4 things smart shoppers do to save money
For one, they pay attention to their items as they're being rung up at the cash register
On a recent trip to the grocery store, Trish McIntosh of Dartmouth, N.S., spotted a small shelf promoting what seemed like a bargain on two coffee brands, including her favourite kind.
The competing brands — Maxwell House and Nabob — were displayed side by side on the three-tier shelf at Sobeys along with a sign promising savings of $3.
But as McIntosh read the sign more closely, she realized only one of the two brands on display was actually on sale despite them being showcased together. If she wanted her Nabob, she'd have to pay full price.
It's a tactic the savvy shopper calls "aggressive marketing," and one that she's noticed in other stores, too.
Is it really on sale?
When McIntosh asked an employee about the sign, she said he told her both coffees were on sale. But a trip to the coffee aisle to double-check prices for Nabob coffee proved otherwise.
She said another store employee told her the Nabob coffee had been put in the wrong place.
No one from Sobeys was immediately available for comment.
McIntosh is warning others, regardless of where they shop, to be on the lookout for similar situations.
Check the expiry
Reading sale signs is important — not just to ensure you're buying an item that is on sale, but ensuring the deal is still in effect.
Some sale signs have expiry dates. If the sign is still up but the sale has expired, you'll be required to pay the full price.
Other sale signs have no expiry dates and remain in effect as long as the sign is in place.
Scanning code of practice
Grabbing something on sale is always satisfying, but it's important to make sure you get that deal at the checkout.
Stores sometimes fail to put the sale price into their systems, so it's important to watch sale items as they're rung in at the cash.
If you're charged full price for an item that is on sale, you might be entitled to get that item for free.
It's a voluntary program, but most of Canada's major retailers do participate. Items must be $10 or less and the sale must not have expired.
The Retail Council of Canada keeps a list of businesses that take part in the program on its website.
Gift cards vs. cash cards
Buying a gift card makes for a fast and simple gift-shopping experience, but it's important to differentiate between retail gift cards and Visa or MasterCard gift cards.
Retail gift cards can be used to support local businesses, and in many provinces, they are not permitted to have an expiry date or charge a fee.
There is a downside, however. If the business closes its doors, then your gift card is worthless.
The other option is a Visa or MasterCard gift card, which expire if you don't use them in the specified period of time. You can renew them, but most charge a fee.
Many, if not all, charge a fee just to buy them. So a $50 gift card could end up costing you more than you intended to spend.
Is that in Canadian dollars?
When shopping online, it's important to know whether you're paying in Canadian or American dollars.
Online companies can operate from anywhere, so don't assume the item you're looking at is listed in Canadian dollars.
With the current exchange rate, it could be a costly mistake — especially on a big-ticket item.
Look at the price. Is there simply a dollar sign and the amount? Then it's a safe bet the amount is in American dollars.
Some sites are transparent and show the amount in Canadian or U.S. dollars; if they don't, that's a red flag and you should check before buying.