Personal Finance 101

11 Ways to Start Saving Money Now

There’s lots of reasons to learn how to save money. Many of them became a reality in the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic changed lots of people’s financial situation – some saw their personal expenses drop as they stopped travelling and cut back on dining out, while others had to tap into their savings or turn to government support programs to make ends meet.

We may be ready to turn our back on the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean we should forget the lessons learned about saving money. Whether you have extra funds from spending less, or you want to reinforce your safety net, it’s about preparing for your future.

Here are 11 things you can do right now to start saving money. 

Optimize your finances

1. Make your money… make money

Make the most of your hard-earned cash with a high interest savings account. High interest savings accounts work just like a normal savings account, but you get a higher interest rate in exchange for some minor restrictions – like needing to wait a day or two before you get your money when making a withdrawal. It makes sense if you’re setting that money aside for short-term savings and not using it for day-to-day spending.

If you’re saving money for longer than a year – an investment account may offer the opportunity to earn even more. Learn about the differences between saving and investing.

2. Keep your money in the bank, but not their wallet

One of the easiest ways to save money is to put it in your bank account. But even simple solutions can come at a cost. A lot of bank or chequing accounts charge regular fees. Be sure to monitor what’s being charged on your accounts and see how it adds up over time. You can also shop around for lower or no fee options. 

3. Earn the reward without the cost

Flight points, cash back, free groceries – if you’re going to spend money on a credit card, you might as well get the best deal possible. But beware of the pressure to accumulate points. There’s a lot of rewards and points programs out there, so it’s easy to end up with multiple cards, each with their own fee. And remember, those points are an incentive for you to spend more money! Pick the card or program that will give you the best value with the lowest interest rate possible.

4. What’s the return on your investment fees?

If you invest already, you’ve likely heard discussions about the pros and cons of getting professional advice vs. DIY platforms. There’s lots of benefits to working with a financial advisor. However, it’s important to understand the value and service you’re getting in return for the fees you pay.

Fortunately, there is a push to increase clarity and education in this area. But be sure to speak with your advisor if you have any questions.

If you’re a little savvier about the markets, a lower cost DIY platform could be an effective way to invest, while saving on fees. Don’t forget that many platforms still charge for certain transactions or levels of service and advice. CI Direct Investing offers simple yet competitive pricing to help Canadians easily access professionally managed investments and advice.

Streamline your online experience

5. Entertainment at your fingertips

When the world locked down and people turned indoors, they turned on their TV or computer. Video, music and gaming streaming services have provided us with an easy escape from our anxieties and uncertainties. While each one offers its own exclusive content, they also come at their own price.

Maybe you only need three streaming services, not eight. Maybe you don’t order from Amazon often enough to justify paying for Prime. Maybe it’s time to dust off that old library card and take advantage of the thousands of free books, magazines, movies and video games they have to offer. Cutting the cord on just a few services can save you serious cash every month.

6. Click unsubscribe

Nowadays, just about every service comes with a subscription, whether you’re skipping the ads on YouTube Premium or boosting your network with Premium LinkedIn. And with free monthly trials or automatic payments, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re paying for. Every so often, take an audit of your subscriptions and remove the ones you don’t use or need.

Kill costly habits

7. Food delivery eating into your savings?

If you’re like us, you saw an increase in your food delivery spending through the pandemic. Sure, you’re saving on not actually dinning out, but those delivery and service fees can add up. Keeping your food deliveries to even just once or twice a week can save you loads over time. And, if you want to continue supporting local restaurants and businesses, try driving, biking or walking over to pick up the food in person. Bonus! Going to the restaurant directly means more in their pockets instead of the delivery service.

8. Driving your finances crazy

One of the biggest changes some experienced during COVID-19 was the shift to work from home. Suddenly, the need to commute was non-existent. This mixed with stay-at-home orders and no travelling meant many vehicles rarely left the driveway.

Even as things begin to open, you may find you have less need for a car – either you’re working from home permanently or you’ve had other lifestyle changes. Think of the hundreds you can save by ditching those car payments and gas! Many cities also offer ride or car share programs, so if you do need to get out for a long haul, spending for a single ride once or twice a month will still be less than keeping a car parked in your driveway.

Replace with new habits

9. Sharing is caring

The sharing economy isn’t just for cars. There are tons of ways to cut back on consumption. Try borrowing a drill from the local tool library or find that perfect dress from a rental service the next time you have an event (hopefully before too long)! It’s also easier than ever to tap into your online social networks to find secondhand items. Seek out sharing opportunities in your community – locally and virtually – and you could see the savings pile up. 

10. Get your wallet into shape

Another trend we saw through the pandemic was to use the time normally spent socializing on staying fit and healthy. As gym memberships were put on hold, at-home virtual classes became all the rage, and others simply opted to go out for a run or family hike.

Now might be time to rethink how you want to stay active as things reopen. Do you want to hit the gym like you did before or continue to save money on cheaper online options? Or, you can cut the memberships all together and enjoy outdoor activities through the summer months. Pick which ever option works best for your health and lifestyle.

11. Think twice before “returning to normal”

It would be redundant to say our spending habits and priorities changed in the pandemic – but we’ll say it anyways! So why not take this as an opportunity to think twice before jumping back into spending on all the things we once did. Find new and creative ways to evaluate what’s important to you and then decide whether it’s worth the cost. Even though our priorities may have changed, the importance of saving for when the unexpected happens has only become more permanent.