Posted on Tuesday 17 December 2019
As soon as January 1st starts creeping up, it’s a reminder that the year has ended and a new one is just about to begin. It’s a great opportunity to set a resolution (no matter how cliche it might feel) and commit to doing something differently—and better—in the new year.
One of the most popular resolutions of all time continues to be creating better saving and spending habits. Learning how to improve your personal finances is not only an admirable goal, but it’s a smart one: saving money can help you accomplish some pretty impressive things, like buying a home, paying for your education, or finally trading in your rustbucket for a newer, more reliable car.
And we could all benefit from better savings habits. From the beginning of one new year to the next, Canadians are falling more and more behind in reaching their savings goals. On average, Canadians are predicted to save just barely more than 3 percent of their total income in 2020.
It isn’t easy to know where to begin when it comes to saving money, and it’s even harder to find the motivation to start. The good news is that there are plenty of creative (and manageable) ways that you can start implementing better savings habits. Take a look below for the top 10 money saving hacks of 2019 to get a little bit of inspiration for a better financial future in 2020.
It’s a common mistake to tell yourself that you’ll put whatever money you have left at the end of the month towards your savings account. And in some ways, it makes sense: because at the end of the month, you’ll have all your bills paid off and you’ll know exactly how much you can put away, right?
Wrong. Keeping that money in your checking account throughout the month is a recipe for overspending and failing to meet your savings goals. And as the days go by, you are much more apt to look at your bank account and see only the amount that you can spend, completely forgetting to factor in the money you should save.
The key to successfully meeting your savings goals is to do it as soon as possible. No matter what your savings goal is (whether it’s 10 percent of your paycheque, 20 percent, or anywhere in between), transfer that percentage into your savings as soon as possible.
Not only will this help you budget better for your expenses throughout the rest of the month, but it also ensures that you won’t fall down that slippery slope of forgetting to set money aside (and mistakenly believing that you never had the capability to save in the first place). Pay yourself first before you pay anything else.
If you don’t trust yourself to transfer money into your savings—or if you already feel like you’re in danger of forgetting—then you can lighten the load for yourself by automating your savings. This makes it simple to set money away with very little effort. All you will need to do is set up an account and decide how much you want to save, and you’ll be ready to go!
Check with your bank and see if they have an automated savings program that you can join. These programs are becoming much more popular, and are probably already included in your checking and savings account. One common way of doing this is to set a rule where every time you swipe your debit card, a dollar is transferred to your savings.
Another approach is to choose a day for a recurring transfer into your savings. Even if it’s only $20 a week, that’s going to add up. In your first year, you could have almost $1,000 saved from this alone!
There are other options outside of your bank for an automated savings account, too. Apps like Acorns round up each debit card purchase and use the change to make investments. While it may not be an aggressive investment strategy, it’s a great way to create a savings account with small amounts that you won’t miss.
We all have our spending vices: non-crucial things that we tend to spend money on without a second thought. No matter what you focus on, the basic principle is the same: challenge yourself to stop spending on your vice of choice (temporarily).
For example, if you know that every weekend you tend to rack up $100 from going out to eat and having a few drinks with friends, choose a weekend to stay home instead. Take that $100 that you would have spent and put it directly into your savings instead. While you might miss out on a weekend out, there are plenty of unintended benefits that might come.
Maybe you finally get the opportunity to do some housework, organize your closet, or dive into that book you haven’t opened yet. Better yet, maybe your no-spend weekend means that your friends end up coming over to watch a movie and relax on the couch instead—which helps everyone save money!
If a spending cleanse seems like a bit too much to dive into right away, you can always start small with a no spend day. It’s exactly how it sounds: pick a day, and vow not to spend any money for a full 24 hours. A no spend day is going to look different for everyone, but here’s what a typical no spend day might include:
A no spend day is all about challenging yourself to use the resources that you already have before you start buying things. It helps you understand how you spend your money and it also pushes you to get creative with how you spend your “free” time (pun intended). Start small and do a no spend day once a month and build from there. You’ll find yourself feeling accomplished and motivated to do more in no time!
Utility bills from a furnace or air conditioner can be a huge drain on your finances, especially when the seasons change. It’s tempting to come home to a warm, cozy space—but do you really need to have the furnace running at full blast all day? You don’t want the pipes to freeze over, but you also don’t need to be paying a fortune in energy bills.
Instead of dialing up that thermostat, keep your home a few degrees cooler and opt for blankets and a warm drink instead. And rather than putting your air conditioner on full blast, open some windows and use a fan during the day. Each degree on your air conditioner equals a 5 percent change in how hard it has to work to maintain temperature—which can result in significant savings throughout the summer!
Making a few sacrifices with how you set the temperature inside your home can ease the burden of your monthly expenses, freeing you up to put money elsewhere (like in your savings account).
We don’t always have to buy brand new items, especially when it comes to clothing, kitchen accessories, and home furnishings. Sure, new items are nice to have—but when you stop to think about it, there are plenty of perfectly good second hand items that you can find at your local thrift shop, such as:
There are two huge benefits that can come from buying second hand instead of new: first (and most obviously), there is a huge financial difference in shopping for a collection of brand-new $50 sweaters compared to a few gently used, $10 sweaters.
Second, not only does buying gently used items minimize your spending and free up extra cash for your savings account, but it’s also incredibly eco-friendly. Buying second hand can decrease your environmental impact and minimize the things that get thrown away in landfills. In fact, landfills received 1.7 million tons of discarded clothing, furniture, carpets, tires, and footwear in 2017.
Streaming services and subscriptions are everywhere—they’re on our smartphones, our laptops, and our televisions. And while some might be more affordable than others (here’s looking at you, HBO), they certainly can become a significant expense when added together.
Take a look at the number of streaming services you have for movies, TV shows, podcasts, and music. If you aren’t using them on a regular basis, it’s time to cut them out and put that money to good use! If you are really struggling to say goodbye, you can always choose to cancel your account and sign back up with a new email address. You’ll likely get a promotional deal for a discounted or free subscription, so you can save a little bit of money for a few months.
Of course, the key to using this money saving hack for good is to make sure that you are allocating the money you save into your savings account. You’ll still be “spending” that money, but you’ll be using it to pay yourself first.
If you really want to put a long-term plan in place to save money, start looking at the interest rates that you’re paying on your debt. Credit cards tend to have the highest average interest rates, ranging anywhere between 15 to 28 percent.
Make a list of all of your credit card debts and order them by the highest interest rate to the lowest. Work on paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first, so that you can save yourself money over the long run and decrease the cost of your credit limit.
And keep in mind that paying a credit card or two off completely is a big part of this. If you are only making the minimum payments each month, you aren’t getting much traction. It may sound counterintuitive to say that you need to spend more in order to save more, but this is the best way to decrease your spending on credit card debt over time.
Money saving hacks are all around you—all it takes is knowing where and how to look for them. There are plenty of creative ways that you can minimize your spending and generate more opportunities to save, like:
Budgeting is the number one best thing that you can do to set yourself up for financial success. Keeping track of exactly how much you are spending and where you are spending it will give you insight into your spending habits.
For example, you might not even realize that you are spending $200 each week on takeout and restaurants until you actually sit down and look at the numbers. Or that you are spending $50 on groceries at one supermarket and close to $100 at another. Use budgeting as an opportunity to dive into your spending and look for opportunities to decrease that spending wherever possible.
And there are plenty of ways that you can make a budget. An old-fashioned pen and paper works fine, or you can put together a spreadsheet. Budgeting apps are also a great resource, especially since they cut out a lot of the tedious work. They’ll sync directly to your bank account and automatically sort each expense into categories, so that you can get a birds-eye view of your spending at any time.
Maybe 2019 wasn’t your best year for spending and saving wisely—and if so, then thank goodness that 2020 is right around the corner! If your resolution for the upcoming year is to start saving more money, use these top 10 money saving hacks of 2019 to jumpstart your goals. Even if you only start with one or two, trust us: your personal finances will be much stronger as a result.