These days, it can feel harder than ever to save money. Unexpected costs, reduced work hours and a general sense of uncertainty mean that money saving tips are in high demand. While the internet is full of get-rich-quick schemes and blogs discussing elaborate loopholes and theories, there’s not much practical advice when it comes to saving money in real life. In this article, we’ll share some realistic changes you can make that will have a substantial impact on your bottom line, no schemes or loopholes necessary.
What Are The Best Budgets To Save Money?
A quick Google search will bring back thousands of ways to save money using different budgets and plans. But how do you know which one is right for you? Take a look at this breakdown of three popular budgeting options that may help you get started:
This ratio-based budget is intended to help you stress less about individual purchases and line items in favour of maintaining a vigilant, broader view of your budget.
To get started with this budget, you’ll first need to determine your net income. Next, allocate 50% to your “needs” (fixed costs like rent, food, etc.), 30% to your “wants” (new clothes, day trips, gadgets) and 20% to your goals (retirement, down payment for a home, children’s education fund, etc.).
To see real success with this budget you’ll need to be diligent and not overspend on the wrong categories. If you’re looking for a little guidance to get you on the right path toward a more finically stable future, this budget is a great option.
Cash budgets are exactly what they sound like. After you deposit a pay cheque at the bank, you withdraw a certain fixed amount of cash for specific purposes and when you’ve spent that money, you’re done for the month. If you have a tendency to overspend on frivolous “wants” or splurge unnecessarily at the grocery store, this may be a good option for you. As long as you’re OK with carrying around and using cash regularly over plastic, this budget could be just what you need to help you think deeper about the items you buy and why.
A zero-based budget is similar to a cash-only budget in the sense that you start with a certain balance and work your way down to zero. The main difference is that this budget is great for saving money and providing stability for the long term. When your pay cheque gets deposited, you divide up and “spend” out of that amount until you reach zero. Ideally this will happen right as you’re getting paid again. You can even use something like the 50/30/20 rule to help you allocate where your income should go.
9 Other Ways To Save Money
Cut Down On Your Food Bill
Changing the way you eat will have a huge impact on your budget. Stopping or cutting back substantially on eating out will save you a ton of extra money. Consider meal planning to make your grocery bill go further and remember, you don’t have to go cold turkey entirely. For some, dining out is a special treat and it’s OK to indulge occasionally. Just consider setting aside one night each week or even once a month to enjoy takeout or a dining out experience. You’ll savour it more and your wallet will be full of extra cash you can set aside to pad your savings instead.
When it comes to food, you could also consider giving up or cutting back on meat. Although produce can be expensive as well, meat will typically cost you more per pound for everyday items. Not sure where to start? There’s plenty of amazing blogs, cookbooks and podcasts for vegan/vegetarian cooking that are sure to inspire your transition.
Price Match When You Shop
Price matching can save you some serious cash when you shop. Whether you want to kick it old school with physical flyers or you prefer a more updated approach using technology, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of price matching. If you’d prefer not to collect and review actual flyers, consider downloading an app like Flipp to preview active flyers in your area and compare deals. Use it to build a grocery list, flag items you want to price match and discover the best deals across the board. You’d be surprised how much money you can save on items you planned to buy anyway.
You can also use price matching as a guide for meal planning. If you often find yourself unsure of what to cook or where to start with planning out your meals, consider using Flipp to look for the best deals at your local grocery stores before you go shopping and then build a menu from there. It’ll save you time AND money!
Reduce Unnecessary Spending
Unnecessary spending sounds very broad, and it is. Everyone has different necessities, so impulsive spending looks different to us all. Chances are, you’re spending a few thousand dollars each year on things you just don’t need. Whether it’s houseware upgrades for items in your home that are just fine the way they are, new accessories/clothes for an already overflowing closet, or getting your hands on the latest gadget even if it’s redundant, there are a lot of items we spend money on unnecessarily. Get in the habit of shopping more intentionally using a list and leave your plastic at home and shop with cash to encourage more mindful spending.
Take a good, hard look at all the areas in your life that encourage extra spending. Something as simple as packing a lunch for work every day could save you thousands of dollars over the course of 1 year alone. Taking the time to break down impulsive purchase habits will have a massive impact on your financial stability in the long term.
Switch To Cash Instead Of A Credit Card
Charging a credit card is often mindless and can create a dangerous habit where we get used to spending money we don’t actually have. While it isn’t exactly practical to pay your mortgage or utility bills in cash, there are plenty of everyday transactions you can shift to cash only. This process will place a harder limit on your spending and will make you hyper-aware of your personal choices which will help you think critically when it comes to where your dollars go.
Pay Off Debt
High interest debt (credit cards) can eat away at a substantial portion of your monthly income. If you’re putting minimal money down every month, you’re just paying off the interest on these cards and you’ll be making payments for years to come. Take the necessary steps to pay off credit card debt as quickly as possible so you can shift that monthly spend into other more important items. Got debt? Consider these options:
A debt consolidation loan is where a bank, credit union or finance company provides you with the money to pay off your outstanding debts by “consolidating” them into one big loan. This helps reduce your monthly payments and often provides you with a lower interest rate.
In simple terms, debt restructuring is a proposal made to your creditors where you repay the debt you owe on different terms than you originally agreed to, often paying back a reduced amount and on terms that are affordable to you.
Sometimes homeowners will refinance to pay off their debt (like credit card balances). They accomplish this with a cash-out refinance, which involves getting a mortgage for more than what they owe on the home, taking the difference in cash and paying off their high-interest debt with it.
The snowball method of debt repayment would have you pay the minimum monthly payments on all your debts, but then take any extra money you have and apply it to your smallest debt. Then, once that debt has been paid off in full, you focus any extra funds on paying off the next smallest debt, and so on.
The avalanche method works in a similar way as the snowball method, but the debt you choose for special attention is the one with the highest interest rate (even if it has the lowest balance owing). By paying off your highest interest debt first, followed by the next highest one, the third highest, and so forth, the money you save on interest is put toward paying off your debts.
Cut The Cord On Cable
One of the easiest ways to scrounge up some extra cash for savings is to cut out cable service. If you can’t live without some source of entertainment in your life, consider keeping a small amount of that money and putting it toward a cheaper streaming alternative like Netflix. This way you don’t have to give up television entirely, you just have to change the way you absorb the content and save some cash while you’re at it.
Cancel Subscription Services And Memberships
Subscription services are often sold to us as a means to simplify our lives. Whether it’s meal subscription boxes, monthly music platform fees or memberships to certain big box stores, these costs all add up and in the long run, the value they provide never outweigh the money you can save when you choose to opt out. If you’re hooked on a subscription service and aren’t sure how to wean yourself off, think about what value it provides and try to find a more cost-effective solution that will give you the same outcome. When it comes to subscription services especially, it’s often our inability to make time that has us forking out cash for convenience-based solutions.
If you have a list of items you subscribe to or memberships you pay monthly, take a long, hard look at which ones add real value to your life and which you could do without. A quick edit of your spending in this category could save you a lot of money in the long term.
Reduce Energy Costs
You’d be surprised how much energy you use on a daily basis when you’re not paying close attention. While most new appliances boast energy efficiency, you can rack up a serious bill during the winter trying to heat your space or in the summer trying to cool it down. While we’re not suggesting you cut back on the comforts of home, we are suggesting that you look into solutions that could maximize the efficiency of your heating/cooling system. Consider buying a window sealing kit to seal off a few windows that are crafty in the winter and look into electrical outlet insulation to stop outside air from rushing inside your home. There are lots of little changes you can make around your home to improve energy efficiency and as a result, lower your monthly energy bills.
Check Insurance Rates
Not sure if you’re getting ripped off for insurance? Do your homework! Whether you’re happy with your provider or can’t wait to kick them to the curb, comparing rates can save you a lot of money. Whether you use a free tool online or contact different providers for quotes, chances are you can save some cash by reevaluating your current insurance or opting to bundle different items through one provider.
There are so many ways you can save money on a regular basis, regardless of your expenses or financial situation. Work to identify your weak spots and find tailored solutions that work best for you. The more work you put into budgeting, the more likely you are to reach your financial goals. Whether it’s a yearly exotic vacation, a robust retirement plan or just feeling a little less stressed balancing the books every month. If you’re looking for some insight into investments and improving your financial portfolio, contact our team today and let’s start the conversation.