4 Ways To Spend Less Money Over The Holidays And Still Enjoy It With Your Family


This is a special guest post by Jennine Yool, Financial expert and mom of four.

Over the weekend my husband and I managed to do something that I could count on one hand the number of times we’ve done over the past three years. Wait for it…we got out shopping just the two of us! Since adding a third and then subsequently fourth little one to our crew, getting out kid-free is a pretty rare event in our house. When my husband James and I do manage to get a sitter, it’s usually after bedtime. Typically, the last thing either one of us wants to be doing after a long day is rushing to the mall to run around just before the stores close. But, this past Saturday was different. The daycare our littlest two girls go to part time offers an event near Christmas they call “Shopping Day.” Whoever came up with such an idea is a genius. So with four free hours to ourselves in the middle of the day, we set out on a mission. With detailed lists in hand, we avoided the malls, but ended up at a number of the big box stores, and managed to get nearly everything on our list for our kids, as well as our niece and nephew. By the end of it we were wiped, but felt accomplished that we stuck to our lists. We hadn’t gone (too) overboard and had even managed to really enjoy each others company while we were at it. It did get me thinking though as I proceeded through the checkout line at a toy store, that the holidays do have a way of adding up.Four kids

I couldn’t help but think of the financial impact this time of year can have on families, so with that in mind, I’ve compiled my top four tips on how to spend less (and enjoy more) this holiday season…

1. Simplify. This first tip is one that our family has been really embracing over these last couple of years, and one that I would continue even if the financial impact wasn’t there. In an effort to raise generous, grateful and not overly entitled children, we have seriously scaled back Christmas as years have gone by. This tip is going to mean different things to different people and look different for everyone. But tangibly at our house, it came down to two things. Firstly, setting a gift buying budget (and sticking to it) and secondly, embracing an idea that I heard a few years back that I kind of fell in love with. It’s super simple too, which is a huge bonus. Each child gets “something they want, something they need, something to wear & something to read.” Easy. Simple. Love it!

2. Price match. This tip is one that I feel like a lot of moms I know already take advantage of, but is especially great to be reminded of this time of year. Stores like ToysRUs, for example will match ANY advertised price. I frequently see parents scanning shelves at the grocery store to price match using flyers or apps on their phones. But the entire time I was toy shopping, I didn’t observe a single person price matching. And remember, aside from the dollars you’re saving on the item(s) you’ve price-matched, you’re also saving yourself the time, energy and gasoline of driving around to other stores. Always a bonus.

3. Shop kid-free. Until this past kid-free shopping trip, I’m not sure I would have fully appreciated the value in this one. But I can’t help but wonder how much “stress spending” I’ve done over the years in an effort to keep my kids quiet, content and entertained while I’ve been out shopping. Since becoming a mom, trips to the mall are more of a marathon than a leisurely outing. The goal is to get in and out as quickly (and quietly) as possible and in doing so, I know there’s no way I was paying close enough attention to price, quality, options, etc. This is one time to call on Grandma and Grandpa, or even another family to swap childminding for a few hours. Once you’ve lined up a sitter, get out with your spouse, grab (or bring) lunch and turn the afternoon into a bit of a date. You won’t regret it!

4. Plan. This one is easy to say, but I realize it sometimes gets lost in execution. Planning ahead saves me from running to the grocery store on the way to a Christmas event, grabbing a fruit or veggie tray, and ultimately paying for someone else to do what I could have done myself at home. I get that there’s always going to be times that convenience is well worth the extra cost, but whenever possible, I try to make from scratch an appetizer or dessert to share and bring; that way, I know exactly what’s in it and can cater the recipe I decide to make to what’s on sale that week.


What do you do to make the most of your resources during the holidays?

With a Degree in Economics and nearly eight years selling mortgages in the Greater Toronto Area, Jennine strives to provide her clients with the education, rates and individuality tailored financing solutions necessary, to assist them in making informed decisions about their future. Interested in learning more? Contact Jennine Yool at jennine.yool@gmail.com. You can also follow Jennine’s financial tips on Facebook.


Baby Registry Picks and Skips – Part 1: Travel

For first time parents the idea of creating a baby registry can seem over whelming with all of the choices out there.  Until you are a parent it is hard to know what you will actually use and what is a waste of money.  When I was pregnant with our son I remember walking into the big box baby store feeling huge, dizzy and exhausted.  I kept scanning the room for a place to curl up into fetal position.  Luckily my husband who hates shopping lives for registering and researching products so I let him take the lead and I gave up a lot of control in order to survive the experience.  In the end he was pretty dead on and we have loved almost every choice we made as first time parents. Now that I have been through the reality that is having an actual living, breathing human test everything out I have learned what I love and what to skip.

In this series I will be breaking a baby registry down into the items to splurge on and pass up.  In each blog post I will be highlighting my favorite items and local shops.  Feel free to email me with any questions you might have regarding creating your own personalized registry at info@nestingstory.ca.  Nesting Story also specializes in registry management.  Please visit our list of services for more information.  In the Travel blog post I sourced almost all of the items from Snuggle Bugz, a wonderful shop with everything baby, located in Milton and Burlington, Ontario.  You can also shop on their website www.snugglebugz.ca.


Nesting Story’s Baby Registry Picks and Skips – Part 1: Travel


My biggest mistake that I made while creating my baby registry was getting caught up in all of the bells and whistles of the fancy single stroller we bought without really thinking about the future.  We thought our kids would be spaced far enough a part that we would not need a double stroller, I didn’t know then that we would be welcoming our daughter we nick named Bad Math Baby, 20 months after our son was born.  We also didn’t think past the image of our son being an infant to him being in the 99th percentile for weight which made our fancy stroller catch on every crack on the side walk.  For these reasons I highly recommend the Baby Jogger “City Select“.


Baby Jogger “City Select” at Snuggle Bugz

The “City Select” comes in a variety of colours as well as attachments.  You can start out with just clicking the infant car seat into the stroller and then eventually purchase one or two seats.  Even if you are only using this stroller for one child initially it is still a great option.  The base is large enough that it won’t become top heavy and it is so light and easy to fold up.  The number of seating combinations in the “City Select” is incredible!


Some stroller accessory picks you may want to pick up would be the stroller tray and parent console… a skip: the cup holder.

An additional inexpensive umbrella stroller is also great to have!!!  Lend out to a Grandparent or leave as a “just in case we need it” in you car, you never know!  I love the Combi “Flare” umbrella stroller, incredibly light yet sturdy and folds in half vertically!

Combi Flare


There is a reason why almost everyone loves and has the Peg Perego “Primo Viaggio” carseat, it is well made,  adaptable to pretty much every stroller, is incredibly safe and has a sleek design… need I say more?


Peg Perego “Primo Viaggio” at Snuggle Bugz

When looking for a carseat once your child has grown out of the infant one, I have found that some of the biggest name brand options have left me disappointed, especially with the buckling systems.  I am very excited about the    “Foonf” carseat by Clek.  Born out of an automotive supplier company and based out of Toronto, they have pretty much thought of everything!  Safety features including an anti-rebound bar for rear facing mode, convenient integrated magnets to hold the harness out of the way while taking your child in and out of the car and Crypton fabric to protect against spills and stains, (previously working in the food and beverage Interior Design field I am a big fan of Crypton fabric and it’s capabilities) just to name a few!


The Clek “Foonf” at Snuggle Bugz

Some car seat accessory picks: if you have a winter baby, a car seat cover like the one by Easy Cover Newborn and for an older child JJ Cole’s “Bundle Me” (be careful to make sure your child’s buckles are pulled tight with this one).  Skip: a puffy infant snow suit, instead use one of these covers and a hat with blankets tucked around your little one… it is much safer because you can tighten the harness more.  The “Carseat Canopy” is also great to protect your little one from the sun.

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Carseat Covers at Snuggle Bugz

Baby Carriers & Wraps

Although I loved my Baby Bjorn carrier for my little ones I did find it was limited with the weight capacity.  Some more comfortable and flexible options for baby carriers are the Cuddly Wrap by Peapod Creations which is easy to use, comfortable and goes to a high weight and the Ergo Baby Carrier that is extremely comfortable and flexible and also goes up to a high weight.

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Carrier Options at Snuggle Bugz

Skip: beware of any hammock-like slings, they have been recalled in the past due to suffocation.

Diaper Bags

I absolutely LOVE Petunia Pickle Bottom’s Diaper bags!  Not only do they have gorgeous prints, they are so well made and my favorite style, the Boxy has such versatile straps either going over the shoulder or back pack straps.  The only down side is they are on the pricey side.  If you are looking for something a little more budget friendly, Skip Hop has some great diaper bags, the most popular styles being the “Versa” and the “Studio bag“.

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Diaper Bags at Snuggle Bugz

If you require a larger bag to carry extra supplies for twins or for an older child as well, the Ju Ju Be “Be Prepared” and the Skip Hop “Duo Double” made made larger and can fit everything including the kitchen sink!

juju be be prepared    Skip-Hop-Duo-Double-Diaper-Bag

Diaper Bags at Snuggle Bugz

Diaper bag accessory pick: a great change pad like the Skip Hop “Pronto” change pad.  There is a pocket for your wallet and keys and a strap to attach it to your stroller.  The Jonathan Adler prints are fun, stylish and full of vibrant colours.


Skip Hop Pronto at Snuggle Bugz

Travel skip: a grocery cart cover.  It is a great idea in theory but it can be a hassle putting it in and taking it out while  juggling your little one, especially if you have more than one child.  It is almost easier to give the cart a quick wipe down and be on your way!

Each parent will find that different products work for them, a variety of carriers will fit different body types, and different family plans will require different types of strollers.  Which ever products you choose for your family make sure you ask others what worked for them, they have put those products through the paces and can speak from experience!

Happy registering!