Buying tips

August 24, 2021

Is it ok to use your old student ID to save a buck?

Last week, the Globe and Mail shared a list of tips on how to get student discounts long after you’ve graduated.

Stu As long as their face continues to resemble the photo on their student ID, many recent grads or drop outs seem anxious to take advantage of any possibility of a student discount.

Who really checks? And what's the harm, after all? 

First off, there are clear ethical issues with asking for a price break when you’re no longer in school. It’s actually dishonest or at least a bit sneaky, depending on your point of view. 

But is it any worse than asking for a senior’s discount when you look older but don’t actually fall into the correct age range?

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August 17, 2021

Do stores really match lower prices from competitors?

“We’ll match any price or give you a discount if you find the same item offered for less at another store," screams the ad.
But does it really happen?And will your time be well spent?Price Sometimes, particularly if you're politely assertive. Some outlets even offer the full difference and 5-10% on top of that. The only catch with price matching is that it's usually a bit of hassle, particularly if you care what the people behind you think and you don't really know the rules.

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August 10, 2021

Do more expensive wines actually taste better?

While many wine lovers will tell you otherwise, the most dominant flavour in that glass of Merlot may its price tag.

Wine That's the opinion of Robin Goldstein, whose paper detailing more than 6,000 blind tastings maintains that “individuals who are unaware of the price do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine.”

Goldstein argues that most people buy wine based on image rather than smell and taste and that our expectations do influence our taste sensations.

As a result, when most people are given wine without seeing the label, they prefer cheap wines just as much or more than expensive wines.

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August 04, 2021

Understanding the 'rules' when buying second hand

For a family watching costs, buying second hand merchandise can translate into some pretty hefty savings – if you can find anything at a reasonable price, of course.   Frugal

On the lookout for several second hand items, Sandy L, an engineer mom who blogs at First Gen American is nothing short of amazed at the total lack of price awareness of some of the sellers on popular sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and a stack of local imitators.

First off, get over yourself. Think of selling your old stuff as earning, not losing, money. 

You lost the money long ago when you made that decision to buy the item, particularly if you’re not really using in the first place. The sooner you realize your mistake and resell it at a reasonable rate, the more money you’ll be able to recoup, she suggests.

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July 28, 2021

Do you really need to buy rental car insurance?

Does anybody actually buy rental car insurance? I know I usually don’t.

Car Every time you rent a car, you can expect to be asked to accept or reject the vendor’s offer of car insurance, known as loss damage or collision damage waiver. But do you really need to pay that extra $15 a day?

Well, maybe.

It’s no secret that most higher-end credit cards like Amex Gold and Platinum take care of the basics like damage collision, theft, liability, fees but those ‘basic’ cards may not – unless you’ve signed up at the source, generally for a $25 to $40 annual fee.

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June 30, 2021

Are there chores that you gladly outsource, whatever the cost?

If you run a business or have any serious money to work with, it clearly makes perfect sense to have an accountant, lawyer, and tax pro on your side rather than trying to master complex issues that can really cost you if things go wrong.

Lawn But what about all those tasks – cleaning, mowing, shovelling, painting etc. – that, while important, don’t take necessarily take a lot of skill or a decade in university?

At some point you have to recognize that your time is valuable, too, maintains the Frugal Dad.

Would you rather be enjoying more time with your kids, pursuing more entrepreneurial endeavours, or working in the yard in 30-plus heat on a Saturday?

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June 28, 2021

Are group buying sites really that good a deal?

Although it seems that most of the deals on group buying sites are for spa or nail services, they’re no denying their popularity. There are over 100 sites in Canada and over 50 aggregators at last count.

Group While not everybody signs up, 49 per cent of us have at least visited a daily deal site, according to a recent survey by OneSpout, one of the many services that aggregates deals, filters them and summarises the most likely to appeal to you in a single e-mail.  

Of those who bought, 40 per cent say they like group buying because it allows them to try out a product or service they wouldn’t consider at regular price.

At the same time though, roughly three quarters of us admit to signing up for deals that we weren't really looking for. The top of the list: 2 for 1 restaurant deals, it seems.  

So, are you really saving money when you jump on a Groupon or TeamBuy, or are you simply giving in to impulse shopping that has long plagued Costco shoppers?

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June 20, 2021

Are you sure that's the best you can do?

To lots of people, haggling is awkward, uncomfortable and inappropriate – unless it pays off.

Hag A recent poll by Consumer Reports found that more than two thirds of those who tried to negotiate for a better deal were successful.

Among those who haggled, 83 per cent negotiated better deals on hotel rates, 81 per cent reduced their cell phone bills, and 81 percent went home paying less for clothing.

It's all about being willing to hear the word no, says Fred Gleeck, author of Negotiate Everything: How to Get the Absolute Best Deal on Any Product or Service You Buy.

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June 16, 2021

5 myths debunked in defence of couponing

Extreme couponing has become quite the craze but most people still shy away from what seems to border on hoarding.

Coup But detractors are losing sight of the real purpose of couponing, say the folks at Savebrite, a mega-couponing site. And that's simply to save a few bucks. Here then are a few myths they'd like to see set aside

* Collecting coupons is too time consuming

Not true. When coupons were only available in your local Sunday paper … perhaps. But now you actually have to go out of your way to avoid them. No longer confined to a once-a-week paper, you’ll find coupons online, on manufacturer websites, on the back of receipts and on your cell phone.

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June 07, 2021

What to look for when choosing a rewards credit card

For people who like to funnel most purchases onto a credit card, or travel on business and can keep the points, a credit card that ties to an airline may be your best bet.

Card Most Canadians opt for travel when using rewards points, with 57 per cent redeeming for flight options, well ahead of merchandise (30 per cent) and gift cards (27 per cent), according to a recent RBC poll of Canadian cardholders.

Not that using points to book travel is always easy. Many reward travellers say they’ve faced obstacles when trying to travel on reward points, with 81 per cent expressing frustration at having to book months in advance.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...