I don’t think – wait, I KNOW I’m not cheap. (I may meticulously check over a restaurant bill or a grocery bill, but that’s just to look for errors, and I never have any problem with tipping generously for good service.)
I think the more accurate way to describe me is a “strategic scrimp and splurger.” Never heard of it? Let me explain.
An SSS is someone who always checks out the bin at the grocery store with the dented tins and slightly bruised fruit, to see if there’s anything worth picking up. That way, when it comes time to buy a $200 pair of boots, there’s more room in the budget. Even the seeming extravagance of the footwear purchase makes sense in the long run, since a good quality pair of shoes or boots will last longer. I’ve had some pairs last 15 years or more.
The reason an SSS watches the groceries being rung through like a hawk is because of the Scanner Code of Practce, which is in effect at most major retailers.
This, in brief, is how the federal Competition Bureau explains the SCOP:
“If the scanned price of a non-price ticketed item* is higher than the shelf price or any other displayed price, the customer is entitled to receive the item free, up to a $10 maximum.”
*non-price ticketed item = something with a barcode
Basically, try and keep a running ticker in your mind of what the listed price for something is; if it scans incorrectly, ie higher, at the register, you can get it free or a $10 credit. Pretty cool, right?
An SSS is also technologically savvy, to save both time and money. For instance, I’ve been using the “Call phone” feature in Gmail for months now (it’s free for calls North America wide, whereas Skype charges several cents per minute of usage, no matter where the destination.)
I use it both at home to avoid long distance charges, and on the road to avoid using up my daytime minutes on my cell phone. Essentially, I have a tiny Bluetooth earpiece that I hook up to my netbook, which I then hook up to anyone broadcasting free wireless. (You could just speak directly into the webcam feature on your computing device, but in a loud area background sound could overshadow your call.)
The earpiece was about $30, which is about 120 minutes of talk time on my cell phone plan — a couple of conference calls alone can easily chew up that much time, and this way I’m truly mobile. Spend once on the device, lots of savings over the long term. Win – win – win.
Contrary to the advice often given out by credit counsellors and financial experts, I also try and put absolutely everything on to my credit card.
It may seem counterintuitive, even a temptation to regularly go on shopping sprees, but I like to put everything on to a credit card because it collects most of my expenses into one central area. These days, credit card companies often provide spend analysis reports (for free), so that I can see where I’m blowing most of my dollars, ie eating out, shopping, or entertainment, and adjust accordingly. So rather than encouraging wild spending, it actually curbs impulse spending because I can see every day how much I’ve spent (if I log in every day, which I usually do to monitor potentially fraudulent activity.)
Concentrating my spending onto a credit card also allows me to maximize the reward benefits from using the card, whether it be cash back or rewards points. That adds up pretty quickly.
I’m certainly not saying this will work for everyone out there, but it’s been working for me so far. I’ll try and think of other SSS tips to share in the coming days.