Do any of you remember what certain things cost during your childhood? I remember SOME of them, and the difference is shocking. A lot of schools used to have that assignment where you had to figure out how much certain cost for our parents as opposed to what they cost now. I don’t know if they still do this, but it was pretty shocking to see the difference. It’s definitely something that today’s youth should recognize as it might curb some young peoples’ tendency to take their possessions and resources for granted.
For example, gas only cost 59 cents per litre when I was in high school, as opposed to the current 121 cents per litre in Saskatchewan. Car fuel is always an easy way to compare the increase in price of things, as it has consistently risen for decades, despite some mild back and forth. Another good example is bread, which only cost about 90 cents back in New Brunswick when I was growing up. This is compared to the fact that a loaf of bread is almost 3 dollars at today’s prices.
I remember my grandfather and father telling me stories during my childhood about how “in my day, things only cost THIS much…” I never thought I’d find myself in the same ballpark as them, but I’ve found myself using that very line in recent years. For example, some find it shocking when I mention that I’d get a weekly allowance of only 5 dollars when I was a kid. But the reality is that for 5 dollars, saved over three or four weeks, I could go to my local convenience store and pick up the latest Superman and Spider-Man titles, as well as indulging in a bag of chips and a sugar-free soda and have money left over. Not to mention that the original Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade comic arcs came out in early 90’s before the MCU came along and altered a whole bunch of shit about the storyline. But I digress…
My point is, inflation has made a person’s dollar more important than ever. And it’s all the more important to make every dollar count. That’s why it becomes important to take advantage of certain opportunities that present themselves. Talking about finance on my blog isn’t usually my “thang,” but I got to thinking about some of this stuff. Here are my top opportunities to save a few bucks when out and about.
- Free Samples: The pandemic has eliminated this opportunity, but I’m hoping that there will eventually be a return to the practice. Going to Costco on an empty stomach was always easy when your could walk the store and sample meats, granola bars and cereals as you walk around. You’d essentially be full by the time you reached the cash register. Top it off with a sample of juice along the way and if you still find yourself hungry, grabbing a $1.50 hot dog on the way out is guaranteed to put you over the top; especially given the size of Costco hot dogs. Although this is the more prominent location for trying free samples, a lot of retail locations offer samples and allow you the opportunity to lessen the sting of one’s overall shopping bill. Too short term or in the moment? Alright, then. On to the next one…;
- Using Coupons: If you had told me ten years ago that I’d be saving and/or using coupons, I’d have called you hilarious (or an idiot). I happen to hate flyers and junk mail, but if you’re willing to sift through weekly flyers and useless crap, you can find a lot of coupons that will save you a great deal of money, overall. My wife is part of some mailing lists that send you small sample packs along with coupons for purchasing the actual product. We’ve gotten free samples of coffee k-cups, laundry detergent and dish soap as well as a variety of products. And the accompanying coupon is sometimes exceptionally reasonable. Including a decent dollar amount deducted or certain percentage off the retail price, I’ve even gotten some that get you one for free. We recently got a coupon for a free package of paper towel rolls. It stands to reason that you have to use these consistently over time, in order to reap the money saving benefits;
- Free Refills: Why people ignore this one has always baffled me. When you consider that the average cup of coffee will cost you about 30 cents when brewed at home, paying 2 dollars at a coffee shop for a small cup of coffee may seem ludicrous. And it is. Coffee costs pennies to brew, but most locations sell it at a several hundred percent markup. This is why you should take the sting out of your overall costs by taking advantage of free refills. Not every place does this, but many if not most do. It can be difficult to get a free refill if you’re grabbing tour coffee on the way to the office, but here in Saskatchewan there are a few locations that will grant you a refill if you present your receipt and it’s from the same day;
- Check in Early And Check Out Late: I stay in hotels quite frequently, especially since my eye injections happen about three hours away and dragging my children with me to make it a day trip causes unnecessary suffering. So, I usually stay in a hotel room for the night. Now, I don’t think I need to explain that hotel rooms are expensive. But they are. Most locations are willing to accommodate an early check-in, so long as you give them advanced notice. Some may even want to know why but in my case, telling them I have a medical appointment shortly and need to check in prior as I won’t be able to once it’s completed usually satisfies them. And I like to make a point of waking up a bit on the later side and enjoy a quiet coffee (which is usually included in the room) and I never check out until the actual check-out time or later, if they’ll permit. This guarantees that I’m getting the most bang for my buck. Not least of all is the fact that most hotels will offer things that also help mitigate cost, including free sundries, complimentary breakfasts, water bottles and as I mentioned previously, coffee. Gotta have coffee!
There you have it. It’s a short list and it won’t make you a millionaire, but every little bit can help, right? Sometimes it takes a bit of effort to save a few bucks here and there, but with the rising cost of everything, it can be worth shopping the sales, using coupons and taking advantage of free items. What are some of your favourite cost-saving methods? Feel free to share some of them in the comment section. ☯