Food

Do You Splurge?

Do you splurge?A person new to HowToSaveMoney.ca might think that I’m a tight fisted miser who bends down to pick up every penny - or should I say nickel? - off the street and then goes home to curl up in bed and snuggle with my piggy bank while laying on my mattress stuffed with cash.

As enticing as that sounds, it simply isn’t so!

My goal in life is to save as much money on everything I can so I have more money left over to live a good life and to splurge on the things I enjoy! No, I don’t believe we need oodles of money to be happy, but I do definitely enjoy spending it on some things and I’d be lying if I said it never brings a smile to my face. I’m human like the rest of you, and we all like to spoil ourselves from time to time.

My Favourite Splurges

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When Fruits And Vegetables Are In Season

When fruits and vegetables are in seasonWhat better time to buy fruits and vegetables than when they are in season? They taste better, are more nutritious, AND prices are almost always lower!

With in season produce, flavours are more pronounced and aromas blend with taste in such a way to keep you coming back for seconds (or thirds as in my family). What easier way to make your children hate vegetables than to serve them when they’re at their worst? Isn’t that like taking a shiny new bike and presenting it after you’ve dragged it through the mud?

Arguably, you can wash the bike and it will be like new. To present the equivalent in past-their-prime vegetables, I only know the one true Canadian way: smother them in cheese and add bacon. If that doesn’t work, nothing will!

Who likes to read previews before seeing the movie or buying the book? I do! Would you like to know what is going to be in season next month or what is in season right now? I would!

That’s why we’ve come up with a new pdf to download, print, and pin to your refrigerator so you can use it for menu planning or keep in your shopping bag for your next trip to the grocery store. Fruits and vegetables are sorted alphabetically and a bright sun denotes the best month(s) to find your favourite produce at its best.

Download Your Free PDF: When Fruits And Vegetables Are In Season

If you’re not familiar with some of these foods, not to worry! The internet can be a great resource for endless recipes, with many sites containing reviews on a variety of dishes. And hey, If it doesn’t turn out, you can always fall back on the Canadian cheese and bacon - it might end up being a new favourite that way!

You can also find the full listing of fruits and vegetables by month right here in this article as well - read on below.

Jump To A Month

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Investing In What You Buy

Investing in what you buyA lot of financial experts are fond of the phrase "Let your money work for you." A few years ago I found a way to take that thought one step further by investing in the companies whose products or services I pay for regularly. So now, not only is the money I've invested working toward building my future, it's helping to pay some of my current expenses along the way.

It started about six years ago when I was first buying shares in BCE, the parent company of Bell. I was reviewing the dividend details of my purchase and noticed the annual dividend was a little over two dollars a share, which meant that for every 100 shares I bought, I was going to receive more than $200 a year. I started thinking about my monthly bill from Bell, which included phone, internet and our TV package in a bundled deal. Each month I was paying nearly $200 for those services - and that's when the light bulb went on over my head! For every 100 shares of the company I owned, Bell was essentially covering my bill to them for one month.

Paying For Products And Services With Dividends

That revelation prompted me to think about other products and services my wife and I used and looking to see if I could replicate the Bell strategy with other things in our lives.

Getting The Hydro Company To Pay For Your Electricity

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The Best Way To Use Your Save On More Rewards Points

The best way to use your Save On More rewards pointsEver wonder just what's the best way to redeem those More Rewards Points offered by Save on Foods, Pricesmart, Overwaitea Food Group, and Urban Fare? Or are you like most people who think they'll never add up to much anyway and just spend them when the cashier offers to redeem your points for a 'free' product? Admittedly, these aren't life changing amounts of money, but here are some tips on how to play "the game" more efficiently. After all, if one is allowing one's buying patterns to be used for data mining, why not get the most value for it?

Tips For EARNING Extra More Rewards Points

Let's say you are an avid collector - you just love buying the Big White passes each year for Christmas gifts and the feeling of getting a great deal! Or perhaps you love the idea of taking a 'free' flight. Here are a few tips on how to boost your points balances.

Earning In-Store

Besides collecting of the points themselves, value can also be found in using the card in store. It is becoming increasingly the case that you only get a discounted price on your grocery purchases if you scan your points card at the checkout. (The irony is that one of their major competitors, Safeway, has recently backed off of forcing their customers to bring in their membership to get discounted prices on groceries!)

Typically, "More Rewards" points are earned at a rate of 1 point per dollar spent when you shop at their grocery stores, including Urban Fare. It's a good idea to watch for double points days as well as bonus points that are offered quite regularly. Here are few in-store examples of how to earn points.

  • Bonus points on products - just keep an eye for the little blue shelf signs while shopping in store.
  • Multi-buy specials - A typical offer would be "Buy four boxes of Kelloggs cereal and receive 2000-3000 points." You usually don't need to clip the coupon from the flyer, just buy the product and the points show up on your receipt automatically. If you use the FLIPP app on your phone to find the product on sale cheaper locally elsewhere, you can save even more. (This app is fantastic, you can search for ANY advertised item and find out who has it on sale - click here to check it out.) Note: Some stores still won't accept price matching requests unless you have the paper flyer, so bring the flyer in when you shop if that's the case. Ask the cashier to price-match the items. You'll still get the points that are associated with those items, as they are automatically added by the system giving you more points per dollar spent.
  • Manager's specials - Each store is responsible for distributing their own points. Some Store managers offer a 1000 point incentive if you fill out one of their feedback surveys. Just bring in the confirmation sheet after filling out your survey, or fill it out online at the kiosk provided in select stores.
  • Share your account - Be sure everyone in your family has a card, they come on key-chain tags as well, so everyone can easily earn.
  • Use the kiosk - Most stores now offer a More Rewards kiosk close to the entrance where you can scan your card and receive bonus offers for spending set amounts. Typically one receives 375 points for a $35 spend, but the amounts are often MUCH larger if you spend more. Each card is allowed one scan per day. The highest value coupons are only offered to each cardholder occasionally, it seems.

Ways To Earn Outside Of The Grocery Store

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Canadian Price Match Policy Comparison

Canadian price match policy comparisonGetting competitors to match prices is a convenient way for consumers to save time and money. It saves time as several trips to different stores can be consolidated into a single visit. It also saves money through capitalizing on increased competition among retailers which can often amount to additional, sometimes significant, savings.

Knowing which stores have the best and most flexible policies is essential to saving the most money when price matching. To make the comparison easier, I've put together a big table comparing them to one another so you can quickly determine which stores to shop at.

The Price Matching Table

Store Policy Name Beat Or Match Price Protection Matches Prices Found Online Matches Prices Found
In-Store
Does Price Matching Matches Competitors Nationwide
Best Buy Lowest Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Black's Price Match Guarantee 30 days In-Store  
Canada Computers Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store & Online Online
Canadian Tire Price Match Guarantee 10%2   In-Store  
FreshCo Cheaper Guarantee $0.013 7 days   In-Store  
Future Shop Price Beat Promise 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store & Online
Giant Tiger Ad Match Guarantee $0.013     In-Store  
Home Depot Low Price Guarantee 10%2 30 days   In-Store  
Home Hardware Price Match Promise     In-Store  
Kitchen Stuff Plus Price Match Policy 10%1 14 days   In-Store  
Leon's Integrity Pricing 60 days In-Store  
London Drugs Our Guarantee 30 days   In-Store  
Lowe's Everday Low Price Guarantee 10%1 90 days In-Store  
Memory Express Uber Price Beat Guarantee 25%1 7 days In-Store & Online Online
NCIX Advanced Store Price Match   In-Store & Online Online
No Frills Won't Be Beat® promise 7 days   In-Store  
Real Canadian Superstore Price Matching Program     In-Store  
Rona In-Store Price Guarantee 10%1     In-Store  
Sears Price Protection Plus 30 days In-Store & Online In-Store
Sleep Country Canada Unbeatable Price Guarantee 5%1     In-Store  
SportChek Price Matching 30 days   In-Store In-Store
Staples Price Match Guarantee 14 days In-Store In-Store
Target Price Match Guarantee   In-Store  
The Brick Price Guarantee 10%1 30 days In-Store In-Store
The Source Best Price Guarantee 30 days In-Store In-Store
Tiger Direct Best Price Promise 14/30 days In-Store & Online Online
Toys R Us Price Match Policy 14 days In-Store  
Walmart Ad-Match Guarantee     In-Store In-Store
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When to Buy Things To Save The Most Money

When to buy things to save the most moneyAn effective and simple saving strategy is to buy items in the off–season – when they are at their cheapest. For example, the price of air conditioners is the highest in the spring when the snow melts and it starts to get warmer. Prices start to come down in the fall as temperatures across the country start to drop.

Which season (and month) you buy an item can have a big impact on the price you pay for an item. Some things are significantly cheaper at certain times of the year. Below is a monthly breakdown of which months are best for buying certain items.

January

  • Christmas stuff (decorations, candles, ornaments, Christmas trees) can be marked down by up to 75% immediately after Christmas and leading into January.
  • TVs and home theatre systems. The two weeks leading up to Super Bowl have good deals and new stock comes in January through March.
  • Gift cards. Many people who received gift cards they don't want will post them on online classifieds sites to get rid of them at a discount.
  • Bedding, linens and swimwear.
  • Broadway show tickets. January is the slowest time of the year for Broadway shows, so the best deals can often be found then.
  • Video games. New games are released in the late fall for the Christmas shopping season, and tend to go on sale once Christmas ends.
  • Organizing supplies. Many people make new years resolutions related to getting organized. Plastic storage containers, label makers and other organizing supplies go on sale in January.
  • Cold and flu remedies – the peak of the flu season is in January and medicines, vitamins and pain relievers sometimes go on sale.
  • Gym memberships – promotions begin to cater to the new years resolution crowd.
  • Boats. Many boat shows occur in January and usually promotions (discounts) are offered.
  • Fitness gear. The new years resolutions start to kick in and people start trying to get in shape.
  • Hot foods and beverages – soup, chili, hot chocolate and anything else to keep you warm.
  • Other food – bananas, grapefruit, cabbage, carrots, squash.

February

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How To Get Started With Couponing

How to get started with couponingYou may have seen the show Extreme Couponing, or may have been stuck behind an "extreme couponer" at the checkout. How do they do it? Where do they get those coupons from? Does it take a long time to plan and get organized? Well, read on to find out!

I didn't use coupons until a few years ago when I discovered coupon inserts in our local flyers. When I looked through them, I would clip the few coupons I thought I would need and recycled the rest. Back then, I could hold these few coupons in my wallet and still find them easily. Over time, I realized that you could actually get free items, or even make money with coupons!

This was a whole new revelation. I began saving coupons for products that I didn't ordinarily use on the chance that I could pick up a great deal. Generally, these bargains were not on my tested and true brands. Often, I had to purchase something we'd never tried before, but it was close to free or free. At that price, we could definitely afford to try it out!

Gradually, a small stockpile began to take shape. To keep clutter to a minimum, the products that I couldn't use before the expiry date or didn't need were either donated or shared with others. My ever expanding coupon collection needed a new home, so I now keep them in a sturdy pencil case. Extra coupons that I may not use but are still valid, I keep in a letter tray.

Years have gone by since my first days of couponing and I now have enough for our household that I don't need to jump on every sale. In fact, if you do miss a sale, keep in mind that sales occur in cycles and another is right around the corner.

Related: What To Do When Something You Already Bought Goes On Sale

Know What You Need

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A Complete Guide To Price Matching In Canada

A Complete Guide To Price Matching In Canada

When my first child was born, my wife and I agreed that a digital camera with video recording capabilities was in order; we wanted to be those parents who post embarrassing home videos of their kid on Youtube. I did some research and settled on a Canon model which could take videos in high definition. The only thing left for me to do was to find a decent price that we were willing to pay.

A few weeks went by before I noticed a pretty awesome one-day sale at Aden Camera with 25% discount on the camera we wanted. The store was located downtown and there was no way I was going to make it there in time before store closing. Instead, I walked into a local Future Shop (now Best Buy) where the same camera was listed for the original price of $1099. I told the customer service representative (CSR) that I wanted to price match the camera with the lower price from Aden. The CSR called Aden to confirm the price and stock. Long story short, after about 15 minutes and a price match later, I walked out of Future Shop with the camera we wanted for $825. #PriceMatchFTW.

Bonus: Get this 1.5 page summary of 24 Canadian retailer price matching policies. Print it. Use it. Anytime, anywhere.

What Is Price Matching?

Price matching is a practice wherein a retailer agrees to match a lower advertised price from a rival store and sells you the same product for the lower price.

Many retailers are committed to providing value to their customers through offering products at the lowest prices; however, it is difficult for them to keep an eye on the pricing of all their products. To remain competitive and increase brand loyalty, large retailers will offer to match competitors’ prices for the same items. The details concerning the specifics of what a given retailer will match can be found in a retailer’s price match policy or price match guarantee.

Price matching policies often don’t just apply to items you are going to purchase, they can also apply to items you’ve already purchased:

  1. If a customer has already made a purchase and finds the same item at a cheaper price from a competitor’s store, within an approved time frame, some retailers will refund the difference between the advertised price and competitor’s lower price.
  2. If the retailer reduces their own price on a product within a set period of time after a customer has made a purchase, the customer is often entitled to a refund of the difference upon request.

Related: Get Free Stuff Using The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

The Different Types Of Price Matching

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Babies Are Free??!!

How to reduce your baby expenses When I asked a friend how much I should save for a baby's first year, her answer took me by surprise. She said her baby was essentially free. Free??!! The Globe And Mail estimates that we need approximately $8,000 for the first year alone, which is a much higher amount than “free”. Free in terms of the cost of a new baby is just impossible. Or is it? Now that I have tracked the first seven months of baby expenses, I have to concede that my friend wasn't that far off the mark.

Our Almost Free Baby Story

We began parenthood with the rosy idea that we didn't need much to have a happy, healthy child. We were not going to follow the suggestions of those clever marketing gurus and make our home resemble a baby store. After all, I've heard that there are babies that grew into productive, fulfilled adults, who began life sleeping in a bottom drawer or a laundry basket!

In reality, the journey into parenthood has been quite effortful in many ways. Babies can be expensive, and there are numerous unforeseen expenses that can derail even the most frugal plans. The bright side is that there are also numerous ways to save and spend far less than $8,000!

Using many of the tips below, we've managed to spend a grand total of $54.80* including all taxes, a $35 fee for the birth certificate, and a $25 deposit fee for a daycare waiting list. I've excluded the increased cost of water, hydro, gas, time, etc., that I can't specifically break down and attribute to the baby.

*After subtracting $400 in redemptions at Shoppers Drug Mart. We also make our own wipes and the materials are categorized under our household expenses, as they are regular household items.

Ways To Save On Baby’s Basic Needs

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Get Free Stuff Using The Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP)

Get free stuff using the Scanning Code of Practice Many years ago, I found myself at a grocery store doing some late night shopping just before close. I loaded a bulk box of granola bars onto the conveyor belt and the cashier ran it over the scanner. The scanner beeped and a price of $8.99 prominently displayed on the screen. I was positive the shelf price had listed $8.49, so I requested a price check. The price was confirmed and the cashier entered the new price of $8.49. As I was scooping up my purchase into my bag, I noticed a white sign on the plexiglass counter where people usually sign for their credit card transactions.

I was in a rush and did not get a chance to read it that day. If I had, I would have been able to get that box of granola bars for free. Free!! To this day, I remember that moment and use it as a reminder to bring up the Scanning Code of Practice whenever possible.

The actual sign is typically displayed on the counter, on the register, at the entrance of the store, or any combination of those locations.

The full description of the code can be found on the websites of the Canadian Competition Bureau and the Retail Council of Canada.

What exactly is the Scanning Code of Practice?

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