Over $3000 Worth of Ways to Save Money
Most saving suggestions are focused on toning down your lifestyle. I agree that you can save a lot of money by doing so, but let’s be real. If you wanted to do that, you would’ve already done so by now. So instead, let’s explore how we can simply find ways to save without sacrificing your lifestyle (so no clipping coupons unless you enjoy it).
How to Save Money on Groceries
Let’s first look at the thing you have the most control over: your groceries.
Where do you normally do your shopping? Do you do it at a convenience store? Do you go to the closest supermarket? Or do go through the flyers and make a trip to each of those stores?
According to Statistic Canada, the average one-person household spends $4943 a year on food a year. That’s a lot of money, but it also accounts for eating out. It turns out that about 41% of our food money goes towards eating out, leaving the other 59% of our money to be actual grocery money. That means we spend about $2,916.37 a year on groceries, about $243 a month, or about $56 a week.
That doesn’t sound too bad, but we can do better. I’m sure everyone can get to under $200 a month. Most can get their grocery spending to around $150 and some people could pull off $100. So let’s see how we can get your grocery bills lower.
1. Buy from an asian supermarket
If you’ve ever been into a asian supermarket, you will notice that their prices are a lot lower than the typical well established supermarket. Why is that?
Well, there are a few reasons. The biggest one is with the big established supermarket, they are chains, they have more people to feed. There are CEOs, VPs, directors, managers, etc. The more people they have to feed, the more money they have to make (the CEO of Loblaw Inc earns almost $9 million a year).
Another reason is that if you ever walk into a asian supermarket, you will notice that there is a lot less space to walk around, as opposed to a branded supermarket This means that asian supermarkets require less space to sell the same products as an established supermarket. A decrease in rent means a decrease in prices.
The last reason, and probably the biggest reason, is that typically well established supermarkets will pay to get first choice on the produce that they want to buy from the suppliers. These well established supermarkets typically choose based off appearance and what they believe would have longer shelf life. Then when the smaller, more independent supermarkets choose, they are typically left with items that typically won’t last as long. But that also means they pay less for it and will charge less to make sure it gets out of their store.
So how much cheaper can it be? Well, one of the chinese stores that my parents go to typically sells chicken drumsticks for just under $1 a pound. How much do you pay for your drumsticks?
I know some of you are thinking about the sanetary condition of these food. I get it. Even though I am of asian decent, I was still born in Canada and have similar expectations as other Canadians when it comes to food safety. And they do keep it clean. They just don’t spend as much time and money presenting the food like you would see at a branded supermarket.
In fact, the large supermarkets have actually started buying out the asian supermarkets. The latest one was Loblaw buying out T&T.
If you have never ventured into an asian supermarket, I highly suggest you do. Take a look around and you will quickly realize that you can be saving a few green bills every time you buy your groceries. But if you do, try to go on a weekday as it can be very very busy on weekends.
2. Price match when possible
Price matching is when you go into a store and show them a competitor’s flyer and they sell it to you at the same price. The reason why some larger supermarkets will want to offer price match is to lure you in to buy from them as opposed to their competitors. Which is great for you because now you can do all your shopping at one location as opposed to running around for the cheapest rates.
But beware of which ones will be willing to price match and what they are willing to price match against. The two largest supermarkets willing to do it are FreshCo and The Real Canadian Superstore. These two supermarkets are typically willing to price match the other big supermarkets in the area. Some of them are even starting to accept price matching asian supermarekts!
To make price matching easier, what I normally do is use an app like Flipp. Flipp is more than a way to quickly browse all the different flyers on the go. It allows you to build shopping lists, search and compare the products you’re looking for, but more importantly, allows you to quickly show the cashier their competitors product and price, allowing you to quickly price match it.
Flipp also allows you to input your point cards into the app so you don’t have to carry all those around. One last thing – they also have a coupon section and can tell you if the product you’re looking to buy has a coupon attached with it.
Anyway, point is, price match when you can. It can make your shopping a lot faster and you might save a purple bill or two.
3. Visit your local farmer’s market
Besides having a great time browsing all the stores, the farmer’s market is a great place to get fresh produce at a cheaper rate. I don’t normally buy my meats there, but when it comes to fruits and vegetables, they are excellent.
Usually when you buy fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market, they come in bulk, so you’ll probably have enough to last a few weeks to maybe a month.
But be careful with which farmer’s market you go to. Some of them are starting to become tourist attractions, and are starting to charge prices similar to branded supermarkets.
Another tip: if you have the flexibility, go on a day that’s typically less busy, and closer to the end of the day. Go on a day that’s also super hot, or when it’s pouring. The reason is that during these types of days, far fewer people have come by and the vendors will want to get rid of more of their produce, thus they will be much more open to negotiating with you.
With these three suggestions, I bet you will be under $150 a month. Assuming you are the average Canadian, it means you have just saved $93 a month ($243 – $150 = $93). Which means you have just saved $1,116 for the year.
Saving Money on Your Cell Plan
How much are you paying for your plan? $70? $80? $90? $100? Guess how much I’m paying for mine? $18.83 per month after tax. What does that get me? It gets me 3GB of data as well as unlimited calling and texting within Canada.
The most comparable plan I could find would be Fido’s 3GB plan at $65 + tax, or $73.45. Considering mine is at $18.83, the savings is $54.62 a month, or $655.44 a year. Note: with both these plans, you will have to bring your own phone.
No, this plan is not some inexistent corporate plan. At the same time, it’s not a plan you can just ask for. It’s actually hacked together using a tablet plan and an online phone company.
The first step is finding a $15 3GB tablet plan. In the past Fido offered it. Virgin Mobile has also offered it. You’ll have to see who is currently offering it at this moment.
Now, the 3GB tablet plan will not give you any talk and text. So don’t go around doing so – you’ll be charged an arm and a leg. But there are companies out there that offer you talk and text over your data (or on wireless when you’re connected).
To get your talk and text, you can use a service such as Fongo. Fongo is a Canadian companies that gives you your text and calls over the internet. This is known as voice over internet protocol (VOIP).
The neat thing when you work with Fongo is that you’re able to port your number to their system. This means that you will get to keep your current number.
So what exactly are the steps in doing all this?
1. Make sure your phone is not locked (as in it will be able to work with the new sim card that you get with your tablet)
2. Find a company that currently has a tablet plan promo.
3. Download Fongo on your tablet / phone
4. Follow Fongo’s step by step process for porting your number. (MAKE SURE YOU HAVE NO OUTSTANDING COMMITMENTS WITH YOUR CURRENT PHONE PROVIDER)
5. Once you have the email confirmation that your number has been ported, your old plan will automatically be discontinued and your number should be through Fongo
6. Replace your old SIM in your phone with the one that came with your tablet
7. Call your tablet provider and ask them to disable calling and text to their number as this will guarantee that you won’t accidentally try texting or calling anyone through your tablet plan.
8. Pay for the texting feature on Fongo – I typically get the 6 months prepaid plan which comes out to under $2 a month.
9. Enjoy the new savings!
I’ve been using this for the last few months and am quite pleased with my overall experience. However, there are a few things that you should be aware of.
I don’t know if it’s because I have a really old phone (it can’t accept 4G), or if it’s Fongo, but sometimes my calls get a little blurry. So if you’re expecting it to sound just like a normal call, you could be disappointed.
The texting feature works great and because I personally got my tablet plan from Fido, I’m on the Rogers network (since Fido is owned by Rogers). This means I do not run into reception issues.
If you’re not sure if Fongo is right for you, you can always sign up for a free number and make a few calls through it to see how your reception is.
But if you’re interested in saving a few hundred (and for some of you, a few thousand) each year, this would be a great way to do so.
How to Save on your Internet
Did you know all the marketing that internet companies do are selling you things that you don’t acutally need? I mean, it’s great that you can get gigabit internet speeds, but you’re not planning to watch a movie at 1000x the normal speed. Nor are you planning to listen to music at 100000x the normal speed. Speed is only important up to a certain point, and that point is much lower than you might expect.
When you’re looking at internet plans, there’s really only one thing you should be looking at: bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data you’re allowed to use before you get charged for extra. For example, according to Netflix, a one hour HD video will take about 3GB of data. So how much bandwidth do you need? Simply multiply how many hours of video (Netflix, YouTube, porn, etc) your house watches each month by 3 and add another 20GB (for social media browsing) to get your minimum bandwidth requirement.
Yes, internet speed is important, but for the majority of you,7Mbs is more than enough to watch youtube and netflix. If you don’t believe me, read what Netflix says about watching in HD. So the total internet speed your house needs is the number of people in the house multiplied by 7.
Of course, if you do a lot more uploading (since many of the lower internet speeds give you pretty low upload speeds), then that’s when you’ll need much faster internet speeds, and also be paying a heck lot more.
But if you ever look at your 3 big telecom companies (Rogers, Bell, Telus), you will see that none of them offer you anything in the range that you’re looking for. So you’ll have to look at your smaller providers.
One thing that many people do not realize is that the internet coming into your house is still the same internet as the big three (these smaller providers typically buy the rights to use the same infrastructure as the big telecoms).
Of the smaller providers, I recommend (if you’re in Ontario) Teksavvy. Their customer service is superior to the big three as they will actually work with you to make sure everything’s running smoothly. Their prices are also much better than the big three. Of course you can get your internet a bit cheaper with some other companies, but now you’re in the realm of inexistent customer support. The best thing I like about Teksavvy is that the CEO is actively fighting for customer rights.
Back when I first wrote about me using Teksavvy vs Bell, my annual saving was over $600 a year. But now it seems like Bell has taken out the smaller plans and now only offer plans that offer far more than you need (of course, for a pretty penny or two).
If you want the cheapest internet plan, and you’re willing to deal with the potential inexistent support, I hear that Carrytel has the best rates out there.
Use The Best Credit Cards
Oh, credit cards. For some reason, this is what most people think of when it comes with personal fiannce. Yes, there are ways to save and get “free money” (ratesupermarket tends to promote credit cards that come with giftcards). But the reality is that your annual savings might hit $300, and that’s if you save a lot. So if that gets you excited, read the other options above since they all save you much more.
But regardless, $300 is still a lot of money.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about why you should be using credit cards. Yes, getting points and / or cash back is great, but the real reason why you should use credit cards is to build out your credit history so that when you need to get a loan, you will have a really strong credit score. Of course, having credit cards is not the only thing that goes into a credit score – it’s just one part of it. More on that in the Credit score section.
There are really only two types of credit cards. Some of them give you points. Some give you cash back. I’m personally more for cash back as I know exactly what it’s worth. However, if you like points, I would suggest you convert the points to a dollar figure by using what you’re aiming to redeem your points for.
An example: let’s say you go to the movies often. So you’re thinking of getting a Scotiabank scene visa card that gives you scene points (note: if you are considering the Scotiabank scene visa card, you can get a $50 gift card through that link). 1000 points means one free general admission movie. A general admission ticket would typically cost you $13.50 + tax = $15.26. That means 1000 points is worth $15.26. This now means that 1 point is worth $0.01526. Since you get 1 point for each dollar you spend, you can now say that each dollar you spend gives you the equivalent of 1.526% in cash back.
The two credit cards I use are both free. The MBNA credit card gives me 2% cash back on gas and groceries and 1% cash back on everything else. And my Tangerine credit card gives me 2% cash back on restaurants and recurring bills. Note: you can choose which two categories you’re interested in with Tangerine. Tangerine actually offers three 2% cash back options if you open a savings account with them. I never did it, but if you are interested in their savings account, you can sign up and use the orange key 46898092S1 to get an additional $50 cash.
So if I love going to the movies, what I would do is use the Scotiabank scene visa card when what I’m buying does not fall under groceries, gas, restaurant or recurring bill (since 1.5% is better than 1%). But if it is one of those categories, I would use my other credit cards to pay for it to get the 2% and just use the cash back to buy a normal ticket.
You may be thinking that that’s a lot of credit cards. It is. I would suggest you set the limit limit on each credit card so that the total is a reasonable amount that you won’t be able to splurge. I also suggest you don’t make the limits the same across the cards as you might have some bigger purchases that won’t fit if you were make them all the same.
The key with credit cards is keeping on top of all your bills. This is where a free service like Mint may come in use (make sure you read The Easy Way to Track Expenses). You will also want to be careful with applying for credit cards only to close them after the promo is over. Doing that might negatively affect your credit score (more on that in the credit score section).
Assuming I spend the same amount as the average person in Canada, my credit card savings would amount to around $294.86.
If you’re in the market for a new credit card, I suggest using ratesupermarket as a source to quickly identify which credit card would make the most sense for you. Do share your findings below as I too, would be interested in seeing if there are more ways to get money back.
Money Back When Shopping Online
I don’t know anyone not shopping online anymore. But I do run into a lot of people who aren’t aware of the money they could be getting back when they shop online. For example, I have gotten back about $150 in 2016.
How did I do this? I make my purchases through a website called ebates. Many sites actually offer people commission when they refer someone to their site. Typically the people who take advantage of those things are bloggers who can then promote their readers to check out certain products from certain sites. In return, they will get a portion of the money. There’s nothing wrong with this. The reader is ideally being exposed to something that can help them. The company is getting more purchases without having to spend more money on marketing (which in turn can keep their prices lower) and the blogger can make a living.
A good example is the link I provided for ebates. It’s a referral link. So if you sign up through that link, ebates will give me some money ($5). Ebates will also give you a free $5, and ebates will now ideally make more money through your purchases.
How? What they do is they give you a portion of the money they get back from these referrals. For example, let’s say Amazon is currently willing to give ebates 4% cash back on all the business they send through. Ebates might then promote a 2% cash back from Amazon if you use their link. So now if you were going to buy something from Amazon anyway, you would save 2% on top of your points or cash back from your credit card.
Here’s a video from ebates on the process:
This is what I used quite often when I was renovating my basement. I bought everything online from Rona, which gave me between 2 – 4% cash back. Rona typically had a 15% discount and I also used my credit card for another 1%. So that means I was saving up to 20% off their regular price.
The other thing is, I don’t buy a lot of clothing. But if you do, you could potentially get 10%+ in cash back from certain stores.
Another Canadian website that gives you cash back for shopping is Great Canadian Rebates. Make sure you explore their site as they have more than just shops. You could be able to get back a few percentages by booking and paying for your vacation through them. As for how much they offer you for signing up, I believe it’s $2.50, but you’ll need to agree to their newsletter (which you could unsubcribe after if you’d like).
Great Canadian Rebates also has an addon for Google Chrome so if you’re ever on a site that they offer cash back for, you’ll be notified.
When you are looking to buy something, I suggest you look at both these sites before you commit to either as they typically offer different rates throughout the year so what may be better one day, may not be better the next.
One word of caution: please do not be like my sister and buy things just because you’re able to get a discount. Otherwise these sites will make you have less money than what they’re able to save you. But if you’re already planning to buy certain things, these sites will just be a way to get more with your money.
Oh, and if you do sign up for an account, make sure you share it with your friends using your own referral code. It won’t be much, but it’s still something!
I would take a guess and say that you’ll save $100 – $200 a year using these types of sites.
Kijiji (IE The Classifieds)
Oftentimes, we’re so focused on looking through flyers (or Flipp) to find the latest deals. It’s gotta be a good deal if it’s 20% off, right? But how often do you think of going to Kijiji or some other classified site to find what you need at a much better deal?
Of course, I would never buy used socks or underwear. That’s just gross. I’ve never bought clothes from it either, mainly because I don’t normally buy clothes. But there are certain items that are perfectly fine to buy second hand.
For example, I have bought my internet modem and router through Kijiji. Instead of spending over $100 buying it through my internet provider, I got the modem for $40. Instead of buying a new router at Best Buy or Amazon, I got two off Kijiji for a total of $25. I instantly saved over $100 buying it through Kijiji.
Earlier this month, I wanted to buy myself weight plates. I asked my cousin who was well versed in this area and he said that typically weight plates get sold between $1 – $2 per pound. I was about to buy it online at $1.20/lb, afterall, it was on sale. But then I remembered about Kijiji. Searching up weight plates, I saw some going for $1/lb. Some were at $0.50l/lb (but they were too far away for me to want to make the trek) and then there was someone else willing to sell it at $0.80/lb. I contacted him and got what I needed, saving 33% along the way.
While picking out the weights I wanted, I asked him about his business. He told me that he just buys them off gyms that were closing, or people who were moving and didn’t want to take their home gym with them. He then simply resold it. Works for me. I mean I could get into his business, and get it cheaper. But then that takes a lot more effort. Instead, I’d happily pay him for what I need, knowing that I got myself a deal, while helping some things avoid the dump.
My ex-girlfriend also got a 3 seater leather couch off Kijiji. It was in perfect condition. Guess how much it costed her? $300? $150? $100. The couch could have easily been placed in a store and someone would’ve paid $300 for it. But she got it for $100.
So why is that? Why are things so much cheaper on Kijiji than in the stores if they’re in perfect condition? Well, I can speak to my own experience. I have also been on the other end of Kijiji as well. Actually, I sold my old router + modem on Kijiji yesterday. It was Teksavvy’s SmartRG SR505N router and modem all in one. It is required for any DSL internet. Teksavvy charges $100 for the modem, and when I searched it on Kijiji, I saw it being sold for $70. So I put mine up for $50. I didn’t really care about getting the most for it – I just wanted it out of my house. Within 2 hours, I had someone who was willing to take it off my hands and meet me close to where I lived. The next day it was gone. I made $50 off something I had no use for anymore. And he saved $50 from buying it off me.
I’ve also sold more expensive items on Kijiji before. The most expensive item was a 2013 Macbook Air 11.6”. I believe I sold it for $750 and the person who bought it was a nurse of some sort who was constantly on the go and just wanted something light to work with. A win win.
At the end of the day, many of these people just needed it gone. We don’t care particularly if we get the most money for it. We’re probably more on a time crunch than a money crunch, and if you can pick it up within a day or two, you will get the best deals.
I have only had positive experiences through Kijiji. Everyone I’ve dealt with lived up to their end. They showed up, paid what they promised, and we went our separate ways.
So if this has got you thinking that maybe you can use Kijiji, here’s a step by step guide to safely and successfully buy off Kijiji.
1. Make sure you’re looking at the right region
There were times when I got super excited about a deal, only to find that it was 50km away from me. As nice as that deal was, I wasn’t interested in driving 50km to get it. People do not need to give their address, but providing a postal code is required. So copy the postal code and put it into google maps. Google will then show you where that postal code is, giving you a good idea as to whether the location is okay for you.
When I was in Kitchener, I usually provided my home postal code, but some people might be more comfortable meeting at a busier area, such as a mall. So if you rather not meet at their house, look for a plaza around that area that you could use as a meeting point.
2. Leave them a proper message
Many people leave a message asking if the item is still available. I got dozens of those for messages for items that are underpriced. Guess what? I don’t answer those. I don’t want to go back and forth with emails with every single one of those people. It simply wasn’t worth my time. Instead, I look for the person who has a game plan.
So when you leave a message, have a game plan. Something along the lines of “Hi, I’m interested in _____. If this is still available, I can meet you tomorrow at ___ in front of ___ or any day after 6pm. Thanks”. If I see that message, I’m instantly interested in working with you. You left me with a day and time that I can easily check if that will work. If not, you left me with the option to choose a day and time that works for me and for you. Now I can ignore all those other emails coming in.
3. Don’t be afraid to pay more
Sometimes people underprice their items too much. You might be willing to pay them for it, but unless you’re in front of their doors picking it up that very moment, someone could easily come in and offer them more than what they were asking for. This happened to me when I bought a set of leather couches a few years back. I don’t remember how much they were asking for, but I got a confirmation to pick it up in two days only to find out the next day that someone was willing to pay them twice what they were asking. It was still a super good deal at 2x the asking price.
So the next set of leather couches I saw, I offered them 2x the price. It went from $50 to $100, but I got the whole set and people are still surprised when I told them how much they were.
4. Reach out to multiple people
Most times you will not be the first person to reach an agreement with the seller. Sometimes they will just ignore you (as they probably found a buyer). So reach out to multiple sellers and once you have a deal secured, you can just let anyone else who responds to your inquiries know that you’re not interested anymore.
5. Meet at a busy location
If you’re buying something small, it’s always a good idea to meet at a plaza or mall. If you’re buying something expensive, meet at a bank. That way you’re not risking your safety and it also becomes a little easier to walk away if the actual product is not as described. Which brings me to the last point.
6. Don’t be afraid to say walk away
If the description of the product isn’t what it actually is, don’t be afraid to say no. You’re not committed to buying it just because you two agree to meet. However,
I don’t know how much I’ve saved using Kijiji up until now. I’d wager a few thousand dollars, considering I’ve bought most of my home’s furniture through it. But I do know that I was always happy with my purchase.
Saving on Alcohol
I don’t know about you, but a good chunk of my disposable cash in school was spent on alcohol. A visit to the liquor store here and there quickly added up to a lot of money over the course of a semester.
Unless you’ve promised yourself to cut out alcohol from your diet, you will probably continue to spend quite a bit on this. So instead of telling you to stop with your alcohol consumption, I’d like to suggest something else: making your own wine.
No, I don’t mean buying your own grapes and stepping on it and somehow fermenting it to become wine. That may be a real cool experience, but I wouldn’t trust myself to make something that I can actually drink.
Instead, I suggest using a service such as Wine Butler. They will have all the grapes ready for fermenting so all you have to do is go in and start the fermenting process, wait a few weeks and then go and bottle it yourself. Because they are not the ones doing those steps, they are able to say that they are selling you juice and thus, are not required to charge you the hefty alcohol tax that we have in this great country of ours.
In return, your bottle of wine could cost you as little as $3 a bottle (plus $1 for the actual bottle).
But keep in mind, when you do make wine, you’re making it in the batches. That means that you will get about 28 – 30 bottles out of it.
A suggestion I have is to let the bottles sit in a relatively cool dark place for another 6-8 months before you open any. The wine will continue to ferment and after 8 months, it tastes delicious.
And since you get so many bottles, what you can do is start giving them away as thank you gifts, or bring a few bottles for a night in or to start with for a night out.
If this sounds like a great deal, check out their wine list and if you’re going to place an order, enter in firstname.lastname@example.org in the referral email address. By doing so, you will get $100 off your next wine order (it can’t be used for your first).
Assuming your normal bottle of wine will cost you $12 and that these bottles cost you $4, you’re saving $8 a bottle, or $240 on 30 bottles.
Are there any other saving tips that you’ve used and have saved a few hundred? Share in the comments below!