Shopping Tips We Use To Save Money

Girl shopping a big sale

Shop and Save The Smart Way

Advertisers are brilliantly skilled when it comes to making us believe we are getting more for our money but we have the final say in what we buy. Strategically planning your shopping means you invest some time in saving money in your budget.

Shopping can and does cause people to spend more than they earn which leads them to run out of money before the end of the month.  Don’t let that happen to you. Shop smart and plan your shopping and you will see that  the time you invest in your shopping will pay you back over the long-term.

Shopping tips we use to save money

  • Shop for Coupons:  We look for online coupons before we shop – Nearly every major company in Canada has a website and includes coupon codes, promos and printable coupons. Keep an eye out for coupon codes that also promote free shipping as that sometimes can add up when you check out. We also use coupons that the manufacturer has put out for consumers.
  • Shop In Bulk:If there is a product that we use often and the price is right we buy it in bulk. For example: We like to use dry beans in our diet so instead of buying small bags we buy large bags that cost a fraction of the cost if you were to buy many of the smaller size. Be careful though, buying big isn’t always better as working out the “unit price” will show you. The “unit price” is the cost per 100g or cost per 100ml and most of the time you’ll need a calculator to work it out.
  • Shop the Big Sales: Typically we meal plan around what is on sale for the week in the weekly flyers or in-store. This has helped us cut back from buying more than we need. 
  • Shop Our Budget: What can I say, a budget helps keep us grounded when we are shopping and we save money. There is no more overspending so we have bills piling up that we can’t pay because the money is allocated to certain categories. No more regret because the money is waiting to be spent, although we must spend it wisely.
  • Shop early morning or late evening: We have shopped at all times of the day but the quietest times seem to be early morning or late evenings. When the store is too busy and chaotic people tend to shop fast, forget about the budget and spend more money.
  • Shop Moving, Estate and Garage Sales: Some of our best deals have come from garage sales, moving and estate sales. You never know what you will find. We get up early on the weekend in the summer and tour the city with our planned route and hit all the garage sales looking for a bargain. Why pay retail if you can find it new or hardly used for a fraction of the cost. 
  • Shop Around, know your prices: Don’t just settle for one store when you shop or you are bound to spend more money than you need to. No matter if it is groceries, electronics, appliances or any other items always shop around. You never know when your favourite store might beat a competitor’s price. Keep in mind most grocery stores will allow you to price match so hang out at those shops and save yourself the time, hassle and gas (petrol) from driving shop to shop. 
  • Shop On-line Classifieds: No need to run out to buy something brand new if you can find it online for sale at a fraction of the cost. Many people get gifts they don’t use and want to get rid of them, and fast. There are also shopoholics that end up with so much stuff that they turn to online sites like kijiji, Craigslist and Ebay just to try and make some of the money back. 
  • Shop the Library: We don’t buy books or rent movies we simply head to the local library. There are so many free books to choose from so why pay for something that will end up collecting dust on a bookshelf. If you do like to purchase books take advantage of any rewards programs your local book store may offer. You can likely get discounts and potentially free books if you redeem points or rewards.
  • Shop Second-hand or Thrift Stores: Although prices at thrift stores aren’t as cheap as they once were you can still find many bargains.  Some months these shops have 50% off days and this is one of the best times to have a look around to score some great savings.
  • Shop Freecycle: There’s always someone giving something away free on freecycle so ask if you are looking for something or check in with your local freecycle on-line to see what your community members are offering free. 
  • Shop Sale Cycles and time your purchases: Typically stores know what their loss leaders are in terms of products and which products drives the masses into the store right where they want you. If you watch the flyers you can start to figure out how often cheese or milk might go on offer. I buy cream and I know at one store in particular it goes on sale every 2 weeks, so I make sure I load up for a couple of weeks and wait for the next sale. You might even want to wait to buy certain fruits and vegetables until they are in season when they will be at their tastiest and least expensive.
  • Shop end of Season Sales, Discount Shops, Scratch and Dent, Bankruptcy Blow-Outs: It happens, businesses close up shop and offer huge discounts on products just so they can liquidate their inventory. This is where you might want to jump in and grab a bargain. You might also have a local shop that sells scratch and dent products for a reduced price. Really, who cares if a $3000 washer for half price has a scratch on the back, I don’t.
  • Shop Substitute Items: Substitute higher priced items for comparable priced Items that will perform the same, for example substituting higher cost honey for water and apple juice in a recipe. Substitute no-name ketchup for Heinz ketchup, will you really notice the difference? Better yet, learn to make food from scratch or homemade in your kitchen instead of buying packaged foods.
  • Shop At Your Neighbours: If you are good friends with your neighbour and don’t mind lending each other items that you don’t really need to buy as you may only use it once then it’s a win-win situation. I’m not saying go door to door asking to borrow an egg but if you are pals with a few neighbours and you have a mutual agreement where you help each other out, then why not. My neighbour doesn’t have space to house an extension ladder so any time he needs mine he’s welcome to it. I don’t own a power washer but my mate next door is more than happy to let me use his for an hour once a year to power clean the front porch.

Before you grab your purse or wallet to head out the door shopping try and make an effort to think about where you are spending your hard-earned money. These shopping tips we use to save money have helped us save enough over the years to assist in saving enough to pay off our mortgage, pay cash for one of our vehicles and invest money so we can potentially retire early. If we can do it, so can you; you just have to believe.

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

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  1. Great tips! I am personally trying to shop more at thrift stores. The other day I almost bought a $30 belt for my snowboarding pants at a fancy snowboarding/ski store until the sales associate told me to not waste my money and go to sally ann and buy a $3 belt there. Best advice ever! Why didn’t I think of that?

  2. I always shop end of season sales and I always check the clearance aisle. I have also been wanting to order stuff in bulk online and see if that saves me any money.

  3. I love this post. My family have been living this lifestyle for 25+ years. First it was because we had a very small income and a bunch of kids and really needed to make those pennies stretch as far as possible. Now, it is because we hope to retire in 8 short years and are seeking to make this dream a relatively comfortable reality. Who knew we would eventually be trendy.

  4. Of all the things I’ve learned this past year, I think knowing the prices might be the most valuable. Even with coupons, you don’t want to pay more than you have to. I know the regular prices of things I buy often and can jump on a deal when it comes along. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll never know when to stock up and when to wait.

    1. Exactly it Kim. That is why the grocery game opens our eyes to everything including prices at different shops and where we can save. I pretty much know prices for lots of items because I’m always scanning products in the store when I’m there. It saves alot!

  5. Loads of great tips here! I love finding the best deal but like you say sometimes it’s not worth the petrol (gas) money to drive from store to store. I find there are certain stores that are often the cheapest so I stick to those and look for good discount deals.

  6. I love using Freecycle. I’ve given away so much stuff and cleared out my house. I’ve also been on the receiving end of a few much needed items. Also, I am an avid user of the library. We walk there every weekend and grab a huge lot of books and some movies too.

      1. I, tooo, have been using Freecycle a lot of late. My best deal was a free VCR. I had been looking for a used VCR at thrift stores and couldn’t stomach paying even $10 for something if I wasn’t certain it worked. I got my VCR for free with remote and manual and now I can watch all my old tapes again. I also have cleared a bunch of stuff out including 10 partial cans of house paint and bags of collage images (magazine cutouts) that no thrift store would ever take. Awesome.

  7. I use a lot of these tips, shop sales, use a list, watch sales cycles, end of season sales, the Thrift store…..I use the library often to check out books. I have the avid reader card for Chapters but the big one for books here is the semi-annual book sale at the library. We go to that every time!!! The last time they didn’t have the usual deal of stuff a bag for $10.00, it has been stuff it for $20.00 which was still a great deal….. it just depends on the size of the bag. They have downsized that over the years but I still have a number of the older ones. Even without that the prices are awesome!!!$1.00 for a paperback, $2.00 hardcover, .25- .50 for cancelled books and kids books… We consider this to be a win/win/win all around, the library cleans out some of it’s older books, people in town get to clear out some of their books they are done with and we get to buy some fantastic books dirt cheap!!!! I have a mental list of books there that if I see them at the sale I grab them, I had a number of gardening books on that list and last spring they cleared out a lot of the gardening books…….and I grabbed a bunch of them!!!! I was so happy!!!! I love the Mark Cullen books but they are pricey….. I’ve picked up a few of his books there among other authors.

  8. Great tips!!! I have a friend who purchased a baby grand piano at an estate sale for $600!!! What a steal 😉 I need to go to an estate sale when I’m ready to purchase a grand piano.

  9. Good tips Mr. CBB! We use many of them ourselves. I think a lot of it comes down to knowing your prices and having a plan for how you intend/want to spend your money. This allows us to be selective when we shop and buy only what we need as well as allow us to cut down on wasting money on non essentials.

  10. Great tips.

    I’m with you on books; I do not purchase books, I don’t like clutter so I don’t want books sitting around and I never re-read a book, but I do love to read so I’m a regular at the library.

    I shop yard sales for kids clothes and toys for my grandson, there are some great deals to be found! I also watch Kijiji and shop thrift stores for household items and clothing.

    I regularly order coupons from;; p& and watch various facebook sites for free product coupons and cents off coupons. Every little bit helps!

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