Shopping

How To Get The Best Deal (With This Little Secret)

howtogetthebestdealwiththislittlesecret.jpgThe word “deal” is SO overused.

Everyone and their mom thinks they got an AMAZING deal on the latest thing-a-majig they bought from so-and-so.

Psssssst. Here’s a little secret:

You likely got an average deal at BEST.

At worst - you got taken for a ride and paid an inflated price for something that was camouflaged as a deal.

Marketers are so good these days they know what you’re thinking even BEFORE you do - if you caught a good “sale” - then you paid exactly what they wanted you to.

Don’t get me wrong, smartly shopping sales and clearances can land you some pretty good deals, but that’s just the start of what’s possible.

The real secret?

In one word ... STACKING.

What Is Deal Stacking?

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Canadian Rewards Programs: Are You Loyal?

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Rewards programs are meant to create loyalty…

Repeat customers and repeat business are the name of the game.

But my experience has been that it doesn’t pay to be loyal. Shopping around for both the best prices AND the best rewards bonuses and perks is 100% the way to go...

IF you’re willing to invest the time.

A quick check shows that I am currently a member of at least 30 rewards programs. I don’t use them all on a regular basis - I have my favourites just like anyone. (Don’t miss my top 5 below.)

Then, there’s other times when rewards programs just aren’t worth it.

But, I do try to keep my eyes open for amazing opportunities in any one of those 30+ programs. If they make me an offer I can’t refuse - then I’ll take it!

That said, it’s hard to know what’s out there and targeted specifically at Canadians. I’ve put together a pretty comprehensive list below - please add any I missed in the comments!

Cash Rewards For Shopping Online

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Costco’s Crazy Return Policy

costcoscrazyreturnpolicy.jpgI’m going to get a lot of flack for this one - I can feel it in my bones.

You’re waiting to judge me…aren’t you?

Ok here it goes.

In case you aren’t aware, Costco has the most amazing return policy in the history of return policies.

They will allow you to return practically anything, for almost any reason, with no time limit on when you can make the return. There’s only a few reasonable exceptions.

Sounds insane, right? How can this be profitable?

It’s actually a genius marketing and psychological play that gives customers a huge sense of security and trust in the products Costco carries. They open their wallets without thinking about it or even checking the reviews.

Much of the time Costco can charge back any returns to the manufacturer anyway - and the sheer volume of sales they do and annual membership fees makes up for the rest of the potential losses.

In short…it’s why I shop at Costco.

I’m always pressed for time. The draw of that warm security blanket return policy and reasonable prices is just too hard to resist.

I'm not the only one who can't resist either - here's a blogger who lists her favourite Costco buys.

My $1,000 Costco Return

Keep reading » about Costco’s Crazy Return Policy

Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

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I've been touting free gift card offers on this site for a long time now: see here, here, and here. Most of them have been a free $100 gift card to Amazon.ca or another popular Canadian store in return for applying for an awesome credit card that earns you even more free money in cash back or travel rewards.

These credit cards usually also come with no annual fee (at least for the first year) and sometimes a hefty points sign up bonus to boot. Then, after the first year, there is no obligation to continue with the card if you decide it isn't for you. It's really a fantastic deal and one I've taken advantage of several times myself.

Since this has become a pretty regular thing, I thought I should make a permanent page that lists legitimate free gift card offers that I am aware of and will continue to update at the beginning of every month.

Proof That It Works

Keep reading » about Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

Extreme Price Comparison - ALWAYS Find The Lowest Price

extremepricecomparisonalwaysfindthelowestprice.jpgI don’t know about you…

But, whenever I buy something, I’m always wondering if I got the lowest price. There’s often a lingering doubt that I could have found it cheaper elsewhere.

I don’t like that feeling - but I don’t always have the time or energy to make sure I got the best deal. And that’s ok!

When I DO find the time though - I can be pretty fanatical about it. In fact, I’ve developed a handy process that you too can use for tracking down rock bottom prices.

The best part is you can pick and choose those steps you have the time for and skip those you don’t. You’ll still wind up with a REALLY good price after all.

Here’s what you do:

1) Choose Your Product

Keep reading » about Extreme Price Comparison - ALWAYS Find The Lowest Price

Canadian Retailer Price Matching Policies 2016

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If you’ve never ever price matched before…

Know you’re absolutely missing out.

Not only on great savings…

But also on the rush that you feel when you score a deal.

A deal YOU made happen.

If you want to know what price matching is all about - and HOW it works - check out our ultimate guide to price matching in Canada.

And another thing. I’ve got something cooking for you next week.

We’re starting a NEW challenge. Check out the sneak peek right here:

Save Money Challenge #3 - The Price Match Edition.

Tell me - ARE YOU IN?

Why?

Because money is all about mindset.

I made a simple choice to price match at Staples more than a decade ago...

I didn’t know it at that time - but the ripple of effect of that SINGLE choice was life changing. That rush I felt empowered me to take charge of my money in so many other ways.

For easy reference, I’ve updated and summarized the price matching policies of these Canadian retailers (the original post was more than two years ago).

When the challenge starts next week, you can check back here to see the policies of your favourite stores.

Jump to a Price Match Policy

Keep reading » about Canadian Retailer Price Matching Policies 2016

You Only Live Once, So Don’t Blow It!

you_only_live_once_so_dont_blow_it.jpgTo save or to yolo? That’s the question.

Can the battle between frugality and “living life” cease to exist? And if so...

How do you strike that elusive balance?

Let’s examine “balance”, shall we?

It’s a soothing word to smooth over underlying conflict between two camps.

First, there’s work-life balance. A conflict of time spent between work and life outside of work.

Then there’s the balanced diet. A conflict between different food types. Natural food vs. junk food. High-fat vs. low-fat. High-carb vs. high-protein. And so on.

And not to be outdone…

There’s also the balanced budget. In personal finance, it’s taking the money we earn (after tax) and allocating chunks of it to: fixed and variable costs, savings, investments, debt payments, etc. A balanced budget is achieved when 100% of our money is properly allocated.

The conflict comes when we overspend in one area because it takes away from other areas.

Excess can be avoided with balance.

But - is balance just unicorns and rainbows?

YOLO Isn't a License to Blow Your Money

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Addictive Consumerism: The Danger of Collecting Shopkins

addictive_consumerism-_the_danger_of_collecting_shopkins.jpgAt 18 months old, my daughter said this one word that stopped us in our tracks:

Cash.

Stephen happened to be holding some cash at that time, and she heard us say the word. So she mimicked what she heard. Over and over again.

Now she’s 6 years old. And it’s my turn to learn a new word from her - though it’s not one that I particularly enjoy...

Shopkins.

I had no idea this word existed until about 6 months ago. I took my daughter to her friend’s birthday party. And then gift after gift (except my daughter’s gift), her friend unwrapped boxes of shopkins.

My daughter just turned 6 recently, and she received one shopkins playset. I knew it was only a matter of time. There’s no escaping it...or is there?

If you’re lucky and uninitiated into this world and you’re asking: what are shopkins? Here’s the short version:

They are small plastic toys designed to be collected and treasured by little girls.

Let’s unwrap that thought piece by piece:

  • They’re small enough to be choking hazards.
  • They’re collectible. So one playset ain’t gonna to be enough. And their collection is never-ending.
  • Treasured. This craze is real. And here’s another.

Now before I continue my rant on Shopkins, I’ll have to come clean. Keep reading » about Addictive Consumerism: The Danger of Collecting Shopkins

Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

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Two out of every three Canadians collects AIR MILES and, if you want to maximize your rewards, having an AIR MILES credit card just makes sense!

But why settle for any old card, when you could be earning a lot more miles and experiencing a lot more perks by getting the best one?

Figuring out which one is best is easier said than done though ... that's why I analyze every single detail of these cards and then rank them using a comprehensive system I personally developed over the last five years.

No more comparing feature by feature trying to weigh the pros and the cons - you can rest assured that the top card on my list is the best fit for most Canadians. My rankings are also continually updated so you can be sure you aren't getting stale information.

AIR MILES Credit Cards Compared And Ranked

The cards in the table are ordered from best to worst. Please note that the table scrolls horizontally by using the slider at the bottom.

  Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
(low min. income!)
Apply BMO AIR MILES World MasterCard
Apply Hudson's Bay MasterCard
Apply BMO Sobeys AIR MILES MasterCard
Apply American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card
Apply American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
Apply BMO AIR MILES MasterCard
Score Miles Per $100 Spent Bonus Miles Annual Fee First Year Free? Extra Cards $25,000 Spend Score $100,000 Spend Score Insurance Score Perks Score
5.0 10.0 1,000
2,000*
$120 No $50 4.6 5.0 5.0 2.9
3.3 8.0 2,000 $65 No Free 4.6 3.2 1.0 2.8
3.0 6.9 0 $99 No $35 3.4 1.4 4.2 1.6
2.6 6.3 0 $0 Yes Free 5.0 1.7 0.0 2.2
2.4 5.5 400
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.6 0.8 0.8 2.2
2.2 8.0 2,400 $299 No $50 0.0 0.4 2.7 5.0
2.1 5.2 500 $0 Yes Free 4.4 0.4 0.2 2.4
2.0 4.8 0
500*
$0 Yes Free 4.2 0.0 0.8 1.9
* Limited time promotion ending soon.
Keep reading » about Which AIR MILES Credit Card Is Best For 2016?

The $36.9 Billion Cost of Poor Health...and How to Get Real Food for Less

the_36.9_billion_cost_of_poor_health.and_how_to_get_real_food_for_less.jpgConsider the high cost of poor health...

Unhealthy lifestyle choices cost Canadians $36.9 billion per year according to this Canadian Men’s Health Foundation’s study.

You can bet we’re all affected because our tax dollars fund our healthcare programs...

Poor health also affects our ability to work. Of course, we just can’t do our best work when we’re sick...

I worked in Human Resources and consistent absence from work (“absenteeism”) is a classic management headache. Employees who are legitimately sick and truly need their employer’s support, unfortunately, get mixed up with those few bad apples who abuse the system.

If you’re a full-time employee, you’ve got a limited amount of sick leave and likely some long-term disability coverage (although even if you qualify, this only replaces a portion of your salary).

Related: Want to get a salary raise? Read this and learn from a trusted career coach...

But what if you’re a casual employee with no benefits and no guaranteed work hours?

What if you’re self-employed?

Your income could take a sharp nosedive when you need it most.

And then there’s also quality of life...

Sure, we’ve gained 20 to 22 years in life expectancy - but are we living better? Will we be healthy enough to travel at 65? Or play with our grandkids at 75?

When we invest in our health starting now - it can make a HUGE impact not only in the short-term...but also over the longer-term.

Here’s a thought...

We prepare for our financial well-being leading up to retirement. But at the end of the day, what’s the point of gaining a mountain of money if we’re not going to have the health and the zest to enjoy it with the people we love?

So why not invest in our health as well?

Investing in Food and Your Health

Keep reading » about The $36.9 Billion Cost of Poor Health...and How to Get Real Food for Less

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