Scraping the bottom of your bank account to cover bills every month is a rough situation in the best of times. But when you throw in a pandemic that saw a lot of Canadians dipping into their savings in 2020, it’s no wonder that a lot of folks are looking for more ways to save money.
If any of this is starting to sound a little too familiar, you’re in luck. We’ve got a list of realistic ways to save money that could save you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per year. Intrigued? Keep reading.
Method #1: Put a Lid on Unnecessary Spending
This one may sound like common sense, but in reality, excessive spending is a trap that’s really easy to fall into.
Maybe you were doing some late-night browsing on Amazon or perhaps you stopped at the grocery store after skipping lunch. And then boom. Suddenly you’ve got an item sitting in your house that leaves you with a smaller bank account balance and some strong feelings of “Why the heck did I buy this?”
To make matters worse, however, this type of spending isn’t always the result of making one-off purchases. Sometimes the unnecessary expense comes in the form of a convenient subscription service or a streaming platform that you don’t use very often.
You’ll hear people say that the first step towards reducing your overall expenses is figuring out where your money is going each month. But limiting excess spending doesn’t have to look like cord-cutting or outright canceling different services. You can also put aside a set amount of fun money so that instead of spending $200 on “I can’t believe I bought this.” items, maybe you’re spending $50 instead.
Method #2: Save Your Spare Change
When you’re caught in a cycle of brokenness and financial struggle, the logistics of saving money can feel like a catch-22. On the one hand, you have to save money for the future. But at the same time, you need cash on hand to cover your bills today.
But here’s the thing:
It’s possible to save money on a tight budget even if it’s not a lot to start. If buying a carton of orange juice costs $4.85 today, chances are that the extra $.15 it takes to round that up to $5 won’t be enough to break the bank.
But if you make a habit of rounding up with these sorts of transactions, you could look up in a few months and find yourself with a few hundred extra dollars in the bank. Depending on your circumstances, that’s the start of a nice emergency fund or even the beginnings of an investment account.
Method #3: Buy Frozen Foods, Bulk Items, and Non-Perishables
Next to housing and transportation-related costs, chances are that your grocery budget takes up a substantial amount of your paycheck every month. And honestly, since food is a necessity, it just makes sense that you’d spend a fair amount of money on it.
The good news for those who are looking to save money is that you don’t have to eat beans and chips for months on end to lower the costs of your grocery trips. You can eat well simply by making friends with the bulk, frozen food, and non-perishable sections of your local grocery store.
Rice and lentils can save you a lot of money while lasting for several months at a time while frozen veggies can bulk up a soup or make for a satisfying side dish for less than $5. In addition, canned fruits and frozen fruit can have you eating a little healthier while reducing your week-to-week expenses.
Speaking of bringing down the grocery bill . . .
Method #4: Shop the Store Brand Instead of the Name Brand
Picture this. You’re pushing your cart through the grocery store, looking closely at your list, and scanning the shelves as you go. “Ketchup, ketchup, ketchup,” you mutter while squinting down the aisles.
Suddenly you see it. Right there in the condiments section. And sitting beside the name-brand ketchup is the store-brand version. Which one should you choose?
The answer is “It depends.” There are some items that are so unique to the brand name that the store brand just doesn’t come close for whatever reason. But at the same time, there are many other products like spices or some product items that you could save some money on.
This might not sound like much when you’re talking about fifty cents to a dollar in savings per item. But over the course of several grocery trips, you could see your grocery bill come down quite a bit in the long run.
Method #5: Take Another Look at Your Insurance Costs
From home insurance to car insurance, health insurance, and all the other types of insurance you may need to buy in between, it’s amazing how much money you have to spend every month to protect against things that might happen at some point in the future.
Now to be clear, we’re not saying that you should skip out on insurance. It’s better to be safe than sorry. But at the same time, you don’t have to sit back and pay whatever price your insurance company names either.
For instance, did you know that simple moves like adding alarm systems or upgrading your windows can potentially result in insurance savings?
And if you really want to explore some of the more creative ways to save money out there for Canadians, you can also consider playing around with your deductibles if you want to take a little more money back. Insurance can be complicated so you don’t want to mess around with it lightly. But if you can bundle up your costs or shave a few dollars off, why not take advantage of that?
Method #6 Get Your Junk Food From the Grocery Store
If you’re one of the many Canadians who gained weight during the pandemic, you’re in good company. With not much to do, gyms being closed, and restaurants being shut down, lots of people took advantage of delivery apps in order to get their take-out fix.
And while there’s a lot of good advice floating around out there about the importance of meal prep and cooking food at home, sometimes you just want a slice of pizza or some chicken strips during your Friday night “I-really-don’t-want-to-cook-and-you-can’t-make-me” moments.
A cheaper solution that will leave your wallet in a better place is to purchase a few frozen pizzas and comfort food items while you do your regular shopping. It may increase your grocery bill a bit but you’ll more than likely save more money by cutting down on your use of delivery apps.
Method #7: Pick Up a Side Hustle
In all the discussions around saving money, there’s one angle that doesn’t get brought up as much as the standard advice to lower your expenses:
Your efforts at saving money don’t have to boil down to the words “Spend less.” You can also save money by making more money.
So let’s say you’ve got a full-time job already that takes up your time from 9 to 5. Depending on your energy levels or the resources you have available, you can give a few Uber or Lyft rides, deliver groceries, or pick up a few freelance clients without going too far out of your way.
And if your efforts there are able to make you another $100 a week, that’s still a few hundred extra dollars in your account at the end of every month.
Maybe you’d use that money to subsidize your insurance costs. Or maybe instead of spending the money right away, you’d put the cash into savings or take advantage of the S&P/TSX Composite Index in an effort to put your money to work while you sleep. Either way, side hustles are popular for a reason. Because really, who doesn’t enjoy having more money?
Looking for New Ways to Save Money? Here’s How You Can Set Yourself up for Financial Success
According to CBC, Canadians owed a total of $2.08 trillion in the first quarter of 2021.
For many of us, finding ways to save money isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a necessary part of finding our financial footing and giving our bank accounts a bit of breathing room.
The good news is that there are multiple ways that you can actively bring down your cost of living without going to extremes or living on a diet of ramen and water. But ultimately, the best ways to save money are the strategies that you can use consistently.
Bulking up that retirement account or socking away five figures in savings may seem daunting if you’ve been living paycheck to paycheck. But the sooner you get started, the easier it’ll be to keep your financial momentum going.
Check out the rest of our site for more practical money-saving tips.