Tips and tricks for effective budgeting and saving

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives. Some people had to shift to remote work overnight, while others were left jobless. 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 October 13, 2020

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.
  • 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 and student discounts. Some grocery stores offer 10% student discount days, and many telecommunications providers offer reduced rates to students or employees of certain companies. Ask your employer or student association!
  • Build up an emergency fund so you’re not caught off guard when the unexpected happens. Even if you put away a small amount regularly, it can make a difference in the long run. If you’re not buying a coffee on the way to work anymore, put that amount into an emergency fund instead. You’ll be off to a good start.
  • 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

Want to buy a cottage? Planning your next vacation? Thinking of going back to school or paying for a child’s education? 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 that comes in (raise, bonus, tax refund, etc.) to reach your goals quicker.
  • 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 fine-tuning your day-to-day financial habits, you can work toward your financial goals without overhauling your lifestyle. Did someone say “cottage”?

To get off on the right foot, make a budget.

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

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