How often have you wanted something but did not have the money to purchase it? If you are receiving a disability pension or are employed in a low wage job, this probably happens quite often. After paying for the basics – rent, food, transportation, personal needs and clothing, there is usually not much left over.
Here are some strategies that could help you save money for that trip or the new TV that you have always wanted.
- Keep a savings jar or a Piggy Bank available for your savings. You can even take a picture of an item that you are saving up for and tape it to the outside of the piggy bank to remind you why you are dropping money into the bank instead of spending it.
- Open a savings account and deposit a set amount each month or whenever you have extra money. Some banks offer a savings account that requires you to transfer the money to a chequing account in order to take it out. This makes it more difficult for you to spend it on short notice.
- Link your saving to the goals you have set out for yourself in your Person Directed Plan. This will help you achieve your goals as well as making sure that YOUR money is working for YOU.
- Pay yourself first. Make it a habit to always put away a little of your income whenever you get it. Add this item to your weekly budget. This could be a percentage of your income or a flat amount – say $2.00. Put the money in a jar or a piggy bank for a rainy day. If you put away $2.00 each week, you will have $104 in one year.
Tip for Staff/ Caregiver: It is never too early to start using this strategy. Over time, this becomes a habit that will serve the person well all their life.
- Save with coupons. When you redeem coupons or purchase items on sale, don’t spend what you save – save it. Put the amount you saved into your savings jar or piggy bank.
- If you get $20 for your birthday, save $10 and spend $10. If you have two extra loonies, save one loonie and spend the other.
- Every evening when you come home, put any coins or change you have in the savings jar.
- Take a look at your daily expenses. That coffee at Tim Horton’s cost you $1.50. Decide how important that coffee is to you. Would you rather have that new flat screen TV? If you put that $1.50 into your savings jar each day you would have $540 in just 1 year.
Check out this Spend-o-meter to see how much these habits cost you
How to be watchful and save money
- Instead of buying your lunch each day, bring your lunch to school, work or day activity. Put the money you save into your savings jar.
- It is much cheaper to make your own coffee or tea at home and use that money for something else.
- Take a look at your regular monthly expenses for cable or phone. Do you watch all the channels you are paying for or could a lower cost cable package be okay?
- Instead of buying newspapers and magazines, you can read them on the internet or if you don’t have a computer, you can go to the library and read them for free. At the library, you can also take out C.D.’s, D.V.D.’s and videos to watch and listen to.
- Going out to a movie can be expensive. Plan your own movie night at home with friends by getting a video from the library or renting one. If you have cable television, you can record movies shown early in the week to watch on the weekends. Make some popcorn and enjoy!
- Board games and card games are an inexpensive form of entertainment.
- Garage sales and thrift stores are good places to find bargains like board games, clothes, household items, etc. Make sure you check out the items very carefully to ensure that they are not broken or just junk.
- In the summer, local parks often have free entertainment like concerts and festivals.
- Check with your local community swimming pools and skating rinks and find out if they have free swimming or free skating at special times of the year like Christmas and March Break. Community centres may also offer free activities.
- Libraries, museums and galleries sometimes have exhibits that are free. Even if you have to pay for a special exhibit, there are often tickets offered at a cheaper price. Always look for discounts. For example, movie theatres may offer lower ticket prices before noon or on certain days.
- Dollar stores offer a large variety of items at a low cost. Make sure you check the quality of the item before you buy it. Some things may not be made very well and will fall apart quickly once you use them.
Saving Money When Grocery Shopping
- Do not go to the grocery store when you are feeling hungry because you may buy things you don’t need.
- Try not to buy groceries from a corner (convenience) store because they are more expensive than a regular grocery store.
- Look for weekly specials in the grocery store. Go through grocery flyers to see which stores have deals on the items you need.
- Make a list when you go grocery shopping and only buy the items on that list.
- Coupons can save you money or get you items for free. Purchase items when they are on sale and have a coupon for that item to save even more money. There are many websites on the internet where you can print coupons for food as well as other things. Here are two websites:
- Do not buy more food than you can eat, even if it is a good price. No one likes to throw food away.
- Try generic brands of food such as “No Name”, “Equality”, “Selection” or “Our Compliments”. They are often just as tasty as name brands and are often cheaper.
- Look at other brands for the same product. They are often the same quality but cheaper than the most popular brand.
- Look for items on clearance that have been marked down in price. These may be located in a shopping buggy or on a shelf with a sign that says “Marked Down” or “Clearance”. On groceries or food, be sure to check the Best Before Date so that you are not buying spoiled food.
- Buy frozen vegetables. That way, food won’t go bad if it isn’t eaten fast enough after you buy it.
- Most products identify the cost per unit of product (e.g. per 100 grams). This is usually located on the shelf below the product. Use this to compare the cost of different brands of the product.
- In the summer and fall, buy fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market. They are cheaper and fresher than buying them at a grocery store.
- Shop at a bread outlet if possible for bread, baking etc.
- Use reusable cloth grocery bags when shopping so you don’t have to pay for plastic bags. It is better for the environment.