Saving tips

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 15, 2021

What's the best financial advice you've been given?

Whatever your politics, you have to love Barack Obama for his ability to say more with less.

866606_piggy_bank_2 For instance, we’ll concede that – again, aside from how you feel he’s performed as President – he’s probably the smartest guy in the room more often than not. So that’s why I got such a kick out of the advice he gave at a conference for money writers this week.

When asked, at a time when homes are still underwater and consumers are starting to lose their confidence again, what the best financial advice he’d ever received was, Obama said, simply: “Don’t spend all your money.”

A genuine principle. But you could almost sense the Democrat’s urge to reach out and grab every American living off unemployment but still paying for an iPhone 4 by the throat and yell, “You hear me, dummy?! Do you see what you idiots are doing? Stop! Stop spending everything! For the love of God!”

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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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May 31, 2021

Two important keys to retirement security

Are you worried what retirement is going to look like? Wondering if you'll be better off than your parents?

Ratio If you’re over age 50 and concerned about the future, consider making two changes that could significantly improve your odds of retiring, says Charles Farrell, author of Your Money Ratios: 8 Simple Tools for Financial Security.

If you combine working a little longer with some modest reductions in your retirement lifestyle, you can vastly improve your retirement picture, he suggests. 

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May 30, 2021

TripAdvisor's user-generated reviews now on Canadian site

Online travel bookings by Canadians are on the rise, driven largely the strong loonie.

Trip So, it’s not completely surprising to hear that Canada is one of the most successful local units for Expedia Worldwide, the world's biggest online travel company.

Transactions were up 30% overall last year, with gross bookings hitting a record high of $1.5 billion, the Toronto Sun reports.

Determined to hold on to its dominant position, Expedia, which recently announced plans to split its TripAdvisor unit into a separately traded company, has launched an updated TripAdvisor search engine for Canadians.

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May 03, 2021

Is cross border shopping getting easier?

The wave of virtual shoppers doing regular business with sites south of the Canadian border continues to rise. Buying from U.S.-based merchants is easier than it once was and, given the current strength of the loonie, more affordable than ever.

Cross Yet unspoken costs, from tariffs to shipping fees, can change that equation in a hurry. On top of this, credit card companies charge heavily for currency conversion.

Canadians commonly encounter two potential roadblocks that prevent them from ordering online or by phone from U.S. retailers, warns the Crossbodershopping site:

Some U.S. companies aren’t interested in shipping to Canada and those that do often have prohibitively expensive shipping fees. Many shipping tables don't include Canadian addresses, so you won't know the total cost of each order until checkout.

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April 26, 2021

Are online coupons soon to replace weekend flyers?

The days of clipping coupons from newspapers and flyers may be over.

Coupon Another new digital coupon service launched last week. Unlike group buying sites, however, it’s not designed to offer deals on spa treatments or restaurants.

Instead, the service from SavingStar will work with the loyalty cards handed out at large U.S. grocery chains to give extra discounts on everyday items such as juice, paper towels, and diapers.

Although online coupons account for only one percent of all coupons distributed, they account for about 10 percent of all coupons redeemed, said Susan Gear, group vice president for digital at Catalina which provides a similar service.

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April 20, 2021

Is now the time to trim that whopping cable bill?

Looking for a strategy to talk your way to lower cable or satellite bills? Just ask, says John Ogilvie, a professor of management at the University of Hartford.

Cable "Many things are negotiable," he says. “But people just assume they don't have that possibility.”

If you notice that Rogers is offering a special promotion to new subscribers, for instance, see if you, as a loyal customer, can get the same deal.

Find out what new competitors like Netflix and Hulu (still blocked here for the moment) are charging and get your provider to justify its prices. Media companies here are feeling threatened and want these new entrants to be subject to the same rules as Canada-based companies.

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April 18, 2021

Does ‘extreme couponing’ give savvy shoppers a bad name?

If you’ve ever seen TLC’s Extreme Couponing show, then you know that some people take coupon clipping very, very seriously. So much so, that’s it’s a bit hard to believe just how they spend their time. 

Coup Hard-core couponers are in it for the long haul. They load up three or four shopping carts at a time, all the while testing the patience of overwhelmed cashiers and fellow shoppers. 

Unfortunately, watching someone snag a hundred boxes of pasta and a truckload of soup leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths – you know, those only buying the things they need and leaving products on the shelf for other consumers.

“Nutjob hoarders!” they shout.

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March 10, 2022

Is Best Buy's 'buy back' program worthwhile?

Timing is everything when shopping for electronics. That's because there's always a possibility that a newer version of your favourite gear is just around the corner.

Buy Enter Best Buy’s new ‘buy back” program, a new take on trade-in programs that already exist, which usually don’t let you know how much you’ll be getting for your old stuff until you bring it in. 

Here's how the program (U.S. purchases only at the moment) works: When you buy new electronics at Best Buy, you have the option of paying a fee ($60 to $300 depending on the item and price) that will guarantee the store will buy back the item at a later date, if you're so inclined to upgrade or simply get rid of it.

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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...