35 Ways To Save Money

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.

Ways to Save Money

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.

10.  We use a cash back credit card for our everyday spending and recurring bill payments.  We earned over $500 by using the MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard last year.

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?

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  1. krantcents on July 16, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Good job! I would add buying group discount movie tickets. It saves 50%!

  2. Bettina Em on July 16, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Great tips here! I love my MNBA Cash Back M/C!

  3. Emily on July 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

    I plan meals ahead and buy groceries in bulk. I DIY so I don’t have to shop for new clothes and home decor.

  4. Steve @ Grocery Alerts on July 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    I put everything on my credit card (even my health insurance).

    This will get us a business class trip for 2 to Europe this winter or a trip down under!

  5. My Own Advisor on July 17, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Wow, killer list. I too, love my MBNA cash back credit card.

    “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.”

    Yeah, I have to call Rogers soon 🙂

    Just tweeted, nice stuff.


  6. Tony @ A Young Investor on July 18, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Wow, your trading costs are high! It only costs me around $5 per trade ($1 per block of a hundred). What broker were you using?

    • Echo on July 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm

      @Tony – I use TD Waterhouse and I don’t trade very often.

  7. ING Direct Canada Fan on July 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I also closed my account with my old bank because those guys started charging me 9.99 a month in fees. I now use the free checking Account with unlimited transactions.

    The only thing I dont like about ING is that they do not have a Credit Card, they should have an Orange Cashback Credit Card.

  8. TM @ Young and Thrifty on July 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Great tips Echo. It’s interesting that a few years ago people were saying not to get into natural gas heating because of how expensive it was supposed to get hey? It looks like widespread supply surges will keep prices low for a little while eh?

    • Echo on July 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      @TM – it’s all natural gas heating in Alberta. You’re right, it’s going to stay cheap for a while…just like interest rates.

  9. Beth on July 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Thanks for the tip about TD index funds. I think that’s worth a chat with my advisor. I’m less then impressed with the mutual funds, so I’m open to other options!

    • Echo on July 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      @Beth – I am really happy with the e-Series funds and definitely recommend switching to them from other mutual funds.

  10. Poor Student on July 20, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    I love Great Canadian Rebates. I combined two items on this list by applying for the MBNA SmartCash MasterCard through GCR and made $60 by doing so. The rebate hasn’t been paid and there is an issue with it right now but I am sure I will get the money in the end.

    • Echo on July 20, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      @Poor Student – That’s a great promotion offered through GCR – I did the same. GCR takes 45 days to pay out any rebates earned, so watch for it soon.

  11. Kathy on July 21, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Interesting on the phone — we kept our landline ($30/month) and have one prepaid cell for emergency use ($8/month).

    No cable/satellite — HD over the air (3 stations!) and streaming over the internet works great for us.

    My just over 2 year old HP laptop just died, so we did get a 4 year warranty ($100) for the new one — smartened up and got the lenovo business class laptop — my last thinkpad lasted 7 years, instead of the crappy 2 year for the “personal use” HP one. Yes, I’m still bitter…..sorry.

  12. Nean Derthal on July 22, 2012 at 6:11 am

    You could also stop using toilet paper …

  13. louis shenker on July 27, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Great saving tips! I shopped online but one thing I have not tried yet is to look for online coupons and promo codes. I’ll look for it next time.

  14. Dave on November 17, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Ask for a cup with water at fast food restaurants, instead of bottled water – it’s free.

    Use CO World Aspire MC for 2% back in travel rewards and outstanding travel insurance coverage – annual bonus covers most of the annual fee.

    Use gas price website to find cheapest gas, don’t just use most conveniently located station.

    Walk, bike, run instead of driving when the weather is nice.

    Swap music/movies/books with friends.

  15. Prime Aque on November 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    Thank you! A killer list to save money! Nowadays am trying to save more money too, specially that I am planning to get married the next two years. What I do here is cut most of my expenses, like clothes, I don’t buy one now unless necessary. I am trying to filter now my needs from my wants. Again, thanks.

  16. jeremy werbin on January 20, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Its the small things that matter! You save a penny here and a Penney there and suddenly its accumulates to a huge amount of money. We changed our bank to incur smaller fees, saved on our electricity bills, and talk to my financial adviser for investment options.

  17. Rosemary Wells on June 3, 2013 at 5:25 am

    My husband is losing weight (planned!) and we have been using Value Village and Salvation Army stores to buy cheap clothes as he moves down in sizes. We have been so happy with our purchases (great buy on matching leather coats for example) that we have decided to continue this practice. We only buy good quality stuff and it is amazing what you can find.

  18. Jordan on November 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Questrade and Vanguard. QT is free to buy ETFs, and I never sell, so my costs are close to zero. Makes it nice to self-directed DRIP when it costs nothing to pickup a few extra shares of VCN. Also, Norberts Gambit with QT makes currency conversion cheap (~$5). Max your TFSA – huge tax savings down the road.

    Use Mint to keep on top of things.

    Almost everything else on the list is good advice. I’d tell TD to jog on.

  19. Angie on December 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Hi. Nice tips.
    One of the way I save money is buying everything on sale or in the outlet.

  20. John Richards on May 22, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Great list! We haven’t had cable in well over 10 years. I mention in another post, our cars are 17 yrs old (but still very reliable). I quibble on number 5: with a 30 yr at 3.5%, there hasn’t been a 30 year time period where the market has returned less than that, and it’s also funded our business. I think the arbitrage is fairly low risk (and it’s paid off very well so far). However, I recognize that this is a personal decision based on your level of risk aversion. For many people (thinking of Dave Ramsey, who I think offers a lot of value, even if I don’t always agree with him) that feeling of having a paid off house is worth more than the potentially significant opportunity cost.

  21. Laura Beth on August 23, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Great tips.

    I plan meals around the weekly store circular and avoid impulse spending.

    Laura Beth

  22. Vangeli on January 6, 2016 at 1:21 am

    You missed a few:

    1. Price-match
    2. Shop at dollar/discount stores
    3. Import, and buy direct/wholesale
    4. Buy re-certified, re-furbished, and re-possessed
    5. Do your own transport/pick-ups (to save on shipping/delivery)
    6. Register for notifications (e.g.: promos, closeouts, availability)
    7. Buy “open-box”, factory seconds, and demonstration units
    8. Buy aftermarket (instead of OE)
    9. Buy tax-/duty-free/-reduced
    10. Buy second-hand

  23. Pierrette on June 8, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Here is where I find it really easy to save money:

    1) Make your own meatballs (when ground beef/pork are on sale). I make a big batch (about 150), freeze them on cookie sheets, then throw them in a freezer bag. Very convenient for quick pasta & meatball dinners.

    2) Make my own chicken, pork, turkey and beef broth on weekends, time permitting. I keep the bone carcasses after carving any roasted meat off the bone and boil them down. I refrigerate for a couple of days so the fat rises to the top, skim off the fat, then then freeze the broths in a double freezer bag (keeps packages flat as my freezer is not that big), label them and I have ready-made healthy broth.

    3) I cook my own chick peas and black beans, then freeze them in 2-cup packages. Very economical, healthy (no sodium) and ready-cooked legumes for salads, soups, quesadillas, etc.
    4) I have been transferring my flower garden towards more perennials and fewer annuals (and keep those for pots only). I save every spring by having fewer annuals to buy.
    5) We both enjoy good wines. Sometimes, instead of having a bottle of wine, we found that some meals go just as well with cider or coolers (for example, pizza, burgers, quesadillas), so we opt for the less expensive booze for those dinners.

    6) We only buy bottled water for road trips now and drink filtered tap water instead.

    7) I buy my K-cups when they’re on sale (around 50 cents/cup) and keep a box at the office (we have a Keurig machine in the kitchen). I rarely, if ever, buy coffees anymore at the local coffee shops.

    8) I brown-bag my lunch 9 times out of 10 (once every 2 weeks, I will go out for a treat).

    9) We try to organize dinners at home (or potlucks) instead of meeting at restaurants. Restaurant meals are down to about 6 times/year now, and only for stuff we would not normally eat at home (it then becomes a special treat).

  24. Ernie Da Silva on June 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Wow! Great list.

    Here are a few more:

    – purchase generic and store-brand products
    – use a broker or third/fourth party to forward imported freight
    – purchase products at the point of closeout, clearance, or liquidation
    – take advantage of corporate and government rebates and other sales incentives, especially for vehicle purchases
    – purchase loss leaders, or other low-cost/mass-market products

    Also: if you live close to your place of work, CAD <150 a month is a lot to spend on gasoline. I've found that driving at off-peak times, taking alternate/less-traveled routes, and using cruise control are all excellent ways to save on fuel, especially in big cities.

  25. Gina Grant on January 3, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    I shop on seniors days (55 some places), maximize my fave points programs, and buy my clothes at Value Village. I bought a 3-year-old car that had been in a fender bender so it was cheaper than similar cars and I then negotiated for a few extras. I enter a lot of contests (just won a $100 gift card to a local brew pub). I fill out surveys in return for airmiles. If you go into the station to pay, you can get both airmiles and use your Sobey’s “cents off” coupons at Shell. I link my fitbit (which was bought with gift cards I was given for volunteering) to the Gov’t’s Carrot ap and get extra points for walking that I can spend at Swiss Chalet, among others. Thanks to this article, I negotiated a better deal on my Bell Cell phone and am about to talk to Rogers next. Thank you. Great list.

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