We all know there are plenty of ways to save money, but some things are so obvious you can classify them as common sense rather than smart spending. Drinking tap water and avoiding fast food certainly fall into that category.
Other ways to save money just don’t seem worthwhile. Making your own deodorant or toothpaste will only save you a few pennies and isn’t worth the time.
My wife and I went through all the different ways we save money on everything from housing and insurance to investing and shopping. Hopefully you find these more useful than the ubiquitous latte factor.
Here are 35 ways to save money:
1. We took out a variable rate mortgage on our house at prime minus 0.80, which means the interest rate on our mortgage is an ultra-low 2.20%.
2. Before we negotiated our low mortgage rate, we shopped around using a comparison tool like Rate Supermarket to make sure our bank gave us the best rate.
3. We avoided CMHC mortgage insurance fees by saving over 20% for our down payment. This meant waiting to buy our dream home for 18 months while we saved our money, but it was worth it.
4. We turned down the mortgage life insurance product offered by our bank, instead opting for much cheaper term life insurance.
5. We increased our mortgage payments by $800 a month to lower our amortization to less than 15 years. We’ll save thousands in interest by paying off our mortgage early.
6. I reduced my trading costs from $29 to $9.99 by combining accounts with one brokerage to reach the $50,000 minimum assets threshold.
7. I make sure that my trading costs are no more than 1% of the total stock purchase. For example, since a trade costs $9.99, I’ll make sure to buy more than $1,000 worth of stock.
8. I use low cost index funds like TD e-Series instead of high MER equity mutual funds. The MER on TD’s Canadian Index e-Series is 0.33% compared to TD’s Canadian Equity mutual fund at 2.18%.
9. When I worked in the private sector I took advantage of my employer match for RRSP contributions, which worked out to a 50% return.
11. We use a no fee chequing account at ING Direct for payroll, debit purchases and online bill payments that can’t be put on a credit card.
12. We keep a minimum balance of $1,500 in our TD chequing account to avoid bank fees.
13. We ditched our landline in 2009 and saved nearly $40 a month.
14. We regularly call our satellite TV and internet provider to ask for discounts. We saved more than $300 on our cable and internet bills with this strategy.
15. I negotiated with my employer to pay for my cell phone bill, saving me $60 to $90 a month.
16. We go to the library every 3-4 weeks to get books and the latest DVD’s and Blue-Ray’s for free.
17. We took the floating rate, rather than the fixed rate option for our natural gas plan – a smart move with natural gas prices at historic lows.
18. We use e-post to manage and track our bills online, which helps us pay our bills on time and avoid late fees.
19. We shop at Costco and buy in bulk for the groceries and other items we use frequently to save on the overall price per unit.
20. We make our own home cleaning products for simple wipe-downs and disinfecting using vinegar, water and rubbing alcohol.
21. We try to cook extra for supper so we have leftovers for the next night, or at least for lunch the next day.
22. The cost of beef and chicken keeps going up. We started eating a meatless dish at least once a week to save money on groceries.
23. I come home for lunch as much as possible and brown bag my lunch when the weather is bad or I have a busy day planned and can’t get away from work.
24. We save money on gas because we bought our house close to where I work. Our fuel expenses are between $100 and $150 a month.
25. We reduce our gas costs even further by redeeming Air Miles for fuel gift cards from Shell.
26. We’ve avoided upgrading our 2nd vehicle, which is a 14 year-old Hyundai Elantra that still gets me to work and back whenever my wife needs our main vehicle.
27. We dropped collision coverage on our 2nd vehicle to save on auto insurance premiums.
28. We increased the deductible on our insurance coverage to lower our premiums.
29. We bundle our home and car insurance to take advantage of the multi-product discount.
30. We save money shopping online using Great Canadian Rebates, where you can earn cash back on your spending.
31. I regularly look for online coupons and promo codes when shopping online. I had to buy a new battery for my Dell laptop and a quick search for Dell promo codes saved me $15.
32. We signed up for free samples from Pampers and Huggies before our daughter was born.
33. We also use Proctor & Gamble’s Brand Saver site to get coupons for diapers and wipes.
34. We try and reduce the clutter on items we don’t need (or use) any more by selling stuff on Kijiji or Facebook.
35. I avoid buying the extended warranty coverage on electronics and other big ticket items. Our credit card automatically doubles the manufacturer’s warranty.
What are some other ways to save money?