Money-saving tools, websites and applications

Savvy shoppers know how to get more for their money in the modern marketplace and new tools, websites and applications can take the guesswork out of where to shop to get the best prices. Here are ways to explore money-saving options before your next shopping trip.

Disclaimer: Don't trade your online safety for a good deal. Protecting your personal information should always come first, so before you press download or create an account, read the terms and conditions of the cost-saving tool, website or application you want to use.

On this page

Before you start shopping

As you determine what to add to your shopping list, identify deals you may be able to take advantage of by browsing through physical or digital flyers, or a price tracking app.

1. Price tracking applications

A price tracking app is a tool that allows you to compare and track prices from a variety of websites or locations in an area, usually determined using a postal code. This tool lets you comparison shop before you leave your home and may inform your shopping choices. Using this tool, you can seek out retailers offering the best prices on the items you use regularly. This can help you spend less overall and save you from running from store to store to discover the best prices, which can result in saving your time and can have a reduced environmental impact if you're using a vehicle to travel to the store.

2. Flyers

Flyers are typically available in-store or through a Web app. Using a flyer as a shopping guide can help you compare prices across different stores to ensure you're getting the best deals on what you need. Some tools, websites and apps will allow you to search for specific items and check their price in multiple store flyers.

Make a note of any limited-time offers or promotions with loyalty cards, as these can provide extra savings.

3. Coupons

A coupon is a voucher or document that offers a discount, rebate, or special offer on products or services. The type of coupon you choose may depend on the retailer's policy and your personal shopping preferences.

Examples of popular coupon types:

  • Printable coupons: Physical coupons that you can find in newspapers, magazines, or promotional materials. You must  present them at the store at the time of your purchase in order to receive the advertised discount.
  • Digital coupons: These are coupons available online, often on the retailer's website or through dedicated coupon apps. You can print or download digital coupons, or use a barcode from a smartphone, to redeem this type of discount.
  • Manufacturers coupons: These are issued by the product manufacturer and can be used at various retailers. Often times, the discounts are on specific brand-name products.
  • Store value coupons: Retailers often offer in-store reward programs. They may be as simple as giving you a free product or service after purchasing a certain value of goods or services at that particular store. Other in-store reward programs may come in the form of a loyalty card. Over time, by using this card, you can accumulate points which can then be exchanged for free products, services, coupons or discount vouchers. Some in-store reward cards are only available for in-store purchases and cannot be used online.
  • Buy One, Get One (BOGO) coupons: These coupons offer one product for free or at a reduced price when you purchase another product at full price. These offers may extend to different products or multiples of the same item.
  • Mail-in coupons: These are sent directly to you by mail and can be redeemed in-store.

While you shop

1. Price matching

Price matching is when a retail outlet offers to sell something for the same price you'd pay at a competitor's store. Some retailers have an advertised price matching strategy, while you may have to ask other retailers if they'd honour a competitor's price.

  • Be prepared to show proof. You will likely be asked to show a competitor's lower price in a physical or digital flyer.
  • Price matching may be available to you after you've made your purchase. If you've already purchased something and you find out it was cheaper at a different store, you can check the price matching policy for the business you made your purchase from. Some businesses may agree to refund you the price difference. Sometimes the price adjustment is provided in the form of store credit if you discover a lower price elsewhere within a predetermined timeframe.

2. Rewards to redeem

Many companies offer a reward and customer loyalty program that you can use when you shop in-store or online. Typically, you can use a smartphone app, or a card given at the time of purchase, to collect points. You can choose to redeem your accumulated points to pay for the items in your cart or keep collecting. Check the terms and conditions of these programs for "use them or lose them" clauses on points. By making informed decisions on cashing in discounts or rewards during bonus events, and remembering that your points might lose their value over time if the company changes their redemption policy, you can make sure to get the best value from the reward programs you choose to participate in.

Other ideas to consider to stretch your dollar:

  • Look out for end-of-week clearance sales. You may find food the store has prepared on-site at a reduced price since the expiry date is approaching.
  • In the fruit and veggie aisles, try to locate the shelf where stores sell "imperfect" or surplus of fruits and vegetables.

After your visit to the store

Even after you've left the store, there are ways you might be able to save:

1. Cash back programs

Generally, cash back programs are available through an app and you may be able to earn cash back by completing these activities:

  • Purchasing specific items
  • Filling out a survey
  • Providing a product review
  • Shopping directly from the application

Note: You might be asked to provide a photo of your receipt to receive cash back in some cases.

2. Retailer rebates

Retailer or manufacturer rebates offer either a partial discount or a refund when you buy a product or service. Retailers or manufacturers may offer an instant rebate at the time of purchase. Other promotions, such as mail-in or online rebates, are sent to you later if you apply for them.

An instant rebate is applied directly in-store at the time of the purchase and a mail-in or online rebate requires the purchaser to take action once they have left the store. To receive your rebate, make sure you:

  • Follow the rebate instructions, including adhering to the applicable deadlines, and send all required documentation [i.e. claim form, contact information, proof of purchase (sales receipt), Universal Product Code (UPC)]
  • Make a copy of everything that you provide in case the rebate is delayed or unpaid

NOTE: Whether you're taking advantage of an in-store rebate or applying for one through the mail or online, make sure to read the fine print and look for limitations that may render the rebate null.

There are many ways for consumers to shop wisely —even in challenging times—but, the most important step is to balance saving both time and money. Here are some additional things to consider before opening your wallet:

  • Don't be swayed by deals on multiple items unless they are things you use and need
  • Be conscious of the potential for food waste. Making a meal plan may help you avoid excess food costs
  • Be climate conscious. Finding the best overall deals can help you avoid trips to multiple stores in your vehicle

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