I’m back with more money-saving hacks for families, and this time I asked my girlfriends to join me. In this edition of The Panel, four moms who live in one of Canada’s most expensive areas share clever ways to save money.
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Laura Irwin’s Clever Ways to Save Money
Spend Points Wisley
My favourite tip is to use your points wisely, particularly PC OPTIMUM Points. I don’t spend my points in the grocery store!
I save them for Shoppers Drug Mart as they often have point spending incentives. Of course, the more you save, the more you’ll get in return, and who’s to say you have to spend all of it on household items? Usually, I buy something for myself, Like a luxurious face cream.
I also check the Superstore app every week because it can help me with my meal planning. If I see an item on the app that gives me extra points, I might structure a meal around it to increase those points even faster.
Laura MacKay’s Clever Ways to Save Money
Shop Smart & Freeze
Christine and I lived together in our 20s. She used to always make fun of me because my half of the freezer was always full of meat. I grew up in a house where you bought it for a rainy day if it was on sale and could be stored on a shelf or frozen.
Flash forward 15 years, and I still do the same thing, but technology has moved forward, too. Instead of just lucking out and randomly seeing deals, an app does the hard work for me.
My best money-saving tip for grocery shopping at Superstore is downloading an app called Flashfood. When the store finds items about to expire, they take photos of them and list them on the app.
Items are usually 50% off. Some things aren’t the best deal; milk or yogurt that are about to expire can be dicey, but they often have items that can be frozen; packages of pork chops, breakfast sausages, loaves of bread or buns.
If you are looking for an easy lunch or dinner, sometimes you can find their pre-made sandwiches, parfait cups or salads. They also offer Fruit and Veggie Boxes; they are $5 and can be filled with family favourites like oranges, apples, cucumbers and carrots. I’ve even found chayote, a Mexican vegetable that I am now a fan of, eggplant, onions, lemons and avocados. Today I found a Smarties chocolate bar and Keurig Tim Horton’s coffee pods!
Here’s my personal Flashfood referral code: $LAUR3EZRF.
If your first purchase is over $10, you’ll get $5 off! Use the code when you sign up or on the Rewards tab. Download the app today, and search for Flashfood wherever you get your apps.
Get Regular Money Saving Inspiration
Another good tip is to follow couponers on Instagram so they can share their money-saving expertise while you’re scrolling your feed. I enjoy @couponCDNdad and @havecouponswilltravel
Anabelle Douglas Clever Ways to Save Money
50, 30, 20 Rule
Set up 50% of income on needs: mortgage, grocery, hydro, gas, insurance, gas.
30% on wants: cell phone extra, cable, internet, vacations, entertainment, kids sports, activities and personal/professional development.
20% on savings/ investing.
Consult an Expert
Making a financial plan can be overwhelming. It’s important to consult a financial professional to guide you in the right direction for your goals, values and current financial situation.
Give Yourself an Allowance
Don’t forget to include an allowance for you and your partner from the 30% wants category. A little ‘fun’ money to splurge with that you don’t have to be accountable for.
Snowball & Highest-Interest Debt Focus Methods
Snowball: focus on your debts if you have them, e.g. Credit Card debt, loans, etc
How it works is you can either start with the lowest debt and pay it down first or the highest interest rate. Focus on that first, and pay the minimum for all other debts. For the focus debt, pay as much as possible within your budget. Once it’s paid off, take the total payments, move to the next debt plus the minimum, and start taking it down.
The idea is to compound the payments from each debt into the next debt to pay it down faster. Hence the snowball payment grows as you pay off debts. The feeling of accomplishment is best when you start with the smallest debt first, as it will get paid off the fastest.
Amy Libby’s Clever Ways to Save Money
The way our family saves money? We thrift – we thrift A LOT. Today I picked up nine graphic tween novels for my daughter for, can you believe it, $2. A few weeks ago, I picked up a used Kobo for 1/5th of what a new one would be. I then used a library app called Libby to download all of my books to Kobo (new books are so expensive now!), and it has already paid for itself in what I would have spent buying new or even used reading materials.
Often my favourite thrift stores will also give a coupon if you donate (you may need to ask for it), and they can be pretty generous. This works wonderfully because you can de-clutter, help the environment by allowing items a second chance, and find something new with your sweet discount!
Facebook Market Place
The marketplace on Facebook can be a literal goldmine in finding new and still-in-package items, which can be put away for birthdays, Christmas and re-gifting.
As with anything, knowing your prices is critical because some items may be marked up far higher than retail, so research is essential. Don’t be shy either; if I think something is too high, I will send a kindly worded message asking the seller if they would consider a lower offer. You never know!
Christine Coughlin’s Clever Ways to Save Money
Don’t Leave Money on the Table
One of my favourite ways to find “free money” is to cash in my Save-On-More points for gift cards. I’ve cashed in my points for $200 worth of Amazon gift cards to buy a new blender and Winners gift cards to buy birthday presents. We’ve even picked our date night based on the gift cards at Save-On-Foods. So romantic, right!? 😂
Invest Up Front
I spent hundreds of dollars on coffee because I’m addicted to lattes and believe they make me a better person. So I cashed my AirMile points to buy a Delonghi Espresso Machine and bean grinder. I purchased the Expresso machine years ago, which has paid for itself multiple times.
Also, I stopped buying chai lattes while out when I realized I could buy the Tazo Chai mix at Costco in a three-pack and add milk and ice for a FRACTION of the price the store charge.
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Tell us your most clever way to save money in the comments. 👇🏻
Would you like to contribute to The Panel, or do you have an idea you’d love us to cover? Send an email to christine@christinecoughlin
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