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How to buy a Free Vacation! Who doesn't like free?

posted by David    |   December 7, 2013 12:45

Things are always better when they are free. Vacations are no different. Almost every bank offers a 'travel credit card' promising free vacations if only we use their card for everyday purchases. According to Stats Canada (2011), the average Canadian household spends about $25,000 on transportation, food, telephone/internet, and clothing per year. This money can be leveraged to earn free vacations! As residents of chilly Saskatoon, many of us are craving a holiday in a hot locale come February. So which credit card offers the best deal for getting us on that warm beach as soon as possible?

 

BMO Air Miles World MasterCard

The BMO Air Miles World MasterCard gives you the ability to gain Air Miles through credit card purchases. If you already collect Air Miles, this credit card will allow you to 'double dip' on purchases and theoretically gather Air Miles twice as fast. The rate at which you will accumulate Air Miles is 1 Air Mile for every $15 spent.

If you use Air Miles to fly, this credit card gives you an extra discount, allowing you to use 25% fewer Air Miles per flight. This means that you can spend 769 Air Miles for a $400 flight to Calgary or 1575 points for a $612 flight to Toronto. Each Air Mile is worth around 40 to 50 cents, which means you'll be getting 2.5% to 3.5% back on your purchases. If you desire to fly within Canada for free, there is no better rate than with the Air Miles World MasterCard.

However, finding a non-stop flight outside of Canada is next to impossible. The average travel time for a flight to Minnesota is 8-10 hours, as they have you travelling to Chicago or Toronto beforehand. If time means anything to you, and you want to fly outside of Canada, it would be best to look elsewhere for free flights. The deal is still quite good financially, but is a free flight really worth it if it takes you 4 times longer to get to your destination?

 

Royal Bank Platinum Avion Visa

The Royal Bank Platinum Avion Visa offers 1 RBC Reward Point for each dollar spent with the Visa card. When redeeming points for air travel, each point is worth about 2 cents towards your ticket flight. (The TD Travel Rewards card is comparable to the Royal Bank Avion, but offers slightly less.) An example of travel would be a $900 trip to Hawaii for 45,000 points. So you would receive around 2% back on all your credit card purchases for flights. While 2% is lower than the Air Miles 3%, trips outside of Canada are more enjoyable since non-stop flights are much more readily available. If you want to fly outside of Canada, the Royal Bank Avion is the best card for you.

 

The Big Question: Where are you going?

The winner in this competition is dependent upon where you're going.

If you want to fly within Canada, your best option is the BMO Air Miles World MasterCard.

If you are more interested in flying internationally, your answer is the Royal Bank Avion Visa (unless of course you do not mind travelling for hours and hours taking painstakingly non-essential connecting flights).

Happy traveling!

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Planning to propose? Tips to help you pick the perfect ring

posted by Trusted    |   December 6, 2013 20:24

Did you know that Bateman Jewellers is the oldest independent jewellery store in Saskatoon? Bateman Jewellers maintains that client relationships are very important to them, and Trusted is sure you have heard owner Cam Kripki say in his well known radio ads "Your jewellery is a lifetime investment; buy it from a lifetime friend." Trusted can attest to the fact that they really do mean it, and we are proud to have them on board as our Trusted Saskatoon Jeweller!

Here, Cam shares a few tips on buying an engagement ring.

Find Out Her Tastes

So, you found the right girl. And decided to ask her to marry you. CONGRATULATIONS!!! There are a few things to think about as you start down the road to engagement bliss.

If you're purchasing the ring without her, intending to surprise her, choosing one will be more difficult because obviously you won't be able to ask her what she wants. Do keep in mind that nowadays, many women prefer to be part of a joint decision to purchase a ring, so if you find it really difficult to know her style and taste, provide a temporary ring and tell her that you'll choose the real one together.

 

 

Some of the ways to try and work out her taste include:

Asking her about rings in general. If you're going past a jewellery store, pretend to be interested in a watch. Then casually drop a comment about the styles of rings, saying you like a certain type and asking her what she likes. If you're very good, she won't notice the ruse. If you're not so good, she'll probably tweak but she still won't know when you're going to propose! Other ways of getting her to talk about engagement rings is to make a comment about a friend's engagement ring and to ask her preferences at the same time.

Ask her family for ideas. This will depend on whether or not you want them to know before she does, of course. Another ruse is to have her friends take her into a store to ask her "just for fun". You'll need to have absolute trust in them to keep quiet and to pull this off. It's not a good option if you'd prefer to keep it quiet until the moment of the proposal.

Sum up her tastes from the clothes she wears and her existing jewellery. You're in the best position to know whether she likes plain, fancy, patterns, large or small fashion statements. Is she traditional, classic, contemporary, or way out there? Use what you do know about her fashion preferences to your own advantage.

Is she an impassioned supporter of fair trade and human rights? If so, be sure to look for recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds as part of your choosing process.

Find Bateman Jewellers, your Trusted Saskatoon Jewellers, on 2nd Ave South in downtown Saskatoon, or online.

7 tips to help you plan a successful Saskatoon Staycation!

posted by Noël    |   November 22, 2013 10:47

I have to laugh when it comes to my inability to actually book vacation time. As a self-employed individual, I'm guilty of working long hours, working over the weekends, and often missing "fun social events" in order to keep my business moving forward. In the early years, you'd be hard pressed to see me taking anything more than a Sunday off every other month, plus I normally ignored statutory holidays all together. I actually blame my iCalendar for my lack of regulated holiday awareness. If you have an iCalendar you will notice that holidays aren't in there at all, so whenever I looked at my calendar all I saw were potential days for potential clients. It is a regular joke in my house whenever a stat holiday is approaching - I normally receive a daily countdown until the actual holiday so that I remember to take the day off.

In the last few years I've come to the realization that vacation time is a necessary and important part of my ability to not only become a more balanced person, but it actually assists me in being a conductor of innovation within my business. Once I was able to grab onto this revelation, I felt a great sense of freedom. However, my next unknown hurdle to tackle surrounded my financial ability to jet-set away from my working world.

My husband and I would be considered your regular kind of folk. We live in a modest home, we enjoy the simplicities of life and the company of our friends, and like most people, love a good deal when we see one. So, naturally we flocked to the popular online red ticket travel websites to see what our vacation options were like. After spending hours on the sites, we soon realized that if we wanted to plan for more than one or two vacations throughout the year, we would need a lot more money then what we currently had available. With this news in mind, we started to look at different types of vacation options, options where we would still feel like we could effectively remove ourselves from our working world without having to spend extravagant amounts of money. It was at this point that we began to consider the possibility of planning a 'staycation' right here in Saskatoon.

Wikipedia describes a staycation as 'a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night.' Personally, that sounds like a regular weekend to me. Nothing too special or relaxing about that kind of vacation. I might as well pick up a few groceries while I'm trekking around the city! My idea of a staycation involves more relaxation, more pampering, and small bits of planned excitement, whether that be in the comfort of my own home or somewhere else.

After doing a bit of research, I discovered that planning a staycation was really similar to planning a 'jet-setting' kind of vacation. So to assist us in making our staycations as rewarding as possible, I decided to devise a short 7 step process that I believe makes a staycation something to look forward to. Use these steps the next time you consider a staycation in Saskatoon. 

Step 1 - Identify the Objective of the Staycation

  • Are you in need of some quite time and relaxation?
  • Are you feeling cooped up and in need of some excitement or adventure?

Step 2 - Agree on a Budget

  • Nothing is worse than finding something you love and realizing you can't have it.

Step 3 - Pick Your Timeframe

  • A regular weekend
  • Make a regular weekend a long weekend by taking a Friday or Monday off
  • Take a week and really detach

Step 4 - Schedule Your Activities

  • The best thing you can do for yourself is schedule your activities before hand. Maybe it looks as simple as reading a book, or as extravagant as skydiving. Whatever it may be, make sure you schedule it, otherwise you might easily miss out on achieving the objective you set in Step 1.

Step 5 - Determine Your Accommodations

  • Consider booking a hotel room or weekend at a local bed and breakfast. Removing yourself from your home might be exactly what you need to shake off the day to day routine. Visit websites like Trip Advisor to read reviews about local accommodations. Some highly recommended spots we know of are Ninth Street Bed & Breakfast and The James Hotel.
  • Your home might be the perfect place to rest your head during your staycation. If you like the comforts of home, consider hiring a local cleaning service like Glass Slipper Cleaners to come and clean your home prior to your staycation, so that chores you typically do on the weekend are taken care of.

Step 6 - Agree On Your Transportation

  • Hire a driver for the weekend through Provincial Car Service
  • Use your own vehicle
  • Opt for being adventurous and take the local public transit
  • If you are staycationing in the warmer months, consider using a pedal bike or walking to your destinations

Step 7 - Plan Your Meals

  • Eating at local restaurants and cafe's comes at a cost, but if you're looking to have the weight of preparing meals off of your shoulders, visit websites like urbanspoon.ca or tastesaskatoon.com for local restaurant reviews
  • Pre-made meals are also an option, whether that be your own pre-made cooking or from local meal assembly centre, Dinner Rush.
  • I think the mistake that some of us make when planning a staycation is not planning. We automatically, without realizing it, equate a staycation as a 'less than' vacation, and as a result put little effort into planning it. Like with anything in life, little effort equals little reward.

Since discovering that staycations can in fact be just as effective as a 'jet-setting' vacation, my husband and I have enjoyed the process of planning more than one well deserved vacation in a calendar year.

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