Secrets to Saving when Money is Tight
Step 1: Make a plan
For many people, just paying their bills can be enough of a struggle, without also having to think about saving. Sadly, this is the case for many Canadians who live paycheque to paycheque. However, being able to save money is essential for your current and future financial well-being, no matter how much you earn or owe. Without an emergency fund, for example, you’ll always struggle to keep your finances above water.
So, how do you manage to save money when you don’t have much of it?
What’s Coming in, What’s Going out?
First of all, you need to know where your money’s going before working out how much you can save. Look at your bank statements for the last three months and calculate how much you need to meet your essentials.
Essentials include mortgage/rent, utilities, food, clothing and paying off debt. Anything else is a want, not a necessity, so take a close look at what you spend on non-essentials and see how much of that you could divert into your savings account.
Finding extra money to save boils down to two things: spending less and earning more. Let’s take a look at both of those more closely.
How to Spend Less
Your mortgage/rent: Many believe that this is the most fixed cost among all of your regular expenses. However, you can look at reducing your mortgage payments by shopping around for lower interest rates when it next comes up for renewal. Don’t accept the rate your lender offers you, call them to negotiate it or switch to a lender offering a lower rate.
Look for cheaper rental accommodation: Do you really need that spare room or that big back yard? Getting a smaller place can bring significant savings.
Cutting back on food costs: Taking a coffee and your lunch to work could save you as much as $50 a week. That’s $2,600 a year that you could be saving.
Apps like Flipp give you access to flyers from over 2,000 stores, all on your mobile device. These apps not only help you to plan weekly grocery savings, you can also use them to get discounts at stores with price matching. Buying generic-brand items and shopping at discount grocery stores can also considerably reduce your food expenses.
Save on clothing: Only buying clothes that you actually need, rather than want, can save you hundreds of dollars every year. Buying used clothing can also bring big savings: vintage and consignment clothing stores sell quality clothes at a fraction of the cost of buying new.
Lowering utility costs: while you don’t have a choice in electricity provider, you have a choice for natural gas. There are several to choose from in Saskatchewan, and comparison websites such as energyrates.ca can tell you which providers are the cheapest. You should also shop around for better deals on your cell phone and Internet.
There are plenty of ways to lower your energy consumption. SaskEnergy lists some great tips, including regular furnace maintenance for higher efficiency, buying ENERGY STAR appliances and lowering your thermostat by a degree or two.
How to Earn More
Once you’ve maxed out ways to cut costs, you can increase the amount you save by boosting your income. There are several ways to do it:
Ask for a raise/switch jobs/get a promotion: Be more proactive in improving your salary. There’s no harm in asking for a pay rise or applying for a promotion. If neither works out, look for a better-paid job.
Work more hours: This could either be in the shape of working overtime for your current employer or taking on part-time work. There are plenty of jobs you could do at the weekend or in the evenings — add all of that income into your savings and you’ll soon see them grow.
Start a side business: If you have in-demand skills, you could set up a money-making business. Freelancer websites can put you in touch with companies looking for your services. Doing odd jobs, such as lawnmowing and snow removal can also bring in extra money.