Do you ever read advice on how to find money by cutting out daily habits but they don’t apply to you? Tips like drink your coffee at home and skip Tim Hortons, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbuck’s and put that $5/day into your savings account instead? How about quit your smoking habit and save $1000 a year? Or quit plugging $2 into the vending machine at work for a pick-me-up snack every day and save $500 a year. Or shop around for better insurance rates.
Some people only hit fast food restaurants and coffee shops a handful of times a year, they don’t smoke, and they’re not tempted by a vending machine. Not everyone buys insurance, and for those who do, maybe they’ve already found the best deal out there. Many financial experts offer money saving tips assuming people are employed, and recommend brown bagging it instead of buying lunch or car pooling.The advice is good, but not applicable in many cases.
So what makes me a financial advice expert? Life experience at being frugal. 9 years working in the head office of a credit union. Taking advice from experts. Putting my own tips into action.
1. Lose the landline phone
Ditching a land line is easy for those born after 1990 and who grew up with cell phones. For others who grew up with a rotary phone and then one of those new-fangled push button phones, it’s a little tougher. Where I live Telus is the largest telecommunications provider for house phones. They used to be known as BC Tel, but when they expanded their services into Alberta, well, they had to ditch the specific location out of their name to attract new clients. A Telus home phone plan is $35/month, approximately the same amount as an AT&T plan when you take the exchange rate into account. Disconnect it and save $420/year. Or $300 if you live south of the 49th Parallel. I find I don’t miss the landline all that much anyway. Most of my callers were telemarketers, scammers, or collection agents looking for my ex.
2. Let go of premium cable TV
Some cable companies charge upwards of $100/month depending on the premium plan selected. Most offer a basic cable plan for around $30/month. Depending on the plan this can be a cut of $50/month (maybe more!) to the cable bill and saves $600/year. And are you really watching all those extra channels anyway? I downsized to a basic plan and I get around 100 channels and there’s still nothing good on TV. A lot are channels I don’t watch because they’re in a foreign language or political meetings. I probably only have about 5 channels I watch throughout the week. My TV listings provide for about 1000 channels. I don’t need the variety. Some people get a basic plan and spend $10 a month for Netflix, and are still saving money.
3. Exercise smarter and cheaper
We all know the trap, especially with the New Year’s resolutions. Sign up for a gym membership with a tricky quit clause in the contract, stop going, and you’re paying $25 or more a month for nothing. By February you’ve lost your drive to get up and go to the gym but you’re still dinged for the monthly membership whether or not you go. Losing money instead of pounds. Figure out other activities to stay on track such as walking the dog more often, bike riding, skiing, and yoga classes on Youtube. Save $300 year.
4. Reassess your cell phone plan
Rogers offers a $55/month plan with 1000 weekday minutes. Are you using them? If not consider their $35/month with 200 minutes. Keep an eye out for competitor’s plans for new clients. Sometimes a $40/month plan with 200 weekday minutes, unlimited weekends, free Canada wide calls, free International texting, and a data plan can be a better deal than what you have now. Savings $20/month or $240/year.
5. ATM fees
If you go to a different bank to pull money out of the ATM, or use one in a gas station or convenience store, you’ll be charged a fee. That varies by the bank and could be $3 or $5, the machine will tell you at the time of the transaction so you’ll have a chance to cancel before withdrawing funds. In addition, your own bank might also ding you another couple of bucks for using a “foreign” ATM. The solution seems as simple as planning ahead and making sure you have cash on you. Instead of using a bank, consider a credit union. In Canada almost every credit union is on the Exchange (look for that symbol on the machine) and you can make withdrawals and deposits for free at other credit unions across the country. If you find yourself needing cash at least once a week and withdraw from an ATM at a different bank you could be spending $20 (or more!) in fees. Plan ahead or get an account at a credit union and save at least $240/year in ATM fees.
6. Bank fees
Review your usage. If you have a balance of at least $3000 and use your debit card no more than 25 times a month, your monthly fee is $9.95. Or you can get a “deal” at CIBC with that $3000 balance and get one, yes count it, ONE(!), transaction per month for free. More transactions than that costs $5 each. Really? What a deal! Not! How often do we use debit cards in a month to buy groceries, gas, a meal, clothes, and other necessities. That’s where the big banks ding you. Can you meet the strict minimum requirements? If not consider a credit union such as Coast Capital with the free chequing and free debit account. No minimum balance, unlimited transactions, no monthly fee. Savings $119.40/year.
7. Stop playing Lotto Max, 6/49, and other lotteries
Read the small print on the chances of winning the big one (at least $1,000,000). With 6/49 your odds are roughly one in 14 million and for Lotto Max roughly one in 28 million. Using a conservative estimate, say you buy one of each ticket plus the extra every week when you stop to gas up the car, spending $10. Stop playing and save $520/year.
Let me give a shout out to one of my favourite web sites Living on a Dime for you to check out. It includes frugal living tips, recipes, house cleaning, and more. http://www.livingonadime.com/
Do you have other easy ways to save money? Leave a comment!