Saving $50/month might not sound like much, but if you can find nine ways to save at least that much every month, it adds up to $5,000 a year. And if you’ve got family, the household savings can be really significant – multiply by the number of people in your family!
Here are nine money saving tips to lower your monthly bills that add up to $5,000 a year:
- Eat in vs eat out. Cooking your own food is a huge money saver. If I stop to calculate the cost per meal of what we’ve cooked at home, I’m often surprised at how low it really is – often under $5 a person. Compare that to take-out or eating out, which let’s say costs $15 including tax, tip/delivery – and you can see how even cooking two more meals a week instead of eating out could save you $80/month.
- Actually eat the food you buy. The stats on food waste are pretty crazy. Individual Canadians are responsible for wasting about $14.6 billion worth of food every year. That’s over $400 per year for every single man, woman and child in Canada. A report from Cornell University found that the top reasons for food waste in middle-class homes include buying too much, preparing too much, being unwilling to eat leftovers and not storing food properly. If you’re like the average Canadian, then actually eating the food you buy would save you $33/month.
- Pay off your credit cards. Most credit cards in Canada charge 19.9% interest. If you’re not paying off your credit card in full every month, it’s like you’re taking a loan with an interest rate of 19.9% (or even 29.9% for store cards). Find out whether you can pay off your credit card with a lower interest personal loan. Technology today makes it easy to check online what kind of rate you could get – try a service like Borrowell. On a balance of $5,000 and a sample interest rate of 9.9%, your savings in interest would be $42/month.
- Borrow rather than buy. Confession: I have a giant stack of books I bought but haven’t read. Many I’ll probably end up giving away. Now, I borrow books from the library and only buy one if I really love it. An unexpected benefit of borrowing books from the library is that the 3-week borrowing period means I’ve got a deadline, so I’m more likely to actually read it! There are even places where you can borrow tools and kitchen appliances. Savings: $15/month.
- Buy used rather than new. If you do need to buy something, try to buy it used instead of new. Our local thrift store has amazing finds, and some of the items are new with tags. Kijiji and Craigslist are also great sources - our microwave recently died so we found one on Kijiji. Savings: $30/month.
- Walk or bike when you can. Where I live, a monthly transit pass costs $140. Thankfully I’m close enough to work that I can ride my bike. Even if I only bike 3 days a week, I can save $90/month.
- Turn down the heat. Getting sticker shot every time you get a utility bill? Heating is the single largest use of energy in most homes, making up about 50% of your energy bill. Turn the temperature down a few degrees, especially at night and when you’re not home. There’s no point heating an empty home! According to greendeal.ca, setting your thermostat back from 21° C to 16° C at night can result in energy savings of up to ten per cent. Savings: $15/month.
- Beer Store, not bar. This one comes from my husband. A pint at our local pub costs $6-7, which plus tax and tip comes close to $10. Buying from the store to consume at home is closer to $3. Savings: $210/month (oops, maybe that’s just our family). Okay, 1 drink/week at $7 of savings = $28/month.
- Just buy less. It’s so easy to justify a shirt that just costs $25, a $10 lipstick/lipstain/tinted lip balm/lip laquer, or an amazing deal that’s “just too good to pass up.” Whatever your weakness is, think about whether you really need it. It helps me to think about how long I’ll have it before it ends up as landfill. If we can buy even one less thing a month it’ll make a difference. Savings: $25/month
If I add up all the monthly savings, it totals close to $5,000 a year! What would you do with that money? Take a pretty awesome vacation? Or pay off some debt?