Sticking to a budget isn’t always easy — especially when it’s an even stricter version of last month’s budget. Like most, you may feel like you’re constantly cutting costs and shaving down expenses just to make ends meet. Whatever the case is for you, here are 15 tried-and-true tips for staying in the green and keeping money woes at bay.
1. Walk or bike
Instead of taking public transportation or Uber (if you’re trying to save money, this one’s a definite no-no!), challenge yourself to walk or bike everywhere for an entire week. Not only will you get more exercise, but you’ll also save a ton of cash that you would have otherwise spent on transportation.
2. Use a canvas grocery tote
Although it may seem insignificant, the cost of plastic grocery bags adds up overtime — plus, they aren’t great for the environment. Go green by investing in a reusable canvas grocery bag; the dollars will add up quicker than you think, and you can feel good about reducing your environmental footprint.
3. Work out at home
Whether you have a gym membership or you’re more into yoga, it could be worth it to try a month without spending money on your workouts. The Internet is chock-full of different workout guides you can do in your living room, so spending money on fitness isn’t always totally necessary
4. Try to avoid buying packaged groceries
When buying fruits, veggies, nuts, and other groceries, be sure to avoid buying anything in a package. Stores charge a huge premium for goods that are pre-cut, washed and packaged, so it’s best to buy unpackaged foods that you can wash and prepare at home to cut down on costs.
5. Bring your own lunch, snacks and tea bags to work
Instead of buying all your food and beverages during the day while you’re at work, try bringing lunch, snacks and even tea bags from home. The money you spend on dining out adds up pretty quickly. Try going for a walk on your break instead to slash costs — and calories!
6. Cut unnecessary smartphone costs
No one really needs caller ID, unlimited data, or more lives on Candy Crush. Give your phone service provider a call and see where you can slash unnecessary costs — you just may uncover some huge savings, or at the very least, spend less time scrolling through Instagram. It’s a win-win!
7. Find a BYOB restaurant in your area
If you’re planning on going out for dinner, try finding a restaurant that allows its patrons to bring their own wine. Restaurants tend to mark up the alcohol they serve by a huge margin, so bringing your own $10 bottle of vino to dinner can make your meal significantly cheaper.
8. Get rid of your cable
While you’re at it, you might as well do away with cable altogether. Do you ever really watch anything besides Netflix anyway? Cable TV comes with a huge monthly price tag that isn’t always completely necessary, and the Internet is basically a source of endless entertainment — hello, YouTube cat videos.
9. Have a clothes swap night with your friends
Instead of buying a new top every couple of weeks, try holding a clothes swap night for you and a few of your most fashionable friends. Not only will it help you cut back on expenses, but you’ll also have a fun excuse to get social and refresh your closet.
10. Start a tax-free savings account
Make an arrangement with your bank so that $10, $20, or even $50 of your monthly pay cheque automatically goes into a tax-free savings account for a rainy day. You’d be surprised at how quickly the amount adds up, and it’s not even a huge sacrifice from your regular income.
11. Cut down on power costs
If you’re trying to save money, you’ll want to double — even triple — check that you’ve turned off every appliance and light in your home before you leave. You could even do some research on the cheapest times to do laundry in your area, and try to stick to a schedule.
12. Go couponing
You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to take advantage of some of the sweet deals you can find in your daily newspaper or online. Sites like Groupon, SmartSource and RetailMeNot are also super easy ways to find deals and save on everyday items you’d need to buy anyway.
13. Sell your stuff
Although this may seem extreme, you’d be surprised at how much unnecessary stuff you have lying around the house. Luckily, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and there’s always someone who would love to pay you for items you don’t want — especially on platforms like Kijiji or Let Go.
14. Buy off-brand
Although your inner trendsetter may hate buying off-brand items, it’s actually a great way to cut down on costs. Big brand names usually charge a premium for everyday products like toothpaste and laundry detergent, so next time, try going for something with less fancy packaging and a lower price tag.
15. Use the barter system
There’s no better feeling than exchanging gifts with another person, so why not make it a regular occurrence? Find a local trading page on Facebook and barter for things you need —for example, you could make someone a great pizza in exchange for a case of beer, no money required!