Thursday, 1 January 2015

Surviving Christmas, a blog post on behalf of my wallet

OK so I know what you are thinking, little too late for money saving tips there Jennifer, Christmas is kinda, ya know, over.

I realize that but I needed to get all these great tips on paper before I forget them myself! And it is not too late for some of them! (I will be sure to repost tho next fall for a refresher)

According to Equifax the average Canadian debt per person is a little over $20,000. This needs to stop people! Every dollar not added to your credit card debt is a good thing. If you are not paying your card off in full each month that $1 grows and grows with interest payments until it doubles. Not using your credit cards to buy gifts? Even better still save a $1 and add it to your monthly payments to pay down the principal faster.

This Christmas I did not go into debt a dollar. From the tools for my hubby to the Barbie dream house for Charlotte I bought it all! And I won't be paying for it still come next Christmas. I have become a little more aware of ways to go about this whole holiday shopping a little better, the stores are not there to steal all your money away like money grubbing maniacs, that only happens if you let them.

Here are a few tips that saved me money and got me great presents!

1. Black Friday

Need I say more. This phenomena of a shopping sale has crossed the border into Canada in a big way. The deals you can get will lake you look good on Christmas morning. Many of them last longer that one day, they often spill over into the weekend and then online Cyber Monday. Read the flyers and get a list of where you go for what items.  I don't necessarily mean you need to stand in lines, get up at 5 am or call in sick to work. I did none of those. It brings me to my next point.

2. Love Your Computer

 Online shopping!!!!! I was sitting at work one day thinking that I had to get to Toys 'R Us for an easel for my nephew that was on sale until tomorrow only, how was I going to find time for that? When just like some divine message I got an email from Airmiles shops. For those of you that re not familiar airmilesshop is like a portal to hundreds of stores in which you get paid air miles to shop online from. Ummm yes! I love air miles!
Just so happens that one of those stores is Toys 'R Us. Would they have the easel? They did, at the same price and free shipping! I didn't even have to go out into the snow!
What else can I do from the comfort of my computer chair? Hmmm The Guess Outlet is on Airmiles shops? They give a 10% off code for new customers, why that's me! I got presents for my daughter, sister, brothers, hubby and a shirt for myself for $85, free shipping. Over to Bench I got shirts for my sister in law's and at Mark's online I found the onesie PJ's my mother-in-law was trying to get in the store on Black Friday for my sister -in-law but they were sold out, guess what? They were cheaper online with my new customer code!
I have a visa debit card that I always try to use first as it takes the money right out of my bank account. If not I are sure to put the money right back on the credit card when I checked out.
I saved money, I saved gas by not going anywhere and I didn't end up buying things that caught my eye on the shelf in a store. Things may catch my eye online but I find it much easier to close a screen then to put something down that is in my hands.

3. Price Match

This is where a store will honour another stores advertised price. Some stores make this easy and some stores make you jump thorough hoops. In the age where social media as made costumer service become a little more public I have seen price matching become a simple transaction at more and more stores. Some people may say why not just go to the otter store? I would rather get my shopping done in one location instead of driving around town if possible, but that is just me.

4. Price Guarantee

Ever look in the flyer or see something in store that you just bought and now its on sale? Guess what? You can still get your money back if you keep your receipts. I used to throw my receipts away not I hold on to them for a bit just in case of things like this. I bought Leapreader books for Charlotte on Dec 23 at $15 each, I thin looked in the flyer for boxing week sales and there they were 40 percent off. Grrr. But I went back in on Dec 30th with my receipt and inquired about the price guarantee and low and behold he gave me back $18. 45. Awesome because no one likes to feel like a sucker that overpaid! I did this twice and dot nearly $40 back.

5. Rain Checks

Just because a sale item is sold out doesn't mean you have to pay full price for it somewhere else. You can try the price match option elsewhere or you can ask the store for a rain check. I did this with a sold out Barbie dream house and snagged it at that price when they came in two weeks later. Plus I didn't have to fight hordes of people trying to get the hot sale item.

6. Loyalty Points

Don't just collect them like Ebenezer Scrooge collected coins, use them. No better time then the holidays. I used Canadian Tire money on my card to save $35 off a tool for my hubby. It was half price for $50 meaning I gave a $10 tool that I paid $15 for, now that made me look good Christmas morning! Shoppers Drug Mart has a great points system, if you can wait for a "spend more get more" event where your points equal more money. They have lots of great gifts and electronics. Some also have a good grocery section where I spent $200 in points the last time I cashed in, saved on the monthly grocery bill.

Some people will saw they don't have time to fool around with price guarantees and the such but the longest it took me was 20 minutes and that was at a busy store on December 23. I got nearly $20 back. So if someone had said they would pay you $1 a minute to run an errand you wouldn't do it? And if you are one of the lucky ones that doesn't need the money back, do it anyways then go out and find a Santa and put the money in his donation can because there is always someone out there that can use that $1.

Remember the stores have policies to protect you and your money but only if you take advantage of them.

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