I used to laugh at my Mom when she would comparison shop for something she was thinking of buying, even relatively little items that don’t seem to warrant the effort. But as she pointed out, the savings paid for a bottle of wine, or a pub lunch, or something else to be enjoyed at leisure. She had a point.
Budgeting hacks aren’t meant to create a situation where you are nickel and dime’ing everything you purchase, running from store to store just to save a buck (which in the end, costs more in time, energy and fuel!). But these hacks can make you more aware of where your money is going and how you can keep more of it in your pocket.
1. First step is to HAVE a budget
The budget covers your monthly expenses, including routine items that you know you’re going to have to pay for. Rent / mortgage, utilities, phone, internet, food, medicines, etc… According to Advisor.ca, 54% of Canadians don’t have a budget despite the fact that having one can improve our financial health and stability. So if you’re not sure how to start building your budget, I’ve got printables for that, as well as a beginners guide to budgeting.
2. Digital couponing
The days of cutting out scraps of paper from the newspaper are over. You can save a bundle if you Flipp through your local flyers and make your shopping list and meal plan for the week, based on what you find. Flipp is an app that gives you the ability to create your list and see who has what you need on sale, with or without coupons. With the app and your meal plan in hand, you can save a lot of money and still be shopping at your local stores. No running across town to save a dollar!
3. Put on a sweater (or take one off)!
No one wants to be uncomfortable at home but even a couple of degrees up or down on the thermostat can make a BIG difference to the bottom line bill you get every month. And don’t forget to save the bulk of your laundry for off hours (after 7 pm, on weekends or holidays).
4. Stagger the leftovers
Sure, you want to be ‘good’ and brown bag your lunch with last night’s leftovers, but how many times have you looked at your lunch and put it aside in favour of the cafe down the street? It’s not always appetizing to eat the same thing the very next day so one option is to stagger your leftovers. Don’t eat last night’s leftovers until a day or two from now (assuming they’ll last). Your lunch today? Dinner leftovers from two nights ago. The idea is to maintain enough variety so that you don’t get bored, looking to fill your stomach at a restaurant, instead of your lunch bag.
5. Check your tech
One of the biggest drains on budgets is technology. Smartphone plans, cable bills… It all adds up and quickly! If you can switch to a lower cost plan for your phone, or merge several into a family plan, you can save quite a bit. It’s worth going to the store and negotiating in person as they can offer deals there that you won’t necessarily get online.
Cable companies are losing people every day to Internet streaming so if you just aren’t ready to cut the cord yet, call them and see if they can give you a better deal on your package.
6. Auto deduct savings
If you have a budget, then you know how much you can save every month. You’re more likely to save that amount if you auto-deduct those amounts to a different account / institution. If it’s not in your main account, you won’t have it to spend. Out of sight, out of mind.
7. Get paid to shop
If you are an online shopper but haven’t signed up yet, you need to go to Ebates.ca and get yourself an account. SO many online stores, even airlines and hotels, are on this site and you can get access to special discounts as well as a percentage cash back on your spending. All you have to do is shop at a store after having gone through the Ebates site first, and you will accumulate cash back on every dollar you spend. There’s the funds for that extra bottle of wine (or two) Mom was talking about!
When you’re all done finding ways to save a little, make sure you review your budget and put that extra savings in a special fund, for holidays, treats or family fun. You’ll be surprised how quickly it adds up!
What’s your favourite budgeting hack that has saved you money?