I wanted to write a post on saving money for us average everyday Canadians. But I didn’t want to regurgitate the same old ‘shop the flyers’ article or stop eating avacodo toast or whatever the young folks spend their money on these days. So I looked around our family’s lifestyle and found some less common things that we do in order to save money on an ongoing basis. So without further ado, here they are in no particular order.
- Watch your internet tv subscriptions. Netflix, Apple, Disney, Crave, etc. They’re all cheaper than cable ever was, but over time they can add up. Check your credit card statements for all your subscriptions and review each one. If it’s a subscription that you don’t use, cancel it. If you do use it but only occassionally, you should consider cancelling it and then purchasing it only on months when you want it. For example, my spouse wanted to watch the Handmaiden’s Tale which was on Crave. We subscribed to Crave, and then when they were done the series, cancelled the subscription. Next time we want to watch something on Crave, we’ll subscribe, pay the $10-$15 for a month, then cancel again. That’s cheaper than $150/year if we didn’t do that. Also – if you’re watching anything in the way of cable TV, an IPTV subscription is likely substantially cheaper. Internet providers offer very inexpensive base packages, and then unlike cable, let you subscribe to individual channels (instead of packages), often at $3/month/channel. And like the Crave subscription, you can easily subscribe/unsubscribe to TV channels on a monthly basis. My spouse routinely subscribes and unsubscribes to channels when they want to watch something.
- FInd better quality meat at good prices. I’d like to think that the regular grocery stores make high quality meat available at good prices, but in reality, I don’t think that they do. The first place you can find high quality meat often at better than supermarket prices (or the same as supermarket prices, but better quality) is your local farmer. Yes, you’ll often have to buy in bulk, but those savings add up. For example, we’ll often order 10-20 chickens from a local farmer. Secondly, check out your local Halal grocery store. I’ve found that meat from Halal grocery stores is always very high quality, and often lower priced than the big grocery stores. And because most of them offer butchers, you can get custom stuff done as well. And lastly for Halal stores, it’s definitely the place to go for inexpensive stuff like fresh lamb – that’s basically impossible to find at a regular grocery store. And in third place, consider making your own sausage. You’ll need a grinder and a sausage stuffer (don’t use the stuffer that comes with the grinder, get a dedicated machine). Then wait for cheap cuts of pork to go on sale. Get some friends together, buy 100-200lbs of cheap pork and have a party for an afternoon. Great no-filling sausage, cheaper than the store, and seasoned to your liking. My spouse likes octoberfest and polish sausage so we make those commonly.
- Insurance deductibles. You can save a suprising amount of money by increasing your deductibles on your car and home insurance. If you’d never put through a $1000 claim, then why have a $500 deductible? You need to do a bit of a thinking exercise to determine where your tolerance is for paying a claim vs. the savings in insurance costs, but you should absolutely do the exercise. Secondly, with respect to life insurance premiums consider paying annually. Most life insurance companies offer you a discount of almost 1 free month per year by paying annually, and that’s not nothing!
- Increase your income. This one is sort of the opposite of savings, but with the same effect – if you can’t decrease costs, increase income. It’s also an area where I feel that many people overlook the possibilities. Importantly, increasing income is not normally an overnight solution – it may be a 2-5 year plan. But if you don’t start planning now, in 2-5 years, you’ll still have no increase in income. There’s three ways to do this, all three require you to sit down and do some long term thinking and goal setting. First,and easiest, is to find a new job. Studies have shown that people who switch jobs every 2 years aren’t penalized for the job hopping – they’re rewarded financially. Start looking, if it takes a year to find a new job that pays $15K more, hey, you just earned over $1000/month for the same amount of work. Next option is to increase your education. Back to school options that are part/time evenings are all over the place these days. Go get a 2 year part time certificate. Our niece is currently taking a 5 year part time university degree to upgrade her nursing credentials that will almost double her income. And I went back part time myself and got both an undergrad and a masters degree. So don’t think you can’t go get a degree in the field you want to work in. Related, and thirdly, make a career change. Don’t let inertia stop you from moving to a career that you both love,and pays better.
- Review your banking and credit card balances, every line, in detail, for the last three months. Yeah, that’s in the realm of the ugliness that people see in budgeting. But you’ll likely be surprised on how much money you’re spending on things that you don’t believe you’re spending on. We did this with my son, and he wasn’t aware of how much money he was spending on Starbucks. When he saw the actual 3 month total, I don’t think he’s been back to Starbucks since. It’s a choice, but an easy one for the tradeoff of substantial and immediate savings.
There you go – 5 ways to save money that aren’t as often talked about, and all 5 are things we’ve implemented in our house to increase income and keep expenses low.