No matter who you are, you’re looking to save money in some shape or form. Saving money can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be with a little patience, some planning and even a little delay of instant gratification. It’s not as hard as you think to trim a little more from your spending and save a little extra from each paycheck. But, where do you start? There are many blogs, newspapers and magazines that share money saving tips. Some are outright ridiculous, while most are very solid tips. So, in order to simplify things a little, here are 6 BEST money saving tips of all time according to a few of us here at Finance Fox.
1. Budgeting and Self Control
I’m a big budgeting geek, and love to bust out my budget every two weeks on payday. Writing it all down allows me to create a plan of how the money will be spent, what will be left over, and more importantly what I’ll do with the leftover money after all the bills are paid. Putting it down on paper will make it more real, and will increase the chances of you succeeding. Furthermore, by seeing all the numbers and where they money will be going, it also puts my self control into work by prolonging a possible purchase. So, if there’s no money around in this month’s budget to purchase “XYZ”, then it will have to wait for another time.
2. Cooking Your Own Food & Brown Bagging it to Work
Cooking your food at home vs. eating out will save you a shit load of money. Brown-bagging your leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch at work will save you even more money. Aside from my ridiculous budgeting addiction, cooking my own food and taking lunches to work was something that paid dividends very quickly in my journey out of debt. Generally I made large batches of dishes at home throughout the week, so I didn’t have to cook every night. I’d also freeze certain meals and put it away in containers for easy access, simplicity and more importantly to save time, energy and money.
3. Comparing Before Buying
Comparing prices is absolutely necessary in order to maximize any savings goals, yet far too many of us don’t do it enough. Comparison shopping is easier than ever today with the Internet at out fingertips and most stores willing to match the prices of their competitors, so there’s no excuse not to comparison shop before you buy an item. Furthermore, in the early days of the Internet, product comparison wasn’t easy since not many shopping websites were discovered yet. We had to rely on discovering those online sites that offered the best price by continuously using search engines. Today that’s no longer the case , as there are many sites available to help you choose the best product and save money along the way. Here are a few shopping engines that are popular in Canada, and that I frequently visit:
- Shopbot.ca – Where Canadians compare prices.
- Shoptoit.ca – Helping Canadians shop.
- Redflagdeals.ca – Where Canadians save.
Comparing before buying goes beyond purchasing everyday household items. You should always compare your insurance rates, mortgage rates, utility bills and even your credit card interest rates. Why pay more than you have to?
4. Automate Your Savings
As someone who did finances manually for many years, I know very well the power of automation. Rather putting away money into an account manually, set it up through your bank or a totally different financial institution to automate your savings. For example, I have an account with ING Direct, and every second Friday (bi-weekly pay period), ING withdraws $100 from my RBC account. This way I take my self out of the equation, save my self loads of time and more importantly never miss a savings opportunity. Trust me, you’ll never get ahead in the savings game unless you automate. It took me years to realize, but I’m glad I finally got it right.
Very few people (not saying all…so don’t jump on me) reuse. This includes using the free cycle network, buying used, shopping thrift, shopping at garage sales and using your local library to borrow. These are just some of the ways we all can take advantage of second hand items and re-use them. In reality though, majority just buy new to replace the old, and therefore leading to what I call hoarding. Here are just some tips on how to be more environmentally friendly and become friends with your wallet through reuse:
- Ziploc Bags – Can be washed, dried and reused.
- Dryer Sheets – Cutting them in half, they’ll last twice as long.
- Soap Slivers – Can be thrown into a shampoo bottle, and with a little water can be used as shampoo or body wash.
- Coffee Grounds – Use as fertilizer.
- Bi-Weekly Contact Lenses – I stretch mine to two months generally, and they work fine.
- Plastic & Foam Takeout Containers – They make great lunch boxes or food storage boxes. No need for new Tupperware.
Here’s a neat graphic on how to reuse plastic sandwich bags 14 different ways:
6. Buy Less Than What You Can Afford
Far too many people get caught up in the whirlwind of home ownership, and forget that owning a home goes beyond paying the mortgage every month. There are ongoing expenses such as property taxes, maintenance, repairs, utilities, home insurance and other unforeseen expenses that are overlooked at times. If you purchase a home that costs $30,000 less than you could afford, you could save $1,500 annually in interest costs alone and many hundreds more on property taxes, maintenance and utilities. Do your research ahead of time, and don’t let your Realtor bully you into buying more than you feel comfortable, because there’s more to life than having your every lost dollar go towards home ownership. Certainly you’ll want a new-er car one day, a vacation or even to possibly fund your kids education one day.This same principle can be applied when shopping for a new car, and you know that you can afford a $700 monthly car payment, but do you really want to stretch your budget to the max? I think the answer is pretty clear.
Certainly there are way more money saving tips that could be added to the above list. However, rather than repeating a bunch of them, I decided to simplify and ease the reading by putting together these six tips to help anyone at any age save more money. Saving money is no easy feat, and it’s certainly not an overnight process. I think it’s more mental than anything else, and if you get behind the numbers, and into a routine – you’ll be well on your way towards a very comfortable lifestyle. For those of you that are already there, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, and if you think for a second you’ll realize that you’re already implementing some, if not all of the above tips into your life daily.
Readers, how many of the above tips are part of your life daily? Where can you improve? Have I missed anything that you think could be added?