My personal tips to save money

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At the Money Savvy Blog, we regularly receive questions on “how to save money”.

Here are my own personal tips to do so. They may surprise you!

DON’T BUY OR RENT TOO MUCH HOUSE

You can save hundreds of dollars each month by doing so. Everything is negotiable, and that includes both rent and mortgage. Not all rents are the same amount. It may be cheaper to move to a different neighbourhood.

Same goes for home prices. Despite being in a raising-rate environment, you can still find low-rate mortgages. It is also important to buy the right amount of space for your needs. Unless you plan on having 10 children, you most likely don’t need a 10-bedroom mansion.

And because a lender qualified you for $ 500 000, does not mean you have to buy a $ 500 000 property! You actually would be better off buying a $ 250 000 one.

DON’T BUY OR LEASE TOO MUCH CAR

A car is a depreciating asset. It starts loosing value the minute it leaves the dealership. I never understand why people would spend thousands and thousands of dollars to buy such item.

And I shake my head when I hear people calling their cars “an investment”….

CAA has a very nifty little tool to estimate car costs. This depreciating asset also happens to cost a lot of money to maintain!

For example, a compact or subcompact car will cost around $ 9 000/year in British Columbia. A pick-up truck will cost around $ 14 000, and an “executive” vehicle (BMW, Audi) will cost around $19 000.

You will see a lot of the latter two in the Lower Mainland….Unless you work in a farm, in forestry or image is a crucial component of your income, you don’t need these types of car.

If you ditched the pick-up truck for a compact car, you will save $ 5 000, right off the bat.

If you are in a multiple-car household, try to see if you could live on 1 or 2 cars, instead of 2 or 3. You will save even more money!

SHOP AROUND

In this day and age, comparing costs of products and services has never been so easy. Unfortunately, most companies also do not reward loyalty anymore. It is always worth obtaining several quotes before purchasing, particularly on products like insurance, cable, cell phone or services like home repairs.

You could save big time. Case in point with my own home insurance: my former provider, with whom I had been for several years, kept increasing my rates; this despite me never filing a claim. I shopped around and switched to my current provider for half the price.

COOK MORE OFTEN

Much has been said about the latte factor and the avocado toast. While I agree that occasionally indulging in these will not put you in financial jeopardy, I believe it is problematic when indulgences become a daily, new necessity.

On the very first post I wrote on this blog, I had estimated someone eating 3 meals out 5 days a week would spend about $10 000 per year.

You can slash that amount in 2 by cooking and eating at home more often. You would still be able to eat out from time to time, just not on a daily basis.

FINAL WORD

By cutting expenses on big-ticket items like housing, transportation and food, you can save 10 to 20K per year fairly quickly and easily.

In comparison, how much do you think it would take to save the same amount of money on your own, solely relying on your income?

From saving to investing

I have always been a saver. I understood from a fairly young age that I needed to save money if I wanted to do anything. I did not learn this from my parents themselves, unfortunately. “Saving” was not -and is still not- part of their vocabulary.

I think I became a saver in reaction to my parents’ non-saving habit. For many years, my savings were primarily for travel; then I saved to move to Canada.

By saving, I mean setting money aside in an account that would pay me variable, low interest. This is the whole principle of saving. Easy, isn’t it?

During my first years in Canada, saving came to a screeching halt, as I simply didn’t have money to save. When my finances were back on track, I resumed saving, but a thought was constantly nagging me: “saving is not enough”.

Most regular savings accounts earn from 0.5 to 1.5% of interest. As you probably have noticed, prices increase way more than this. The Bank of Canada has a very good inflation calculator here. $ 1 000 saved 5 years ago do not have the same buying power today.

Inflation is on average at 3% per year, although it has been lower over the last few years. Simply put, if you don’t want to lose your buying power, your savings need to earn more than the inflation rate.

This is when investing comes into the picture. Since a regular account doesn’t cut it, you need to choose another product, such as a mutual fund, an ETF, stocks, bonds…etc. All these can earn way more than 1%. Unfortunately, you could also lose money.

Feeling scared? I hear you. My introduction to investing was less than stellar. Then, I began educating myself, and doing my own research. I believe it is the key to investing. I also believe 0.85% -the interest currently paid on savings accounts by my bank- is not much for my hard-earned money.

After a thorough review of my personal finances, I switched to D.I.Y. investing and opened an online brokerage account. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a ton of cash to do so, nor do you need a salesperson to make financial decisions for you…and cash-in on your dollars in the process.

My experience has been a pleasant one so far. I only wish I had done it sooner! At the end of the day, no one cares more for my money than me…it should be the same for you.