I have been getting very creative in finding ways to save money over the last few months. With a big mortgage and only one of us working full time, we are on a budget and are determined to avoid going into debt. In the spirit of sharing the savings, here are my favourite money saving tips for 2012!
1) Track your spending and set a budget – despite feeling like we weren’t spending extravagantly, I got to the point where I was wondering where our income was going so I broke down our spending from visa statements and bank transactions for the past 12 months. It was well worth it to identify the areas where I thought we could really save and use that information to set a reasonable budget for the coming year. The biggest money saver was to cut down on eating out (including Starbucks, junk food and dinners) to the tune of $400 per month ($4,800 per year).
2) Shop your local flyers and save – each week, I read the flyers and check to see which stores have the best prices for the things I need. I had no idea about what a good price should be so I started a price spreadsheet for the items I regularly buy and I can now recognize a good deal when I see it. I also have identified a few local stores with the best prices in my local area to be Walmart, No Frills and Superstore.
3) Extreme couponing – I took a couponing course last summer and I have become a believer. I collect coupons from inserts in my local paper (SmartSource, RedPlum, P&G Brandsaver) and online; I now regard coupons as money. To get the best savings, combine your coupons with the deals from your local flyer and stock up! For more tips on couponing, I would recommend the following websites (for Canadians couponers): Mrs. Smith Extreme Shopper, Extreme Couponing Canada and Smart Canucks.
4) The loyalty department – each year, I call the loyalty department at Telus, our phone/internet provider to find out what kind of deal they can get for me. Recently, I was able to save $25 per month on internet and phone services or $300 per year by asking how I could save on my monthly bill. This month, I discovered that our alarm company (ADT) has a loyalty department as well and … drum roll … was able to get our bill reduced by $13 per month or $156 per year! These small incremental reductions in monthly bills can really add up so don’t be shy – just call your service provider and ask for the loyalty department!
5) Increase your home insurance deductibles – I called my home insurance provider and asked how I could save money. By increasing my deductible to $1,000 I was able to save $12 per month or $145 per year. PS – I will be shopping around for a better deal when my yearly contract with my provider comes up for renewal this summer.
6) Increase your car insurance deductibles – I did some research and learned that if you would like to save money on car insurance, first make sure you are covered or have extra coverage for catastrophic situations. Then it can make sense to increase basic deductibles for things like fender benders. For our family, I have chosen to pay a little more to increase our coverage to protect against third party and under-insured drivers. I also increased our deductibles for collision and comprehensive and was able to save approximately $10 per month or $120 per year.
7) Mortgage broker – our mortgage is up for renewal this year and we will be using the services of a mortgage broker. Basically, a mortgage broker will shop around for you at various banks and find the best rate. This service could potentially save you thousands of dollars!
If you have a money saving idea that should be added to the list, please let me know as I would love to hear it!