With inflation eroding our purchasing power, just about everyone is looking for a way to save. In more than four decades, we have not seen increases in costs like in 2023. Talk of grocery prices seems No. 1 in everyone’s conversation.
Do you seek out savings? Time for an admission: I do and so should you.
What with flyers and colourful brochures, there are invitations daily to buy this and purchase that. Circulars arrive in the mailbox and some guide all their store visits timed to the sales. Yup, no toilet paper at full price for me.
Do you go to drug stores that offer a “Seniors’ Day” 20-per-cent discount? Some of us used to be offended when offered the discount. “What? Who me?” might run through your head. Should I say yes even if I only look 60-plus to the 22-year-old cashier? Don’t worry, they never ask to see your drivers’ license for date of birth.
Maybe you don’t clip coupons, but the internet seems to also abound in promotional programs. The ubiquitous BOGO – Buy One Get One – is a fave for eye-catching advertisements online. However, who needs two of something unless it is a Peanut Buster Parfait. Of course, you have to bring along a friend to share in the bounty.
Digital coupons via subscription, or an app, seems another route to my wallet. But not everyone is jumping onboard this route. Shopper watchdog groups show many seniors are facing a bar to access when it comes to “couponing” in the digital age.
A recent report by Consumer World says this means “digitally-disconnected or otherwise not tech-savvy seniors are unable to access rock bottom prices.”
In the past, to take advantage of all the sale items featured in a chain’s weekly circular, all shoppers had to do, “was to show their loyalty card to the cashier. Now some prominent supermarket chains are adding an extra step that requires internet access. Shoppers who want to buy any item flagged as a digital deal must in advance preselect and load it into their online account on the store’s website or app in order to get the advertised sale price in the store,” Consumers World reports. Many say this is unfair and exclusionary.
The Pew Research Centre in the United States adds, “This extra technical hurdle disproportionately hurts digitally-challenged seniors in the pocketbook because they are the least likely to have internet access or a smartphone … (which) means that millions of seniors and others can’t take advantage of digital-only deals.” The centre reports data shows 39 per cent of those 65 and over do not own a smartphone and 25 per cent don’t use the internet.
What does membership mean? Of course all of these apps and loyalty cards have as their primary purpose the capturing of data. Who shops? When do they shop? How do they shop? What do they buy and even how often? All this data tells tales of trends and even reactions to marketing campaigns. Many consumers shun loyalty cards over fears of what that data could drive.
For most of us, it results in targeted advertising. If you are okay with that, go for it.
Is shopping at the big box stores going to result in savings? It sure seems so initially, but dig deeper and ask yourself how much gets wasted. The article “Food Waste in Canada” sponsored by Seeds of Diversity reports that, “Canadians wasted 450,000 eggs, dumped one million cups of milk down the drain, and threw 2,400,000 potatoes away every single day. Furthermore, 63 per cent of the food thrown away by Canadians was still perfectly edible.”
Are there are other ways to save? Certainly at the grocery store there is one more thing to do: don’t buy the checkout splashy shock mass media trash. Hard to stop yourself? Ask yourself how much of your budget is eaten up by non-food purchases. Express that as a percentage and that should be enough to cure you.
In the same vein, review your media needs and end subscriptions; instead get a library card and chop your entertainment budget. Most libraries have DVDs or electronic access to movies and music. Review your internet and connection costs. Yes, call your cell phone company and review your needs. Maybe there are deals out there. Tell them you are shopping around and wait. After a moment of silence, they likely will offer you a better program.
There are other options to spending less. Go to your bank and see if there are packages specifically for seniors. Call your insurance company and see what routes you can take to reduce costs for auto and home. If you have not had a claim, there is a high likelihood you might see a reimbursement. Drive less than 10,000 km and rebates are common.
As cooler days and months are on their way, don’t look to your thermostat for savings. Don’t close off rooms, nor be uncomfortable; that only leads to potential mold and mildew problems and chills. Sure a sweater and slippers can successfully add some warmth to your world, but do explore programs and possibilities through government plans, energy delivery company promotions, and hydro suppliers — local and provincial — often have plans. How much does running your dishwasher or dryer after 7 p.m. mean? It should make an alteration to your bill.
More recently some plumbing challenges were less expensive when the seniors’ rate was applied. All you have to do is ask. What about travel? A 10-per-cent or 20-per-cent savings on hotel rooms by just clicking a box is an easy win. Even VIA RAIL has reductions if your birthday makes you blessed.
Some say it is not the dollars you have earned, but the money you don’t spend that makes a difference in the long run. Stretching your pennies may be a virtue, but it can also be a game. Go for the win!
Hugh Kruzel is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Prime features stories about senior living and the issues impacting seniors in our community. It is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.