Author Archive

April 23

4 Ways to Save Money on Laundry

Posted by on April 23, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Ways to Save Money on Laundry

I must admit, one of the simple pleasures in life for me is to bury my face into a load of freshly dried laundry.  Folding and sorting the said laundry, on the other hand, does not qualify as one of the simple pleasures in life for me, unfortunately.  North Americans do a lot of laundry.  Growing up as a child, my mother did three loads of laundry per week.  I only do one now, but I do live alone so there’s much less laundry to wash.  Since laundry is a necessary part of our every day lives, makes sense, then, to look for ways to save money on something we do all the time.

Here are four easy ways to save money on laundry (that don’t involve spending $1000 on a new energy efficient washing machine) so that you can save your money for the things that matter more.

Turn Down the Temperature

One of the easiest ways to save money on laundry costs is to turn the dial to a cold water wash.  This is because simply heating the water costs up to 90% of the load of your laundry (source: Chatelaine).  Not everyone can use a cold water wash though, if your toddlers clothes are very soiled and they are not potty trained, of course you may want to sanitize it with hotter temperatures.

Use Less Detergent

Laundry detergent is expensive.  One way to offset this the cost of laundry detergent (and consequently go to the store less often to buy laundry detergent) is to use less of it.  According to Life Hacker, the laundry machines today are so efficient that they don’t need as much laundry detergent anymore.  In fact, try using half of what you would normally use to wash your clothes and see the savings multiply (and your clothes stay fresh and clean).  If you want to really use less detergent, try using none at all.  MSN Money says that if you have lightly soiled clothes, skip the detergent.  The washing machines nowadays clean by agitating the clothes mainly, so not using detergent will still get your clothes clean.

Make Your Own Detergent or Fabric Softener

If you would rather use detergent than none at all, or if you would rather know what goes into your detergent, why not make your own?  Mostly it involves using borax, which can be easily purchased at your local grocery store.  Check out this easy recipe to make easy liquid laundry detergent in 20 minutes from the David Suzuki Foundation’s Queen of Green.  You can add your own essential oils like lavender or orange oils to personalize the detergent.

To make your own fabric softener, it is even more easy than making your own detergent.  All you need is hair conditioner, baking soda, and water.  Check out these instructions from Life Hacker.

Air Dry

Last but not least, instead of using the dryer (which uses up a lot of electricity) hang your clothes to dry instead.  If you find it difficult to dry your clothes indoors and it is fall or winter, use your dryer but for only 15 minutes.  This allows the clothes to get fluffed up, reducing the need for you to iron and allowing it to dry.

If you want to continue using your dryer, make sure you clean the lint prior to every load.  This will help you save at least $34 a year (source: U.S. Department of Energy).  Also, make sure you check the air duct because lint might not have gotten caught in the lint trap.  Making sure the duct is clean and free of lint can save you a lot in energy bills, even if it may cost an increase when you call someone to come in and maintain it.

So although air drying takes away the warm cocoon freshly dried laundry, it saves considerable money and is great for the environment.  Hopefully these easy tips can help you save money next time you throw in a load of laundry.

Bargainmoosers, do you have other ways in which you and your family save money on laundry?

Photo credit: Joceylyn Durston

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April 12

Car Sharing Versus Owning a Car: Which one Saves More Money?

Posted by on April 12, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Car Sharing Versus Owning a Car: Which one Saves More Money?

If you live in a larger Canadian city, you will likely have noticed a large number of car sharing companies cropping up recently.  Some companies include Zipcar, Modo, and Car2go.  For example, in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary, you might see little white and blue smart cars parked everywhere.  Before I used a car sharing program, it seemed very complicated, like I was not part of an elite club of car sharers.  However, once I signed up, I experienced first-hand just how easy it is, and now when I need to go downtown, or I want to jog one way, or go to a place where parking is going to be iffy, I just hop in a Car2go instead of hopping in my car.  All I need to do is check out my app to see where there is a Car2go nearby and reserve it and then hop in.  It is very easy.  Cars are easy to drive, clean, and no fuss or no muss.  Though one time I found a wet bathing suit in the glove compartment, but that is beside the point I guess!

Car2go

Car2go is a car sharing company that originated in Ulm, Germany and has quickly gone viral in 23 other cities in Europe and North America.  Most cities have about 200-300 car2go cars in their fleet.

The cost?

For example, in Vancouver to rent a Car2go, it is $0.38 per minute, $13.99 per hour, and $72.99 per day plus tax.  This includes the gasoline, insurance, maintenance, and parking (except at meter parking of course, but you can park your Car2go at all permit parking spots and you can park for free at many parking garages – these will be highlighted in the Car2go GPS located in the car).  The start up cost is $35 for registration, but this can be easily waived by entering a coupon code at the time of sign up.  Bargainmoose has a great coupon code for Car2go that reduces your membership fee to $10 and gives you 30 free minutes of driving time.

  • Insurance- included
  • Gas- included in the per minute cost
  • Maintenance- included
  • Parking- free (provided you do not park at meter parking)
  • Assuming a 15 minute commute (minimal traffic) to work Monday to Friday = $12.88 per day (including tax) equals $258 per month

Owning a Car

On the other hand, if you have more than a few car trips per week or if you can only commute to work by car, it may make more sense to own a car.

Some of the regular costs of owning a car to factor in when comparing it to a car sharing program include:

  • Insurance- estimate $150-$200 per month
  • Gas- estimate $100-$400 per month (depending on how much one drives)
  • Maintenance- estimate $25 to $100 per month (only oil and filter a few times a year versus bigger things like maintaining brakes etc.)
  • Parking- $180 (average $9 per day at a parkade, Monday to Friday)

Average total cost per month: $455 to $880 per month.  In fact, the average car costs over $8700 on an annual basis to maintain, gas up, and provide insurance for in the United States (source: Time).

(This does not include costs of leasing the car or financing the car, assuming that you own the car outright already!)

Although there may seem to be significant cost savings with using a car sharing program, the convenience of owning a car obviously plays a huge factor.  Sometimes finding a Car2go car can be difficult and requires extra time to find one to reserve.  Moneysense magazine has a handy chart comparing the cost of car sharing programs versus owning a car, factoring in average car costs over an 8 year period.  The verdict was that if you used a car sharing program more than a few times per week, owning a car makes more sense.  Of course, owning a car makes more sense if you have multiple trips, like taking your children to and from daycare, or to and from soccer practice.  The car sharing programs are likely targeted towards drivers without children.

Granted, another benefit to car sharing is a sense of community, social responsibility, a sense of doing good for the environment and not adding to the carbon footprint, and “walking the walk” of a minimalistic lifestyle.

Bargainmoosers, have you ever used a car sharing program?

Photo credit: Billy Wilson

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April 7

How To Save Money on Child Care

Posted by on April 7, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How To Save Money on Child Care

Child care or day care is one of the reasons why having children is so expensive and a reason why (other than ridiculously high rents and high mortgages) couples both have to work nowadays to support a dual income.  With child care costing upwards to $800 to $1000 on a monthly basis, per child, it is no wonder that having more children, or even considering having children at all, is something that many couples now worry about.  In fact, the high cost of child care is one reason why many women decide to limit the number of children they would ideally like to have (source: Globe and Mail).

It is estimated that raising a child from infancy to the age of 18 will cost anywhere between $170,000 and $230,000, and it is actually the early years that cost the most due to the high cost of child care (source: Canadian Living).  Although it makes sense that child care is expensive (early childhood development is of utmost importance, especially during the years between age zero to three), it still stings to have to shell out almost half to three quarters of your income to have someone else take care of your child.

Here are some tips and ideas on how you might be able to save money on child care, reducing the stress on the family budget:

Share Child Care with a Friend

I have a friend with whom this strategy worked really well for.  She was able to work part-time the year after her maternity leave through sharing child care with a mom that she met from a baby and new mom group.  She would work while her friend took care of the two children and they would swap on the other days.  This cost them nothing for child care costs.  Considering that very young children often cost more for daycare and there aren’t many daycares that accept very young children, saving $10,000 to $12,000 during the first year after maternity leave really helped them tackle bigger financial goals they had as a family.

The following year, my friend returned to work full-time and had the time beforehand to check for daycare in a more accessible location at a lower rate.  She is now very happy with the low cost of her current daycare and happy she is back at work full-time.

Extended Family 

Although I wouldn’t call it taking advantage of your extended family like this Yahoo article suggests, having your mother or father or your mother-in-law or father-in-law take care of your children can be a win-win scenario for all involved.  In many cases, your parents or parents-in-law who are retired want to be involved in your life and want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives.  This is a great opportunity for family to practice giving and receiving care.  Your parents or parents-in-law feel like they are appreciated and helpful, and you are able to repay them monetarily or through small gifts like a manicure, trips, or other ways to show you care.  The sense of community you can build with your new family and your family of origin can be amazing.

Don’t Forget about the Tax Credit

Childcare costs can be used as a deduction from income (not as a non-refundable tax credit).  However, mostly it has to be claimed as a deduction from the parent with the lower income.  The website Taxtips.ca has a great run through of how to use and utilize the child care tax credit for your income tax return.  The basic limit of child care costs for children under the age of six years old is $7000 as per the Canada Revenue Agency.

Explore Company Discounts

Forbes suggests that there may be corporations that have nearby childcare centres where they did the dirty work and negotiated discounted rates.  It might be worth it to check with the nearby childcare centres to see if any of them are affiliated with you or your spouse’s work.  Having child care close to work makes it much easier for your lifestyle, a win-win for your employer and your family.

Bargainmoosers, how did you save money on child care and day care?

Photo credit: Government Press Office

Moose Rating (1 votes)
April 5

4 Ways to Save Money at Disneyland

Posted by on April 5, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Ways to Save Money at Disneyland

At work, a few of my colleagues are taking their children to Disneyland for the very first time.  Their children are undoubtedly very excited about the future trip and cannot contain themselves with excitement.  My colleagues on the other hand, are just as excited but not as excited about the possibility of baking in the hot sun while lining up for hours and definitely not as excited about the credit card bill that this Disneyland trip will create.

For a family, Disneyland can be very expensive.  At Disneyland, for children aged 3-9 it is $162 for a two day park pass and for children older than 10, it is $175 for a two day park pass.  This price doesn’t include the accommodation, the souvenirs (oh, the expensive souvenirs), the food (the expensive food), and the flight to Disneyland or rental car (or the gas if you are planning to drive down).

Even though it is very expensive, it is a very magical place and seeing the happiness in your children’s eyes is enough to make the expense worthwhile, so here are some ways in which you can save money at Disneyland, Disneyland on a budget.

Avoid High Season

The absolute worst times to go to Disneyland are obviously the high season: July, August, and December (Christmas time).  Avoid these times like the plague because airfare will cost more, the accommodation will cost more, and there will be more people in line ups, meaning less time enjoying what Disneyland has to offer.

Consider the last weekend of August or just the first week of September.  Not advocating for taking your children out of school of course, but usually the first day of school or second day of school there isn’t much content to cover anyway.  And your children probably won’t mind because they’ll get to tell their friends that they weren’t there during the first day of school because they were in Disneyland!

Managing to avoid weekends will be helpful for accommodation as well.  Do not stay at the Disneyland resort, that will be very expensive.  Check out websites such as Priceline, Hotels.com, Airbnb.com and Hotwire for places to stay near Disneyland.  If you are planning to stay at the Disneyland resort, make sure you head back to the hotel room for lunch in order to offset the cost of the meals at the park.

Another perk to avoiding high season is the ability to use Aeroplan points.  North American flights are cheap on Aeroplan compared to international flights, so if you can save money on your flight, that will save you a ton of money.

BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)

Eating at Disneyland is very expensive, let alone having a character themed meal (where the princesses eat with you and your children).  Bring your own snacks and food to Disneyland along with ice packs.  Put it in a locker if you don’t want to lug it around with you.  This will easily save you $10 per person per meal (with $10 per meal on the low end, this is assuming you avoid sit-down meals at the park).  For a family of four, two meals at $120 per day really adds up.  Also, make sure your motel/hotel/accommodation has continental breakfast and make sure you eat a hearty breakfast before you head out to Disneyland.

Buy Souvenirs Beforehand

If you think about it, your children want to be just like everyone else at Disneyland.  They want to look the part and they want to be wearing their favourite Disneyland paraphernalia gear while at the park.  Make a quick stop at a souvenir shop in Anaheim for souvenirs before you start your adventure at the magical kingdom and both your children and your wallet will be happy.  With T-shirts for babies and small toddlers costing $15 a piece at Disneyland, you can save a lot of money by buying it for half the price just like this writer for Yahoo did to save money at Disneyland.

Tickets Ahead of Time

Finally, buying tickets ahead of time will save you money.  About.com has a great page on the ticket prices for Disneyland and some coupon codes that you can use to save money.  Buying your tickets at Costco can save you money as well, but only about $5 off each ticket.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any other ways in which you save money at Disneyland?

Photo credit: Kelsey

Moose Rating (3 votes)
April 2

How to Avoid Roaming and Save Money on Data

Posted by on April 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Avoid Roaming and Save Money on Data

We all know someone who was charged a ridiculous amount of money for keeping connected while away from Canada for travel.  In fact, you may have even heard of the horror stories, like how someone a few years ago got charged a $37,000 bill for roaming from Telus for using their iPhone in Egypt.

Therefore, avoiding roaming charges at all costs will definitely save you money.  Thankfully, the options for keeping connected through Facebook, email, and instant messaging are still reasonable and don’t take that much effort to do.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid roaming and save money on data while you are traveling outside of Canada.

Unlock Your Cell Phone

Some phones come unlocked already, but some carriers, like Telus, come with their phones locked (for example, the iPhone).  After three months with the carrier on your new plan or after you buy your new phone, you can pay $35 for them to unlock your cell phone for you. They can do this over the phone and the process takes about 30 minutes.  After that, you can…

Buy a SIM Card

A SIM card is a tiny little chip that you can put into your now unlocked phone.  It allows you to use the carrier in your country you are staying in outside of Canada.  The rates are much more reasonable than any roaming package from your carrier.  They have SIM cards from T-Mobile and other carriers that you can use when you are in the United States.

Alternately, instead of unlocking your cell phone, you could buy a cheap GSM enabled phone to use in your destination country.

A carrier in the United States called Roam Mobility has SIM cards that you can use for coverage all over the United States.  This is helpful if you are not just planning to visit a single state, where individual SIM cards may cause you to roam if you go from Washington to California, for example.  It is targeted towards Canada and even provides you with shipping to Canada.  I have a friend who uses this and he is very happy with the SIM card.  Their SIM Card costs $19.99 and plans vary according to what you need.  For example, the talk and text plan can range from $3-4 per day and you can purchase it ahead of time.

Turn off Cellular Roaming

On your iPhone, the data roaming is turned off automatically.  Before you head off to your destination, make sure that it is toggled off.  In fact, make sure your “cellular data” button is also toggled off.  This will restrict your smart phone to only use wifi to access the Internet, instead of using your cellular data.

Get Skype

If you like to chat on the phone while outside of Canada, you can get access to Wi-Fi and use Skype.  The great thing about Skype is that you can buy Skype credits (which last forever because most calls cost only $0.02/minute) and you can call any number you wish with Skype.  Skype credit is an “add-on” to Skype where you can use it to call land-lines or cell phones without the person having a Skype account.  I’ve bought $10 worth of Skype credit and it has lasted me over a year.  You can also send instant messages for pennies too with Skype credit.

Disable Location Setting and Push Notifications

Another thing that would help prevent expensive data charges is to disable your location setting function and the push notifications.  These are what I call secret data suckers as they access and use data behind your back without you being aware of it.  For example, the push for email updates your email regularly for example, every 15 minutes or 1 hour.  Instead you can update this manually, like when you have access to wifi.

The advent of the Smart phone has been both a blessing and a curse!  We can keep connected with each other even while traveling, we can post updates of our travels and adventures in real-time, but this often comes at a large cost.  With these tips, hopefully they help you keep connected with your Smart phone for less.  However, maybe keeping your Smart phone around isn’t the point of going on holiday.  Might be better to leave it at home and enjoy the company of the people you are traveling with instead!

Photo credit: Sam Churchill

Bargainmoosers, do you have other ways in which you save money on roaming charges while away from Canada?

Moose Rating (3 votes)
March 28

5 Tips to Save You Money on your Next Car Purchase

Posted by on March 28, 2014 at 8:00 PM

5 Tips to Save You Money on your Next Car Purchase

Buying a new car (or a new used car) can be a daunting task, especially since it is usually the second largest purchase that we make aside from buying a house. It does not help when there are aggressive car sales people who are pressuring you to buy a new car, or add things that you would not necessarily get yourself, such as a sun roof. It also does not help when you are buying a used car and you have to worry if you are getting a lemon, which is a defective vehicle which looks better than it actually is, according to Investopedia. Even though you may be adept at haggling or bargaining when at night markets or when traveling, negotiating a big purchase like this requires much more consideration and thought. Buying a car is definitely not an impulse buy (or it should not be, at least).

So with all these factors to consider, here are a few tips that might help you save a few hundred or a few thousand dollars on your next car purchase:

Think About What you Really Need
Just like with buying a house, we can be easily distracted by the allure of things and want things that we don’t necessarily need. For example, if you like driving manual, do you need to get an automatic? Do you really need that SUV for your family of three? Are the heated seats necessary? Is the sunroof necessary?

Just like with buying a house, make a list of negotiables (or “wants”) and non-negotiables, or needs (for example, 5 star safety rating and side airbags). This will help you sort out what is important to you in your next car purchase.

Timing is Key
Like many things in life, timing is key. Focus on dealing with car salespeople at the end of the month, this is when they are anxious to make their quotas and their sales targets, and they will be more flexible on pricing. Also, Yahoo suggests that there are two buying seasons when there are deep discounts on new cars (if you must buy new, that is), these are the end of December (last two weeks), and from the July to October months.

Do Your Research
The best way to deal with crafty car salespeople (other than sniffing out the schmoozy ones by first glance) is to do your research and be knowledgeable. Make notes of what they tell you, ask them to calculate the net purchase price (it all sounds fine and dandy but when you add taxes and levies, the price doesn’t sound as great in the end). Also, the Kelley Blue Book is your friend. It lists the standard prices of cars depending on the year and the make. Look online at different prices, make phone calls to dealers. Sometimes when you ask for Internet pricing you get a better deal. Oftentimes it is easier to negotiate on the phone rather than in person.

Get your Financing Arranged

Gail Vaz Oxlade and Moneysense recommends getting your financing arranged. If you are lucky enough to not require financing and can pay by straight cash, then you may even be able to get some more money off your purchase price. Oftentimes arranging financing independently works out better than using the dealerships financing. For example, a friend of mine was financing his car at 7%, but now only pays 3.25%, which he ended up using his Home Equity Line of Credit for.

Trade-In Later or Sell Your Old Car Yourself

According to Forbes, keeping quiet about trading in your used car can save you a lot of money. They recommend not telling the salesperson that you want to trade in your used car until you reach a final price after negotiating, otherwise, the salesperson may inflate the cost of the new car that you are buying. Keeping the two transactions and deals separate is key.

If you have the time and energy, selling your car yourself will get you much more than the dealer can give you, as they have to make money on the car that they buy off you. In fact, car salespeople make more commission selling used cars than they do on new cars. To sell your used car, check out classifieds such as Craigslist, Kijiji, and Autotrader.ca

I think a good compromise is to try and sell the car yourself and if after a pre-set time period you are unable to, you can consider trading it in. Smart Cookies blog has a great article on deciding whether to sell or trade in your car.

Bargainmoosers, do you have any other tips to save money when buying a new (or a new-old) car?

Photo credit: NRMA New Cars

Moose Rating (2 votes)
March 26

How to Save Money on Office Clothes

Posted by on March 26, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Save Money on Office Clothes

Work clothes are, on average, more expensive than the clothes we normally wear, such as T-shirts and jeans.  The materials in work clothes, such as wool, silk, and cashmere are more expensive than non-work wear and unfortunately, we have to wear different clothes every day to look professional and for fear of being labelled a casual outcast at work.  Of course, one great way to save money on office clothes is to buy clothes when they are on sale, or during off season.

So, if you, like many others, do not have $2500 (or do not want to spend $2500) to spend on work clothes, then here are some ways that may help you save money on office clothes.

Invest in Classic Pieces

Classic work and office clothing, such as a black blazer, classic black shoes, and pinstripe or wool pants are key pieces in any office wardrobe.  A black blazer (especially if it is made of soft material, like the classic Zara black blazer) is versatile and easy to match with dresses (even non-structured flow-y dresses) and jeans and heels.  At work, they can be matched with different coloured pants (for example, chocolate brown pants) as long as you are wearing a top with unifying colour (e.g., brown and black block stripes).  Wisebread agrees and recommends spending more money on one classic black jacket in order to pair it with other items to dress them up.  It is a good idea to spend a bit more on these pieces because it is easy to tell when they are cheap and not well made (for example, an ill-fitting blazer or scuffed, worn shoes).

Hit Up Consignment Stores

Consignment is one of my favourite ways to save money on clothing.  I often make an effort to sell my clothes back to consignment if I have not worn them for a few years or seasons or if I don’t fit them anymore.

If you’re pressed for time or there aren’t any consignment stores where you live, you might want to look at some online consignment stores, which are fast becoming popular.  Mashable lists some of the more popular online consignment in the United States.  There are a number of good consignment stores online in Canada like Minitrade (which now sells women’s clothing too) and you could even hit up eBay or Kijiji.

Shop End of Season

Timing is everything.  According to Time Magazine, shopping at certain times of the year and even certain times of the week has its benefits.  For example, did you know that on Monday, you can save money on men’s and women’s dress pants? And on Wednesdays, typically shoppers can expect to save 40% on shoes if you buy online.  In addition, the best time of the year to buy (in stores, and not online) is December 26.  The best time of year to buy suits is in January.  It is a good idea to invest in a suit, even though $500 is a lot to shell out initially, if it fits you well, you will feel like a million bucks and sometimes, well, that’s priceless.

Go Custom Made (Overseas)

Just like custom made bridal dresses you can also get custom made suits and even tailored shirts.  Although this list from Lifehackers is tailored (excuse the pun) more for men, there is one website that can provide custom made dresses and office wear for women.  One big custom made clothing website/ company is Indochino, and they were masterminded right in Victoria, BC.  The concept is that you measure yourself (I would recommend going to a tailor you know so they can measure you), order your suit, and it comes delivered to you a few weeks later.  It is custom made in Vietnam or China, where labour (unfortunately) is much more affordable.  Even though this sounds like a great idea, sometimes it can be hit or miss.  It is a good idea to find a company with positive, good reviews, so that if something doesn’t fit right, it can be returned and re-altered.  Some men find that this is a good way to buy suits anyways because oftentimes, even buying a suit off the rack, you would still need to take it to a tailor to alter it.

Bargainmoosers, what are your favourite ways to save money on office wear?

Photo Credit: SalFalko

Moose Rating (3 votes)
March 22

4 Ways to Save Money on Juicing

Posted by on March 22, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Ways to Save Money on Juicing

A lot of people that I know have been getting more and more involved and interested in juicing.  It’s the new “it” diet and a lot of my friends that have tried it, or are regularly “juicing” swear by its health benefits.  They say they feel like they have more energy, they are less hungry, they crave less sugar, and feel healthier.  As per the Dr. Oz show (and Oprah too!) juicing is great because fruits and vegetables are abundant in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that protect you against cancer, heart disease, and other ill health.  Juicing is a fantastic way to detoxify your body.

I personally have never tried juicing, but one of my good friends who tried juicing opted for a Groupon to get her started in juicing.  It included instructions on how to juice, and included a number of recipes for juicing.  When she texted me a picture of her groceries that she bought for juicing, I was shocked.  There were so many fruits and vegetables but after all that juicing it only produced a few glasses of juice.

Juicing can be expensive for sure, so here are four tips that might help you save money on juicing, so you can invest in your health for less!

Find a Good Juicer

Some people spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars in a state of the art juicer.  However, some of the simpler models will do, especially if you are just starting your juicing trend and are unsure whether you will keep it up.  The Toronto Star has a great article by saving money queen Ellen Roseman on juicers that consumer reports recommends, and they are more economically priced than you think.  For example, you can get a great juicer for under $100.

If you think about it, juicing (even though you are buying a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables) is cheaper than buying expensive juices and smoothies on a daily basis (such as at Jugo Juice or Booster Juice) and also cheaper than eating out regularly.  Because it doesn’t take much time/ effort to clean out the juicer, this might be an alternative for those don’t have enough time to cook and prepare a meal.

The Freezer is Your Friend

Although ideally you want fresh fruits and vegetables, you can buy certain fruits when they are on sale and freeze them.  In this case, investing in a chest freezer might help you save even more money.  A lot of berries such as blueberries freeze very well.  I have frozen spinach that I keep handy.

Juice Garden

Another way to save money with juicing is to grow a juice garden.  Of course, this is only feasible if you have a garden.  If you have some grass or some soil on some land and have at least 6 hours of sunlight a day for your potential garden, it might be a good idea to create a project to have a garden.  Optimally you would need four feet by eight feet of space, according to Yahoo.  Making a raised garden bed with cedar can be done by getting cedar that is six to ten inches high and two inches thick, this provides the best results.

I have grown tomatoes, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, and kale with no difficulties.  I do not have a green thumb at all, so if I was able to do it, you can too!

Don’t Waste the Pulp

One of the complaints that my friend had when she started juicing was that she felt bad because she was wasting and throwing away the fruit and vegetable pulp a lot of the time.  On the Passionately Raw blog, she shares some idea on what you can do to use the pulp (as known as juicing refuse) for other things, that way, you can extend that healthiness for longer!

All you have to do is freeze the pulp in a zip lock bag until you are ready to use it, and when you are, you can use vegetable pulp in raw crackers, as a dip, or you can add the vegetable pulp to food.  For fruit pulp, you can re-use it into jams, use it in baking, and even make raw desserts.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on juicing? Have you ever tried it?

Moose Rating (2 votes)
March 19

Save Money on Currency Exchange Fees

Posted by on March 19, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money on Currency Exchange Fees

There is no doubt about it, traveling is a great way to explore the world (or even just our neighbours down south), learn about different cultures, and relax.  However, usually one thing always dampens the mood and it is unfortunately, the currency exchange fees.  When you are away from our home and native land of Canada, you get dinged a load of money whenever you withdraw money from your bank (should you find an ATM that allows you to use your debit card), whenever you use your credit card to purchase something, and even when you exchange Canadian dollars into the currency of the country you are in.  There’s no way about it, we will get dinged when we exchange money.  There are, however, some ways in which we can get dinged a little less.

Here are some considerations for you next time you travel outside of Canada, on how to save money on those pesky currency exchange fees.

Get a U.S. Dollar Credit Card

One option to avoid the standard 2.5% currency exchange fee with every credit card transaction (it’s blended into the exchange rate when you see it on your credit card statement) is to get a U.S. Dollar Credit Card.  Of course, this will not work outside of the United States (even in Canada) as you will be charged the 2.5% currency exchange rate.  However, since Canadians frequent our neighbours down south so much, this might be a good idea.

With the U.S. Dollar Credit Card, you will not get charged the 2.5% currency exchange.  Credit cards through Chase Bank Canada do not have the 2.5% currency exchange fees.  Toronto Star advocates that the only thing that you will pay is the exchange rate.  Some examples are the credit card is the Amazon credit card and the Sears credit card.  With the Amazon credit card, you can earn money towards Amazon purchases and also you get $20 cash back towards Amazon purchases when you enrol.

Nonetheless, using your credit card may still be a better option than say, exchanging your money at the airport.  Of course, this is not the case if you use your credit card for cash advances and the sort.

Avoid Exchanging Money at Certain Places

The airport, the hotels, and places like Travelex are not great places to exchange your money.  Although it looks like a good idea, they usually charge an arm and a leg and the rates are not good at all.  For example, Million Miles Secrets Blogs says that the Travelex fee is $9.95 per transaction if you convert less than $500 in the currency you are exchanging.  If you are exchanging small amounts of currency, this can really add up.  It is important to remember that the $9.95 fee is on top of the terrible exchange rate that they give you, too.

Do Not Press “OK” to Canadian Currency on your Purchase

One of the trickiest ways in which they bombard you with the currency exchange fee is when some retailers do their own exchange. Oftentimes, the fees here are exorbitant and more than what your credit card company will charge you.  Therefore, when you are paying and you see a “The retailer can change the currency for you” “$53.40 CDN, ok?” (or something similar) say no and just let your credit card company do the currency exchange for you instead.

According to Yahoo Finance, this is labelled Dynamic Currency Conversion and there are a lot of hidden fees to it.  You will likely be double “currency exchanged” and it can even add up to 10% of the purchase price in fees!

So next time, just say “no” even though it looks convenient.  It’s not.

Exchange Money Before you Go

The best currency exchange rates are found at the Exchange Centres, though not all of them may have the money available in your currency (depending on where you are going).  Therefore, exchange some money before you head to your destination country, and you can always exchange more money when you get to your destination (not at the airport, of course).  The bullion and currency exchange shop in my city has better rates than the banks.

Another reason to exchange before you go is the $5 charge each time you use your debit card at a foreign ATM.

Photo credit: Laura

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on currency exchange fees?

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January 25

Save Money On Your Wedding Invitations

Posted by on January 25, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Money On Your Wedding Invitations

Considering that the average cost of weddings in Canada is now up to $23,300 (source: Globe and Mail), it makes sense to try and cut down on the wedding expenses in areas where people won’t notice that you are trimming back.  One of these areas where I do not think it is essential to spend a lot of money on is wedding invitations.  While they are a memento and something you will cherish for a long time, most people that you invite will likely recycle the invitations or at least put them somewhere where they won’t be looking at them on a daily basis.

According to the Bridal Association of America, the average cost of wedding invitations amounts to $659.  This amount refers to invitations that involve wedding invitations, replies, and envelopes for both of these.  Most couples nowadays do not include reply RSVP cards and envelopes.  However, even if you factor in the omission of the reply cards and reply envelopes, the price of wedding invitations can still cost around $2 to $5 per invitation.

Here are a few tips on how you can save money on your wedding invitations, allowing you to save more money towards more important things, like your honeymoon, or your new life together, for example.

Make Your Own

You can design your own wedding invitations, or buy a template from Etsy or through a big craft store, like Michael’s.  This will save money on design costs.  MSN Money recommends using design software to create your wedding invitations.

Instead of having the envelopes printed with your address and the addresses of those that are invited, use a mass printing machine with stick-on labels instead.  People (like me) throw out the invitation envelope immediately anyway (I don’t like clutter that much and I like to recycle) so it doesn’t matter what your envelope looks like.

Also, you could use websites like Vistaprint to make your own invitations.  Or you could even use Shutterfly or Picaboo to send an invite out that consists of a picture of the two of you instead of a formal print out on card stock.

Opt Out on Big Envelopes

Obviously, having to use big envelopes or big square invitations will cost you extra in postage.  Considering that Canada Post is planning to increase their Canadian postage stamps from $0.61 (or however much it is now) to a whopping one dollar soon, any additional costs, for example, a larger envelope, will really add up, unfortunately.

Keep it Simple

The more elaborate you make your wedding invitations, the more expensive they will be.  The Knot (known as the wedding guru website for all) suggests using a single panel invitation instead of a folded invitation.  A simple, single panel invitation will be much more economical than a typical wedding invitation that folds like a card, and has tissue paper inside it.  People rarely remember the design or style of your wedding invitation and if that can save you a few hundred dollars, then go for it.

Email Out Your Save the Date’s and Get RSVP’s Emailed

Instead of including the RSVP card which adds to printing costs, envelope costs, and mailing costs, ask people to RSVP via email instead.  Not only will you be saving money on RSVPs, you will also be saving the environment.  If possible, Yahoo recommends that you could even email out your invitations instead of sending them by mail too.  This will be 1/10 of the cost of mailing out paper invitations.  However, not everyone is a fan of this, as some people do not have email and still prefer to receive invitations by snail mail.

However you plan to save money on wedding invitations, the point is that you can save money on wedding invitations.  Instead, you can focus on more important things like photography, food, and other things that people will more likely remember and take pictures of.  Let’s face it, $23,300 is a lot of money, and if there’s any way you could save some of that towards more important things, like not going into debt for your wedding, or a down payment for a new home together, then you should.

Bargainmoosers, how much did you spend on your wedding invitations?

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January 18

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Vet Bill

Posted by on January 18, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Vet Bill

Oftentimes, when people get dogs or cats for pets, they underestimate the total cost or the usual cost of a pet.  There can be some large unexpected expenses that can increase the cost of veterinarian bills to an extreme amount.  For example, my dog was chewing on a raw bone one day and broke his tooth.  He had to have this removed and had to be placed under general anaesthetic for the procedure.  The total bill cost well over $1000 to remove a fractured tooth.

Although you can’t predict or prevent something random like this from happening, there are some ways to mitigate the cost of the vet bill and also some ways in which you can prevent more predictable health issues from happening.

Here are some tips on ways to save money on your next vet bill:

Shop Around

Veterinary practices (like medical practices) have high overhead costs (rent, staff, etc.).  Therefore it might be prudent to look around and comparison shop for a veterinarian who does not have high overhead costs to pay (such as high rent if it is in an area such as downtown).  When the costs are lower, the lower overhead costs are usually passed down to you, the pet owner.

Canadian Living stated that the fine balance is between quality and cost.  While you may want to save a buck or two, you don’t want to do so at the expense of your pet who may not receive competent, quality care.  Canadian Living recommends that you call around with the details of your pet’s condition and ask for general quotes on how much the veterinary services would cost.  I personally called around to two or three different veterinary practices on how much it would cost to extract a tooth that was fractured at the gum line.  The vet clinics were generally able to give me a ballpark range, which I found quite helpful and it also gave me peace of mind in knowing that my usual vet wasn’t completely overcharging me.

Ask for a Written Quote

Before you whip your credit card out, ask for a written quote.  Sometimes veterinarians add unnecessary procedures or tests that may not be completely needed – these will show up on the written quote.  I recall one time a veterinarian practice wanted to catheterize my pet (to put a tube up into his bladder so he doesn’t need to pee) except that there was no need for it as he was just receiving fluids through an intravenous line for a few hours.

Obtaining a quote that is written out can also help you with your comparison shopping.

Administer Medications Yourself

US News suggests that there are certain things that you can do yourself easily without having to pay an administration fee for it.  Although you may not be comfortable with giving vaccinations or injections to your pet, there are other actions that are often included in the veterinarian bill but can be done yourself, suggests US News.

For example, one time the veterinarian charged $20 for a urine sample/urine collection from my dog.  His veterinarian technician was assigned to duty to collect the urine sample, but I offered to do it myself to save some money.  They also offered me this option as well.

Prevention is Key

Like all things in life and with regards to health, an ounce of prevention goes a long way.  Ensuring that your pooch is within the normal weights for his or her breed is important because that gives you an idea of how fast or how slow he or she will be.

Overweight dogs, like in humans, are more prone to developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

Regular teeth brushing is also very helpful, as it has been shown to prevent gingivitis or other teeth complications over time.

The verdict? Since we have no way of knowing when the emergency funds for your pooch are needed, it is helpful to create a monthly savings budget, so that there are no surprises when it comes time for a vet visit.

Bargainmoosers, what do you think are some other ways to save money on vet bills for your pets?

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January 11

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Taxes

Posted by on January 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Tips To Save Money On Your Taxes

According to the book the Millionaire Next Door, one of the highest expenditures that we will pay on an annual basis is our taxes.  If the average Canadian family earning almost $75,000 in household income pays $31,600 in taxes (income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes included), that’s almost 42% of the entire gross income.

Therefore, it makes great sense to try and save money on your taxes if possible, since it is the most money you will spend on anything (even your mortgage!), especially in Canada where the taxation rates are high.  That being said, our taxes give us a lot in return such as free elementary and high school education, free health care (for the most part), and free social benefits if needed.

Here are four tips to save money on your taxes:

Maximize the RRSP

These tools from the government are great ways to save money on taxes.  If your annual income is high, the RRSP is a great tool because it reduces the taxes that you will need to pay. Investopedia has a great article detailing the benefits of an RRSP.

If however, you are expected to make more money in future years, you may wish to hold that deduction until future years, when your income is higher and thus the income tax is higher.  This way, you will get more bang for your buck in terms of tax deductions and tax savings.

Maximize your Medical Expenses and Charitable Contributions

In addition to charitable donations and medical expenses, remember to claim for child care expenses, tuition and textbooks, and interest paid on student loans.  Also, interest used for investment purposes is deductible as well.  More examples are on Yahoo.

The key is to keep all of these records in one place so that you can easily access them.  It is also important to keep a record of your charitable contributions.  That way, if you donated more this year but haven’t reached the threshold of $200 where it would move into the higher tax deduction bracket, you might as well save your charitable donations for future years, when you can get more tax lowering power when you combine the charitable contributions.

Think About T1213

People get very excited about tax returns and when they receive that cheque in the mail, they often go ahead and spend the money that they got refunded from the government instead of saving it.  The government has a form that you can fill out, called the T1213 form, that organizes it so that instead of getting a large tax return in the middle of the year, you get less tax deducted from your pay cheque.  All you need to do is fill the form out (to get the basic deductions, like if you have a child etc) and give it to your human resources department at work.  More information about this form is on the CRA website.

Some people still like to have the large tax return whereas some people are happier with less tax because that means more money to save or invest.  That being said, if you have will power to not inflate your lifestyle and budget, then having less tax deducted may be a good option.

Do your Own Taxes

Some people swear that they can save money by doing their own taxes and not having to pay $100 to an accountant (or even worse, to someone from H&R Block who took a course in preparing taxes but has no accounting background whatsoever). Initially I handed my taxes over to an accountant and afterwards, I decided to do my own taxes. I like doing my own taxes because it gives me some control as to how my finances are, etc.

Bargainmoose often has great giveaways and coupon codes for tax software like Intuit Quickbooks if you decide to do your own taxes.  If you’re still unsure whether you should jump on the “I do my own taxes” bandwagon, read the article from the Globe and Mail about doing your own taxes.

If you’re looking for more ways to save on your taxes, be sure to check out this earlier post on tax tips to remember before year end.

Bargainmoosers, how do you save money on your taxes?  Do you do your own taxes?

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January 4

4 Tips To Save Money On Your All Inclusive Resort Vacation

Posted by on January 4, 2014 at 8:00 PM

4 Tips To Save Money On Your All Inclusive Resort Vacation

Canadians love to fly south and escape the dreary, cold, and wet Canadian winter.  It comes as no surprise that Canadians love going to all inclusive resort vacations where food, drinks, the flight, and accommodation are all included.  These trips can be pricey for the number of days spent vacationing.  However, they can be a much needed escape and getaway, because they require very little planning and involve a ton of rest and relaxation.

Some people find the resort vacation boring because of the lack of structure or exploration, but some people really enjoy the resort style vacation because there is opportunity to catch up on reading, relax, get some sun (with sunscreen of course), and not have to worry about children.

Here are four tips on how to save a bit of money on your next all inclusive resort vacation.  That way, you’ll have a bit more money left over for your next trip.

 1. Book Last Minute

I used to wonder whether booking last minute really saved you money or not.  When is the correct time?  What does last minute actually mean?  According to YVR deals, prices tend to drop (if they are going to drop) around four to five weeks before flight departure.  Flights are usually the rock bottom cheapest at around one week before flight departure.

This happens since the booking companies and travel companies are all scrambling to fill up their spaces.  When they say last minute, it really does mean last minute, unfortunately.  Most of the travel companies will have the same prices anyway, so it shouldn’t really matter who you pick compared to others.

If your vacation schedule is flexible, you may want to look into booking last minute to save a few hundred dollars off your all-inclusive.  Unfortunately, most people do not have flexible schedules, but it is still good to know that last minute deals do exist.

2. Go for the Cheapest Place

Canadians love the big three destinations: Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.  Of these, Cuba and the Dominican Republic are historically the most economical.

I would prefer Cuba because of the rich culture, it’s an easy jaunt to Havana, and they like Canadians. What more could you ask for?  Tripadvisor has a list of the all inclusive resorts in Cuba with their ratings and reviews from Tripadvisor readers.

3. Pick a Place Where Your Kids are Free

Having a family and planning an international trip is no small feat.  Plane tickets are no doubt the most expensive part of bringing kids along (unless they are under the age of two and can ride on the flight for free).  That’s why opting for all-inclusive resorts that are family-friendly to the extent that children can stay for free is ideal.

VacationKids.com is a great blog where it lists the all inclusive resorts where kids are free, and they update it yearly.  The list includes all the different resort areas like Cancun, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta, Mayan Rivera, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.  Unfortunately, there’s no list for Cuba, because I believe this site is American.

4. Go Off Season

Finally, and probably the most well-known of the ways to save money on an all inclusive resort vacation, is to go off season.  The peak season for Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba is during December (stay as far away from Christmas and New Years as possible) and in February and March, when spring break, Family Day, and other holidays happen.  February and March are probably the peak months of the Canadian winter blues, and people are antsy to get away to somewhere tropical and warm.

According to Readers Digest, the best time to go (absolute cheapest) is from May to October.  However, this is also when Canada is actually nice.  In addition, August and September are the peak of hurricane season, and then it would likely be nicer to stay in Canada than to go somewhere where it is rainy, windy, and threatening hurricanes.

As you can see, if you are strategic, plan ahead, or are flexible with being able to stay and travel last minute, you can save a few hundred dollars at least on a all-inclusive vacation.

Bargainmoosers, do you have other tips for saving money on an all-inclusive resort vacation?

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December 28

4 Ways To Make Your Laptop Last Longer

Posted by on December 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM

4 Ways To Make Your Laptop Last Longer

I remember that it was only four years ago on Boxing Day when I got my first Apple MacBook Pro laptop.  It has served me well throughout the years and is still doing well today. It was very slow for a while, and I was concerned that I would need to get a new laptop, but I took it into the Geniuses at the Apple store and they were able to troubleshoot with me.  It turns out that my macbook wasn’t acting slow because I ran out of memory on my hard drive, it was because I had downloaded another application a while back which ran Windows at the same time at start up.  The computer was working twice as hard for something that I wasn’t even using for the past year and a half.

After this got fixed (for free, I might add), my computer has been running fast as usual, and I have no complaints.  The Geniuses at Apple recommended that I get a new battery, but seeing as I have my laptop hooked up to an electrical source 99.9% of the time, I don’t see this being necessary at this point.

I do need to consider getting a new laptop in the future, seeing as the average lifespan for laptops are anywhere from four to six years, according to the Genius that I spoke to at the Apple store.  There are ways in which you can make sure your laptop lasts a long time so that it will keep you and your budget happy for a little while longer.  Having to avoid buying a new laptop will save money in the short and long run, considering that laptops range anywhere from $700 to $1800 these days.

Here are four ways that may help you make your laptop last a little longer:

No Fluids Near your Laptop

One of the most obvious ways to keep your laptop lasting longer is to avoid drinking coffee, beer, alcohol, soda pop, water, or anything liquid near it. It is way too easy to spill fluids into your laptop; once this happens, there is no going back.

Don’t Plug It In

PC Magazine states that most laptop batteries last about one to two years, tops.  If you want to make your battery last longer, the recommended course of action is to not leave it plugged in and to let the battery drain.  If you like to keep your laptop plugged into an AC source, they recommend that you pop your battery out to keep it fresher (this might not be so easy for Macs that have the battery built directly into the laptop).

USA Today recommends that you run the battery dead at least once a month, and then charge it to full capacity.  They also recommend that you avoid keeping the laptop plugged in constantly.

Ice, Ice, Baby (Keep it Cool)

One of the things I recently learned was to make sure you keep your laptop cool (source: Huffington Post).  This means no computer work while in bed.  The comforters and blankets suffocate the air vents and don’t allow your laptop to cool down and breathe.  This affects the lifespan of the fan in the laptop in the long run.  If you love your creative inspiration and comfort while typing away in bed (I know I sometimes do), you might want to invest in a cooling pad or something to type in bed with that allows your laptop to circulate air.

Back it Up, Baby

One thing that I have learned is to always, always back up your data regularly.  We never know when our computer is on the fritz and when its last legs are on.  However, if you back up your data regularly, this will prevent the horror stories (that I know too well through my friends) of years and years of photo memories being lost and gone forever. That way, if you do have to replace your laptop, you can keep right on working without wasting time trying to recover information that you’ve lost.

For the Mac, using Time Machine and getting an external hard drive is the best bet.  You can even program it so that once you plug in the external hard drive, it automatically backs the information up.  This is best for technologically impaired people like me.

Bargainmoosers, how long did your laptop last you?

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December 21

5 Tips To Make Boxing Day Shopping Headache-Free

Posted by on December 21, 2013 at 8:00 PM

5 Tips To Make Boxing Day Shopping Headache Free

Although Boxing Day can be a great opportunity to score some deals on things that you have been waiting for to go on sale, Boxing Day can be a dual-edged sword where you may inadvertently be spending money on something that you didn’t intend to, leaving you with post-Boxing Day remorse. Boxing Day remorse comes from buying something that you cannot return to get your money back on, something that you bought impulsively because you didn’t want to wait any longer in line, or something that you thought you needed but you actually didn’t really need.

The last thing you need is an even larger credit card bill that you don’t feel good about in the first place, more reason to have the January post-holiday blues.

Personally, I avoid Boxing Day shopping if I can, although last year I went Boxing Day shopping and it was worthwhile, as I got a cute dress from Anthropologie for only $35.

Here are five tips on how to make Boxing Day shopping as stress-free as possible:

Make a List and Check it Twice

Making a list isn’t just for the holidays and for Christmas presents.  It can be very helpful for Boxing Day so that you can stay focused on what you actually need.  Scoring a deal on Boxing Day is only a deal when you buy something you want and need.

With this list, make sure to know the price of the item before you head into the store for your purchase.  Chatelaine magazine recommends checking deal websites like Bargainmoose.ca for coupons and killer deals before heading to the stores.

Try to Avoid Boxing Day Shopping if Possible

If possible, avoiding the malls and Boxing Day shopping can be very helpful for your wallet and your psyche.  Herd mentality and crowds can cause you to think irrationally and to make decisions that you would not normally make were there not line ups, crowds, and fatigue dragging you down.

Shopping online can be helpful, but it is important that you double check the return policies of online shopping to ensure that you can return something if it doesn’t fit when you try it on at home.  Also, it also helps to shop online with a targeted list.  For example, I bought a laptop on Boxing Day in 2009, and it was an easy decision because I was looking for a laptop and was planning to buy it on Boxing Day.  I did not venture into the malls that day as I did enough damage by buying a laptop.

Better yet, don’t do any Boxing Day Shopping at all unless you have a big ticket item (like a television set or appliances, or other electronics) that you have been wanting. Oftentimes, the clothes that retailers set out during Boxing Day are not that great and the discounts aren’t that great either.

Understand the Store’s Return Policy

When you are shopping at a store, it is important to understand the store’s return policy.  Many stores do not allow for any returns when their items are on sale.  However, for most bigger box stores (e.g. Future Shop, Best Buy, or department stores) this is not the case and the return policy is flexible.

Go Outdoors

I find that shopping outdoors on Boxing Day is great because I’m not a big fan of the indoor malls. Outdoor shopping areas like South Granville and Robson street in Vancouver are nice because you don’t feel so stuffed up, claustrophobic, and trapped when you are lining up at the store.  I feel like I can make better decisions, and that the shopping experience is better.  However, this might not be an option across Canada depending on the weather!

Check Your Stamina

Bring lots of water and snacks.  Your endurance and stamina will be tested more than an Iron Man competition.  You will be expected to wait in line for hours for everything, from entering the store, to trying on clothes, and to purchasing the item.  Without proper hydration and energy consumption, you may make irrational decisions that you may forget, such as buying something you don’t really want just because you want to avoid waiting in line.

Readers, do you shop on Boxing Day?

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