Category Archives: Ways to Save Money

Seven Free or Inexpensive Activities in Toronto

I’m happy to introduce you to Lisa Goodmurphy from Gone With the Family. I absolutely love her blog where I learn about great, family-friendly activities in all the amazing places she goes—with the kids! Make sure to check out her full bio below to see all the different places she writes and the best ways to follow her.

Totally taking my kids to the fourth one on this list of free/inexpensive things to do in Toronto!



Toronto is a wonderful, family-friendly city, but like most cities it can also be a very expensive place to visit.  This is especially true for families who have to multiply the costs of admissions, meals etc. by the number of members.  Fortunately, there are a number of things to do in Toronto that are fun for families but won’t break the bank.

1.  Parks/Green Spaces

The municipal government, which would like Toronto to be known as “the City within a Park”, is responsible for nearly 1500 parks within the city.  There’s no charge to take the kids to some of the cities great parks to run around and blow off steam.  One of the best in the city is High Park, a 161 hectare park located in the city’s west end which boasts hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, gardens and a zoo.  The park is easily accessible by transit and is the perfect place to entertain kids for an hour or more with little expense.

2.  Ferry to Centre Island

Just a short ferry ride from downtown, visitors can escape the hustle and bustle of the city on the car-free Centre Island.  The ferry ride isn’t free but it is relatively inexpensive ($4-8) and for many kids the boat ride is an adventure in and of itself.  Parents will also enjoy the fantastic views of Toronto’s skyline on the boat ride to and from the island.  Once on the island, families can enjoy bicycle paths, a petting zoo, wading pools, swimming and other activities which are free or inexpensive.  Parents should be aware though that there is an amusement park on the island as well so they will want to steer clear if they wish to avoid the kids begging for rides.

art gallery of toronto sculpture

3.  The Art Gallery of Ontario

The Art Gallery of Ontario (“the AGO”) is located in downtown Toronto and is one of the largest art museums in North America.  The AGO has a large Canadian collection as well as many masterpieces of European art, contemporary art and photography.  It’s a world-class art museum and it’s one of the most family-friendly galleries we have visited.  Families on a budget will also appreciate that entry to the permanent collections is FREE on Wednesday evenings from 6pm – 8:30pm.

4.  Riverdale Farm

Riverdale Farm is located in a park-like setting in the downtown Toronto neighbourhood of Cabbagetown and represents what a rural Ontario farm would have been like in the late 19th/early 20th century.  Visitors can tour the 7.5 acre farm property, observe the animals and chat with the farmers as they do their daily chores.  Homemade refreshments are also available in the Farm Kitchen.  Admission is always free at Riverdale Farm which is open year round and hosts a number of special seasonal events.

5.  Explore Neighbourhoods

Toronto is one of the world’s most multicultural cities and its neighbourhoods can be a lot of fun to explore with kids.  The best known are probably Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy and Little India and a couple of hours in any of these neighbourhoods can feel like a day trip to another country.  Families can stroll the neighbourhoods and soak up the sights and sounds, browse the shops and sample authentic foods while spending far less than they would in malls or mainstream restaurants.

6.  Harbourfront Centre

Harbourfront Centre is a not-for-profit cultural centre located on Toronto’s waterfront which provides year-round programming as well as outdoor shows and events during the summer season.  Some of the offerings have an associated fee (particularly crafts workshops), however, there are many free events and activities as well.  For example, during the upcoming winter season, the Harbourfront Centre will have free skating all winter, free concerts, free holiday movies, a winter scavenger hunt, and a holiday market with free admission, free storytelling and crafts for kids in Miss Lou’s Room.  There are numerous festivals and events during the course of the year that will appeal to families as well.

St Lawrence Market in Toronto, Canada

7.  St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market has been thriving in downtown Toronto since 1803 and has recently been recognized by National Geographic as the number one food market in the world.  Anyone who enjoys food markets simply must make it a priority when visiting Toronto.  It’s absolutely free to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere of delicious sights, sounds and smells and it’s an ideal place to purchase an inexpensive lunch.  If you’re lucky then you might even find entertainment there too as it’s a popular place for buskers.

 

 

Lisa Goodmurphy is a lawyer living near Toronto, Canada. She left the corporate world to stay home with her two daughters, Katie and Emma (now aged 16 and 9). Badly bitten by the travel bug years ago, Lisa considers herself fortunate that her husband and kids are equally enthusiastic about exploring the world.

As well as writing about her family’s travel adventures on her blog Gone With The Family, Lisa has written for a number of travel websites and is a regular contributor at Travel Mamas as The Spunky Travel Mama. You can also follow her on Facebook, on Twitter as @GoneWithFamily and on Pinterest.

Toronto has amazing things to do for free as Lisa outlines.  If you’re looking to do more of the tourist-y things, CityPass offers a steep discount. Visit Toronto’s CN Tower plus 4 other attractions for up to 45% off with CityPASS!

Free Things to Do in Dallas #FinCon17

Dang, Dallas has some cool stuff to do for free!

As conference season inches closer, I’m realizing that I really need to start planning my travel itinerary now. While I have flights and hotels booked, I haven’t cemented what, exactly, I’ll be doing once I hit the ground at FinCon this year.

So I started planning a couple of lunches. I blocked off time for specific events I know I have to participate in.

I also started planning exploratory trips into the city. Last year I got to see some amazing things in San Diego, and I’m excited to learn more about Dallas.

As I do my research, I thought it would be fun to share some of the free things the city has to offer. Whether you’re headed there for business or pleasure, here are 12 FREE things to do in Dallas:

Historical Dallas

I’m a huge history nerd. I get super psyched when I see that a city offers more than just a glimpse into its past for free. Dallas is one of those cities.

1. Dealey Plaza

This is where JFK was assassinated 54 years ago. There is no admission price to go to Dealey Plaza itself, but if you’d like to go to get a little background at The Sixth Floor Museum, you’ll pay $16 per adult.

You can also score a sweet deal by picking up a CityPass.

2. John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza

While you’re at Dealey Plaza, you’ll see the JFK Memorial. It’s simple, but in a move of genius, secluded in a very public place. The structure allows for a moment of silence, contemplation or meditation, and was built in hopes that it would help celebrate JFK’s life rather than serve as a place of mourning for his death.

3. Fair Park

Art deco was huge in the 1930s, and Dallas went big with it. Fair Park is home of the largest collection of art deco buildings in North America. The largest is the Hall of State, which houses some impressive murals and regularly hosts events like weddings. You can tour the building for free.

4. Juanita Craft House

Juanita Craft was an NAACP champion. She joined in her hometown of Dallas, but went on to establish nearly 200 more chapters in rural Texas. She integrated colleges, theaters, restaurants, and even the Texas State Fair. She was such an important player in the Civil Rights movement that Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lyndon Johnson paid visits to her home in attempts to coordinate their efforts.

That home is now open to the public. If you want to go, just make sure you call ahead to make an appointment.

Arts & Culture in Dallas

Stained glass spiral at Thanks-Giving Square in Dallas

Thanks-Giving Square

5. Thanks-Giving Square

Gratitude makes our life better. It helps us feel at peace and gives us some perspective–hopefully inspiring us to do good for other people.

Thanks-Giving Square stands in honor of that sentiment. The art collection and nautilus-shaped roof serve to inspire peace to every human being–regardless of religion or ethnicity. There are also outdoor meditation gardens.

There are a ton of time slots for this one. Check out the hours as you plan your visit.

6. Dallas Arts District

At 68 acres, Dallas boasts the largest urban arts district in the United States. Klyde Warren Park sits at the center, hosting free muscial performances every Thursday and additional family-friendly fun throughout the week.

While in the Dallas Arts District, you’ll also come across the Dallas Museum of Art and the Crow Collection of Asian Art–two museums that offer F-R-E-E admission.

7. African-American Museum

Located in Fair Park with the Hall of State, the African-American Museum houses one of the largest collections of art and historical documents in its niche. It also regularly hosts lectures and workshops.

Open from 10a-5p everyday except for Sunday.

8. The Samurai Collection

If you’ve been to Dallas before, but it’s been a while, this will be a new experience for you. The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum opened this exhibit in 2012, making the vast personal collection open to the public.

This is literally the only place outside of Japan where you’ll find a museum dedicated to samurai armor.

Before viewing the museum’s 1,000+ piece collection, you can grab some eats at the Saint Ann Restaurant and Bar downstairs. It gets more than decent reviews, so hop in if you’re there around meal time. You don’t HAVE to eat in order to see samurai armor, though.

Oh, also, this is all in an historic school building. So good food, local history and samurais. Random, but awesome.

9. The Economy in Action

This interactive exhibit brought to you by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is literally all about money. Hopefully, since you’re reading a personal finance blog, that makes you giddy as all get out!

Some super cool things you’ll find here:

  • Historical Currency- As in legitimate paper and coins from the 1700s through the 1900s.
  • Cast Your Vote- Unhappy that the Fed is independent of government? Go back in time and listen to the Founding Father’s arguments for and against. You’ll even get to cast your vote after they make their arguments!
  • What does the Fed do? You may have wondered what the Federal Reserve Bank does aside from raising or lowering interest rates. Well, The Economy in Action will break it down for you with five different exhibits ranging from the founding of the Fed to bank supervision to current monetary policy.

Getting Around Dallas

M-Line Dallas

There are a surprising number of ways to get around Dallas for $0.

10. D-Link

Need to get to all of Dallas’ art and culture between the hours of 11a to 11:30p? There’s a free bus for that. Seriously.

You can check out the D-Link (722) route map here. For those visiting Dallas for FinCon, stop 18 is literally catty-corner to the hotel. Buses run every 15 minutes.

11. E-Frogs

What’s better than free? How about eco-friendly and free?

E-Frogs uses street-legal, modified golf carts to get you around the city without charging fare. Better for the environment than cars, and better for your wallet than ride-sharing services.

You will have to tip, though. Don’t be so cheap that you turn into a total and complete jerk.

To get a ride, text your departure and arrival address along with the time you’ll need the ride to 469-432-4055.

12. McKinney Avenue Trolley

Also known as the M-Line, the McKinney Avenue Trolley runs seven days per week between the Arts District and Uptown. While there is no charge to ride, the trolley does accept donations.

For FinConners, the closest stop is a block and a half away at Federal & Olive. You can check out the schedule here.

 

Know of any other free things to do in Dallas that should be added to the list? Share them in the comments below!

 

Super Easy Ways to Save for Music Lessons

Aspiring musicians, and oftentimes their parents, find themselves asking, “Why are music lessons so expensive?

Many do not realize that music teachers are usually self employed and have to take their own expenses into account. Teachers also factor in the time they prepare for each student, including travel.

Music teachers want to give their students the best experience possible and the best chance of reaching their goals-which is worth every penny. Understanding why music lessons cost what they do doesn’t make it easier to pay for them, though!

Luckily, there are some tips and tricks that can help you squirrel away a few dollars here and there to be able to pursue your musical passion. Check out a few ideas below.

The Latte Factor

Next time you think about waiting in line for that five dollar coffee at the local shop, consider brewing your coffee at home instead. Over the course of a month you’ll save enough for a few music lessons. The Latte Factor may be overused, but when you’re saving for a smaller, specific goal, it can really work. Sacrificing a latte is a small price to pay for musical success!

Eat at Home

It’s no secret that eating out adds up quickly. One of the most common times people eat out is at lunch during the work day. That ten dollars a day could be used for a month of music lessons. Make a little extra dinner so that you have lunch for the next day, or wake up a bit earlier to prepare food. The small change will lead to a big pay off.

Skip the Salon

For all the ladies out there who love a mani-pedi, try doing your own nails. This will not only save you money, but also will let you change your color whenever you want and have fun with it. Plus, if you’re learning a string instrument short nails are easier to work with.

Other Ways to Save Money for Music Lessons

Musicians know that lessons are fundamental to growth and progression. No matter your level, they are an important aspect of learning a new musical skill. These are just a few ways to save money to put towards your passion. The infographic from TakeLessons below offers some other ways to save.

For even more ways to save, Femme Frugality readers can get $20 off their first lesson package with the code GETLESSONS.

Hmmm Interesting ways to save money to afford music lessons for the kiddos!

 

This post is contributed by Natalie Hagen.

4 Ways to Save Money Without Too Many Sacrifices

Crazy smart tips to save money! Totally using the first one--my kids are SUCH picky eaters!

It may seem like saving money on stuff automatically requires major sacrifices. But, as you’ll soon see, there are simple things you can do to spend less without feeling you’re missing out.

Try Samples Before Buying Full-Sized Items

Many people are so concerned with prices that they scoop up products they’ve never tried before, just because the prices are so low. That may seem like a good idea at first, but imagine how inconvenient it would be if you bought a 10-pack box of toaster pastries that the kids won’t eat because they complain the products don’t taste similar enough to their usual brand.

To avoid that common scenario, try samples of food before buying full-sized packages if the option exists. There are some common etiquette rules to follow before chowing down on a sample. For example, always read the ingredients, give feedback when necessary, and don’t be afraid to go back for seconds. By sampling foods, you could end up saving money on consumables you buy and never use.

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

The perks offered by loyalty programs may span from free oil changes to complimentary nights in a hotel room. Although getting linked up with loyalty programs may result in some extra messages in your inbox from time to time, the rewards earned could be worth it. That’s especially true if there’s no need to do anything more than buy the brands you always have.

If you’re concerned you’ll never see any benefits because there’s a points system in place, don’t despair. Even when getting started with a loyalty program offered by a hotel brand or airline, you could notice immediate perks such as early check-in and free Wi-Fi.

Be sure to stay aware of the rewards provided by your loyalty programs and when you’re eligible to receive them. By staying on top of that, it’s easier to understand which things you don’t need to buy due to getting them free for participating.

Take Advantage of Coupons and Special Offers

The Sunday newspaper is just one place of many to find worthwhile coupons. Many retailers track what you buy over time and might give coupons to you with store receipts, or offer them within dedicated apps. Stay abreast of the kinds of money-saving offers available to you and seize those opportunities as much as possible. You may even want to set a weekly reminder on your phone that’ll cue you to go to all the places you normally get coupons from and see if the newest offers are for things you might buy anyway.

Shop Locally for Car Insurance

Feeling persuaded by an advertisement you saw for a huge car insurance firm that doesn’t have nearby offices to visit? Instead of immediately getting coverage there because of great rates that were advertised, see what you could get from a local insurance agency first.

Keep in mind, many national names have branches throughout the country, so shopping locally doesn’t necessarily mean going with an untested brand. When engaging with your local insurance specialist, be frank about your budget, especially if you’re switching from another provider and don’t want to pay any more than a certain amount with the new company.

Do research about the various ways a company might help its customers save. Car insurance is a mandatory purchase in most states, so you may as well get educated on potential discounts. For some of them, you may only need to prove you’re a safe driver or haven’t filed a claim for a while.

These are some of the simple but powerful ways to save money on things you have to buy anyway, all without feeling flustered by your frugal efforts. Try them soon and notice the savings.

 

This post has been compensated and contributed by an outside writer.

Back-to-School Jeans for Only $8.88

Over the years, our family has come to love Crazy8–even as an alternative to consignment shops. Their clothes are super stylish, quality and come at reasonable prices which are further brought down by frequent and stellar sales.

This year, as we get ready for back-to-school shopping–

#OMGMyBabiesAren’tBabiesAnymore

–we are on the lookout for great prices to keep our budget in check. One of my kiddos doesn’t need a ton of stuff as far as back-to-school is concerned, but the other definitely needs a wardrobe update as the weather changes from oppressively hot to color-changing, autumnal temperatures.

We were so excited when we saw that Crazy8 has a killer deal on their denim products–only $8.88 for jeans!

Here are some of the favorite back-to-school styles from the Frugality household. My kids are at the age where they have their own style now. They’re probably more fashionable than their mother!

Girls’ Back-to-School Looks

Girls' back-to-school outfits on sale at Crazy8

Jean Jacket – $20.93
Sparkle Girl Tee – $5
Jeggings – $8.88

Find great deals on kids' jeans for back-to-school with this sale.

Metallic Sweatshirt – $14.93
Skinny Jeans – $8.88

Check out this deal on girls' jeans at Crazy8.

Sparkle Tee – $5
Bootcut Jeans – $8.88

Boys’ Back-to-School Looks

Crazy8 Denim Back-to-School Sale

Plaid Shirt – $7
Rocker Jeans – $8.88

Back-to-school jeans for only $8.88

Stripe Tee – $5
Bootcut Jean – $8.88

Affordable, quality back-to-school looks on sale.

Speckle Zip Hoodie – $12
Baseball Tee – $5
Straight Jeans – $8.88

Share Your Shopping Secrets

We’d love to hear from you. Leave an answer to one of these questions in the comments–we read each and every one!

  • How do you score a great deal during back-to-school shopping?
  • Do your children need a complete wardrobe overhaul, or just a few items this year?
  • What’s one item your kid would like from Crazy8? Are you happy with the price?

 

 

 

 

I have been compensated for the writing of this post. Regardless, all opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own. It’s always a great experience to be paid for promoting a product I love and recommend to my friends. Please note that all prices are current at the time of writing, but are subject to change.