The 16th edition of Montreal En Lumière is back from February 19 - March 1. It’s one of the biggest festivals in Montreal during the winter and, luckily for us, most of it comes at no cost - courtesy of all the big-name sponsors that fund it.
We know that February can be a time of year where people are strapped for cash, so here's a list of all the things you can do at MeL that won't cause you to break the bank.
1. Cercle Bell
This new installation is hard to miss: the entire area is illuminated and centers around a giant glassed-in windowed box. You can climb the Boîte Bell for an amazing view, or go inside to play The Pool. This new interactive ping pong game involves hundreds of LED discs activated by people jumping from one to another, with each jump turning the lights on and off and changing the appearance of the piece.
2. RBC Zip-line
Turn out you no longer have to leave the city to try your hand at zip-lining. This new attraction, built just for the 2015 edition, lets you soar from Bleury all the way to St. Urban for a view that you’ll never forget.
3. Lanaudière Soup’s On
Nothing beats getting to have delicious, hot soup when it’s freezing cold outside, so head on down and grab a free bowl courtesy of Lanaudière on February 21 at 4pm on the steps of the Place des Arts esplanade.
4. Switzerland in photos
Switzerland is this year’s featured country at Montreal En Lumiere. At the corner of St. Catherine and St. Urban you can find a Swiss photo exhibit featuring magnificent backlit shots of Switzerland that will have you booking your ticket to the Alps in no time.
5. La Grande Roue Suisse
The ferris wheel is back again this year, and it’s the perfect place to bring your friends, family, or that special someone to take in an amazing view of the city.
6. Salon Du Livre Gourmand
This fair is another new addition to the 2015 festival. It’s entirely dedicated to books that showcase cuisine and gastronomy, and is running from February 26-28.
7. The Urban Slide
The 110-metre-long incline slide equipped with sound effects and multicoloured lights is a must-see of the MeL festival. You’re in for a wild and windy ride.
8. Milk Mini-Slide
They haven’t forgot about the tiny humans at MEL and built them their very own mini-slide. The only problem is you may never be able to drag them away from it.
9. Shows on the RBC stage
Head over to the RBC stage for free musical shows almost every night. Check out the MeL website for the full lineup.
10. Milk Family Fun Zone
If you’ve ever wanted to play life sized parlour games, now’s your chance. You can bring your whole family to the Family Fun Zone for the most interactive game of snakes and ladders you’ll ever have.
Knowing how to manage your money can be tough. Personal finance isn't something that's typically taught in schools, and if you don't have a financially savvy person in your life, you might be left to figure it out on your own.
To help you learn more about money management and how to get more value from the things you do every day, Narcity got in touch with Erica Nielsen, Senior Vice President of Everyday Banking and Client Growth at RBC.
They spoke about tips to help you manage your money, and the launch of RBC Vantage — which gives you access to a comprehensive suite of benefits, interactive tools, rewards and savings available simply by having an RBC bank account.
"Saving money is not impossible and reaching your goals is easier if you start by making a plan," said Nielsen. "Having an incentive in mind can also make it easier to avoid spending your savings on an immediate temptation."
As a first step, a good tip is to take stock of where you are financially and put your goals down on paper. Having both short-term goals (like paying off credit card debt or heading off on a weekend getaway) and long-term goals (such as buying a house) will help inspire you to leave that money alone.
Look for a rewards program that makes it easy to earn points for the things you are already doing every day.
With RBC Vantage, for example, eligible clients can now earn RBC Rewards when using debit. Not only will this give you more ways to earn rewards, it's a big benefit if you don't have a rewards credit card. You can also get access to so many more rewards and savings from great Canadian brands like Petro-Canada and Rexall.
"Whether you're saving up for a big purchase or looking for ways to pay for everyday expenses and purchases, rewards points can play an important role," said Nielsen.
Make Sure You Have The Right Banking Products For Your Needs
It may be hard to know which bank account is right for you. A good place to start is by looking for an account that offers features that leave more money in your wallet – from ways to save on monthly fees and unlimited transactions to savings on ATM fees.
To help you in your search, RBC has launched new interactive tools to make it easy to find the account that best meets your needs and discover even more benefits.
And if you are a student, make sure to check out the new RBC Advantage Banking. The monthly fee on this account is free for full-time students during your studies.
AI-driven tools, like NOMI, make it easier to break down some of the barriers some people might face when managing money, such as not having enough time and not paying close attention to your financial situation. From budgeting to saving, NOMI can help you manage your finances with confidence. (More to come on this!)
You can also use a helpful digital platform like MyAdvisor to create a personalized plan and connect with an advisor in your community, online, by phone or in person.
"Budgeting is a fundamental tool that helps you manage your money and stay in good financial shape," said Nielsen. "It puts you in control of your day-to-day spending and financial future by making you more aware of where your money is going."
Despite this, less than half (49%) of Canadians keep a budget, according to the 2019 Canadian Financial Capability Survey. If you're considering getting on top of your budgeting but feel overwhelmed at the idea, rest assured that you don't have to start from scratch.
Consider a digital tool like NOMI Budgets which does the heavy lifting for you. It takes the math out of money management by recommending personalized budgets for you based on your spending habits, and it can help you stay on track with notifications and reminders.
Setting up automatic transfers from your chequing to your savings account can help you keep up with your savings goals, especially if you tend to spend your income as soon as it lands in your account.
There are also convenient tools out there to help you never miss an opportunity to save. Through RBC's NOMI Find & Save, for example, clients may save money they didn't even know they had. This feature "uses predictive technology" to find extra dollars it thinks you won't miss and automatically moves them into a savings account.