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Monday, March 22, 2010

How to live on less money

By Liz Bruckner (

Whether you're new to saving money or an experienced pro, here's how to stay on track when it comes to living on less. It's easier than you think.

There are those for whom cutting back on
 spending money comes easy. They set their mind to minimal living and nothing gets past their watchful budgeting eye. But for those of us who have a harder time sticking to our money-saving or environment-helping guns, there’s help. Try these quick and easy tips for living on less – and saving more – and watch your bank account grow.

Cut out daily coffee and fast food runs. One of the fastest ways to burn through cash is by splurging on these unnecessary treats, so cut back on the number you indulge in per week to save. TIP: You don’t have to give these luxuries up completely. Hooked on coffee shop java? Remember, Starbucks, Second Cup, Tim Hortons, Timothy’s and other coffee houses all sell coffee you can make at home, either in-store or often in the grocery store. Pack your coffee in a thermos and bring your own lunch every two or three days instead of grabbing fast food every day. Bonus: On top of saving money you’ll also cut back on take-out waste and help the environment in the process.

Skip pricey salons that can set you back upward of $50 per haircut. Instead, look for a local beauty school that offers cuts (or highlights, facials or manicures/pedicures) by students or professionals demonstrating techniques. Prices for services here are often half (or less) of what you’d expect to pay in a salon.

Try secondhand goods for kids. Whether it’s toys, clothes or furniture, kids six and under are the perfect candidates for gently used goods. Try looking up reputable consignment stores in your area for best results.

Pay attention to the calendar when purchasing big-ticket items. Certain times of the year mean bigger sales for specific pieces. For example, furniture tends to have the biggest sales in February and August, while jewelry sees the biggest discounts in January. Mark your calendars and do your best to hold off on buying until sale season rolls around.

Reacquaint yourself with the library. With big book chains now in many larger cities around the country, North American families are opting to buy their literature new. To save yourself some coin, pass on straight-from-the-shelves reads and visit your library. You may even be able to rent some great new or older, harder-to-find movies.

Recruit some friends for a biannual clothing swap. Rather than spending hundreds on new pants, dresses or shoes every season, invite a handful of similar-sized friends over and ask them to bring pieces they like but don’t wear anymore. Do a swap and enjoy the feeling new-to-you clothes can bring.

Get expert advice from a professional planner – preferably one that doesn’t earn commissions by promoting certain products or stocks. They’ll be able to help make sure you’re setting aside enough for retirement, your kids’ education costs, and to ensure that any current investments are working for you.

Think outside the box when it comes to grocery shopping. Unlike your average grocery store, warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco offer discounts of 20 to 50 per cent on everyday goods like canned foods, condiments and more, and are a great place to shop for bigger-ticket items like appliances, over-the-counter medications and books.


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