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November doesn't have to be a dreary month before the holidays -- it can be a time of positive change for Canadians who get serious about debt and money management thanks to Financial Literacy Month.

Financial Literacy Month (FLM) is held from November 1 to November 30 across the country and features seminars such as Budgeting Made Easy held on November 17 in Toronto, ONT or Food & Finance held on November 15 in Burnaby, BC.

There are about 60 seminars aimed at a variety of audiences from parents to kids to persons with disabilities. Visit the Canadian Financial Literacy Database to find one in your area.

But, do Canadians really need that much help when it comes to money? Unfortunately, yes. The average debt held by Canadians, excluding mortgages, is $21,379, according to TransUnion.

The number seems overwhelming, but it shouldn’t. If you’re in debt or struggling to save start with baby steps. The best place to begin is at home saving on small expenses.

Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy, Director of Education and Community Awareness for the Credit Counselling Society, is part of the seminar 75 Ways to Save on Household Expenses held on November 8 in Port Coquitlam, BC and she shared with us a preview:


1. Program your home thermostat to keep temperature cooler during the day (you can do this from your phone with apps such as Nest).

2. Keep windows and doors airtight to prevent heat from escaping (or cool air coming in).


3. Cut the cord on a landline if you have a cell phone.

4. Use WIFI over data whenever possible.


5. Create a weekly meal plan by first checking your freezer, pantry and fridge for what you already have, then make a grocery list and only buying what is on your list.

6. Plan big meals for dinner and use leftovers for lunch.

7. Use grocery apps to help you save with coupons, rebates and price matching.

8. Make coffee at home (save up to $5 per day for coffee).


9. Choose between cable or streaming services for TV.

10. Host potluck dinners with friends instead of dining out.

11. Use your local library for books (most libraries lend out ebooks you can borrow from home), movies and video games.

12. Access free events and activities through local parks, museums or art galleries (check for student discounts or free hours).


13. Buy clothes at a consignment store.

14. Cancel your gym membership if you aren’t using it weekly.

15. Implement a gift exchange or give the gift of service, such as babysitting or baking.

Bonus tip: “A Toonie Party” for a kids’ birthday where every child brings two toonies. One is for the birthday kid to buy whatever they want and the other toonie goes towards a charity of the birthday kid’s choice.