Tag Archives: comparison shopping

Amazon Vs Walmart: Your Wallet Will Thank You

One thing is certain: Most of us shop at Walmart or Amazon at least once a month or (a lot) more. One is pretty convenient to get to and one is just a few clicks away on your phone. Which one you drive to or click on is becoming more important to your wallet. Because, if you don’t comparison shop, it’s going to empty your wallet rather quickly.

From its inception, the goal of Amazon was to dominate the market with low prices. But that ended, or rather it transitioned, to convenience quite some time ago. With a reported 100 million plus people having Amazon Prime, there is an entire generation that values the convenience of two clicks to buy and guaranteed next day delivery. Amazon is banking on the fact that those prime customers don’t shop around much – and they’re right.

Convenience trumps price – just like the closest ATM with a four dollar “service” charge trumps free withdrawals at our own bank three blocks down the street. As we’ve talked about more than three years ago, Amazon isn’t the least expensive on identical products almost half the time (according to studies originally reported by US consumer guru Clark Howard.

Walmart also has some weird pricing on their website. Most of it appears to be from third-party vendors (which is also the vast majority of Amazon’s inventory. Here are some of my shopping attempts and price comparisons from the last two weeks:

Yesterday I bought the pretty plain Remington R3 razor at my local Walmart. I thought $40 was a little high, but bought it anyway…until I got home and checked Amazon! $118 total vs. $40 is insane!

The legal rip-offs for those not bargain shopping works the other way around, too. This is a simple 10 pack of plastic cover plates for light switches: $15 from Amazon vs. $64 from Walmart for a 12-pack!

A gray bus pan that restaurants use to clear tables: I needed two of them since they’re great for the garage. But I almost had a heart attack seeing the Walmart price of $200…for something I bought at Costo Business Centre for $6.

There were a few more of my purchases – or purchase attempts – from the last few weeks where either Amazon or Walmart weren’t even close. While these may be obvious, it’s the 20 smaller things you buy where the prices are “only” out 10 to 20 percent that don’t make it onto our “better double check that price” radar. And that’s what both of these giants, and their third-party vendors count on. At a time when it seems like everything is already up in price by at least 10-20 percent, take the two minutes to compare prices. Your wallet will thank you!

Mortgage Renewal Alert!

At one point or another, all of our $1.5 trillion in mortgage loans comes up for renewal. 75% of people do not shop around at renewal. THAT is insane! A back of the envelope calculation, assuming everybody has a five year term and saves (easily) half a percent is that we leave $1.5 billion a year on the table by not shopping!

Last month I had an email from a gentleman from Kelowna with a great heads up for anyone with a mortgage. His mortgage comes up for renewal in March and his bank was offering to renew him early and was going to give him some reward type points as a bonus.

No – stop! The points might have a value of $50 bucks or so. That’s not enough to give up your freedom and lock yourself in this early. They did this in order to avoid him shopping around, and in case there’s another quarter point rate decrease.

Yes, rates will go up, but not between now and March, or even the spring. 60-days out is when you should start shopping around as you’ll be a free agent! Decide on a few things in advance between now and your renewal:

Do you think rates will go up in the next few years?

Will you still live in your home for another three to five years? If it’s yes to both, you want a longer term fixed rate mortgage!

Can you pay some money onto the principal before you renew? If so, your quotes will be for a lower amount.

Do you have at least 20% equity so you don’t have to pay the rip-off CMHC mortgage insurance? That’s your home value versus your mortgage balance.

Go to any online mortgage calculator and play with some payments. You know your balance, now try some ideas: Shorten the time by a year and you’ll see your payment goes up very little. It’s about $27 for a $200,000 mortgage. THAT you could afford. Try accelerated by weekly payments. That’ll cut four years or more from your time and a huge amount of interest. Just use the posted rates that you see less half to three-quarter percent and you’ll be close. Two good sites are CMHC and Royal Bank, among others.

Then, get three quotes in writing: One from a credit union, one from your existing lender, and one other.

The average person that books travel online visits over eight sites before they book. Yet 75% of people just sign the renewal of their mortgage. Don’t be one of them! Saving $100 on travel versus $10,000 or more on your renewal makes no sense!!

There is an exception to this shopping around: If your credit has turned bad, or your other payments have jumped a lot – you won’t be in a position to move your mortgage. You don’t even want your current lender to re-run your credit report or to re-work your debt ratio that can’t exceed 44%. Sign a short term renewal, then get on with fixing your credit issues and paying down your other debt before the next renewal.