Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Tips for saving on credit cards and shopping

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Even as the cost of living goes up, there are still ways to save some cash when out shopping or using credit cards.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at some more lessons from CTV Morning Live’s Super Savings Week.

How to save on credit cards

A credit card can be a powerful tool to build your financial profile, but it can also lead to debt if not used properly.

Certified Money Coach Janet Gray joined CTV Morning Live to offer some tips on the best way to manage your credit cards.

“We’re loaning ourselves money. We’re borrowing our future money that we have to pay interest on, unless we pay it within the statement period,” Gray explained. “If you can’t pay the debt in 30 days, then you’re creating debt and paying 20 per cent interest, likely. That’s pretty high interest.”

Gray says you should think about your financial goals before breaking out the credit card.

“Is your goal to save for a house? Well, if you’re saving for a house, you might need more money than unconsciously spending on more things on your credit card,” she said. “Once you’re clear on what your longer-term goals are, or maybe your short-term goals, then that may help you to use your card less, or use it more responsibly and pay it off.”

Another important thing to know what kind of credit card you have and that doesn’t just mean knowing whether it’s a Visa or a MasterCard.

“A lot of people have credit cards and are like, ‘I don’t know if this is the one for me,'” Gray said. “‘I don’t know if there’s benefits with it, or perks with it. I don’t understand the statement or when I’m supposed to pay.’ There’s a lot of unknowns, but they think it’s a free pass to spend, and it really isn’t. Learn about what you already have and then you can figure out if you need something different.”

Credit card companies make many offers to entice you. Gray says know in advance why you want to use a credit card.

“Do you want cashback? Do you want to collect travel points? Do you want reward points? Some people just want the lowest minimum because they only use it transactionally,” Gray said. “People who travel need maybe more travel insurance. That sort of thing.”

Credit cards can both help and hinder your credit score, Gray says.

“Of course, if you have debt, you could decrease your credit score,” she said. “And before you give up a credit card you’ve had for a long time to get another credit card, you may want to think that over twice because part of your credit score is that you’ve had a credit card and used it responsibly over a long period of time. So, just be sure before you make changes, to check the implications, possibly, on your credit score.”

Gray says a credit card is a necessity in today’s economy, but it’s important to use it wisely.

“I don’t think you can really function without a credit card. Have a credit card, use it responsibly, and then keep an eye on your credit score, too, so that you’ll have the available score when you do apply for those bigger purchases like car loans and mortgages.”

How to find deals when shopping

Avid shoppers can find ways to shop for their favourite items without breaking the bank.

Founder, investor and speaker Mallory Rowan joined CTV Morning Live to share some of her tips on finding the best deals.

The first tip is to use cashback or discount apps.

“There’s a lot of cool programs and apps that you can use, especially browser extensions if you’re browsing on a laptop… Rakuten is a great option, where they have cashback for a lot of websites,” said Rowan. “There’s also one called Honey. I love Honey because it finds discount codes on the internet for you. You don’t have to be Googling to find them yourself. It also does price-tracking, so if there’s certain products that you’re flexible on timing, it can let you know if it’s at a peak moment or this is actually at its lowest.”

Next, pick your bank cards strategically.

“Some of them have really great cashback programs, some let you collect a lot of points and then actually use them for your purchases, and some have cashback programs with specific retailers,” Rowan said. “Koho is a great example. They have specific retailer programs like Sephora, Dyson, even Ticketmaster and Expedia, where you can be getting like 3 per cent back.”

Waiting for big sales also helps.

“There’s always predictable ones like Black Friday and Boxing Day. Sometimes times of year, like spring or off-season for certain products. I also like monitoring for sales by signing up for emails or following them on social media,” she said.

Setting up a group chat with family or friends who are also on the lookout for bargains can help you find more savings and you can help them, too.

Next comes selling your old items. This will put a bit of extra cash in your pocket.

“It’s a great way to declutter and be really efficient with your budget,” says Rowan. “It feels kind of nice if there’s something you want to purchase and you’ve already covered it with the things you’ve gotten rid of. Another option is finding that additional income source, a side hustle that’s just funding their spending account.”

Thrifting is also a hot trend.

“There are so many great thrift shops and consignment stores in Ottawa,” said Rowan. “There’s a great online one called Hide and Seek that I would recommend checking out. Also, consider clothing swaps or product swaps.”

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