CRU’s official grand opening was on Feb 28th, after the popular seafood restaurant Lbs. closed at the end of 2018, to unveil with its brand-new restaurant and bar concept.
The place is connected to the Scotia Plaza building, hidden behind its royal blue velvet curtains. Once you enter, the modern fine-dining restaurant is filled with stunning contemporary murals and artworks by Polish artist, Pawel Swanski.

Over one-third of all fruits and vegetables produced end up in landfills because of their perceived imperfections. Undersized, discolored, or oddly-shaped produce that are completely fine for consumption are discarded because they do not fit the standard of beauty to be placed on grocery store shelves. Founders, May and Jeff Dang (who are siblings), created IMPerfect Fresh Eats to raise awareness for this wasteful practice while creating a place where people can reconnect with their love for food in a delicious, sensible, convenient, and positive way.

Thanks to the Fete Chinoise committee for having us at the photo wall at the annual event at AGO.

Daniel Longo may be colour-blind, but his art is come of the most vibrant you may see as of late. The Toronto-based artist has become known for his captivating work that draws influences from neo-expressionism, Los Angeles street art, and pop culture.

This season’s Toronto Fashion Week x RE\SET in Yorkville was everything spectacular; including once again opening its doors to one of Canadian fashion’s most awaited presentations – the showcase of Mikhael Kale’s gorgeous F/W ’19 collection.

Many shows have been done on Impressionism but the AGO presents us with a first exhibition on how the Impressionists looked at the subject of industry and labour – in a nutshell it is Impressionism in the age of industry.

The deep freeze couldn’t keep Toronto’s finest from braving the cold and heading to the Liberty Grand entertainment complex on Friday, February 1 for the 18th annual motionball Toronto Gala to benefit the Special Olympics Canada Foundation (SOCF). 

Offering a good reason to break free from hibernation mode, Winterlicious is now here until February 7 at 200 restaurants across Toronto. For those in the dark, this means come of the city’s best spots are dishing up three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus. A go-to in recent years has been Café Boulud in the Four Seasons Hotel.

CC Lounge located in the heart of Downtown Toronto by St. Lawrence Market, is a multi-faceted resto-bar lounge that exudes comfort, yet a high-energy vibe from both the staff & guests. Upon entering, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with a large bird-cage and extravagant crystal chandeliers frozen-in-swing. The venue itself is polished with pink and blue lights beaming on the surfaces and a hint of the 1920’s resides in the design of the leather couches, framed portraits, and whisky barrels.

The thing about Canada is that it is big. Bigger than the USA and bigger than Europe. So big, in fact, that it can make even the most routine journeys feel like a road trip. So what better way to occupy your time than by playing games on your mobile while on your way to some of Ontario’s best attractions?     Like Canada, Ontario is also big and with so many things to see. Even if you are just focusing on Toronto and Ontario, many attractions and activities can still involve a lengthy journey, whether you are traveling by car, bus or train and long journeys can mean bored passengers and the usual arguments. One of the biggest visitor draws in Ontario is the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls, by far the most recognized of Ontario’s landmarks, which attract tens of millions of tourists each year. Niagara Falls is just an hour and a half travel by car, making it one of the easiest places to day trip to. A perfect way for passing a few boring hours stuck in traffic (and to calm down unruly passengers) on your way to the Falls is to play solitaire. The Card Shark collection might be just the thing you need. This one-stop table card game app available on mobile features Texas hold ’em to Crazy Eights and every kind of card game you’ll ever need. It has silky smooth 3D graphics and classy animations. You might want to put your solitaire card skills to the test and go all Las Vegas and play for real. As can be seen in this LeoVegas mobile casino online review there are options for players, including free spins, joining bonuses and games like Star Burst and Mega Fortune as well as the usual blackjack and roulette. These kinds of games are ideal for short hops to local attractions like Canada’s Wonderland, just 30 km from downtown Toronto, or for when you find yourself stuck the lift heading up the 553 meter CN Tower. via GIPHY You can also while away some online hours by playing games like Card Crawl, which features multiple game modes lasting just a few minutes and the further you get into the game the more cards you unlock. Perfect for any long journey. And those long journeys don’t get much longer than a trip to the pristine Quetico Provincial Park, a mere 1500 km and 16-hour journey across the Trans Canada Highway from Toronto. It is precisely these moments when some quiet time in the back of the car on your mobile really comes into its own. At this point, a perfect way to break up the trip is to play some Gin Rummy, the same game your Grandma taught you whilst feeding you biscuits from a never-ending old tin. In this mobile game, however, you get to play against players from all over the world earning coins as you win and progress to higher and higher skill levels. No need to delve into the in-app purchasing either because there’s a handy leaderboard available to see where you stand against your opponents. Now there’s no need for the size of Ontario and its distant (and close) attractions to deter you from heading out on a road trip. Play these immersive mobile games and the journey can be just as much fun as the destination.    

Little Italy welcomes Garrison Creek – a show-stopping dining space specializing in traditional Italian cuisine boasting recipes made from scratch. The luxurious interior contrasts sleek white and black marble tables with luminated wood-panelled floors and velvet seating to bring together an approachable ambience that boasts both comfort and privacy. Garrison Creek welcomes both families, with their plentiful seating sections and an exclusive children’s menu, as well as lavish dinners with friends in their exquisite 8-seater private booth and live DJ.

The first North American location of Don Alfonso 1890 opened a couple of months ago and is already recognized as the “Best New Italian Restaurant in the World 2018”. Nick Di Donato from the Liberty Group and Michelin Star Chef Ernesto Iaccarino announced the exciting news of the Three-Fork designation from the prestigious Gamberro Rosso – the Italian equivalent of the Michelin Star.

Toronto, the Capital of Ontario, Canada, is one of the most visited cities in the state. The culture, weather and people make the vacation destination well worthwhile and if you think that winter is a deterrent, you are surely mistaken. There are, in fact, a number of activities that keep the city bustling and busy during the colder months in Toronto. Through several feedback posts, we discovered some of the most entertaining ventures you and your family can partake in during winter season. Here is where you will find the gold, so sit back, enjoy and choose adventures best suited to you and yours. Ontario Place This destination holds activities for every season all year round. The Winter Lights Festival is one of the biggest attractions at Ontario Place. You can witness light masters from all corners of the world set up magnificent displays of lighting and artwork for the entire family to admire. So beautiful the sight is that not even a camera lens can capture the essence of what the human eye is capable of. Toronto National Park One of nature’s most desirable parks lies nestled within the snowy mountains of Toronto. Take your family for a walk through the forests with a guided tour of the very secrets that make the park a national attraction. Snow Tubing A popular and fun activity for the entire family is the snow tubing events held all round in Canada. Family’s take part in the fun filled day and enjoy food stalls, restaurants and exploring different angles of the ice, even if it’s in your face! The adrenaline packed adventure is ideal for the little ones as there are different routes to cater for all ages and expertise. Needless to say, some of the children are more experienced than the adults! Skiing and Snowboarding If your family is into the whole fitness scene, Toronto is your place for a winter vacation. Choose from a wide variety of snowboarding and ski resorts which not only provide scenic ski opportunities, but they also accommodate families with different preferences in accommodations. Glamp it out or opt for a log cabin to get the full Canadian winter vacation experience.  Live Entertainment There are many live entertainment events to look forward to all year round, but if you are looking for some family fun filled entertainment and have already had enough one on one fun at the best poker rooms in Canada, you probably want to relax in a safe place knowing your kids are safe and sound having all the fun in the world. You are in luck, once again Toronto has your back and there is a wide list of family friendly events held all year round designed to entertain your family while you catch some downtime. If you aren’t keen to relax at the hotel or cabin, join in on the fun and take the day off tomorrow. Don’t forget to book well in advance as live entertainment events are quickly sold out. Sign up for newsletters, event info and like before you book your tickets as some of the biggest live entertainment family events are held in Toronto. Winter Festivals Fashion meets winter, dress up for some of the most spectacular events which attract tourists from various countries around the world. These events range from the European Short Film Festival, DesignTO and the Fire and Ice Festival to more casual events such as Winterlicious, Winter Beer Festival and the Toronto Tea Festival. KidsfestTO This is one event you have to allow your under 12 year olds to appreciate. The day is filled with activities to impress, entertain and leave your little ones wanting to come back. The family day offers a wide variety of child friendly fun for the entire family. As you can see, Toronto is the city that enjoys celebrations, winter and summer, loads of food and beverages and money making activities. If you have passed on the idea of visiting Toronto Canada due to the weather, you may need to rethink the time of year you plan to visit, the city has made sure even the hottest climate nations will fall in love with the city, culture and winter!    

The cold, dark Canadian winter is now in full swing, meaning you’ll probably be aching to jet off and experience the sun that your vitamin D-deprived body truly needs. While Toronto isn’t exactly close to anywhere you can experience winter sun, that isn’t a problem. As the city’s airport is the busiest in Canada, there are dozens of great options for those looking to reach warmer climes without breaking the bank. If you haven’t booked your winter vacation yet, read on to find out the top winter vacation destinations from Toronto.  Buenos Aires     If lazily sunning it on the beach isn’t your idea of a dream winter getaway, then head to the manic metropolis of Buenos Aires for a city break to remember. The Argentine capital experiences warm and sunny weather throughout the winter months, meaning you can expect balmy temperatures whenever you decide to go. Enjoy strolling the elegant streets and explore some of the museums in this historic city, before going for some up-all-night barhopping in the raucous nightlife district of Recoleta. You can fly direct with Air Canada year-round. Malta Mix things up a bit with a trip to Europe. While much of the continent is in for a cold winter, Malta keeps things sunny and warm year-round, averaging temperatures of around 20 degrees throughout December. Aside from great food and crumbling palaces overlooking the Mediterranean, this tiny island is also home to one of the most thriving tech sectors in Europe, making it ideal for Canadian techies. If you’re a techie looking to relocate to sunnier shores, some major global online casino operators, many of which also run in Canada, have their global headquarters here, so it might be worth sending your resume over to Mr Green if it turns out you don’t want to leave. Antigua   Antigua is truly one of the jewels of the Caribbean, feeling truly unspoiled in comparison to its neighbours. This former British colony is big on history, with travellers able to enjoy relaxed tours of old colonial castles, villas and plantations before heading off to some of the best beaches in the world. The island enjoys warm weather every month of the year, with December being a particularly popular time to visit. Make sure to enjoy some grilled fish on the beach with a rum punch in hand, before setting off on a yacht for some island hopping. It definitely beats queueing for the bus in snowy Toronto.  St Martin   St Martin is a historical and geopolitical oddity. One side is a territory of France, while the other is part of the Netherlands. This brings a unique European blend to this small island, as well as ensuring it is one of the safest destinations in the Caribbean. Direct flights from Toronto resume with Air Canada every December to cater to the Canadian holiday crowd, who go to take advantage of cheap flights, cheap drinks and even cheaper hotel rooms. There are few better places on Earth to blissfully while away the winter months until Toronto becomes habitable again. Do you have any secret tips on where to find winter sun from Toronto? Let us know in the comments below!  

Out of all of 2018’s food trends in Toronto, soufflé pancakes deserve the most recognition – for fulfilling not only instagram-worthy shots, but also happy tummies. Soufflés in itself are a challenge to make, but “Fuwa Fuwa” perfects this recipe, proven by eager food lovers lining up at both this and the Bloor-West location for weekends on end.

After only two years of opening, Cheese Garden has become one of Toronto’s most-coveted specialty dessert shops. Their cheese-centric menu incorporates high quality and authentic flavours from all over Japan, such as Kyoto, Osaka, and Okayama, into their beautifully packaged pastries.

If you’re debating where to tackle your holiday shopping list this year, the brand new Cactus Club Cafe at Sherway Gardens makes the shiny, freshly remodelled Etobicoke mall an easy choice. Marking its second Ontario location (the first of which, of course, spans three bustling levels of prime real estate in the city’s Financial District), Cactus Club Cafe opened its doors at Sherway late last month. Consistent with the ever-growing Cactus Club Cafe brand, the food is comforting and creative – approachable, yet refined and memorable. The menu at the Sherway Gardens location features a mix of reliable favourites and new highlights created by their Test Kitchen, led by world-class chefs including Chef Rob Feenie (Iron Chef America and Iron Chef Canada) and Chef Cory Vitiello, Head of Culinary Development, Toronto. Beloved signature dishes, such as Chef Feenie’s Butternut Squash Ravioli with Prawns and Double-Braised Short Rib, make an appearance on the menu here, as do new quick favourites like Chef Vitiello’s Lobster and Prawn Tagliatelle Nero with pistachio green chili pesto (exclusive to Sherway Gardens), and Mediterranean-inspired Salmon Fresca with fresh herbs, baby gem tomatoes, shaved fennel and hummus. Personal menu highlights include the Szechuan Lettuce Wraps, the Hunter Chicken (complete with a mushroom demi-glaze and dreamy buttered mashed potatoes), the Baja Fish Tacos, and the beef carpaccio. New vegetarian and vegan menu items include Tofu Lettuce Wraps and the Grilled Tofu Modern Bowl. To accompany the culinary goodness is an extensive wine (wine by the glass is served in either six-ounce or nine-ounce options) list that will please any palette and a cocktail list that includes both reliable classics and about a dozen creative gems. The restaurant’s art is worth a visit in itself, and the sprawling space practically doubles as an art gallery, with conversation-provoking pieces from some of the world’s best-known artists gracing its walls. These include pieces from Andy Warhol (no big deal), the influential Jean-Michel Basquiat, Japanese contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, well-known LA street artist Mr. Brainwash, and Toronto’s own rising star Daniel Mazzone, whose massive painting adorns the walls of the two-story entrance. Another talking point of the space – and something that will be appreciated after a summer shopping session – is a large retractable roof. This is one of the largest of its kind found at any restaurant in North America and definitely one of the stars of the show. The restaurant will offer daily afternoon and late night specials, as well as half-price bottles of wine on Tuesdays and Wednesday. Personally, I can’t think of a better place to unwind (with a large glass of red wine in hand) after a chaotic few hours spent in a crowded mall during the holiday season.  But be sure to book a reservation in advance. Photos by Nick Lee

Top Holiday Events for Xmas in Toronto When it comes to Xmas in Toronto there are so many different events to enjoy. We wanted to help make it easier for you to plan ahead so we’ve created this list of the best things to do this holiday season. Don’t forget, you can check out our amazing restaurant guide too if you are planning to book a table for a family get together or for a surprise treat or even as a way to end a perfect Christmas themed day. Xmas In Toronto Events Guide Every year our holiday guide is a big hit and this year should be no exception. We have all our favourite events lists as well as some great new treats for all our readers and they are all listed below so you can find them at a glance. Xmas at Black Creek:There are a number of great events being organized at the Black Creek Village this year where you’ll be able to celebrate Christmas and experience all the old and new traditions and have a great day out. Family Xmas Weekends: This family experience will allow you to step into an amazing Christmas wonderful. Experience the sights and sounds of a Victorian Christmas and enjoy some wonderful seasonal activities in the village. Who knows, you might even pick up a new tradition or two to add to your family’s holiday festivities for years to come. Storytime with Santa: Happening every weekend in December, this is a special treat for all the little ones. They get to spend time with Santa and his helpers as well as gather around Santa’s chair and listen to him tell a classic Christmas story. Children also get to decorate their very own Christmas cookies in the historic kitchen and grownups can warm themselves with a hot apple cider. Remember to bring your camera to capture the memories of this wonderful experience as you create your very own Christmas crafts and explore the holiday village. Christmas by Lamplight: This takes place every Saturday in December as Black Creek comes to life in the evenings with music, food, and activities all beneath the glow of lamplight. Bask in the glory of the holiday decorations and enjoy an evening of fantastic music and Christmas entertainment. Toronto Christmas Market: This is something not to be missed. Toronto Christmas market is one of the leading Christmas markets in the world and the annual event brings with it all the tradition, heritage, and charm you’d expect to find at a Christmas market. It’s also where you’ll find unique local handcrafted products and gifts for all the family. The day is filled with friendly entertainment, musicians, carolers, children’s choirs, and holiday-themed stage productions. There’s even a visit from Santa and his elves to enjoy. The Market is held right up until the 23rd of December and opens from 12pm to 9pm weekdays and 10am to 10pm at weekends. Bloor Yorkville Holiday Magic: This is the annual community concert event that supports the Canadian Foundation of AIDS Research (CANFAR) and it’s free. It features the official “Flick the Switch” lighting ceremony along with exciting live music performances from some of the best Canadian stars. Illuminite: This is a wonderful evening of music and dance where visitors get to experience the wonder and joy of the holiday season in the heart of Downtown Toronto. There’s live music that will have you dancing as well as a special tree lighting performance followed by live singing in the square of all your favourite Christmas songs. Fallsview Casino Resort Entertainment: Fallsview Casino resort features some of the best in entertainment for your holiday seasons with over 250 shows every year. This includes some big international stars like Steven Tyler, Adam Sandler, Kelly Clarkson and more. You can enjoy blackjack, roulette, slots, and more while catching a show too. There are a number of land-based casinos in Toronto but if you don’t want to travel, there are online casinos and Torontonians can play online casinos here and enjoy all their favourite games for real money prizes. Toronto Santa Claus Parade: What’s Christmas without Santa Claus? Take your kids to this event where Santa is welcomed into town. The parade is the highlight of the Toronto Xmas Events calendar and has been in operation since 1913. You’ll get to see amazing floats leave the corner of Christie and Bloor Street accompanied by marching bands, dancers, and a myriad of characters all dressed up as they lead the way along the 5km route. The parade lasts for approximately 2.5 hours and starts at Christie Pits Park and ends at the St. Lawrence Market. Swedish Christmas Fair: This is a two-day holiday event that includes children singing carols at the Lucia Pageant as well as the story behind the IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad. You can try your hand at folk dancing, craft making, and more. You even get to try out some of the delicious Scandinavian foods and drink glogg. There’s a range of imported handmade gifts, unique Christmas decorations, and much more. Cavalcade of Lights Toronto: This is a free event that has been running for more than 50 years in Toronto. It marks the official start to the holiday season and features the illumination of Toronto’s official Christmas tree. Musical performances by some of the top Canadian talent as well as a fireworks display are not to be missed. And there’s a DJ skating party in the outdoor rink as well. It’s fun for all the family and takes place in Nathan Phillips Square. The Nutcracker: If you want to enjoy a family Christmas classic, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is a must visit. Running until the 30th of December you can see the stunning Nutcracker come alive on stage in this visual extravaganza. As you can see, when it comes to Xmas in Toronto there really is so much to fill your schedule with. From treats for the kids to family fun and casino entertainment for adults, there’s something for everyone to enjoy this holiday season.    

Amidst a rising wave of cyber-attacks that have had a devastating impact on companies across the globe, Toronto is aiming to establish itself as a cybersecurity hub. The annual Toronto Cybersecurity Conference that is set to take place in March 2019 hopes to contribute to the country’s defenses against hackers by raising awareness and providing an impetus for training. Two Toronto Cybersecurity Conferences to Take Place in 2019 The Toronto Cybersecurity Conference is organized every year by Data Connectors, a company that specializes in cybersecurity events and has been in the business since 1999. According to their website, the next Toronto Cybersecurity Conference will take place on March 21, 2019 from 8 am to 5 pm. It will feature three sessions, with a strong focus on web security. Topics will include security in cloud environments, how to protect email and social media accounts, security across LAN and wireless networks, VoIP, as well as the impact of USB tech on security. A specialized audience ranging from developers and network engineers to CEOs and managers will hear from three distinguished speakers that represent industry leaders. Although there is no entry fee, those interested need to register to be able to attend. Attendance is estimated to be between 2000 and 5000 delegates, while they will also be able to engage with at least ten other exhibitors during the conference. The event builds on the work of its 2018 predecessor, which took place in March 2018 and focused on similar issues. Data Connectors are also planning a second edition of the Toronto Cybersecurity Conference, which will take place on October 17, 2019. Entrance is again free and includes access to the exhibit area, which will host more than 30 exhibitors, as well as to 12 educational sessions and one central keynote speaker session. Why Discussing Cybersecurity Matters The organization of cybersecurity events seems all the more crucial, since as of November 1 companies are required, by virtue of the provisions of the Digital Privacy Act, to inform their clients of data breaches. Considering it results in bad publicity, this arguably means that Canadian companies are looking for ways to beef up their data security by uncovering hidden risks, correctly classifying and safeguarding sensitive data, and complying with regulatory requirements like the recent GDPR EU rules. After all, for Canadian companies, the stakes are high: As CBC.ca reported on October 15, 2018, a recent Statistics Canada survey revealed that 20% of Canadian companies suffered a hacker attack in 2017, and only 1 in 10 of victims have reported it to the police. In total, Canadian businesses spent a whopping $14 billion in cybersecurity last year. Of that number, $8 billion went to specialized personnel, $4 billion was channelled to cybersecurity software and hardware, and only $2 billion went to prevention and mitigation measures. Statistics Canada has also released information about how companies are impacted by cybersecurity breaches. 54% of enterprises have stated that they were impeded in carrying out their day-to-day operations, 53% had issues with access to resources or services, and 30% complained that incidents required additional funds for recovery and repair. Against this bleak landscape, cybersecurity events like the Toronto Cybersecurity Conference seem all the more important for business leaders and IT professionals alike.    

Holiday season is officially in full force at Union Station. On Friday, November 16, commuters rounded off the workweek with a sparkly celebration of all things festive by Swarovski.

“Frilu” brings the downtown Toronto fine-dining experience to Thornhill in an unparalleled 10-course experience in its 28-seater space. Like many fine-dining restaurants, the ambiance is modern and minimalistic, yet has a casual ambiance that has an inviting warm hospitality. Just like the word’s Norweigian origin, “friluftsliv”, meaning one with nature, Frilu combines earthy elements from their leisurely atmosphere (complete with a mossy back wall), and their new fall tasting menu, called Harvest Moon: Changing Leaves.

Eat to the Beat returns for the 23rd annual culinary gala, featuring 60 top female chefs while raising funds in support of breast cancer. The event conveys a powerful message and the strong support for women through the challenges. The event took place at Roy Thompson Hall, sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society GTA (CCS), filled with great food, drinks, and fun for this great cause as proceeds are directed to CCS programs and services to help support anyone living with breast cancer diagnosis. The program exists to ensure no one faces breast cancer alone, with programs connecting people with volunteers, information and help cope through the challenges. Eat to the Beat has grown through the years, along with its support. Throughout the evening, while sampling specially prepared savoury and sweet dishes from chefs. Attendees will notice the favourite Corset Ladies, a group of supporters and survivors who design and wear beautiful, food-themed corsets, throughout the evening. A new feature to this year was the “Up-and-Coming Chef Challenge”, presented by KitchenAid, featuring talented female chefs-in-training from five prestigious culinary schools in Ontario. The winner was Centennial College’s chef, Anna Choi, for her dish of kombu-cured salmon with ponzu caviar, spiced puffed rice, wasabi crème fraiche, yolk gel, pickled onion and parsley powder. http://www.eattothebeat.ca Twitter: @EattotheBeat_TO #ETTB2018 Instagram: @EattotheBeat_TO #ETTB2018 Facebook: Eat to the Beat Photos by Flora Tran

There was no hushing of voices at the Bloor/Gladstone Library on Saturday, October 20.

The library filled with young professionals for “Hush Hush: Dewey Decimal to Digital,” an evening fundraiser thrown by the Toronto Public Library Foundation’s young professional group, New Collection.

Yorkville’s distinguished comic-book-meets-sophistication restaurant elevates their state-of-the-art dining experience with additional menu items in their second year running. A guest’s experience at “Figures” is sparked with curiosity and adventure; upon entering the lobby of the speakeasy, one is greeted with a glass-encased room plastered with comics and iconic cartoons. Access to the restaurant beyond the hidden door becomes an act of discovery, as if one is revealed to the secret headquarters of a hero. The magic doesn’t end there, where the interior of the comfortable 2000 square foot restaurant is decorated like a gallery saluting to animated/movie classics, and superheroes to marvel at.

Good food brings good people together – especially when it involves a gourmet six-course menu paired with top quality wines and benefits a good cause.

If you were downtown by Union Station or Scotiabank Arena on Thursday, September 20th and you were navigating through a flood of youth, you know WE Day is back in town. WE Day is a massive youth event bringing together 20,000 students and educators from more than 1,200 schools who made a difference in their communities across Ontario.

Travelling to another city – especially one with so much history, culture, and entertainment – can be costly. While you don’t want to miss anything in a trip of a lifetime, you also don’t want to break the bank for when you get home. But, there are plenty of ways that you can make the most out of your vacation or city break in Toronto and also save on travel before you get there. Spend Wisely Before the Trip By spending in cashback schemes in the run-up to your trip on things you’d normally buy, you could ensure that you have some points saved up with in order to increase your budget or look for a wider range of hotels. Travel credit cards often include expenditure related to travel on their rewards. For example, the Starwood Marriott offers points when you spend on an American Express credit card that can give you money back for your accommodation. Some points systems also account for air miles and cheaper flights, which could ensure you have a greater budget to actually spend on the city break. Planning a budget in advance and finding ways to maximize the budget can end up turning a good vacation into a great one.   Find Things to Do For Free Everybody loves a bargain and savvy marketers know that by offering a free cup of milk, you’re more likely to buy the cow. By enticing you in with freebies, you can enjoy the experience of visiting Toronto for your city break, without worrying about the bank balance. There are dozens of happy hours and meal deals set for various days of the week. Plus, there are plenty of places to go that cost nothing but still give you the perfect selfie. The Harbourfront, Trinity Bellwoods Park, and the Art Gallery of Ontario are all free and provide nature and culture to appease any visitor. Be Prepared The best way to make the most of your trip is simply to plan ahead. Planning in advance not only allows you to plan for a budget, but it allows you to make the time for the things you really want to do when you’re there. You’ll know exactly where to go and eat and what to see to squeeze the most out of every day. By maximizing every waking moment in a new city, especially one so full of life as Toronto, you’ll be making the most of the money you’ve spent getting there. By looking into the city beforehand, you’ll find hidden treasures and things to do that can amplify your experience and make any money spent on it feel one hundred per cent worth it.    Planning in advance and planning around the free offerings and ways in which you can spend money to save money can culminate in the trip of a lifetime, without it being the only trip you’ll be able to afford to take in your lifetime. You can enjoy yourself in Toronto on a budget and experience everything the city has to offer without worrying about how much you’re spending.

The red carpets have rolled up and the famous faces have headed home to Hollywood. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) 2018 has officially wrapped.

As usual, the coveted film festival was filled with newsworthiness and talking points – from the films to the fashion.

Here are some of Best of Toronto’s personal best TIFF highlights….

Summer is not officially over until Sept. 22 and what better way to toast and celebrate the end than with a refreshing punch cocktail for National Punch Day on Sept. 20th. Cheers!

Data from Statistics Canada shows that the average Canadian university graduate comes out of school with student debt in excess of $26,000. According to a recent poll by Ipsos Poll on behalf of BDO Canada conducted between 16th August and 21st August 2017, 77% of Canadian graduates regret having student debt. 30% of the graduates say they wish they had more frugal budgets, 28% wish they had worked more while at school, and 25% wish they would have avoided even more debt by staying away from car loans and credit cards.  Given these stats, it is clear that if you have to take student loans, you should manage it properly and save as much as you can to avoid the pinch when the time comes to repay it. Proper money management and the inculcation of a saving culture also help you form good habits that will help you later in life.  1.      Make and Stick to a Budget Make a budget and ensure the loan funds academic-related costs first. According to Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, the funds should go towards tuition fees, student fees such as administration fees and student union fees, health insurance, course materials such as books, living expenses, food, transportation, and entertainment. Just as important as making a budget is sticking to it. 2.      Take advantage of Tax Credits and Tax Deductions for Students There are many tax credits and tax deductions available for students in part-time and full-time jobs. File your returns in good time and claim tax credits and tax deductions where applicable. Non-refundable tax credits reduce the amount of tax you have to pay and are applicable for such costs as tuition fees, public transit, books, and interest on student loans. Tax deductions reduce your taxable income and are applicable for such costs as child care expenses and moving expenses. 3.      Use an Online Money Management Services There are several apps, a good example being Mint, that can assist you to manage your money better and more easily. College students are usually too forgetful or busy to keep track of their incomes and expenditures, but Mint allows one to upload his/her expense info and bank account for easy management from a central place. 4.      Save on Course Material Costs On average, course materials such as books add up to $800 – $1,000 per year, depending on the course. You can cut down on this cost by: Buying used books Getting electronic version of books, articles, and other course material Buying textbooks from an online retailer (which is usually cheaper than buying from a campus bookstore) Sharing textbooks with classmates or roommates where practical Selling textbooks after you are done with them Using an older edition of a textbook Avoid “suggested materials” from professors because most do not contribute to you passing the class. Websites like Chegg have textbooks available for rent Some schools have textbook rental programs 5.      Protect Personal Information Cybercrime such as identity theft is real in college. According to a recent study by Javelin Strategy and Research, young adults in the 18 to 24 demographics are at the highest risk for identity theft. To avoid identity theft: Ensure you use strong passwords Do not write passwords down or share them with anybody Do not share your Social Security numbers Ensure personal documents are always secured Check credit and bank accounts regularly for and report suspicious activity immediately 6.      Save on Living Expenses Living expenses take a big chunk of your expenses during school time. You could cut on the cost by opting for shared student residence in Toronto as opposed to single rooms. You can also live off campus to save money. You could move in with family or roommates. Visit your school’s site for estimated costs of living both on and off campus.  7.      Save on Grocery Costs  To cut down on grocery costs, explore grocery stores that offer student deals on certain days of the week. Whenever you are shopping, ask if student discounts are applicable. Many schools also offer meal plans for students who live off campus and you should consult your school on these plans.  Consider cooking for yourself because eating out can be a big expense. Many schools also offer meal plans for students living off campus. Contact your school for more information on these plans.  8.      Save on Health Insurance Costs If you have private health insurance with your family or job, you may opt out of your school’s coverage to save on health insurance costs. Most schools, however, require that you opt out of health insurance in the first few weeks of the school year and that you provide proof you have the said private health insurance. 9.      Save on Transport Costs If you require public transit to get to and from school, consider getting a public transit pass. Note some schools provide transit passes as part of the tuition fee.  You are better off not using a car while in college. Parking costs, gas costs, and maintenance costs are way more than you would pay for a monthly public transit pass. Walk or ride a bike whenever you can not only to save money but also to keep fit. You should also take advantage of student discounts offered by most airlines, passenger trains, and bus companies, especially when going home for summer vacation or a visit. 10.  Get Other Sources of Income Consider tapping into other sources of income to reduce the loan you have to take. Examples of such sources of income include: Working to help pay for education (most colleges have work-study programs that offer flexible part-time gigs). Scholarships Grants 11.  Avoid Credit Cards Student credit cards and student line of credit from financial institutions are a popular source of income for college students. Colleges and universities are popular advertising spots for banks and credit card companies, with the average annual interest rates for a student credit card being 18.11%. Most credit card companies lure students with college-centric offers like free college swag and free concert tickets. Avoid these options whenever you can because they put you in a vicious cycle of debt. Debit cards are a better option but do not take advantage of their overdraft facilities. 12.  Set up a Bank Checking Account A bank checking account will go a long way in helping you manage your money. Most banks have products designed specifically for college students and they have such features as free checking and saving accounts, which helps you avoid fund transfer and withdrawal fees. Go for a bank with ATMs near your campus to avoid out-of-network charges. 13.  Save on Entertainment & Miscellaneous Costs College usually leaves students with a lot of time to spare. This and the average age of students make entertainment a major cost. To save on entertainment as well as cell phone, clothing, and other miscellaneous costs, consider going for what you need instead of what you want. Other tips to save on entertainment/miscellaneous costs are: Take advantage of student discount cards whenever you can. Go for a campus gym as opposed to a gym in town. Share Netflix/cable/Internet costs with roommates or classmates. Use free services like Spotify or Pandora instead of buying music. Do not buy name brand items. Generic items provide the same quality at a much lower price. Get involved in the many campus activities available to students as opposed to going out. Many campuses offer movie nights, have an array of museums, and have many sports and social facilities for students. Skip expensive summer trips and spring breaks and look for such alternatives as volunteering for your favorite cause. Wait until you are out of campus to own a pet. Having one on campus is quite expensive. Make a budget first and then get a student’s loan based on this budget and other source of income. However, note that the cost of living expenses may increase due to inflation. In Canada, this has been 2% per year over the past few years. Consult your parents, professors, and other role models on money management and saving tips.    

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