Right now we know that money is tight, and there are certainly some unknowns going forward as Alberta enters Phase 2 of the re-opening of the province. So here are money-saving tips that might help you just keep a few extra hard-earned dollars in your wallet, during this umm, ‘downturned’ economy. Yeah, let’s call it that.
It might not be feasible at this point, depending on your employment situation, but paying off high interest debt is your best way to save yourself more money in the long run. So, if you have high interest credit card debt, pay that down first, as fast as you can. That will help your bottom line long term.
Impulsive spending is something that we all do, and for some of us, more than we should. That’s why all the chocolate bars are right by the till. OH, I mean, you deserve it. Impulse spending at the grocery store can cost up upwards of 20 per cent more on your grocery costs. Some people find great products that are off brand that they like, and that can also save you small amounts per item, but it adds up. Research shows that you can save upwards of 25% off your monthly grocery bill if you skip one trip, and actually consume what you have stockpiled. I mean, how much soup did you stockpile when you weren’t sure what was going to happen with the pandemic? You may have to eat that now… even those beans you didn’t really mean to buy but panicked, imagining you’re the Road Warrior eating that cold can of beans with a stray dog… ok, maybe not.
A common way tactic was to save your change – if you use cash – and put it into a jar at the end of the day. It adds up. Or, instead of buying a coffee every day, make your own and take it to work, it adds up to as much as $500 for the year. Then again, sometimes you just need that Timmy’s coffee…
More and more people buy stuff out of season. After Christmas is over, you can buy next year’s decorations at a discount, and that stockpile of candy that you definitely won’t eat immediately is always cheaper after Halloween or Easter.
Paying with credit cards seems perhaps counter-intuitive to saving money, but if you choose credit cards with cashback or point options that you use, and are very disciplined in paying off that card each month to prevent paying interest, you can also save yourself. The cashback is great, and can be applied right to those purchases, or those points can go towards buying gift cards as actual gifts, or saving the points for a vacation (in the future of course), is like free money. It’s not, it’s yours.
A tried and true strategy to save a specific amount is to take it right off the top of your paycheque and put it into a savings account. Pay yourself first. Even $25 or $100 a cheque, which you likely won’t notice, adds up. You can even do it as an automatic monthly transfer out of your account. Once it hits a trigger of say $500 or $1,000, invest it in a term deposit or TFSA, and then you earn interest on that money. Suddenly your savings is making you money. Bam. Winner.
Lastly, and probably the most important, is to make a budget. Gasp! How novel! Track your spending over three months, hard costs like mortgage, car payments, utilities, insurance and taxes, and then your soft costs like groceries, eating out, entertainment, gas, etc. Once you have a good idea of where you’re spending your money, you can determine if there are areas that you can cut back on, or perhaps things you don’t need. Maybe you no longer need every sports package, premium movie packages and three streaming services a month. Maybe you do. I’m not judging.
Making small changes can add up, and you can have that extra cash for something nice, or maybe you just need that extra bit of coin right now, either way, you have the power to make it happen.