Watch the back-end charges if you want to save money

We’ve all taken notice of the rising costs of, well, everything lately. Whether it’s the price of gas or groceries or other goods, you’ve undoubtedly seen an increase in what you’re spending. By that I mean you’re paying more but not getting as much.

Last weekend, there was little desire to cook at my house. I’m notorious for ordering food so I open an app and scroll through the choices.

I know a thing or two about saving money, given my bestselling book, The Official Guide to Being a Winnipeg Cheapskate, so I felt the need to be particular about what I ordered.

I have the usual apps: SkiptheDishes and Uber Eats. I’ve had other ones depending on where I am (there are more options in the U.S.) but these are the two I generally use in Canada.

When Uber Eats first launched here, there weren’t excessive fees for using the platform — read that as: fees for being a customer. It’s one thing to use the service and support a restaurant and tip a driver, but when there are so many parties involved in the transaction and everyone needs their cut, it often adds over $10 to your order.

My chicken burger combo should cost roughly $10 but tack on the taxes, the service fee, the delivery fee and the tip, it’s now over $20. That’s when I start wondering how badly I want that chicken.

I realize this isn’t the first business model requiring customers to pay to be customers.

Costco was the first one that stuck out to me. For me to save — I should almost put that in quotation marks: “save” — I have to pay a fee. For the privilege, hell, the honour, of “saving” I have to pay more for that ability.

Today, I still do interviews for the book. I’m regularly called upon by local media to give my cheapskate tips. I’m often asked the same question: “What’s your best saving tip for groceries?”

My answer covers several different points, but lately it involves commenting on the common sales tactic in flyers that says, “Buy more, save more.”

The thinking is that if I buy three, they (whatever the product is) will be cheaper individually. But if I don’t need three, I’m overspending and not saving at all. So, the way to save more is to only buy what you need — or not buy at all. That’s truly the best way to save.

So, I’m happy to be an Amazon customer, but to enjoy the benefits of faster shipping, do I really need to pay a monthly fee? Perhaps if I’m ordering regularly and it makes financial sense. But I won’t get swindling into buying a membership and having the mindset, “I should order more this month because I’m paying for free shipping.” That’s me tricking myself into shopping more to justify my monthly fee.

As prices continue to rise, be sure to check the “extras” you’re charged where and when you shop. That might be the best way to save and send a message to those companies.

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