the other country to shop and visit places that interest them. However it is not so attractive now for Canadians any longer. Canadians are paying a premium to visit and shop in the states. Still  Canadians by the thousands still visit the US for a day of shopping or spend their vacation dollars there. It is now even more important to Maximize Your Budget.

Maximize Your Budget – Where can you Get the best Value

A dollar at par is very attractive, but lets include the fact that most states charge in the range of 8% sales tax, (some none at all) while the Ontario government charges 13% sales tax. There is  a savings right there of 5%. Next you have the price of gasoline. Recently it was $1.08 per liter, which translates approximately to $4.08 a US gallon. Gas at US stations currently sells for around $2.50 a gallon or less. The biggest savings of all if that were not enough, are the sales and the lower prices. We shopped recently in the US at one of the outlet malls and the prices were phenomenal!

Many banks forecasts the Canadian dollar to remain where it is through the end of 2018. While some of its strength may ease slightly over the second half of next year, they expects the Canadian dollar to finish 2017 at 78.00 U.S. cents. So a lot of Canadians are going to be heading south ( unless you are in Windsor, you head north) to spend vacation time and purchase their groceries, clothes and much more. We found that even at Lowes, there were better deals than we could get at our Canadian counterparts.

Whether you go for a single day shopping trip or are planning to spend your vacation in the US there are a few things to consider to make sure your trip is a success and that there are no issues while you are in the US. If you want an example of a driving trip to the US with a vacation, click on the following link. Driving the USA

Travel Insurance

Remember to pack travel insurance, this could be the most important tip of all – Don’t forget about travel insurance when planning short cross-border trips. Regardless of the length or type of trip, it’s important to consider emergency travel medical insurance as medical treatments in the U.S. can be very expensive. Frequent travelers should consider a multi-trip annual plan to save both time and money.

Develop a Travel Plan

Always have a plan of were you are going to go, make reservations and bring your itinerary with you, especially if you are spending a long time in the US. You will need to convince the US customs that you have a plan and will be returning to Canada at some point. You will also need your passport . Tell someone were you are going and what your plans are so that they can get in touch with you if there is an emergency at home.

Open a US Savings Account

Open a U.S. savings account – A U.S. savings account is an option to consider if you are planning a U.S. vacation or shopping trip or if you have money left over from your holiday. Look for an account with low or no fees that enables you to take advantage of exchange rates when they are favorable and gain interest. Some will also allow you to purchase U.S. dollars through online banking at a preferential rate by simply making a direct transfer from your Canadian dollar bank account to your U.S. savings account from anywhere.

A US Dollar Credit Card

Use a U.S. dollar credit card – Frequent U.S. travelers may want to consider a U.S. dollar denominated credit card, which gives cardholders the flexibility to make transactions in U.S. funds and avoid the hassles of exchange rates or daily currency fluctuations. Coupled with a U.S. savings account, it also allows holders to take advantage of favorable exchange rates over time using dollar cost averaging and then pay off their card balance using U.S. funds directly from their savings account.

Bring Debit and Credit Cards Along

Consider cash alternatives – Debit or credit cards along with U.S. travelers cheques are easy and secure alternatives to carrying large amounts of cash when shopping or traveling. Credit cards are hassle-free and accepted virtually everywhere and many come with purchase protection and extended warranties. Cross-border debit service only requires your bank card and Personal Identification Number (PIN) for ATM withdrawals or purchases at any of the 1,000,000 merchants in the U.S. that use the NYCE network. Travelers cheques are easy to cash and come in many denominations.

Cross Border Banking

Make cross-border banking work for you – If you often travel to the U.S. or are one of thousands of Canadian snowbirds who head to the U.S. over the winter, consider a cross-border banking arrangement that provides access to your banking services on both sides of the border including U.S. mortgages.

Financing Options

Look for easier financing options if buying property in the U.S. – If you are thinking about buying U.S. real estate and you have sufficient equity in your current home, consider a loan or line of credit secured against your Canadian home to buy your U.S. property. This will avoid the need for a U.S. mortgage approval and property appraisal.

In Case of Emergencies

Tell someone were you are going and have in your wallet or purse who should be called in case you are unable to for some medical reason. It makes it much easier for the authorities to deal with getting in touch with your family.

Save Money – Split Meals at Restaurants

Save Money - Split Meals at RestaurantsWe really enjoy watching the biggest loser. This past week we also learned that we already do some of the things that they discussed on the biggest loser which helps us control our weight and also save money ! Portion control is one way to manage your weight and we have taken this to restaurants that we go to by splitting meals and reducing the amount of food we actually eat when we go out. This step also helps us to save money as well when we go out. It is an inspirational show, we actually learn a few things about diet and about how to manage our food intake.

Portion control!

Portion control is really the biggest thing to help you control your weight, lose weight and manage your diet.  Eating less also has a side benefit. You spend less money buying food and preparing food!  It is the old adage, energy in must be less than the energy you burn if you are going to lose weight. So one way to manage this is to control the size of the portions you are eating and also save money.

If you are at home, use a small plate. I know for myself if I use a large plate, I have a tendency to fill it up, while I do the same thing with a small plate, there is only so much food I can put on the plate. BY the time you have finished the food on the small plate you are starting to feel full and if you can wait 5 minutes, you will definitely feel full. Sure you might go back for a second helping, but again you are using a small plate and it will only hold a small amount of food. Sure you are tricking your mind and your stomach, but if it works why not use every trick you can to lose weight.

When you are out of the home dining in a restaurant, it is a bit more difficult, so we have another suggestion that will also help to save some money as well.

Split Meals at Restaurants – when dining out!

As we travel around the country, one thing we notices is that the size of the meals served at restaurants are huge. Portion sizes at restaurants have gotten out of hand. Many restaurants and I guess their patrons as well feel that they must serve large portions to attract their guests.

We have found that for many meals if we split the meal it is more than enough for each of us and we save money at the same time. The restaurants for the most part are ok with this, and sometimes will even split the meal for us, serving it on two separate plates. Sometimes they will bring us a second plate and let us split the meal our selves. Either way we eat less and we save money. What a deal! Many of our meals costs us half of what it will cost other people! Some would call us stingy, but I am more concerned about weight and on top of that I get the side benefit of spending less.

There are some places that want to charge a fee for splitting the meal. We just do not go back to them and we tell people as well. They end up losing business as a result. So when you go out to eat split your meals.

Portion Control and Buffets

Buffets are really difficult. You cannot split meals here and you cannot save any money as well, so unless it is a really good deal, it is best not to go to them. If you have a problem controlling how much you eat, it is probably best if you avoid going to a buffet. With all of the excellent food it is usually best to just not go, because it is human nature to overeat when all of that food is just sitting there. Use the small plate approach and eat slowly, but we are pretty confident that you will still over eat in this situation.

Eat slow, Wait 20 Minutes So your  Stomach Feels Full!

This post is about saving money, however it is also a message about controlling your weight so we talk about eating slowly which in the end will save you money as well. This is one of the best ways to manage the portion size and how much you eat. Apparently it takes a little time for your stomach to register that it is full and let your brain know that you have eaten enough. Some people say wait 10 to 20 minutes and then decide if you are going back for second helpings.

Fast eaters tend to over eat, so if you wait even 5 minutes before getting that second helping you may find that you have eaten enough. We find that discussing topics over the dinner table is a great way to slow down your eating and also get that full feeling. Let’s face it you cannot eat when you are talking, at least you should not, just for good manners. Talking slows you down and forces you to enjoy the food more and provides time for your stomach to register the fact that you are full. maybe you will realize that you are full and will avoid going for that second helping!

Use Every Trick in the Book

Aside from just deciding to not eat as much, we are suggesting that you use every trick you can to control how much you eat and save some money as well. If you use a couple of little tricks to manage your eating, so what. At least you are losing weight, or controlling your weight.

Bottom line, you need to deal with the long term reason regarding why you have over eaten. Using these tricks will help you get going, but to maintain your weight or lose weight you do have to deal with the reasons why you over eat.

There are probably a lot more tha can be used as well. If you know some of these tricks to control the portion size, why not leave us a comment and let our readers know about it. Spam comments will be auto deleted!


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