Saving money doesn’t have to be a chore or require cutting back on life’s simple pleasures. Try using these 10 simple tips to take greater control over your finances, and keep more of your money in your pocket, instead of somebody else’s.
Wait it out
Stores know how to get you to buy things you don’t necessarily want, or even went shopping for in the first place. Retailers use time-tested tactics to spur you into making impulse buys, using everything from special displays to flashy sales signs. But fight back by giving yourself a 24-hour waiting period to decide whether you really do want that new jacket or gadget.
When dealing with your phone or cable company, do your research about what their competitors have to offer. Jot these details down and bring it up – politely – in a call to your Internet, cable or phone provider, saying you may jump ship unless they offer you a better deal. This will often get them to lower prices for you.
Seek out cheaper bundled deals with the company selling you a service, such as telecom or banking. For example, if you’re holding down multiple bank accounts, RRSPS, RESPs, a mortgage and investments with your bank – making you a very good customer from their perspective – ask them for special deals such as waiving service charges or a lower rate on your line of credit. However, be mindful and read the fine print with any contract as it could have clauses that lock you in and backfire when you decide to change your services because you have found a better rate (ie your cellphone or internet providers).
Pay bills promptly
Don’t delay on paying your bills. If you do, then you can get hit with interest fees, which in the case of credit cards can reach 19.99 per cent. Try to pay all your bills when they arrive, and use pre-authorized payments for utility bills.
Does your employer offer perks to its staff, such as discounted gym memberships, retail discounts or even massage deals? Find out and take advantage of your job benefits.
Some employers will match your RRSP payments up to a certain amount. If you are making RRSP payments, take advantage of this ASAP, as it’s free money waiting to be had.
Don’t shop blind
Making the trek to the grocery store is one of the most common shopping trips, and groceries can eat up a sizeable amount of your expenses. To keep a lid on spending at the grocery store, always go shopping with a list and try not to deviate from it.
Most people only use tools for a handful of tasks each year. Instead, get to know your neighbours – and whether they have a hedge trimmer they’re willing to lend you for a weekend afternoon. Another option is to seek out tool and equipment rentals on Internet classified sites.
Cutting back on energy
It’s a simple but effective tip: turn off the lights unless you’re using them. The average home has 30 light fixtures that suck up $200 a year, according to Toronto Hydro. Turn them off or get energy efficient bulbs. Also, unplugging household items (such as TV’s, toasters, and charging cords for computers, cellphones) when they are not being used can also save you energy. Many people don’t know that even if your cell phone is not plugged into the charging cord, the cord is often still drawing power.
Mortgage by the week
Instead of paying a mortgage by the month, check with your lender about making weekly payments. These can reduce your amortization period as well as the interest paid out over the mortgage’s lifetime.