Debt-Free Darlin’s Great Big Overseas Announcement

Debt-Free Overseas

Hello friends, family, and strangers on the internet (the 3 groups closest to any girl’s heart in this, the age of information). Today I’ve decided to make my…

Great Big Overseas Announcement!

As you may have noticed, I’ve been the worst kind of blogger over the past few months: the kind who doesn’t blog… ever. If it means anything to you, I’ve felt pretty darn bad about not giving you the constantly updating scoop on a budget friendly lifestyle. But I’ve been busy….

Moving to and living in Japan.

As you’ve probably guessed by now my great big overseas announcement is as follows:


I’ve moved to and now live in Japan.

I arrived here a couple of months ago and spent the first month in Nagoya city training for a position as an English teacher, before relocating to Himeji city in the Hyogo prefecture to carry out said position.


If my current hometown sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve heard of this castle….


The aptly named Himeji Castle.

Or of Tom Cruise…


And the movie The Last Samurai…


The nearby Mount Shosha was one of the locations used in filming, but I bet I had you  wondering if I’d joined some kind of Scientology related cult for a second there.

Anyway, now that we’re all on the same page about how I’m still alive and well, though further from home than ever before, I’m sure you’re all wondering…


What does this mean for Debt-Free Darlin’?


As you may have gathered from this post, it means that I will continue to post here on Debt-Free Darlin’, although perhaps not as frequently as before (cut me some slack, guys).

My plan is to continue to give you advice on how to live and budget as a Canadian student/ citizen using my time as a Canadian student/ citizen for a point of reference.

However, as a naturally frugal person, I’m still being as cheap as ever here. In light of Japan’s reputation as an ‘expensive country’ to reside in and to visit, I plan to keep you in the loop and let you know more about living, traveling, and budgeting in Japan (and anywhere else I may end up).



That’s all for now! 


Save More Than $70 By Buying These Beauty Basics at Dollarama

Makeup Mondays

Hey guys!

This week’s Makeup Monday is a super special detective edition. I went into Dollarama last week and was shocked to find a whole bunch of really nice looking products that I hadn’t seen before in the beauty/ personal hygiene section. Naturally, I snapped some pictures on the go and rushed home to look up the products, as well as Dollarama’s competitor’s prices.

Here’s what I found:

Dollarama has some great deals.
Dollarama has some good quality beauty tools.
Dollarama has some name brand makeup.

Dollarama has some great deals on good quality beauty tools and name brand makeup.

Now, I’m not saying you should skip in to Dollarama and expect every beauty product (or even most beauty products) to offer good quality at an awesome price. What I am saying is that I went to two Dollaramas back to back to check out the deals this week, and I was able to find over $70 worth of savings on name brands, beauty basics, and disposable products.

Looking to make the most of Dollarama and find the best deals on beauty products?


Get This Gear

Makeup Mirror on Stand (1 Side is Magnifying)


Dollarama Price: $3.00
Walmart Price: $14.53
Savings: $11.53

Slanted Tip Stainless Steele Tweezers

Dollarama Price: $1.25
Walmart Price: $5.48
Savings: $4.23

*Note: These are actually better than my significantly more expensive tweezers… I’m in love with them*

Total Gear Savings: $15.76

Stock Up On These Basics


Cotton Swabs

Dollarama Price: $1.25
Walmart Price: $3.97
Savings: $2.72

Cotton Balls

Dollarama Price: $1.25
Walmart Price: $1.56
Savings: $0.31

Bobby Pins


Dollarama Price: $125
Walmart Price: $1.97
Savings: $0.72



Dollarama Price: $1.00
Walmart Price: $3.97
Savings: $2.97

Makeup Sponge Wedges


Dollarama Price: $1.25
Walmart Price: $2.47
Savings: $1.22


Total Basics Savings 7.94+


Buy These Brands


Ardell Lashes

Dollarama Price $2.50
Walmart Price: $5.97
Total Savings: $3.47


EOS Hand Lotion: Berry Blossom

Dollarama Price: $2.50
Walmart Price: $3.00
Total Savings: $0.50


Wet and Wild: Mega Protein Mascara

Dollarama Price: $3.00 Price: $3.50
Total Savings: $0.50



OPI Nail Polish (Various Styles Available)

Dollarama Price: $3.00
Hudson’s Bay Price: $13.00

Total Savings: $10.00

Sally Hansen: Magnetic Nail Colour

Dollarama Price: $2
Walmart Price: $8.97


Garner Nutriesse Ultra Colour

Dollarama Price: $3.00
Walmart Price: $7.96

Total Savings $4.96

Garnier Nutrisse Mousse

Dolllarama Price: $3.00
Walmart Price: $7.96

Total Savings: $4.96

L’Oreal Paris Excellence Creme

Dollarama Price $4.00
Walmart Price: $10.96

Total Savings: $6.96

L’Oreal Healthy Look

Dollarama Price: $3.00
Walmart Price: $8.46

Total Savings: $5.46

Brand Savings: $48.78


Total Savings: $72.48!!!


Tell me, what’s your favourite Dollarama beauty buy?

When to Reschedule Your Workout in the Face of Illness: Fitness Fridays

Fitness Fridays

 To workout, or not to workout; that is the question.

Cold and flu season is upon us. The pros of working are obvious: you’ll continue to burn calories, reduce stress, move towards achieving your fitness goals, and possibly boost your immune system. The cons of exercising while sick are also difficult to ignore: you run the risk of  wearing yourself down.

When you’re on a tight budget this decision bares more weight. On the one hand, missing a fitness class or skipping days on a monthly gym membership is basically like throwing away money. On the other hand, pushing yourself too hard can result in prolonged illness, which may even mean missing work or class…. once again money factors into the equation in an unfavourable way.

If these symptoms apply to you, forgo your workout until you feel better (for your sake and your wallets):


Your Symptoms are ‘Below the Neck’

Generally speaking, if you have above the neck symptoms (a cough, sore throat, eye irritation, a runny nose, or a headache) you should be fine to continue working out as normal. 

If your symptoms are below the neck, including stomach illness, fever, full body exhaustion, or intense pains, skip your workout.

You’re Stuck in Bed

Even if you have an above the neck illness, you may find yourself unable to get out of bed. If you’re having a serious migraine, for example, skip your workout.

If you’re too weak and tired to get up, rest. If you push yourself too hard you run the risk of collapsing while away from home or when using dangerous equipment.

Your Exercise Class Contains Seniors, Children, or Immune Compromised Individuals

You may not always know the health status of other members in your fitness classes, but if you are taking a class with one or more individuals who you know are put at a significant risk by catching a cold or flu, opt for home workouts until you are no longer contagious.

Generally speaking, it’s considered good gym etiquette to avoid crowded sessions when you’re sick. If you absolutely can’t stay away from the gym, remember to thoroughly clean all of the equipment you use. Wash your hands regularly and do not share towels or water bottles.


You’re Having Trouble Breathing or You Feel Faint

If you have a really bad cough or serious congestion you may find that you are feeling exceptionally dizzy. If this is the case, avoid rigorous exercises such as intensive cardio or deadlifting. Instead, opt for a more relaxed form of exercise such as walking, yoga, or repetitive lifts with low weight options.

Sick and restless? Try a short, laid-back workout like Jessica Smith TV’s Under the Weather Workout, to get a little bit of movement into your day. You can do it more than once if needed!

Remember: a few missed workouts pale in comparison to the hefty financial (and fitness) burden of prolonged illnesses such as pneumonia. Rest up and stay hydrated!

Tips For Flawless Mascara on a Budget: Makeup Mondays

Makeup Mondays

Last week’s edition of Makeup Mondays focused on saving money by purchasing drugstore mascara. To recap, this is a sensible budget decision due to mascara’s short lifespan and the negligible difference between high end and cost efficient alternatives when put to the test by experts. Basically, as long as you know how to correctly apply mascara and get a good product that does not run or flake too much (suggestions given in the link above), you can save $50-$100 a year on this product alone.

I promised to follow up last week’s post with a more in depth look at budget friendly mascara application tips and techniques, so that those of you looking for luscious lashes can make the most of your mascara.

Without further ado, I now present you with these tips for flawless mascara on a budget:

Curl Your Lashes

Curling your eyelashes is a great way to achieve a voluminous look. It’s also super easy. Oh, and did I mention that it’s totally free?

Simply place your upper lashes in the curler with your eye open and the curler resting along the base of your lashes. Press the curler closed and pulse for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat this process midway through and at the end of your lashes in order to get a full curl.

Looking for more information? You can find a WikiHow tutorial for curling your lashes here.

If you don’t already own an eyelash curler, you can pick up one by Trim at Walmart for under $5.

No time for Walmart? The above WikiHow article also explains how a spoon can be used as a makeshift eyelash curler if you’re in a pinch.


Try Heating Your Curler

If you don’t own a heated eyelash curler you can warm a regular eyelash curler with a hairdryer, or in a glass of hot water, before curling your lashes to achieve a similar result. Check the temperature of the instrument regularly throughout the heating process to make sure that you don’t overheat the curler. Avoid directly touching your eye or eyelid with the warmed product.

Rotate Your Wand

Turn your mascara wand with your wrist as you move it along your eyelash, away from your eye. This allows product on all sides of the wand to disburse over your lash, resulting in longer, thicker lashes.

Coat Both Sides of Your Lash For Maximum Thickness

If you have thin lashes, coating both the bottom and the top of the eyelash can help you achieve a thick look for gorgeous lashes.

Crush Clumps By Wiping Your Wand

Lightly wipe your mascara wand over a tissue to remove access product and crush clumps before they happen.

Save Your Eye Shadow by Using A Spoon

Rest a spoon against your brow bone with the bowl turned inward so that it covers your eyelid while applying mascara. This will prevent the product from getting on your eyelid and ruining your eye shadow and eyeliner.

Place the spoon in a similar position, resting against your lower lash line, while applying mascara to lower lashes. This will prevent mascara from ruining your concealer and highlight.


This is my absolute favourite tip because there is nothing more irksome or wasteful than having to scrub off your look and start from scratch after finally blending your shadow/ concealer perfectly.

Wasted primer + shadow + liner + mascara+ time = wasted money!

Spot Save With a Q-Tip and Makeup Remover

If you mess up beyond the parameter of the spoon by getting liner on the inner or outer corner of your eye, use a q-tip dipped in makeup remover to spot treat your mistake. This will enable you to undo your mistake precisely, without damaging your overall look.

If you don’t have makeup remover, use a small amount of moisturizer on one end of the q-tip. Apply it to the spot and wipe away with the unused end of the q-tip for a flawless remover that is neither harsh nor drying.

Fall in Love With Layers

Apply multiple layers of mascara in order to build length and volume. Wait for the first layer to dry in between applications.

For touch ups, gently run a clean eyebrow brush, spoolie, or unused toothbrush through your eyelashes before mascara application in order to remove clumps and prevent flaking before applying a new layer.

Discover the Power of Powder

Apply a powder, such as eye shadow, baby powder, or blush, to damp mascara in order to thicken your lashes instantly between layers.

Learn to Love Both Formulas!

As I mentioned in last week’s article, you can combat the clashing desires for intensely long wearing and easily removable mascara by applying a coat of waterproof mascara over regular mascara. The undercoat will enable you to take the makeup off with basic makeup remover while the overcoat will prevent your mascara from running in heat or humidity.


While owning two formulas may seem expensive, by following the first link in this article you can find a regular and waterproof formula that can be worn together for roughly $10 for both products. For those living in warm, humid climates, or those who love hot yoga, this is a totally worthwhile investment!

What’s your favourite mascara hack?

Save Money on Mascara: Makeup Mondays

Makeup Mondays, Uncategorized

Looking to save money? Stop buying high end mascara right now!

The results are in: according to a study published in the Journal of the American Optometric Association, mascara should be discarded after 3 months of usage!

Yep. That’s right. Mascara has the shortest lifespan of any cosmetic product. 

Due to the mascara wand’s close proximity to the eye and direct contact with eyelashes during application, the product holds the potential to harbor microbial growth. Although the FDA does not explicitly regulate cosmetic products by way of setting expiration dates*, the tendency for bacteria, such as staph ,to accumulate in mascara over time makes the product’s short life inevitable regardless of the brand you use.

Don’t freak out. Mascara isn’t likely going to kill you, but if you insist on hanging onto your mascara for too long you do run the risk of ending up with a nasty eye infection.

*(Note: While the FDA doesn’t set an explicit expiration date they do have this awesome page , which contains several very important safety tips and facts regarding eye makeup usage. You should check it out on your own, but the key things to remember are to be extremely cautious of cross-contamination, and to throw out any eye makeup products that smell funny or irritate your eyes.)


In order to prevent separation anxiety while throwing out some ridiculously expensive mascara…

Don’t buy ridiculously expensive mascara.

Seriously. Think about it this way:

  • If you buy $40 mascara you still have to replace it 4 times every year
  • $40 x 4= $160…. You’ll be spending $160 every year on mascara alone
  • If this isn’t enough, you’re most likely not going to use a full tube of mascara in 3 months. If we’re going to be really realistic, you’ll probably only use 1/4 to 1/2 of the product even if you apply mascara every day, meaning that you’ll essentially be throwing out $40 to $80 each year if you buy expensive product.

To reiterate the information in that FDA link if you haven’t read it yet, no, you can’t save money by sharing mascara with a friend or roommate, or by ‘reviving’ your mascara with hot water or… *shudder*… saliva. These ‘solutions,’ which are sometimes recommended by well meaning but ill informed sources, do nothing to quell the microbial issue and can actually accelerate bacterial growth.

On to some good news…

There is almost no noticeable difference between drugstore and high end mascara.

Don’t believe me? Believe the results in this Cosmo trial!

The trick is to get a decent drugstore mascara and to apply it skillfully.

(If you don’t know what I mean when I say ‘apply it skillfully’ stay tuned for next week’s edition of Makeup Mondays… Hint, hint!)

Now that we’re all on the same page, here are a few great drugstore mascaras:

1.  The Supersizer Fibers- Covergirl


As per usual I’ve decided to start with my newest favourite. As an individual who kind of hates applying fake eyelashes, I’ve long been in love with the convenience and the results of fiber lash extension mascara. Unfortunately, many fiber lash products tend to run on the expensive side and require either online purchasing or highly inflated distributor pricing. My mother, who initially introduced me to the wonderful world of fiber lash mascara, recently showed me this product as a budget backup. While The Supersizer Fibers does not have quite the length and precision of a product like Cherry Blooms, at a very small fraction of the price it is hands down the best drugstore mascara I’ve found for achieving a fiber lash look on a budget.

Unlike traditional fiber length mascara, The Supersizer Fiber does not include fibers and mascara in separate tubes. Instead, the fibers are mixed into the mascara which makes for a quick and convenient application.

The applicator wand for this mascara seems to be smaller and less dense than most drugstore mascara wands. While I was initially worried that this feature may result in an underwhelming application, I find that the wand actually does an awesome job of preventing clumps and creating the long, defined eyelashes that are characterized by fiber lash formulas.

Key features of this product: providing abnormally awesome length, busting clumps, creating long sleek lashes, and ultimately being the closest thing to a fiber lash mascara without being a fiber lash mascara

Cost: $6.95 at Walmart Canada

2. Great Lash- Maybelline

It’s not every day that you come across a cosmetic product that costs under $4 and has more than 4 stars with over 400 reviews. If you’re into getting the best bang for your buck, this might be the budget mascara fo(u)r you. (Sorrynotsorry 4 the pun… and again.)

Key features of this product: ultra cheap, well loved, and easy to apply

Cost: $3.46 at Walmart Canada

3. Full Lash Bloom (Waterproof)- Covergirl


This is a great product if you’re looking for a mascara that is waterproof. In fact, the biggest issue that most people take with this product is that it can be very difficult to remove because it is so increadibly durable.

Protip: if you have issues with removing waterproof mascara, prep your lashes with a base coat of non-waterproof mascara (regular mascara). By using waterproof mascara as an outer layer you can ensure protection from smudging, running and flaking even in hot conditions, while the underlayer of regular mascara ensures that the mascara can be removed without taking your eyelashes along with it.

Key Features of this product: waterproof, will not run, big bushy brush for lash thickening

Cost: $6.97 at Walmart

4. Voluminous (Carbon Black)- L’Oreal Paris

This is a classic product that offers a sleek look. If you’re not the type of person who wants to mess around with broad, curved, or otherwise experimental mascara wands this is a great standard formula.

Key features of this product: gorgeous packaging, no nonsense design, classically stand up formula and performance

Cost: $6.97 at

5. Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Mascara- Physician’s Formula

This is an amazingly stand up organic product that uses only natural products without skimping on performance. While it is the most expensive product on the list, it is still quite reasonably priced for an organic cosmetic formula.

Key features of this product: organic, cost efficient for a natural product

Cost: over $10 at Shoppers Drug Mart


Can’t stand giving up your favourite high end mascara?

Try purchasing smaller sized quantities of your favourite mascara (known as trial or travel size depending on the shop and brand) so that you can save money and avoid throwing out mascara. These mini mascara portions actually tend to last about 3 months, making this option perfect for those who have trouble remembering to throw out old mascara.

What’s your favourite formula?

Winter Running Tips: Fitness Fridays

Fitness Fridays

January is happening… where did the time go?!

At this point many of you have probably made New Year’s resolutions that are focused on achieving a fitter, healthier, and happier you. Awesome.

You’re probably also simultaneously trembling in the face of holiday spending aftershock. Less awesome. 

As a former year-round gym member, I can assure you that January is absolutely the worst month at the gym. The machines and workout spaces tend to crowd, tensions rise as both new and old members passive aggressively wait a little too long for equipment, and a mean streak of seasonal illnesses makes the close quarters all the more dangerous for everybody’s workout regimen.

Why not save yourself the money, and the dashed resolutions, and take up a form of free fitness? If you’re even kind of with me on this one, why not try running? After all, it’s totally free and you can easily burn 400-600 calories per hour.

Here are some tips to help you out if you’re new to the winter running game:

1.  Check The Weather Before You Go

The Weather Network is my laptop homepage. I love the site because it’s super easy to check hourly or weekly forecasts, which is essential if you’re outdoorsy. The former is great for when you’re planning a run on a free day: it enables you to figure out if there’s any chance of snow or rain during your run so that you can reschedule or dress accordingly. The latter is perfect for planning a week of exercise or activity: this way you can schedule at home workouts (like yoga, Pilates or HIT) for stormy days in advance, preventing less than ideal conditions from steamrolling your fitness motivation.


2. Plan Your Route

Many local trails are not maintained throughout the winter and make for better skiing or snowshoeing than running. Due to this as well as the sparsity daylight hours, I strongly recommend sticking to sidewalks during winter runs.

Sidewalks around universities are often cleared first and well maintained during the winter because these institutions tend to employ private snow clearing companies. Side streets and dead ends tend to get the short end of the stick and should be avoided or used with caution unless you’re certain that they have been adequately cleared and salted or sanded.

The website MapMyRun provides many pre-calculated running routes in Halifax and in other areas. GoogleMaps also provides accurate distance information and can be used to build a custom route in your own neighborhood. Simply break your run down into sections, plotting start and end points according to the route you plan to take, and add the distances to form a cumulative overview of your run.


3. Dress For Success

Let’s get one thing straight:

You don’t have to spend a fortune on name brand clothing in order to maximize your workout.

The clothing that you wear should fit comfortably and allow you to move freely.The aesthetic element of your run is way less important. Honestly, if you’re really putting your heart into it you’re going to be making a weird workout face anyway.


The main thing to remember is to wear plenty of light layers and good shoes.

Make sure that you coat your shoes with a weatherproofing agent to prevent them from being destroyed by the salt or sand that is laid down to combat icy sidewalks. Consider investing in an over-the-shoe grip product like Yaktrax ($30) to prevent slipping. Given the ice-pocalypse in Halifax a few years ago you should probably consider picking these up anyway: they’re almost half the cost of a monthly gym membership, which is way less than the cost of a missed day at work due to an ice related injury.

If you’re new to dressing for outdoor running check out Dress My Run, a neat-o burrito website that tells you what you should wear for a run based on the weather in your area. Don’t bother buying the Amazon clothing that’s linked to the website, just improvise with your own clothing.

Until you get used to dressing for winter runs, choose to run in multiple shorter loops near to your house instead of running in one large loop so that you can pop inside and add or remove a few layers as needed.

4. Hydrate Like It’s Summer

Since you don’t sweat as much in cold temperatures, remembering to hydrate sufficiently can sometimes be difficult for new winter runners. Drink water, a sports drink, or milk, after your workout to ensure that you do not get dehydrated.


5. Don’t Be Afraid To Take A Snow Day

It is not safe to run in extreme weather conditions. If you force yourself to go out into an intense blizzard or ignore warnings about dangerously low temperatures you run the risk of injury, or even death. Always use practical sense when deciding whether or not to cancel your run for the day. If you do have to cancel don’t sweat it, you can still sweat with an great home workout such as HIT (High Intensity Training) or Zumba.



Happy trails! 

A Primer on Face Primer (+3 Drugstore Primers that Work): Makeup Mondays

Makeup Mondays, Uncategorized

Face primer is one of the most underrated beauty products on the market.

Like many frugal people, I went for years without purchasing face primer in an effort to save money. Since I started picking up primer and using it on a regular basis I can’t imagine going back. The reason is simple:

Face primer actually helps you save money.


  1. It makes your makeup ‘glide on’ way smoother, so you use less foundation on the first application.
  2. It keeps your makeup from running or rubbing off throughout the day, so you don’t have to bother with reapplication.
  3. At around $10 per bottle at the drugstore, primer is generally cheaper than foundation that is saved because of its usage. (Trust me, all you need is a drugstore primer- don’t spend big bucks here!)

As you may have gathered from the above points, in addition to helping you save money face primer also makes your daily makeup routine easier. Although this may seem contradictory as primer ads an extra step in the morning, face primer makes smooth flawless foundation coverage more achievable and truly does extend the life of your foundation.

Less trips to purchase makeup + less effort to apply makeup+ less time touching up makeup + money saved = a great product!

In my experience, drugstore face primers work just as well as (if not better than) high end primers. Frankly, if you’re spending big bucks on a primer, you’re not necessarily going to be saving money by using less foundation.


On that note, here are three great drugstore primers!

1. Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer

I love this primer so much! As you have probably gathered from my gushy blog posts about L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, I’m totally obsessed with the matte look right now. Rimmel London Stay Matte Primer makes your foundation slide on so easy. It’s also smooth, long lasting, totally affordable, non-greasy, easy to take off, and natural looking. I’ve been using this primer exclusively for months now; it’s my number one choice for a reason!

Cost: $8.98 at Walmart Canada (less online or with sales)

2. Maybelline FaceStudio Master Prime

This primer is available in three types: smoothing (for scarring or uneven skin), colour correcting (for red skin from rosacea to acne) and illuminating (for dull looking skin). Overall the Maybelline Facestudio Master Prime line offers a great series of primer options that are specially suited to fit three major skin concerns. This line’s rave reviews and the competitive price of the product make it a fierce drugstore competitor.

Cost: $10.96 at Walmart Canada (less online or with sales) 

3. NYX Cosmetics Studio Perfect Primer

Good things must come in threes because NYC Cosmetics Studio Perfect Primer also comes in this select number of shades, featuring a purple primer for dull skin, a green primer for redness and a clear primer for those who don’t require colour correcting. I personally didn’t find that it made my foundation last quite as long as Rimmel London’s Stay Matte Primer but it was still a pretty great product and it is very popular. If Rimmel’s product doesn’t work for you or if you’re looking for colour correcting foundation this could be the right product for you!

Cost: $15.00 at Lawton’s Drugs (less on sale or online)

Bonus Buy

E.L.F Cosmetics Blemish Control Face Primer

I technically couldn’t add this one to the list because it’s only available online right now. E.L.F.’s new Blemish Control Face Primer has been getting awesome reviews online and has been a huge hit with people seeking an additional layer of acne fighting skin care. This vegan product features tea tree oil, vitamin E and salicylic acid. If you’re into online shopping it’s worth looking into!

Cost: 7.99 on (for Canadians) 

Eight Free Ways to Exercise on a Snow Day: Fitness Fridays

Debt-Free Fitness

Winter has come!

We’ve had our first substantial (school closing, snow plowing) snow here in Nova Scotia, Canada, and today it’s dipping down to a frosty -30 degrees Celsius with wind chill across the province. As I mentioned in my first Fitness Fridays post, I’ve been focusing on free outdoor exercise since my graduation and the loss of my free student gym membership (RIP free-gym!).

My preferred outdoor exercises are pretty warm weather oriented. I love swimming on a seasonal basis, as well as bicycling and running on a (mostly) year round basis. I’ve heard too many horror stories from people who have endured serious injuries while participating in the latter exercises during icy conditions to continue with these fitness rituals on a regular circuit until the roads and sidewalks have been cleared. It’s not so much that you can’t run or bike in icy or snowy conditions, but rather that such conditions make the aforementioned exercises higher risk as well as more expensive to participate in safely and (in my sun-worshiping opinion) less enjoyable. As a result I usually stick to running outside when the sidewalks have been thoroughly plowed and salted, and are free from slush and black ice. I’m kind of a wimp like that.


Non-gym followers need not fear the cold, however. I’m working out a system to make winter fun again. Instead of using the weather as an excuse to forgo exercise all together, check out this little list of great indoor and outdoor workouts that can be done when the snow piles up and the temperature drops down:

1. Shovel That Snow

Okay, so obviously you’re going to do this anyway because you have to leave your house and emerge into the desolate, frostbitten real world some time or another… On a brighter note, did you know that with a little technique snow shoveling can be a great workout? “How great of a workout?” You ask.


An average 150lb person burns anywhere from 420-446 calories per hour shoveling snow.

Not 150 lbs? Calculate for your weight right here.


Combine that burn with the simple necessity of shoveling and you’ve got a wintertime workout that even I can’t turn down.

Before you go, remember a few fit tips to make sure that you stay safe and make the most of your snow shoveling workout:

  • Stretch your arms, legs, back and wrists before you start to prevent injury.
  • Squat and lift with your legs (work that booty).
  • DO NOT lift with your back. Ever.
  • Avoid bending over your hip flexors.
  • Flex and engage your abdominal muscles in order to get a bonus ab workout and ensure that your back remains straight and protected.
  • Keep the shovel close to your body.
  • Dress in warm layers, making sure to keep your hands and head covered and protected from frostbite.

2. Get Your Skate On

Hali’s freezing over, which means that the Oval is open for business! Throw on your snugly socks and some long john’s, grab a few friends, and head to the Halifax mainland commons for a free skate.

You’ll have so much fun that you won’t even notice that you’re burning 476 calories per hour.*


Not an urbanite? Pond rinks are one of Canada’s most beloved impromptu sports surfaces. Make sure to check the thickness of the ice before you set foot on it.

Still not convinced because you’re anxious about falling through the ice? No problem: build your own fall-through-proof backyard rink for super cheap. Get the instructions here.

*Calculation based on 150 lb person using MyFitnessPal (site linked above).

3. Let’s Hike, Put on Your Snowshoes and Shake the Blues

Time for a trip down memory lane… When I was a little debt-free darlin’ in my rural youth I spent many a pleasant day snowshoeing in the woods. My parents spent many a less-than-pleasant morning snowshoeing to the end of the seldom-plowed dirt road that we lived on in order drive into work, after having to park in a lot off of the main road. Like shoveling, snowshoeing can be a necessary part of Canadian life during our harsh winter season; it can also be an awesome way to get in a hike or take some wilderness photography  when the snow drifts have risen to seemingly insurmountable levels.

Burn points? Check off a whopping 544 calories per hour (assuming a weight of 150 lbs). Snowshoeing is literally the same as jogging at a rate of 5 mph in terms of calorie expenditure and it’s also lower impact. Double win!


Don’t own snowshoes and not able to afford a pair? Here’s a link to the snowshoe renting, borrowing, and buying guide for Nova Scotia, so you can find out where to score a pair for free or at a low daily cost.

4.Build a Snowman

Unleash your inner child and get ready to plan in the snow. You’ll squat, lift, walk, push and move…

Ultimately you’ll burn about 285 calories in an hour.


Pro Tip: Building a snow man is actually a really fun and super free date idea. It’s an awesome excuse to get cozy and see how creative your hubbie can be.

Add some food colouring to some water to bring masterpiece to life in colour.

I challenge you to build a Snow-na Lisa!

5. Have a Snowball Fight

It’s a great way to get moving! Set some ground rules about not including rocks or ice in your snowballs, and avoiding head shots, and get to work.

A snowball fight will wipe away 319 calories in one hour, although it can blast even more if you get seriously caught up in ducking, dodging and sprinting through the snow.


Trying to decide whose turn it is to pick up dish soap? Snowball fight! Looking to get the old gang together for a last hurrah over the holidays? Snowball fight! Trying to quell family dysfunction over a seasonal dinner? Grab uncle Jimmy and let him know he’s on your team for the snowball fight (Note: this may not improve this situation)!

6. Cross Country Ski

Like jogging and snowshoeing, cross country skiing burns about 544 calories per hour!


Read more about cross country ski rentals here.  Be advised that many of the community centers listed in this blog post’s section on snowshoeing also offer cross country ski rentals or loans if you simply call ahead.

7. Go Dancing

It’s cold outside? What a great excuse to turn up the heat on the dance floor!

Dancing burns an average of 306 calories in an hour and if you’re committing to a night out you’re probably looking at at least 2 or 3 hours of dancing. That’s a lot of calories!


Avoid sugary mixed drinks or alcohol consumption in general in order to maximize your burn and minimize your spending (or not…hey, there’s evidence to suggest that one or two drinks could have some benefits… just sayin’). Above all else, just dance… gonna be okay.

8. Search YouTube for a Free Workout Video

YouTube has a massive collection of free workout videos. These are the light of my life during periods of intense rain or freezing snow.

Not sure what type of workout to do?


If you don’t have a lot of equipment try searching:

  • Pilates (things like planking, leg lifts, and crunches: this form of exercise builds long lean muscle by using your body’s weight against you)
  • Yoga (holding poses for extended periods of time: this can stretch and build muscle, and be more or less intensive depending on what you look for)
  • HIT (high intensity training: get ready to sweat)
  • Zumba (it’s like dance aerobics: great cardio)

These forms of exercise can often be completed with little more than a mat. To maximize your home workout, exercise in front of a mirror in order to ensure that your form in on point.

Workout videos are available for people of all ages and at all levels. Never do something that hurts too badly and always discontinue an exercise if you feel faint!

 What’s your favourite snow day workout?

Revlon ColourStay VS L’Oreal Infallible Pro Matte: Makeup Mondays Battle of the Brands

Makeup Mondays

I’m going to apologize in advance for the lateness and shortness of this post. I’m quite sick and have spent most of the day asleep (sans makeup…gasp). I was thinking about postponing the post but since I only announced this weekly feature last week, it would probably be bad form to publish Makeup Monday on Tuesday.

Last week I announced that I’ve fallen in love with L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte foundation. It is seriously my all time favourite foundation, offering medium to high coverage with a soft powdery finish that smooths shine and conceals even the worst cystic acne lumps all day long.

Today I want to talk about the last drugstore makeup that I tried before giving up on drugstore foundations for a while and being disappointed by a few higher end options, only to come full circle:

Revlon ColourStay

Like L’Oreal Infallible, Revlon ColourStay offers a long term full coverage foundation option in the $10-$20 drugstore price range. Furthermore, this product also bolsters a series of pretty great online reviews. Without a doubt Revlon ColourStay has worked for many people, and it might even work for you, but it did not work for me.

Here’s Why:

  • I found this product was very mask like, while L’Oreal Infallible allowed my skin to breathe and feel natural all day long; I like to wear makeup without feeling like I am wearing makeup, so this was a con for me
  • While Revlon ColourStay offered a fuller coverage than L’Oreal Infallible on first application, I found that the latter was able to build to an equal level of coverage without looking cakey or fake
  • In terms of texture, Revlon ColourStay is thinner while the L’Oreal product is a little more creamy/ light. For me this is was a pro in the L’Oreal category but if you prefer a more viscous foundation you may like this about the Revlon foundation
  • The Revlon ColourStay makeup oxidized and became very orange some time after application (seriously: I would do all of my makeup and my skin would look even and awesome and then I would come back to a mirror a little later and look like an oompa loompa)


The final point was the main reason that I parted ways with Revlon ColourStay indefinitely. I just couldn’t find a shade that worked for my skin tone after setting. This is something that sometimes happens in the wonderful world of foundation.

If you do have a skin tone that has a fairly warm undertone Revlon ColourStay might work for you just as it has for many other people.

Revlon ColourStay does have several pros:

  • It has great coverage and it long lasting (although it doesn’t seem to have the great shine control offered by L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte, in my opinion)
  • It comes in many, many shades (not including me-coloured)
  • It comes in two formulas: one for normal/dry skin and one for combination/oily skin
  • It comes in SPF 15 and 20 options, making it ideal for those that don’t use a daily moisturizer with an SPF (although you may require one for additional sun coverage)


Overall, I’m a tried and true L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte girl, sorry(notsorry), Revlon ColourStay.


Life After a Free Gym Membership: Fitness Fridays

Debt-Free Fitness, Fitness Fridays

It’s a big week for announcements! After releasing my plan to start a regular Makeup Monday feature on Debt-Free Darlin’ (DFD), I’ve decided to add yet another weekly write up to the list: Fitness Friday.

Why Fitness Fridays?

Because I want to bust the myth that healthy living requires spending a crazy amount of money, of course!


Here’s the deal: like many university and college students my massive tuition came with the comparatively smaller perk of receiving a free student gym membership. In my heart I’ve never been a ‘gym rat’ per se (don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the gym, but I’m way more inclined to workout outdoors), but as a generally fit person who is also a total sucker for savings I naturally rushed to take advantage of this opportunity. Since an on-campus workout session was oh so convenient to pencil in between classes, I got used to relying on high-tech equipment and the motivational atmosphere of a gym during my 4 years of university.

Then I graduated.

Since then I’ve been gradually figuring out the cheapest and most effective ways to workout on a budget. I’ve mastered outdoor workouts, scoured the internet for great videos, learned about the situation with ‘incidental exercise,’ and done price comparisons on various gyms, classes and studios. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on gym memberships and managed to maintain a regular workout schedule.

Although figuring out how to make free and frugal fitness work has taken plenty of time and effort I can safely say that I’ve been able to reach new fitness goals since leaving the gym behind.

I can also safely say that I want to share everything I’ve learned and everything I will try with you as I move forward with all of my healthy endeavors!


Whether you’re looking for free exercises, trying to figure out the most economical class to take, seeking savings at local gyms, urging to figure out healthy eating on a budget or simply seeking a few fitness tips, I’m here for you.

So, if you’re sick of feeling helpless while reading about how (insert super rich celebrity here) got their rockin’ bod’ back by hiring a whole team of nutritionists, cooks and personal trainers…

Stay tuned to Fitness Fridays on DFD for healthy living solutions that won’t break the bank!