Last year we published articles showing readers how they can save more money. Since last year, we uncovered many more new (and some unconventional) ways to save money yet live a comfortable lifestyle. You don’t need to live like a miser, Radin or a Scrooge, forfeiting pleasure, social outings or alienating and even losing friends and family (and who wants that anyway!). There is no need to sacrifice comfort to become rich. In fact you can have both!
We will give you some new ideas that you can implement right away to increase your wealth, while still maintaining a decent and comfortable lifestyle. Some ideas may take some time to yield results, but be patient and you will see that over the long run they will help you save a good amount of money, while also benefiting the environment.
Practice Japanese minimalism
Inspired by Zen Buddhism and applied by Mari Kondo who developed the KonMari method, this growing trend first took hold in Japan and is now growing worldwide. In Japan earthquakes are very common, it makes sense to have fewer possessions in order to avoid injuries or death from falling objects (the majority of earthquake-related injuries). In the West, this practice is more related to ditching the traditional consumerist society.
Among the advantages, there is less need to spend time on cleaning, decluttering or shopping and more time left for friends, traveling, or being active. Less shopping and less time spent on cleaning/decluttering leaves you with more money and more time that you can put to good use such as on your business or your work. Among well-known minimalists, one can find Steve Jobs, a long-time practitioner of Buddhism. iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac, all iconic devices, have easy navigation, few menus and simple design that closely resembles Steve Job’s philosophy of keeping things simple.
We advise you to declutter gradually. Rent-out or sell your unused items on Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace or Ebay. Consider doing a yard sale. Keep only your most beloved possessions and get rid of the rest.
Cut up your credit cards and don’t get into debt
You really don’t need so many credit cards. Having just one with a decent credit limit would be sufficient. Here’s a good guide by Maple Money to choosing the right credit card for you. If you got too many credit cards, it’s very easy to accumulate a large balance and to forget to make your monthly payments, not to mention it’s way too easy to overspend. So just go for one credit card and “cut up the rest”.
Lastly, don’t be tempted accept those credit limit increases. The higher the limit the easier it is to spend more… Accept and content yourself to live with less and you may just realize you are happier (and richer) that way. Simple as that.
Buy local and in season
Produce coming from remote locations may not only be more expensive, but also tends to be less fresh, is laden with more pesticides and herbicides, and contains much less vitamin than freshly gathered foods.
Encourage local production and economy while saving a buck or two by buying locally grown and locally made foods. Foods that are in season cost less, taste better and are healthier. Get to know your local farm markets (for example Marché Jean Talon), rooftop farms, and co-ops.
Lufa farms, a rooftop commercial farm here in Montreal, is a good example of year round type of urban agriculture. Not only are the foods fresher, since they are not traveling thousands of kilometers to get to their destination, but they also have less pesticides and herbicides.
Buy loss leaders
When going to the grocery store, buy the products advertised on the first page of flier only. Why? Let me explain. The loss-leader marketing strategy is a way for stores to increase profits. The products advertised on the first page of the flyer tend to be loss leaders and are meant to attract customers to the store. The customers would generally also buy regularly priced items, thereby compensating for the below average price of the loss leaders.
Determine the loss leaders in your store and buy only these items. It’s typically milk and eggs, but can also be meat, fish, cereal, poultry, chips, soft drinks, toilet paper or fruits, depending on the time of year (ex. Turkey during Thanksgiving). Typically the items would be perishable (and thus harder to store). The loss leaders will tend to be at the back of the store (or at an end of an aisle), so you would have to cross it and pick up other items on your way. You might need to visit several stores as well. RedFlagDeals.com , Circulars.ca and Flipp.com are good places to find flyers in your area.
Attend festivals and exclusive events for free
If you want to attend a festival or an event, try to find out if, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on it, there are ways that you can either volunteer or work. Here is a list of Montreal festivals you can work at by Mtl Blog. You may need to be creative on that one. I was working with a guy who attended American Marketing Association conference for free and even had his hotel and flight tickets paid for (while also personally shaking hands with Gary Vaynerchuk and other well-known influencers) simply by contacting the organizers and finding out how he can offer his services for free.
Feel free to learn the art of networking, cold calling/emailing and the art of hustling for that one. Savings may amount to hundreds of dollars and the networking opportunities may be endless! I was personally able to attend a Shakira concert (for free) while getting paid 50$/hour simply by working with a promotional event organizer.
Shop at the end of season or after Holidays
Most stores do clearance sales of items that are no longer in season to free up space for in-season items. So it makes sense to shop when stores are most likely to liquidate their items. For winter clothes you might need to shop at the end of winter or beginning of spring and for summer clothes you need to shop at the end of summer or beginning of Autumn. Also buy your next years Christmas decoration right after Christmas and Halloween decor right after Halloween. Here is a good guide to end-of-season sales and online bargain shopping that could help you plan when to shop for what to get the most savings.
Buy used rather than new
It’s common sense, but it’s worth repeating. Don’t buy a new car. A car starts to depreciate (meaning to lose in value) the moment you start driving it and the most value is lost during the first year. The same applies for buying a new phone or a new technology gadget.
Also, if you got an old or non fuel efficient car (such as a sports car with many cylinders), replace it as soon as you can by one that is economical in terms of gas and you could save a lot of money! You may save $ 20-40 in gas each week, that would make it $ 1,040-2,080 over the course of the year in gas alone, not to mention a lot less CO2 and pollution in the environment. Here’s a guide by Consumer Reports to buying a used car.
Many consumers now go online to shop for used cars. Wheels.ca and Kijiji.ca are good starting points.
Use coupon sites
Before buying something online, check if there is a coupon code you can use to save some money. Often, when I’m shopping on a website I can find a discount code online or in one of my emails. RetailMeNot, Vouchercodes.ca, and other such websites have discount codes for a number of online websites.
It may also be a good idea to subscribe to a few emails of the businesses you like to shop at to stay up to date to the promotions they may be having. You may receive coupon codes from time to time that you can use. Since I receive so many promotional emails, I opened a separate mailbox just for that purpose.
Freeze or dehydrate food leftovers
Fruits and veggies that are in season can be bought in bulk and frozen (or dehydrated) to be used when needed. For instance, ripe bananas can be frozen and used as both a sweetener and ice in smoothies.
You might need to buy a deep freezer and/or a dehydrator to make extra space, but over the long run it’s worth it. Dehydrators are mostly sold online, on websites such as on Raw Nutrition.ca.
Travel hack your way into traveling on the cheap
It’s always better to avoid traveling when you can. However, sometimes you do need a vacation or you need to go to somewhere (for your business, for example). If you want to save money while traveling you can explore the field of travel hacking. You can also choose to travel to closer destinations. The further the destination, the more expensive it tends to be in general.
Travel hacking is the art of finding good travel deals. Collecting frequent flier points, air miles and other bonuses to get free or very cheap flights, hotels, tours, and more are all part of the game.
Hopper is an app that analyzes millions of flights to help predict when flights will be the cheapest. Getting the best deal and knowing ahead of time when to fly will help save you time and money.
There are many blogs and online resources dedicated to travel hacking. Starter’s Guide to Canadian Travel Hacking, for instance, was written by KendrickUy, whose website/blog is filled with resources, helpful tips and such.
Save on commutes by working and studying online
By avoiding or reducing commutes, you are also reducing the carbon footprint and saving some money in the process. No bus, no car and no time lost in traffic all benefit your budget and the environment. How can do you accomplish that though? By choosing to work from home whenever you can and picking online courses over in-person ones.
There are many companies that have remote workplaces. Many jobs allow employees to work at least a few days from home. Here are 5 jobs you can do from home. Online education is another sector, which is expanding rapidly. Not only are there many more online courses one can take, but many universities are also joining in and offering many online courses and programs.
Teluq University and Athabasca University are examples of 100% online education, which are also accredited by the government. Also some universities, such as HEC of Montreal, offer many hybrid and online courses.
Stop coffee, smoking, and other expensive habits
Many people drink a cup of coffee everyday. However, what most don’t realize that over a year that would make it over $ 1,000. Simply getting into the habit of brewing a cup of coffee at home would save you a lot of cash. You can also try bringing tea or instant coffee with you so you can simply ask for some hot water and brew your own cup of coffee. A cup of tea usually costs between $ 1.50 – 3 whereas 1 teabag costs less than 20 cents. The same applies for coffee, which usually costs less than 20 cents per cup. This translates into over $ 2 000 in savings for moderate coffee drinkers over course of a year.
Cigarettes are another expensive habit. Quitting smoking will not only help prevent cancer, but would also be good for your budget. Someone smoking a pack a day spends at least $170 a week on cigarettes, which is over $ 9,200 in one year… There are many resources to help you quit smoking, such as iQuitNow and SmokersHelpLine.
This money could have been put to good use in investments and compounded over time, making you richer (and healthier) in the end. Here is the list of benefits of quitting caffeine.
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About The Author: Margarita Stolbikova, guest writer
Margarita is marketing strategist at Hardbacon. She is an online marketer with years of experience working with tech start-ups. Wearing many hats, she's is also organizing events, doing some data analysis and, most importantly, getting shit done.
More posts by Margarita Stolbikova, guest writer