Think you can’t possibly save more? We’re here to tell you – OH YES, YOU CAN! One of the greatest obstacles to successful money management is negative thinking, so from now on … positive thoughts only.
We’re arming you with 28 great tips for saving a bit more of your hard-earned cash every day. Print it, and put it on your fridge because this one’s a keeper! As you work through it you’ll find you’ve started saving more without even realising it.
- Start a Savings Jar: Every day empty your pockets, put everything $50 or less in an old jar, you’ll be surprised how that ‘brown money’ adds up in a few months.
- Hang Out with Your Frugal Friends: Turns out it’s just human nature to keep up with the Jones, we’re all guilty from time to time. Make an agreement with your thriftiest companions to take on the savings challenge together, encourage each other and swap tips. You could also try bulk shopping together then split the bill and the items to get the big-box store discounts without the big bill all at once.
- Have a Chat with Your Financial Planner: You’ve got options, you just have to ask! A short- to medium-term CD like VMBS iGain can help you to save more than you’d get with your regular savings. Or try a 1-year plan like VMBS iSave, which allows you to automate your savings each month and offers up to 6% interest.
- Say ‘Yes’ to Loyalty Cards: It only takes a minute to sign up for one, and each time you use one it’s like getting extra change at the register. Sign up for them all!
- Ask for a Discount: Why not? Many store managers are authorized to give a 5 to 10% discount at their discretion, particularly if you’re buying in bulk, or if the item is shop-worn.
- DIY: Take on some of those home improvement projects yourself, you don’t have to be a carpenter to do this. From painting the house, to mowing the lawn, to giving yourself a mani-pedi there are lots of ways to do more on your own.
- Eat In Not Out: Going out to eat can get pricey, skip the restaurant sometimes, and cook a meal at home instead. As a bonus, it’s relaxing, and can provide some great family bonding time, plus it gives parents an opportunity to teach their little ones about nutrition and world cuisines.
- Do 2-for-Tuesdays: Look out for bargains when you do go out to eat or go to see a show, families should aim for places with kid’s menus or order an adult portion and ask for 2 plates for the kiddies. Look out for 2-for-one deals on movie tickets as well – chances are there’s a discount day at your local theatre.
- Go Off-Brand: We did a blind cereal taste test and half of us couldn’t tell the difference between the Fruity Os, Fruity Rings and Fruity Circles. Go generic at the supermarket and ask your pharmacist for generic options when picking up prescriptions.
- Write a Grocery List: Sounds simple, but it keeps you from overbuying and making unplanned purchases.
- Pack a lunch: It might mean waking up 15 minutes earlier, but you’ll save on cafeteria mark-up, plus you get the added benefit of knowing just what’s in your lunch.
- Plant a Garden: A vegetable and herb garden to be exact, it will cut your grocery bill and depending on how green your thumb is, you can even sell the extras to your neighbours and coworkers.
- Skip the Pre-made: Don’t buy the pre-cut fruit and veggies at the supermarket – they aren’t doing it for free and you have a knife sitting in your kitchen. Also pass on the pasta and bean salads, it takes 10 minutes to whip one up at home for a lot less.
- Ditch the Disposables: Switch your paper towels for dish cloths, use Tupperware instead of foil and plastic wrap, and start using cloth diapers.
- Get Rid Of Expensive Habits: It’s a good time to cut down on bad habits, especially pricey ones like cigarettes or alcohol that can really burn through your cash. Swap soda and other sugary drinks for water. Start eating a healthy breakfast every morning to quell the temptation to reach for overpriced snacks at the cafeteria or to stop at drive-thrus on the way to work.
- Turn out the Lights: If your electric bill has been creeping up too we know how you feel. Simply turning off the lights, fan, television and radio when you leave the room can save a bunch. If you have kids, make fun signs to get your littlest ones into the habit.
- Get Unplugged: Your appliances use power even when they’re off, put your appliances in power strips and unplug them when you’re going to bed or leaving the house to save on the drain of phantom power.
- Go Low: Over time, make an effort to switch your bulbs out for LEDs and compact-fluorescents. Switch your faucets and shower heads for low-flow versions.
- Embrace Leftovers: Cooking meals in batches will save you effort, electricity, gas, and water. Do 2 roast chickens and a meatloaf or a lasagne and a big pot of soup on the weekends. That’s chicken salad, sandwiches, lunches and dinners for the coming week. You can even put them in plastic containers or zip-top bags, then date and freeze them and ta-daa! Microwave dinners for the month.
- Take Care of Your Wardrobe: Separate your colours and wash your delicates on the gentle cycle. Zip up your pants before washing and turn dark clothing inside-out before hanging them out to dry. Check your wardrobe for lost buttons and hems, and reinforce them if necessary – it saves having to go out and buy new.
- Start a walking group: Gym memberships can get pricey, and you get billed even if you’ve been spending more time on the sofa lately. Start or join a neighbourhood walking group, or get exercise DVDs and invite your friends over. You’ll save and probably benefit from the camaraderie and support.
- Cut Down Your Data: You probably don’t use up all the data you’ve got each month anyway, especially if you’re using Wi-Fi when it’s available. Be smart with your phone plan. At home you could probably do okay with less as well, you might think you need the speed-of-light package but the speed-of-sound internet plan would probably serve you just as well.
- Cancel Cable TV: or at least cut your channels down to the basic package- who needs 750 channels anyway? You could also consider streaming options like Netflix or Google TV, which cost less than the typical cable subscription.
- Service Your Car: You might be tempted to skip this to save money, but it’ll actually cost you. Routine maintenance like checking your oil and air filters, changing brake pads and rotating your tyres can potentially save thousands of dollars in repairs later.
- Share Your Ride: Downsize to one car and plan your trips. Start a carpool with your neighbours or other parents from your child’s class at school to save on transportation costs.
- Say No to Late Fees: Pay your bills on time to avoid late charges, as a bonus some companies actually reward you with discounts for paying before the due date.
- Banish ABM Fees: Debit is convenient and safer than cash. What’s less convenient are those pesky ABM charges! Use a zero-fee debit card like the VM Express Debit to save some cash.
- Make More Money: Turn your hobbies into cash, if you’re an ace baker or seamstress make things to sell at fairs or flea markets, if you’re a gardener sell plants or produce. If you’re an expert try your hand at tutoring. If you’re a stay-at-home parent open a day care out of your house. Or have a garage sale.
BONUS TIP: save first and spend second. Start with 10% of what you earn — check that money out of your chequing account. Put it in a savings account you don’t have quick access to when you get paid before you even get a chance to miss it. As you go through the month those savings are safely tucked away. You’ll find that you might have to spend less on lunch, cut down on snacks or go on one-less night out, but you’ll survive.
We exchange savings stories regularly around here. I had a co-worker who stopped ‘Pizza-Fridays’ at his house. His children were disappointed the first couple of weeks but it was quickly replaced by grilled cheese sandwiches and board games and everyone’s happy as ever. My other co-worker cut out nail polish and chewing gum. I carpool with my neighbour and have a container garden. And we’re all feeling the rewards of getting thrifty with VMBS.