July 26, 2023

10 ways to beat inflation

By Véronique Harvey

Is high inflation giving you high anxiety? Don’t panic! A few small tweaks to your habits can help you manage higher prices.

Canada’s inflation rate reached 8.1% in June 2022. the highest level it’s been in nearly 40 years. The last time inflation rose past 8% was January 1983. Although inflation has slowed in the months since, it remains high. 

Are you anxious about sky-high inflation? That’s understandable. However, you can save money here and there with these creative solutions. 

Here are 10 simple ways to help you beat inflation.

1 - Create a budget

You’ve heard it before: a budget is the foundation of any good financial plan. Knowing how much money you have coming in and going out helps you better prepare for life’s curve balls. Don’t keep track of your spending? Then you can’t know how much wiggle room you have during times of economic uncertainty.

“Most people use debit or credit cards for their purchases. But many don’t look at their bank statements. Keep an eye on your spending. You’ll know where your money is going and where you can cut back," explains Sun Life advisor Christine Drolet.

Creating a budget can help you keep track of your spending. It can also help you develop good financial habits, such as:

  • paying yourself first – setting some money aside before you start spending it,
  • creating an emergency fund for unexpected events.

Try: our budget calculator

2 - Talk to your advisor, or find one today

“An advisor takes a holistic view of your financial situation. Your advisor can help you with your budget, your retirement plans and your insurance. You’ll end up with a practical plan that takes your entire financial situation into account. Your advisor is a neutral party. They’re not swayed by the emotional aspects of managing your finances,” Drolet explains.

ReadHow to prepare for your first meeting with an advisor

How can you make sure inflation doesn’t impact your retirement plans?

An advisor can help.

3 -  Buy used, or borrow

  • Buy used

Consider buying second-hand items – you can sometimes find great deals at a fraction of the original price. Books, toys, sports equipment, furniture, clothing and accessories ... you can find it all on platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.

  • Borrow what you need

Borrowing or renting is another option. If you borrow books, magazines and newspapers from the library, it can add up to big savings. There are even art libraries that lend out works of art for a few months. You can change your decor without breaking the bank.

Do you have children? Consider these two options:

  • Toy libraries are great idea. These libraries have toys for all age groups, which they lend to members for an annual fee.
  • You can also save yourself a tidy sum by renting hockey or ski equipment instead of buying it.

4 - Cook at home

Cooking at home is cost effective. Especially if you use apps like Reebee and Flipp. They aggregate local flyers so you can track down the best deals near you. Or you can download apps like Flashfood and FoodHero. They offer grocery items nearing their “best before” date at a fraction of the usual price.

Do you buy a $6 latte at the local coffee shop every morning? You might want to reconsider! Those lattes will add up to $2,190 per year. That’s a lot of money per sip! Yet it’s so easy and economical to brew your own coffee at home!

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a restaurant meal every so often. These days, ordering takeout couldn’t be easier. But remember that after you add up the charge for each app (Uber Eats, DoorDash, etc.) and the delivery charge, the final bill could be pretty steep.

Keep reading: 10 tips for healthy eating on a budget

5- Trim your digital subscriptions

Do you really need all those streaming apps? Netflix, Crave TV, Prime Video, Disney+… it all adds up.

Try this to save yourself some money:

  • Limit yourself to one app per month
  • Watch all the series you want on that app
  • Unsubscribe (set a reminder!)
  • Sign up for a different service the next month
  • And so on…

What about all those apps on your phone that you pay for each month? Do you actually use them? 

6 - Tidy up your insurance products

Home, auto, life, mortgage, health, dental ... It’s a good idea to go through your various insurance policies. Your needs will change over time as your life evolves.

“I often compare it to buying bottles of water. It will cost you more money to buy 5 individual bottles of water at the grocery store than a package of 6. It’s the same with insurance. You can often get discounts when you bundle your insurance plans. You’ll end up spending less than if you bought separate products. That’s where an advisor can help,” Drolet reminds us. 

Looking for insurance advice?

Find a Sun Life advisor near you

7 - Travel during off-peak times

Tightening your belt doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your travel plans. But you can be smart about it. If you have children in school or you’re still in school yourself, you’ll have limited vacation times. If not, you can avoid the crowds and take advantage of the off-season. You’ll likely have a more relaxed and cheaper holiday.

And there are other ways you can save money on trips. For accommodations, you can stay with local residents, or check out cheaper options on AirBnB. Then again, maybe it’s time to use all the Air Miles or other points you’ve collected over the years.

Read more: Going on holiday? Don’t forget travel insurance!

8 - Barter and trade

No need to knock on the neighbour's door to borrow a drill. With platforms such as Bunz or Swapsity you can barter and exchange goods and services directly online. And there are all sorts of groups on Facebook with the same mission.

It’s a good way to spend less and reduce your consumption. After all, helping each other is what neighbours do!

9 - Look at how often you drive

If you don’t have good public transit nearby, a vehicle is essential. But there are still ways to cut down on your driving. You could try walking to the grocery store, for instance. As an added bonus, it’s good for your health, the environment and the local economy.

To save money on gas, you can:

  • reduce your speed on the highway;
  • avoid sudden starts and stops;
  • turn the air conditioning off;
  • make sure your gas tank doesn’t run dry;
  • buy gas in the middle of the week;
  • keep your tires inflated at the right pressure;
  • check your engine’s oil level;
  • travel light.

Carpooling is another green and economical option, so it’s worth considering!

Read4 good reasons to give up your car

10 - Use your credit cards wisely

There’s nothing wrong with using your credit cards. Especially when some of them also offer rewards or cash back.

The golden rule? Use your credit cards wisely. Avoid making impulse purchases, and always try to pay off your balance at the end of the month.

“You should always take a minute to look at your statement. It will show your minimum payment and the due date,” Christine Drolet reminds us. If you don’t pay your balance by the due date, interest will be charged on the entire amount owing. This is something many people don’t know.”

For example:

  • If you have a $2,000 payment due on September 1 
  • and you only pay $1,800
  • the interest isn’t charged on the remaining $200; it’s calculated on the original $2,000.

 "If you only make the minimum payment, you could end up paying 3, 4 or 5 times the original price in interest," says Drolet.

Read: How to reduce debt and improve your finances

Need help figuring out what’s right for you?

An advisor can help put together a solid plan that suits your goals.

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This article is meant to provide general information only. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada does not provide legal, accounting, taxation, or other professional advice. Please seek advice from a qualified professional, including a thorough examination of your specific legal, accounting and tax situation.

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