Carrick on Money

March 23, 2019

Walmart vs. Costco vs. Canadian Tire
Walmart vs. Costco vs. Canadian Tire - Plus the latest thinking on variable vs. fixed rate mortgages

Rob Carrick

Personal Finance Columnist
Do you have a go-to retail chain for buying household basics? I do not. I use a mental algorithm to pick a store based on expected cost, distance from home and the amount of time I expect to have to waste in the checkout line.

A detailed cost comparison of various household goods at Walmart, Costco and Canadian Tire suggests that if you really want to save, you shouldn’t have a go-to store. Each of the three has its pricing strengths and weaknesses.

Canadian Tire has the cheapest paper towel and tires in this analysis, Costco wins on TVs and bulk coffee. Both Walmart and Canadian Tire score points for price-matching. This analysis says Costco doesn’t do price-matching, but describes the chain’s warranty policy as “the best in the business.”

I would’ve liked to see Amazon included in this comparison. Any readers use Amazon as their go-to retailer for basic household goods? If so, is the main benefit cost-savings or the convenience of having goods delivered directly to you?

Finally, here are some suggestions for people who use flyers to find the best deals from all the retailers near them:

Story continues below advertisement

  • Flipp: An app that carries weekly ads from more than 1,000 Canadian and U.S. retailers; you can use it to find the best deals on items you need.
  • Offers grocery and drugstore flyers and coupons.
  • Salewhale: Lists grocery flyers and helps you find a sale for a product you need.
  • Covers a wide range of retailers in areas like groceries, electronics, renovation and furniture.
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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

The latest thinking on variable vs fixed rate mortgages

A veteran mortgage broker weighs variable- against fixed-rate in light of economic data suggesting that the risk of a rising interest rates is fading.

The hype-free guide to ethical investing at a robo-adviser

Corporate Knights magazine looks at the socially responsible investing options offered by nine robo-advisers in Canada and the United States. “Some had genuinely sustainable offerings. Others might make you choke on your fair-trade coffee.”

The frugal wedding, millennial-style

All about how millennials pay for their own weddings more than previous generations, and the steps they’re taking to keep costs down. Crowd-funding, for one. And apparently, it’s not unheard of to charge for entry.

How to fight ‘decision fatigue’

Are you so overwhelmed with decisions on a day-to-day basis that you simply decide not to deal with some of them? In case some of the decisions you’re avoiding are money-related, I’m presenting yet another rationale for simplifying life by doing the same things every day. Last week, it was eating the same lunch. Here, it’s having the same breakfast. And, from the archives, a popular newsletter from 2016 on why you should wear the same thing to work every day.

Today’s financial tool app

Preet Banerjee’s Mostly Money podcast looks at the upside-down world of financial planning for low-income Canadians.

Ask Rob

Q: I am a 50-year-old widow with two kids at school, and I’m no longer working due to a disability. I have $500,000, all invested in mutual funds. I’m constantly asking myself if that’s right decision. Your thoughts, please?

A: Here’s what to do. Find out which funds you own and then research them on or Morningstar. Check how returns over the short, medium and long term compare to funds in the same category and to benchmark indexes. Did you buy those funds through an adviser? If so, then consider the value your adviser is providing, if any. Also, look at the mix of stocks and bonds in your portfolio of funds. Do you have bond funds and equity funds covering stock markets in Canada and around the world? Do you feel confident that your portfolio can stand up to a bad period for the stock market? A final question is how well your portfolio is handling its No. 1 purpose – be it providing long-term growth, generating investment income for you to use or simply keeping your money safe.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

  • Retirees taking on part-time jobs to stretch retirement funds and explore new passions
  • A proper adjusted cost base can lead to tax savings
  • Canadians’ net-worth declines for first time since financial crisis as debt loads rise to record (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.


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About this newsletter
This is personal finance columnist Rob Carrick’s newsletter about investing smarter, saving more and avoiding common finance mistakes. It is sent two times per week. Visit The Globe's Personal Finance section.

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