No matter how well you budget or how strong your finances are, you can probably still discover ways that you are wasting money. If you are looking to shave off a few dollars from your monthly expenses, we’ve listed five common things that the average Canadian tends to waste money on. Check out our list below to see if you’re falling victim to these sneaky and sometimes subtle money wasters.
1.LANDLINE AND PREMIUM CABLE SERVICES
In today’s day and age there really isn’t a need to have a landline as most people rely on their cellphones for their primary form on communication. While some alarm systems and “bundle deals” from telecommunication service providers require or include a home phone if you have the option to forgo a landline you could save on average $27.50 a month (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, 2016).
While you’re on the phone with your service provider, also take the time to ask them what premium channels you are subscribed to with your cable package. If you are only watching cable for local news, sports and other live TV and lean towards streaming services like Netflix and Crave for pre-recording entertainment, it might be beneficial to cancel your premium channels. You can easily save upwards of $10 a month by eliminated certain channel packages that you don’t regularly watch.
2. BANK ACCOUNTS WITH FEES THAT OUTWEIGH THEIR BENEFITS
Banks are great at offering enticing deals and incentives to get us to sign up for new or fancier accounts that we may not need. Before you switch over or add an account with another bank to claim a signing bonus like free points, cash back or an electronic, take the time to review your current bank fees and the fees of the proposed account. Are they higher than what you are currently paying? Are the points you’re earning worth the fees you have to pay to have the card? Do you really need to open another savings account at a different bank? How many accounts do you currently have open?
It’s also important to remember that you have negotiating power when it comes to your bank. Banks offer a variety of account options for their customers, and it is smart to take the time to review all the options available to you. In most cases, you may be able to find a better account option that has lower fees, free e-transfers, and lower ATM fees. Review all of your current savings, chequing and credit accounts to see if the fees and rewards fit with your budget and lifestyle – you could be spending more than you need.
3. UNUSED OR UNDERUSED MEMBERSHIPS
Maybe you fell victim to a New Year’s Resolution, a convincing friend’s recommendation, a flash sale or a review by your favourite blogger, however, whatever reason led you to have that monthly reoccurring membership charge on your credit card should be reconsidered. Memberships and subscriptions provide convenience for things like fitness classes and gyms, trying new beauty products, keeping up-to-date on news and trends and entertainment. However, they come at a cost and often get forgotten about after the 30 day free trial ends and months go by.
Go through your credit card statements to see which monthly subscriptions and memberships you are getting charged for and whether you are getting the full value out of them. How many times have you been to the gym or took part in a fitness class recently? Is there a membership option that will work better for your lifestyle? Could you give up your magazine subscription and stop by the library every month to read it instead? Are you enjoying and using the products that are included in your subscription box? If you aren’t reaping all of the benefits, cancel the membership to stop wasting money and lower your credit card debt while you’re at it.
4. UNEATEN AND EXPIRED FOOD
One of the things that people waste time and time again is food. We’ve all done it. Something gets pushed to the back of the fridge and then next thing you know that spinach you bought is starting to look more like a science experiment.
When it comes to food, Canadians are notorious for spending a lot of money on it. According to a Statistics Canada survey in 2017, the average Canadian spent roughly $50 a week on eating out alone. If we are spending so much time and money eating out, what is happening to the food in our kitchens? It’s going bad. According to a food waste study, Canada ranked #2, slightly behind the United States, for our amount of food waste. It is estimated that the average Canadian consumer throws away 170 kilograms of food a year. That’s roughly the weight of a full grown lion.
To help cut back on food waste in your household, don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry, purchase produce and meat that can be frozen if not used before the best before date and don’t purchase items just because you have a coupon or they are on sale. It is also beneficial to plan out your meals for the week and make one trip to the grocery store to purchase all the ingredients. This way you will know the exact amount of food that you need, and won’t purchase extra that will go to waste.
5. VEHICLE EXPENSES DUE TO POOR MAINTENANCE
While most of us fear taking our vehicles to the mechanic shop, taking your vehicle in for a maintenance checkup can save you big in the long run. Catching issues with your transmission, wheel alignment, brakes, lights and engine early on can prevent costly repairs or even tickets if these issues go overlooked. Regularly checking your tire pressure and vehicle performance can also help your fuel economy and save you a few extra dollars at the pumps.
You can also save some money by learning how to do basic car maintenance yourself. Learning how to check your tire pressure, change your own oil and washer fluid, check your headlights and even change a tire can save you on mechanic shop and roadside assistance fees. Ask a car savvy family member or friend to show you how, or even look up how-to videos and guides on the internet.
While we’ve only listed five common ways that Canadians waste their money, there are definitely more to be found based on each person individual lifestyle and financial situation. Take a look at your budget and your bills to see if you can make any positive financial changes to your monthly expenses. Let us know what money wasters you have found in your expenses by tweeting us @GTDebtRelief or by commenting on this post on our Facebook Page: Grant Thornton Limited.