Saturday, May 28, 2011

12 ways you're probably wasting money

There are literally hundreds of ways you're wasting money every day. A lot of things you don't realize until it's pointed out to you.

1) Buying drinks - How many times a week are you buying a bottle of water or soda because you get thirsty while you're out? Something as simple as bringing a reusable bottle of cold water with you can save you a ton of money each year.
2) Shopping hungry - You are much more likely to deviate from your grocery list when you're hungry. Junk food just seems to jump into your cart off the shelf.
3) Driving more than necessary - Walk or use public transit when possible. Most major cities have excellent and fast public transit systems. We walk to the grocery store and going downtown on the skytrain is way better than looking for and paying for parking.
4) Single serving anything - If you buy microwave dinners or those little snack bags of chips just knock it off. The markup on those is insane and there are always better options.
5) No preparation - Before you go shopping, make a list and stick to it. Before work, pack a lunch. Bring snacks if you know you'll be out all day. 
6) Unsuitable portions - When cooking, if your portion is too small you'll need a snack later, if it's too big you either overeat or garbage the rest. However, we do recommend making enough food to provide at least another meal later in the week, just don't put it all on your plate the day you cook it.
7) Cost to quantity ratio - Most good grocery stores will show what each product costs per unit on the shelf label. If not then take out your cell phone and use the calculator function. Cost in cents divided by quantity in grams/milliliters, pieces. In general the larger box is cheaper per unit but if the smaller ones are on sale you'll need to check. Costco is not automatically cheaper than your supermarket because of the larger boxes.
8) Buying new - If you are not checking or or other classified ads sites in your area then you're spending more than necessary. Baby and kids clothes can be found in near mint condition at Value Village and other thrift stores. Some things are worth buying new of course.
9) Not using coupons and deal sites - Some of the big brands go out of their way to get you to use their products. P&G sends us samples (shampoo, razors, deodorant and more) and coupons all the time., are a couple sites to get coupons. is a great deal tracker for Canadians.
10) Buying things you don't need because they're on sale - We've all done it, we see something and say "What a great deal!" usually followed by "I don't know what I'll do with ____, but its a great deal!". Don't buy it unless you've got a very specific use for that thing. Same goes for "As Seen On TV" items, which are usually junk as an added bonus.
11) Bank fees - Avoid the generic bank machines like the plague. Make the extra effort to find a machine for your bank to avoid service charges from both the machine and your bank. Another thing to watch out for is the fees with VISA cheques, because they count as cash advances. I learned this the hard way when I had to use a couple of them to pay for my move across the country. I'm still paying stupid interest charges on those a year later.
12) Going to the mall - Travel, food, crowd, headache, and they're out of your size. What a hassle! Last week we heard about a 15% off web only deal for Old which we planned on going to that week at the mall anyway. We spent $100 online for two pairs of jeans, two onsies, and three pairs of shoes. Free shipping, no headache, and saved a bunch of time and money by not going to the mall.


  1. Your first tip about bringing your own drink with you will save lots of money. If you took the money that you would have spent on a bottle of water or soda from the gas station and put it in a jar, you would have enough money to pay a bill in a month. Also if you have your own cup with you most gas stations will give you ice and water for free or only charge you 25 cents for ice.

    We successfully feed two adults for $50 or less per month and eat pretty well. We basically started making everything from scratch and cook in bulk so we can freeze it, that way we always have something ready to pop in the microwave when things get hectic.

    Great blog. I plan on subscribing and will read regularly. Thanks for posting it.

  2. I really need to stick to those water bottle and snack tips. I knowww it's the best way, but then I forget to take a large enough bag and all of a sudden I'm standing in a bakery getting me a big pretzel and a coke.