Did you do the Dry January challenge? It was good for your health and your wallet! So, why not try a new challenge and keep saving money?
One of the best ways to save more money is to change your financial habits. If you start a new savings habit every day, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to reach your goals.
Sun Life Financial Security Advisor Mino Adjin has 28 tips for a personal finance makeover in 28 days. And if you keep these habits going, you can reap the benefits all year long, and even longer still.
Day 1: Note down everything you spend each day
It’s important to make note of your spending for a full month so you have complete picture. You can write it down on paper or use an app. Then you can check to see if you have any unnecessary expenses.
Day 2: Pay off debt first
Credit cards, student loans, car payments...Find the loans with the highest interest rate and pay them off first. Just remember, you should only use your credit card and line of credit for the essentials. That way you’ll avoid a mountain of credit card debt.
Day 3: Download (and use!) a budgeting app
Tracking the inflows and outflows of your money in a systematic way will give you a clear financial picture. A budget is an essential tool to keep you in control of your spending.
Day 4: Learn how to say “No.”
Every time you want to buy something, ask yourself: “Do I really need it?” Most often, the answer is obvious. You could even take the money you just decided not to spend and put it into a savings account.
Day 5: Set up automatic savings
Open a savings account and set up automatic deposits. You could start with $50 per week, which is only $7 per day. By the end of the year, you’ll have saved $2,600! And if you invest that money in mutual funds, it will grow even more.
Day 6: Draw up a list of money-saving habits
Every little bit helps:
- turn down the thermostat when you leave the house
- unplug devices you’re not using
- take shorter hot showers
- replace your lightbulbs with energy-efficient LED lights, etc.
Day 7: Tell everyone about the challenge
How is your challenge going? What are your goals? What’s the next step? Talking about it with friends can motivate you...and influence them at the same time!
Day 8: Shop around for insurance
Check out different insurance companies to see who has the best prices. Or try negotiating.
Read: What is life insurance?
Day 9: Renegotiate your cell phone plan
Check to see if another provider is cheaper. Make sure you use all of the options you’re paying for; otherwise it’s time to change your plan.
Day 10: Ask for a raise
If all your hard work has not gone unnoticed, the time to ask is now. If you don’t ask for a raise, you likely won’t get one. Even a couple of dollars more per hour can add up to a big difference over time.
Day 11: Plan a day of free activities
You might discover a whole new world through free activities in your community.
Day 12: Use up your gift cards
Track down all those gift cards that you’ve put somewhere and forgotten. You might end up enjoying a day at the spa or night at the movies without spending a dime.
Day 13: Cook your meals at home
Take a break from take-out and restaurants for a week. Then see how much money you’ll have saved...the amount may surprise you!
Read now: 10 tips for healthy eating on a budget
Day 14: Make your own lunch
Our parents didn’t make us lunch just for fun. Over the long run, it can make a real difference to your budget. Try cooking larger quantities. Then you’ll have meals for the entire week. You’ll save both time and money!
Day 15: Unsubscribe
Gym memberships, magazines gathering dust, streaming services you never use... Automatic monthly subscriptions are the source of many non-essential expenses on our credit cards.
Day 16: Ask family and friends for advice
Ask family and friends for their money-saving tips. You can also check out personal finance and savings influencers and follow them for inspiration!
Day 17: Think vintage
Why buy new when you can buy used? A vintage look will cost you less. And you can also sell whatever you no longer use. As Marie Kondo advises, free yourself from things you don’t use and only keep what you need. You can also join clothing exchange groups. Donated items can also be found online (Marketplace, for example).
Day 18: Buy gifts ahead of time
If you know what someone wants for Christmas, you can keep an eye out for sales at their favourite stores all year long. That way, you spend money at the right time, instead of at the last minute when you’ll probably pay more.
Day 19: Use up all your food stores
Freezer, pantry, cupboards: use what you have before you buy more groceries. It’s a chance to get creative and invent new recipes!
Day 20: Choose budget-friendly meals
Make a list of low-cost meals. Then look up easy recipes that are super economical. You can even make preserves and other provisions!
Day 21: Rethink your grocery shopping
Search the supermarket flyers for weekly deals. Then make your grocery list based on the specials. You can plan the week’s meals in advance so you only buy what you need.
Day 22: Store extra meals in the freezer
If you’ve made too much food, keep the leftovers and freeze them. They’ll be just as tasty a few weeks from now!
Read: 4 ways to reduce food waste and save money
Day 23: Pay your bills on time
Paying interest on unpaid bills is like throwing money out the window. You can avoid late fees by setting up automatic payments. Then you’re sure to pay everything on time.
Day 24: Consider shared living
This could be friends, family or an intergenerational home. If you find it suits you, there are many social benefits as well.
Day 25: Spend nothing for 24 hours
This is the day you don’t spend a cent from morning to night! You have coffee at home, go for a long walk and make your own dinner!
Day 26: Avoid impulse buys
From now on, if you have the “urge” to buy something, wait 30 days and then decide if you still want it. By that time, you’ll probably realize you didn’t really need it anyway. Goodbye impulse spending!
Day 27: Talk to a financial advisor
Finances can be complicated. Financial advisors can explain it all and help you make sense of your finances for free. If you’re saving money, it’s a good idea to have a few strategies. There are some good financial tools, such as the RRSP, TFSA and RESP. Every person is different, so every strategy is different.
Need help managing your money?
An advisor can help. Find a Sun Life advisor.
Day 28: Have fun!
With time, you’ll find that saving is more satisfying than spending. And you’ll be eager to keep reviewing your budget to see where else you can save money.
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.