December 25, 2023

13 ways to save – even if you’re on a tight budget

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives – hopefully not right now, in yours – where the money coming in barely covers (or barely doesn’t) the bills you need to pay.

For folks in that situation, the idea of saving money, even for retirement, may seem an impossibility.

But, writes Matthew Goldberg for Yahoo! Finance, there are still some ways to squeeze some savings dollars, even if you are operating on a super-tight budget.

He says making small changes can help free up money, even in these times of high inflation.

“Turn lights off when you’re not using them,” he advises. (Our late Dad used to amble around the house turning off lights, even if we were using them.)

Other advice includes “cutting the cord on cable, and opting for cheaper streaming services.” Goldberg writes that you can sometimes share streaming services with other folks to cut costs even more.

His next advice, a key piece, is “withholding from impulse purchases. One way to do this is by writing down wants and waiting a week or so before buying them, so you can see if you still want them.” We’ll add that when buying online, read reviews from people who have purchased the product – often that will help you decide if it’s really what you want, or not.

Another idea is to make a simple budget – the “50/30/20 rule,” in which half your money goes to essential expenses, 30 per cent “to things you want” and the rest – 20 per cent – to savings, the article notes.

Goldberg recommends automating your saving.

“It’s easy to forget to save. That’s why automating the process is the best way to save money,” he advises. He suggests having a portion of every paycheque automatically directed to a high-interest savings account.

This “pay yourself first” approach works great, because after a while you won’t notice the fact that a regular savings contribution is being made, and will live on the rest of your pay.

He also suggests looking for chequing accounts that also pay interest – many don’t, but if you look around, there are Canadian financial institutions that do pay interest on your chequing account.

If you are paid every two weeks, there “are two months of the year where you’ll receive a third paycheque in a month.” Treat this “extra” money, Goldberg writes, as a way to quickly pay down some of your higher-interest debt, or to start (or add to) an emergency fund.

Other advice in this article – shop around for the best rates on auto and homeowner’s insurance “every few years,” consider moving to a smaller place or more rural area to save on housing costs/rent, and to “set up automatic contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement plan.” This is a U.S.-focused article, but here in Canada, that might mean a workplace pension plan or group registered retirement savings plan – be sure you are contributing to it at the maximum possible rate, because often there is an employer match on your contributions.

He concludes by suggesting that we all eat more meals at home (rather than at restaurants) and look for the best possible deals on vacations.

This is all good advice. Making savings a priority, rather than an easy-to-forget afterthought, is key to this process.

If you’re a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, you can arrange to make pre-authorized contributions directly from your bank account to the plan. It’s easy to set up.

Great news for SPP members – our Variable Benefit option is now borderless, and available to all Canadian members! See how this flexible retirement option can let you withdraw the amount you want, when you need it.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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