Christmas Shopping: Online or In-store?

ipod-tabletsSHOPPING OPTIONS ARE ENDLESS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Did you know there are only 40 shopping days left until Christmas? With Christmas being not too far away the rush to get one’s Christmas shopping finished begins.

Whether you plan to pack your suitcase full of gifts and jet off on holidays to see the family or shop right at home you can easily access shopping at your fingertips without stepping  foot out the door.

While some people prefer to shop only in stores there are many people who will choose to do the majority if not all of their shopping online.

Tablets, smartphones and free wi-fi access offered in places like Tim Hortons and McDonald’s, have made online shopping even more convenient than just being able to shop from the comfort of your home.

Though convenient, online shopping may not always be the best the choice when it comes to your finances and your Christmas budget.

 

online-shoppingOnline shopping

 

Online shopping allows you to shop from the comfort of your home or really anywhere you are able to gain online access.

Shopping online you avoid having to deal with overworked sales people, waiting in long lineups or having to drive around aimlessly looking for a parking spot.

Shopping online in most cases can be done 24 hours around the clock.

I like to be sleeping at 2 am but hey if you are up and have some online shopping to do, you can!

More product options may also be available to you as shelf space isn’t limited to what the individual stores can put out as well possibly more options in the colour and/or size of your desired purchase.

It is also much easier to avoid impulse buying when shopping online. Products may be found at a cheaper price as not having salespeople to pay to sell the product will impact the cost. Product reviews are something you can always count on when shopping online.

There are a lot of very opinionated people and self-proclaimed experts out there who love to leave reviews whether they are good or bad. Though some people may go overboard and the reviews may seem excessive at times product reviews are a great tool to use when making decisions to buy online.

Google any product and you’re guaranteed to find thousands of reviews from past customers describing their experience with the company, shipping process and the product itself.

in-store-shoppingIn-store shopping

 

In-store shopping especially around the holidays can be crowded and noisy.

Choosing to shop in-store means that you are limited to shopping when the stores are open, chance waiting in long lines, and we all know that finding a parking spot during holiday shopping season is always fun isn’t it?

A benefit of in-store shopping is that you have the opportunity to physically touch, hold, try on a size, or even possibly be given a demonstration of how the product works.

A common trend lately is under-staffed stores which means you are more likely to find shelves that may be cleared as there is insufficient store staff to keep on top of merchandising the products from the warehouse to the floor.

On the other hand if they are properly staffed you have in most cases someone who can tell you first hand and in-person the benefits or drawbacks of what you are looking to buy and may be able to offer other ideas.

Commission based employees often have added incentives and bonuses this time of year so you may find yourself dealing with salespeople who are a little more pushy than usual.

Price matching where you are able to get the same great deal at one store in another and a potential further discount to beat the competitor’s price is not just for grocery items and may be available to you based on what stores you shop in. Unlike online shopping where you have to wait for your purchase to be delivered you get to leave the store with the product in hand.

 

The cost of free shipping

 

We all love the word free and companies know this and use it in their marketing strategies. Free shipping sounds great but be sure to look into whether or not you have to make a minimum purchase to obtain that said ‘free shipping’. An example of this, orders placed over $25.00 are eligible for free shipping at Amazon.ca.

Buying something you may not have ordered otherwise just to meet the minimum threshold is any easy way for companies to sell more products and for you to spend more of your hard-earned money.

If you cannot meet the threshold without buying something you don’t need than maybe consider going in-store to make your purchase. Free shipping also often means the cheapest shipping option for the company, if you are hoping for your purchase to arrive within a few days rather than a few weeks, free shipping likely isn’t an option for you.

Also keep in mind that Amazon.ca and Walmart.ca for example are Canadian sites and Amazon.com and Walmart.com are American sites and shipping costs will be affected by this. Make sure you are shopping on the appropriate site.

What is best for you?

Truthfully, shopping online is probably the better option in terms of product selection and information availability and depending on shipping costs you are likely to find  better prices than in-store.

Shopping in-store and online both have their advantages and disadvantages. Setting a spending budget and doing some research will benefit you no matter which way you choose to shop.

Remember price matching if you are shopping in-store and like a grocery shop plan, make a list, set your spending limit and stay within it.

If you like to do your Christmas shopping last-minute then in-store shopping is the definitely the way to go.

If you choose to shop online take into consideration shipping times, shopping earlier than later will allow your purchases to be delivered sooner and avoid being caught up or even lost in the holiday rush.

 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

 

In recent years, Canada’s retail market has been trying to keep more of our Christmas shopping in Canada by adopting the American shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Black Friday is held on the first Friday following the American Thanksgiving. With Thanksgiving and Halloween having passed many refer to this as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Stores typically open earlier than other shopping days and the Black Friday deals are usually worth the wait of waiting in line if you choose to brave the crowds.

Working in the retail environment for a few years I have seen line-ups starting 10-12 hours or more before the stores plan to open and the lines wrapped around the buildings.

Black Friday this year will be November 29. Many retailers will intentionally not offer these deals online in anticipation of Cyber Monday.
For those of us, including myself who do not care for the crowds, the long waits in line and all the commotion that comes with some door-breaking deals, Cyber Monday may be when you try to score some discounted Christmas gifts. Cyber Monday takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Cyber Monday was created to persuade people to shop online. Cyber Monday this year will be December 2. Though the deals are offered online and you avoid having to wait in line the deals may still be limited to the number of each product offered so if you are going to shop online shop early!

Do you plan to take advantage of any Black Friday or Cyber Monday Deals? Do you prefer to shop online or in-store?

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How living life on a budget didn’t deter us

piggy-bank-budgetNO ONE SAID LIFE WOULD BE EASY

 

If you truly knuckle down and want to succeed, living life on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out, be unfit and eat unhealthy.

It just means you have to adjust your brains wants and needs by thinking of alternative and creative ways to live the good life.

We’re going to go back to the basics.

 

Back to budget basics

 

The other days post took everything back to basics so I thought going back to the basics would be a theme for this post too.

I’ve always talked about how to budget, research ideas and products, pay for things with cash, avoid debt, invest your money and save for the future.
 
You’ve probably taken some things away with you and applied them to your life. Not all people can live on a budget for a long time, the problem is, they assume you have to go without and that’s boring.

You may not be able to do absolutely everything you want but you don’t have to live in a cardboard box either, just be prepared to combine all the budgeting techniques and financial tools you’ve learned and apply them on a regular basis.
 
Sure, we’d all like the best of everything, but that lifestyle is simply unsustainable on most people’s income. I certainly don’t think it helps these days when you get those glossy house and home magazines printing images of luxurious interiors in large houses and then promptly telling you they did it all on a budget. The problem is one persons monthly budget is probably going to be very different for the next person, due to income and spending habits.
 
After we purchased our house and moved in with a minimal amount of boxes and basically zero furniture, decorating and furnishing our house was a priority. We didn’t buy all the stuff at once, just trolled second-hand favourites like www.Kijiji.ca for pieces that were our taste.
 
Sure, we saw some real bad examples of furniture, chests of drawers that would make you cry and beds that would make you itch. We eventually outfitted our home with some very expensive items, with no damage on them and at minimal damage to the budget.
 
Those air brushed images of sleek-looking models that are completely flawless, no matter if they’re female or male. It would take a lot of gym time and careful dedication towards your diet to even come close.
 
Take time out of day for an hour and set a target for yourself. Exercising is free after all, it’s also beneficial to your general health and well-being.
 
You can find perfectly good home gym equipment for free or at ridiculously low prices online or sat on the front of someone’s lawn with a “FREE” notice attached to it.

Increased heart rate and burning of calories won’t instantly turn you into a super model but looking good helps you feel better personally.

Changing your thoughts change your life

 

What I’m getting at is you can still have a charming well decorated home and be healthy and fit even on a budget. In fact you can have most things in life just on a scaled down version.

Living life on a budget doesn’t mean you have to go without, it just means you have to prioritize what’s important to you and how you go about achieving those goals.

You, my audience, can see my budget on a regular basis and you can see where things went wrong for the month and where things were better than expected. I’m not perfect with the budget as even things I didn’t foresee can crop up from time to time.

Living life on budgeting constraints doesn’t mean you have to be plain cheap either. There’s a big difference between being cheap and being sensible with your money and spending it wisely.

Always research products or services before you had over the cash. Just because it’s the cheapest to buy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the cheapest in the long run. Is the product going to last as long as the medium quality? There is a saying that covers most products; “You get what you pay for“.

 

Learning the hard way

Don’t enter into contracts you may regret. There’s a couple of people close to where we live that get their driveways plowed during the winter months. They are not big drives and the people who live there are not old. Usually a snow removal contract is entered into for “x” amount of time in which you pay “x” amount per month.

The problem is, if it doesn’t snow enough to meet the minimum amount required they don’t plow your drive. Now your shoveling it yourself, which you could have done in the first place for free. But your actually paying someone else so you can shovel your own drive. Call me strange but that just seems a bit bonkers.
 
Maintaining items like my father and grandfather did seems to be a long lost art form which would explain the reason as to why I can find a perfectly good lawn mower for free at the end of someone’s property. I got the mower running by spending less than $15 but it will cost the person who got rid of it $350 to replace it.

Learn to do without, not everything in life is a need, so prioritize your wants and needs. For the longest time we had an old (CRT) Cathode Ray Tube TV that we picked up for free until I had saved up enough cash to purchase a large flat screen that I also got at a bargain price by combining price matching during Cyber Monday deals.
 
Think where you money is going, looking after your possessions and maintaining what you have is a key part of your budgeting life style. Paying someone else to come and do it for you is always the easy option. Why not take the time to learn and do it yourself?

A simple job like re-sealing the drive way (if it’s asphalt), you can do it yourself and save money compared to getting someone in to do it for you. Living on a budget means you find yourself doing a lot more jobs yourself even if you have to learn about it beforehand.
 
There are still plenty of things I have yet to encounter and learn from and being part of an online community with you gives me more insight into things I haven’t yet thought about or come across. Learning new things is an ongoing process, never give up learning.

Eating healthy cheap

 

Be proactive and creative by producing your own fruits and vegetables in whatever available space you have, even get the kids involved. I was always outside when I was a child getting covered in muck.

Don’t eat that TV dinner full of salt, sugars, fats and carbohydrates, take time out to eat healthy. I can remember a survey from years ago in the UK about how food affects kids behaviour.

The eventual findings were that kids who had a healthier diet were calmer and more studious as opposed to kids who ate hotdogs, sweets and pop. I’m not saying don’t treat the kids, just that you can all eat healthy even on a budget. You can even treat the kids to healthy snacks.

Start using natures flavours more like garlic, ginger, cumin etc. They’re far healthier for you than chemicals and preservatives. Not only can natural herbs and spices give you fantastic flavours, they also have health benefits.

Such spices include, turmeric which is good for joint health, garlic is supposedly good for the heart and thins out the blood. The rhubarb plant is high in Iron and is expensive to buy in the supermarket, however we grow it in our own garden.

What things do you currently do to stay on budget and what should you change to continue on your path of frugality?

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The Grocery Game Challenge Nov 19-25-Black Friday and 35 Days Til Christmas

shopping cart with gifts

There’s only 35 days left until Christmas with Black Friday around the corner and Thanksgiving this Thursday in the USA for our American friends. That means it’s time to get the ball rolling so you don’t leave everything until the last minute including grocery shopping and baking. If you missed my Grocery Game Post from last week you will see all the holiday cookies we will be baking come the first week of December.  I will be posting these recipes every Sunday in December. This week we are staying away from the grocery stores as we have no money left in our grocery budget for the month. What we plan to do is eat what we already have in the pantry, freezer and refrigerator.

I think we have more than enough food to pull off a week of no trips to the grocery store especially since today is already Tuesday. My advice would be to not look at the flyers if you really want to stick to your grocery budget or save some money extra each month so you can shop if they have super deals on so you can stockpile some items. We may do this for next year where we add an extra $20 a month for stockpiling and carry it over as projected expenses. It will only be used if a great deal comes on for toilet paper for example and we have coupons.

Do you save extra money in your budget for stockpiling or do you simply use your monthly grocery budget to stock up on what you can?

Speaking of Black Friday, I  read a post by Mandy at Money Master Mom this morning who thinks it’s only a deal if you need it when heading out into the line-ups searching for a bargain. You can read how her Black Friday Getaway crossing the border ended up costing her more than she bargained for. If you don’t plan to cross the border for Black Friday and shop at home or on-line having a set shopping budget so you don’t get overwhelmed with the mass marketing is ideal in this situation.

I agree, when it comes to Black Friday, Cyber Monday or any deal for that matter unless you “need it” then it’s likely not a bargain. I know many people who spend money using Canadian coupons to buy items in the grocery store just because they have a coupon yet may never use that product or will let the product expire. I’m not talking about laundry, toilet paper and cleaning supplies I’m talking about the food. The thrill of the chase to find the best deal and the best price is always on for some savvy budget savers but ask yourself if it’s really worth it. Have you experienced having too much food and product expiring before you get a chance to consume it? Do you donate it?

Around the holidays can be the toughest time of year for families to stick to a grocery budget or any budget for that matter. We start to see gifts for everyone on our list even at the grocery store. It’s super easy to get carried away with the festivities, the decorations and the lights.  My advice is to make a plan and stick to it but don’t get discouraged if something goes wrong. Everything we do in life is a life lesson and we should learn from our mistakes.

Post your Grocery Shop Below in the comment section and you might be our next Monthly Winner!!!

Grocery Game Challenge Results

Total Grocery Budget for the Month for 2 Adults:$190.00 at $63.33 for 3 weeks of shopping with 1 No-Shop Week per month.

This was a no-shop week so last weeks totals apply to this week as well.

Weekly Grocery Game Challenge Results for Mr. and Mrs. CBB

  • Total Grocery Budget for the Week: $63.33
  • Total Coupons Used this Week:$17.50
  • Total Scanning Code of Practice: $0
  • Total Spent This Week:$14.48
  • Total Spent So Far for November: $99.21+75.13+$14.48=$188.82
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $1.18
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month of November: $1.18
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $1.18
  • Total Coupons Used This Month : $45.33 + $10.00 Spending Card+$15.99+$17.50=$88.82

Overall: We are happy that we stood our ground and are eating from what we have in our home to stick to our grocery budget.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?

No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have a few posters from around the world.

  • When does the Grocery Game Close each month?

The Grocery Game Challenge Closes at Midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month. You can post your shops all month-long so if you miss a week you can go back and post so you still get your entry in the monthly contest.

  • Does Your Grocery Budget Include Health and Beauty and Laundry?

Yes our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be effected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money. We are currently well stocked with those products since we used coupons heavily the past couple of years. We haven’t really stocked up on much but we have taken every opportunity to purchase more paper towel, toilet paper, fabric softener and a host of other items that are an excellent price with coupon.

There are many places you can find Canadian Coupons whether it be in store or via the mail. I would suggest following an on-line coupon community or coupon Facebook page in your area.

Canadian Coupon Match-Ups- Match your coupons with flyer sales!

Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups  of the week from around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better. Just one of my favourite Couponing sites for finding the hottest grocery deals in Canada!

Here are a couple of coupons we picked up while shopping this week at Canadian Tire. 

Canadian Tire Coupons November

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Grocery Game Challenge Rules

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Make The Most Out Of Black Friday Deals Without Crossing the Border

Black Friday Canada

With at least 18% of Canadians expected to cross the border to enjoy deals on Black Friday in the U.S., some might be wondering if it’s even possible to save money from within Canada?

I’ve been blogging about shopping deals and frugal living in Canada for a few years now, and I wanted to share some of my best tips to get the most out of your Black Friday shopping in Canada. That’s right, there are some great discounts to enjoy on our side of the border too!

Black Friday Deals in Canada

Since the Canadian dollar is now on par with the U.S., many Canadians have picked up the habit of crossing the border to shop the Black Friday sales. Now, Canadian stores aren’t blind, they have taken note, so that more and more Canadian retail stores are also offering comparable deals on Black Friday to keep paying customers on Canadian soil.

Shopping the Black Friday deals in Canada avoids the long waiting lines at customs and the crazy hordes in shopping centres while saving money on gas too. Some offers might not be as good as what’s on offer in the U.S. (it’s getting closer though). But you also need to take into consideration the amount of time you’ll save.

Spot the Deals Before Shopping

It is really important that before you go shopping on the high street, have a look at what the sales are going to be beforehand. To do that, there are many helpful tools such as a saving community blog, forums and of course flyers from the most popular stores.

This will allow you to spot which stores will run Black Friday deals in Canada and what kind of discounts you can expect and on what type of products (for example, expect electronic accessories to be heavily discounted). And with the number of stores participating increasing every year, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding offers for most of your favourite stores.

Make a List

Making a list before shopping for any kind of occasion should always be the first step to help us spend more wisely. It allows us to plan what we really need ahead of time, and if we manage it properly, it can also prevent us from buying items that are not on the list. Take a few minutes to do a list of what you really need to buy and put them in order of priority, starting with what’s most important.

Compare Prices

Merchants normally advertise most of the upcoming deals in their flyers, newsletters and/or on their website, so customers can easily spot the offers they are interested in. This price comparison allows you to compare the current price of the items with the upcoming one and analyze how much of a good deal it is. But you probably already know what the average price for it is and if what on offer is a tremendous discount or not.

Or go one step further, simply find the best price for the product(s) you are interested in, then find a coupon (if applicable) to get further discounts.

Read the Store Price-Match and Returns Policy

Some stores change their returns policy during the Black Friday sale, so make sure to be aware of the appropriate policy if you need to return the product. You might also want to have a look at their price-match policy—in case you find it cheaper later.

Print Coupons

Using a coupon (printable or on-line code) on top of a Black Friday deal is the best you can expect in terms of saving money. Make sure to read all the fine print on the coupon and all the terms and conditions of the store’s Black Friday sale to see if you can use it.

If you decide to shop on-line as the following section recommends, look for coupon codes to unlock better deals on select products. Canadian coupon sites, such as vouchercodes.ca, normally list all the latest codes and promotions available for top merchants, especially for events as big as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Shop On-line

Since most U.S. stores are now on-line and Canadian customers can shop them from within Canada, shopping on the web is a great option to enjoy the U.S. Black Friday sales from your own home. Expect to pay for handling and shipping fees, but if you saved on gas and you didn’t have to fight to grab an item(s), you might be more comfortable with this option.

It’s not only convenient, but it could also be cheaper in some cases, owing to lower overheads for stores, which in turn can lead to lower prices for the consumer.

Following Black Friday, Cyber Monday is another great event where products are highly discounted and deals are mostly available on-line  Customers can expect to find the same kind of promotions as on Friday, but all on-line a must see for avid shoppers.

Shop Early

It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping on-line  in store, in the U.S. or in Canada, getting to the store as early as you can, will maximize the chances of getting the item you need, as most of the products are only available in limited quantities. For the on-line part, make sure you find out at what time the sale is going to start to be among the first cyber-shoppers. Some stores start it on Sunday night so be aware.

Voucher Codes Canada

Guest Post By: Erin is a Canadian savvy shopper and blogger at vouchercodes.ca, an on-line savings community. She is always looking for the best deals available in Canada and for the latest tips on how to be more frugal.

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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