Making an effort to save money every day might sound like a lot of work. Maybe it involves changing a habit, or it means you’ll have to become more active. Or maybe you’re afraid it will involve giving up something you love. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to cut costs – it simply requires you to be mindful of the little things you do every day. As someone who was brought up in a family with a savings mindset, I learned early on the importance of sticking to a budget. In my university years, I became quite creative in ways I could cut costs and enjoyed plenty of evenings out on the town for less than $15. So here are eight ways on how to save money every day. Keep in mind that this is written from the perspective of a 32-year-old, but there are still plenty of good tips for people of any age who are looking to embrace frugality:
Swap Clothes with Friends
This is my number one piece of advice for sticking to a budget and I can proudly say it has saved me thousands of dollars over my lifetime. If you have friends or family members who wear the same size, enjoy a “clothes swap” day where you set aside clothes you don’t want anymore – preferably ones that are in good condition – and sift through each other’s closet. This is especially helpful if you have a formal event and need a dress or suit that you only plan on wearing once. Also consider swapping accessories such as purses, jewelry, ties, etc. … they may not be brand new, but they’re still new to you!
Bring Your Own Food (and Coffee)
We all know that eating out costs more than cooking your own food. Create meals at home as often as you can. Make larger dinners so you can pack lunches for work later in the week. If you’re strapped for time, consider purchasing a slow cooker that can do all the hard work while you’re at the office. Jackie’s personal tip: If you’re a sports fan and regularly attend baseball, hockey or basketball games, in-stadium purchases can really add up. Eat before you leave for the game or pack a sandwich and snacks to bring with you. Just be sure to check any regulations about bringing food into the stadium beforehand as some have strict rules. And yes, we’re Canadian and love our Tim’s in the morning, but it can be purchased in bulk and brewed at home. It doesn’t even have to be Tim’s: brew whatever you enjoy – just do it at home. It will save you a ton of money in the long run. Also, skip buying water bottles. Invest in a solid reusable bottle and visit water fountains when you’re out and about.
Reduce Electricity Usage
This is simple – if you’re not in the room, turn off the lights, the TV and your laptop or desktop. Unplug your phone once it’s charged. Keep your thermostat set at 25 C in the summer and 20 C in the winter. Run the dishwasher just before going to bed rather than during peak times. When doing laundry, divide your clothes, towels and sheets by washing instructions rather than by “genre”. You would be amazed at how much you can wash together – and how much you can fit into your washer and dryer! Don’t forget to line-dry whatever you can. If certain items require softening, throw them into the dryer with a damp washcloth for 15 minutes on a delicate cycle.
Walk or Cycle Where Possible
If you live close to work, keep the car in the garage and get on your feet or your bike. It won’t just save you money – you’ll also get plenty of exercise. If your work is too far away, think of other places that you regularly frequent that don’t require you to jump in your car or take public transit. Consider walking or cycling when running errands in your own neighbourhood. Another option: walk one way and take transit back, or vice versa.
Trade Skills with Friends
Let’s say you have exceptional culinary skills and your friend has expertise when it comes to fixing broken technology. Help each other out when necessary, or thank your friend with a small token of appreciation. And when it comes to large celebrations such as weddings, ask friends to contribute their creative skills in lieu of gifts. When I got married, our friends helped out with make-up, programs for the guests, playing music for the ceremony and recording the evening on video, saving us at least $6,000. They were lovely personal touches that meant much more to us than anything from a wedding registry.
Minimize your Saturday Night Spending
If you come home early Sunday morning after a night out on the town and regularly find your wallet is about $100 lighter, you’re likely spending too much. So where you can cut back? If you’re not much of a drinker, stick to non-alcoholic beverages (but avoid "mocktails" at bars as these, too, can be pricey). Are you driving downtown and paying $25 for parking? Take public transit instead. Trying to fit too much in on one particular night? Spread it out over several weekends. Invite your friends over and stay in from time-to-time. Or just go out another night of the week. Some locales jack up their prices on Friday nights and weekends but are cheaper on weeknights. Enjoy the occasional Wednesday or Thursday night out – just make it an earlier bedtime.
Buy Items at the End of a Season or Offseason
End of season clearance sales can be your best friend. While the selection may not be quite as large as early on in the season and certain items might be more challenging to find, chances are you’ll be paying a lot less. This means stocking up on garden accessories in September, Christmas decorations in January and – if you’re anything like me – chocolate bunnies after Easter weekend.
We wouldn’t be RateSupermarket.ca if we didn’t include this last tip. Whether it’s your credit card, your home or your bank account, you want to ensure you’re getting the best rewards, the lowest fixed or variable rate mortgage and the highest amount of interest on your deposits. Shop around often and make sure you’re getting the best rates, always pay off your credit card bills in time and look for low or no fees. Chances are you can incorporate at least one or two of these savings tips into your lifestyle. In the end, you’ll have extra money either to put away or to spend on the people and experiences that matter most – and that’s what will make you happy.