Who set a goal for 2020 that is in some way related to saving money? I’m sure most of us. Maybe you want to eat out less, trim your bills, boost your income, or buy less clothing. Those are all solid goals, and accomplishing them will allow you to put more money towards what really matters. And it’s all about what matters to you. Whether you’re saving for retirement, paying off debt, or planning a vacation, redirecting money from things you don’t care about to something you are passionate about is ALWAYS the right move.
While you’re still feeling motivated by the fresh start of a new year, I wanted to share my annual saving money checklist. These are my favourite tips to help lower your expenses and shift money towards your big goals.
1. Lower Your Credit Card Interest
This is the number one thing you can do if you are carrying debt on high-interest credit cards. If you are paying 18% or more in interest, then you need to call your credit card company and negotiate a lower rate. Do some research and find out what interest rates other credit cards are offering and see if your company will match the rate. Some low rate cards come with an annual fee, but depending on the balance you are carrying, it might be worth paying.
If you are serious about getting the debt paid off within the next year, you can also look at a balance transfer offer. These cards will allow you to transfer an existing balance at a really low rate (sometimes even 0%) for a promotional period. There will be a fee to do the transfer (usually about 1%), but that is often worth paying to avoid interest for the period. But be warned, when the promotional offer expires, your interest rate will skyrocket.
2. Eliminate One Monthly Subscription
Do any of us really need Netflix, Crave, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Spotify, and whatever other streaming services are out there? Nope, probably not. We are guilty of this, but last year we decided we needed to cut back. I’m not saying eliminate everything, but rotating through services instead of always paying for everything can be a good option. Maybe you’re not watching anything on Netflix right now. Why not cancel for a few months while you catch-up on your favourite Crave shows. Then switch back.
January is an excellent time to take a thorough look through your credit card and bank statements and see if there is anything you are paying for regularly that you aren’t using.
3. Start Meal Planning
Other than housing, food is our biggest expense category. I am always looking for ways to reduce how much we spend; within reason. I’m not willing to search for coupons or run around to different grocery stores to shop the sales. What works for me is weekly meal planning and one big grocery shop where we stick to the list. And I don’t mean cooking up a bunch of chicken breast, broccoli, and rice to eat for every lunch and dinner. I like eating way too much for that.
Every Sunday the bf and I pick out dinners for the week and make a shopping list. We try to choose recipes that will provide leftovers to take for lunch the next day. Not making frequent trips to the stores reduces impulse buys, and having the food on hand forces us to cook. We both enjoy eating out, so we factor one dinner out per week, which also helps avoid the last-minute take-out cravings.
4. Negotiate Your Recurring Expenses
The one none of you wanted. I know, I know, most people despise making that call to their service providers to lower their bills. I get it, it’s a total pain and actually making a phone call…the worst. But I promise it’s so worth it.
Companies are competitive, and they want to keep you as a customer. If another company is offering you a better rate, then don’t just stew on what a crap deal you’re getting. Call your provider and let them know you’re thinking about switching because another company clearly wants your business more. And remember, your goal here is to reduce your bill. Often you’ll be offered added services for free, but unless it’s really something you’ll use, tell them it’s not good enough.
Who should you call? Cell phone, cable, internet, home and auto insurance, and power providers can all be negotiated with for better rates.
5. Earn More On Your Cash
I’m all for getting your money invested, but it’s also a good idea to keep at least a portion of your funds in cash so they don’t drop in value and are easily accessible. Even so, cash can earn different amounts depending on where you keep if. If you are hoarding cash in your chequing account, then it’s likely earning you a whole lot of NOTHING. Not cool. A savings account at one of the big five banks will probably do slightly better, but still less than one percent. That’s not good enough.
Those aren’t your only options though. Online only financial institutions are becoming more popular, and to attract new customers, they offer much higher rates. My mission for you? Look to earn at least 2% on your cash savings. Want a hint? I use EQ Bank and am very happy with them. Moving your emergency fund to an online bank that will pay you more is probably the easiest step on this list (no phone calls, yay) and will give you more money everything single month.
I hope you can take advantage of a couple of these tips to help you start the new year off with more money in your wallet. I’d love to know how much you saved my taking any of these steps, or any other tips you think I should include. This saving money checklist is meant to be completed annually, so store it away for next January when you’re hitting the reset button again!
This post was proofread by Grammarly.