When you realize you spend more money than you make, a simple way to address the problem is to think like the human body.
When stranded outside in winter without adequate protection, the body automatically tries to protect vital organs by cutting off circulation to extremities (fingers, toes) and concentrates it to vital organs needed to survive ( brain and heart).
Using this same logic, when you are short of cash, you should prioritize the things you really need for basic survival, like money for your rent or mortgage, food, and the least expensive means of transportation. This means that you may have to get rid of (or step down to a lower subscription package) on your:
- Cable television subscription
- High speed internet connection
- Additional features on your home phone or cell-phone
- take the bus to work
- Get rid of the expensive leased car and settle for a used one that you would own outright
- Pack a lunch to work instead of eating out
- Drink the free coffee in the lunch room instead of going out to buy one
The whole idea is that there are many things we spend money on every month that we can do without when we are in a pinch or want to save money. It is always a good idea to take inventory of our spending so that we can get a clear picture of where our money goes.With that in mind, here are some places you can start saving money today.
Save a portion of your paycheck:
If your employer has a group plan where they match your savings in a retirement program (usually anywhere from 2 – 6 percent of your yearly income), make sure you take advantage of it. It is like getting free money and it forces you to save. You can also set up an automatic withdrawal plan with your bank whereby a pre-set percentage of each pay will be transferred to a savings account or an investment vehicle of your choice. Again, this forces you to save automatically without any intervention on your part.. You will be surprised (and proud) how it all quickly adds up.
Cable / Satellite TV:
Tailor your Package to your TV watching pattern. If you do not watch much T.V., it might not make sense to get over 200 channels, plus if you are trying to reduce you monthly budget, this is an area you can reduce your spending by taking one of the lower tier packages.
If on average, you rent more than 3 movies a month, you are better off subscribing to a movie service like NetFlix that charges a low fixed monthly subscription for unlimited movies.
Also keep in mind that a lot of libraries let you borrow movies for free.
Lunches & Coffee at work:
This one is very simple, but is still ignored by a lot of people. If you pack a lunch from home, it would cost you about $1 -$2 a meal, but if you eat out, anywhere from $5 to $10 per meal. Multiply how much you would save each day by 22 to get your monthly savings. (this could save you about $ 88 – $ 176 each and every month ). Calculate how much you would save using the table below.
The same thing goes for coffee. Quite a number of companies provide free coffee to their employees or have a coffee maker that the social committee provides supplies funded by minimal monthly employee contributions. The cost for coffee for both scenarios range from $0 to $.02 a cup, which is a far cry from the $1 to $5 cost when, bought at a coffee shop.
Tap water in most North American cities is of a very high quality. So by drinking water from the tap instead of buying bottled water, you can save a couple of dollars each day.
Your Daily Lunch Savings at Work (approx 22 workdays a month)
|Packed/Made/Tap||Average Eat Out||Amount You Save|
|Coffee / Tea||$0.20||$1.50||$1.30|
You save over $209 dollars a month by just making small changes to your eating habits at work ($2508 per year). How much of an impact would that make to your finances if for example you put that money towards reducing your mortgage payment or paying of any other outstanding debt that you have. Hey, you can even use it to start saving for your child’s education, or take that vacation you always wanted but could never afford.
Treating yourself to eating out occasional is good for the soul.
Some of the best savings for clothing come at the end of each season, so for example heavily discounted winter clothing can be bought at the end of January or February, which also coincides with the after Christmas slow down experienced in a number of retail stores. Since business tends to slow down drastically at this time, the stores tend to deep discount their merchandise to draw in buyers to help clear the store for the next season’s items.
The ultimate savings on clothes comes from used clothing stores (most cities even have used clothing store chains that look and feel like your regular store).
For example when buying kids clothes, you can pay $2 – $3 for a pair of jeans at a used store as opposed to $10 -$25 at the regular store. When you factor in how quickly kids outgrow their clothes, and how you have to keep buying the next size up to keep up, the savings from used stores really do ad up. At the used stores, you sometimes find clothes with the original departmental tags on them which means they were left over’s from the main retail stores that were liquidated. For adults, when buying winter jackets, you can find a good one at the used clothing store for under $15. A similar item from a retail store may cost over $100.
Review your insurance policy every 2 – 4 years and get quotes from other companies. You might be in for a pleasant surprise.
Also keep a record of your Insurance Policy numbers dating back to at least 10 years. I found out the hard way of how difficult it could be to find my insurance history from the insurance database as a result of a data entry error.
The problem with not having your full insurance history is that your premiums could be higher, since your quote will only be based on the partial information available.
Use tax software to prepare your taxes. It is so much easier and more efficient than preparing by hand or paper. Many of the tax software only charge you to download the electronic files required to submit your taxes, so you can play around with different tax scenarios to get the maximum returns.
You can purchase a standalone version of tax software, or use the online version.
Create a folder (electronic or paper) to store your receipts for things that you are entitled to claim on your taxes. I personally use a 12-month folder system, where I put receipts for each month. The idea is that you want to have all the receipts are when you are preparing your taxes. Examples of receipts you should save include, tuition, medical, home renovations, charitable donations, political contributions. (this varies depending on the state or country you live in)
If you have a business, or complex tax situation, do not hesitate to seek help from your local tax specialists
Your goal is to reduce the amount of taxes you pay, so that you keep more of your money by finding and using all the deductions and credits that you are entitled to.
General Buying and Selling of Stuff:
Websites like Kijiji provide the perfect place to conveniently look for stuff for the home from furniture, appliances, used cars, electronics to selling stuff that you no longer need or want to make some extra money.
At big box stores, you can also save 50 to 70% off the price of brand new appliances by asking if they still have any of last seasons / last year models in stock. For example, recently bought a brand new, highly rated (top of the line) high efficiency washer and dryer set from a big box store and save about 68% by selecting from the previous years model lineup.
I also sold my oldset on Kijiji to and used the money towards to offsets the cost of the new one. I also expect to see a significant savings on my water and electricity bill because the new washer and dryer set is very efficient.
Feel free to share any of your savings tips, ideas, or comments using the form bellow. Thank you.