The Basics

Rent, groceries, transportation… Basic recurring expenses often account for a large part of your budget. Discover a few tricks for optimizing your expenses:

  • Make a list before going grocery shopping and always go on a full stomach to avoid excessive impulse purchases.
  • Try apps that help you find coupons for the grocery store or that allow you to buy food nearing its expiry date at a discounted price.
  • Bring your lunch or coffee to work from home.
  • Use the equalized payment plan for your electricity. It’s easier to plan for the same monthly payment in your budget.
  • Carefully choose your transaction package - This link will open in a new window. to avoid Interac® fees, as well as fees from other financial institutions’ ATMs.
  • Completely pay off the balance on your credit card once a month to avoid interest fees and choose the most advantageous financing method for larger purchases.
  • Shop around for insurance or look into regrouping them if necessary.
  • Benefit from student discounts when possible. For example, certain grocery stores offer a 10% discount on certain nights of the week while most telecommunications companies have reduced rate packages for students.
  • Opt for carpooling or alternative modes of transportation for travel.
  • Saving a small amount is always a good idea, even when studying. A small emergency fund can help you out in case of emergencies.
  • Try borrowing items you only use a few times a year from friends or family instead of buying them new (tools, lawnmowers, gardening tools, etc.).
  • Avoid buying a new car by opting for a used one in good condition instead.
  • Avoid buying name-brand products or buy in bulk to reduce food and maintenance bills.
  • Drink tap water, it’s free!

The Fun

If it’s a part of your life, it’s a part of your budget! That definitely includes fun. By setting aside a fixed amount of money per month for any outings or little treats, you’ll feel less and less guilty after each month. Here are a few tips to help you optimize this category:

  • Pay attention to your telecommunication fees, including any subscriptions to the Internet or music streaming sites. Choose the package that’s best suited to your consumption habits to avoid paying extra for things that you don’t need. You can also renegotiate your contract when applicable.
  • Cut out cable by opting to watch your favourite shows online or through a streaming service.
  • Be mindful of your online purchases to avoid spending too much because it’s easier to lose track of things.
  • When travelling, use cash or a prepaid card to limit your expenses.
  • Take advantage of free activities and festivals in your city.
  • Organize a pot luck supper with friends, where everyone prepares their specialty in order to socialize without needing to leave the house.
  • Try visiting a cobbler before buying new shoes. Like cars, shoes can be repaired, and it’s often less expensive than buying a new pair.
  • Shop for clothes and books in second-hand stores or organize a clothing swap with your friends.
  • Don’t pay for what you don’t use. Cancel your gym membership if you never go.
  • Take up affordable activities, like running in the park.

The Dream

A surfing trip? A student exchange? Or a new house? Any dream worth having is worth preparing for, whether for the short or long term. Adding savings to your budget allows you to easily put some money aside on a regular basis. The most important thing to do is to start, even if it’s just a small amount.

  • We suggest setting aside 5% to 10% of your net salary from each pay. You can even divide this amount between your different objectives: one portion for your next trip and another for the down payment on your first condo.
  • Paying off your debts - This link will open in a new window. should be a priority before thinking of more long-term projects.
  • Put aside all extra sums or earnings (raises, bonuses, tax refunds, etc.) in order to reach your objectives more quickly.
  • Make sure to properly fill out your tax returns in order to benefit from any credits you’re entitled to (medical fees, GST and solidarity credits, childcare fees, etc.). Consulting a professional is always a good idea.
  • If you don’t need loans or grants in the short term, think about placing them in a TFSA - This link will open in a new window.. Income is non-taxable and won’t affect eligibility for government assistance.

It’s possible to reduce your expenses without depriving yourself. You can do so in stages, starting with baby steps. For more tips and tricks, meet with a Desjardins advisor for free in order to optimize your budget.

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