Our editors share the items they are coveting this February—and they're all under $100.
As much as we love shopping, what we love even more is a good deal. Which is why we asked our style editors to share the items that they'll be shopping for this month. The good news? Everything is under $100, which means you don't have to feel guilty about picking a few things up yourself.
As I think about spring, I always begin to think about what sneakers I’m going to pick up. Spring is sneaker season, at least if you ask me. This year, I’m going back to basics with a classic pair of Vans. Bonus—they’ve been spotted on bloggers, models and off-duty actors, so you know this style is making a comeback. At the very affordable $80 price point, this will be money well-spent seeing as how I'll be living in them for the season. - Alexandra Donaldson, contributing editor
Vans Old Skool in Black and White, $80, getoutsideshoes.com.
Graphic pants are everything at the moment. Dress them down with sneakers, add heels for a more professional look, pair it with a form-fitting top to keep it sleek. They'll go with everything. - Noelle Gauthier, style intern
Uniqlo women smart style ankle length pants, $40, uniqlo.com.
Easy to apply eyeshadow
If I’m wearing makeup beyond my under-eye concealer and mascara, it needs to be efficient. Which is why I have my eye on this Nudestix eye crayon. The metallic hue will add a bit of pizzazz to my makeup look, without too much extra effort.
Nudestix Magnetic Eye Colour in Twilight, $28, sephora.com.
How come boyfriend jeans always seem amazing in theory, but never translate into the model-off-duty look when worn? These "girlfriend" jeans have a tailored fit making them far more wearable.
Gap mid rise best girlfriend jeans, $40, gapcanada.ca.
Animal motifs have been hot on the runway—but if you can’t afford to spring for Gucci (and really, who can?) you can pick up this panther cropped sweatshirt from Forever 21. At $25 it’s a steal—and super cute to boot.
Panther Graphic Sweatshirt, $25, forever21.com.
Kitten heels are making a comeback
A few years ago I never could have imagined loving the kitten heel like I do now—but these days everything is old new again. The low-heel allows me to survive in them all day, so I'm thinking they'll be sticking around for awhile.
Zara high-heel slingback, $46, zara.com.
Classic tee with a twist
A classic white t-shirt will never go out of style—which is why my wardrobe is stocked with them. The latest one I want to add? This cute and cheeky option from a local Canadian brand.
Daddy’s Day Off Make Out Tee, $30, likelygeneral.com.
Say what you want about the Kardashians, but they have the perfectly tousled California-girl waves I'm after. Enter this new haircare line by their trusted hairstylist, Jen Atkin. I'm eyeing this texturizing spray to recreate their manes.
Ouai texturizing hair spray, $32, sephora.com.
With winter's worst (hopefully) behind us, tax season is here, and there are many changes that families will want to be aware of.
Tax time is never fun, but it's even worse when you miss out on credits or deductions you may have qualified for. Complicating matters this year are several taxation changes due to a Liberal overhaul of several Harper-era measures.
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.
Jodi Pudge Image by: Jodi Pudge
If you like working out, you’ve likely felt the temptation to keep trying new, cool—and increasingly extreme—fitness trends. But this year, we’re calling it: marathons and Crossfit aren’t the only way to work out. Here’s why we’re embracing more moderate workouts, like the 5K run, instead.
“Why am I doing this again?”
It’s just shy of 5:30 a.m. on one of those blisteringly cold and dark mornings and I’m getting ready to go out for a run. Problem is, I don’t feel like it. At all. I deliberately take longer to tie up my shoelaces, get my gear on and even somehow try to convince myself that, hey, it’s not optimal for me to run in these frigid temps. Not good for my lungs. Right?
The truth is, I do love to run and I’ve been doing it since I was an awkward 13-year-old trying to keep pace with my marathon-running mother. My life in fitness has been a barrage of different challenges from half-marathons to half Ironmans, extreme adventure racing, biathlon and duathlon. Pushing my personal boundaries excites me, but with these goals invariably comes higher and higher expectations, even though I should be happy being able to run what’s known as a beginner race—a 5K.
There is a major trend in the fitness industry to champion workouts as an all-or-nothing, often brutal, exercise on the body: More pain, more gains. Some refer to it as the “militarization” of fitness, which rings true in the military-inspired CrossFit classes, ultra-marathons and high-intensity interval-training (HIIT) sessions that leave you spent beyond reproach. These pulse-pounding pursuits promise results, but can come with a fair share of injuries—exercisers simply don’t allow for enough recovery time between these “killer” workouts. Safety should always be the priority over the struggle, so any fitness program should be tailored to the individuals’ goals and abilities, not to an unreachable standard.
That’s why when I had the opportunity to go to Barbados to join the Barbados Marathon in celebration of their 50th Anniversary of Independence, I jumped at the chance. Not to run the marathon, but to run a 5-km race. This race length isn’t about pushing yourself to extremes, to injury or inconsolable fatigue, the way some other exercises or races leave you feeling; it’s about feeling good and accomplishing something awesome.
I ran the race slow in scorching temperatures, knowing it wasn’t about time or performance, but about the experience. It wasn’t about bragging rights, or that quintessential Instagram opp. This was about doing something good for me.
If you’ve been thinking about doing your first 5K this year, get training—as long as you start slowly, pace yourself and follow a few general guidelines, you’ll get plenty of great exercise and you just might surprise yourself. Here’s what to you need to know before you tie your laces. See you at the start line!
Clock Z’s, not just kilometres
Feeling well-rested is equally as important for a runner as their food and exercise choices. “Sleep is when your body repairs and regenerates damaged tissue from your workouts, while also rebuilding bone and muscle to be ready for the road the next day,” says Helen Lescoat, personal trainer and class instructor at Totum Life Science in Toronto. Eight to nine hours is optimal, but if you can’t get it, try a simple tweak to your regular routine: get into bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier than the time that’s typical for you. It may seem small potatoes, but this time accumulates over a week and it will make a difference on how you feel during those training runs.
Know when to taper
It’s important to taper, or reduce your exercise, in the week leading up to the 5K. Consistent training is going to leave you fatigued, so the taper is specifically designed to let you replenish your body and your mind in anticipation of the big race. Decrease your mileage by 25 percent and include two to three short runs to keep your legs fresh. Two days out from the race, take a day off for total rest, and the day before the race do a short, 20-minute run to wake up your legs.
Scope out the course
If possible, drive the course before the big day. It will give you a sense of what to expect in terms of terrain, while also mentally preparing you for any unexpected hill climbs. “There are a lot of nerves associated with standing at that start line,” says Lescoat. “Knowing the lay of the land ahead of time will ultimately help you feel more confident and assured of what you’re about to do.”
Take it easy on the carbs
We can always get behind bagels and pasta, but heavy carbo-loading isn’t ideal for a 5-km race. “You run the risk of absorbing too many calories and feeling ‘heavy’ on the course,” warns Lescoat. Instead, your meal should come from whole, unprocessed carbs. Think an English muffin with one tablespoon of peanut butter, or a bowl of oatmeal topped with a banana.
Consume 16 to 20 ounces of fluids two hours before the race and another 10 ounces 30 minutes before the race begins.
Get in a good warmup
You have pre-race jitters and your heart is pumping harder than usual. The best way to overcome your nerves is to focus on your warmup. About 25 to 30 minutes prior to the race, take a 10-minute light jog and then build your pace for about five minutes to get limber. Gently stretch any muscles that feel tight and focus on long, deliberate breaths filling your lungs with as much oxygen as possible, then exhale nice and slowly.
You trained hard to make it to that finish line, and you will. Run your race and don’t be disappointed in yourself if it wasn’t as fast as you wanted, or even if you had to walk a part of it. “The beauty of running is that it is an ever-evolving thing,” says Lescoat. “There is always another day, another race and another road to conquer!”
Planning your own fitness vacation to Barbados? Check out these tips on where to stay, eat and play.