Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ways to $ave Money

In the last year I have sold my house, moved, bought a new place, gotten married, changed careers and now purchased a new vehicle. All of the above things were very hard to manage in such a short period of time. Our financial stability has relied upon supportive family advice and solid budgeting. Me and the woman sat down and really dug deep into our financial situation and discovered some easy ways to really help get a grasp on your spending. Obviously not all of these will apply to everyone. I have tried to rank these based on the level of importance.

1Learn where you spend your money. I recommend setting up online banking with whichever bank you deal with. We deal with Royal Bank and they offer a great online banking service. Use the service and write down or record all of your monthly bills. That's bills and all monthly costs such as: 

  • Mortgage / Rent
  • Strata Fees
  • Loans
  • Credit Card Minimum Payments
  • Car Payments
  • Haircut(s)
  • Alarm Monitoring Fee
  • Cable / Internet / Phone Bills
  • Hydro / Gas Bills
  • Home & Car Insurance
  • Cell Phone Bill
  • Gas
  • Groceries
What you need to do is look over the last 2-4 months and add up all the gas/fuel purchases and then average it amongst the number of months. That way you can get an approximate amount of gas cost per month. You should do the same with food. The two of us usually get away with about $350 a month for food, and we eat pretty well. Once you have the list you can really pinpoint where you are over spending.

2Cars cost a crap load of money. Vehicles are a luxury that we almost always loose money on. The only way you can make money is to own a rare or classic vehicle, and sell it. No matter what vehicle it is, you need to keep it maintained. Maintenance costs on newer vehicles can be very high due to part replacement costs and tight schedules. No matter what type of vehicle you own, I recommend doing your own maintenance. Some people have no idea how to change their own oil, but if they knew it would cost about 50% less than taking it to the shop they may want to learn. I made a video a while back on how to change the oil in may car.. it will likely vary compared to yours, but it could help save $30-$200 every few months. Check it out here --> Part 1 & Part 2

3Cut back on your "Eating Out." As I mentioned above, we manage to eat quite well on about $350 a month (2 of us). If you spend more than $250 a month on food (groceries, restaurants or fast food) per person then you CAN and probably should cut back. Obviously some restaurant food is cooked to "Moms Standard" but for the most part, it's all crap. You can eat a lot healthier for a lot less at home just buying groceries. Some people will argue, "Oh well I eat McDonald's every day so I spend next to nothing on my cheeseburger diet". Well get over yourselves people, your going to die of a heart attack and with that type of attitude, good riddance! rip Another common argument is that when you live by yourself it costs the same amount to go to restaurants than it does to buy groceries. That is a total pile of crap too. That person obviously doesn't know how to shop or is spending all their money on seafood, twinkies and expensive stakes. Get your head out of your ass and make a good shopping list and stick to it. One last thing, a Starbucks coffee will run you approx $3 (low-balling it) per day at work, 5 days a week, 4 weeks = $60 a month. $60 a month... go buy yourself a decent thermos and bring your coffee to work.

4Cut the crap on your phone/cable bills. If you have unused features... STOP PAYING FOR THEMA common one is home phone voice mail. Sure you think you have friends and they call you and leave you messages, I'm not disputing that. But do you pay $5 or $10 a month for that service? Get rid of it and buy yourself a cheap digital answering machine. It has ALL of the same features as the voice mail service except its faster, easier to use and will save you money in less than six months. Did you know that almost all digital answering machines let you call in from any outside phone to check your messages? Wow... just like your voice mail service. Paying for Long distance when you don't use it? Paying for 500 Text messages when you only send 100? Are you using 2000 minutes while your plan only covers 500? Overage charges are outright MURDER! Check it out, you can't rely on the service companies to inform you.

5Open an online savings account with your bank and setup auto deposits. I'm not talking about RRSPs! RBC offers free eSavings Accounts that you can use to put money in where you can't easily spend it. I'm sure your bank has something similar. Throw $10 a pay check in there and you'll be amazed how quick it adds up. If you can afford more, do it as its nice to see that extra cash sitting there when you need it.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful. If you have any good ones of your own please let me know and if they don't suck I will make sure there noted.


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