If you’ve been looking at ways to save money in 2016, you’re not alone. I love sharing my money saving tips and recently had a great session with a group of preschool moms here in Regina sharing my love of frugal living and how to keep more money in your pocket (check out the Facebook photo here!)
Here are my top tips to save more money in 2016. Try a little, embrace them all! It’s up to you. Treat it as another one of your daily hobbies or tasks and you’re well on your way to having a little nest-egg by the end of 2016 for a family trip, household purchase or more me-time gift certificates for you!
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. Check out this post on tips to stay safe selling online for more info.
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
Sleep Country Sport Mart
Giant Tiger Staples
GM Goodwrench Tire The Bargain Shop
Home Depot 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 pgeveryday.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 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.
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.
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 2016!