A reported 36% of Canadians are living paycheck to paycheck, and while that number might seem low, it’s over one-third of Canada’s population. Even Canadians who aren’t living paycheck to paycheck are struggling to buy homes in the increasingly expensive housing market.
You might be wondering how to save money fast if you can relate to the financial struggles experienced by people nationwide.
Saving money isn’t easy, especially when everything is always getting more expensive and wages are staying pretty much the same. We’re here to offer some advice that might help you pad your wallet just a bit.
Read on for a few quick tips to save money that you can start this week.
1. Track Your Spending
The majority of people don’t actually know how much money they’re spending in the first place. Sure, you might know how much you’re spending on rent and utilities, but do you track every purchase at the grocery store? Do you track how much you spend when you go out or buy “for fun” items?
If not, it’s likely that you’re spending far more money than you think.
For one month, spend as you normally would and write down every purchase. At the end of the month, compare the money that you’ve spent to your income. The leftover money should be going into your savings.
If there’s not a lot of leftover money, you now have a list of everything that you’ve spent money on so you can start making cuts. Without this step, it would be difficult for you to determine where you need to make a change.
2. Look for Unused Subscriptions and Memberships
This is one of the easiest ways to start saving money if you’re someone who has a lot of subscription services. While you’re looking at your monthly spending, look for subscription services that you no longer use.
Sure, you may have needed Netflix at one point, but if it’s been a while since you watched anything on it, it might be time to cut it loose (at least for the time being).
Has it been a while since you last went to the gym? If you’ve traded your gym workouts for home workouts, cancel your membership.
Often, we keep up with subscriptions and memberships because we forget to get rid of them, or we think it’s too much of a hassle. Most of the time (though this isn’t always the case), it only takes a few button clicks to unsubscribe and start saving cash.
3. Consider Getting a Roommate
This isn’t going to be a viable option for everyone, so feel free to skip this step if you already have a roommate or if you live with family members.
If not, however, getting a roommate can make a huge difference in the amount of money that you’re able to save every month. You won’t only be splitting a home. You’ll also be splitting utilities.
When your lease is up, instead of getting another space that’s only large enough for you, look for a two or three-bedroom home or apartment and use local Facebook groups to find someone to share it with. You may save several hundred dollars per month even if you’re in a much larger space.
Having roommates does come with its downfalls, but if it allows you to save enough money for a house or a better apartment in the future, it’s worthwhile.
4. Look for Alternative Transportation Methods
If you drive a car, you know how expensive gas is getting. The national average is over $8 per gallon. Even for people who only drive to and from work, this can really set you back.
If it’s possible to do so, look for alternative transportation methods.
Ideally, you’ll have accessible public transportation. Some places have free public transportation options, while others will get you from point A to point B for a low cost or far lower than the cost of gas, at least.
This will require more planning, but many people find that they enjoy their commutes more when they don’t have to drive. Bring a book or get some work done on your trip.
If you live in a walkable area, try walking or riding a bike on warm days. This will also be great for your health, considering the lack of gym membership.
Again, these options aren’t available to everyone, but look into local transportation alternatives just in case there’s something that you’ve overlooked.
5. Eat at Home When Possible
How often do you eat out or grab a coffee on your way to work?
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself every now and again, but consider eating at home more often if you don’t already. Put that extra money into your savings account or toward your debt payments.
Learn how to make your favorite restaurant meals at home and save eating out for special occasions or days when you simply don’t have the energy.
6. Start Meal Planning
Meal planning will save you more money than you think.
How much money do you spend at the grocery store on things that end up sitting in your refrigerator or cabinet until they go bad? How often do you struggle to decide what to cook for dinner and instead order in?
Meal planning will eliminate those problems,for the most part.
At the beginning of the week, make a plan for all of the meals that you want to eat. We recommend choosing meals that share ingredients.
Make your grocery list after planning your meals. This way, you’ll end up only buying what you need and perhaps the occasional snack.
7. Use Coupons and Loyalty Programs
Speaking of buying groceries, if you’re not using coupons and loyalty programs, you’re practically leaving money on the table!
Look for local grocery stores with plenty of digital coupons. Often, they’ll tailor coupons to your buying habits, so you’ll save money on some of the things that you’d be buying anyway.
Sometimes this might require visiting several grocery stores for all of the things that you want. Do a bit of mental math to compare the cost of gas (from traveling to several stores) to the cost of more affordable groceries.
8. Buy Generic (Store-Brand) Items When Possible
This is important for clothing, home goods, cleaning products, and food. When it’s possible to do so, we recommend buying store-brand items.
There are obviously things that you’re going to want to splurge on, but the majority of “basic” items can be bought generic without sacrificing quality.
Visit your store’s bulk bins (if they have them) instead of buying the packaged foods. Opt for generic sweets and cereals instead of the branded alternatives, and it can really add up over time.
Check the ingredients labels on food and cleaning products. You’ll find that most of the time, the ingredients in the generic options are almost identical.
9. Reduce Your Energy Usage
How much do you spend on energy every month? Even if you rent, you’re likely paying your electricity bill. Find ways to reduce it.
During the summer months, use indoor lights less often. The sun is out for longer, so you can afford to leave the lights off and use the sun as your light.
When you need to use artificial lighting, consider making the switch to LEDs. They use far less energy than standard lightbulbs and they last longer, meaning you’ll have to replace them less often.
10. Start Passively Saving Money
If you struggle to put money into your savings account, set up accounts that will withdraw money automatically or deposit a percentage of every direct deposit.
Savings accounts are not the best way to save money, but they’re better than nothing. There are some savings accounts available that will offer a decent amount of interest, but for the most part, assume that your money won’t be gaining value.
You could also passively invest. There are apps that will invest a small amount of your money after every purchase. You won’t miss that small amount of money, and it will start to grow.
This may be the best way to save money for people who forget to deposit money into savings accounts. When you combine it with the other methods, you won’t even miss having the money in your checking account.
That’s How to Save Money Fast
There’s no good way to save money fast, but you can use all of these methods to start saving this week. Building up a savings account takes time and effort, but it’s worthwhile. You’ll have money for emergencies, vacations, or to buy a home in the future.
At Credito, we aim to help all Canadians improve their financial health. Sign up for our newsletter for more helpful financial tips, or take out a loan with us today if you need a quick boost.
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