Savings & Investments

Shop Smart: Tips for Getting Through the Season of Spending Unscathed

Thanksgiving officially kicked off the season of spending. Halloween, Black Friday and Christmas are just around the corner!  To avoid shock on your next credit card bill, there’s an easy way to save money: leftovers. Approximately 60 per cent of Canadians buy at least one lunch per workweek and that adds up quickly. So, if you’ve been bringing in turkey sandwiches for the last few days, you’re ahead of the game. During the most expensive time of year, getting the best value for your dollar is paramount. With that in mind, the following tips will help you shop smart from now until the end of the year.

Halloween: Recycle, Reuse, and Rummage for your Costume

With Thanksgiving in the books, the next big event is fast approaching. A 2012 Retail Council of Canada poll suggested that Canadians spend an average of $75 on Halloween. As you know, you don’t have much wiggle room when it comes to what you hand out – sure, you want to be healthy, albeit you don’t want to see your property toilet-papered; it’s a fine line. Remember: buying in bulk is essential. How else can you save money?

If you’re not a packrat, you still likely have the makings of a good Halloween costume hidden in your closet, so get creative. Otherwise, hit your local vintage or discount store and do it early, because the competition is fierce.

Black Friday: American Thanksgiving Equals Canadian Savings

Following American Thanksgiving in November, Black Friday is a retail extravaganza that typically shatters sales records. In the past, it was largely reserved for bargain-hunters south of the border, though it began attracting ever-greater numbers of Canadians. To counteract lost revenue, many Canadian retailers now offer their own Black Friday promotions.

Furthermore, the following Monday – Cyber Monday – is quickly becoming one of the best online shopping days of the year, with plenty of deals accessible directly from your computer or mobile device. More and more Canadians are shopping online, with a Forrester research report predicting that, over the next five years, annual sales are expected to rise from $20.6 billion to $33.8 billion. Why not take advantage when online shopping is most affordable?

Of course, neither of these days is an excuse for binge buying, yet they are fantastic chances to get deals on the things you would buy anyway.

Gift Buying and Traveling: Think Ahead

In mid-December, you will probably ask yourself, “Why didn’t I think ahead!?” Enduring a mall on December 24th is stressful and diminished options mean you will pay more. The people on your gift list don’t tend to change, so shop all year long, taking advantage of any sales or timely opportunities as they present themselves.

This approach also applies to travel. If you’re heading out of town, make arrangements early, consider car pools, and watch for changes in airfares. Also, if you can travel on December 25 or 31, you will get the same service at a better rate.

Sure, you will spend more than usual during the holidays, but if you plan ahead and budget correctly – using online tools available from Mint.com – you can limit the damage to your bank account.

So, do you have any tips to shop smart this holiday season?