Everyday expenses: save on banking and groceries

Cutting your family's everyday expenses can improve your quality of life. Follow these easy tips to save on your grocery bill and banking fees.

Everyday expenses: save on banking and groceries

1. Overdrafted on your account?

  • What your bank may not tell you is that you can negotiate the fees that banks and credit card companies charge you for their services.
  • "Insufficient funds" fees on cheques start at around $25, and go up from there. If you've been an otherwise good customer and ask, this fee can usually be waived.
  • All you have to do is call the number on your statement or credit card—no crying or pleading necessary.

2. If you're going through a major bank to secure a mortgage

  • In this case, virtually all the fees are subject to discussion—most notably the notion of "points"—which is an extra percentage or two you pay up front to secure the loan.
  • Appraisal fees of the property you're purchasing are also often waived. Just ask the bank manager for a face-to-face meeting, point out the fees and politely ask if they can be waived.
  • The fees are negotiable and there's a lot of competition for your business—so there's a good chance the bank manager will comply. Just because a host of other people blindly pay them, doesn't mean you have to.

3. Credit card issuers love sticking you with late fees, even for your first offense

  • But a phone call to the customer service number listed on the back of your card will, more often than not, get the fee waived without any red tape, provided you've been a good customer up to that point.
  • These easy steps are great ways to save on every trip you make to the supermarket.

4. Keep your eye on the cash register

  • Don't "check out" mentally at the checkout counter—it may cost you!
  • You might think that modern scanner systems don't make mistakes. However, studies show that discrepancies between the sticker price and the scanned price happen in about five percent of all cash register transactions.
  • Speak up if you see an error—many stores will even credit you the full value of the item if you point out price mistakes.

5. Study your grocery store's sales patterns

  • They might not admit to this, but many supermarket chains put foods on sale at regular intervals—for example, a certain ice cream might go half-price once every four weeks.
  • Other foods that regularly go on sale include breads, orange juice, soft drinks, spaghetti sauce, apples, lettuce, shrimp, chicken breasts, yogurt and cereal.
  • Once you become aware of the patterns, you should never have to buy these products at full price again!

6. Seek out savings "double plays"

  • While most retailers limit you to one discount at a time on a product, grocery stores allow you to apply multiple discounts at the same time on a product.
  • Every now and then a store will have a sale on a food product that you love and that you happen to have a coupon for. At moments like these, stock up—you'll be getting a favourite food at a deep discount!
  • This strategy works well for yogurt, bread, ice cream and frozen prepared foods (items for which discount coupons are often available).

7. Download coupons

  • Everyone knows that those little envelopes filled with coupons that come to your door can help you save cash. What you may not know about is the website www.save.ca.
  • Check it out to locate coupons for everyday items like paper towels and tinned tuna. A rule of thumb though: don't be tempted to buy something you ordinarily wouldn't just because it's on sale. On the other hand, if it's just a different brand than your tried and true, why not give it a try?
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