Money & Career

8 recessionista shopping tips

By: Yuki Hayashi

Author: Canadian Living

Money & Career

8 recessionista shopping tips

By: Yuki Hayashi
Sure, money's tight. The economic outlook isn't rosy. But life goes on. What if the difference between surviving the recession and thriving during it were as simple as your outlook?

Recessionistas are those who rise to the challenge and find ways to make the most of that big sack of lemons the economy just threw our way. (Lemon meringue? Why not?)

The good news is retailers are working extra hard to court shoppers during the economic slowdown. Use this to your advantage to snag the best savings. Also, challenging times call on you to make the most of what you have. And if that means learning to cook with dried beans – hey, mastering the art of cassoulet is something to brag about!

Read on for our penny-stretching, lifestyle-enhancing recessionista tips.

Recessionista tip 1: Catch the right sale

According to Kathryn Finney, author of the popular Budget Fashionista blog, spring sales have already sprung online. "They have already started and will continue to happen," she says. While you may not see taglines like "Spring Sale!" yet when you surf, discounts abound in the form of free shipping, coupons, and deals.

In store, says Finney, expect to find markdowns sooner than the typical month or month and a half it usually takes for items to make their way to the sale section.

"In today's climate we're seeing discounts as soon as the item hits the floor. However, it's important to remember the difference between 'sale' and 'clearance' merchandise," says Finney.

A sale may last only a weekend, after which time, items could be back up to full price. Additionally, sales may consist of first-round, 15 percent markdowns, not the 50 percent and up you'll find if you can hold out until August or September for final summer clearance sales.

Recessionista tip 2: Use seasonal sales to snag deals on year-round clothes
Buy spring/summer office wear in basic colours and you can wear it into fall/winter. A lightweight, summer-wool dress in basic grey or black can be layered with tights, high boots and a cozy, long cardigan in autumn.

Page 1 of 2Recessionista tip 3: Know when to save or splurge on kids wear
Don't sacrifice the comfort of well-made clothing and breathable materials just to save a few bucks. Itchy, too-tight cuts and uncomfortable seams or waistbands are stressful to babies and kids.

• Save by buying dressy, special-event attire second hand.

• Splurge on new shoes no more than half a size up to encourage proper foot development and safety.

• Save by lengthening jeans or skirts if your daughter grows taller but not wider. Just sew wide ribbon or beaded trim to the bottom hem.

• Splurge on better-quality jeans and khakis one size up so your child can grow into them over a year or two (fold up the cuffs for now).

• Save with sale-rack leggings and jogging pants in the right size, since they'll wear out well before the second year anyway.

Recessionista tip 4: Save energy and qualify for rebates

Great – your ancient dishwasher finally gave out just when you were least looking forwarding to upgrading. Guess what: it may actually be a blessing in disguise. Many provincial governments offer incentives to encourage Canadians to trade energy-guzzling old appliances (or drafty old windows and doors) for new, energy-efficient models bearing the Energy Star certification. Not only will you save on your energy bill, you may find a $250 rebate check in the mail, too!

Go to Natural Resources Canada's website to find which programs you qualify for.

Recessionista tip 5: Buy at the right time

Want more appliance savings? "The best time to shop for appliances is between October and February, right before the spring/summer house-buying rush," says Finney.

Recessionista tip 6: Eat lower on the food chain

Moving to a more vegetarian diet will help you cut calories and cholesterol, as well as costs. Eliminate meat one day a week in favour of fresh or frozen veggies, legumes or pasta for immediate savings. Vegetarian chili, lasagna, stir-fries – all are fast, tasty, healthy and inexpensive to make.

Check out’s recipe database for budget-friendly meatless meals for every taste.

Recessionista tip 7: Use loyalty points for a movie night
Between blackout periods, seat exemptions, and the money it'll cost to buy additional tickets out of your own pocket, travel rewards are often too restrictive to be of much use to large families.

A better idea? Use some loyalty points for a night out at the movies (refreshments included), or a DVD rental package. Presto: a night out (or in), without having to dip into your household budget.

Recessionista tip 8: Buy discounted books
If the public library is out of the next page-turner on your book club reading list, try Better World Books. This online bookseller carries new and used books at a discount, with flat-rate $3.97 shipping to Canada. Incredibly, this price includes carbon offsets.
Even better, a portion of the site's revenues go to education and literacy charities around the world – so far, a whopping $3.1 million.

Make some of your money back (or do a good deed), by selling or donating your used books to the e-tailer, too.

Read more:
Easy ways to save money
5 ways to stretch your grocery dollars
Simple ways to put money back in your pocket

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Money & Career

8 recessionista shopping tips