If there ever was a time to share tips for saving money, it’s now. Inflation going into 2023 is ridiculous. The cost of basic necessities while we are still very much in the throes of a pandemic and war is strangling many people. Just six months ago, when I recorded a youtube video on how much I spend in a month, the figure look very different. Like most people, I look for ways to save money everywhere I can. At this point, the and we know it will get worse. When I wrote the article how to create a family budget two years ago (Wow! I can’t believe this is already that old.)
1. Create a Budget
The first thing you need to know when trying to save is how much you will not. Those are your expenses and by knowing what those are, you have a starting point for a realistic budget. So, how do you create that budget? Know your expenses and account for realistic wiggle room. Budgeting apps are great for that. Years ago when I decided to start tracking our expenses to the dollar and creating our budget. I searched for budgeting apps but never found one that made sense to me (that was free). So I used a well-formatted excel sheet. It was good, but it meant I had to follow everything across multiple accounts, ATMs and so on. Which while necessary got to be a bit like pulling teeth.
That changed when I found Mint. It’s been my bingo. (No, this post isn’t sponsored. Just sharing the good tingz dem).
2. Save as an Expense
Saving is a great way to keep your savings account growing. Whether you are stashing away money for investments, a nest egg, an emergency fund or a big purchase, putting away a set amount as if it were an expense really helps you have something even on a tight budget.
Saving as an expense will not work if you do it as a maximum. For example, if you cover all your expenses and you have $20 left over, you wouldn’t put all $20 into this account you could secure the expense as $10. And then make other plans for the remaining $10 (which you may add to your savings from one month to the next). The goal is to consider that initial $10 as not being at your disposal. I hope this made sense, haha.
3. Reduce Recurring Expenses
Food is one of those things that will eat your money up real quick. Pun intended. Production costs are skyrocketing and that eventually gets passed on to the comumer. That is you and I. Limiting spending on food means packing lunches, eating out, etc. It can be hard sometimes, I know. Some weeks when I look at my takeout bill, I’m embarrassed. But then I try to make up for it by now not doing it again for a little while.
You can also manage your food budget by pairing it with entertainment. I like to eat out with my family as entertainment, so that’s a plus. A fused item on the budget. You can also manage your grocery bill at home by:
- buying in bulk when applicable
- using a list when you go shopping (and sticking to it) and
- shopping around at different stores for different items.
I initially thought that was a waste of time as a common practice in Canada. But it turns out to be one of the better tips for saving money. When I started doing that, my grocery bill reduces by a third or half than it was six months ago. Bear in mind though, with inflation causing soaring prices, you can still do all that and find your bill higher for fewer items.
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3b. Monitor Utilities’ Usage
Monitoring your electricity usage can be a great way to lower expenses. Another way to minimize these costs (if you are renting) is to include utilities in your rent. But, if that’s not an option, monitor your electricity usage. Unplug appliances that are not in use. Use energy-saving bulbs, appliances, etc.
I’m from Jamaica. Electricity and water are monopolized necessities. Despite raking in millions of dollars in profits yearly, JPS and NWC are hounding customers with inflated bills, never-ending increases, and adding fees for every customer to account for stolen electricity, water, equipment and natural disasters. Not surprising then that I’m especially aware of my electricity usage here in Saskatchewan. In the summer, while it’s common practice to run the AC unit 24/7, I use it sparingly. Just like in Jamaica. I turn the unit on when I need it and off when I don’t. I do laundry only as often as I need to.
My husband caught an inflated usage for an estimated electricity bill a few months ago. It was more than double my typical use. And since I was sure I used less electricity, not more, I contacted them. The company doubled down on saying it was an actual reading, the other bills weren’t estimated high enough, and since the inflated bill was lower than average anyway, they would do nothing.
So what did I do? I stopped letting them estimate my bills. Every month, I now take the extra step to reach out to my rental company, request my reading and submit it.
3c. Review Subscriptions Frequently
One of the things I have grudgingly accepted is that subscriptions are part of everyday life in this day and age. Streaming services, phone plans, Amazon Prime and so on are everywhere. Even your banking plan is a subscription.
For me, they are even more. Blog maintenance subscriptions, Grammarly, and so on. I’m also reviewing professional subscriptions. If you’re not careful, they (subscriptions) do pile up and account for a chunk of your monthly and yearly budget.
Reduce the number of streaming services
My family has had Netflix for years now. It’s the only one we had with Prime, which you get when you pay for two-day delivery. But last month, I signed up for Disney Plus in the wake of Netflix’s BS new policies. As a two-household family, I refuse to participate in what they are trying to do, so we got Disney to see whether we liked it as an alternative. We haven’t cut Netflix off (yet), but they are on thin ice and we will not pay a dollar more than we currently do. They rolled back the ‘fees for sharing in the US but not Canada. Saving that money sounds like a win so anything that demands more or makes it an inconvenience to use will be a fatal blow for our family.
Besides, Disney is cheaper and there are so many other alternatives. Hulu, Crave, Apple TV. On my TV I also get Tubi and Roku for free.
This brings me to my next point, share subscription expenses by getting family plans where possible, especially when your family unit is smaller. And don’t let greedy companies take that away.
Do you really need unlimited transactions on that checking account?
Don’t forget to review your banking plans too. It’s one of those items that skate under the rate when we think about cutting susbriptions as one of several tips for saving money. Hear me out, if you have two checking accounts, and a cheaper plan can give you a combined number transactions, Do you really need unlimited transactions on that checking account? Or could you have a cheaper plan with a set number of transactions while you use your credit card if you ever run out? I reviewed mine recentlyand saved myself $5 I would have been spending monthly for no reason.
4. Use Cash-Back Credit Cards and reward cards
The money may not be much, but cash-back credit cards can give you a few dollars back each month on the money you are spending anyway. For stores, you shop at regularly, check whether there are points rewards cards. I’ve been able to redeem points more than a few times when it’s convenient. Every mickle mek a muckle. One one coco full basket.
One one coco, full basket.Jamaican Proverb
We’re all doing our best. Sharing tips for saving money is the least we can do since it’s clear we will have it rough for the next few years. Anything we can do to get through these rocky times will help us maintain some stability. I hope you found some tips here your can use.