Eating Out At Restaurants: The Ultimate Guide To Spending Less

eating_outatrestaurant-theultimateguidetospendingless.jpgEating out is great isn’t it?

No cooking, no cleaning, no groceries, and no hassle -- what’s not to love?

There’s just one problem: eating out is expensive. Ok, two problems. Restaurant meals often aren’t as healthy as a home cooked meal either, but they sure taste good!

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to make the bill that comes at the end of your meal a lot more palatable so you can eat out more often without feeling nearly as guilty, or just pocket the extra dough for something else you enjoy.

Here’s how you do it:

Related: Do You Splurge?

Combine As Many Discounts As You Can

Canadian Tire Money Finally Comes Out Of The Dark Ages

canadiantiremoneyfinallycomesoutofthedarkages.jpgCanadian Tire ‘Money’ has been in the dark ages as a rewards program for many years forcing you to carry around stacks of worthless bills that were easily lost or left behind.

Things were slightly better if you were a Canadian Tire Options MasterCard holder because you could accumulate the stuff on your credit card but unfortunately that card has a dubious system for paying out rewards and doesn’t give great value anyway. The only exceptions being bonus gas multipliers and in-store offers available exclusively to cardholders that are occasionally worthwhile.

Enter the new My Canadian Tire ‘Money’ program. It has all the features of a modern rewards program making it much more usable and useful. This is still a big step forward for the program even though the return on spending it offers has diminished greatly from a high of 5%, when CT Money first started in 1958, to the meagre 0.4% it is today.

The up side to the low regular rate of return is that it allows them to offer big bonus multipliers, similar to what you see with other programs like Shoppers Optimum and Air Miles, along with individual product bonuses and offers customized specifically for you.

Related: The Best Cash Back Websites For Canadians

Great New My Canadian Tire Money Features

Lost Luggage: How To Minimize Your Losses

lostluggagehowtominimizeyourlosses.jpgI travel a few times a year (some trips for business, some for pleasure) and have been lucky with my luggage - it's only been lost twice in the past 5 years and both times the airline was able to quickly recover the luggage.

Others aren't so lucky. They wait for their bag to arrive and when it doesn't show, they are sent to airline customer service to go through the long process of claims and paperwork related to finding the bag. Each year about 2% of lost bags aren't recovered, and it's important to know what to do if it happens to you.

Reporting Lost Baggage

Most airlines have a customer service area in major airports (located near where the bags come out in the arrivals level) that deals specifically with baggage issues. If your bag doesn't arrive your first step is to go here. It's important you report the lost bag immediately - if not, the airline won't be responsible for it.

If you had connecting flights with a different airline, the airline that you last flew on is responsible for your bags. For example, if you flew Westjet to Toronto and then American Airlines to Florida, then American Airlines would be responsible for your baggage.

Related: Top Aeroplan Credit Cards Compared

Once at customer service you'll be asked for your baggage claim ticket that was originally given when your bags were checked while checking in for your flight. It's a small barcode that has all the tracking information for your bag. The airline can still look up your bag's information without it, but it takes longer to search the system and isn't as accurate.

A customer service rep will then ask you for the details on your bag. Important details on you baggage are the approximate size, colour, contents, identifying marks (such as a ribbon), where your trip started and what connections you had (if any).

This information is entered into the system and delayed baggage form is given to you with a unique reference number and a toll-free number you can call to find out the status of your bag. At this point your bag isn't technically lost - it is "delayed" and you'll need to give the airline a chance to find it first before claiming it as a lost bag.

Delayed Baggage Compensation

You Paid WHAT For That Cable?

youpaidwhatforthatcable.jpgThis may have been an article best written years ago when high definition TVs and HDMI cables were still new technology. Do you remember those days? You could walk into any electronics store like Future Shop and see a 6 foot HDMI cable sitting on the shelf unabashedly priced at $100-$200 or more. Crazy eh?

As time has gone on, HDMI cables have dropped in price drastically. A quick spot check of the Future Shop website shows prices for a 6 ft. HDMI cable ranging from $5.98 all the way up to $89.99, on average a far cry for what they used to sell for.

However, there are always newer, more expensive cables coming out so knowing how to get the lowest price is still valuable information.

Where To Buy Cheap Cables

How To Spot Fresh In Season Produce At The Grocery Store

howtospotfreshinseasonproduceatthegrocerystore.jpgIt seems that we’ve been inundated with reports of grocery costs lately. If it’s not in the current headlines, you might have heard complaints from your mother, neighbour, or friend. You might have even have noticed price increases (or a reduction in product size for the same cost) among your own grocery staples.

Back in 2012, poor weather conditions severely affected the apple harvest and we sadly had to cancel our annual visit to the orchard. For the first time I could remember, they were closed for picking in several varieties and apple prices were generally higher than usual that year.

Recently, the dwindling population of honeybees have made the headlines again, and not for the first time. Experts claim that not only will honey prices increase, the costs of other crops that depend on a large bee population to pollinate their crops will also suffer. One of these crops is the almond plant, which in turn raises the cost of almond milk, and also my favourite almond chocolate bar. Coupled with a poor cocoa bean yield from West Africa, my cravings are threatening to make a noticeable impact on our expense tracking spreadsheet.

Related: How To Find Grocery Coupons Online

My protest over the increasing cost of quality chocolate will probably fall on deaf ears but there is something I can do that will make my spreadsheet numbers sexier. That’s right; I look for hot little numbers in my expense records. Doesn’t everyone? Don’t answer that.

One way we can combat these rising costs is to focus our spending on fresh in-season produce at the grocery store. Eating tastier and healthier food just happens to be an added bonus.

Chasing Cranberries