AROUND THE HOUSE
With families facing higher monthly bills and increasing home prices, it can be tricky to balance your budget—while also making changes to help the environment. But these tips can help you do both: Trim your household bills and cut energy consumption at the same time.
Reduce your water bill
Use less water by opting for shorter showers, turning off the tap when brushing your teeth and running full loads in the dishwasher.
Replace wasteful incandescent lighting
Use LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. They’ll cost more upfront, but last longer and use less energy. LED bulbs use 75% less energy and last as long as 20 years, while CFL bulbs use up to 35% less energy.
Use a smart power strip
Smart strips turn off the electricity supply to appliances not in use. They are smarter and more energy-efficient than regular power bars.
Seal your home
Cut your energy consumption by up to 25% by using proper weather-stripping and caulking around windows and doors.
Mind the trap
A dryer can lose 75% of its efficiency if lint clogs the trap. Clean it after every use to save on the annual operating cost.
There’s no getting around some of your monthly obligations. Whether it’s for your home or car, insurance takes up a sizeable chunk of payments every 31 days. But there are ways to make them less of a hardship.
Use your AMA membership
Members save on home policies with AMA Insurance.
Pay premiums upfront
Save an administrative fee by paying annually instead of monthly with many insurance companies.
Get a discount by purchasing both auto and property coverage with AMA Insurance. You can also score a multi-vehicle discount.
AMA Insurance offers a green discount for hybrid or electric vehicles.
MORE TO READ
See how to save money while you’re spending money.
PUT THE FUN IN FRUGAL
Smarter spending can be even more fun than budget busting. As Suchot Sunday of TheCuriousFrugal.com in Winnipeg explains, “in a high-inflation environment, kids can learn about saving up for a special toy or game they want.” She suggests using a three-point money jar instead of a typical piggy bank. “The jars have different slots for save, spend and give. It teaches children about money management in a more holistic way.” Here are her other tips for fun frugality.
Plant a garden at home
You can grow organic vegetables this way, while saving money. Gardening is also a great activity for kids, who will learn how to garden and have fun doing so.
Sign up for birthday freebies
Some companies give out free stuff or coupons during your birthday month: Sephora offers a bundle of cosmetics and you can get free frings at Harvey’s.
Buy quality items
Name-brand items like clothes, shoes and bags may be more expensive, but you could save more when you don’t have to replace them quickly.
Avoid impulse buying
If it’s not an emergency purchase, wait 24 hours or more before making a move. “The act of pausing and waiting before you buy can deflate some of the desire to spend money on something new,” Suchot says.
This is for those who want to see their money make money. With so much confusion behind investments and savings, here’s a bit of clarity behind some of your best options to navigate these murky financial waters.
Ditch the fees
Sign up for credit cards and chequing accounts that don’t have annual or monthly fees.
Use cashback or rewards credit cards
Virtually every bank has a cashback or travel rewards credit card. Consider applying for one that will help you save the most money or put points towards a vacation.
Open a high-interest savings account
These accounts generally pay up to 100 times the interest rates on a traditional savings account. They are usually offered by online banks.
Set up automatic payments
You won’t forget to pay your bills on time. Also consider paying up credit card balances before their due date to avoid interest costs.
Track your expenses
Maintain a budget that tracks monthly expenses and income. You’ll see how much you spend per month and what you can cut back on.
If you tend to overspend when using credit cards, consider limiting yourself to cash or use a cash envelope: Set aside money for each buying category; when it’s used up, you’re done spending for the month.