Doesn’t it seem like all the advice about saving money comes from people who actually have money to save? Well, it may come as a surprise, but you can save money too. It won’t be easy and you’ll need to make sacrifices (sorry!) but it can be done.
Track your spending
You can’t save money if you don’t know where it’s going. So, the first thing you should do is keep track of every cent you spend. Do this for up to a month to get a good idea of where your money goes. Once you know, you can begin saving some of it. If you’re wondering how your spending compares with other Canadians, here’s where we spend the most money each year.
Create a budget
Now that you know where your money is going, it’s time to see where you can cut back and redirect to savings. You might be surprised to see how much you fritter away on small items like coffees and snacks. But those things add up fast. Not having a budget is a common money mistake that you can avoid.
Set savings goals
Maybe you want to save $100 or maybe you want to save $1,000. Whatever it is, it’s important to have a goal. If you’re saving for a holiday, for instance, knowing that there’s a reward coming will make it easier to say no to frivolous spending along the way. You’ll feel a real sense of accomplishment as you get closer to and finally reach your goal.
Saving is definitely easier when it happens in the background. Most Canadian banks and credit unions allow you to easily set up an automatic debit from your main account. A fixed amount will be automatically transferred to a special account, like a TFSA, on a regular basis. You won’t even know it until you check to see how much you’ve saved.
Round up purchases
Another easy way to save is by rounding up your purchases. You can do it manually, but it’s a bit of a pain to keep track. A better option is Mylo, a Canadian-based app that links to your debit and credit cards and automatically rounds up to the nearest dollar. Your ‘spare change’ is then invested. You can also set goals and then take out your cash when a goal is met.
Create an emergency fund first
Not having an emergency fund is just one of the signs that you’re going to retire broke. But it’s also the first thing you should strive for. How much you set aside is up to you, but it should be at least enough to cover a month of expenses. Several months is better.
Then look at saving long-term
Once you’ve built up your emergency fund, you can focus on saving for things like a car, house or for retirement. When you’re ready, here are 20 important rules to follow when budgeting for your retirement.
Put tax refunds directly into savings
No one likes doing their taxes, but here are some simple tax tips that can help save your sanity and your money. If you’re expecting a tax refund, don’t spend it before you get it. Instead, plan to put it directly into your savings. Depending on how large it is, you may find it makes a big difference to what you’re able to save this year.
Coupons are a great way to save money and not using them is one of the ways that you’re missing out on free money in Canada. Look for high-value coupons and save them until you need them. But don’t buy things just because you have a coupon. Only use them for items that you actually need and then stick the savings in the bank.
Use promo or coupon codes
If you’re buying something online, always check to see if there is a promo or coupon code available. It’s just a matter of doing a search for the retailer’s name and adding promo or coupon code to the search. You can often find codes for at least 10 per cent off. If you’re signing up for an online service, ask your friends if they’re already customers. They may be able to invite you to the service and both of you will get a bonus.
Toss loonies and toonies in a jar
An easy way to start saving right now is to toss all your loonies and toonies into a jar. Because of their value, you’ll be surprised at how much you can save in a short period of time. If you can’t be trusted to keep your hands out of the jar, pick up a piggy bank that has to be broken open when you want to take the coins out.
Use cash back credit cards
Assuming that you’re not wasting money on credit card interest, you might think about using a cash back credit card for all your purchases. You’ll get a percentage of your spending back and you can apply it to your credit card bill or put it into your savings. These are the 10 best cash back credit cards in Canada.
Switch to low/no-fee banking
Bank fees are just one of the ways you’re wasting money without even knowing it.. Take a good look at what you’re paying for bank fees and what you’re getting in return. If you don’t like what you see, talk to your bank about switching to another kind of account. If that doesn’t help, switch to another bank or credit union and save the difference.
Pay bills automatically
If you’re on a tight budget, the last thing you want is a surprise penalty because you forgot to pay a bill. The easiest way to prevent that from happening? Pay your bills automatically. You can set this up through your bank or have your monthly bills charged to your credit card.
Limit gift costs
Expensive gifts are just one of the ways you’re overspending during the holidays and at other times during the year. Why not redirect some of that money into your savings? It’s easy: just put a limit on your gift costs.
Pack a lunch
It’s the small things that eat up our money. Take lunch. If you spend $8 a day, that’s roughly $160 a month. If you make your lunch instead, you could easily save half that. It doesn’t mean that you can never go out for lunch, but it should be a treat instead of a regular thing.
Sell your stuff
If you’re still finding it difficult to find money to save, consider selling some of your possessions. You’ve probably got a bunch of stuff just sitting in your garage or basement that’s losing value. Have a garage sale or post your items online. Take the proceeds and put it into your savings. If there’s anything that doesn’t sell, donate or recycle it. Not sure what to sell? Here are some surprisingly valuable things lying around the house.