Featured

53 Surprisingly Frugal Gift Giving Ideas for the Holidays

Have You Started Thinking
About the Holidays?

 

The kids are going back to school, and that means Christmas is just around the corner. Let’s talk about Christmas budgets or holiday budgets, whatever that will mean for your family.

 

FRUGAL GIFT GIVING

 

Begin With a List of Holiday Expenses.

 

What are you responsible for this holiday season?

 

Are you hosting dinner? Are you responsible for the full meal, or can you request each guest to bring a small item to help?

 

Some small items could be a bag of buns, a salad, pickle tray, cheese tray, one or two non-alcoholic beverages, etc. It’s the little things that can add up (beyond the cost of meat and potatoes!) therefore don’t be shy on asking people to spend $5-10 on a donation to the meal.

 

Doing a gift exchange with work?

 

Do you have teachers to purchase for?

 

Take a few minutes and brainstorm what you need to deal with over the month of December.

 

Do Inventory in Your Home.

 

Do you have a gift stash somewhere? Do you still have wrapping paper and Christmas cards? Check to see what you will need, and make a list of the gifts you may have already purchased, and what incidentals you will require.

 

Make a full list of all the people you will be giving presents to this year. Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Parents
  • Grandparents
  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Aunts & uncles
  • Cousins
  • Neighbours
  • Teachers
  • Paper carrier
  • Mail carrier
  • Babysitter
  • Service providers
  • Friends
  • Spouse
  • Coworkers
  • Employees
  • Employers
  • School bus drivers
  • Nursing home residents
  • Donations to charity/families in need
  • Pets

 

Once you have your list, prioritize. Who are the most important people on your list to buy for?

 

Be Honest With Your Budget

 

How much do you want to spend this year? This is a big question. How much CAN you AFFORD to spend? If it’s September, you will have 3-4 months to save up. How much can you truly afford to spend?

 

Start by budgeting a figure for the top priority people on your list. That may be children, grandchildren, parents, etc. Give each person a value and then deduct it from your budget. Does it fit? How much is left? Count the remaining people on your list and divide by the difference. How much per person?

 

Example:

Budget: $500.00

I know I need wrapping paper, tape and bows. I have cards. My estimate is $30 for supplies. I will deduct $30 from my budget.

I have 6 people who are top priority to buy for. Since my budget is now at $470, and I have more than 6 on my list, my plan would be to spend about $30 per person on my priority list. 6 people at $40 is $180. I deduct that from my budget of $470, and I am left with $230.

I have 10 people on my secondary list, and I have $230 remaining. I know I want to give two gifts to a charity, so that’s 12 people. I can spend $19.16 per gift.

 

How to Maximize Your Spending Allowance

 

There’s more than one way to buy for people. Here are some suggestions that will help you maximize your per person gift costs:

  • Do you have any pre-bought gifts? Who can you give them to?
  • Do you have any gifts you’ve received and are still in new condition? Can you regift?
  • Do you have any gift cards you’ve bought or received and can gift?
  • Have you earned any points on credit cards and can purchase items at a discount or with points or money on the card?
  • Can you exchange rewards for gift cards?
  • Instead of purchasing for each adult relative, can you make a secret santa draw and only buy for one at a higher value than each of them individually?
  • Has your family discussed just shopping for the under-18 crowd?
  • Try a mystery gift where each person spends $10-20 on one gift that could be for anyone (like gift cards, socks, etc.) and do a gift game where people can “steal”, pick and trade wrapped gifts. Whatever you end up with is your mystery gift!
  • Shop at a bulk store and package gifts into baskets:
    • Can you buy movie tickets at a discount and pair them with movie snacks bought in bulk and divided up?
    • Gifts in a jar or gifts in a box are very popular. Is it cheaper to give gifts in a jar?

Here are some examples of gifts in a jar:

 

More Inexpensive Bulk Ideas

  • Make a bulk batch of wine at your local craft wine location and create holiday labels, like “Merry Christmas from our family to yours” or check out some ideas here.
  • Try glass etching on wine glasses. You can find the etching solution at your local craft store, and wine glasses at a dollar store. Make a set of four Christmas wine glasses for under $10, or make a set of two and fill with candy or some other treat for even less.

 

Make ornaments.

There are so many ways to be creative with ornaments:

 

Search online for different ornaments you can “diy”. Depending on your crafty skill, you could create some complex gifts, and even if you are not crafty at all, you will find some that look wonderful and are very easy to do.

 

By packaging these with some nice ribbon, a gift box or bag, you can make an inexpensive homemade gift outshine the most expensive trinket.

 

Be Creative

  • Get together with a couple of friends and make big batches of cookies. Share and divide the cookies up, and then divide them again into smaller gift boxes lined with parchment paper. Many people crave the homemade Christmas treats but never have the time (or interest) in making the treats themselves.
  • Check out your direct sales representatives. Many reps have Christmas packages on sale and they make great basket gifts. Display them in a bag, basket or caddy with a big bow.
  • Design something that will last through the year. Find an inexpensive journal or notebook and take some stickers or washi tape and decorate the book. Create a theme, like inspirational, devotional or reminder to your parent/child of your love and support for them. Include a picture or two, and/or a small gift card.
  • Check out Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Be careful not to get carried away or purchase things that you are not familiar with online. You might be dissatisfied or surprised with what actually comes in the mail.
  • Give a gift of time. As discussed in my post about saving for the holidays, there is no shame in giving the gift of time. The time given for parents to go on a date, a single mother to grocery shop alone, or anything that requires childcare is a gift in itself. Offer to child sit for a couple of hours while your friends or family enjoy the time to themselves.
  • Give a gift of service. Do you mind cleaning, cooking or shopping for others? You can offer to clean a house, cook a couple of meals or go errand shopping for relatives who may not be as capable to do that themselves. Don’t be surprised if the job you offer is worth more to them than a plant or a new pair of slippers.
  • Consider sharing an event with friends instead of gift giving. Have a fondue party, watch a movie with gourmet popcorn, or go for a wine tasting tour.

 

Time is Money too

 

After reading these “DIY” and inexpensive gift ideas, I want you to remember something.

Remember that your time is worth money too, so never be embarrassed about gifting something that did not come prepackaged at the store.

 

Your time is worth money too, so never be embarrassed about gifting something that did not come prepackaged at the store. - On Gift Giving The Frugal Way Click To Tweet

 

Small Tokens of Appreciation
are Worth More

 

Some of the people on your list, like teachers and service providers, often receive small tokens of thanks from their clients, students or customers. Do not feel obligated to give anything other than a card if you cannot afford it. Also, a $5 – $10 coffee gift card is often more appreciated than another mug, serving plate or trinket purchased from the local department stores.

 

Minimalism Counts

 

There are two conditions on gifts that we aim for in our house: consumable and memorable. We no longer search for trinkets, big gifts, etc., as we are all adults and can purchase much of what we want for ourselves. We aim for items that are consumable (think socks, towels, blankets – things that can be used every day or used up and that we would normally need anyways) and memorable (like event tickets, gift cards, investment donations, charitable donations, etc.).

 

Review the Budget

 

Looking at the number of people you would like to gift something to, is there anyone that you could move into a homemade gift section or a token of appreciation? Are there people who you no longer feel the need to purchase for? Can you reduce that budget? Can you ask others for gift bags that are in good condition to use for gifting?

 

If you are just starting out, be realistic with your budget. Times are tough for many people, and you might be surprised at how many people would be relieved to do something different this year.

 

Good luck!

 

 

Do you need a few extra dollars each month? Try a direct sales avenue, like Arbonne, Scentsy, Tupperware or hundreds of others. Learn where to start with my MLM & Networking books, now available on Amazon

make money with direct sales affiliate income passive income

 

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

Growing Wealth Through Investing with the Sassy Investor

Growing Wealth Through Investing
with the Sassy Investor

 

The money journey is a long road for some. We know that it’s best to pay off debt as fast as possible, but then what? Do you know where to start saving for retirement, a home or other big value goals?

 

How do you know where to start investing, and what if it's too late? Michelle Hung of the Sassy Investor shares her advice as a CFA. #investing #wealth #advisor #money #investor

 

I reached out to Michelle Hung, an Chartered Financial Analyst and advisor in Ontario, and asked her some questions. My questions are in bold, and her answers follow.

 

Who is Michelle Hung? 

 

Michelle Hung is the founder of the Sassy Investor.  An advocate for financial literacy, she is on a mission to spread the word on the on the importance of financial independence and how to achieve it.  She graduated from the University of Waterloo in 2008 with a Bachelor’s of Mathematics, with a specialization in Finance.

She spent seven years working in investment banking and venture capital in Toronto.  Through her experience in advising companies in capital raising, mergers & acquisitions, and initial public offerings, she has a rich understanding of capital markets and how it all ties in with the average investor.  In 2014, she obtained the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, a globally recognized investment management credential.

 

savvy Investor

 

What does your designation of being a Chartered Financial Analyst represent?

 

The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) is a globally recognized investment management designation that holds its charterholders to one of the highest fiduciary standards in the world.

 

Do you often work with new investors?

 

Yes, I teach women, specifically, how to invest, step-by-step, what they need to know and what they need to do to be able to build and manage their own investment portfolio.

 

What is the first area you suggest new investors start with?

 

I always say, you have to start with YOU. That is, looking at:

  1. What you owe
  2. What you own
  3. What you make
  4. What you spend
  5. So you finally get to what you want

 

It starts with looking at one’s personal finances because there are a few things they’d have to tackle before starting to invest, like clearing consumer debt.  Then they’d have to look at what they want and when they want it, because money being allocated to an upcoming wedding in a year, for example, will not be invested, but instead, put into a high-interest savings account.

 

What advice do you have for people who are starting late?

 

It’s never too late. Too late is never starting! Many people over-estimate their age and when they should start investing, and then give up. I’ve had people in their early 30s believe they were starting too late. There are solutions for every age, every stage in life – they just need to seek good advice.

 

It’s never too late to start investing.There are solutions for every age, every stage in life – they just need to seek good advice. - Michelle Hung, The Savvy Investor Click To Tweet

 

Do you believe in paying off debt before investing?

 

Yes, particularly consumer debt (credit card debts), or any debts that bear a high interest rate.

 

Do you recommend using real estate as an investment vehicle?

 

It depends on your situation. To throw all of your eggs in one basket, like real estate, is not smart. Real estate has its risks and many people see it as the only solution to wealth building, but it’s not the case.

 

I bought my first house in university and rented it out to students and I discovered how labour-intensive it was! And then when I was selling it, I had to bear all of the carrying costs while it was being listed and shown to potential buyers.

 

On the other hand, there are alternative solutions to adding real estate into your portfolio mix, and that is investing in REITs (real-estate investment trusts), where you get the exposure to real estate, both commercial and residential, but you don’t need to be a landlord and fork out your labour and tons of cash.

 

What else do you recommend for new investors?

 

Diversify geographically. North Americans tend to have a “self-centred” mentality where we only deem Canada/ US as the only “safe” countries. Imagine, you’re American, get paid in US dollars, your employer is American and maybe you get some stock-options or bonus pegged to the performance of your employer – it’s a huge bet on your home country, especially if your investment portfolio is comprised of American companies as well! No single country is immune from an economic downturn, so it’s important to diversify geographically.

 

Countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Singapore, Japan, Panama – we embrace travelling to these countries, so why not invest in them as well? Each country offers a different type of economy and adding that to your portfolio mix can have some great benefits, like when the markets at home experience volatility from political issues, for example.

 

How can people reach you? Are you on social media?

 

You can reach me on:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesassyinvestor/

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sassyinvestor/

Website: https://thesassyinvestor.ca/

Also, stay tuned for my book coming out this winter!

 

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing these important words with our readers. It’s critical to know it’s never too late to start, no matter what your age is. Hopefully we will get a chance to talk to Michelle again when her new book is out! 

 

If you are interested in real estate investing, I recommend:

Real Estate: 10 Simple Steps on Buying and Selling Property in Ontario

411 on Home Inspections: 5 Experts Weigh In

Save My Rental: What You Need To Know About Tenant Selection

 

New to TFSAs and RRSPs? Check out my e-Book on Amazon:

investing in RRSP & TFSA

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

When It’s Time To Move On From Your Job

When It’s Time To
Move On From Your Job

 

quit job Sometimes we wait too long to quit that job. We let it eat us alive, and suffer silently. Sometimes it's time to let go, and here's my story. #job #quit

 

I quit my job.

The Friday before FinCon, I quit my job. I was working as an assistant to a professional in the real estate field. I loved the work I did, as I could consume anything related to real estate.

What I didn’t love was how the job made me feel.

I’ll be honest – it wasn’t necessarily that employer, or any employer. It was the nature of the field, and the nature of the business. Real estate had concrete deadlines, which I enjoyed, but what I didn’t enjoy was the pressure. Much like many jobs and careers, there was a list as long as I was tall that had to be done within a certain amount of time. True to the times we live in, the problem was that the support staffing got smaller, and the list got longer.

I found myself being angry at the end of the day because I didn’t accomplish as much as I thought I should have. Then I would get anxious about the next day, and often I would stay late to play catch up. I would be anxious all morning on my way into work, thinking about what needed to be done, and it was common to wake up in the middle of the night with the thought that something had been forgotten.

The anxiety followed me into my job, and caused moments of panic. I suffered through times where I had to leave my desk and just get some air. There was never enough air, it seemed, though no one else seemed to notice the lack of oxygen.

Lack of oxygen also caused me… wait no, the anxiety also caused me to be emotional. Small words would just tip the tower and then I would break into tears. Too many times I sat at my desk or in the washroom trying not to sob uncontrollably. Five minutes later, I couldn’t tell you what was so horrible that I felt like I was losing control, but I knew in the moment it felt like the world was closing in.

I would resort to sugar. Sugar always lifted my spirits, right? I ate my concerns and tried to concentrate on my work. It would help for a bit, but like any sugar rush, it would also come crashing down.

This roller coaster of anxiety, lack of sleep, sugar thrills, and emotions would leave me drained, as I still felt like I was behind. Now, keep in mind I had more than a decade of experience, and knew exactly what I was doing, and I was very good at my job. I’d been told by others the same, so it wasn’t a self-created performance review. I just never felt like I got enough done.

Finally, I would get home from work, exhausted from the emotions, and climb into my bed, the couch or anywhere else I could hide from the world. I needed sleep, time off, vacation. I tried that. Vacation was wonderful! We made it out to Cuba and enjoyed a week in the sun.

The return was hard. I managed to contract the flu, which kept me home for another four days.

I returned to work, and it was like I had purposely left my coworkers in the lurch, if you asked them. It was horrible. It was a month before the holidays, and I worked weekends to play catch up. There’s nothing like sucking the relaxation out of you by working weekends and all week!

An opportunity came up to change scenery, but the work loads were the same. I worked with a great boss who reminded me to do what I could, but others were still pressuring me to get more done. The anxiety tripled, as this time it felt as though I was working alone, and had the whole system to carry.

Some would say anxiety is a narcissistic quality, and perhaps it is. However, it doesn’t stop the anxiety from eating you alive.

I realized I was also suffering from depression. I lost my spunk, and everyone around me noticed I was not laughing or smiling anymore. I would think about reasons why I couldn’t go to work – I was in an accident, or the car broke down, or the dog ran away, or the refrigerator stopped working… anything to dream about having a break. But I knew the work would be there, waiting for me to return.

I needed help. After a day of running to the restroom six times in 4 hours to hold back tears of depression, anxiety and loss of self-esteem, I knew I needed help.

My doctor agreed with the diagnosis of depression and anxiety. I’ve dealt with chronic depression and anxiety for most of my life, but I’d never fallen this hard. It was like my medication had stopped working, and life was awful.

The doctor gave me two options: immediately take time off work, or be admitted for observation to the hospital.

I took the time off work.

I had three months of doctor visits, specialist visits, and was sent to a cardiologist to assess the chest pain I had at work. The doctors wanted to ensure that the pain was stress-related, not a heart condition. I had stress tests, bloodwork and more appointments than time off, it seemed. I saw a counsellor, a psychiatrist, a new family doctor, and a few others I have probably forgotten.

Also, I took time for self-care. I had my nails done, I spent time in the sun, and I visited with family.

I was starting to feel like a person again. Someone with hopes and dreams and goals and ideas. Someone with positivity, and could laugh. Someone worth being around.

It was then that I made a decision. I would not return to my beloved job in real estate. It was too much pressure, and I’ll be damned if I am going to give myself a heart attack before the age of forty. It’s worth betting that the job has done enough damage to me already.

I quit my job.

Thankfully, I’d been working as a virtual assistant for some time, and was able to keep working at that partially, and I had some side hustles going on, so I decided to find work that was less demanding, more flexible and would offer me the opportunity to build my client base for freelancing.

I am sharing this very personal story for a few reasons:

  1. You need self-care.

I would not take the time for myself that I needed. I didn’t take all my vacation time, and I didn’t feel comfortable using it because I felt it would put me behind. Wrong answer, folks! Take the time to relax, get cared for by someone else, and revel in all the goodness in your life. There’s always goodness in your life. Like Chris Hogan *** says, if you’re grateful, you can’t be hateful.

  1. You need a support system.

Someone has your back. If it’s a friend, sibling, spouse or family member, someone cares. Reach out. Tell them you need something. Let them care about you. You are never alone.

  1. You need to listen to yourself.

If something feels off, pay attention. Panic attacks, depression, chest pains, weight gain, weight loss, migraines, headaches, etc., can all be signs of a bigger issue. Pay attention and take note.

  1. Sometimes the higher paying job isn’t worth the stress.

I will admit, that job paid better than some. I gave up the salary for less, but I also gave up the stress. I am working now for less money, more time flexibility, more time to do the things I love, and at the end of the shift, I know my job is done until the next day. No more stressing out about not finishing things – I did the best I could that day, and tomorrow is another day. I will need to work harder on some of the things I love doing, and I might need to let go of a few wants vs. needs in order to afford this new lifestyle, but I am okay with it. I sleep at night, and don’t have chest pain during the day. It’s a better fit for me at this time.

  1. You need to find something you love to do, so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something in your week.

I love blogging and writing, and I love what I do for my freelancing clients.  (PS I have more time for clients who need virtual assistant services, let me know if you need help!) I control the time I spend on my freelancing business, and adjust my work schedule accordingly. At the end of the week, I see blogs with beautiful designs, edited posts, and all kinds of other things I had a hand in during the week.  I feel good about the work I am doing.

  1. Knowing you need help getting through something does not make you weak. It makes you strong for recognizing it and getting through it.

Don’t think for a moment that I didn’t feel like a failure for not achieving MY ideal at my job… and for feeling like I failed when I needed time off. I got over it, because I had to. It’s okay to feel your emotions, but be realistic. If I had stayed in that position, it would have continued to suck the life out of me, and I could not be my most authentic self. I could not be a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother to pets, or anything else. I would not be able to be me. You need to be you, and sometimes taking a step back is what’s required to see the big picture.

One Wish

I hope my experience and these 6 points resonate with you if you are feeling overwhelmed at your job. It doesn’t mean you necessarily need to leave your job, but if you acknowledge where you are and how you are feeling, you might be able to make accommodations long before you get to the point where I was.

 

New to Investing? Check out my e-Book on Amazon:

investing in RRSP & TFSA

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.

When Every Dollar Counts: Quick Shopping Tips and SCOP

When every dollar counts, you need to make the most of it! #groceries #money #saving #wealth #credit #scop

When Every Dollar Counts:
Quick Shopping Tips and SCOP

 

We live in a world where every dollar matters and time is money. This is why I want to talk about shopping habits and how I get the most for my money and time.

 

Like many of you, I shop for items at the best price, and that often means shopping at big box stores, like Walmart or Target (when they were in Canada, or when I am in the States). Throughout this debt-free journey, I have made a very serious attempt at going into the stores, purchasing what I need and came for, and leaving.

 

It doesn’t always work in my favour, as I am as prone to impulse buys as the next person. However, there are times that I can take advantage of my wandering eye when shopping at big box stores and grocery stores alike:

 

End-of-Aisle Products

 

Did you know that end of aisle products are often the products on sale, and are considered “loss leaders”? If you watch the end of aisles for the sales items, the store will place the most “on sale” items at the ends to lure customers into making an impulse buy. This isn’t always a bad thing, as these are usually highly discounted items.

 

If they are items I buy on a regular basis, I try to stock up and buy two or three or more, depending on the expiration date. While it may not be an item on my list, it’s something that I use regularly, and by buying in a bulk amount, it saves me from paying full price the next time I need it and it’s not on sale.

 

Great examples of this are toilet paper, cereal, paper towels, and canned goods.

 

So, there I am, with a small list of items to purchase, and suddenly my cart gets just a little bit fuller. I enjoy walking most of the store (it’s a bad habit of mine as I suffer from OCD, and therefore I walk the store in the same way each time – it’s a point of contention at a grocery store with the husband, as he wants to go in, get what he wants, and leave.). It’s true that it leaves me susceptible to more purchases, but that’s where willpower comes in. At the same time, I have scored some great deals on clearance or on sale that otherwise would have been missed! Plus, I am getting my exercise (so I tell myself).

 

Look above and below eye-level

 

Stores often place their convenience items in the aisles, so that you have to see aisles of products while searching for an item on your list. Eye-level products are usually the most popular and most expensive, so be sure to scan the bottom and top shelves for other items that may be cheaper. Some people are supporters of no name products – for me, it depends on what it is. If you can find a no name, or store brand of what you are purchasing, it’s often 25-50% cheaper than the brand name.

 

Don’t sacrifice value for $0.50, though. It’s not worth it if it’s something you really like. For me, that’s ketchup… or toilet paper… or feminine products. No name and store brands do not always equal the same value. But some items, like facial cleanser, pharmacy products like pain killers, or certain canned goods are made at the same factory, have the same or less ingredients as the brand name, and are exactly the same quality. It pays to be a smart shopper and look at labels to compare.

 

Coupons

 

Since I live in Ontario, it’s difficult to find coupons on items other than cleaning supplies and…well, cleaning supplies. Sometimes the stores will have small dispensers or pads of coupons on new products, or products that the manufacturer is looking to promote. Keep your eye out for coupons only on the items you regularly use, and remember to take two or three.

 

It’s frowned upon to take a whole pad of coupons, as most people cannot use thirty by the due date. Read the fine print – usually it’s one coupon per purchase, and sometimes per day. The store may not let you have 30 separate transactions. If they do, and you can use or donate the items before the expiration date, have at it. Just don’t be greedy and let items go to waste – that’s money going down the drain.

 

We may not have double coupon days here, but fliers are a great way to price match. Some stores will allow price matching from fliers of retail stores (not online stores, however). I recommend browsing the Flipp app to compare prices before heading out. This also saves you from going to three different stores across the city to hit each sale. (Trust me, I have tried to do that, and I seem to expend more gas than what I save.)

 

Price Book

 

It’s hard to remember what the prices are for every item, especially at their sale price, so some people recommend creating a price book. You can find these on Amazon, if you want a template, or you can create your own using a small notebook.

 

You will want to record the items you regularly purchase, and what you paid for them. Remember to write the per pound or per litre price if applicable. For example, you may purchase stewing beef for $7.99, but what’s the per pound price? That’s the price you need to know.

 

Beware of the Dollar Store

 

By having a price guide, you will be able to tell if a sale is really a sale. Many people will recommend going to the dollar store to purchase garbage bags, laundry soap, or other essential items sold in smaller quantities. However, that’s where the price changes! When sold in smaller quantities, the price will be lower… but compared to a larger item, your per unit price is higher at dollar stores.

 

What I mean is, if you only need cupcake liners for a class project, then the dollar store is perfect for providing a small container of cupcake liners for a dollar or two. But once you start purchasing cat food, laundry soap or garbage bags – things you are likely to use a decent quantity of over a period of time, you will find yourself purchasing those items more often (because they are in smaller quantities) and paying more. You might be able to get a box of ten garbage bags for $2, but a box of 40 might be $5 at the grocery store, and that’s a savings of $3 over time.

 

Checking out

 

Now that I’ve managed to find the items I went shopping for, plus a few items on sale that I can stash away in my pantry, I head to the checkout.

 

Here’s one of the biggest secrets of shopping: The Scanning Code of Practice.

 

Have you heard of SCOP?

 

The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary policy that many stores do subscribe to. Do you know what it is? Click To Tweet

 

The Scanning Code of Practice is a voluntary policy that many stores do subscribe to. Canadian Tire and Walmart, for example, has it posted at the cash registers, but most people are trying to bag their items, or watch the register or keep track of the kids, and don’t take the time to read it.

 

If an item scanned for higher than the posted price on the shelf OR in the flier, you are entitled to invoke SCOP. If the store subscribes to SCOP, that means you get the first item discounted by $10, or free if under $10. Each separate and unique UPC (the scanned barcode) on an item that scans in at an incorrect price above the posted price is eligible for SCOP.

 

Let me give you an example so you know how to use it. I have purchased laundry soap at Walmart, and before choosing the item, I figured out the per unit price to ensure I was getting the best deal. The sticker on the shelf, which matched the UPC, said the item was $9.97.

 

When I was at the cash register, the item scanned in at $16.97. I told the cashier that the sticker price on the shelf said $9.97, not $16.97. She called for someone in the department to check it out, and yes, I was correct. Someone had “labelled them wrong” but this time, it was to my benefit. Because the item was $16.97, I was entitled to $10 off the product because the price was entered wrong. This means I paid $6.97 for my laundry soap.

 

It will take a few extra minutes, and some patience, and sometimes you will have to ask for a manager to get the SCOP applied (because staff are only trained for so much), but it is worth it when I have saved money!

 

Always, always check your receipt before you leave the store, because you are still entitled to the SCOP even after you’ve checked out. Customer service can assist you with that as well.

 

Paying for my Purchases

 

Because of my shopping habits, I pay the least per item when I can, I buy in multiple if it’s a good deal and stash it in my pantry, and I watch to make sure I am not overcharged (or double charged) for an item.

 

Finally, I pay with a credit card.

 

This may come with some difference of opinions as some people think paying with a credit card is an easy way to overspend. It’s all about using it as a tool, and getting the most out of your money.

 

New with credit or not so great credit? Here are a few of the easier cards to obtain and still earn rewards with no annual fees or membership fees:

 

Walmart Mastercard earn Walmart rewards – money you can redeem either while you earn, or save it up for when funds or short, or for Christmas shopping.

 

PC Financial Mastercard has a program to earn PC dollars, which gives me free groceries. With moderate use, and always paying it in full, I earned over $80 in groceries in less than a year. That’s $80 extra dollars towards debt or other expenses.

 

RBC Rewards Visa can be transferred into gift cards. Want an evening out or a gift for someone? Free.

 

Canadian Tire Mastercard or the Triangle Mastercard earns Canadian Tire money on the card, no matter where you shop. I used mine for a vacation, and when I had to purchase tires for my car, I was able to save 25% on sale, pay for one tire with rewards, and the cost to me was only half of what it could have been.

 

This is a small list of reward cards, but don’t get stuck with one that you don’t receive any benefit for. Make your purchases count.

 

My Quick Guide Tips

 

That’s my quick guide to getting the most out of shopping for your everyday essentials. I never pay with something that I am not earning rewards on, and I pay off that purchase in full. I try to avoid ever paying full price for an item, and I keep track of per item cost so that I am not caught in a “special” that isn’t a special. And sometimes, I will splurge on a few things, just so you know I am as human as the next person!

 

What are your shopping habits? Do you have any to add? Where do you get the best deals, or what do you want to know about?

 

Recommended Reading:

How To Make Money with Passive Income and Virtual Services

7 Changes That Have Saved Us Over $1,000

How Much Would You Pay For Tomorrow?

 

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through these links. Please see my disclosure for more information. Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by providing links to Amazon.ca and affiliated sites.