Do you feel like you’re living paycheck to paycheck? Do you have enough of a buffer in your bank account to handle unexpected expenses? Are you spending more than you’re making each month?
I decided to write a post on my top 10 favorite ways of saving money.
If you’re having trouble keeping up with your cost of living, these ten tips will definitely help you cut down on personal expenses.
1. Track your spending
One of the easiest ways to cut down on personal expenses is to track your spending. If you haven’t done it before, it can be a rude awakening, but you won’t know where all your money is disappearing to if you don’t keep track.
You might be shocked to realize how much you’re spending in a month for your daily coffee or what a typical hydro bill is costing you. Or, when you add it all up and compare it to your income, you might realize that you’re simply spending more money that you actually have.
Luckily, there are many apps that can making tracking your spending a breeze. Once you know where your money is going, you’ll have a good idea of where you need to cut back.
2. Make your own meals
The average person spends $200 a month on eating out, making it the largest splurge for 72 percent of people. It makes sense; having someone prepare your food (and skipping the dishes) is a nice luxury when you’re working all week. Truthfully, though, for most of us this is an unnecessary expense.
Planning and preparing your meals each week will take some extra time and effort, but it’s a good way to find some extra money in your budget – and you’ll probably end up eating healthier as a bonus.
3. Ditch your banking fees
The average bank customer spends $200 a year on bank fees. Sure, that only adds up to under $20 a month, but wouldn’t you rather spend that money on something else?
Plan a visit to your bank to talk to someone face-to-face about your bank fees so they can help you find a cheaper solution. If your bank can’t come up with a cheaper solution, there are plenty of other banks that you could switch to that may have lower banking fees.
4. Do it yourself
There are lots of small projects that you can take on to save money on everything from cleaning products to car repairs. With a little bit of research and maybe a YouTube video tutorial or two, you’ll save some cash and learn a new skill.
You’ll want to make sure that you are tackling small projects that you can confidently handle, otherwise you might spend more money fixing your own mistakes.
5. Use your electricity at off-peak times
Did you know that you can pay less for electricity depending on the time of day? For many utility companies, you are charged less between the hours of 7pm and 7am and on weekends.
Check in with your provider on when you can expect the lowest rates, and then plan to do your laundry, run your dishwasher or take a shower only during those times.
6. Use a programmable thermostat
Grab a hot cup of tea and turn down your heat! By installing a programmable thermostat and setting the temperature a few degrees cooler in the winter (or warmer in the summer), you could save you between 10 to 15 percent on energy costs.
7. Match prices
Sure, looking through the flyers each week will give you a sense of who has the best deals, but how many of us have the time to drive from store to store for the best prices?
Instead, you can take advantage of price-matching policies in many of your favourite shops by bringing along your flyers and presenting them at checkout. There are even apps that will help you do this on your phone, such as Flipp.
8. Save on car insurance
There are many ways you can save money on your car insurance if you take the time to do some research and ask the right questions. First, make sure you are shopping around for the best price – different companies will offer different prices for the same vehicles.
When you’re looking at quotes, make sure to ask about money-saving deals. Will it be cheaper if you pay in one lump sum at the beginning of the year, rather than on a monthly basis? Should you raise your deductible for a lower monthly payment? Is there a discount if you use winter tires?
9. Change your driving habits
Gas is another costly car expense, but changing your driving habits could help you fill up less, and save more money. Keeping up with regular maintenance – changing your oil, replacing your air filter, inflating and rotating your tires – will keep your engine in tip-top shape and improve your fuel economy.
Also, cut back on the time spent idling in your car. Natural Resources Canada reports that 10 minutes of idling can use up to a half a litre of fuel, and even idling your vehicle for 10 seconds uses more fuel than restarting your engine.
10. Buy and sell used items
A recent study reported that Canadians are saving an average of $843 a year in what is known as the ‘second-hand economy.’ Not only is this a great way to save money, but it’s also a chance to make some money, with the average seller earning around $1000 annually. The most common items people are buying and selling are clothing and accessories, entertainment products and baby products.
Some of these tips will save you a little (like ditching your bank feels) and some could save you a lot (like shopping around for better car insurance), but when done together, it can all add up to more money in your bank account at the end of the month.
Your turn: What are your favorite ways of cutting down expenses?