Saving Money

October 22

How to Haggle Your Way to a Better Deal

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

How to Haggle Your Way to a Better Deal

Ladies, you’ve probably heard this at least once in your life.

When it comes to haggling for a better deal, most women have one thing in common – they suck at it.

Linda Babcock and Sara Lashchever, authors of Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, reveal some interesting statistics on their website.

According to their book, 2.5 times more women than men said they “feel a great deal of apprehension when negotiating” and men initiate negotiations four times as often as women. Women compared negotiating to “going to the dentist,” while men compared it to “winning a ballgame” or a “wrestling match.” This opinion costs women money.

Get this, the book also revealed that women will voluntarily pay $1,353 to avoid negotiating the price of a car and that women are more pessimistic about what they can get from negotiating, so they typically ask for and get less than men – 30% less to be exact. Even worse, 20% of female adults – that’s 22 million people – avoid negotiating at all, even though they know that sometimes negotiating is called for and necessary.

You may think these statistics come from one source and they could be biased, but there are countless other sources that show that women have difficulty negotiating for raises or their job offers.

In fact, compared to other places in the world, North Americans negotiate a lot less, but it hasn’t always been this way.

“One hundred years ago, Americans used to negotiate because we weren’t as affluent as we are now. After the Second World War, we had a monopoly on a lot of the world’s manufactured goods and people had to deal with that kind of ultimatum, so a (no choice on the price) attitude became much more pervasive,” said Herb Cohen when I interviewed him about the art of the deal in 2010.

Herb Cohen is one the world’s foremost negotiators. He helped create the F.B.I.’s hostage negotiation program, he advised U.S. President Jimmy Carter on the Iranian Hostage Crisis and he is arguably credited with coining the term, “win-win situation.”

As a woman, you may suck at negotiating, but like Cohen told me, “Anything that’s the product of a negotiation can be negotiated for. You just have to know how to do it effectively.”

So without further adieu, here are a few ways to do just that.

Do Some Research Before You Suit Up

WikiHow recommends finding out how much what you want is going for by either comparing prices online or visiting other stores in your area. Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and you’re not looking at a used product or one with considerable damage that isn’t what you’re buying. Arm yourself with proof of lower prices in case the store clerk is willing to match or beat them. Also familiarize yourself with the various features of the product and how they compare with other models or competing products, so that you know the difference between them and value of each and can set the perimeters of the deal.

Have Your Lowest Price in Mind Before You Start

Thanks to the research you do, Kiplinger points out that you should have a fair price in mind – or at least the lowest price you’re willing to settle for – and you can use the research you’ve done to make your case. However, don’t name that price. Staying quiet can work to your advantage, as silence is awkward and can get the seller to volunteer a lower price, especially if it’s the end of the day or the seller looks eager to leave or close the deal. Get them to quote a price first and then ask how much they can come down, don’t give them the price you have in mind. Never give away a number right away. If the seller says “Yes” you’ll never know if you could’ve gone lower and got an even better deal.

Keep Negotiations Friendly

Too many people see a negotiation as a battle with a winner and a loser, but most expert negotiators say that if one of the parties involved in the deal goes away unhappy, then you have haggled wrong. According to The Telegraph, you should start by building a rapport with the salesperson. Smile, ask for their first name and give them yours. Then you can start with a little small talk before you get down to business. Get them to show you the product that you’re seeking and walk you through its features. You may know this information already thanks to your research, but it can help put the seller at ease and make them eager to help you.

Remember, you want them to work with you and not against you. You also want to help them out and try to create a win-win situation for both sides. Ask them about their current stock because maybe if they help you with a deal, you can help them by getting rid of some of their overstock. Frame all your discussions as if you need them to help you.

Look for Flaws, Defects or Age Indicators

You should never pay full price for a flawed or damaged product, so if you spot flaws, point out what’s wrong and use it as a reason you should get a deal. You can also use the same tactic if you’re buying a floor model, used products, last year’s model, or the last one left.

Never Take No for an Answer and Always be Prepared to Walk Away

Don’t just say you’ll walk away if you can’t get a deal – actually do it. Stand your ground and keep asking the salesperson questions. Don’t let them rush you into a buy, take your time and work all the angles. Know that if it doesn’t feel right, you can walk away at anytime and make sure the salesperson knows that. If they see a potential sale walking out the door, they may suddenly get a bit more cooperative.

Bundle Your Items

Before you start in on the big main event item you you’ve come for, take a look around the showroom floor and see if anything else catches your fancy. If something does, put it in the back of your mind because you may be able to save that one for later. The more you’re able to bundle your purchases together, (doing the seller a favour by taking more merchandise off their hands) the steeper the discount you should be entitled to.

There you have it, did we miss anything? What’s your favourite haggling strategy and are women really as bad at it as people think? Leave your answer in the comments below.

Photo credit: Keith Chastain

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October 19

Knock-Off vs. Real Deal: How to Spot the Not

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

Knock Off vs. Real Deal: How to Spot the Not

Last week, I went to Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, Cirque du Soleil’s newest production, and while the show was fantastic – well worth the price of admission – the food and the souvenirs were way overpriced (typical of a show of that caliber).

The prices would tempt anyone to try and find cheaper alternatives, which is why sometimes if you exit an event like Cirque du Soleil or (more typically) a concert, you’ll be quickly and immediately accosted by a bunch of guys selling t-shirts at a deep discount.

Has this happened to you? You’d know by how insistent these men were that you close the sale in minutes right on the spot. If you’d been there before, maybe you had a chance to take a close look at those shirts as well. No matter what event this happens at, they all come with the same M.O. From a distance those shirts look like the genuine article, basically identical to the ones you could get inside the venue. But if you look closely, the shirts are anything but — there are a few subtle changes that indicate they’re not exactly official merchandise.

So was that hasty purchase worth it to save a few dollars? Some Bargainmoosers (or is it Bargainmeeses?) may think so, but that purchase was counterfeit, which is why it happened so fast. The sellers were trying to get out of dodge before the cops caught wind. Hey, it’s a nice deal if you can get it, but counterfeit goods come at a cost.

You may not care that the sale of counterfeit goods increases the price of the real product or that you don’t know where the money you spent is going and counterfeit goods are often linked to terrorism, but you may care that counterfeit goods are of questionable quality and that money you saved may go right back into fixing the merchandise when it falls apart.

Whatever you think of counterfeit products, (good or bad) no Bargainmooser is worth their fake antlers if they can’t tell the difference between an artificial product and the genuine article.

So, below you’ll find a number of ways you can spot the not.

Look for Inconsistencies in the Packaging

The easiest way to spot a fake product is to look for differences in the packaging. Grammatical and spelling errors are common and rather obvious. We’re not talking about the occasional missing comma here. Instead, you’ll find random letters or typos in words they have no place in. Think “SOUTH AFRLCA” and “Assoxiation” for example. All of it is usually extremely obvious.

Even if there are no spelling mistakes, the printing quality would be rather shoddy. Look for colours that run or are different than those on the actual packaging you may have seen elsewhere. Look for warped or blurry text along with company logos that don’t quite look the same as the brand you think you’re buying.

Sometimes you’ll notice shoddy workmanship on the package itself. Sometimes counterfeit packages are partially or completely open before they even leave the seller’s hands. They might even be taped closed in a cheap and unprofessional way. If you see any of these many inconsistencies, they’re an absolute dead giveaway that what you’re getting isn’t exactly the real thing.

Look for Deals that Seem Too Good to be True

It’s not that counterfeit goods are always cheaper than the real products they are impersonating, but many of the deals you may be offered for them are generally ridiculously out of touch with the reality of the market. I mean, for crying out loud, who can afford to sell a brand new Louis Vuitton for $50 when the average price starts at $1,000 unless you are a counterfeiter? Exactly, nobody.

If you’re still in doubt, perhaps you should compare previous versions of the product you bought with this more suspect edition or, if this is your first time buying this product, go to the company website and compare what you have to what you see online.

Look for Shoddy Workmanship and Missing Pieces

Most companies take pride in their products, so seeing torn, frayed or broken merchandise should send up red flags immediately. If you see missing tags, decals or parts that are present on genuine versions of what you purchased, then you probably have a fake in your midst. All genuine products come with everything needed for their operation, including a user’s manual, product registration documents and accessories.

Therefore, if any of these are missing or different from what you’d typically expect, then you’ve likely been had by the seller. Again, it may not matter if something isn’t quite the same as the original, but can you think of anyone who wants a crappy product, even if they’re going for a deal?

Look for Safety Certification and Safety Standards Marks

If you’re buying electronics, you’d usually find a Canadian Standards Association mark if it’s a Canadian product and an Underwriter’s Laboratory or ETL mark if it’s an American product. All three marks certify that the product has been tested and meets North American safety standards In Europe, you’re looking for a CE mark to tell you that the merchandise is certified for safe use on that continent.

Counterfeit goods either don’t have these marks or have fake and generic versions of them. We recommend familiarizing yourself with what these marks really look like, so you know what to look for. Often, fake products will have the certification on the packaging, but not on the product itself and although the mark is of varying sizes on all products, they always look the same in terms of font and design. So, if these marks look different in any way, or they’re just nowhere to be found, then you probably have a fake product and a huge fire hazard on your hands.

Okay BargainMoosers, have any of you ever bought a fake product? If you have, tell us your story.

Photo credit: Ben

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October 18

Planning Your Movie Night In

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

Planning Your Movie Night In

Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive. Sure, a night out at the movies can always be fun, but by the time you purchase some popcorn, drinks, and maybe even some snacks, things can get pricey – especially if you’re not going on a cheap night! When you factor in the price of the movie tickets, along with the “standard” inflated movie theatre prices for your snacks and drinks, you may be looking at a total bill of approximately $50 to $60 – and that’s not including the dinner you may have had before the movie!

When you typically think of having your movie night in the comfort of your own home, you may not see it as a special venue, but it can be – it’s all in how you stage your movie night in. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the ways that you can have a nice, relaxing, AND affordable movie night at your place!

First of all, what you’ll need to remember is to try and make it a big deal, instead of making it seem like something that’s just a normal part of your day. I’m not saying that you and your significant other need to style your hair or put makeup on before you sit in your own living room, but it helps to be prepared for your movie night in.

I’ve included a list of useful tips that can help you have a fun, relaxing movie night in the comfort of your own home.

  • Plan your movie night in ahead of time. Schedule a specific time that would be most convenient for both of your schedules, and stick to it.
  • If you usually watch movies in your living room, your set up may include several couches and/or chairs. Try to sit together on the same piece of furniture instead of sprawling out on separate sofas. After all, you’ll want to replicate the movie experience!
  • Pick up some snacks or delicious food that can help you replicate the movie theatre experience! The best part about this is when you see your grocery bill – especially when you’re used to paying those inflated theatre prices! Just take a look at these food and drink combos on the Cineplex website, and think about how much you’d be saving by purchasing popcorn, pop, and candy elsewhere!
  • Before you splurge on a new DVD or Blu-Ray movie, check out your collection and see if there are any movies that you haven’t watched yet. I’m guilty of picking up new movies often when I should be watching the ones that I own that I still haven’t seen yet, so I plan to practice what I preach. For realsies.
  • Another great option if you have a Blu-Ray player, laptop, Apple TV, video game system, or smart box connected to your TV is Netflix. There are literally hundreds of movies available on Netflix, and you’ll always have plenty of interesting ones to choose from. Best of all, it only costs $7.99 a month to get access to a myriad of popular and not-so-popular movies and TV series.
  • Turn off the lights, and keep your cell phones away from the room where you’re watching the movie. You’ve done a lot to plan this relaxing movie night in, so what’s the point in getting distracted by your phone? If you’re used to checking work related emails on a regular basis, take this much-needed break and enjoy the movie.

A movie night in will only be special if you allow it to be. If you follow these tips, you may really enjoy your affordable movie nights in your home! It’s cheap, it’s fun, and you can have them several nights a week! Plus, you’ll have a great excuse to watch a bunch of older movies that you’ve always wanted to see but just couldn’t find the time to watch before. You just can’t go wrong with a nice movie night in.

Do you have any tips or ideas that you’d like to share about your movie nights in the comfort of your own home? If so, feel free to share them below!

Photo credit: Kevin Harber

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October 17

How to Make Money Using Airbnb

Posted by on October 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How to Make Money Using Airbnb

Airbnb has hit the world by storm and has quickly become one of the most common ways people use to stay in another city or country. With hotel costs becoming more and more expensive and without having access to a kitchen while you are in a hotel, living in someone else’s apartment or suite or even spare room makes much more sense.

Airbnb is in over 190 countries around the world.  While I have not used Airbnb yet I definitely plan to in the near future.  As an Airbnb host, you can choose how much to rent your place out and when.  For a great run down of what Airbnb actually is (the online rental marketplace), check out this great Investopedia post.

What are  the Costs?

The costs to the host are minimal (technically).  Airbnb charges you a 3% fee once the reservation goes through.  The traveler, on the other hand, has to pay a 6-12% fee on top of what you charge as a host for their reservation.

Some other costs include property damage.  While no one wants to think about this, it can be a reality.  You add a security deposit to each booking and Airbnb covers damages up to $1,000,000 but it is a good idea to read the fine print on Airbnb to see what is covered or not.

Also, before you list your place, it is a good idea to look at the laws and jurisdiction in your community to make sure you are allowed to rent out your place, as you may need to apply for a business license from your city in many cases.

Here are some ways in which you can pimp out your pad and market your listing to make sure people want to stay at your place:

Take Advantage of the Professionals

Airbnb offers a professional photographer to come to your place in most cities.  The process is simple but you need to be present with the photographer during daylight hours.  The process is really free.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s especially important when you are considering listing your place out on Airbnb.

Response to Requests ASAP

According to Smart Cookies, one way in which you can be profitable and successful with your Airbnb listing is to ensure that your response rate is high.  Respond to requests within 24 hours because a lot of the travelers booking on Airbnb are last minute travelers and you don’t want to miss their booking request.  Your response rate is listed and shown on your Airbnb host page.  This is something that you can easily control and manage, and there are no reasons why this should not be followed up on.

Include the Little Things

Little things turn into big things as we know.  The little touches, like towels included, coffee and tea amenities, and WIFI (actually that is a big thing because WIFI these days is seen as a necessity and not a ‘perk’) are going to give you big bang for your buck.  Even parking can be expensive and people want to know that they can park their car hassle free, especially in big cities when parking is a pain to get.

Feedback is Key

Forbes has a great article on “Seven Tips to Make Bank on Airbnb” and one of them is to make sure you get verified, which means getting feedback and reviews.  When someone is searching for a place to stay, it is hard for them to trust you when you don’t have any feedback.  People want to know they are staying at a reliable place that other travelers felt were reliable too.  That’s why some websites like Tripadvisor do so well.  Basically this is like Tripadvisor within Airbnb already embedded.  You want to make sure people like your place and want to write a good comment.

There you have it, hopefully these tips help you with your Airbnb listing or at least inspire you to think about getting on the Airbnb bandwagon.  If you need a little push, use this coupon code from Bargainmoose to get $25 Airbnb credit just for signing up!

Bargainmoosers, have you tried using Airbnb or tried renting out your space with Airbnb?  What have been your experiences?

Photo credit: Matthew Trentacoste

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October 16

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

Posted by on October 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

One of my favourite holidays is fast approaching and the one thing everyone will need is a costume.  With Halloween being on a Friday this year, there are likely to be parties for young and old.  Not only do I hate spending a fortune on a costume, I don’t like how the store bought costumes all look the same and everyone has them.  I prefer the good, old fashioned, homemade costume and I have rounded up some great ideas for young and old to make your own costume this year.  It will save you money and you will be the hit of the party!

1. Smurf

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

This is a costume that would look adorable on a baby but really any aged person could wear.  I found it over at Tip Junkie and it is very easy to make.  Just use some white tights, a blue shirt and make a white hat and ball tail.  If you want to be Smurfette, just add a yellow wig.

2. Octopus

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

This is such a fun costume for kids , but really can be for someone of any age.  At Giggles Galore, they give you step by step direction on how to make the legs and the hat.  You can choose any colour you want and just match it to a shirt you have in your closet.

3. Prego Pasta Sauce

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

I love this idea for a pregnant woman.  I was huge when I was pregnant and it is not easy to figure out a costume.  With this one from Cuffed for Life, you can wear your jeans and a red shirt and all you need to do is buy some felt for the details on the front.  You can add some plastic cutlery to your hair for a fun touch as well.

4. Cactus

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

I just love this costume and how easy it is to make!  All you need is green sweat pants and a green shirt to wear and a box of whites straws.  You pin the straws on all over for the prickles and you are an instant cactus. (Idea from Inventor Spot)

5. Beanie Babies

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

This adult costume is perfect for a party or the bar.  It is a more imaginative version of the same old skimpy cat, mouse, and other animal costumes.  You can still dress in your sexy Halloween animal costume but by adding the big heart tag in the front, (with some simple cardboard) you have a creative fun spin!  I found this costume idea over at Her Campus.

6. Smores Family

7 Unique Homemade Halloween Costumes

This is such an awesome idea for a family to do together. For the actual easy directions on how to make each piece, they are posted up on Cheerios & Lattes.

What are you dressing up as this year for Halloween Moosers?

Banner photo credit: thepeachmartini

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October 14

How Your Favourite Celebrities Save Money

Posted by on October 14, 2014 at 8:00 PM

How Your Favourite Celebrities Save Money

Celebrities saving money? I know, right? Why would you even need to deprive yourself when you can literally have anything you want? Still, it’s nice to know that, in some respects, some of them are just like us. I guess it’s comforting.

Besides, just because you get famous doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live like a baller all the time and I’m sure those money saving habits that served them well when they were struggling actors are hard to break.

After all, fame is fleeting – one minute you’re living high on the hog and the next you could be eating Kraft dinner again, so maybe these money saving habits are good for the Jennifer Lawrences and the Lena Dunhams of the world to know, in case they ever lose their appeal as the “It” girls of the moment.

Below you’ll find some of Hollywood’s finest and their average joe strategies for saving money

Zooey Deschanel Saves More Than She Spends

During her 2012 divorce from Ben Gibbard, the lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie (duh!), court documents revealed that she was waaaay in the black. According to Huffington Post, she saves 76% of her income, has absolutely no debt and has put away $1.58 million in the bank with even more money tied into an investment portfolio.

My financial advisor would applaud those numbers, but I guess it’s easy to put a little away into that emergency fund when you make $95,000 a month.

Sarah Michelle Gellar Clips Coupons

So, it turns out that when Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t slaying vampires on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, she was slaying flyers and coupon books with a pair of scissors.

In 2012, the actress admitted to Self Magazine that she clips coupons saying, “I clip coupons all the time. Why should you pay more for something that someone else is paying less for?”.

Yes, why should you, Sarah? That’s the question we ask ourselves all the time at Bargainmoose and we’re glad you share those sentiments.

I wonder if she’d start going all Buffy on the grocery clerk or dry cleaner if they refused to redeem that 20% off voucher?

Hilary Swank Buys in Bulk

This two-time Academy Award winner is another actress who says she sees coupons as “a dollar in her pocket,” but that’s not all she does to save money. The actress also buys toilet paper and toothpaste in bulk, even though she’s more than financially secure.

These habits aren’t so unusual, especially for her. In her earlier life she lived hand-to-mouth in a trailer park in Bellingham, Washington and we all saw her chow down on a burger just after winning her first Academy Award for Boys Don’t Cry. It’s easy for her to be one of the boys, as her penny pinching practices are so engrained, she’s not above getting her hands dirty if it will save a few bucks. In 2010, she told Regis and Kelly this:

“When you open up the paper and you see those coupons, it looks like dollar bills staring you in the face. . . . It’s how I grew up. Why not?”

Sarah Jessica Parker Will Not Spoil Her Children

Though she has a weakness for Manolo Blahnik shoes – owning over 100 pairs – SJP insists that she’s the complete opposite from her shopaholic character Carrie Bradshaw on Sex in the City. The Daily Scoop reports that she went to the school of hard knocks, living on welfare while growing up in a family of eight.

In a 2008 interview she’s said that she didn’t by her son new clothes when he was younger. Instead, he wore hand-me-downs from his older cousins.

“James only wears hand-me-downs because I’ve got all these older nephews…Plus my mother saved all my brothers’ clothes…I think it’s incumbent on my husband and me to really stress and to show James Wilkie by example what it means to owe your community something and that he is not entitled to the benefits of our hard work.”

Kristen Bell is No Bridezilla

When Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard got married there was no Hollywood wedding. The whole affair only cost $142 plus gas. She told Jay Leno that it almost didn’t happen because even though they filled out the paperwork, the couple forgot to find someone to officiate the wedding so they had to scramble to call their friends (some of them were ordained) to find someone.

The friend that finally came through was actually in the same courthouse and after the deed was done, the new Mr. and Mrs. Shepard joined their friends at a local restaurant where they were presented with a cake that proudly proclaimed, “The World’s Worst Wedding.”

The two wouldn’t have it any other way. Shepard told Jimmy Kimmel, “How many people can say they threw ‘The World’s Worst Wedding?’”

Just you and Kristen, Dax. Just you and Kristen.

Photo credit: Chris Potter

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October 11

Pinching Pennies On Your Night Out

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

Pinching Pennies On Your Night Out

You know it. That all-too-familiar situation where you’re doing your best to save your money, but you’re tempted by the bright lights and endless entertainment of the city. You can do your best to avoid it for a while – heck, you may even avoid it for nearly a year! However, when you’re further cajoled by friends to come out for a night on the town, it can be hard to say no.

Guilt may set in soon afterwards when you get back to the reality of the situation: you’re trying to save some money, and you know how expensive a night out with your friends can be, especially when you’re celebrating someone’s birthday, or it’s another special occasion. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. Granted, you’re going to have to spend some money when you’re out with your friends, but it doesn’t have to be a lot.

Just try to think of it the same way you do when you’re planning out a trip. Do some research – get a general itinerary of what’s planned for the night from your friends, and take it from there.

If you and your friends are planning to stay at a hotel, you can usually save some moolah by booking one through Orbitz or Hotels.com. Normal hotel rates can be quite expensive, so booking a random hotel through these websites can certainly help you be thrifty. Your friends may also appreciate you helping them save some money, too! You can check out the latest Orbitz and Hotels.com coupon codes right here on Bargainmoose.

If you all plan to sit down and grab a bite to eat before the night gets started, you can always check out our site to see the latest coupons that are available. It’s always a nice bonus if you can find a coupon to use at a restaurant to help you save some extra cash! If that’s not the case, you can always eat something at home before you head out, and grab an appetizer or something that’s not as pricey as an entree when you’re at a restaurant.

It may sound silly, but if you and your friends are planning to drink some beverages during your night out, have a nice pre-drink at the hotel before you head out! Some shots and drinks can be quite expensive when you go out to a bar or club in the city, so perhaps you should all bring some from home and enjoy some of them before your night out on the town. It can certainly help you lower your total expenses for the night! After all, getting a $400 bill at the bar isn’t a pretty sight!

We all know how pricey cab fare can be. If you’re going out with a bunch of your friends and you plan to drink, requesting a van cab can always help you keep your transportation costs down. However, an even better idea is to find a place to go to that’s near your hotel so you can all walk over there without having to spend anything. If it’s a cold winter night, then taking a cab may be the best available solution (depending on where you are, public transit usually isn’t available by the time most bars and clubs close, so getting a cab may be your only option).

Either way, frugalness aside, just have a good time. After you do some research and find some extra ways to save your money, let your hair down and enjoy your time with your friends. You deserve to treat yourself every once in a while, and you can also take some solace in the fact that you found a way to afford your night out!

My fellow Bargainmoose Blogger Eva has a great article published on how you can still Party Like A Rock Star Without Spending Like One that I highly recommend that you all check out. It has even more great insight on how you can still keep pinching pennies on your night out with friends. If you have any extra suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Photo credit: Nathan Rupert

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October 10

Save Your Money While on Parental Leave

Posted by on October 10, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Save Your Money While on Parental Leave

We all know how expensive a baby can be, let alone having to work on reduced income such as paternity or maternity leave.  Many new parents often underestimate just how much that first year with the baby is going to cost them.  While we are very fortunate in Canada to have the option of one year of maternity leave, the great thing is that we have the option to stay for the full year, or if we want we can return to work earlier.

Here are some ways to plan ahead and also some ways in which you can try and save money for your baby’s first year.

Figure How Much You Will Get

Handy websites like Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits from the Government of Canada will help you figure out how much you will be able to get every two weeks.  For 2014, the maximum amount that you can receive per week is $514 and you are able to receive 55% of your maximum insurable earnings, maxed at around $48,600.  Knowing how much you will receive will help you figure out how much you need to save for your baby’s first year.

You are eligible for parental leave benefits if you have worked over 600 hours in the past 52 weeks, as per BrighterLife.

Figure Out How Much It May Cost

If you are able to plan ahead, you can budget how much you’ll need to save before the baby arrives to ensure a smooth transition.  The last thing you want to stress out about is finances because there are so many other things to worry about.  Like making sure the baby is fed, or what to do so you can get more sleep!

Baby Center has a fantastic baby cost calculator that can estimate the total first year cost for your baby.  The average first year cost for a baby is just shy over $6,000 if you don’t have any regular childcare or daycare in your first year.  Of course if you are planning to feed your baby formula this cost fluctuates too.  There are about $2,000 worth of one time costs that you could use for your next baby if you have one.  In summary, the costs for your baby’s first year are individualized and can fluctuate widely.

Ways to Save Money While on Parental Leave

Canadian Family suggests that you cut down on wants and just focus on needs.  Hand-me-downs are a great idea because children often outgrow their clothes so quickly.  In addition, meal planning works well for your family (not your baby of course) because you or your partner may be too exhausted to cook on a daily basis.  With the luxury of time on your side, maxing out those home cooked meals works well to save on food costs.  Another way to save money is to see whether using cloth or disposable diapers is cheaper for your budget.  In general, it is more economical to use cloth diapers (and even more economical if you wash it yourself) if you use a cloth diaper pick up service.  And it is better for the environment.

The Government of Canada also has a great financial checklist of things you should do after your baby arrives here.

Can I Work During Parental Leave?

Many new parents want to work during parental leave, even if they are odd jobs here and there because, hey, anything helps!

This post from Canadian Budget Binder helps summarize whether you are able to work while on parental leave in Canada.  While it may be tempting to earn a little cash on the side, the amount gets reduced from your maternity leave and employment insurance earnings, so it might be wise to have a cautious look first before you start pulling cash in.  Basically if you work too much you could get your maternity leave benefits clawed back.

Hopefully this post answers some questions about how much you might get while on parental leave, how much your baby’s first year will cost, how to save money during parental leave, and whether you can work on the side.  Having a first baby is both overwhelming and exciting, congratulations on your new bundle of joy!

Bargainmoosers, how did you make it work during your maternity or paternity leave?  Do you have any tips for fellow Bargainmoosers?

Photo credit: Roberto D’Angelo

Moose Rating (1 votes)
October 9

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

Posted by on October 9, 2014 at 8:00 PM

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

With so many options at the grocery store and so many different prices for the same foods, it can get overwhelming. I try to make as much as I can at home so that I am cutting out as many dyes, preservatives and extras from my family’s diet.  Not only is it healthier to make items at home, it is cheaper as well.

There are many things that are so simple and quick to make at home that you would just instinctively buy and you do not have to. Some of the things you can just use leftover scrap to make them.  I have gathered six of those food, condiments, and snack items, that our Moosers can make themselves at home very easily.

1. Fruit Rollups

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

There is a recipe over at Sondie Bruner that will help you make easy fruit rollups.  These homemade ones cut out the processed sugars and dyes and make this sweet snack a healthy treat for your kids.

2. Popsicle

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

My mom used to make her own popsicles and now I do for my own kids.  You can use either fruit puree or fruit juice and just add it to a mold and freeze.  You don’t need a recipe – it is that simple.  A great place to find different kinds is on Pinterest. That is where I found this picture above.

3. Trail Mix

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

Over at Her Campus, they have seven different recipes to make your own trail mix at home.  This is snack item that is far cheaper to make yourself rather than buy at the store.  A great place to stock up on the trail mix items is at Bulk Barn. We often have printable coupons for them on our forum.

4. Salad Dressing

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

This is something that I always make homemade at home.  It doesn’t take that much time at all and it will save you the upwards of $7 a bottle for the store bought brands. A Beautiful Mess has three different recipes featured for salad dressing that are quick and easy to make yourself.

5. Ice Cream

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

There are a ton of different recipes for ice cream on the internet and they range from really easy to very hard to make depending on your cooking skills.  I have found one that requires no cooking, baking, or any skill whatsoever!  The Two Bite Club has a recipe that includes just two ingredients and is very healthy. All you need to do is add frozen bananas and some peanut butter to your food processor and there you have it!

6. Croutons

6 Food Items to Make Instead of Buying to Save Money

This is the easiest to make and there are so many different recipes to do it.  Personally, I just use any spices I have in my cupboard, a little bit of olive oil and bread ends.  It seems like no one in my house likes the end pieces of the loaves of bread so I save them in the freezer.  Once I have a bunch of them, I make a new batch of croutons. There is a nice recipe posted on Lynns Kitchen Adventures that is easy to follow.

We would love for you to share some of your make it yourself recipes for saving money on your grocery budget Moosers!

Photo credit: Nic Taylor

Moose Rating (2 votes)
October 8

Totally Free International Shipping!

Posted by on October 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Totally Free International Shipping!

While tidying up our free shipping page the other day, I came across a few international stores which offered free shipping to Canada, though they themselves were not Canadian stores. I decided to add a brand new spanking page, to showcase some of the more interesting ones. Before I knew it, I’d been researching it for two days and ended up with a ton of new stores for you guys to see – all covered on the page of international stores with free worldwide shipping!

As of right now, there are 60+ stores on there… so the list is not exhaustive. I’ll add to the list as I discover new stores. Or if you know of any more, please drop me a line – hit the contact us link at the bottom of this page.

Notes On Customs

Remember, if you’re buying from outside Canada, you need to do your own research on the site in question to see how they deal with customs and duties, and if you will be paying any unexpected fees. When you visit a new store, hit up their shipping help page and read about customs – whether they pay all the fees for you, whether they charge you some fees at checkout, or whether they don’t do anything and you might have potential fees at your door. Whichever option it is, the store will usually explain this on their shipping page, and that can affect your purchasing decision.

Store Examples

While I was making the above page, I found some really interesting stores which I’ve just discovered and had never seen before. Here are a select few:

Vanilla Underground – When I clicked through to this store and was hit in the face by images from Guardians of the Galaxy, Dr Who and True Blood, I was instantly in love! This store has a ton of excellent merchandise from top movie and TV shows, bands, Disney, and loads more. Everything gets free shipping to Canada!

Glencara – This is a jewellery site specialising in Irish pieces, such as Claddagh and Celtic rings. If you’re into that kind of thing, this is a good place to check out. With free worldwide shipping, it could make for a really unique gift or present for a loved one.

Polabora – This site makes retro polaroid style prints! I love the style and the layout of this site, and it’s a great idea. With free worldwide shipping on everything too, it makes an even greater incentive to buy.

A Few More

But there are a load more stores on the free international shipping page for you to check out! Here’s a small selection of more stores in there:

Totally Free International Shipping!
UGG Australia
Totally Free International Shipping!
Shopbop
Totally Free International Shipping!
Book Depository
Totally Free International Shipping!
Modekungen
Totally Free International Shipping!
HQ Hair
Totally Free International Shipping!
Sticky9
Totally Free International Shipping!
Mankind
Totally Free International Shipping!
Tmart

(Thanks to Moritz)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
October 7

Is Your Junk Picker Worthy? How to Tell If it’s Worth Money

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

Is Your Junk Picker Worthy? How to Tell If its Worth Money

American Pickers, Canadian Pickers, Picker Sisters and Down East Dickering are just some of the shows on television involving a pair of humans showing up on an unsuspecting stranger’s front porch asking to see stuff in their garage that they might be able to make money off of.

The fantasy is that unassuming piece of junk sitting just to the right of your car gathering dust is actually worth hundreds of dollars and in demand from collectors. Most of the time, it never gets beyond the fantasy, but every so often, your junk is actually picker-worthy and would probably be snapped up by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz (American Pickers) from Antique Archeology in a second.

So how can you make sure that actually happens? Here are a number of surefire ways to tell if your junk is worth money, attracting pickers and their cash from all across the land.

Toys

We’re all trying to recapture our childhoods, so toys are always a potentially valuable item. With those who grew up in the 80s and 90s now adults, first generation retro toys from popular franchises from that era like G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are extremely hot. In package, all four of the turtles are going for $120.00 on eBay.

Even hotter are toys from the 60s and 70s, particularly from popular franchises like Dukes of Hazzard, Star Wars or The Monkees and it’s not limited to figures. Painted lunchboxes, vehicles and other original merchandise could be worth money.

However, it all comes down to condition. The better the condition (particularly if it’s still in the package and mint or near mint) the more money you get. Condition grades start at mint or near mint and go down from there to fine and very fine. The more damage, marks or wear on your toys, the less they are worth.

Also, beware of re-issues – new toys made to look like the original toys from when they first came out. These are made for those who wish to recapture their youth, but can’t afford the original toys, so often toymakers will release new versions based on the original sculpts or looks of the older toys. These look nice and are very affordable alternative, but they won’t fetch top dollar among collectors. Instead, always look for originals and look for toys that may have a certain timelessness or sentimental quality.

Fads such as pogs and beanie babies are also popular among collectors. The same goes with anything else that was very popular one moment and at garage sales the next.

Books and Magazines

First editions of popular books known around the world, such as Lord of the Rings and The Hound of the Baskervilles are extremely valuable, but the key to their value isn’t just that they are old, but, as Powell’s Books writes in their Rare Books F.A.Q., it’s because the demand for these rare books is high, but they are all in short supply. So, not only should your book be old, but a popular book with very few available first editions.

But, like toys, what matters here is condition, condition, condition – the more pristine the book, the more valuable it is. Also, the easier it is to establish its authenticity — maybe it features the year it was published or is signed by the author — the more valuable it is.

As for magazines, first issues of any popular magazine are always hot sellers (not re-launches, but the literal first issues) and the first appearance of any popular celebrity can get you a mint. Also, look for the first work by world-renowned writers and artists, such as the first appearance of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan in All-Story Magazine (1912).

Stay away from significant newsworthy events, like magazines commemorating The Kennedy Assassination or the swearing in of Barack Obama because if you kept it, chances are other people did too, so there’s bound to be a lot of copies floating around and if something is common, it’s not collectible.

Comics

A comic’s collect-ability generally follows the same rules as magazines as well. First issues are generally a safe bet, but they have to feature the debut of a popular or long-running character. Also, look for relaunches here too, as new number ones of a cancelled book that is then restarted are not valuable at all, particularly in modern times.

What you’re looking for are issues of significance, like first appearances or the beginning of a significant storyline with far reaching effects on a comic’s history. Significant deaths, such as the death of Gwen Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #122, are also in demand along with significant storyline events.

The release of a new comic book movie usually sees collectors clamoring for the original comics the movies are based on. The release of Guardians of the Galaxy saw vendors feature the first appearances of Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon as wall books (sold at a higher price point) at comic conventions in the summer of 2014.

Signatures from popular creators on their crowning achievements help, but like all collectibles, condition is what determines value in comics and the better the condition the more it is worth. Of course, hugely rare and significant books in relatively poor condition will still fetch top dollar since there are no longer many of them to be had in the first place.

Graded comics will also fetch higher prices than comics that are loose or stored with bags and boards. These are comics appraised by experts and given a grade based on their condition and then sealed permanently in an archival acrylic well with alkali buffers. They are sold at double or triple the price of the same issue without the treatment because collectors trust the graded appraisal as the standard of the market.

Furniture

For furniture to be considered valuable it must be old, but not all old furniture is collectible or an antique. CILSS Antiques has a useful guide to determining if furniture is old, saying that sharp corners often indicate recent manufacturing.

It also gives this advice: “If the upholstery is not original, lift one edge: the antique chair rail to check for the innumerable nail holes which, to a trained eye, are the reassuring sign of many re-upholsterings over the course of a long life” – along with many other fine points.

Once age is established, a piece’s value is determined based on four criteria: rarity, provenance, quality and condition. Patina, colour and finish are important as well, but these elements play a secondary role. The more ornate the design of the furniture, the higher the value as well.

Stay away from repainted or refinished old furniture, as re-painting and re-sanding decreases value. Replaced glass mirrors also decrease the value of furniture with a mirror. Look for more versatile pieces that can be used in modern homes – oversize pieces too large to fit through doors are impractical and unattractive to buyers. Original upholstery also is a good sign on chairs if it’s in good condition.

And the List Goes On…

There are countless other categories of potential collectibles that any picker would salivate over and could be gathering dust in your garage, so perhaps Bargainmoose may cover other antiques in a similar fashion in a future installment of this article.

Photo credit: Dandy Denial

Moose Rating (1 votes)
October 6

Canadian Subscription Box Deals & Gift Ideas!

Posted by on October 6, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Canadian Subscription Box Deals & Gift Ideas!

It’s my mom’s birthday soon and I have been trying to think of a gift idea. She’s coming 69 and she doesn’t really “need” anything and it can be very difficult to think of a gift for her that she doesn’t already have. I was thinking about it just now and I came up with the idea of a subscription box for a couple of months. There are quite a few services in Canada which offer gift boxes… some not necessarily great for my mom, but these could be a good idea if you’re buying a gift for a friend or relative.

Here are some of the services that you can choose from and a quick word about each, as well as any special offers you might want to take advantage of:

Canadian Subscription Box Deals & Gift Ideas!

Cosmetics Subscriptions

This seems to be a very popular niche for subscription boxes. Here are a few beauty and cosmetics subscription boxes to note:

Luxe Box – This is a Canadian subscription box in which you get 7 or 8 trial sized beauty products, curated to match your beauty profile. The price of the Luxe Box is $26 for one box and that comes with free shipping. Prices drop if you subscribe for longer. I believe the Luxe Box operates quarterly rather than monthly.  There’s a gift option at checkout if you want to send a box as a pressie. I don’t know of any active coupon codes for these at the moment.

Topbox – This Canadian beauty box subscription will give you four hand-picked samples each month, for only $12 with free shipping – a very low price point. There is a waiting list for subscriptions though, it could take a few months before you get your first box, so it might not be ideal as a present unless you are planning this one well ahead in time.

Canadian Subscription Box Deals & Gift Ideas!

Pet Subscriptions

There are a few that I know of in this field:

Bowzerbox.ca – these are a relatively new Canadian service, offering monthly dog goodies in a box. For any sized dog, it’s $29 for one month but the monthly costs fall if you subscribe for longer. There is also a shipping fee of $4.50 a month. They have a “gift” option at checkout so it makes it easy to gift a Bowzerbox. You can use Bowzer Box coupon code LP10 to get $10 off your first box.

Barkbox.com – while these are US based, they’re still good to ship to Canada. Prices of these pet subscription boxes start at $29 for the first month, plus $5 shipping to Canada. You can use the coupon code fbruv10 to get $10 off. There’s also a gift option available, so good to use for that purpose.

Canadian Subscription Box Deals & Gift Ideas!

Food & Drink Subscriptions

Food boxes are yummy!! There is quite a wide variety of foods you can get in this type of subscription – here are a few interesting options.

Treatsbox – This is a Canadian service which ships you a monthly box of candies and snacks, from popular brands such as  Hershey’s, Cadbury, Wonka and more. It’s only $30 with free shipping, and they’ve got the gift option at the checkout. The Treats Boxes look delicious and would make a super gift.

Munch Better – This is a Canadian snack subscription box which costs $19 per month, plus shipping fees. This service focusses on healthy snacks with high quality ingredients. Sadly, there are no coupons for these just now!

Parachute Coffee – This type of box makes a great gift for the coffee aficionado. Parachute offers a monthly box of hand-picked coffee from the best local coffee roasters for only $25 with free shipping. My partner would love to try this one.

Tea Sparrow – We’ve had coffee, what about tea? Tea Lovers may like to try out Tea Sparrow which offers a subscription box filled with 4 different loose leaf teas. It’s only $20 with free shipping and for that, you’ll get about 35 cups of tea. I watched the video on their site and it looks delicious! Follow the instructions on this post and you can get your first box for only $8.

Well Moosers, these are just a few different ideas of subscription gifts you could give as a gift. Have you any more thoughts? Have you gifted a subscription box, and if so, which one? Let us know in the comments below!

(Image credits: Henry Burrows, Nikita Kashnerbrightonmike, Anne Marle)

Moose Rating (3 votes)
October 5

How to Save Money on Minor Hockey

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

How to Save Money on Minor Hockey

Hockey is our national past-time, played by kids and adults on ponds and ice rinks across the country, but it’s extremely expensive to play in a league. From the equipment to the dues and registration fees, the average cost of minor hockey can be $500 to $1,000 a week, especially if you count gas, hotels, food and other costs related to team road trips and tournaments.

“Once you’ve signed on for the season, you’re expected to be there and play, whether you budgeted for it or not, and you wouldn’t miss it for anything,” Theresa Dostaler, a hockey parent, told The Globe and Mail. She estimated at the time that she would spend at least $5,600 a season for her three kids to play hockey (two boys on rep teams and a three-year-old daughter in tyke).

Not every kid can be Sidney Crosby and most kids don’t play with the talent and skill needed to make it even close to the NHL, but no matter what level you kid plays at, and whether it’s for fun or for larger major league aspirations, hockey will quickly empty the wallet of any parent – it does not discriminate.

So, with that in mind, we give you ways your kids can still play hockey, while you can save some money along the way.

Buy Equipment Used or Secondhand

The great thing about kids is they grow out of equipment. It’s great for parents because that means there’s tons of barely-used equipment (last year’s model) lying around. Hell, there’s even a store with locations across the country and all they sell is second-hand sports equipment. They’re called Play It Again Sports and they’ve got helmets, skates, pads, sticks and goalie equipment that’s all been gently used and priced at a discount compared to the new stuff. Other stores across the country like Sports Junkies and Totem Outfitters have also gotten into the action. Though, it’s important to use caution with secondhand equipment because certain pieces need to meet the safety standards of the Canadian Standards Association, especially helmets and face shields.

Plus, if you’re going for last year’s models, the best time to buy is the last week of July or the first two weeks of August and the earlier you go to the store, the more opportunity to take advantage of the greatest selection and deals. Honestly, there’s really no point in buying new equipment every year if your kids are under a certain age.

After all, as Philip Mckee of The Ontario Hockey Federation told Money Sense Magazine, “Kids don’t need sticks costing more than $75 or skates over $300.”

Try a Starter Kit

You can get an early start on savings by purchasing a hockey equipment starter kit for kids who are just entering the sport. The Ontario Hockey Federation has teamed with Bauer and Canadian Tire to offer a Jonathan Toews starter kit called JT19, which includes all the protective equipment you will need in small, medium and large sizes. The kit comes with shoulder pads, shin pads, elbow pads, pants and a hockey bag at prices ranging from $82.99 to $123.99. It’s a great way to grab most of the equipment you need in a single shot and comes in small, medium and large sizes.

Lobby to Lower Registration Fees

Registration fees can vary widely depending on where your child plays. According to The Observer, fees range in price from $600 in Petrolia to as high as $2,100 for the Chatham Cyclones. The Sarnia Hockey Association charges a $610 registration, but offers a discounted $535 early-bird fee.

Still expensive fees, especially when you get up to a rep team level where some teams charge the equivalent of college tuition, are driving kids away from minor hockey, according to CBC. Actually, it is possible to find cheaper fees, but the cost of ice time continues to go up, which is the main reason teams are charging more than ever.

Rob Gardner, president of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, told CBC that “in Toronto, an hour of city-owned ice costs $170, up eight per cent from last season. Private ice in St. John’s costs $200 an hour and about $270 in Toronto.”

But there is hope. You can lobby your hockey association to partner with a government or private organization that helps cover the cost of sports activities In St. John’s, its minor hockey leagues partner with a government organization called Recreation Experiences and Leisure (R.E.A.L) to help cover costs and a similar organization – Athletics for Kids – does the same in West Vancouver. Both organizations cover registration, equipment and sometimes travel expenses for kids in need. It’s also important that you join a team and a league that holds regular fundraising activities that can help subsidize the cost.

As a league, West Vancouver Minor Hockey uses $2,000 from an annual fundraising lottery to cover their players in need, they subsidize all players ages five to eight and they accept credit card payments so that registration fees don’t need to be paid all in one shot. If your league isn’t already doing these things make sure they are. You can also lobby corporate sponsors to partner with your league and cover ice time, so that registration fees don’t have to be so expensive.

Fundraise

With travel expenses one of the big, rising question marks of any hockey career, it is impossible to know just how much it will cost. The Globe and Mail estimates the figure to be somewhere around $2,200 a year per player. Usually that means at least $1,000 just in gas alone. Every city across Canada with a hockey team feels the pinch that’s why it’s important to participate in bottle drives and sell advertising on the back of jerseys to help offset costs. Some teams offer deals on tournaments, such as buy one, get one free.

But perhaps the best way to get rid of travel costs is to fundraise – a staple of most minor hockey teams’ annual repertoire. There are many ways to do this, including a garage sale, a golf tournament, a car wash, bottle drives and countless others. Tons of advice for putting on these various fundraisers can be found at CanadianHockeyMoms.ca like how to arrange your events so they are either all ages or just for the parents, if you are so inclined.

Grants

In most cases, low income families that are eligible can qualify for a grant to cover their minor hockey costs from $100 to $500 or more. The usual suspects to look into include Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Program, KidSport Canada and Hyundai’s Hockey Helpers, RBC’s Play Hockey Program, Chevrolet Making Dreams Possible and more. It’s as easy as Googling “Minor Hockey Grants” or asking your local hockey association. There are also corporate sponsors such as Tim Horton’s and Esso that sponsor hockey camps, coaching clinics and hockey programs for kids across the country.

Shop with Puck Bucks

If you shop for hockey equipment and everyday items at Club Hockey Canada you’ll get 20% of the cost of your purchase back in Puck Bucks (one puck buck = one dollar), which can be redeemed directly towards registration fees, tournament fees and ice time. So, for all you shopaholics out there, Hockey Canada invites you to purchase home electronics, kitchenware, tools and garden equipment, along with various items from recognizable brands, and save on your child’s hockey expenses.

Photo credit: Mark H. Anbinder

Moose Rating (1 votes)
October 4

Making It Count: Saving Some Cash While Dining Out

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

Making It Count: Saving Some Cash While Dining Out

When you’re trying to maintain a tight budget, it takes some determination, discipline, and willpower to keep yourself from splurging on a night out on the town. There are many stores and restaurants that want you to spend your money, and when you combine that with some powerful marketing campaigns on television and in print, it can be a real challenge to strictly adhere to your budgetary needs every month.

Since we’re all human, it’s not too surprising that you’ll eventually want to go out every once in a while for a nice meal. When you’re used to a routine where you prepare all of your meals at home every single day, going out to a restaurant every once in a while can be a really enjoyable experience.

However, when you’re adhering to a financial plan, it’s important that you do this only when you can afford to do so – after all, you wouldn’t want to compromise your long term plans to save your money. When you’re planning to purchase a home, a vehicle, or even if you’re trying to save up for your child’s college fees, it can be done with a solid financial plan, but you need to stick to it.

That being said, there are several viable ways that you can have your cake – and eat it, too. Even though that cliché has been said hundreds of thousands of times, it really applies to the message I’m trying to convey here. There are some occasions where you can still spoil yourself while adhering to your budget, and I’m here to tell you that it’s possible.

Speaking from my personal experiences as a freelancer, there have been times when I’ve had exceptionally great cheques, and there’s been occasions where I’ve received payments that would barely cover my bills for the month.

Being a young 22-year-old when I just started to freelance, I wanted to continue hanging out with my friends and maintain a decent social life. It took some months to adjust and learn some crucial lessons about saving my money, but once I got there, I found the perfect balance.

It’s nice to go out on occasion and enjoy a nice meal, but it’s even nicer to be able to spend your money without regretting it. After all, according to Numbeo, the average three-course meal for 2 at a mid-range restaurant costs $60. If you can save up that much without it hurting your budget, then it’s time for you to go enjoy a nice meal that you don’t have to prepare – or clean up!

At this time, I’m going to discuss some important tips that I still use to this day that help me save some cash while eating out. You can check them out below.

When planning out your budget, create an “entertainment fund”. While you’re embracing a frugal life, take some money out of your earnings and put it aside for entertainment-related purchases, like a night out at a nice restaurant. If you really want to squeeze that penny, try putting $10 of your earnings aside for each pay period. If that’s a stretch, try $5. Either way, it will grow faster than you think.

Reconsider some of your fringe purchases. If you feel that you really need to get that latest video game, movie, or book, reconsider your stance on the matter. Are there still any movies, books, or video games that you have that you haven’t even checked out yet? Rather than spending it on those forms of media, perhaps you should consider putting it into your entertainment fund. After all, those items won’t be going anywhere (and they may even be on sale by the time you decide to purchase them).

Do some research before you purchase your groceries. Check out online flyers before you do your weekly shop. Think about your actual necessities that you need to buy, and try to stay away from unnecessary snacks or frozen foods that you’ll probably try once then leave in your freezer forever – I know I used to do that constantly! In fact, you can find some great deals and coupons right here on Bargainmoose.  

Decide on three possible restaurants that you’d like to try out, then check out Bargainmoose to see if there’s any coupons that can help you save even more! You can find the latest deals and coupons for thousands of Canadian locations here on Bargainmoose. Best of all, we are constantly updating visitors with the latest and greatest bargains!

When you’ve saved up enough, enjoy your night out and remember that you can always save up for your next occasion! Everyone needs to figuratively let their hair down on occasion, and you just can’t go wrong with a night out – especially when you’ve worked so hard to earn that night out by saving your money!

In closing, I hope that these tips can help some of my readers. If you’d like to share any tips on saving some cash while eating out, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Photo credit: Patty O’Hearn Kickham

Moose Rating (2 votes)
October 4

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Posted by on October 4, 2014 at 1:00 PM

Are you ready for Halloween 2014? Have you got your Halloween costumes ready? If the answer is NO, then it could be time to start preparing your Halloween outfits now, in order to get the best deals in advance. (Bumping this post for 2014)

You might think that it’s a little bit early to be writing about Halloween costumes. But, if you are like me, you will want to make sure that you are well-prepared for you and your family. If you’re ordering a new Halloween costume online, then you need to give enough time for shipping or potential returns. Ordering Halloween costumes online will often mean you can search around and find the best prices for what you want, so it will save you some money in the long term.

Here are a few Canadian Halloween costume stores and some Halloween coupon codes that you might want to take advantage of:

Costume Supercentre Canada

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Having just launched their Canadian operations a few months ago, Costume Supercentre is a costume store based in Ontario, so all items are shipped from within Canada. Shipping is free on an $80 spend, and there are quite a few coupon codes to choose from here on our forums. For example:

Click here to shop online @ Costume Supercentre Canada

  • Coupon Code: 15FSCA
  • Discount: 15% off $20+
  • Expires: Unknown

Costume Chik Canada

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Costume Chik Canada is based in Calgary, AB. They have costumes for everyone, men, women, children, teens, babies, even pets. Shipping is free on a $75 spend. We’ve always got the best CostumeChik coupon codes here on our forum. And here’s one for today:

Click here to shop online @ Costume Chik Canada

  • Coupon Code: tweetus
  • Discount: 15% off
  • Expires: Unknown

Oya Costumes Canada

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Oya Costumes is based out of Montreal and ship Canada wide. They have a good range of Halloween costumes to choose from. Canadian shipping is a free on any order of $89.95 or more. Here’s an Oya Costumes promotion code to get you started:

Click here to shop online @ Oya Costumes Canada

  • Promotion Code: LIKE5
  • Discount: $5 off $50+
  • Expires: Unknown

 Canada Costumes Online

Halloween Costume Coupons!Canada Costumes Online is a Canadian store, part of the “By Cody” group. Shipping is a flat rate of $10.95.  Here’s a promo code for 10% off @ Canada Costumes online:

Click here to shop @ Canada Costumes Online

  • Promotion Code: 5045
  • Discount: 10% off
  • Expires: Unknown

Walmart Canada

Halloween Costume Coupons!

While it’s not a dedicated costume store, you can see that there are some costumes to buy online from Walmart Canada, with accessories starting at only $1.97, and all have free shipping. I’ve pictured a few in the image above. We don’t have any coupons for these guys though, they never do coupon codes!

 

Buying from the US

There is a lot more choice from US sites if you’re making an order there. Just make sure to order your Halloween costume with plenty of time to spare for shipping up to the Great White North.

Remember to watch out for customs and duties policies – some stores will charge these at checkout, but some won’t (and you may be liable to pay a fee to receive the parcel). We’ll research what we can from the stores and tell you exactly what I can find in the paragraphs below.

Here is a selection of US Halloween costume stores and a few offers you might want to take advantage of.

 

Buy Costumes

Halloween Costume Coupons!

One of the largest US sites to buy costumes online is… Buycostumes.com! They have a super selection at decent prices. Shipping to Canada is inclusive of duties and customs, you will see the total fee as you go through checkout. For example, on a test order of $75, shipping was $12 and duties were an extra $12. It can work out quite expensive, but just make sure you have a good search for the latest coupon codes before you buy. Here’s one we found today:

Click here to shop online @ Buycostumes

  • Coupon Code: Terror20
  • Discount: 20% off
  • Expires: Unknown

Anytime Costumes

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Another US based site, Anytime Costumes charges customs and duties at checkout so you don’t have to pay these later. Canadian shipping prices start at $15.99 (a bit high). But they do offer over 4,000 costumes, a really huge selection.

Click here to use the Anytime costumes coupon code online

  • Coupon Code: TAKE15X
  • Discount: 15% off $20+
  • Expires: Unknown

Costume Kingdom

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Costume Kingdom ship worldwide with Canadian delivery prices starting at $12.95. They do NOT charge customs or duties at checkout so you could be liable for these in the end.

Click here to shop online @ The Costume Kingdom

  • Coupon Code: INT10OFF
  • Discount: 10% off any order
  • Expires: Unknown

Spirit Halloween

Halloween Costume Coupons!

Spirit Halloween is a store that has physical locations in Canada, but their online store ships from the US. Canadian shipping charges seem to start at $13.99, but you may be subject to extra duties to receive your items.  There are quite a few active coupons just now, here are all the Spirit Halloween coupon codes that we know of. For example:

Click here to shop online @ Spirit Halloween

  • Coupon Code: OPEN14
  • Discount: 20% off
  • Expires: 12th October 2014

Old favourite: eBay Canada

Halloween Costume Coupons!

I am sure it is common knowledge that people will sell their old Halloween costumes on eBay Canada. It’s a particularly good source of bargains, especially for the kids. In many cases, the outfit will only have been worn a handful of times before the child has grown too big to make use of it.

Additionally, you can sometimes find “specialist” items there that might be a bit difficult to find elsewhere.

Alternatives: Regular Clothing Stores

As well as all the specialist Halloween stores mentioned above, you can always find Halloween costumes in some regular stores. For kids outfits for example, Halloween stock appears on the shelves in the likes of Old Navy and The Childrens Place. You’ll probably find more of these deals closer to the time. However, I find that these can be the most expensive to purchase before Halloween. There are always price drops after Halloween – if you can be prepared enough to purchase next year’s costumes then.

In the comments below, please let me know if you know of any more specialist costume stores that I can add to the list!

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