August 29, 2021

Will sweet talk get you a bigger discount?

True bargain hunters seize every chance they can in the search for a better deal. However, for many people, bargaining is still an issue.

Save A couple of years ago, San Diego-based blogger Roxy Popescu embarked on a simple experiment.

At least once a day for a year, she politely asked shopkeepers, waiters, service reps … in truth, just about any vendor she came in contact with … if they would consider giving her a discount, upgrade, or any other sort of perk.

She’d bargained at farmers markets and asked for free samples before. But now she was trying to learn and improve the outcome with every attempt.

It worked, better than she expected in fact.

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August 24, 2021

What's the most infuriating part of cross-border shopping?

These days, Canadian shoppers have their cardigans and chinos in a bunch.

3355521-3355521-shopping-bags Yes, now that U.S. retailer J. Crew has opened its first Canadian store and – gasp! – it’s charging more than it does in its U.S. locations, consumers north of the border are pissed.

But all preppy needling aside, the J. Crew kerfuffle is just the latest in a long line of injustices against the Canadian cross-border shopper.

That would be the cross-border shopper that, compared to his American counterpart, continues to get royally screwed.

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August 15, 2021

Motor homes shrink in size but sales continue to climb

Hoping to get another weekend or two at the cottage before school starts? You may soon see some relief from the convoys of motor homes lined up ahead of you.

Rv The sluggish economy and high gas prices are forcing many monster RVs to the side of the road. And, it seems, the newer models that are taking their place are that much smaller.

"Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift," says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motor homes. "There's a shift away from conspicuous consumption," he told US Today.

Though these units are still priced upwards of $125,000, they typically don't have the panache of larger units. But they do get triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.

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August 09, 2021

Virtual supermarket lets commuters grocery shop with their phones

So far, it’s been a wild week for consumer technology.

15033006-15033006-fruits-and-vegetables-in-grocery-bag To wit: the e-card you send sexual partners to tell them, “Hey, ya know what? I know exactly  what that burning was! You might wanna get yourself checked out.”

But aside from online STD warnings – seriously, they’re a real thing – one consumer tech innovation is bound to lead to some cool developments down the road.

For shoppers, meet the virtual supermarket.

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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 26, 2021

What inflation? 10 consumer items getting cheaper

Inflation is a real pain.

1037486_3d_decay_graph_bar It’s raised the price of certain commodities, made it so no working stiff can even consider owning his own home in many urban cities, and jacked the cost of bacon so high the term “strategic pork reserve” has entered the modern-day lexicon.

But remarkably, in the face of rising costs, some consumer items are actually getting cheaper.

And no, not just outdated items, like VHS tapes or the RIM PlayBook (count it!).

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Shopping with hand-held basket encourages poor choices: Study

Using a shopping cart instead of a much smaller basket can help you make healthier choices as you cruise down the aisles. At least that’s the thinking behind a recent study in the Journal of Marketing Research.

Basket Watching people as they stocked up in the grocery store, the researchers found that people who used hand-held baskets instead of those insidious oversized carts were more than three times as likely to choose unhealthy over healthy food items.

Why, exactly, is a little complicated, but essentially the notion is that bodily sensations can influence our thoughts and emotions.

In this case, the researchers maintain that the act of flexing your arm, as required by the basket, somehow encourages you to choose smaller, easier and generally less healthy items, while extending your arm, as you do when you push a cart, has the opposite effect.

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July 13, 2021

That's right, some purchases are just plain stupid

Ever wonder how much money you could have saved if you had hung on to it somehow instead of blowing it on another tchotchke?

Book If you want to feel a bit better about your silly situation, check out Spendster. Run by the National Endowment for Financial Education, it’s a fun place to share videos and stories about some of the really dumb purchases we’ve all made.

Entrants who've created a video showing their regretful purchases qualified themselves to win one of several prizes, ranging from $100 to $1,000.

It’s all in good fun, of course, much like the late Speaker's Corner.

In addition to video and photo uploads, you’ll also find a calculator that determines the actual cost of unnecessary and poorly used credit card purchases and how much these expenditures could have generated in savings.

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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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May 24, 2021

Time to increase duty-free limits for cross-border shoppers ?

Looking to take free trade right to your door step, the United States has asked Canada to raise its duty-free limits for day trips across the border, perhaps to as much as $1,000.  

Flag Americans can buy and bring back $200 worth of Canadian goods in the first two days before they have to settle up with U.S. customs. Over two days, the exemption is $800.

Conversely, after one day, our “exemption” at the border is a mere $50; between two and seven days, you can bring back $400 worth of goods and, after one week, it’s a $750 exemption on most goods.

Earlier this year, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson proposed that the government increase these exemptions tenfold: raising the one-day allowance from $50 to $500 per person; the three-day allowance from $250 to $2,500; that longer-stay allowance from $750 to $7,500.

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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...