7 No-Nonsense Tips for Saving Money
I’ve been thinking...The idea of saving money is great but where do you start? Most of us live our lives two weeks at a time, and we usually run out of money before we run out of days to the next paycheck. The reality is that the average Canadian household spends more than they make. In fact, statistics Canada shows that in 2015, the average Canadian household income was $80940.00 while the average expenses sat around $82697.00. No wonder more and more people are worried about their retirement. I know that for us, this was unacceptable so we set out to look for a few no-nonsense ways for saving money.
Let me just start with a warning. None of these money saving tips are considered sexy. To be honest they will make some of you cringe in disdain but if you think about it, when is saving money ever fun or sexy? In today’s society, it seems everything has to be bigger, better and faster and unfortunately, saving money is at the very bottom of most people’s priority list. We would rather go in debt then miss out on the new smartphone or that second car. What if I told you that the main reason we buy all these things is so we can impress our friends or even worse, our neighbors who we usually don’t even know or like.
To that point, the first and probably best money saving tip has to be: Stop buying things to impress other people. None of these people really care about what you wear or if you buy brand name foods at the grocery store. All they care about is buying things to impress you! This might seem like an over-simplification but I assure you it is the truth. Saving money starts with buying things you actually need instead of buying for the sake of buying. None of your neighbours will be there for you on your retirement day to give you a handout. You need to take care of yourself and your family so stop buying things to impress your neighbours.
With that in mind, saving money becomes a lot easier. The second tip I would suggest is: Do you really need that second car? One of the biggest status symbols in our society today is the cars we drive. So many people are drowning in debt because they have to have those two cars in the driveway. All I am saying is take a serious look at your situation and decide if you really need the second car. If you do, then by all means keep it but do you really need those two? Maybe you could get away with selling one and getting a used car instead. Brand new cars are such a bad investment for the simple fact that they depreciate so much in the first year. If you buy a slightly used car you can let someone else pay for the depreciation and still get all the benefits of driving a new car, like a factory warranty and peace of mind.
Third money saving tip: Buy generic brand foods instead of the highly overpriced brand name foods. This one usually gets a lot of push-back. For some reason, we seem to think that buying brand name food is a sign that we “made it”. Now, I know some of you are thinking that the brand name stuff tastes better and in some cases you might be right but, a large part of that has to do with advertising. The reason you are paying so much more for these brand name foods is because they spend enormous amounts of time and money selling it to you. The generic food is just as good, if not better and you’re not paying for the company’s marketing budget. Tessa and I had to have this discussion very early in our relationship. She is an avid user of ketchup, she puts that stuff on everything but she would only want to buy the brand name stuff. After a few years of trying, I finally convinced her to try the generic brands at half the price and low and behold, she liked it! Sometimes you just need to give it a chance. Think past all the marketing and buy what you need not what conglomerates are stuffing into your shopping cart.
On the other hand, buying generic brands does not always translate into savings. Tip number four is: When buying clothes, look for the best quality at the lowest price. Personally, I hate shopping for clothes. With that in mind, I always look for the highest wear per dollar as possible. What I mean by that is, if I purchase a t-shirt, I will look for one that is high quality so I can wear it often but it also has to be at a great price. A $10 shirt that I can only wear wear five times before it starts to look worn out costs me $2 per wear but if I can find a $20 shirt and wear it forty times then it costs me $0.50 per wear. That being said, it does not mean that I always buy new clothes. More often than not I will buy very high quality second hand clothing from thrift shops. A lot of the items I purchase usually still have the tags from the store attached so they have never been worn.
Tip number five would then have to be: Learn some basic skills to avoid paying someone else. There are a few things in this world that should be left to the professionals. Conversely, there are a lot of skills you can pick up either from friends or even YouTube that can end up saving you a ton of money. Changing the oil in your car, basic car repairs, basic home appliance repairs, sewing, cooking, fixing cell phones and computers are all skills that can be learned fairly easily. I taught myself to pick locks by watching YouTube videos and practising on locks I had laying around the house. This one skill has probably saved me close to $1000 in locksmith fees since learning it. The possibilities are endless if you can just put a little bit of time and effort into it.
In the sixth spot, I recommend that you: cut your paid T.V. service subscription. “But what will we do for entertainment?” Don’t worry about it. Tessa and I have not had a paid T.V. service subscription in over ten years now and believe me, you will find better ways to entertain yourself. There are so many things you can occupy your time with and I guarantee you that all of them are better than getting your mind blasted by advertising for a few hours a night. Our entertainment of choice is usually reading a good book. We bundle up in our favourite chairs with a hot cup of coffee and actually feed our minds with great material that helps us grow instead of pushing us to buy more stuff we don’t need. You should definitely try it out, it’s amazing what it does for your wallet, your thinking and your relationship.
Rounding up this list is tip number seven: add up the little things. We all know what they are, the twice daily coffee shop addiction, the fast food lunches, the impromptu gas bar treats and I am even going to go as far as calling out the tobacco, drug and alcohol addictions. All of these things are financial cancers, some actually give you cancer but that’s not the focus here. The best financial piece of advice we ever received is to take one month out of the year and track all of our expenses on one sheet of paper. It does not matter how big or small it is, if it is money out, it goes on the list. This is where you identify spending trends that you can get a handle on or even get rid of all together. The first time Tessa and I did this we found out that we were paying over $200 a year in bank fees. With a little research, we found a bank that offers no fee checking accounts and switched all of our daily banking. There are literally thousands of tiny expenses hiding in your daily habits and putting them down on paper over a month is the starting point to a growing savings account.
To sum it all up, saving money is not difficult but it won’t happen without sacrifice. Our ancestors were able to accumulate wealth because they didn’t have so many things competing for their bottom dollar. If a growing savings account is what you are looking for, give some serious thought to the tips we’ve just been through. I assure you that if you do, you will be in a better position next year. It is important to always be looking for new no-nonsense ways for saving money and I am constantly looking into our finances to make sure I am not missing anything. That being said, if you have some tips you use in your finances, please don’t hesitate to drop it in the comments.
Thank you for reading!