Spring Forward to Savings

March 3, 2017

On March 12th most Canadians across the country will turn their clocks forward one hour. And, although we’re losing an hour’s sleep, there’s plenty to gain. Spring is the perfect time to give your finances a good cleaning and to find new opportunities to save money.

Spring clean your wallet

Give your wallet a fresh start by cleaning it out. Get rid of any cards you don’t use anymore (and cancel them), put that change in a piggy bank, and start sorting through all those receipts. Going through your receipts will help you understand where your money is going, allowing you to audit your expenditures. You’ll also likely notice trends in your spending—the first step in recognizing opportunities to save.

Track your spending and create a budget

Creating a budget requires that you know where you money goes each week and every month. It will also keep you on track to live within your means, and then some. Whether you track and set your budget through your bank’s online tools, fancy apps, or simply with pen and paper, knowing where your money goes and setting a budget is the first step along the path. But remember, your budget should be based on how much is deposited into your bank account—take home pay, not on how much you earn pre-taxes. Your budget should take into account fixed monthly expenses (like your rent or mortgage payment, utilities etc.), variable expenses (like gas for your car, groceries, and evenings out), occasional expenses (like clothing, gifts and vacations), and savings.

Now look at what’s in your wallet

Now that you have a fresh, clean wallet and a budget to go by, it’s time to evaluate what’s in that wallet by looking at your credit cards. Is your credit card working for you?

There are a variety of credit cards on the market. Some are great for people who are trying to earn rewards such as cash back or travel points, while others are better for people who need a low interest rate when they occasionally carry a balance. Compare credit cards today to make sure you have the one that works for your financial needs. By aligning your credit card with your spending habits, you could save—and even earn—money.

Make saving money easier

You’ve heard the saying, out of sight, of mind. This works for many people when it comes to saving money. If your employer offers a savings program where money is deducted from your paycheque, consider joining it. You can also set up your own program through your bank; simply transfer money on a regular basis (perhaps to coincide with your payday) to an out-of-reach savings account. Even small savings add up over time, so deposit what you can, and watch your money grow. It’ll grow even faster, if you apply “found” money into your savings account too; whether it’s a bonus or tax refund, resist the urge to spend it and set it aside as savings.

Check to see if you could be getting better rates

Look for opportunities in your everyday life to save money. One of the easiest ways to save a couple hundred bucks a year and see immediate savings is to compare home insurance and auto insurance rates. If you haven’t compared your rates in a while, now is the perfect time to see how your rates stack up to what you could be paying with another insurance provider.