Tag Archives: paying by credit card

My Annual Free $1,500 Has Arrived

This is my third year of taking every toonie and loonie and throwing it into a jar for the year as my coin-savings account.

This year, it added up to $1,512! That’s entirely free money. It kept my pockets from sagging, my cup hold in the car empty and I never missed any of it. Yes, I find ways to “get” coins. I’ll go buy a coffee and use a five dollar bill knowing it’ll get me a toonie and a loonie. Any little trick to grow the pot with money I never miss!

If you didn’t know how well this works: You do now. Give it a try for a year. But making it smaller coin won’t work. You can search the stories back a few years to find it. I took a big pop bottle and filled it with small coin once. Turns out that was barely a hundred bucks if I remember correctly.

If $1000 to $1500 isn’t a big incentive for you: Congrats! Your financial world is different than the majority of the population.

If you pay mostly by credit or debit card: Sorry. Studies show you overspend 12 to 18% total. I know, you’re not going to admit that – but it’s true. There’s no direct association with money when you just pull out your plastic. McDonalds sales on credit or debit are 70+% higher, vending machines over 100% and there are tons of other examples. Try switching (back?) to real money. You may end up with a free thousand bucks or more and will definitely spend less. After all, when you’re out of real money you’ll need to leave the store!

Boston Pizza Heads Up

Two days ago, a Boston Pizza receipt and heads up starting making the rounds on Facebook. The story got a lot of circulation, and it’s something you need to know.

The receipt was from someone at the Stadium location in Calgary. It may only be that store, but there’s no way to know as their media relations department chose not to get back to me. It can also apply to any other restaurant just as easily.

These days, when you pay by credit or debit card, the waiter or waitress will bring the machine to your table. You’ll see the charge total and then be prompted to add a tip, enter your PIN and the transaction goes through. But the restaurant may already have included a “mandatory” gratuity. That’s the case at Boston Pizza, or at least the Stadium location. This customer added a tip, and later realized he had now tipped twice AND was never told they had already forced him into a mandatory tip.

I won’t set foot into a Boston Pizza again until I know they’re not doing that everywhere. But that’s just me….Do be really careful and either ask first before clicking the “tip” prompt or immediately get the manager if it turns out you were tricked into a double tip. Get it refunded right now – right there, or call your card issuer and dispute the charges right in front of the restaurant manager. That’ll fix it on the spot. Do not shrug your shoulders and just complain!



Are You Going Out For Lunch Today?

If so, you’re not alone. According to a Visa survey released yesterday, 60% of us eat out once a week or more. The highest percentage is in Ontario while the Western Provinces tends to eat out the least.

Eating out is convenient, it’s faster than making lunch and – well, we can get kind of lazy. But convenience comes at a price. On average our eating-out meal is just under $9 a pop. Not that big a deal if it’s once or twice, and a lot more for a family of four. At $9 it adds up quickly, and even quicker for the 61% of people whose average is up to $13 at a time.

Who cares? That depends on the state of your finances. It’s certainly ironic that this survey was done by a credit card company. When we pay by credit card, no matter what it is, we spend an average of 12 to 18% more than paying cash. McDonalds has an almost 50% increase in per person sales on credit cards, and vending machines who take them increase their sales 178%.

For anyone who is in debt, these little $10 lunches here there, and all the time, are some of the biggest killers to getting out of debt. There isn’t one magic bullet to changing your finances around, it’s all the $10 and $20 buck stuff like a leaky faucet. If you’re broke or on a budget you shouldn’t see the inside of a restaurant, unless you work there – period. Eating out is 75% ambiance and 25% food costs! There’s nothing wrong with that, but broke people can’t afford it.

If you want to turn your finances around, you need to do a budget. You’ll need to put in writing at the beginning of the month what money you’re spending on what category. Once the budget is set, the only way to spend extra money is to take it out of another category. It’ll give you total control of your money, and you’d be amazed at what you’ll discover about your spending. I’ll guarantee that anyone who does a budget for two months will find at least a couple hundred dollars in savings!

When it comes to eating out – go for it. But it has to be in the food budget. When the food budget is done – you’re done! With the food category, the most effective way is to take the cash budgeted for food for the next two weeks and put it into an envelope. That cash, and only that cash, is used for food. It’ll be very powerful to see that money shrink and shrink – but you’ll actually see it. Paying some of it on credit card, using a debit card for lunch here and there, or buying the odd thing with cash means you’ll have no idea of what it all adds up to. But an envelope with the cash for the next two weeks is powerful and visual – and it works, and you’d be amazed at the money you’ll save.

Living on a cash food budget takes discipline. Plus, your broke friends at work will make fun of you when you don’t go out for lunch with them all the time – that’s why THEY are broke and will continue to be. Anyone who is trying to get ahead, also on a budget, or debt free, will be your biggest cheerleader. But there are more broke people than debt-free people, so get ready for them to pick on you.

One last thing we talked about three weeks ago: If you want to save some money in the kitchen, stick to a budget, and/or reduce waste, there are two new web sites that are kind of cool. Both are set up for you to enter the ingredients you have in the house and will ‘translate’ them into figuring out what you can make for dinner with what you have! The two sites are www.saymmm.com and www.supercook.com

Tricks and Gimmicks Everywhere

I have to confess: Stupid gimmicks, traps and tricks, and misleading ads drive me crazy. But it seems that right now there are a bunch of them around designed to separate you from your money:

Right now, there is a BC car dealer, and one in Ontario on my Facebook page, advertising that they’ll give you 250 airmiles when you purchase a vehicle from them.

Does anyone know what you’re really getting? The wholesale value of an airmile is about 1 ½ cents! That translates to less than $4 of value. On your end, 250 redeemed airmiles gets you around $30 of gas coupons. Let me see: You’re spending $20 or $30,000 and the extra incentive is $30? Are you kidding me? But I wonder how many people chase the points and think it’s some kind of good deal.

There’s an ad for a pawn shop chain with the claim: We’re another kind of bank. THAT is one big stretch. I know the industry wants to clean itself up, and promote itself away from their current image, but a pawn shop is not a bank – give me a break.

Nationally, and it may just be marketed in the US on television, there is now a huge promotion to buy a 24 karat gold coin. They claim it’s a limited edition $50 value for $9.95. Wow – that sounds like a deal…on the surface, especially with the gold mania that’s gone way beyond reasonable and rational.

However, in the ad they mention that the coin contains 14 mg of pure gold. OK, most people know what an ounce is. But hands up if you know what 14 milligrams are? I didn’t think so. At the current value of gold, that 14 mg is worth 78 cents, because it’s 0.000494 ounces.

The ad goes on to claim that this is an incredible investment. How is that? 78 cents worth of actual gold for ten bucks is an investment? It may be shiny, but it’s not all gold.

But a gold fever is a gold fever, and lots of companies are taking advantage of it. In Boca Rotan Florida you can actually find a vending machine that will sell you gold. Just insert your credit card, make your so-called investment selection and buy it, just like you would out of a candy vending machine.

Gold is the only safe investment says one advertisement. Oh, really? As though investing in good growth mutual funds with a long track record hasn’t historically averaged around 12%?

Tim Horton now has an ad campaign designed to get people to automatically re-load their gift cards through their bank account:” Could I get one of these and one of those and get my friend here whatever he wants.” A pre-loaded gift card is like a credit card. Tim Horton, and everyone else in the small cash purchase industry, knows that you’re likely to spend way more money with a card instead of cash!

With a pre-paid card, or credit card, McDonalds average purchase increases 47%, and vending machine purchase per person increases 178%. Small wonder these companies want you to use anything but cash!