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Frugal or Smart? Here's How You Can Save The Most Money All The Time

WHETHER IT’S HIGH HOUSING AND GAS PRICES or your regular household bills, you may be feeling squeezed financially. You work hard for your money – and you want to spend it wisely.

That’s why it pays to do a little legwork to ensure you’re getting the best value for money. It may take a bit of time (something that very few people have in abundance), and requires that you ask the right questions (something that can seem a bit intimidating). But it can be done. Below, we’ve outlined a few key steps to help you ensure your purchase is worth every penny.

Be prepared

Assess your needs. Before you purchase that new product or service, figure out what you need and what features you require. For example, when shopping for a mobile phone, consider whether or not you need Canadawide calling, or if you’ll need roaming services for frequent travel outside the country.

Do your research. Doing your homework is the most critical step before any purchase. Check out different providers to see what the market price is, and whether competitors are offering any promotional deals. Special offers are often available, depending on the product, service and time of year. Bigscreen televisions often go on sale right before the Super Bowl, for example, and most car companies have annual inventory clear-out sales with all sorts of incentives.

Determine your approach. Whether it’s a new purchase or an attempt to modify an existing service, like an Internet/cable bundle for instance, set a goal. Approach your negotiation with a purpose, and have a list of your wants and needs at hand to refer to.

Ask the right questions

Inquire about your options. There may be options available that could add more value to your purchase. For example, your cable provider might let you try out a specialty channel for a couple of months free of charge if you are unsure you will use it. Or, in the case of your mobile phone or Internet service, your provider can help you examine your past usage and suggest a different service plan based on your actual needs.

Don’t be afraid to ask for extras.

Depending on the product or service, you can ask about extras. You may not get a reduction on your monthly gym membership fee, for example, but perhaps they’ll throw in a free towel service. If you can’t negotiate a lower price on a car, request that a navigation system be included with the purchase.

Be willing to walk away.

Sometimes, a seller is just not able to meet your needs. If you’re unhappy with the offer on the table, you may need to walk away. Your willingness to leave may result in your request being escalated to someone with more authority to offer a better deal. Or you may discover another company is able to accommodate you better. In any negotiation, be clear in what you’re asking for, but don’t forget to be respectful and calm, too.

Stay on track

Sometimes getting the best value for your money is more a matter of keeping on top of things. Review your regular bills and statements frequently to ensure you’re being charged accurately, and pay attention to any new service plans or offers in the marketplace. Assess your car and home insurance policies annually to make sure they are up to date for your current needs.

Put money saved to work

By spending wisely and getting the best value for your money, you can gain more financial flexibility. Your advisor can help you take advantage of those everyday savings and put them to work to help you reach your longer-term goals.

Discipline is what it takes to block out the noise, commitment is what it takes to walk the path to financial success and patience is what it takes to reach the goal.

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