Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lessons in Frugality

As we welcome a new school year and prepare for the upcoming holidays, now is a good time to take a look around and see if you can find a few ways your family can save money. Helping you to kickstart your savings, the following outlines 5 frugal tips that can help you start saving money today!

1. Credit Cards. Use credit cards wisely. Pay off the balance each and every month. Before the due date. Paying late or leaving even a few dollars of unpaid balance could mean interest charges on the entire unpaid balance. On the other hand, credit cards used wisely can pay big dividends. If you are the type of person who pays off their credit cards in full each month then you are in luck. Anytime you plan to make a large purchase, it may make sense to use a credit card offering the highest points. Consumer protection is another advantage of paying by credit card, as some offer built in travel or car rental insurance. 

2. Season of the Sale. Plan your purchases in advance to take advantage of seasonal sales. Need bedding or towels? Traditionally these items are on sale in January. February is the best time to shop for big screen TV’s . February is also the best time to shop for next Christmas, as last year’s winter items hit the clearance racks. Further, try buying a new car on the last few days of the month or year, when your dealer hopes to maximize his monthly or annual bonus; he just might be in a good enough mood to negotiate a great deal with you.

3. Never Pay Full Price. Instead of waiting for household basics to run out, buy them in bulk when on sale. That way you are ready when the Kleenex box is empty or you need shampoo.  Everything goes on sale eventually; a little patience can go a long way to saving dollars. Also do not be afraid to negotiate a better price. It never hurts to ask  “ Is this your best price?”

4. Retailer’s Store Policy. It pays to know your retailers store policies. What are their return policies if you are not satisfied?  How long do you have to return an item? Will they provide you with a cash refund (best) or a store credit?  Will they price match and what proof do they require to do so? Will they price adjust if an item that goes on sale shortly after you purchased it? Savvy retailers want your repeat business and to earn that, they need to keep you happy. Shop where you receive the most respect for your hard earned dollars.

5. Coupons. Love them or hate them, they are here to stay, and many a diligent shopper has learned how to save hundreds of dollars a year by clipping and using coupons. Thankfully using coupons is a lot simpler in the age of the smart phone.  See an item you need?  Search the web for a coupon or a better price offered by a competitor. A few minutes of research can uncover some great savings, worth the time surfing the net.

By creating and following a few saving habits you too can be a smart shopper. The dollars you save can be used to help you achieve important savings goals. You may even be able to convince your children how the little savings they make each week can be allocated to an important family goal, like that family holiday.  For the adults in your family, saving dollars on charge cards and at the stores can be put towards your long term goals of paying down the mortgage on your home, RRSP, TFSA or RESP’s bringing you one step closer to financial independence.

Feel free to share your favourite saving tips with us, we will collect the best of them and share them with our readers in a future edition of the Continuum II blog.