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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 78

10 camping must-haves for every Canadian long weekend

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

(NC) Three in five Canadians say they are likely to go camping this summer, according to a recent survey from Ipsos and Energizer Canada. Two thirds of those do most of their camping during long weekends – so this means you are likely in the process of gearing up right now.

The same survey showed that as many as half of respondents say they usually forget to bring something important when they camp. So make a list. Don't get caught without the things you need when braving the great outdoors. Here are 10 must-have items to jumpstart your packing for any long weekend:

1. Flashlights are the No. 1 item we would never leave home without. The survey showed that flashlights even topped the tent as the most essential camping must-have.

2. Reusable water bottles to keep the family hydrated.

3. A digital camera to capture the best memories for later.

4. More bug spray and sunscreen than you think you'll need.

5. Camp chairs – each person should have one, for mealtimes and hanging out by the fire.

6. A tarp or two in case of surprise rain or storms. Lay one under your tent before set up, or put one over the site to keep it dry.

7. Warm sleeping bags are key for warm sunny days that turn into cool summer nights.

8. Keep a few LED lanterns around to brighten up the campsite when the sun goes down.

9. A great multi-tool to tackle whatever the wilderness throws your way.

10. Extra batteries for flashlights, cameras, and emergencies. Half of Canadian campers agree that most of the important things they need when camping require batteries.

To keep your family powered for the entire trip, a reliable resource for lanterns, flashlights and long-lasting batteries is

How to improve your home's indoor air quality

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

(NC) Did you know that Canadians spend nearly 90 per cent of their time indoors? This is especially true in colder months. Consequently, concern about indoor air quality is increasing – and rightly so.

Air pollution and contaminants can be found in abundance throughout our homes in products and materials that we are in contact with every day. Poor air quality can be caused by household chemicals, by biological pollutants such as mould, mildew, and dust mites, and by off-gassing from building materials and HVAC systems. Advancements in home construction have also created dwellings that are more airtight than ever before which seal in harmful pollutants. The potential health implications can be serious.

Health Canada indicates that incidences of asthma have increased fourfold in the past 15 years. Furthermore, 52 per cent of those households linked poor indoor air quality as a direct cause. Yet, even as the issue's prevalence grows, homeowners can take some preventative measures and precautions to safeguard their health and improve indoor air quality, as follows:

1. Store varnishes, paint, and solvents outside of the home. Opt for a storage area with good ventilation to deter the effects of off-gassing. Paints, varnishes and solvents can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment.

2. Prevent and remove all household mould. Ensure there is adequate ventilation in rooms prone to water vapour, namely the washroom. Likewise, fix leaks in pipes, walls or floors or on the roof. Invest in a dehumidifier to control humidity levels in your home. Mould and mildew are known contributors to allergies and asthma.

3. Invest in an air purifier. Our homes routinely harbour pet dander, dust, dust mites and other allergens, as well as harmful VOCs. An effective solution to improve indoor air is to use a high-quality air purifier with an electrostatic precipitator, like the Oreck ProShield. This type of air purifier, featuring an advancement called Truman Cell technology, will also capture and destroy allergens and dust, as well as larger particles like hair and lint. Look for a unit with an 'oxygenator' stage that converts ozone to oxygen for cleaner air.

4. Introduce house plants into your home. Some plants can be very effective at improving air quality and even removing harmful VOCs like benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, xylene and toluene. Good plant choices include aloe vera, dracaena 'Janet Craig', areca palm, and dragon tree.

Improving household air quality is essential to maintaining optimal health and ensuring a safer indoor environment. Following these tips will help you breathe easy.

Put your savings goal back on track

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

(NC) Do you hit a roadblock every time you think about retirement funding?

Canadians face an array of investing choices all year long, including Retirement Savings Plans (RSP), the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), as well as individual investments like mutual funds. Studies also show that affordability continues to be the primary barrier when it comes to investing more money.

So what can investors do? It depends on individual circumstances and goals, according to financial experts who recommend seeking professional advice to get a retirement plan up to date.

“Our research shows that those who feel they are on track to meet their financial goals also have a written financial plan,” says Ahmad Dajani, vice president of investments, GICs, and sales tools at Scotiabank. And getting that plan on paper doesn't have to be daunting or complicated as most people may think. “A qualified financial advisor at a nearby financial institution can review your investments with you - free of charge – to create a personalized plan and identify opportunities to help you get ahead financially.”

A good plan balances all your priorities, adds Dajani, and ensures financial readiness for life's ever-changing needs and challenges – such as retirement, home ownership and an education fund for the kids.

Within the framework of a good financial plan, even small contributions can have a big impact over time and get people to the place they want to be financially. To help maintain that disciplined mind-set, Dajani recommends setting up a pre-authorized contribution from your bank account to your investments, such as RSP.

“Start with a small amount and adjust it depending on your financial situation,” he explains. “By making an automatic, monthly contribution to investments that complement your plan, your portfolio will grow naturally over time. Then, review your investments once a year with your financial advisor to ensure things are on track.”

Ask your financial advisor these five questions

(NC) If you want a long-term financial strategy that addresses everything from saving and investing, to vacation and retirement planning, speak to an advisor about a plan to make your money goals a reality.

“Planning for retirement involves more than setting aside money. It means thinking about what your goals are and how you can achieve them,” says Farhan Hamidani, Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director at HollisWealth. “Contributing to an RRSP is one of the soundest ways to turn your retirement dream into a reality.”

A well-planned retirement strategy takes a holistic view of your financial plan, including such topics as maximizing tax efficiencies and risk/return in your portfolio. Here are the top five retirement planning questions you should ask your financial advisor to ensure you're on the right path:

1. What is the approximate annual cost of retirement based on my standard of living?

2. How often should I contribute to my RRSP and other investments?

3. Which debt should I be focused on paying down first?

4. Should I explore insurance and risk management options to protect my investments?

5. How can I ensure my spouse and family are included in my retirement plans?

The key to a successful retirement plan is to work with an experienced financial advisor. First, determine your lifestyle goals, develop a plan to meet those goals, and then work with the advisor to ensure you are on track towards the retirement you deserve.

More information is available online at

Christmas Tips from an old guy...

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

Christmas is fun and great and all, but it is crazy out there...and in here!!! Being around for a while now I've learned a few tips and tricks on my own about Christmas that I should share with you:

1. Santa DOES NOT have to eat all the cookies and milk left for him. I found that out having to stuff myself year after year with 11 (10 plus 1 extra in case Santa is hungry) cookies and a BIG TALL glass of milk.
2. Santa's Christmas cards should not be in your own handwriting. It's a good idea to have someone else write the card. Your children are much more attentive to those little details than you think, especially if they've already heard through the grapevine that the big ol' man in the red suit is actually their dad.
3. Santa's presents should be wrapped with separate wrapping paper. Try explaining how Santa uses the same cheap ones we bought on sale last year!
4. If you are using an artificial tree, you don't have to put the tree up in the order they recommend. Feel free to mix up the number sequence randomly, like 8's with 9's and 5, 6, 7's and so on to get a more "realistic" shape to your tree. Have fun with it!
5. Hanging scented pinecones purchased from Michaels is an excellent way to add some beautiful scents to the home. Hang some on the tree, as a garland, or just have some in a bowl placed by the front door, coffee table, kitchen table or fireplace.
6. If you have an artificial wreath you hang each year, buy some fresh pine sprigs from Home Depot to add to your wreath giving it a fuller and realistic look. Smells much nicer too!

Some great places to hide Christmas presents are:
1. garage - has too many storage boxes and junk to look through
2. basement - lots of nooks and crannies to hide things
3. shed - outdoors and usually locked up in the winter
4. rent a storage locker - great if you have really ambitious kids
5. in plain site disguised as something else or a mislabelled box

I would love to hear some of the Christmas stories and Santa "excuses" you tell your kids! Please share them with me.

A look at Canada's most affordable getaways

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

(NC) If you love to travel, closer to home or abroad, you most likely also love a great travel deal. With help from the latest Hotel Price Index (HPI), Canadians can now stretch their loonies a little further to get the biggest bang for their travel bucks. The most recent HPI looks at hotel bookings in major destinations around the world and the actual prices paid by customers, not the advertised price.

Canadians enjoyed some of the lowest hotel prices in the country in the following cities:

1. Miramichi, New Brunswick: Situated along the world-famous Miramichi salmon fishing river, anyone visiting this destination paid the lowest hotel rates in all of Canada. In the first half of this year, the average was $101 per night. In addition to having some of the country's best salmon and fly-fishing sites, Miramichi offers exceptional camping, kayaking, canoeing and tubing activities for the whole family.

2. Yorkton, Saskatchewan: A nature lover's paradise, Yorkton is a great city to visit all year round. During the summer months, visitors can play the links at multiple golf courses, hike trails and explore bird watching sites. When the snow arrives, Yorkton's downhill and cross country ski trails come alive. Canadians travelling here in the first half of 2014 paid an average of $102 per night.

3. London, Ontario: Known as the Forest City and built along the serene Thames River, London is a scenic Canadian destination well-suited for a family getaway. Storybook Gardens, the Western Fair and countless festivals make it an attractive place to spend a vacation. Here Canadians paid an average of $114 per night for hotel accommodation in the first six months of 2014.

No matter what the destination or budget, there are always deals to be found, so stop waiting and start packing for your next great Canadian adventure.

Check out my new CREN New Listings ad - next issue!

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

For information about these listings, please visit my listings page at

Enjoy summer on the road again

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

(NC) Going on a road trip is an excellent way to spend time with the whole family. No matter whether you explore your own province, or drive further afield, summer is the ideal time to get out on the road again.

Short day trips to your local park for a picnic or just for some fun in the sun are a wonderful way to get outside. Getting your children involved with planning a picnic, like helping prepare the food or helping to pack the car, will lead to your child feeling more involved and excited about their day out.

Visiting local attractions, neighbouring towns or cities, or even going on an overnight trip are all great ways to spend time with your family and to learn about the attractions that surround you. Act like a tourist and visit sites you may have always wanted to see or look at sights you have seen before with new eyes. To keep your children from getting restless or bored, play games or have your child lead the game, even letting your child pick where to eat can be exciting.

Once the road trip is planned it is important to keep in mind safety for the whole family. Remember that everyone needs to buckle up and that children under the age of 12 should always be in the back seat of the car and children under 100 pounds should be in a car seat or booster. A line called the Evenflo Platinum Protection Series is particularly comfortable for summer road trips, since it is made with Outlast Performance fabric. The fabric helps regulate your child's body temperature keeping them cool leading to a happier and smoother ride. As well, make sure your child is in the right seat for their age. Children under the age of one must be in a rear facing seat, toddlers can be in a forward facing seat and children under the age of 12 should be in a booster seat as long as they do not exceed the weight and height requirements.

Buckle up and get ready for those fun summer road trips as a family. You can join the conversation @EvenfloBabyCA on Twitter.

Give Yourself a Break!

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

Monday Morning Coffee

"Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance." 
~ Samuel Johnson 
How many times have you heard it? "Don't work harder, work smarter." This modern cliche has almost become an annoyance - its meaning seems so obvious that we don't even pay attention to it anymore. But such simple sentiments often bear closer consideration, especially since they become cliched because of their inherent truth. 
You see, sometimes it really isn't how hard you try. Think back to high school: some students studied for hours for an exam and did poorly, while others studied a few notes and highlights for thirty minutes and got A's. Sometimes it just came down to smarts, but often it came down to how well prepared and organized the students were. Performing well on an exam or project doesn't necessarily reflect higher intelligence - it reflects ability to apply intelligence or strength efficiently. It's qualitative instead of quantitative. 
Expend great effort inefficiently and you may well end up farther behind than if you expend less effort in a more resourceful manner. The whole goal should be progress, not the total expense of your resources. It's those folks who can analyze and implement an approach that requires less effort who enjoy the greatest success. We all want to minimize our investment and maximize our returns, right? 
If you find yourself trying so hard and not getting anywhere, you're probably experiencing a deep feeling of discouragement. Help yourself out by looking at changes you can make to help you focus more on the solution to the task. Eliminate energy spent that isn't producing results. 
Apply a little effort on a consistent and targeted basis, and you'll achieve the progress you're seeking. Jacob Riis observed, "When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before." 

Tips to Combat the Biggest Energy Wasters at Home

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

Electric rate for some Alberta homeowners expected to rise close to 60 per cent in May

CALGARY, Alberta, May 1, 2014 /CNW/ - With regulated electricity rates forecasted to rise significantly in May, Alberta homeowners concerned about the possibility of rising energy bills need to be more conscientious about how they use energy. Unfortunately, each year, many homeowners waste hundreds of dollars on unnecessary energy costs because they're unaware of simple money-saving strategies.

Direct Energy Home Services wants to help Albertans identify the biggest energy wasters in their homes that increase their monthly energy bill. This includes making sure equipment is working properly, identifying household appliances and devices that consume electricity when they're in standby mode, and understanding which energy efficiency upgrades provide the largest return on investment.

Here are some ways to help gain control over your energy use and budget from Dave Walton, Direct Energy's Director of Home Ideas:

  1. Beware of vampire electronics. These are devices around the home which constantly draw power while plugged in. The biggest culprits are computers and printers, phone chargers, gaming consoles and DVD players. To alleviate this, unplug electronics when they aren't in use.
  2. Use energy-saving light bulbs. They can last up to ten times longer than an incandescent bulb and use up to 75 per cent less energy. A single 20 to 25 watt energy-saving bulb provides as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb while also emitting less heat.
  3. Consider upgrading the windows in your home. Select high efficiency windows with low-e coatings, argon gas fill and insulated spacers.
  4. Out with the old, in with the new. Consider upgrading your old furnace to a new energy efficient unit. An older conventional burning furnace operates at 60 per cent efficiency meaning 40 cents of every dollar you spend on heating your home is going right up the chimney. A new high-efficiency furnace operates at over 90 per cent; wasting less than 10 cents on every dollar you spend heating your home.
  5. Install a programmable thermostat if you don't have one already and set the times and temperatures to match your schedule. Also, consider having the thermostat turn off your air conditioner at night.
  6. Use appliances efficiently. Microwaves use substantially less energy than ovens so opt to use your microwave when cooking and reheating items. Also, defrost your freezer regularly. When ice builds up, your freezer uses more electricity. You should also keep your freezer at least three quarters full for maximum efficiency. You can even consider removing that old fridge in your garage or basement if it's only keeping that six-pack cold.
  7. Stay in Shape: It's important to have your furnace and air conditioner maintained and inspected every year. Consult the experts and book a pre-summer or early summer maintenance appointment with a licensed technician who can check that your system is ready for summer and performs more efficiently when higher temperatures put it to the test. A system that isn't running properly can waste a lot of electricity and natural gas.

These tips can be copied in whole, or in part, and credited to Direct Energy Home Services.

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America's largest energy and energy-related services providers with more than 6 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada.

SOURCE Direct Energy Home Services

For further information:

Jeff Lanthier, Direct Energy,, 905-943-6260

1 in 4 homeowners regrets buying a house

by Marvin Nygaard and Associates

When Jennifer Berry, 41,  purchased a home in Grand Rapids, Mich. with her husband in 2001, they had a simple plan: live there for 10 years or so, cash in on the equity and upgrade. Thanks to the financial crisis, things didn’t quite go as planned. Her husband’s business failed, they separated and she was forced to sell the home at a loss.

“Instead of gaining equity, [our home] actually lost equity and I ended up literally paying someone to buy it just so I could get out from under it and save my credit score,” says Berry, who now rents her home. “I’m looking at retirement in 20 years and thinking about having to take out a 30-year mortgage now and worry about [the upkeep] drives me crazy.”

Berry isn't the only one suffering from homebuyer's remorse. One out of four homeowners admit they wouldn’t buy their home again if they had the chance, according to a recent survey by real estate brokerage Redfin.

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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 78




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Marvin Nygaard and Associates
#10, 6020 - 1A St SW
Calgary AB T2H 0G3
Cell: 403-650-7171