Start the Fall Season with a Bargain


Fall weather is my favourite; it's not too hot and not too cold, just like the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears quest for the option that's "just right". When it comes to finances, however, fall is often about extremes. With two teenagers of my own, I've seen it year after year, buying back-to-school supplies, shopping for seasonal attire, holiday gatherings and gifts, winter tires - well, you get the picture. It's an exciting and expensive season, which is why I take pride in being a deal-hunter. Here are the top five ways I make the most of fall shopping:

  1. Keep a running list: Making a list of items before you head out the door is a great way to stick to what you need and avoid getting distracted by deals or items you don't need.  Take it to the next level by having a running list in a place you see frequently, such as on your fridge.  When you're running low on something like cleaning supplies or general household items, add it to the list.  Running out of an item forces you to pay today's price; keeping an eye on flyers for something you'll soon need will stock your pantry at a lower cost.
     
  2. Know your budget: Incorporating a big event, holiday feast or gathering can result in a fuller shopping cart from time to time.  Rather than buying everything at once, have a budget for the event and add the items to your running list.  When a deal is available, buy the item and track it.  Under budget? Buy something special or save it for when you need it. Related, be sure to know the "best price" of items.  The same block of cheese can cost you anywhere from $4.44 to upwards of $7.00 each.  The same goes for clothes, tires, memberships and more.  Knowing the best price will automatically answer the question of whether the purchase price is a deal or not a deal.
     
  3. Scroll and scan: Weekly flyers can often contain coupons for everyday household items like laundry detergent. Look for in-store flyers and "tear-off" coupons for go-to items, especially in grocery stores.  Keep an eye on expiry dates and special offers such as "buy one get one" deals that can cut your costs in half.
     
  4. Price match: Price matching is a great way to stretch your dollars further.  Most retail outlets will honour a competitor's price if you show the flyer with the advertised price and model number.  Not only will this save you money, but it can save you time by doing your shopping in a single location without driving to several locations for an item.  If it costs you more in time and gas to get it, it may be costing you more than you think.
     
  5. Know when to buy new: Buying used items at garage sales, thrift stores like Habitat for Humanity's ReStore and on Kijiji can save you on big-ticket items. The next time you’re in need of everything from furniture to lighting, paint, lawn mowers and more, consider buying something that's new-to-you.
Making the most of the money you have is a fun challenge for the whole family.  If you're looking for ways to save or have suggestions for a future article, please send me an email at awilkins@cua.com.


Amy

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