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The Small Purchases Money Trap

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Don’t fall into the “little things” trap. Here are 15 ways you can start saving money right now.

Money – who couldn’t use more of that polymer in their pocket? We’ve covered various ways to cut financial corners intelligently in the past, from saving money on your daily coffee run to full on credit card debt management suggestions, but we have yet to discuss the one trap we all fall into; the discretionary income trap.

How many times have you thought, ” oh it’s just a coffee, I can afford it” or ” oh, it’s just a sweater on sale at Target, I can afford it”? Subsequently, how many times have you then looked at your bank statement later and thought “I didn’t really need that coffee/sweater but the money would be nice”?

Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying “Beware of little purchases. A small leak can sink a great ship”. From experience, we can see that this is a common problem in the spending patterns of the regular Canadian.

1. Can you avoid it all together? Do you really need it? This should always be the first question you ask yourself. If you feel a gut-like impulse to say “yes”, then the reality actually is a huge “no!”. Remember, if you can’t afford to put $5 away into savings, you probably shouldn’t be dropping $5 on a coffee either.

2. Ladies, do your own nails for three months and see how much money you save. There are high end home nail kits that everyone can purchase at most drug-store retailers so if having a professional set of paws is required for your position, save yourself some serious coin by buying a kit and DIY. Double it up and do your own pedicures, too. The time is spent whether you do it or someone at a salon does it. It’s the money that counts.

3. Gentlemen, something for you. Love your mane? Do you go for unnecessary touch-ups to the barber? When you count the price, tax and tip, you’re running a high bill. Invest in a high-end trimmer and do it yourself or get a talented friend/significant other to help or teach you how.

4. Stop buying pre-cut veggies and fruit! Sure, it’s super convenient but compare the cost of pre-sliced pineapple with a whole one and your eyes will pop out of their sockets (it’s often the same price for a handful of pineapple vs an entire one). We’re all in a hurry to do something and go somewhere, but if money is an area of your life you want to improve, then make the time.

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5. Turn the lights off when you’re not home! If you live in Ontario, know that you pay more for your electricity than anywhere else in the country. Do yourself a favour and turn them off!

6. On the note of saving money for utilities; use gentler flows when turning on your faucets. You really don’t need to blast your water enough to drown someone when you’re only brushing your teeth. You’re pouring money down the drain, quite literally.

7. Sell your unused clothes. The USA has a ton of websites where you can “flip” your threads, but in Canada we’re not as lucky. Fear not, check out critically acclaimed Trend Trunk. They also have a “donate” section if you’re feeling particularly generous!

8. Impulse shopping at the grocery store (you went in hungry again, didn’t you?). Buy the store brand and skip the huge names. We know, Nutella(r) is absolutely wonderful, but the store brand of it might satisfy your craving just as well. Give it a shot.

9. Avoid ATM fees. It’s one of those little things that will eat up your money and it does nothing for you, except get you cash a few minutes faster than going to your actual bank.


10. Skip the gym membership and go YouTube style. Do you have any idea how many certified fitness instructors put completely FREE workouts on YouTube? They’re no joke, either. Check out Toronto-based superstars for free workouts daily. They also have a huge community online so you can always get the support you need. No more traveling time to the gym either, so all that time is now saved for more important things.

11. Re-purpose your clothes because no, you really don’t need another cardigan.

12. Make your own cleaning supplies. Here, we have two enormous posts to get you started. Vinegar, Borax, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide just became your new best friends.

13. Stop buying lunch for one week out of the month and see how you fare financially. Like the feeling? Step it up slowly until you’re brown-bagging it every day.

14. Love bottled water? Get a filter at home. Your water bill might go up a little at home, but it’s significantly less money than constantly buying bottles of water, not to mention it’s way better for the environment! Invest in a good stainless steel water bottle and a tap filter and you’re good to go!

15. Leave the plastic at home. The fact we can “tap” our cards for purchases now is a scary thing for those who want to reign in the spending, especially for the small things! Keep cash on you instead, making it easier to control where your money goes.

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