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Here are some simple and practical ways to save money every day and take control of your finances on any income. Are there other creative strategies you use to slash your expenses and save money easily? Mention them in the comments section below.

*Note: The $$ symbol below refers to potential savings of hundreds of dollars per year and $$$ refers to potential savings of thousands of dollars per year.

1. Create a Budget

Creating a budget that highlights your expected income, expenses, and savings goals is the starting point to saving more money and increasing your net worth. Keep track of your spending, savings goal, and net worth using budgeting apps like:

2. Pack Your Lunch

Brown-bag your lunch to work and save hundreds of dollars every year. For example, the average cost of eating-out at lunchtime for me is $11.50, while my packed lunch costs less than half at approximately $5 bucks – a difference of $6.50. At roughly 20 working days every month, I can save: $6.50 x 20 working days x 12 months = $1,560 every year in lunch costs!!

Even if I choose to eat out with co-workers once or twice a month, I can still generate $1,404 in savings. For my wife and I, this is thousands of dollars saved every single year.

Potential savings: $$$/year

3. Eat Out Less

We save money by rarely eating out – once or twice a month at the most except when we are away from home on vacation or work. Restaurant food is expensive and when you are trying to save money while paying for childcare, child activities, mortgage, insurance, and so on, something’s gotta give.

The average US household spent $3,154 on food away from home in 2016, and Canadians now spend 30% of their food budget on eating out.

Potential savings: $$$/year

4. Make Coffee at Home

I don’t drink a lot of coffee, but as a tea aficionado, I know how to source my teas (on sale) without spending a fortune. Are you a coffee addict? (I hear you guys live longer…haha). When you consider 20 cents per cup compared to up to $5 at the café, you can save hundreds of dollars per year by making your own coffee.

As per Business Insider, your savings from choosing homemade coffee can be up to a whopping $1,155 per year!

5. Save on Movies

Apart from a few times a year when my wife and I decide to go to the theatre for some “alone time,” we save money on movies by streaming them at home for much cheaper. In addition to movie tickets, you will also save a lot on making your own popcorn at home. You may be paying up to 1,275% markup on movie theatre popcorn!

When you go to the movies, sign up and earn SCENE points (Canada) that can be redeemed for free movies or food and drinks at a later date.

Other tips to save on movie tickets include:

Potential savings: $$/year

6. Cut Your Energy Bill

Electricity usage and costs continue to rise. Cutting your energy consumption and avoiding wastage can easily save you money every year. Easy ways to save on energy include:

  • Wash clothes with cold/warm water instead of hot
  • Upgrade your home’s insulation
  • Winterize your home
  • Utilize solar energy
  • Lower the thermostat
  • Upgrade home appliances with Energy Star rated ones
  • Use a smart power strip
  • Use a timer on outside lights
  • Replace incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs

Potential savings: $$ per year

energy saving

7. Shop Insurance

Be it life, home, or car insurance, shop around for the best deal possible and save hundreds of dollars annually.

Life Insurance: Compare rates on comparison websites like Kanetix.com (U.S.), Kanetix.ca (Canada), Comparasave and Insurance Hotline. Go for term life insurance as opposed to whole life insurance to save money. Also, term life makes more sense for most people.

Home and Vehicle Insurance: Shop around. Increase your deductible – we saved $103 by increasing our home insurance deductible from $500 to $1,000. Do not submit a claim for minor problems. When you are claim-free, you can negotiate even further discounts.

Insurance quotes for the same coverage can vary by a lot. After obtaining six quotes for similar home insurance coverage, we chose one that was about $300 cheaper. Buy just enough insurance – do not under- or over-insure. Ask the insurance broker/company if there are any available discounts. You may be surprised at what’s available! In the U.S., check out Lemonade for low premiums on renter’s and home insurance.

Potential savings: $$/year

8. Pay Insurance Premium Upfront

Some companies offer a discount when you pay your home/car/life insurance premium annually instead of on a monthly basis. This discount can be up to 8%. Essentially, you save the interest that is built-in into installment payments.

9. Bundle-Up Your Insurance

Discounts of 5% to 20% may be applicable when you obtain both auto and home insurance from the same insurance company. Other ways to save on insurance include:

  • Keep a good driving record
  • Install a home security system
  • Use group discounts

Potential savings: $$/year

10. Quit Smoking

Cutting out this expensive habit can save you loads of money every year. Smoking costs the average smoker at least $1.1 million over a lifetime. Quit smoking and save the money spent on purchasing cigarettes. You will also spend less on medical bills and pay lower home and life insurance premiums.

Potential savings: $$$/year

11. Take the Bus, Bike or Carpool

Cut your transportation expenses by walking more, biking, and/or carpooling. Walking and biking will save on fuel costs and do your health some good. Carpooling with colleagues to work a few times a week will significantly cut your travel costs. All these options are also great for the environment.

biking

12. Hand-Me Downs For Kids

When you have toddlers who outgrow everything so fast, fairly-used items can save you a lot of money. Depending on your comfort-level, these may include toys, clothes, sporting gear, footwear, and more.

You may choose to swap items with another family with kids, or you can visit thrift stores like:

Canada: Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village

US: America’s Thrift Stores, Thrift Store USA, and many others

Potential savings: $$$ per year. Yup – kids cost a lot!

13. Buy a Gas-Friendly Vehicle

The average cost of fueling a car per annum is over $2,000. However, there can be wide variations in the gas mileage for different vehicles, making room for significant savings when you buy a gas-efficient one. You should consider buying a hybrid, electric vehicle, or simply go with a smaller car.

14. Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle

Buying a fairly-used car as opposed to a brand-new one can save you thousands of dollars right away. As soon as you drive a new car off the dealers’ lot, you lose 10% of its value! After the first year, you lose 20% and by the fifth year, you have lost about 60% of its value. On a $40,000 car, that is roughly $24,000 lost in 5 years!

With good research and by shopping around, you can buy a certified pre-owned car that comes with warranty – either remaining from the manufacturer or provided by the dealership, and which has passed rigorous inspections. If you are also able to pay with cash, you can save on interest payments, or at the very least, with a pre-owned vehicle, you will be taking on much less in financing and debt.

Potential savings: $$$/year

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15. Buy Regular Fuel

Fueling up your car with premium gas is not worth it. Yup! Stop paying the additional 15 to 40 cents per litre to fill up your car. Unless your car owner’s manual indicates a requirement to purchase premium fuel (octane rating 91-93), buy the cheaper regular gas (octane rating of 87) and potentially save hundreds of dollars every year.

16. Buy Cheaper Gas

In addition to buying regular gas, also look for where it is being sold at a cheaper rate. Gas Buddy (U.S.) and Gas Buddy (Canada) can help you find the cheapest gas in your area. When paying for gas, use a rewards credit card that pays you back (in cash back or points).

17. DIY Car Maintenance

There are some simple car maintenance servicing that you can easily do yourself. Need to change the cabin air filter? It is not difficult and this saves us up to $70 in labour charges every year for two vehicles. Other easy car maintenance tasks that will save you money include:

  • Replacing wiper blades
  • Inspecting and inflating tires (adequate tire-pressure can improve gas mileage by up to 3%)
  • Topping up fluids – coolant, brake, power steering, and windshield washer fluids
  • Change engine oil. Also note that in most cases, cars do not need their oil changed every 4,000kms like the repair shop wants you to.

Potential savings: $$/year

18. Drive Light

Do you drive your car with the trunk full of unnecessary baggage? Reducing the load your car hauls around will improve your mileage and save money on gas. Every additional 100 lbs of load on your car lowers its fuel efficiency by 1%.

Other strategies to save on your gas bill include:

  • Don’t over-speed (As per the U.S. Dept of Energy, excessive braking and rapid acceleration can increase gas use by up to 40%)
  • Keep your tires inflated
  • Avoid idling unnecessarily
  • Keep up-to-date with required servicing as per your owners’ manual

19. Visit Yard/Garage Sales

Garage sales can be a great avenue to buy equipment/tools, toys, and other things you need occasionally at a great price. To avoid buying what you don’t really need (and becoming an hoarder), keep a wish list of what you are looking for and cross them off once you get a good deal.

You can check out where garage sales are happening by visiting:

Canada: Kijiji and Craigslist

United States: Craigslist, Yard Sale Search, and Garage Sale Hunter

Potential savings: $$$/year

20. Re-Think Your Gym membership

Have you been keeping your New Year’s resolution and visiting the gym several times a week? If so, good for you – you are in the minority and it is money spent well. If however, you fall into the category otherwise known as “the majority,” you should cancel that gym membership that’s not being used 🙂 and save the money.

If you are very motivated, you can also buy your own gym equipment, workout at home, and save on gym fees.

gym

21. Save on Haircuts

My wife has cut my hair for over 7 years and often does her own hair as well. I cut my boys’ hair. By my calculations, not visiting the barbershop/hair salon saves us approximately $1,000 per year.

Potential savings: $$ – $$$ per year

22. Visit the Dollar Store

Some items are just cheaper to buy at the “dollar” store – think freezer bags, lunch bags, disposable work gloves, some garden tools and supplies, duct tape, picture frames, greeting cards, disposable plates and spoons, office supplies, decorations, gift bags and wraps, batteries, etc.

Focus on purchasing items where quality is not a big deal and the brand names are the same as what you will find elsewhere. Pick and choose, as not even everything is worth a dollar! 😉

Dollar stores include:

Canada: Dollarama, Dollar Tree, and The Great Canadian Dollar Store

US: Dollar Tree, Dollar General, 99-cent Only Stores, and Family Dollar

23. Cancel Unused Subscriptions and Memberships

All those magazines you subscribed for a couple years ago that are now piled up around your house unread and cluttering up your living space? Do not renew them – cancel your subscription and move on. Do the same with memberships that are no longer relevant to you and save some money!

Trim is a free service that automatically saves you money by canceling unused subscriptions, finding deals, negotiating lower internet and cable bills, and more. Try Trim for FREE.

Potential savings: $$/year

24. Visit Your Local Library

You can save the money spent on buying a book by borrowing from your local library. Many libraries also offer online portals (such as through Overdrive) where you can put a book on hold, read an ebook, or listen to an audiobook using your phone, tablet or computer.

It’s not only books and magazines you can borrow from the library. They also have DVDs, music CDs, and Blue-Rays which you can borrow to save on rental fees. In addition, librraries may also offer free classes, workshops, activities and toys for toddlers, free tool rentals, and more.

I love listening to audiobooks while commuting  and have saved hundreds of dollars by borrowing from the library. If I feel that a book is a must-have after reading, I look to buy it used or on sale.

Potential savings: $$$/year

25. Learn Sewing

If you have kids, then you already know how often they tear holes into their clothes or rip off a button. My 4-year old son plays rough and needs patches in his new pants within two weeks or so of wearing them. Without my wife’s handy patching/sewing skills, we’d spending $100 every couple weeks on kid’s pants alone.

Learn how to sew/mend/patch/repair clothes (especially kids’) and you can potentially save hundreds to thousands of dollars ($$ to $$$) every year.

26. Plan Vacations Early

Start planning early to get the best deals on flights tickets and hotels. Set up price alerts to get notified when prices drop on flight bookings. Use a travel rewards credit card to earn points or cash back, and you can double your savings by also using a rebate site like Ebates (US) and Ebates (Canada) to access your flight/hotel booking website, if applicable.

Estimate how much you need and start saving well ahead of time (by creating a vacation fund) to avoid dipping into your emergency funds or overloading your credit card and missing the payment deadline.

Instead of vacationing abroad, consider visiting local attractions and parks. You will spend less and support the local economy.

27. Embrace DIY

DIY skills are one of those skills that keep giving you something to smile about, and with the advent of the internet and sites like YouTube, DIY has never been easier.

By embracing DIY, I was able to save up to $1,500 when I stripped, cleaned, stained and sealed our deck. This is just one of many projects I take on myself to save money.

stain and seal an old deck

Other simple DIY tasks include: house painting, composting, caulking, laminate or hardwood floor installation, bread making, pet food, soaps, and more.

Some useful DIY websites include:

Potential savings: $$$ per year

28. Don’t Keep Up With The Joneses

Sounds like a TV show, but no, I’m not referring to “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Don’t spend lavishly to impress people who don’t give a hoot about you. When you feel pressured to replace your car every 2 years, do home renovations that are not necessary, have the greenest lawn on the block, use the latest smartphone…because you want to keep up with your neighbours and friends, you are keeping up with the Joneses and it will not do your wallet any favours.

A YOLO (You Only Live Once) lifestyle sounds hip, but when it comes to money, remember that crushing debt will kill you much faster than frugality.

29. Learn to Negotiate

Hone your negotiation skills to save money on almost anything. From getting a good deal on a car or home, to cutting your cable/phone bill, and more. Develop a system. Do your research. Know your limits. Be polite and like all great negotiators, be prepared to walk away, when required.

As mentioned previously, I was able to negotiate our cable, phone and internet bill to save almost 75% on costs per year!

Potential savings: $$ to $$$ per year

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Ways To Save Money Every Month