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25 ways to save money in Canada

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Inflation, which just shot back up to 4.4% in April after a months-long decline, is understandably keeping it difficult for Canadians to cut down on monthly expenses and put money into savings.

Canada is the 25th most expensive country in the world. So, we’ve rounded up 25 ways to save money in Canada in 2023 that can make your life less stressful and more affordable.

1. Open a high-interest savings account

A high-interest savings account typically yields at least a 2% interest rate, whereas a regular savings account yields only around 0.05%. High-interest savings accounts have all the benefits of traditional savings accounts (they’re safe, conservative, and not at the mercy of the market), but net you bigger gains. In other words, you don’t have to do more to make more. You will have to pay tax on any interest earned, however. If you don’t like the sounds of that, you should consider a tax free savings account.

2. Set up automatic payments for your bills

To avoid losing money to late payment fees, set up automatic payments for your bills. This can help ensure you never miss a payment for things like hydro, property taxes, internet, or your cell phone bill — and help you avoid paying interest.

3. Say goodbye to cable or satellite TV

Yes, you can combine frugal living without sacrificing entertainment. Cable and satellite TV can cost anywhere between $52 to more than $100 a month. But an individual streaming service, like Netflix or Crave, ranges from $10 to $20 a month, respectively. Find the lowest-cost entertainment option and cancel the others.

4. Stick to cooking at home

Grocery shopping might be a pain, but dining out fees rose 21% from 2019 to 2022, and with inflation rising again, the trend may not stop. On the other hand, cooking a meal big enough that you have leftovers can save you $1,700 a year.

5. Pay yourself first

Paying yourself first means that you automatically withdraw money from your chequing account and transfer it to your savings account the minute you get your paycheque. This is a great habit to get into to improve your finances.

6. Use the 50/30/20 budgeting rule

The 50/30/20 rule is one of the best budgeting tips out there. In short: you allocate 50% of your paycheque to essentials (rent, food), 30% to wants (subscription services, dining out) and 20% to savings and debt (paying off student loans, RRSP contributions).

7. Try a free budgeting app

If the 50/30/20 rule isn’t working for you when it comes to saving money, make budgeting more fun by downloading a budgeting app. There are money-saving apps for every kind of reluctant budgeter.

8. Shop around for insurance

Cars, homes, and even pets need insurance. But don’t just go with the same insurance provider your parents are with. Make sure to compare online insurance quotes so that you can save money while protecting your assets.

Many insurance companies offer discounts, too, for bundling home and auto insurance together or for driving under a certain number of kilometres each year. So, don’t be afraid to ask your insurance provider about the different ways you can save money on your annual premium.

9. Buy used clothes instead of new

One way to save money on clothes is by shopping at thrift stores, arranging clothing swaps with friends, or renting clothes instead of buying them.

10. Do small home repairs yourself

Certain home repair projects are small and safe enough to do it yourself. Watch a few YouTube videos, or tap some tradespeople in your friend group, and see if you can save money rather than shelling out hundreds of dollars to pay a handyman.

11. Try your hand at investing

No one is asking you to be Warren Buffet, but if you have some money to spare, you can gain quite a bit by investing in conservative index funds, especially within a tax-free savings account.

12. Buy life insurance now

The younger you are when you buy life insurance, the cheaper it tends to be. Why? Because typically we’re healthier when we’re younger, so life insurance companies will offer a lower premium than someone with a lot of health issues.

13. Sign up for rewards programs

Places that you visit frequently often have loyalty programs that can earn you money or travel points in the long-run. Grocery stores, movie theatres, gyms and more offer these. Just be careful not to overspend in order to gain points.

14. Hold on to your warranties

Many products come with a one-year warranty, so make sure to keep those documents in a safe place. They can be a financial lifeline in the event that expensive things like computers or phones get damaged.

15. Buy travel insurance

Travel insurance can save you thousands of dollars in unexpected flight delays, cancellations or medical events. It’s a fairly inexpensive product that can save you a lot in the long term should you need to use it.

16. Regularly review your credit card statements

Using a credit card means you don’t often realize how much money you’re spending. Doing a weekly review of your own credit card statement can help you see where you’re spending too much and change that behaviour. You can also see if there are any spending errors, fraud or duplicate charges to protect your credit score.

17. Negotiate

If you have credit card debt, you can often call the credit card company to lower your interest rate. Even getting a 1% or 2% decrease in interest can help pay off your debt faster. You can apply the same principle to other bills, like your internet or cell phone bill. These providers don’t want to lose your business so they may decrease the price if you express concern.

18. Host your friends

This is one of the most fun ways to save money in Canada. Going out to eat, drink, or party is expensive. Instead, invite your friends over for a low-key potluck or drinks night. Even if you’re spending some money on food and drinks, you’ll spend way less than the jacked-up bar and restaurant prices.

19. Get a cash back credit card

A cash back credit card is a great example of how sometimes you have to spend money to earn money. Certain cash back credit cards allow you to earn back a percentage of each purchase by spending money on recurring essentials, like groceries, gas, restaurants, or bill payments. Cash back is typically either applied as a statement credit, saving you money on next month’s credit card bill, or sent to a savings account. Be wary, however, of overspending just to get cash back.

20. Get a library card

New books cost anywhere between $16 and $22. Get yourself a library card and read as much as you like for free. Library memberships, which are free, are a great way to save money if you’re a bookworm.

21. Take advantage of tax credits

Doing your taxes may be tedious, but this process can help you get free money in the form of tax credits. The Canadian government offers tons of tax credits, ranging from work-from-home rebates to climate action incentives. Peruse the tax credits section on the Government of Canada’s website and talk to your accountant to ensure you’re getting all the money you’re entitled to when next tax season rolls around.

22. Ask your boss if you can work from home

Ask your boss if you can reduce your time in office or start a hybrid schedule to reduce transit costs. This is one of the most powerful ways to save money in Canada because we have cities with some of the most expensive transit fares in the world. If you’re a driver, reducing your commute time will also help you save on gas.

23. Use a gas savings app

The cost of gas in Canada in 2023 remains high. According to Statistics Canada, the average national gas price was 160.10 cents per litre in April, up 10 cents from the month before. You can save a lot by going a little out of your way to a station that offers a slightly lower price. Download apps like Gas Buddy to find cheaper gas prices in your area so you aren’t overpaying next time you fill up your tank.

24. Read your junk mail

Don’t just throw away the coupons and flyers that show up in your mailbox. They often have discounts and deals, meaning you could save more money on groceries or dentistry in your neighbourhood.

25. Sign up for your company's RRSP program

Don’t sleep on your company’s RRSP matching program. Getting your employer to pay into your RRSP the same amount you do is free money — not to mention tax-deductible

Frequently asked questions

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