Archive for the ‘Consumer’ Category.

Smart Shopping for Big Ticket Items: Price vs. Value and Tips for Maximizing Benefits

If you have a need or even want to buy a big ticket item, do you simply do some research on the best choice, compare it to other items in the same category, then make your decision? or is price the first thing you look at?

For those wondering or are not sure about the exact meaning or what does it apply to, a “big ticket item” refers to a high-cost or expensive purchase or product, which typically represents a significant portion of an individual’s or household’s budget. These items are usually more expensive than everyday or routine purchases and may require careful financial planning and research.

For example, let us say you are in the market for a new Smart TV, as the one you currently have is from 10 years ago or more, and is not only outdated, it is not working properly and it is time to replace it. You decide on the size you want, the features, and even down to two or three brands. You may even have a budget for it. Now what? Do you simply go out and buy it? or do you look at different retailers and big box stores and do price-comparison, as well as checking who gives you the best value for your buck.

With an item that is going to cost a significant amount, it is a no-brainer: you have to spend some time trying to find the best deal, even if it takes you hours or days of research. It could easily mean the difference of hundreds of dollars saved.

Consider Long-Term Costs: Beyond the initial purchase price, think about the long-term costs associated with the item. For example, consider energy efficiency, maintenance expenses, and potential repair costs over time. This can significantly impact the overall value of your purchase.

Read Reviews and Recommendations: Take advantage of online reviews, user testimonials, and recommendations from friends or family who may have experience with the product you’re considering. This can provide valuable insights into the item’s performance and durability.

Warranty and Customer Support: Check the warranty offered by the manufacturer and the level of customer support provided. A strong warranty can provide peace of mind and save you money on potential repairs.

Negotiate for Discounts: Don’t hesitate to negotiate with the seller, especially if you’re making a significant purchase. Many retailers are open to price negotiations, and you may be able to secure a better deal or additional perks.

And last but not least, if you already have the cash to pay for this big item, then use your credit card to get points or rewards, then pay the purchase balance right away. This is an easy way to get more out of your purchase.

In conclusion, when it comes to making substantial investments in big ticket items, a thoughtful and informed approach can make all the difference. Balancing cost considerations with the long-term value, warranties, and reviews can help you find the perfect fit for your needs and budget. Don’t hesitate to explore various options, negotiate where possible, and even leverage credit card rewards to maximize your benefits. Remember that taking the time for research and due diligence can lead to substantial savings and ensure that your purchase is not only satisfying today but also a wise investment for the future.

Combatting Inflation at the Grocery Store: Tips and Tricks to Save on Your Monthly Bill

Inflation has become a reality in every facet of life in the last 12 months or more, but it is nowhere as evident than at the grocery store. It is almost depressing to know that for the same budget, you are getting much less than what you used to do back in 2021 or beyond.

With that being the case, saving money on groceries is more important than ever, while still trying to get healthy and good quality food. A delicate balance that requires some research and effort. Groceries can make up a significant portion of one’s monthly budget, but there are ways to reduce these expenses without sacrificing the quality of food.

One of the first and most effective ways to save on groceries is do an an inventory on what you already have at home, be it in the fridge, pantry, cold room etc., and ensuring you are using those before you have to buy the same items again. You don’t want your food at home to expire before you buy the same item again. This has happened at our household before and we are careful to check and make sure we know what we have already. Another related tip which a lot of you have heard of is to eat before you go grocery shopping: feeling full while there will magically make you want to skip a lot things that you would otherwise put in your shopping cart without much thinking.

Another way to save on groceries is by using coupons and checking weekly flyers. . There are many sources for coupons, such as flyers, online coupons, and loyalty programs. By taking advantage of these offers, one can significantly reduce their grocery bill. It’s important to note that coupons should only be used for items that are already on the grocery list and are needed. Using coupons for unnecessary items can end up costing more money in the long run. However, I am one of the last people to suggest that you go to multiple stores to find deals and use your coupons as that is a waste of time and gas which defeats the purpose. Aim to go to max of two stores , preferably within 5 KM of each other or less.

Another approach that can help, if you don’t mind making trips to two different stores, is to buy the food items where quality matters (meats, fruits, vegetables) from one store, and buying other less essential items (cutlery, condiments, canned food, frozen food) from discount food stores. This approach will ensure you are balancing quality with lower prices.

Strategies such as taking food inventory, using coupons, and shopping at discount stores can help you save on groceries in today’s high inflation reality. By being mindful of spending and taking advantage of cost-saving opportunities, one can reduce their grocery bill without sacrificing the quality of food they eat.

New Saving Idea for 2022: ‘Junk to Health to Wealth‘

I am no slave to junk food. I may eat it once or twice a week, sometimes with the family. But despite it not being a daily habit, it still goes a long way towards causing damage to both my pocket and health, especially with the rising prices for food of late.

So for 2022, I have a new saving goal in mind, which will help improve two hugely important areas of my life: my pocket and my heart, both in an almost literal sense.

Junk to Health to Wealth

The idea is simple: on the days I know I would go out and eat junk (usually over the weekend) I will withhold those purchases and instead save that money. At first, I thought I would just keep the money and spend it on something else, since it was part of my ‘personal spending money’ anyway. But I thought it is more effective if I diverted this saved money to a new saving program or even into a piggy bank. Why? To be able to physically see the result of this diversion initiative. In other words, in 6 months or 1 year from now, I will not only be able to go on the scale and see a difference in my weight , I should also realize some nice financial savings from this junk food boycott or reduction.

Putting it in OKR terminology

If you are thinking this in terms of ‘Objectives and Key Results’ , it could read something like this:

Objective: (based on historical data of how often I ate at junk food places and how much I spend) : To save $500 a year and reduce my weight by 7 lbs for the year by reducing how often I frequent these places.

Key results:

  • Visit max of once a week (from two)
  • Spend a max of $7.50 a visit
  • Skip at least once a month from the remaining regular visits.

If I eliminate my visits from 2 to 1 visit a week , this alone would result into savings of $375 per year, based on 50 weeks. If I can also eliminate one extra visit per month, that is another $90, putting me close to my goal of saving $500 from this ‘Junk to Health to Wealth‘ initiative.

While the numbers look clear and the advantages are numerous, this will not be without challenges and distractions. There will be those random days and weeks where you are out with the family and are too far from home or can’t wait , so you just do the easy thing and buy junk. That is fine. We should almost build those in and try to make up by skipping the next visit to eat junk.

Good luck if you decide to do this and let us in the comments below how it goes.

Netflix, Starbucks, Amazon: the axis of time, money and space misuse

Netflix-Starbucks-Amazon : they waste your time, money and space!

Finance books and literature love to use Starbucks and their expensive lattes (I admit, I don’t know what they cost and had to do some digging) as the perfect metaphor for money we habitually waste instead of saving it for something more useful in the future. And while it is not the end of the world to enjoy your favourite drink occasionally, especially on those cold snowy days where nothing else seems to do the trick to get you going, the steep price can quickly add up!

And while Starbucks and their lattes are used as metaphors for careless spending, we have others in this axis of personal waste. Netflix (and a whole host of other online apps like Instagram and Tiktok) , are starting to be blended into their own category: time wasters. AKA binge watching! A lot of you have been there: you watch Netflix or YouTube (me!) and before you know it, a whole hour (or half a day?) has passed by. And what do we have to show for it? Almost nothing in terms of productivity or return on personal development.

But here is a new one! What about Amazon (or your favourite online retailer) now being the ultimate space (and money of course) waster? With majority of our online shopping (proudly doesn’t apply to me other than buying books on Kindle that take no space) now taking place via Amazon, chances are a lot of homes and bedrooms are full of junk from Amazon. Ok, junk may be extreme as some of the stuff people buy on Amazon is useful (books, household essentials, new camera etc) but there is certainly lots of useless stuff that just sits there and doesn’t get used much, eventually becoming junk and taking up space. And this is even more prominent for Amazon Prime members (one of which happens to be a family member) . A friend of mine who also happens to be a Prime member, tells me that not a week goes by without one or more packages arriving from Amazon. And he has been a Prime member for years and years. Tell me his house is not full of Amazon junk by now?

As I said, I am proud to be the user of virtually none of this axis of money/time/space black-hole. Sure, there are the extreme odd times when I will use these sparingly or under special situations. Compare that to someone who uses all three:

($CAD pricing)

-Average of 3 Lattes per week (tall size) + 2 food item = $20 per week, or around $1040 or more a year

-Netflix: $17.99 a month = $216 annually

-Prime membership: $110 annually
Average of 1 purchase a week at $20 = $1040 annually

>>Total adds up to just under $2500! And that is not even counting money actually spent buying stuff on Amazon which is easily in the high hundreds, or thousands for a lot of people.

To some, this may be justified as it allows them access to three of their favourite things in life. But as we talked about earlier, these are more than just bad for your finance, but can be just as bad if not worse for robbing you of much needed time and space. And as we know, both are worth money. Time is money. And so is space, especially in our ever shrinking homes and condos.

There is time for everything. And while you can enjoy all the above, I feel like with these becoming a daily verb in our society and lexicon, some people are losing sight of how much they are wasting in terms of money, time and space to these big corporations.

Reviewing the new Tangerine Master Card: spend and earn at the same time

Tangerine now its own credit card which it brilliantly like to describe as a card that lets you ‘Spave’ (Spending + Saving) . I have been using the tangerine money back master card reviewTangerine cash-back Master Card for a few months now and I really like what I see. Based on my usage of the last few months, I will try to summarize and present you with an analysis of this credit card compares to other similar credit cards.

Excellent cashback program

One of the main selling features of this card is its excellent cashback program. Tangerine has a list of 9 categories of spending, and you can choose up to 3 of these for 2%, with the rest paying 1%.  The 9 spending categories are illustrated in the graphic below:


Tangerine allows you to choose 2 categories of spending for which you will get 2% cashback. Or, if you agree to have your Money-Back Rewards deposited into a Tangerine Savings Account, you can get a 3rd category paying 2% cashback. Personally, I have 3 categories (Gas, Recurring Bills, Groceries) as I have figured these 3 are categories that can give me the most cashback possible, and I use them on a daily basis anyways, so why not?

Unlike a lot of other cashback reward cards out there, the Tangerine Master Card pays you every month. Once deposited, it is your money and you can spend it any way you like. Or if you prefer, you can use the money to pay towards your credit card debt. And it doesn’t end there. Unlike most cashback cards out there, there is no limit on how much cashback you can get with the Tangerine Master Card.


Online Card Management and Alerts

Being a pioneer of online banking, it was only natural that this credit card would continue Tangerine’s tradition of simplifying and making the whole experience very smooth. The new Tangerine Master Card is integrated with your existing Tangerine online account. So it is all there for you to see. The interphase is simple and user-friendly. You are able to see how much cash-back you earned for every purchase, with specific icons to help you identify which of the 9 categories your purchase belongs to. Tangerine also has a very cool ‘Alerts’ feature that lets you stay up to date with what is happening in your account, notifying you of purchases and transactions as they happen, for added security and peace of mind.



How money I spend at the gas pump is financing my retirement

If you have a credit card, chances are you get some form of loyalty rewards for using it. Some get points,

how my gas purchases finance my retirement

how my gas purchases finance my retirement

others get travel rewardss or airmiles while the latest craze is ‘cash-back’ credit card.

Each has a preference and every card has certain advantages, but personally, I use the “Signature RBC Rewards Visa” . It has an excellent rewards program where you earn 1 RBC rewards point for every dollar spent.

Once you have enough points, you can use them to buy travel and airline tickets, electronics, or my favorite, financial rewards. Since getting my card a few years back, I have been using the points accumulated to convert them to RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

Basically, for every 12,000 points accumulated, you can convert them to get $100 in RRSP money (or TFSA, mortgage credit voucher etc.) Which means that for every $100 you spend on the card, you are getting just around $1 back (0.89 to be exact) . This conversion rate may not be as some other cards out there, but the rewards are worth it.

But here is where it gets interesting: using this card in conjunction with an ESSO gas card, you can accelerate your points accumulation. How? ESSO lets you convert your ESSO points to RBC rewards points. You get 1500 RBC points for every 2500 ESSO points.

So when I fill up gas, I pay witth my Signature RBC Rewards Visa card to get RBC points, as well as swipe my ESSO card to get ESSO points (which get converted back to RBC points) .

So essentially, the money I use to fill up gas for my car, all comes back to me-through points-in the form of RRSP money, which I save for retirement of course.  Based on my current annual credit card and gas spending, I have been able to earn an average of $300 in RRSP savings every year. And for someone who drives more, uses their credit card more often, they can save even more.

And remember, as previously mentioned, you can use your RBC rewards points to redeem for other rewards, including TFSA, travel vouchers, credit towards your mortgage, electronics, gift cards and so much more. You can find a full list of what is offered here:

Paying with debt or cash will help your local merchant and small business

Merchants pay up to 3% of every transaction back to the credit card company.  Not only that, but these credit card companies

Paying with cash, as opposed to credit, helps your local retailer and economy in general.

have a lot of power and influence while small business don’t have any choice.

One way to help your local small business is to use cash or debt when paying. Cash is even better because they will not have to pay virtually any transaction fees on it. These savings add up to hundreds or even thousands for your local small business. In turn, these savings can translate into more job hirings, more investments in the local community and so on.

Some people prefer to pay with credit as it may mean more convenience, loyalty points etc.  For the rest or those who don’t care one way or another, using cash will help your local economy and that is always a good thing.

Recently, credit card companies were in court defending against accusations from small business retailers that they were bullying them and charging them too much in credit card transaction fees. Unfortunately, the case couldn’t be proven and the credit card companies continue their practices of overcharging and putting too many burdens on small businesses. Though they can’t do much about that, the consumer can help these businesses by paying with cash.


“Canadians are paying more than they should be at the register because of these high fees,” retail council spokesperson David Wilkes said. “Totalling more than $6 billion annually, these fees have a negative effect on merchants and consumers alike.”


So not only are these fees harming small businesses and retailers, they are also harming consumers’ pockets, costing them in the billions. Retailers have to pass on these expenses to the consumer at the end of the day and that is a lose-lose for both and only the credit card companies benefit.

Example: Credit Card vs. Debt vs. Cash payment

Suppose you bought something from your local store for $500. If you paid for it with a credit card, at 3%, the retailer would be charged close to $15 in transaction fees! If you paid for that same item using debt, the transaction fee to the retailer would be only half of that (at $7.50). And if you paid with cash, they would incur no charges at all.

Some may argue that since retailers pass on these credit card transaction expenses  back to the consumer, it makes no difference what method of payment to use. That may be true for some but not all retailers. Furthermore, even if they are passing some of these expenses and including it in the price, paying cash or debt still makes more sense, when all things are considered.

One word of advise to small businesses who want to encourage people to pay with cash: instead of charging people a certain amount to use credit card below a certain amount (say 50 cents to use credit card for any transaction below $5) , why not change or add to that by actually giving customers a discount when paying with cash, above a certain amount (say $100)? Even if it is a 1% discount, it is still a good psychological motive for people to use cash rather than credit.

How to support your local economy this Christmas season? Buy the right type of gift cards

A lot of us prefer to buy-and receive-gift cards this Christmas season than real gifts. They are good for a variety of reasons. They save time, give the receiver the option to spend it on things they like and more.  But when buying a gift card for friends and family this Christmas season, or for any occasion, try to get one that allows them to get services rather than goods. This will help the local economy rather than sending your money abroad to China and other far places.

Allow me to explain this further. If you are buying a gift for the young ones in your family (children under 10 or so) you will most likely get them toys, or even electronics, right? While that may be fine, why not get them a gift card for an experience or a service  instead of goods? This will help your local economy directly. While buying toys, for example, will most likely benefit a country like China, where the toy was most likely manufactured there. Sure, other local industries may benefit as well, but it will still have to be split. With a service or experience, most of the money will likely stay and be spent here. For example, you can buy your nephew a gift card to a local soccer camp. Or how about a season pass to your local theme park?

This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t buy any toys for your little ones, but some form of balance has to be achieved, if at all possible.  In my family for example, I noticed almost everyone bought my 2.5 year old nephew toys. Lots of toys. I was probably the only one who gave his parents a cash gift. He already has literally hundreds and hundreds of toys and he gets bored with any toy in a matter of few hours, if not minutes. Imagine if this money spent on toys, was instead used as a financial certificate for a future college education or even to get him into special sports, swimming or other activity schools. In other words, giving him a gift card for an experience will benefit him as well as the local economy, and creating many jobs in the process. Not to mention what these experiences will do to help shape him and help in his maturity and mental conditioning etc.

Same with gifts for your adult friends and family members. Instead of buying them electronics which they probably already have, why not buy them a gift card to a spa, tickets to watch a local sports team, or even a restaurant? All these three examples would directly help your local economy, and by extension, the national economy.

Imagine if at least half of us did this, the spin-off jobs and money it would create for the local and national economy would be huge. And imagine if we did this everyday, when buying gift cards for birthdays and other occasions. This would add billions to the local economy, rather than sending a lot of this money overseas.

So for your 7 year old daughter’s next birthday, get her a gift certificate to a local swimming or camp. And for your father? Get him a GYM membership, it will help his health as well as help the local economy.

Did Jesus intend to bankrupt families? How to save money this Christmas

Don’t be surprised if the word ‘Christmas’ gets replaced with the word ‘Commercialism’ in the near future, because that is what it has unfortunately turned into. People feel so much financial stress and anxiety around Christmas time, trying to come up with money and gift ideas to buy for their close friends and family. And when it is all said and done, your credit card is probably maxed out.

And the frustrating part for some, this tradition is only getting bigger every year.  You always have new friends, coworkers or family member i.e new nephew, sister in law etc.) that you need to buy gifts for. Where does it end? When you have to dedicate almost two weeks or even more of pay, to buy gifts, you know something is wrong with this tradition. Something has to give.

How about doing a little game called ‘Secret Santa’ (AKA Kris Kringle) which a lot of you are familiar with? If you are not sure what it is or have never done it, it is quiet simple. First, you decide on who will be in the pool (your extended family circle, coworkers etc) .  Each will draw a name randomly from the pool and you only buy gift for that one person. Depending on how many pools you are in, you will probably have to buy a maximum of 3 gifts instead of 10, and spend a maximum of $200 instead of $700 or more. That is a huge saving of about $500, not to mention time and your sanity.

There is no shame in suggesting this to your social circles, if it hasn’t already.  No one will or should think of you as being cheap, in fact, they will be quiet happy that someone came up with this cost-saving idea for gift giving.

Let us take commercialism out of Christmas. Let us go back to the true meaning of Christmas: birth of the Christ, love and joy. Jesus didn’t come or intend to make his birthday a cause for bankrupting families. He wanted his birth date to be a cause for celebrating joy and the love of God.

How to Find the Best Deals For Computers

People often wonder how to find the best deals for computers like Dell. It’s tricky, especially when there are so many different brands, uses, speeds etc.

Decide what you need in a computer

When you’re looking for a computer, the best thing you can do is to do a quick search on the Internet. Look for computers that will fit your needs. If you’re a gamer, you’re going to need a computer that has a lot of memory and has a quick processor.

If you’re someone who writes for a living, you’re going to need one that will have a good word processor, has easy Internet access and is flexible for the types of writing you do.

So first, you’re going to need to assess what you need.

When you’ve decided what the most important aspects of a computer are, you’re ready to do some shopping.

Best ways to shop for a new computer

The best time to buy computers and computer accessories is either on Black Friday, when everything is on sale everywhere or right at the beginning of the year after Christmas when a lot of different things are on sale. You’re going to get a better deal on Black Friday, but not everyone can go shopping then.

The newspaper for Black Friday will be delivered on Thanksgiving. Read it! Look through all the ads. Most people don’t go to sleep that night; they’ll just go shopping really early in the morning. You will be able to get a great deal!

Another idea is to wait for clearance on items or computers that you want to buy. Most stores will have several clearance sales throughout the year. For something that is evolving all the time like computers, there will be several clearance sales to make room for the new items.

Unless you are using your computer for a specifically technical job you shouldn’t need to get the latest computer. Sometimes if you buy a model just older than the latest model you can get a great deal.

Alienware Aurora review- Check Reviews before you buy

You can also do some easy comparison-shopping online. Even if you are planning on buying at a brick and mortar store, you can get an idea of what the price should be on the computer you need. Sometimes the smaller mom and pop type stores will, if you mention that you found it cheaper online, either match the price, or offer an even bigger discount.

Really, you are only limited by the type of computer you need. If you wanted, you could get a used computer, however, be aware that can be dangerous if you don’t know enough about computers to be sure that there are no Trojans, viruses, or worms on the computer. Your identity could be stolen rather quickly if your computer is hacked, or your computer could die and that would put your right back looking for a new computer.


Article contributed by Jeena Smith