Times are tough for some in Alberta right now forcing lot of families and individuals to cutback on their spending habits and rethink certain expenses. Cutting out any unnecessary luxury services or lifestyle habits can be humbling, and although saving money can sometimes get in the way of convenience, your bank account and (usually the environment too) will thank you. If you find yourself in a position to make some financial cutbacks, start by taking an inventory of all of your expenses and the cost each one is to maintain. Then, take small steps to cut out any unnecessary and unused subscriptions or services that you can just do yourself. In addition, by taking stock of all your everyday items you use at home can help you to become more creative on how to get the most bang for your buck on things you use everyday.
Aside from the other obvious saving money advice such as only buying things that you need, skipping the fancy daily coffees, avoiding impulse purchases and putting away 10% of your income, here are some great tips on how to cut back on expenses and to stop wasting money that anyone can use.
Grocery Shopping Tips:
- Limit your grocery shopping and plan ahead with the grocery list instead of running out to the store whenever you need an item. Random grocery trips can sometimes add up.
- Purchase premium food items when they are on sale.
- Consider purchasing the store brand instead of name brands for certain items. They are usually almost identical, however check the labels to make sure.
- Find out what days of the month that your grocery stores has its customer appreciation day and plan to do all or most of your shopping on that day. Usually grocery stores will have an unadvertised day of the month where shoppers can save 10-15% off their entire purchase storewide.
- Get a membership card to a store that you always go to. Usually grocery stores give back to their customers who collect their points or rewards.
Getting the Best Deals for Household and Life Stuff:
- You should always research utility providers to find the best deal. If you feel like you’re paying too much for your services, shop around and get prices to compare.
- Phone your cable, internet and phone companies and ask for a better rate. They won’t give you a better rate unless you ask so make sure you check in with them once a year to make sure you’re not paying more than you have to.
- Look for secret, unadvertised deals at special times of year such as Boxing Day or Black Friday that your cable/internet or phone provider may be offering. Usually these deals are by word of mouth, social media or through friends and family of the people who work at the company.
- If you have regular subscriptions that you absolutely need, opt to purchase them for the full year upfront rather than paying month to month. Subscription services almost always give discounts to customers who pay in full up front.
- Pay off your credit card in full every month if you can. If you can’t then don’t use it unless its an emergency. Interest rates can keep a customer owing forever.
- Shop around with banks and consider switching to one that doesn’t charge monthly fees.
- Bundle insurance and shop around for the best price.
- Start cooking your own meals at home and make a plan to only eat out once in a while.
- Make your own coffee at home.
- Google free activities to do in your city or search for free gatherings on Meetup.
Save When Shopping Online:
- Shop though Ebates because they give you money back on your purchases.
- Consider checking out Groupon for treat yourself spa, massage or beauty services deals. You can also find some great deals on fun things to do, classes and local events.
- If you frequently order food in, instead of paying delivery fees, consider driving to the restaurant yourself to pick up the food.
- A lot of food delivery service apps, such as Skip The Dishes, will usually give a discount for new members on their first order if you would rather not drive to get your food.
- When signing up for free trials, set a reminder on your phone’s calendar a few days before the trial expires so that you have a chance to decide if you want to continue with it or cancel. Free trials are a really sneaky way that companies end up with your money in their pockets for services that you might not even be using.
- Before placing an order, read the company’s return policy to know how easy or difficult it will be should you need to return an item. For example, I ordered some makeup online from an American company. I didn’t like the product I received, so when I emailed them to return it they advised me that because I’m in Canada that I was responsible for the shipping cost to return the item for a refund. I decided not to send it back because the cost of shipping would have been almost as much as the item was worth.
- Beware of making impulse purchases on items that you don’t really need just because there is an attractive sale or discount code to use for purchase.
Save When Shopping in Store:
- Look for coupons in your mailbox, sometimes there are some really good ones that are worth holding onto for later use.
- Aside from clipping coupons, keeping current with social media can be a great way to keep informed on sales and deals that your favourite stores are having. I always mark my calendar so that I remember to take advantage of sales that are happening for items I may need or want to buy.
- Don’t be afraid to shop the sale rack at high end stores. Why pay full price on a perfectly good item when you don’t have to?
- Avoid buying the cheap label clothing that falls apart after one wear and instead invest in timeless, versatile pieces that are of good quality materials. If you can get them on sale, even better. They will last longer, eliminating your need to run out and buy new items all the time.
- If you’re buying big ticket items such as appliances or electronics, shop around to get the best deal. If you’re into collecting points, purchase from the stores where you will earn points on your purchase. Usually stores will either match or beat the lowest price of another store just to make the sale so why not get points while you’re at it? Make sure you ask for a price match guarantee before purchasing.
- Consider purchasing regular, everyday items from the discount store. A lot of them even carry the exact same name brands as you would find at other stores, only you aren’t paying the highly marked up price. To me, it makes sense to buy items like clothes hangers, parchment paper, glass food containers, reusable garbage bins, storage containers and things like that at the discount store.
- Think about buying used items such as furniture or clothing provided they are still in good condition.
Save Money by Purchasing Reusable Items:
- Use metal straws.
- Use dishcloths over sponges and paper towel.
- Use rags for cleaning that you can wash over and over.
- Bring your own mug to your favourite coffee joint. Most cafes will even give you a small discount when you bring your own!
- Use dryer balls instead of buying costly one time per use dryer sheets.
- Use food storage containers instead of plastic wrap.
- Use a french press to make your coffee and eliminate the need for coffee filters.
- Stop buying one time use coffee and tea pods.
- Reuse zipper top food storage bags by gently washing them (unless they are contaminated or were previously used for raw meat).
- Consider eliminating tampons or pads and switch to a reusable menstrual cup.
Social Activities, Dining Out and Partying:
- Think twice before tossing your junk mail and start to keep an eye out for local restaurant or event coupons.
- Pre-drink and dine at home with friends before going out (responsibly) to the bar.
- Carpool with a designated driver or walk to the bar to save cash on Uber rides to and from the venue. If you are meeting at a friends place to have some pre-festivities, ask a friend to pick you up and take you there before everyone starts drinking. No drinking and driving please.
- Split the Uber fare in the App with everyone who rode with you to your destination.
- Find out when the happy hour is at your favourite watering hole or restaurant to save some big money. These days even the fancy restaurants and bars are hosting a happy hour. Who doesn’t love half price wine?
- Order beer or wine over hi balls (especially at clubs) so that you know you’re not getting watered down drinks.
- Set a budget for yourself before you go out so you don’t overspend. Using cash instead of credit is a good way to keep tabs on how much you’re spending.
- Stop over tipping.
- Take out cash from the bank instead of paying super high transaction fees from public ATMs.
- If you’re at a restaurant and received a meal that legitimately isn’t good or has a major issue, have the courage to (politely) say something about it. If you are genuine about it, not only will it give the restaurant a chance to make it right for you, you won’t be stuck paying for something that you didn’t enjoy.
- Leave good google reviews. Some local restaurants and bars will repay your kind words and referrals by offering a free meal for you to use during your next visit!
Saving money takes a little bit of creativity, time and effort but you’ll find that its well worth it for the sake of your bank account. Taking the time to do your research will pay off in spades making it possible to continue an enjoyable lifestyle on a dime. After all, there’s a reason why it’s called “bargain hunting”, darling. Decide what you want to do with all the money that you’ll be saving now and be sure to give yourself a small reward once in a while for a job well done. In addition to saving money, you’ll notice that by making certain small changes in your everyday items and habits will also help to cut down on environmental waste. You’re helping yourself and the environment so it’s a win win situation! Happy Saving!
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