Track your spending

There’s no way you’ll be able to save more money if you have no idea where your money is going. So for the next month or two, track all of your spending. I mean everything from your housing expenses to charity donations. You can do this via an app or by writing everything down. Either way, the idea here is to clearly visualize how you spend your money.

Once you start to look at your spending, there’s a good chance that some things will surprise you. For example, maybe you haven’t noticed your monthly cell phone and internet bills have crept up. Or perhaps your restaurant delivery spending is getting out of hand. Moving forward, you’ll want to reallocate some of that spending towards your savings.

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Use your library more

This isn’t exactly a secret, but your library could save you a lot of money each year. Getting a library card is usually free, and they offer much more than just free books. These days, libraries offer a vast selection of digital media. That includes audiobooks, CDs, DVDs and even video games. So if there’s been a physical release of a movie, TV show or game that you’ve been meaning to check out, the odds are your library has a copy. Some libraries even offer free attraction passes and transit cards.

While your local library may not have the most extensive selection, they likely belong to a larger network. That means they’ll be able to bring in items at another branch for you. You may have to wait for them to arrive, but there’s no fee for this service.

Rethink your subscription services

Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, Spotify, YouTube Premium, the list goes on. There are an insane number of subscription services available these days. Heck, there are even monthly subscriptions available for video games, snack boxes, video editing software and printer ink.

Often people sign up for a free trial, then end up being charged for a full year because they didn’t cancel. That small mistake could cost you big.

Individually, these subscriptions don’t cost much, but when you add them all up, that’s a lot of money you’re spending. So pick one or two and drop the rest to reduce your bills. Alternatively, you could cut them all and just use your library card.

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Life with pets is unpredictable, but there are ways to prepare for the unexpected.

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Plus, their optional wellness plan covers things like routine vet trips, grooming and training costs, if you want to give your pet the all-star treatment while you protect your bank account.

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Renegotiate your bills

It’s a good idea to try to renegotiate your cell phone, internet, and insurance plans every year. Promotions are constantly changing, and new service providers are always popping up. So it’s highly likely that there’s a better offer available. You just need to take advantage of it.

The first thing to do is your research. Check to see what the current promotions are, then call your current service provider to see if they can match or beat that price. Some might agree to a new price right away, but others might say they have nothing available. If you’re not satisfied with the offers, consider switching to another provider.

Get your taxes in order

Some people may have avoided doing their tax returns over the years in fear that they owe back taxes, but you can actually get money if you file. It’s possible that you overpaid on your taxes and the government owes you money. Plus, once you file, you might qualify for government incentives such as the GST/HST credit, the Canada Child Benefit, the Working Income Tax Benefit and more.

Set up or increase your automatic payments

The best way to save money is to make it automatic. For example, open up a high-interest savings account and set it up to automatically withdraw $100, or any amount you can afford, from your regular chequing or savings account. By doing this, you’ll instantly be saving and earning interest. You could also do the same thing with any investment accounts you have, so the money you put aside gets invested right away.

Consider changing your grocery habits

This may sound extreme, but with the cost of groceries rising significantly recently, you may want to rethink how you buy and consume food. One quick way to cut down on your grocery bills is to switch where you shop. Many discount grocery stores carry the same products as the higher-tier stores, but charge 10 to 25 per cent less. You could also consider reducing your meat intake and replacing it with low-cost protein such as beans. Of course, it’ll always work to your advantage if you plan your meals around any sales.

Consider refinancing or consolidating debt

If you own a home, it’s worth speaking to a mortgage broker to find out what mortgage interest rates are currently available. There are penalties for breaking your current mortgage, but if the savings from a lower mortgage rate are larger than the cost of the penalty, then making the switch is worth it.

Or let’s say you have a variety of debts. It’s worth checking with your financial institution to see if you qualify for a line of credit. If approved, you could take the funds and pay off any outstanding debt. You’d then only have one low-interest loan to repay.

Watch your savings grow

No one ever said that saving money is easy, but it’s the small things that you can do right now that will pay dividends. As long as you stick to a plan and occasionally review your spending and budget, you can reach your goals.


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Barry Choi Moneywise Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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