Everywhere you look is temptation to whip out the credit card and drown yourself in even more consumer debt. But there are ways to avoid using plastic this holiday season -- or, at least, to use it right. Ideally, assuming your goal is to avoid more debt, the credit card shouldn't be used at all. Need support? Here are four tricks to help you spend smart.
1. Avoid temptation If reaching for the credit card is a habit when shopping, whether the purchase in question is planned or not, then try just leaving the card at home. You might feel a little naked without it, but you'll get used to not having a card with you. Instead, consider carrying cash when you shop -- just enough to buy what's on your list.
2. Beware of debit Not using your credit card doesn't give you license to wildly use your debit card -- after all, spending is spending. If discipline is a problem, consider asking your bank to lower your daily spending limit. Most cards have a daily limit of $500 to $1,000, depending on your history and the amount of money in your account. Cap your limit if the temptation to spend is too great.
3. Recognize external pressures Retailers want you to spend, and every time you step into a mall or a store there are triggers that weaken your willpower. For example, have you noticed that milk and other everyday needs are often in the back of grocery stores? They're there to make you walk the entire length of the store so you'll be tempted to spend more. Similarly, cute yet pointless items are often right by the cashier, so when you're getting ready to pay -- or waiting in a long line -- they can grab your attention. Spending a couple of bucks on a cute trinket never seems like a lot -- but remember, every dollar counts. Recognize the pressures, breathe and avoid them.
4. Stick to your list Once you've decided what gifts and groceries to buy for the holiday season, work to stick to your list. If you have to switch things up, don't just make an impulse decision. Eliminate the original gift, look at your budget, see if the new item fits, then go ahead and purchase.
Walking with cash, capping your spending limits and knowing how retailers work to get you to spend are all tools in your arsenal as you continue to pay off debt and avoid adding more. There's no reason you can't have a great holiday without spending past your budget.
From cold showers to the best must-have products, here's our best fashion and beauty advice.
The most fashionable people know how to mix old and new. Anyone can swipe plastic at a department store, but it takes a strong sense of style—and creativity—to score a treasure at a vintage or thrift shop. Try this approach to building an outfit: Pick one key vintage piece (when shopping, look for intricate beadwork, embroidery and luxurious materials) and pair it with newer items in your closet. That rare vintage find will get you tons of compliments, trust me!
Hot showers may feel great, but they're a real bummer for your skin and hair. They strip away skin's natural defences against dryness and irritants and can weaken hair and make it susceptible to breakage. Lukewarm water, on the other hand, leaves skin hydrated, while cool water helps to close the hair cuticle so tresses look shiny.
"When I have to be fast, I skip traditional eyeshadow and use a shadow stick instead. It blends seamlessly, looks flawless and there isn't any powder fallout... A lifesaver!" - Jodi Urichuk, hair and makeup artist
If you've ever fallen in love with an almost-perfect item of clothing, you know the value or a good tailor—a hemmed pant leg or nipped-in waist can upgrade an entire outfit. But some fixes are easier than others: It's best to buy a coat or blazer that fits properly at the shoulders and then hem the sleeves if necessary. Even with a good tailor, taking in a shoulder seam can be risky.
Tip to toe
Not sure how to ground an outfit? Take a modern approach to pairing and juxtapose styles. If you want to show off your bare legs with a hem that hits midthigh or higher, go for a chunky heel. If the base of your outfit has an obvious masculine look (wide-legged trouser, cargo pant or cuffed jean), opt for a dainty heel.
Tools of the trade
1. Teardrop-shaped sponge
Use it to blend foundation, cream blush or highlighter by lightly bouncing the sponge across skin—the pros call this technique stippling.
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.
With the growing trend of love blending with technology, there are a variety of online dating sites with mobile apps that are helping connect more people. Whether you're looking for a casual encounter or something more serious, there’s a dating app to suit almost every need. Here are seven top dating apps for you to consider.
1. OkCupid (free for both iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site also has a location-based mobile app that allows you to take your experience on the go. Users can sign in via Facebook or directly through the app to find local singles. The app allows you to watch the activity stream for potential matches, "favourite" a profile and rate your potential matches through the Quick Match feature. With over five million registered users since 2010, you never know whom you might find.
2. Match (available on iPhone, Android and Blackberry devices) Match.com, a pioneer dating website that launched in 1995, has users based in 24 countries around the world. People can sign up through Match.com and then download the app on their mobile devices. The app allows members to view profiles, upload up to 24 images, add users to their "Favourites" and rate their "Daily Matches." Subscriptions range anywhere from a month to a year. Pick one that suits you best.
3. eHarmony (available for iPhone and Android devices) This popular online dating site launched in 2000. Its claim to fame? Over one million people who used eHarmony went on to find lifelong partnerships. Users can sign up via the app, complete a relationship questionnaire, upload photos from their mobile phones or from Facebook, and receive daily matches—all free of charge. Paid subscribers get access to email and can also see who has viewed their profiles. It's the perfect app for those of all ages who are looking for long-term commitments. 4. Badoo (free for both iPhone and Android devices) With a community of more than 208 million users, Badoo is perfect for those looking to socialize and meet new people. The free basic service allows users to chat with and message other members, and upload photos and videos. Members can sign in with a Badoo or Facebook account via the mobile app or website to connect with locals who share common interests. The app also features a fun game called Encounters, which allows users to view potential matches and then tap "yes" or "no" to indicate whether or not they would like to meet. If you're not looking to date, Badoo is also a great app for social networking and friendship.
5. Plenty of Fish (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Plenty of Fish (POF) allows users to find potential dates and perhaps even their soul mates for free! It does have paid services as well, but users don't really need to upgrade; most of the best features such as Meet Me, which allows members to flirt with locals in their areas, are free of charge. This app allows users to search for singles using filters such as education, height, religious affiliations and body type. Another cool feature is Date Night, which tells other singles in your area that you're available for a date.
6. Zoosk (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Zoosk is one of the top mobile dating apps for iPhone users and is one of the Top 10 grossing social networking apps in the iTunes store. This app is available for free and also has a paid subscription option that allows you to access more features. If you’d rather not pay, you can still browse millions of singles, create a profile, upload photos, see who has viewed your profile, and scan and show interest in another member by using the Carousel feature.
7. Tinder (free for both iPhone and Android devices) Tinder has quickly become the go-to dating app for young adults. And the best part? The app is completely free and works on the premise of anonymity. Users, who need a Facebook account to create a profile, can upload up to six profile photos and scroll through recommended matches from your area. If you don't like what you see, you can anonymously "like" or "pass" on the person. But it isn't just for the younger demographic: Tinder reports that 31 percent of its users are aged between 25 and 34, making it a great app for anyone looking to casually date or form potentially long-term relationships.
We spoke to Rime Arodaky, a Paris-based wedding dress designer, and Danielle Gulic and Yvonne Reidy, co-owners of Loversland a bridal shop in Toronto, to find out the biggest and best wedding dress trends for 2017.
Following wedding dress trends is tricky, especially if you're a bride. On one hand, most brides-to-be want a look that they can look back on without regret (something most women who got married in the 1980s can't do). But on the other hand, embracing the time and place you got hitched is a great way to mark the moment—and incorporating the trends of the day is the easiest way to do this. The good news? For 2017 the bridal dress trends that are making the biggest waves are also the prettiest—which means you can rest easy about that dress regret.
We spoke to Danielle Gulic and Yvonne Reidy, co-owners of bridal boutique Loversland in Toronto, and wedding dress designer Rime Arodaky for all the latest you need to know about the top 10 2017 wedding dress trends.
Lace is still going very strong for 2017. Think illusion necklines, sheer lace sleeves, lace overlays or just all-lace dresses. When it comes to soft romanticism, lace is still your best bet.
Image by: Oscar de la Renta
2. Jumpsuits and suits
"When we first opened two years ago, we were really stoked about jumpsuits and pants," says Danielle Gulic, "but only now are we at the point where women are actually embracing it." It may seem like a bold fashion choice, but wearing a sleek or romantic suit to your nuptials is a great look. Remember Bianca Jagger's wedding look? Trust us, it will stand the test of time.
3. Understated glamour
This is more of a feeling than a hard and fast trend, but Yvonne and Danielle have noticed a definite uptick in women looking for more glamorous and Hollywood-inspired elegance. Could you wear it on a red carpet? If yes, then it's probably glamorous.
"I think women are a bit more open and amped for sparkle," says Danielle. This doesn't mean over-the-top sequins necessarily (although go there if you're feeling it) but just adding a little shine to an otherwise simple silhouette can take a dress from simple to stunning.
5. Clean lines
Rime Arodaky calls this the "city-chic" look. Think clean lines, simple silhouettes and an overall polish to your bridal look. While you could wear a gown like this to a big 500-person wedding, it would also be a great look for a city hall bride.
Structure doesn't necessarily mean hard edges—but Rime has definitely noticed that brides are paying more attention to the detail and shape of the dress and how it fits their body. It's all about finding that middle ground of the perfect fit. "Brides are looking for a bit of structure," she says. "Nothing too flowy or too soft—without being too puffy or too heavy, the structure is becoming very important."
Off-the-shoulder silhouettes are still big—but the trend to keep at eye out for is single-shoulder dresses. "It's not quite here yet," says Danielle, "but I think we'll be seeing a lot more one-shouldered gowns soon." From our research, there were only a few brands embracing the one-shoulder—and they were all more experimental. File this under, big in 2018.
Colours (other than the occasional pale pink or muted yellow) haven't hit the mainstream yet—and Rime, Danielle and Yvonne are okay with that. But what they are seeing is more intricate embroidery, often in pastel colours. The takeaway? Go for subtle colours and interesting touches instead of full on colour.
Elizabeth Fillmore-FelicityImage by:Loversland
9. Metallic accents
"I really love metallic details," says Rime. "I have little gold dots in the new collection and I love hints of rose gold too." Metallics are a no-brainer for your big day. And while most brides bring the trend into their look with accessories or even nail polish, this year feel free to embrace a dress with a bit more pizzazz in the form of metal accents.
Rue De SeineImage by:Loversland
10. Old school accessories
Okay, so this isn't a dress trend, but it is one of our favourites on the list. Old school accessories—like traditional veils and embellished hair combs—are making a comeback. When it comes to trying these trends the Loversland ladies implore you to just try it on. "A lot of girls come in and they don't want a veil," says Yvonne, "but then as soon as they try it on, they love it." So ditch the flower crown for a veil or a glamorous comb in your hair.