Some people are just born a certain way.
Some are skilled hockey players. Others can write an amazing song.
For me I was born to save money. Saving money has always been a passion of mine: I’m always on the lookout for a great way to keep more of my hard earned money.
The way I see it, there are three big areas in your life that make up most of your daily spending:
If you focus on finding savings on these three first, you can do yourself a huge service down the road. So, let’s get going on how to save on all these ones...
Here are my favourite ways to save money.
How I Love To Cut Our Food Costs
Let’s start at the grocery store.
I shop almost exclusively at the Loblaws chain, for us it’s Real Canadian Superstore and Extra Foods. I have looked at some of the other chains and these are the closest coupled with the best prices.
Sign Up For Their Points Program
You should have done this yesterday, but today is the next best thing. Every week I get an email showing me how I can save on stuff I have bought in the past. Things like meat, potatoes and other staples can give me an extra 20% off or more in grocery rewards. By doing this, they try and match the offers to when you will need them, which can add up to big savings for you.
"We’re Gonna Need a Bigger
I have a bunch of different ways to save money on food but the first thing to have is a good freezer. And by "good", I mean huge.
This is a key ingredient in saving money on food. Because literally everything can be frozen (except mayo… don’t… don’t freeze mayo *shudders*) and that’s where it starts. When you have a good freezer you can stock up on items when you find them at sale prices.
Where’s The Beef? (and other meat)
Ok, this is just between you and me, but meat is always getting marked down.
The trick is to know when it’s getting discounted so you can get there when the pickings are good. Ask the meat person (or butcher if you prefer the "fancy" term) when meat usually get marked down. You’ll want the time of day and if there are certain days they do it. Then show up.
I found my local Real Canadian Superstore marks them down first thing on Sunday mornings. And you know who shops first thing on Sunday mornings? Almost no one.
So the first time I went in, I saw something like this: Bazinga!
It was like walking into some strange meat discount heaven.
After seeing this I stock up and go crazy splitting the meat up into freezer bags. That way, it's grab and go when we need it.
Combine this with signing up for the rewards program it can often be another 20% off. That's like getting almost 50% savings on your meat. You can do this on other items too, just ask a clerk when they discount that item and show up.
Go Yellow Label With Canned Goods (and most other things too)
Do you know the difference between premium canned tomatoes and yellow label canned tomatoes? Me neither.
If there is, I don’t get it. So I buy generic.
Most of the time the product is identical, unless you are some sort of a canned diced tomato afficionado. I mean it’s a nicer label and all, but I’m not sure it’s nearly a buck a can nicer.
Save yourself the 90 cents a can and buy generic. If you buy 3 cans a week, that's $140.40 in savings just for the label.
End of the aisle
There is a ton of good stuff at the end of the aisle in your grocery store. From coffee to seasonal items, there are always dented, or close to expiry date items, that you can grab if you keep an eye out.
Fruits and Vegetables
I love fresh produce, but it can go to waste so quickly. So I try to buy what’s in season, because it’s so much cheaper.
If you want out of season stuff, buy it frozen.
In fact, if we know we aren’t going to eat something quickly (I’m looking at you broccoli) we almost always buy it frozen, it’s often cheaper and lasts longer.
On sale items
When it comes to my life I look at it like a business.
If something goes on sale, then I buy more of it. Otherwise I suffer the penalty of paying full price in a few weeks.
Think of it like this, if you run a business selling hammers, and your supplier says “Hammers are half off right now.”
Would you buy just one or two extra hammers? No. You would buy as many of those hammers that you can afford that makes sense.
When it comes to your grocery spending, you could do a lot better if you start thinking of it like feeding your family is your business.
Get These Apps
Some other ways I like to save are Checkout 51 (great for getting cash back on your receipts) and using the Flipp app for price matching. Here are even more grocery bill cutting apps.
Stephen has rocked this with his guide on eating out for less. By far my favourite tricks for dining out are:
- Buy discounted gift cards. I regularly check online, and also buy them from Costco.
- Use a cash back credit card. I save three percent (again courtesy of Costco) on your restaurant bills, thanks Costco.
- Pass on the booze. The mark up on alcohol is crazy, the same bottle you get in the store is 300% more expensive in a restaurant. Ain't no one got money for that!
- Skip the appetizer and desert. The desert is usually easier to pass on since you have already eaten, but if you can pass on these two you are going to save some serious coin.
How We Cut Our Transportation (a.k.a Car) Costs
We're into the second biggest cost of our lives:
Here’s the thing, you probably know that you save more money using transit than driving. But for most of us, a car is a necessity. Finding ways to cut transportation cost can be tricky.
Here’s how we save money on our car.
Cash Back Credit Card
Sometimes having the little things in place can go a long way. Our gas costs are at least $200 a month. That gives us $48 bucks a year back, not bad for swiping a card.
We are in Manitoba, so our insurance is run by a crown corporation (meaning they are the only car insurance game in town), but if you live in another province you should be comparing your car insurance and looking for a better rate.
If I could compare rates, I would be all over it.
Buy Gas Where You Get the Best Reward
You can drive around town trying to save gas, but that kind of defeats the point. We gas up at the local Co-op and save big time. We usually average 10-14 cents a litre in cash back on the year.
Join the Drive it Until it Dies Club
If transportation is a huge cost, driving a new car has to be a big part of that cost. So instead of buying a new car, drive your current car until it dies, or at least until the repairs don't make sense anymore.
The sad truth is that a new car is great for about one month, then it's years of payments and by the time it's paid off you want a new one.
Fight the urge and repair it so you can benefit from a few years of no car payments. I swear if you go a few years without car payments you will never want to go back.
Other Quick Tips on Car Savings
Of course there are other things you can do to save on your car:
- Don’t idle too long in winter (easier said than done in Manitoba, it’s ridiculously cold here).
- Properly maintain your vehicle.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. This one sounds crazy but it has an impact on fuel costs.
- Don’t speed, it’s dangerous and burns more fuel per KM too. Little things go a long way when it comes to your car.
Housing costs are the biggest place where your money is flying out the door, in more ways than you probably realize. Here's our favourite ways to save money on our home.
We have geothermal, so our heating costs are pretty low, but the things you can do to save are make sure the insulation in the attic is updated.
New windows can keep the heat in, but if you are in a house with 100 year old insulation in the walls, putting in a new window won't help much. Most of the heat will be escaping through the rest of the poorly insulated wall, instead of the new window.
The biggest thing we found to help our savings was a programmable thermostat. There are so many options with them now that it's a must if you want to save money on your heating bills.
In ancient times, my name would have been "he who turns the lights off". It's a pet peeve I've inherited from generations of dads before me, I suppose. Little things like turning the lights off are a must in our house.
To max out our electrical savings, we got a device that monitors the amount of electricity an outlet uses. This was an eye opener.
For example, we had a TV that we didn't use, after using this gadget we found it was using $24 a year in electricity. That's crazy for something not being used. So we unplugged it when we are done using it, if we ever use it at all. We did that for all the outlets in our house and cut our hydro bill. It was an awesome feeling.
Another one I love is making the switch to LED lights. It's another no brainer, the costs are low, and the savings are huge. Plus you don't have to change them for over a decade, that's a nice added bonus.
All I can say about this is ask your broker and get some price comparisons.
We just switched and managed to cut our house insurance costs by 25%. There seems to always be a battle for insurance companies to get your business. They will actively try and get people so it's good idea to call your broker, and a broker who isn't working for you, to get some estimates and see if there is a better price out there.
Just make sure you are getting good coverage. A better price isn't always the right fit when we are talking about insuring your home.
Mortgage interest is often the one that is ignored.
This was one factor in us becoming mortgage free so quickly. The interest you pay on your house will likely be close to the same amount you paid for the house itself. So if you bought a house at $250,000 (a.k.a a garage in Toronto and Vancouver, or an average house in Manitoba), you can expect to pay another $250,000 in interest over the life of the mortgage.
That's a lot of money going out the door.
You can save a lot of money by switching from monthly payments to bi-weekly payments. Increasing your payment amount, or refinancing your mortgage and getting a lower rate. If nothing else, review your mortgage every year or so and decide if there isn't something you can do to cut your interest costs.
(If you want to learn more about paying off your mortgage faster, I have an ebook on how to save thousands on your mortgage that I think could help you get started.)
Those are just a few of my favourite ways to save!
I could keep going on and on but what's more important is taking action on this knowledge.
If you would like more ideas on how to save money you can check out more of our saving money ideas here.