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Canadian money

How to Save Money

Regardless of how much money you make, it's just plain smart to learn how to save money. Why would you give someone more money than you had to?

Here are some money saving tips that you can easily implement. You won't have to take any extreme steps and you won't have to give anything up.

How to Save Money Tip #1 - Flyers

Instead of recycling your flyers without even looking at them, take a few minutes to flip through the flyers. Items you might be buying anyway could be on sale. If you can, stock up on non-perishable items when they're on sale. You're going to be buying them eventually anyway. You might as well grab them while they're at a discount. You can save a significant amount of money this way.

How to Save Money Tip #2 - Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

If you're one of those people who think there's a stigma attached to using a coupon, get over it. Coupons are like someone giving you interest-free tax-free money. Why would you spend more money than you had to? Go get your coupons! You're not cheap if you use coupons. You're smart.

Here are the best sites for finding coupons in Canada:

These coupon sites allow you to select coupons of interest to you, and the coupons are mailed to you. Since it takes 3-10 days for the coupons to arrive, a good strategy is to visit the coupon sites once a month and order coupons for the items you might use in 60 days. Flip through your local flyers, and when an item comes on sale, buy it at the sale price AND use your coupon. Don't expect to achieve what you see on the Extreme Couponing show. The people on that show are in the Unites States where some grocery stores offer to double your coupons and the coupon rules are less strict than in Canada. However, it is quite realistic in Canada to save 20-50% on a grocery item using a combination of sales and coupons.

The Busy Person Strategy If you don't have a lot of time and just want to engage in light weight couponing, using just the first three sites listed above will give you the best balance of savings for time invested. Spend 30 minutes per week doing a quick flip through your local flyers (during the commercials when you're watching television), and once a month visit the first three coupon sites to request coupons.

The Extreme Couponing Strategy If you're willing to invest more time, you can do some more extreme couponing by visiting all of the coupon sites above and visiting manufacturers sites for coupons made available directly from the manufacturer. Here is a list of manufacturer sites offering coupons in Canada (some offer coupons only occasionally so check back periodically if you don't see coupons when you visit the site):

How to Save Money Tip #3 - Get to Know Prices

For the items you buy most often (like groceries, toiletries, cleaning supplies), get to know the prices. If you're not familiar with the prices, you may be lured to a sale that isn't a good deal. For example, toilet paper on sale for 5.99 with a regular price of 8.99 may look like a good deal if you don't know that the grocery store down the road offers the same toilet paper at a regular price of 4.99. Make yourself a list of the items you buy on a regular basis (a spreadsheet is convenient) and record the prices. Now you'll know if a sale is a good deal. Remember to update your list periodically since prices do fluctuate. Knowing the prices can knock 20-30% off your grocery and drug store purchases.

How to Save Money Tip #4 - Look at the Unit Price

Manufacturers will try to confuse you by retaining their price but altering the size of their packaging, so look at the unit price for the item you're buying. Most grocery stores print the unit price on the label on the shelf. Even if an item is on sale, check the unit price of the different sizes available. You may save money by purchasing a larger non-sale item (for example, a larger bottle of shampoo) than purchasing a smaller item on sale (for example, the small bottle of shampoo).

How to Save Money Tip #5 - Buying Meat

Meat is an item on which you can save quite a bit of money. Here are several money saving ideas. First, grocery stores will often mark meat down by 25-50% late in the day on the meat's best before date. The meat is still perfectly good provided you cook or freeze the meat that day, so take advantage of the money savings the grocery store is offering. Second, grocery stores often offer larger family pack sizes of meat. These are cheaper per pound/kilogram than the regular packs. Consider buying a family pack and splitting the meat up into smaller packages to be frozen for use later. The next tip is that most cities have a small local meat shop (for example, Roberts Boxed Meats in Kitchener). These stores often have better prices than the grocery stores.

How to Save Money Tip #6 - Discount Grocery Stores and Bulk Stores

Most of the popular grocery chains have a discount grocery store. Dominion (A&P, Ultra, The Barn) has Food Basics, Loblaws has No Frills, and Sobeys (IGA) has Price Chopper. Discount grocery stores may not look as pretty on the inside as your current grocery store, and may not offer a deli or bakery, but the discount grocery stores sell most of the same products as the other grocery stores but at cheaper prices (typically 25-30%). There are also stores like Bulk Barn that sell goods in bulk. Get to know the prices in these stores and you'll could be saving money.

How to Save Money Tip #7 - Bring Your Own Bags

Most grocery stores and many other stores now charge you 5 cents for a plastic bag, and while 5 cents per bag doesn't sound like much, it does add up. At 5 cents per bag and 8 bags per week, those plastic bags are costing you $20 per year. In contrast, you can buy yourself 4 reusable bags for $4 (these bags are bigger than the plastic bags so you don't need as many), and they'll last for years.

If you're one of those people who justify the 5 cents for the plastic bag because you reuse the plastic bag for your garbage, there's still a way for you to save your money. Stop using the 5 cent grocery bags for your garbage and start using free plastic bags. There are two ready sources of free plastic bags in your grocery store. When you buy fresh produce, there are clear plastic bags at hand for you to place your produce in. And when you buy milk (which you're buying in bags of course because it's much cheaper), there's the outer plastic bag you can reuse. Now you've just saved yourself money.

How to Save Money Tip #8 - Saving Money on Gas

Before you fill up the car with gas, visit Gas Buddy to compare the gas prices along your route. You may find that it is cheaper to purchase gas somewhere along your route instead of at the beginning of your trip. Given the rising price of gas, a quick visit to Gas Buddy can help you save your gas money.

How to Save Money Tip #9 - Loyalty Programs

Most loyalty programs are free to join. At no cost to you, you're offered rewards when you accumulate points (often in the form of cash off your purchase or goods). Consider the places where you shop regularly and see if they have a free loyalty program. You're shopping there anyway. You might as well accumulate and redeem points and save your money.

How to Save Money Tip #10 - Electricity

If you're in a location where Smart Meters have been installed, do your laundry and run your dishwasher during off peak periods when the cost of electricity is much less than during the rest of the day. For example, in Ontario, if you run your dishwasher at 7 PM instead of 6 PM, the electricity price drops by about 40%. Timing is everything, and now timing can save you money.

How to Save Money Tip #11 - Pack Your Lunch

Packing your lunch is such a simple way to save money that it's shocking how many people don't do it. You may think that saving $25 a week by packing your lunch is no big deal, so why do it? If you took that $100 a month and put it toward your monthly mortgage payment, you'll save thousands off your mortage and cut several years off your mortgage payments. Now isn't that worth brown bagging it?

How to Save Money Tip #12 - Take Your Own Morning Coffee

Are you one of those people who routinely stop by Tim Horton's or Starbucks for your morning caffeine fix? Instead of paying coffee shop prices for your morning coffee, make your own. Get yourself one of those nice insulated covered mugs, fill it up at home and take it with you. Put the money you save toward your monthly mortgage payment, and you'll save thousands off your mortage. Convinced yet?

How to Save Money Tip #13 - No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards

Find a credit card that has no fee and gives you cash back or points that you can redeem for items you regularly use. Use the credit card instead of cash whenever you can to accumulate points, but remember never to go beyond what you can pay off in full when the bill comes in.

How to Save Money Tip #14 - No Fee Bank Accounts

Find yourself a no fee bank account. There are several of them out there, some of which don't have a minimum balance requirement. Stop paying fees and save your money.

How to Save Money Tip #15 - RRSP and Tax-free Savings Accounts

Try to maximize your RRSP and tax-free savings account contributions. This will maximize your tax refund or reduce your tax owing.

How to Save Money Tip #16 - Actively Manage Your Money

Most people don't actively manage their money. Money comes in. Money goes out. And not much attention is paid to these activities. If you want to save money, step 1 is to record your expenses. Once you've got a list of your expenses, go through that list and see what you can eliminate or reduce. Can you drop your newspaper subscription and read online? Can you drop your long distance plan and use the internet?

Now that you've saved some money on your expenses, it's time to look at where your money is. Is it sitting in a low-to-no interest account? Then it's time to actively manage your money and move it. With online banking, it's so easy to move your money from one bank to another that if you can get a better interest rate somewhere else, then use the electronic funds transfer feature and move your money to wherever is favourable. It takes 2-3 days for your transfer to complete, but then your money is in a place where it will make you more money.

How to Save Money Tip #17 - Stop Paying for Books

Don't spend your hard earned money on books when you can get them from your local library. Your tax money is paying for the library so why not use it? If the library isn't an option in your area, buy your books used. You're going to read the same story whether the book is new or used so save your money.

How to Save Money Tip #18 - Stop Paying Long Distance

Instead of paying long distance fees, use a free over-the-internet service like Skype. The quality of the over-the-internet services is quite good, so save your long distance money and use your computer instead. You're already paying for your internet service, so why not use it to save you money?

How to Save Money Tip #19 - Read Newspapers and Magazines Online

Many newspapers and magazines make a lot of their content available free online, so save yourself the subscription money you're currently paying. Once again, you're already paying for your internet service, so use it to save you money.

How to Save Money Tip #20 - Bundle Your Services

If you've got TV, internet, and phone services, you can get a better price by combining all of these services through one provider. You can also get a better bundle price than the one advertised by calling the provider. If you're thinking of moving your services to another provider, your current provider will often drop your current price significantly to retain your business.

How to Save Money Tip #21 - Borrow Tools

If there's a particular tool that you need, but you're likely not going to need it very often, borrow from a friend or family. For example, if one year after you've moved into your new house you notice those annoying nail pops and need a nail set to push the nails back in, see if you can borrow one. It will likely be years before you need one again, so save your money.