preet banerjee

Looking off the beaten path can reveal creative money-saving tips

Special to The Globe and Mail

(mangostock/iStockphoto)

While my work life revolves around money, I don’t employ every money-saving tip I hear about.

There are thousands of tips and tricks to save a penny here and there, and some resonate with people more than others. I don’t tend to skimp on my caffeine habit because I know I’d die without it. Others may refuse to give up a monthly manicure or a subscription to a favourite magazine.

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While a simple Google search about saving money will target these more obvious luxuries, if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find creative ways to save money a bit off the beaten path.

Take renting a car. You can save big bucks by reserving it through a travel agent based in Britain. Most people wouldn’t think to call another country to book a car rental in Canada, but a friend of mine temporarily working in Britain a few years ago uncovered this surprising savings when he was booking a week’s vacation in Western Canada.

The best price he was quoted from local rental agencies to pick up a car in Vancouver and drop it off in Calgary was $648.51 after tax. You pay a premium to pick up and drop off cars at airport locations, and another larger premium for dropping them off in a different province. Through an Internet forum for Canadian expatriates in Britain looking to book travel in Canada, he discovered a website called CanadianAffair.com. They provided him a quote of $304.63 after all taxes and currency exchange fees. That’s more than $340 in savings and they booked him through a large international car-rental service.

I tried to retrace his steps, and found an even greater savings. Using the same Vancouver-to-Calgary itinerary, I called CanadianAffair.com. While I asked to book the smallest and cheapest car, they told me that they offered a free upgrade to an intermediate-sized car with a free tank of gas, unlimited mileage, a loss damage waiver, and $1-million in third-party liability coverage. The total cost after taxes and currency exchange was $415.03.

I then went on to Avis.ca and priced out the exact same rental. The quote: $1,515.49.

Some people will find that the extra time and effort required to creatively save money is not for them. But thinking outside the box can deliver big results.

Preet Banerjee, B.Sc, FMA, DMS, FCSI, is a W Network Money Expert, and blogs at wheredoesallmymoneygo.com. You can also follow him on twitter at @PreetBanerjee

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