- Inflation is still surging well out of pace for most people and it is getting harder to make ends meet
- From drafting a budget to shopping around for deals, some methods can be serious, while others are simple “life hacks”
- Saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing everything you love, but rather making conscious choices and prioritizing your financial well-being
- By implementing these 15 simple yet effective strategies, you can start saving some money and improve your financial situation
Living in this day and age comes with higher expenses than previous generations – From housing to groceries, and everything in between. Inflation is still surging well out of pace compared with wages for most people, and it is getting harder to make ends meet. However, with some simple yet effective strategies, you can start saving money and improving your financial situation.
Why save money?
There are a number of benefits to your daily financial life that can be had when you have more money in your account, such as:
- Financial freedom
- Retire early
- Peace that comes with zero debt
How to budget
Figure out how much you spend and keep track of all your expenses – every coffee, household item and cash tip, along with regular monthly bills. Set a realistic budget that allows you to save a portion of your earnings each month. An online budget calculator can help.
Here are 15 simple ways to save money
1. Pay off your credit card debt: You should aim to pay your credit card in full each month and though there is a common misconception that carrying a balance on your credit card will improve your credit score, this is not the case.
Carrying a high balance on your credit card can negatively impact your credit score by increasing your credit utilization ratio. If you are unable to pay off your monthly credit card payments in full, a good plan is to keep your credit utilization ratio below 35 per cent.
2. Keep track of expenses: Having a plan is one thing but setting it in motion and sticking to it is the heart of the matter. You can record your expenses on paper, or use an app. Your bank may even have a feature for this process online. Once you have the data, you can categorize it accordingly.
3. Cut back on spending: Identify non-essential items or services you can eliminate from your budget. Cancel unused subscriptions, reduce dining out (even takeaway coffee), and avoid unnecessary shopping sprees. If you have a gym membership you rarely use, consider canceling it. Look for free or low-cost fitness alternatives such as outdoor activities, home workouts or community centres.
4. Set savings goals: Think about what you want to save for, be it a short-term goal (one year to three years) or in the long term (four years or more), then judge how much money you would need and how long it would take you to save for it. This will help you determine your financial priorities.
5. Shop smart: Compare prices, look for sales, and use coupons. For frequently used items, consider buying in bulk. This strategy can save you money in the long run, especially for non-perishable goods like toilet paper, cleaning supplies or pantry staples. One way to shop frugally that many don’t consider is choosing to buy clothes from thrift or consignment stores instead of new items from retailers. Considering how quickly new clothes wear out, it is also good for the environment to resist the allure of the fast-fashion industry (you can probably find a similar style on second-hand racks, anyway). Never forget to take advantage of loyalty programs and reward cards to save money on groceries and other regular purchases. As my dad always said, “It’s not a bargain if you don’t need it!”
6. Cook at home: Eating out can quickly add up. Plan your meals, make a grocery list, and cook at home. Not only is it cheaper, but it also gives you control over the ingredients and portion sizes. CNET recently added up the costs of cooking various meals at home versus eating out or ordering delivery. Services like SkipTheDishes has made eating out all the more popular, but you could save quite a bit. You can take this a step further and prepare your meals at home and bring them to work instead of buying lunch frequently. You’ll save a significant amount of money over time. If you cook enough dinner the night before, your lunch the next day should cost you $0.
7. Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption: Aside from health benefits, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption can significantly save you money. Plus, your long-term health will thank you. In August 2022, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction published a report suggesting people stick to a maximum of two drinks per week to reduce their risk of negative health consequences.
8. Automate your savings: Set up a direct deposit from your cheque into a savings account so that you don’t need to plan as thoroughly around saving money yourself.
9. Be mindful of your utility cost: Reduce your energy consumption by switching off lights, unplugging devices when not in use, and adjusting your thermostat. Consider using energy-efficient appliances and LED lighting. Your electricity provider will likely have more information and tips on how to save money here, such as Ontario Hydro and BC Hydro.
10. Shop for insurance: Regularly compare insurance quotes for your home, auto and personal belongings. You may find better coverage at a lower price.
11. Open a savings account: If you don’t have one already, your bank can set you up and chances are an email about it from the bank is in your junk folder. Unlike a chequing account that most people use to perform day-to-day transactions, a savings account is used as a tool to help you put money aside. It is a deposit account specifically designed for saving cash. It can be used to fund a car, home, dream vacation, etc. or save for a “rainy day.”
12. Save on banking fees: Consider switching to a no-fee banking account or credit card. Be mindful of ATM fees and choose financial institutions that offer better rates and services.
Use online banks which offer zero monthly account management fees (E.g., EQ Bank, NEO Financial, etc.) instead of Brick-and-mortar banks. Put your savings in a high-interest savings account instead of a regular savings account.
13. Reduce water usage: Install low-flow showerheads and faucets. Fix any water leaks promptly and use water-saving practices such as turning off taps while brushing your teeth or running full loads in your dishwasher and washing machine.
14. DIY projects: Instead of hiring professionals for simple repairs or home improvement projects, learn to do them yourself. Online tutorials and resources can guide you through various tasks, saving you money on labour costs.
15. Put extra money on your mortgage monthly if you own your home: You can free up more money in your budget by paying off your mortgage faster and eliminating that outstanding loan balance. Paying down the principal means you owe less interest each month because your loan balance shrinks.
By implementing these 15 simple yet effective strategies, you can start saving some money. Remember, saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing everything you love, but rather making conscious choices and prioritizing your financial well-being.
Start with charting how much you earn versus how much you spend, keep track of those expenses and put strategies into action to reduce your amount spent and increase your amount saved.
Living below your means is spending less money than you earn. This is the key to saving money over the long term.
Start today and take control of your financial future.
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