Trying to save money can feel like trying to get water from a stone. Yet, if you look around the internet for some helpful hints, you’ll find some not-so-helpful tips like, stop drinking that $4 latte every day! or only eat out once a week! But if you don’t buy $4 lattes every day or get takeout often, then what? How can you save money? Instead of cutting back on the extras that you may not be getting in the first place, look at your basic expenses each month and determine if there’s a way to lower them.
Pay yourself first
Have a pre-designated amount of money automatically taken from your bank account as soon as your paycheque gets deposited. It can be $10, it can be $20, but make it automatic, and make it at the same time as you get paid. If the money is withdrawn immediately, you’ll never have a chance to spend it. You’re paying yourself before you pay anyone else, and doing so is a good investment.
Look closely at your bills
Companies love to charge miscellaneous fees, and the reality is that most consumers pay these fees simply because they don’t pay close enough attention to their itemized bills. Look at your bank account statements, your utility bills, and even your credit card statements, and ensure that any fees beyond your service charges are necessary and explained. Put the money from anything extra in your savings account.
Eliminate late fees
Set up automatic bill pays so that you never ever have to incur a late fee. Even something as simple as setting reminders to take back your library books a day early can save you tens of dollars over the course of a year.
Reevaluate your media plans
Do you really use all of your talk and text minutes on your cell phone plan? Do you need all of the channels in your cable package – or even the cable package at all? These can be significant sources of savings if you carry both every month. If you cut back on these services and only use the bare minimum, you could save hundreds of dollars each year and put it directly into your savings account.
Purchase and prepare food smartly
It’s convenient to buy all of your groceries in one place, but it’s probably not the most cost effective. Take the time to look at the circulars and see what’s on sale at which store. Buy multiples of items when they’re on sale. And when you make meals, make big dishes so that you can have plenty of leftovers. Shopping at a different grocery store and saving as little as $10 each trip can easily add up to hundreds of dollars each year.
Kimberly Greene is the news editor of whichmortgage.ca, which helps prospective homebuyers and first-time property investors wade through anything and everything related to mortgages and housing markets within Canada.