At the grocery store
You spot a bag of five avocados for just $5 – a steal, seeing as one costs $2. But buying in bulk – especially when the goods are perishable – doesn't always save you money.
Avoid the trap: Purchase large quantities with caution. "The actual price per item might be less, but if you end up throwing it away, you've wasted money," says Marg Reid, a money coach in Kelowna, B.C. Also, check unit prices before reaching for larger packages; they're not always cheaper.
At your favourite clothing store
You've found the perfect sweater and – bonus – there's a "buy one, get the second half-off" sale! The catch, says Reid, is you'll be purchasing the sweater at full price, plus buying something you didn't intend to.
Avoid the trap: If you don't plan clothing purchases, you can spend hundreds of dollars more, says Reid, who suggests having a list and budget in mind each season. "The wonderful thing about having a budget is that when you do buy something, there's no guilt."
Clicking for a coupon
Online deal services (such as Dealfind.com or teambuy.ca) offer savings upward of 50 per cent. But are you spending $50 for a half-day at the spa when all you want is a manicure?
Avoid the trap: "You have to watch that you're actually going to use it, and that you need all that's offered in the package," says Tracy Watson of Calgary-based Money Mentors. And think about hidden costs. Driving across the city to save a few dollars could waste even more in gas.
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At the computer store
The salesperson says the $400 extended warranty will save you from paying service charges for the next four years. Consumer Reports says products aren't likely to break down within that time anyway, and when they do, the repairs generally cost less than the warranty itself.
Avoid the trap: The Canadian Consumer Information Gateway encourages asking questions along the lines of "How long is the free warranty from the manufacturer?" and "Will there be extra costs, such as shipping, when it comes time for repairs?"
Thinking of moving
You calculate that suburban real estate will deliver a bigger house and more savings than the high-priced city. But if you work in the city, says Reid, the cost of your commute can more than make up for any savings.
Avoid the trap: Do your research. If you can walk or take public transit to work, you could sell a vehicle and forgo spending about $10,000 per year on gas, maintenance and insurance.
|This story was originally titled "Cut Your Spending" in the September 2011 issue. |
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