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Tips for saving on travel, groceries and dining out

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Even as the cost of living goes up, there are still ways to save some cash while travelling and dining out and, of course, buying essentials like groceries.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at some lessons from CTV Morning Live's Super Savings Week.

How to save on groceries

Food prices continue to increase, but there are ways to bulk up your cupboards without breaking the bank.

Dee Debarros, one half of TikTok's "Coupon Couple" joined CTV Morning Live to discuss how to save like a pro.

"We spend about $120 to $150 a month and that equates to about $600 of groceries," she said.

Debarros says a lot of coupons these days are digital and there are several apps that can help you save money.

"There's cashback apps, there's receipt apps, there's loyalty programs like PC Optimum, Scene points, Air Miles, and all of these things lower your out-of-pocket costs for groceries," she said. "If you're really organized, it's super easy for the cashiers. If you're price-matching or using coupons, knowing what the rules are can really speed up the process and you can use coupons at self-checkout."

Here are three things you can do to get started:

1. Download the Flipp or Reebee flyer app.

"That's going to start getting you trained to look at the flyers every Thursday and start making a plan," Debarros said.

2. Download the Checkout 51 cashback app.

"The most popular cashback app in Canada is Checkout 51 and that's going to instantly start saving you money. You can do this right on your phone," Debarros said.

3. Chose a grocery store that fits your needs

"Loyalty points, price-matching, the ability to use coupons – those are three things that don't even need to get up," she said.

How to save on a trip

You can still get away on a budget, even as costs balloon.

Sissi De Flavis, a local content creator and avid traveller,

"The thing about travelling, you have to budget yourself. For me, travelling is a priority, so I budget my day-to-day life because obviously living in Canada has become extremely expensive, and then once I do decide to travel, definitely a carry-on, definitely a backpack," she said.

De Flavis said the first step to finding good deals is to put your browser on private mode.

"The reason is you always have the cookies, so you don't want them to track that you're travelling, so that way, the flights will always stay consistent in pricing," she explained.

The next step is to be flexible with your travel dates.

"So I have a destination, which is Colombia, so I go into Google Flights, and it will tell me which days will be cheaper, so sometimes travelling on a Thursday could be cheaper than a Wednesday, like $30 to $100 cheaper," she said. "And then I move onto Skyscanner and that's where I usually find the cheapest flights."

Flying out of Montreal can also be cheaper than flying from Ottawa, De Flavis says.

"You save like $300 out of flying from Ottawa, which isn't convenient, but you can do a rideshare, you can take the bus, which is like $50, so it is definitely cheaper to fly out of Montreal."

With accommodations, there are several options. If you can stay with friends, that can cut down on costs, but if you're heading somewhere new, there are still ways to save.

"Google hotels, you can compare and contrast different locations. Bookings.com always has different deals too," De Flavis said. "There is a conversation between hotels and hostels; hostels are cheaper but I'd sometimes rather spend a little more on comfort and having my own space. Also, Airbnbs are popping up everywhere, so contrasting prices between those and hotels."

Another thing to keep in mind is the location of where you're staying.

"Closer to the restaurants you want to go to, the activities you want to do, accessible to public transit so that you don't have to pay for a taxi or walk, so you can save on those costs while you're travelling," she said. "That's why looking for location is important."

Choosing a hotel that serves breakfast can save on food costs and get you started for the day, De Flavis adds.

"That way you can have a good breakfast, be filled, and you can always grab some fruit on the go to have snacks throughout the day," she explained. "If I'm staying at an Airbnb, then I try to buy a little bit of groceries so I can cook at home. For restaurants, ask the locals. That's the biggest thing, which I don't think we do enough. They know the best spots, they're not going to give you tourist traps."

How to save on dining out

You can still enjoy a good night out without forking over a fortune.

Local foodie and content creator Christiana Osei shared some tips with CTV Morning Live on saving money while dining out.

The first tip is to check out the menu in advance.

"Pre-planning your meal by checking out the menu is essential to saving money," said Osei. "You can basically see how big the plate is, you can know that in advance you won't end up ordering too much and that will save on money."

Keeping up to date with the local scene can also lead to finding good deals.

"Follow your favourite restaurants and also your favourite food bloggers as well," said Osei. "The local food bloggers are essential because they're helpful when knowing about things like chicken Tuesdays or wing Tuesdays. Following those types of deals helps you save a lot of money because you know where to save that day."

Another tip is to eat a little something before you go.

"You don't want to go into the restaurant when you're super hungry because that's going to elevate how many things you order."

Sharing plates can cut down on costs, too.

"You get to order a lot of things and try different things without breaking the bank. That way, you can split the cost with everyone you're out with."

Loyalty programs that can give you free meals can also be a way to save.

"There are programs with specific banks or shopping at certain places, they can give you loyalty programs. It's really good to leverage those perks and save up in this economy," she says.

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