Let’s be honest: we could all be better with our money. Between high rent costs, paying off student debt and just plain wanting to go on vacation every once and a while, there are a ton of reasons to want to get your finances in order. But saving is hard to do.
The short-term satisfaction of buying that Topshop tank (it was on sale!) can be hugely outweighed by the long-term effects of poor buying decisions. And carrying debt is stressful – 40 percent of Canadians with debt say that it has negatively impacted their mental health, according to a recent Manulife Bank survey. 30 percent of Canadian couples even confess to having relationship issues caused by debt.
However, only 27 percent (!!!) of Canadians are willing to give up eating out to reduce their spending (because let’s face it, who has time for grocery shopping?).
Bottom line: debt doesn’t make us feel good. But chipping away at it does. Here are a few tips on how to cut down your spending without giving up your sushi binges.
1. Track your spending
It’s crazy what a birds-eye-view into your spending can do to put you in check. Simply knowing what you’re spending, and where you’re spending it, is the first step toward being your best financial self.
Luckily for us app-happy millennials, there are about a hundred million money tracking apps to help you get the insight you need. Or for you DIY types, try setting a weekly budget and keeping a tally of all your purchases in a note on your phone.
You can even go one step further by consolidating your bank accounts, so you can see all your cash flow in one place. Check out solutions like the Manulife One all-in-one account: it combines your line of credit, mortgage, chequing and savings accounts so you can easily see your entire financial picture. Plus, by blending all your accounts and depositing your income, you pay the least amount of interest on your debt - enabling you to become debt-free faster.
2. Take the cost out of your commute
Depending on how far you are from work or school, a simple way to cut your daily spending is to make your commute eco-friendly.
If you drive daily or put up the cash for a monthly bus pass, consider investing in a bike (if your city is bike-friendly) or carpooling with pals – or use those things you call legs and just walk. You’ll be amazed how quickly those savings add up.
3. Become a patron of your local happy hours
Yes, you can still go out for food and drinks – but be thrifty about it. Become an expert on your local happy hours and experience the thrill of paying $5 for a glass of house red instead of $9.
Because restaurants can be a bit reluctant to promote their happy hour deals, an easy and fun way to discover the best happy hours around you is to wander through restaurant districts during happy hour (typically from 4-6 and 9-late).
Or turn to your good friend, the internet! Many cities have apps or sites dedicated to tracking local happy hours, making the process a whole lot more convenient.
4. Buy generic
We can’t all afford to buy name brands on the regular. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get over your love of premium products. After all, buying name brand means you usually pay extra for marketing and packaging.
Nearly every major grocery store carries a generic brand. Loblaw stores have the aptly named “No Name,” Save On Foods has “Western Family” and even Whole Foods has “365 Everyday Value.” Get familiar with your generic alternatives and watch those small price differences add up to big savings.
5. Practice delaying purchases
“I love it, but do I really need it?” If you find yourself asking yourself this question, stop right there.
Implement a rule with yourself to stop buying non-necessities the same day that you find them. This is a toughie: the marketing and sales world works hard to create a sense of urgency around your purchases. Don’t fall for it! Sales always come back around again.
Whenever you’re thinking of buying something you don’t absolutely need, give yourself at least a night to sleep on it. By taking some time to think, you’re more likely to avoid unnecessary splurges.
No matter your reason for wanting to cut back your spending, the above tips are a great place to start. From becoming a fountain of knowledge about local happy hours to tackling your debt with expert help, there are tons of ways to save a few pennies - without giving up Taco Tuesdays.