Fabulous Frugal Finds

Tips for Saving Money in 2015

Tips for Saving Money in 2015In January, people often turn to two areas to improve their lives – weight and finances.  Since I fail at all things exercise (a gym is simply a place where obscure injuries would befall me, so it’s best to just avoid) I focus on money-saving strategies in the new year.  Listening to the experts, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when talk of GIC’s, high interest savings accounts and compounding interest dominates the strategies.  I leave that discussion to the experts and instead simply focus on sharing very basic ways that you, at home, can cut your costs for your family.

If you’ve been looking at ways to save money in 2015, here are some very basic strategies and tips to start:

Toss, Donate or Sell

While cleaning out your basement, toy room and closet, make three separate piles (laundry baskets help with this if you can spare them).  Items that are no longer useful, broken or torn can be tossed or recycled.  Next, determine what items have value to sell second-hand and what items are better donated. Don’t be judgy because your friend sells everything down to her children’s worn shoes, and alternatively don’t feel bad because you’d rather sell items than donate them.  Often times, I see if I can find someone to buy my used stuff and then if there’s no interest, I’ll then add it to the donate pile.

Here are some places you can sell your used items:

1) Online –  Utilize Facebook (your own personal page or for-sale groups), Kijiji or other local websites where others buy and sell items.  Use good judgement when selling items online to strangers. I always ensure my husband is home if someone has arranged for a pick up for example, though some people prefer only meeting at a designated location rather than having people come to their house.

2) Garage Sales – Garage sales have always been a great way to get rid of unused items and make some cash in a relatively short period of time, but it does take a lot of work and you have to store the items until the big day. Again, use online methods to advertise.

3) Consignment Sales or Stores – I’ve utilized both methods and both have their pros and cons.  Consignment sales are a great way to make money but they do take some time and organization.  The commission taken by the organizers is usually less than that of a consignment store for this reason but you’ll have to pick up or opt to donate your unsold items.  Consignment stores are great for busy families, larger items and specialty items.  The commission they take is generally larger than an organized one-time sale but it’s quick.

It’s important to remember, whichever method you choose, that your goal is to reduce the clutter and unused items in your  household and make some money.  Emotional attachment to your items won’t help you in either goal, so price to sell (ask yourself what YOU would pay for that item) and don’t look back.

Be a Flyers/Sales Expert

Flyers are not just for filling your recycle bin.  Our household gets flooded with them too, but now I opt to use an App to check flyers and find it’s much more organized and helps me save money.  Here’s how:


1) Flipp is an App available for both iOS and Android devices and it allows you to view all your favorite store’s flyers at the touch of  finger.  Not only that, you can then select specific items you want to pick up and add them to a virtual shopping list right on the App.  I love this App for it’s ease of use and clutter-less (it’s totally a word) use in my household.  I also like it because it can allow me to compare prices easily which brings me to my next point.

2) Price Match!  There are more than two dozen stores in Canada that  offer price-matching to their customers yet few utilize it and overpay every year.  In simple terms, price matching enables you, the consumer, to pick up everything you need one or more locations without having to make several smaller stops.

With the popularity of big-box stores where you can buy your groceries and your socks, price matching is fabulous if you put in a few minutes of work ahead of your shopping trip.  Figure out which store you’ll be shopping at (Store “A”), then browse the flyer from Store “B” and determine what items they have on sale that you want to pick up at Store “A”. Tuck the flyer in your purse (or on your handy Flipp App) and off you go.  Don’t be embarrassed asking for a price match, the store offers this as a service to you, the customer, and you’re simply doing your duty by helping them be awesome at it and thereby getting your loyalty.

Stores that price-match in Canada (double-check their website/flyer to be sure as policies sometimes change)

Babies R Us/Toys R Us                 Rogers
Best Buy                                              Rona
Canadian Tire                                   Sears
Future Shop                                      Sleep Country
Giant Tiger                                         Sport Mart
GM Goodwrench Tire                    Staples
Home Depot                                      Target
Home Hardware                              The Bargain Shop
No Frills                                              The Source
PetSmart                                             Walmart

Be a Coupon Queen (or King!)

Despite what some of the extreme-coupon TV shows share, you won’t become a hoarder with a bunker full of product by using coupons (Canadian retailers have much different rules when it comes to coupon-stacking and other techniques used in the US) but you will save money with very minimal effort.

Check sites likes Brandsaver.ca and Save. ca regularly for coupons that can be printed at home or mailed to your address.  These coupons are used the traditional way, by handing them to the cashier and then waiting while she scrutinizes them and ensures you’re not trying to scam the store out of that $1.00.  Be patient. Remember that the brands print these coupons for your brand loyalty and the store gets reimbursed for that coupon value.

checkout 51

Checkout 51 is an App for those of us who struggle using coupons at the checkouts or who simply want an easier, more organized way to use coupons.  Consider Checkout 51 your virtual coupon binder!

New coupons are added every Thursday morning, so check out the App before you head out (remember to cross-reference sales using your Flipp App, a coupon is best used on a sale item) and then hold onto your receipt when you get home.  Back at home, simply snap a photo of your receipt showing the designated item purchased, and the cash-back is added to your Checkout 51 account!  Yes, it’s that ridiculously easy!  Once you reach $20, you can request a check mailed out (or you can save your cash-back balance for a bigger more satisfying check, I like that!)

Pay Attention At The Till

A great deal is only a deal if you actually pay the correct price.  Scanning errors happen every day in Canada and we all have overpaid at the till without realizing it.  Did you know, if an item scans for more than the advertised price or price on the shelf YOU could walk away with it for free?  It’s true!  SCOP (Scanning Code of Practice) is a program that select stores voluntarily participate in to help give consumers peace of mind knowing they WANT their scanners to be accurate at the til, because otherwise it’s their loss – you can get that item for free (if it’s under $10) or at a $10 discount (if the item is over $10).  Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  It’s not, it just takes effort on your part as the consumer to be aware and ask for that discount.

scanning code of practice sticker

Have you seen this displayed at your favorite store?  If you shop at places like Walmart, Sobey’s, Safeway, Costco or Home Depot among others, you may have spotted it at the til.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched an item scan in wrong, point to the SCOP notice and then have a discussion with the cashier about 1) how SCOP works (usually accompanied by a sigh of irritation and call to the manager) or 2) a smile from the cashier who is familiar with the program and understands the discount or free item doesn’t come out of the pocket of her smock at the end of her shift.

More information on SCOP can be found at my post explaining how SCOP in Canada works and on the Retail Council of Canada website.

These are some of the Apps, strategies and programs I use weekly all year round.  Once you get used to using them, they become second nature.

My final tip for saving money: Have a savings account, or hidden envelope in the house where all your saved money goes.  This way, the savings don’t get absorbed into your daily household, and you can actually see the rewards from your frugal efforts! Reward the family with a weekend swimming party in the summer, or put that saved money into an account – it’s up to you!

My strategy: all money from sold or consigned goods (usually my children’s clothing or unused toys) goes to their RESP.  I figure that since I already spent the money once on the product (or it was a gift), that money can now go towards something else for them, their education down the road.

Happy saving in 2015!



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    • You’re welcome, I need to remind myself from time to time too! Especially to pay attention at the til and watch for SCOP issues!

  • Great tip about the online flyers! I find myself struggling to find a place to keep them tidy! And I do the same with consignment $ back into my child’s RESP! 🙂 I have also started to use our bottle refund money to help save into his account. Every little bit helps!

    • Yay! Yes, bottle returns are another great one where you shouldn’t just pop that money in your wallet, save it so that you can see what you get for your efforts! And I love the RESP option because the gov’t 20% top-up is an added bonus on top of my frugal saving!

  • Great tips -one of the areas that people can cut back on is to pick a better phone plan the next time they switch. Also eating out is extremely expensive but there are lots of coupons for eating places (many are for use from Sun-Thurs) plus there are many restaurants that have free kids meals on certain nights. Avoid ordering appetizers, desserts and alcoholic drinks at restaurants since they are very high priced vs the main meals. Bring more lunches from home or buy frozen dinners -you will save a ton compared to going out for lunch. I think people should invest in a coffee maker and thermal cup and bring their coffee from home to work -if you are a regular Starbucks user it is costing you a fortune in high priced coffee everyday (add it up and figure out what you would save per year). Even a Tim horton’s coffee (assume $2 per cup x 5 days a week x 50 weeks a year (assuming holidays)is $500 you have just forked out to Tim Horton’s each year in coffee just for yourself. We got rid of our cable TV and got Netflixs and that change saved us $600 per year.

    • All great tips Shelley, thanks for sharing! I love Kids Eat Free nights (currently our favorite is Montana’s Kids Eat Free Tuesdays!) Since we moved this summer, I no longer drive past a Tim Horton’s every morning taking the kids to school so my daily coffee cost has gone down significantly. Sometimes circumstances help in that! 😉

  • Definitely you should read your grocery receipt before you leave the store. Once I was in a Sobeys and Honey Nut cheerios was on sale for $2.99 a box so I bought 4 boxes. It turns out the sale price was not programmed in their system and they charged me $5.99 per box. I did not notice it while checking out since I had a large order so I was busy putting it on the belt but I did review the tape before I left the store. $3 a box x 4 boxes =$12 overcharged just on that visit. Once I was at superstore and the cashier went to put a code in to give me credit for bringing my own reusable bags but hit 1 digit incorrectly and I was charged for a $24.99 plant. Everyone makes mistakes. I have found that by taking the 2 or 3 minutes to review my tape I have avoid all sorts of overcharging by stores.

    • Great examples – imagine how many people overpay and don’t realize it – what does that add up to in a year for retailers?! Yikes!

  • I always review my receipt before leaving the store, and have certainly called them on the SCOP. What’s funny is they will say “well if you want me to do that I’ll have to call a manager” “Yep, that’s fine, I’ll wait” LOL. Check out 51 is cool, but I a. always forget about it and b. often don’t buy the products they have on there, but I have rec’d cheques from them before. So it’s worth looking!

    • Calling the manager is absolutely fine. I always tell myself that holding up the line is not *my* issue – a cashier who knows and understands SCOP can quickly complete the transaction. If it takes a manager and some discussion that’s a training issue and not my issue.

  • Great tips!
    It is always a good idea to check your receipt, even if they don’t offer SCOP (like Target who should) you should get it marked down to the correct price
    On top of Checkout51, there are others too including Zweet, Snap, Cartsmart and save.ca’s cashback

  • I love Flipp. I saw your tweet on it. Checked it out and use it before I even walk into a store. I got all my friends using it now. I am now downloading Checkout 51 right now! Thanks T!

    • Hooray! I love Flipp – don’t tell anyone (just between you and me, right?) but I stopped checking flyers at one point because they become clutter in my house! I’d check online quickly or grab it on my way into the store, and that certainly wasn’t very frugal of me. Flipp has me back on track.

  • Uncluttering is an ongoing process for me. I only make one pile and it goes to Value Village, it feels good to do so.

    I love Flipp and Checkout51, could not live without them. And I like it when I go to Walmart and they price match. Saves me money!

    Great post!