Tips and tricks for effective budgeting and saving

Certain life events can affect our finances and sometimes cause us to review our expenses. These include changes in our working conditions, our pace of life, rising inflation, or even future plans. If you’re looking for ways to save, we’ve compiled a list of budgeting tips and tricks that don’t require too many sacrifices.

Updated on April 29, 2022

Groceries, insurance, transportation… A sizable chunk of our income goes toward basic expenses, and cutting costs can seem impossible sometimes. But by tweaking your spending habits and sticking with it, you can save without giving up life’s little pleasures.

Regular expenses

Food

  • One word: plan! Start by creating a weekly menu based on what’s on sale and in season—it’s a great way to save a few bucks. Next, make a list before you go shopping. It’s not a bad idea to have a small snack before you go to avoid making hunger-inspired impulse buys.
  • Try grocery shopping apps to get discount coupons or save on items with fast-approaching expiration dates. Or pick up some “ugly” produce—while many shoppers snub their noses at imperfect fruits and veggies, they’re just as nutritious.
  • Be creative to avoid waste! If you’re missing an ingredient for a recipe, resist the urge to go buy it. A quick internet search could help you find an alternative you already have at home. You can also reuse vegetable peels to make homemade broth, or turn herb or fruit scraps into delicious sweet syrup.
  • Get cooking! It may be tempting to buy ready-made snacks or meals, or to get your favourite dish delivered, but what you save on time, you lose in your bank account.
  • You can also cut costs by stocking up on no-name brands or buying in bulk. And this isn’t just the case for food—it’s a great way to save on household items too.

Transportation

  • Log your mileage and let your insurer know if you’re working from home on a regular—or daily—basis. You could save on your premiums!
  • Shop around for insurance or bundle your coverage. By combining home and auto insurance, you could get special offers with some insurers.
  • Use public transportation, hop on your bike, carpool or opt for alternative transportation.
  • If you need a new car, buy used. You won’t have to worry about depreciation!

Accounts

  • Choose a plan that’s suited to your needs - This link will open in a new window. and avoid taking out money from other institutions’ ATMs to save on fees.
  • Sign up for Desjardins email alerts and notifications. Getting critical information at the right time can help you save. For example, if you get an alert saying that you have insufficient funds for an upcoming preauthorized debit, you can top up your account and skip the headaches and fees.
  • Pay your credit card balance in full every month to save on interest, and if you need to make a big purchase, look for financing with a competitive interest rate.
  • Use equalized payments for electricity bills. It’s easier to manage your budget with predictable payments.
  • Take advantage of employee, student or senior benefits and discounts. For example, some grocery stores offer a 10% student discount on certain nights, and many telecommunications service providers offer discount plans to employees of certain companies and students. Some big-box stores and transportation services also offer discounts to seniors with ID or on a specific day of the month. Check with your employer, student association or directly in store.
  • As for the items you only use a few times a year, borrow them from friends instead of buying them (tools, fondue set, ladder, etc.).

Leisure and entertainment

Don’t forget to set aside something for yourself. Self-care is important, and it should be part of your budget! Here are a few tips to help you use your “fun money” wisely:

  • Pay attention to your cell phone, internet and online streaming service bills. By choosing a plan that’s more in line with what you actually use, you can save on the bells and whistles you don’t really need. In case anything changes, you can always renegotiate your contract.
  • Cut your cable. You can watch your favourite shows online or by subscribing to an on-demand video service. Like everything else, it’s all a question of balance! Even if streaming service subscriptions seem cheap at first, they can add up.
  • Be careful with online shopping and make sure you don’t spend too much without realizing it.
  • Wait 2 days before buying anything that’s not essential. If the impulse has passed, you can probably go without.
  • Look for free activities and festivals.
  • Think about repairing broken items instead of replacing them. Shoes, bags, clothing, furniture, small and big appliances, computer equipment, cell phones… Pretty much everything can be fixed, you just need to find the right person for the job.
  • Shop at second-hand and used book stores and organize clothing swaps with your friends. If buying new is your only option, look for discounted items or end-of-season sales.
  • And the golden rule? Don’t pay for anything you’re not using. That means cancelling your gym membership if you’re not going.
  • Jogging and hiking won’t burn a hole in your wallet—just extra calories!

Plans

Buying a cottage? Planning your next summer vacation? Financing a return to school or diving into a new passion? All these goals require planning. When you get into a savings habit, your money will grow with minimal effort. Getting started is the most important step, even if you’re just putting away a small amount at first. Here are some tips to help you build momentum:

  • Put aside 5 to 10% of your net salary at every paycheque and break it down according to your goals (tuition, cottage down payment, etc.).
  • Pay down your debt - This link will open in a new window. before thinking about long-term projects. It’s a priority!
  • Save any extra money (salary increase, bonus, tax refund, inheritance, etc.) to reach your goal more quickly.
  • When you file your taxes, make sure you’re getting all the tax credits you’re eligible for (medical expenses, GST and solidarity credits, childcare, etc.). If you have any questions, it’s a good idea to consult a professional.

By making small tweaks to your daily financial habits, without changing your lifestyle, you’ll eventually achieve your financial goals. To get off to a good start, the first step is to create a budget - This link will open in a new window..

If you have any questions or need personal support, contact your advisor.

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