Looking for ways to save money this year? When the temptation to spend is hard to avoid, try these money saving tricks.
1. Create a spending budget and stick to it.
With a budget you figure out what your income is and what your expenses are. Once you know these two things, you can look for ways to reduce your expenses or increase your income to allocate an amount of money that you can afford to save. But this is often one of the hardest suggestions to follow, as it requires tracking what you are spending your money on each month, and then making sure you don’t spend more than the amount you allow yourself. It may take a while for you to develop a budget that works, but once you do, you’ll find it much easier to put money aside and not dip into savings to buy things you probably don’t need.
2. Pay yourself first, and automatically.
It’s important that you are putting aside a percentage of your income for savings. Try setting up an automatic transfer into a savings account (an RRSP or an account at another financial institution will help reduce the temptation to spend that money). Even as little as $25 a week would be a total of $1300 a year. Eventually you’ll start to think of this payment as another regular expense, and you won’t notice that you have a little less to spend.
3. Put the plastic away.
Use cash for your day-to-day spending and leave your debit and credit cards at home. Visit your bank once a week to take out your weekly allowance. Statistics show people spend 30% less when they pay with cash. And if you do carry a credit-card balance from month to month, make sure to pay it off right away. Those high interest rates can cost you hundreds of dollars a year.
4. Stop Spending $5 Bills
Make it a personal rule to never spend one type of currency – for example, $5 bills. Stash the money in a piggy bank or your bank account instead. Is $5 too much? Start with toonies or loonies instead.
5. Master the thirty-day rule.
Whenever you’re considering making an unnecessary purchase, wait thirty days and then ask yourself if you still want that item. Quite often, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed and you’ll have saved yourself some money by simply waiting.
6. Remove your credit card numbers from your online accounts.
It’s easy to spend online when your credit card information is stored on an account – you just click and buy. Avoid temptation by deleting your card information. That way, when you want to make a purchase, you’ll have to dig out your wallet first… and you’ll be forced to think about whether you really need to spend the money.
7. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it.
Make sure you know what you are buying before you step into a store. No matter how tempting, do not put anything extra into your cart. And shop the sales – whether it’s clothing, electronics, or groceries, review the local sales flyers when you are creating your list, so you know what to expect before you get in the store. Not only will the sales prices mean a smaller bill at the cash register, but you won’t be tempted to buy something that’s not on your list just because it’s on sale.
8. Invite friends over instead of going out.
Almost every activity at home is less expensive than going out. Invite some friends over for a potluck meal, then play some games and have a few drinks. It’s fun, cheap, and most likely your friends will reciprocate.
9. Brown bag your lunch and cook at home.
Making food at home is significantly cheaper than eating out. A $3 loaf of bread will get you a week’s worth of sandwiches. Ingredients may seem more expensive initially, but they’ll last longer than a single meal bought at a restaurant. No time to make your lunches in the morning? Prepare it before you go to bed and store it in the fridge overnight.
10. Make your own beer or wine.
If you don’t have the space to do this at home, there are lots of “you brew” locations that will make the beverages for you, and it will still be cheaper than buying from the liquor store. If you can’t afford a full batch on your own, get some friends to split the cost with you.
11. Buy in bulk.
For things you use frequently – toilet paper, paper towel, diapers, toothpaste, cleaners, shampoo, etc. – buying in bulk will save you money in the long run, and mean that you don’t have to buy these items as often.
12. Turn off the television.
There are three big financial benefits to turning off the TV: you can reduce the number of channels you need and thereby reduce your cable bill; less exposure to advertisements means less temptation to buy; and your electricity bill will be lower. Not to mention less time in front of the TV means more time for other things. While television can be a nice way to unwind at the end of the day, there are plenty of other options too: read a book, play a game, go for a walk, take a bath, listen to or play music, do yoga, or write in a journal.