If you’re on a tight budget and feeling anxious about your finances, know you’re not alone. A recent poll by Angus Reid found that 22% of Canadians are uncomfortable with their financial situation, and 31% are struggling.1 Luckily, there are tips you can use to help you put more money in your savings account and work towards a brighter financial future.
26 Tips to Cut Costs and Save More Money
Whether you want to pay off debt, start an emergency fund, or contribute more to your retirement savings plan, there are many strategies you can use to start saving today.
Here are 26 different ways to save money
1. Eat at home
Eating out may be convenient, but it’s also expensive. An easy way to reduce your monthly food bill is to cook at home. In addition to saving money, cooking at home can be a healthier option, as you typically use less processed foods and can control the amount of sauces and seasonings. Eating more plant-based meals and lowering your meat intake can also help to reduce your food costs.
2. Meal plan
Meal planning is the process of creating a menu of what you want to eat for the coming week. With advanced planning, you can choose meals that use ingredients on sale at your grocery store. Meal planning can help you stick to your budget by using the same ingredients for multiple meals. Knowing what you’re cooking in advance can also make you less likely to purchase unnecessary items at the store.
3. Make a budget
A budget is simply a plan for your money. Rather than spending haphazardly, a budget helps you track how much money you have coming in and how much you’re spending. Using a budget, you can make sure you have enough money to cover your needs before you start spending on your wants.
4. Shop for generic brands
When shopping for groceries, it’s possible to save up to 30% on your bill by choosing the generic brand over the name-brand.2 While the ingredients in generic and name-brand foods might differ, this doesn’t necessarily mean one is more nutritious or better tasting than the other.
5. Cut down on energy costs
To lower your energy costs, turn down the temperature in your house by a degree in the winter. If you find that too cold, only turn the temperature down when you sleep or when you’re out of the house. Make sure your doors and windows are properly sealed to keep the warm air in during the winter months, and out during the summer. Unplugging devices and turning off your lights when they’re not in use are other simple ways to cut your bill.
6. Change your cell phone plan
If you want to lower your cell bill, call your carrier and see if you can renegotiate your plan; or see if they have any special offers available. Sometimes just threatening to leave can prompt them to help you find a better deal. You can also compare different providers and see if there’s a cheaper plan available. You can use this information to negotiate with your current provider, or you can make a change.
7. Avoid impulse buying
To avoid impulse shopping, avoid situations where you’re likely to make an impulse purchase. This might mean staying out of certain stores or avoiding online shopping if you know it’s a trigger for overspending. Shopping with a list can also help to avoid unnecessary purchases, as can using a budget.
8. Reuse and recycle
Instead of purchasing single-use items such as paper cups or plastic wrap, go for multi-use items such as glass cups and Tupperware. Rather than buying a plastic bottle of water, bring a reusable bottle from home. If you want to put money back in your pocket, bring your empty cans and bottles to the depot to get your deposit back.
9. Use coupons
If you still get paper flyers in the mail, scan through them to see if there are any useful coupons for the stores you like to shop at. Keep these in your wallet or purse so you don’t forget them when you go shopping. You can also sign up for online flyers such as Save.ca and Flipp and check from free shopping promos before cashing out when you’re online shopping.
10. Buy in bulk
When you buy food in large amounts, it’s typically cheaper. Many stores have discounts if you buy two items instead of one. For instance, you pay $6 for one jar of peanut butter and $9 if you buy two which results in a $3 saving. But more isn’t always better. Aim to only buy in bulk when you know you’re going to use it or else you end up with more food waste. Consider buying bulk products with long shelf lives, such as canned foods or pastas, versus perishable foods like fruits or vegetables.
11. Shop sales
If you need a large purchase, such as a new couch or television, plan to buy during big sales events like Black Friday, Boxing Day, or Prime Day. You can also follow your favourite stores online so you know when they are having a sale.
12. Don’t pay for services you don’t need
Take a look at your subscriptions to see if you are paying for ones you haven’t used in the last month or two. You may sign up for a service, forget about it and continue to pay for it. Review streaming services, gym memberships, online courses, and food delivery services to see if you can eliminate some of your subscriptions. When you sign up for Bree, you can utilise our budgeting tool Insights to inform you of any large and recurring expenses.
13. Limit eating out
Instead of meeting your friends at a restaurant for Sunday brunch, suggest meeting in the park for a picnic. Or invite your friends and family over to your house for a potluck dinner. If you spend money eating out at work, start packing your own lunch.
14. Shop secondhand
Check out your local thrift shops such as Goodwill or Value Village, or look into online sites or apps such as Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, or ThredUp to find everything from secondhand clothes to furniture, children’s toys, books, and more.
15. Cut down on transportation costs
With the price of gas, insurance, registration, monthly payments, and car maintenance, it’s expensive to own a vehicle. To save money, figure out if you really need a car. Could you get by using public transportation or ride-sharing? If you require a car, look for carpooling opportunities with coworkers or friends in your area. When you’re going somewhere close by, save money by walking or riding your bike.
16. Take on a second job
While cutting costs is one way to save, sometimes there’s only so much you can cut. If you really want to up your savings, consider ways to bring in more money. Consider getting a part-time job, or start a side hustle like freelancing, food delivery, or lawn and snow removal.
17. Invest in a hobby
Why not try to make money doing something you love? If you’re a talented musician, photographer, or writer, you can invest in your hobby and use it to make money. Think about things you enjoy doing in your spare time, and brainstorm ways to earn. For instance, offer music lessons, wedding photography, or start freelance writing.
18. Refinance your debt
If you have a good credit score, you can look at refinancing your debt to lower your monthly payments and save on your interest. The goal of refinancing is to find a loan that offers better terms, including a lower interest rate than you are currently paying. If you’re able to secure better terms, this can help you to pay off your debt faster.
19. Take advantage of tax deductions
A tax deduction is an amount of money you can deduct from your taxable income to reduce the taxes you pay. There are a variety of tax credits and deductions including ones for education, people with disabilities, and small business deductions. If you’re a parent or caregiver, you might qualify for deductions and credits on childcare expenses. You can also claim a tax deduction when you contribute to a registered retirement saving plan (RRSP).
20. Make use of free entertainment
If you spend a lot of money on entertainment, look for ways to cut your costs. If you enjoy going to concerts, look for free music festivals in your area. If you spend a lot of money on books, get a free library card. If you enjoy going to the museum or the zoo, check to see if there is a day of the month when they offer free entry. Hiking, listening to podcasts, or going for a long run with a friend are all enjoyable activities you can do for free.
21. Don’t buy new clothes
Instead of buying new clothes, purchase from second-hand stores or borrow clothes from family and friends. If you have an event like a wedding or graduation and you’re tempted to buy a new outfit, consider using a service like Beyond the Runway or Reheart where you can rent a special outfit instead of spending tons of money on something brand new.
22. Learn to DIY
Rather than going to the nail salon or yoga studio, you can save money by learning to DIY. Paint your own nails, or find a free yoga class online instead of attending one at going to a studio. Instead of heading to a coffee shop for a latte, make it at home. Paint your own house instead of hiring someone to do it. Instead of throwing away a pair of pants with a hole, learn to sew. There are tons of little DIY jobs you can do to save money.
23. Use cash instead of credit cards
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, try using cash instead of your cards. Paying with cash can help you avoid credit card interest charges on new purchases. It can also prevent you from making impulse buys and spending money you don’t have.
24. Automate your savings
Automating your savings is a process where money is automatically transferred into your savings account. You might set it up so a percentage of your paycheque automatically deposits into your savings account or investment account. To supercharge your savings, you can have a percentage of your paycheque go into a high interest savings account where you can earn a higher interest rate on your balance.
25. Avoid ATM fees
ATM fees might not seem like a big deal but, over time, they add up. If you know you’re going to need to take out cash, plan to visit an ATM that’s within your network to avoid ATM fees. Many banks have apps or tools with ATM finders to help you locate an ATM that is nearby.
26. Grow a garden
Eating healthy, organic fruits and vegetables is expensive. Test your green thumb and save on produce by growing your own garden. If you don’t have a yard, you can grow vegetables and herbs in planters on a balcony or even indoors next to a sunny window. You can also see if there are community gardens in your area where you can pay a small fee for space in the garden.
How Will You Start to Save?
When it comes to saving and cutting costs, there are a lot of options. From meal planning to budgeting and automating your savings, pick a few strategies that work for you and start saving. While it might feel difficult to cut your entertainment costs or stop eating out as frequently, as your savings grow, it can lead to a more secure and fulfilling financial life.
If you encounter an unexpected expense while on your savings journey, and want to avoid an NSF (non-sufficient fund) fee from your bank, Bree can help. We’ll advance you up to $200 at 0% interest, and there’s no credit check required. All you need to sign up is a Canadian bank account.
- Angus Reid Institute, “Economic Outlook” as of July 26, 2023.
- CTV News, “To buy or not to buy: When to go generic at the grocery store” as of July 26, 2023.