If you’re even the tiniest bit inclined to put in the work, there are lots of ways to save money.
We all know about some of them. Coupons are usually the first things that come to mind when we talk about saving money on everyday things. Yes, I know that the little blighters can be tricky. You have to remember to bring them with you and you have to be careful to only clip coupons for the items you would be buying anyway. Otherwise you will go tumbling headlong into the ‘I don’t really need it but it was on sale’ trap and end up spending more rather than saving. You also need to find the coupons in the first place which may mean spending some of your precious spare time with a giant pile of fliers in your lap. Sorry about that. Saving isn’t always easy.
A more ambitious way to attempt to save on the little things is to do some research. What items do you almost always include on your grocery list? Make a list of what you usually buy and then compare the cost (plus any applicable taxes) of adding those items to your basket at three retailers. I’m including personal care items in this list as they’re often part of a weekly or bi-weekly shop and are sold at most grocery stores. Make sure you’re recording the regular price of the item rather than the sale price (if something happens to be on sale) because you want to know how much it would cost you to habitually purchase your necessities at each retailer. If the cost of your ‘basket’ is significantly lower at a particular store, it may be time to make a switch. There really isn’t any way to do this kind of comparison without doing a little legwork. I said it was ambitious.
So much for the everyday items. What about big ticket items? Perhaps you’ve just purchased your first home or perhaps your growing family means that you need to upgrade to larger digs. You’re going to need furniture, right?
Why not check out sites like craigslist.ca or kijiji.ca? Or, if you live in or near a major urban hub, there will probably be a site dedicated specifically to your area like used usedottawa.com. These sights deal in everything from furniture to job postings and if you check regularly, you might just find something (or lots of things) at bargain prices compared to what you would pay for those same pieces if you purchased them from a showroom or big box store. The bonus? You’re more likely to find unusual pieces that are full of character and that aren’t already in half the homes in the nation. You may even be able to haggle over the price and save yourself even more $$$.
There are also Groupons or Wagjag. These are local deals offered online via the Groupon website. They’re usually limited time offers and can apply to everything from items for the home to deep discounts at local restaurants and spas. You pay online for the deal and will have to present some kind of proof of purchase to claim it, either in the form of a printed paper receipt or an electric receipt on your smartphone. There are great deals to be had on the Groupon webiste but remember, great deals are not a licence to shop when you’re on a limited budget. You’re looking for deals on things you need, (like an oil change for your car), and not on things you want.
There are a couple of caveats to be aware of when buying anything second-hand. If you are purchasing items for your children, keep safety firmly in mind. Items like safety seats for cars come with expiry dates and other furniture for children may have been recalled or may not meet current safety standards. You can consult http://www.healthycanadians.gc.ca for a list of items that may be unsafe.
You will need to make arrangements to get your purchases delivered to your home if the seller does not offer delivery as part of the deal. Also, be aware of buying certain soft furnishings. Items with soft surfaces like mattresses are breeding grounds for bacteria of all kinds and microbes of all kinds.
Is all of this as easy as walking into a showroom and picking out the latest in home furnishings and electronics? Maybe not, but there are some budgetary benefits in shopping for used items that may not be that obvious. Sure, you’ll probably end up paying less for a bed frame. That’s an obvious benefit. If you’re purchasing from a private vendor, they probably won’t take a credit card. The upshot of this is that you’re more likely to spend money you have and not be tempted into a ‘buy now, pay later’ scheme which can leave you scrambling to pay off furniture purchases before a truly exorbitant interest rate kicks in. So pat yourself on the back, you savvy shopper and sigh the perfectly blissful sigh of those who spend wisely.