Looking for some uncommon ways to save money? Ways to help you reach a financial goal faster?
If you’ve got a growing family (and increasing expenses), chances are that you’ve already thought about ways to cut costs, like plundering the used market. That’s a great start!
Part of financial literacy is getting really smart with daily money decisions.
It always pays to go beyond what the masses do. So learn to be a shrewd shopper and a good financial steward of your money. Don’t get sucked into mindless consumerism and “keeping up with the Joneses”.
Here are some uncommon ways to save money that I use on a regular basis, and the smart savings I’ve made that you can make too!
1. Get items for free by joining a reuse/recycle community
Look for a Freecycle community online in your city. People post items to give away for free here. For every 4 items you take, you post at least 1 item to continue the cycle of reusing items.
I’ve managed to score a free Hamilton Beach electronic coffee maker in great condition.
2. Get skilled at shopping “used”
If you can’t get items for free ask how you can get them cheap.
Always check out the used market before paying full dollar for something. Online shopping is the simplest, fastest way to identify used market values. Shop Craigslist, Kijiji, or even consignment stores or donation centres.
I recently bought a rain jacket in excellent condition at Value Village. Plus I only paid $5 because it was a 50% off summer sale!
3. Wait until the urge to buy goes away
If the item isn’t urgent, then wait…and then wait some more.
Chances are you will lose the desire to make a purchase as time goes on. It’s definitely one of the most uncommon ways to save money since it’s rare anyone can resist an impulse buy 100% of the time.
Savings: $5 to $5,000
4. Repurpose furniture in new ways
My son loves Lego so my husband took an old Ikea headboard and bolted it into an Ikea side table that the kids never use. I bought a few Lego bases to put on top and voila! Brand new, well loved Lego table for free. You can see the table in the picture below.
5. Organize Coworker Potlucks or Community Cooks
One potluck a month at work will garner everyone at least 2 good lunches since usually there’s always food left over.
Or, you can organize a Community Cook or Big Cook with your friends or neighbors. I meet at a friend’s home and we make multiple freezer meals, then split the cost. These tasty and healthy meals are a fraction of what you’d pay a restaurant or food delivery service.
Savings: $50-200 per month
6. Eat less. Period.
Most of us eat too much anyway. Even when we're not hungry. But I won't get into that.
Here's what I do: when eating a muffin as a snack, eat the top and save the rest for a later snack.
If you go out for a meal, consider eating only half and packing the rest for the next day.
Savings: $7 (per $15 meal)
7. Use a delivery or pickup service for groceries
I use Superstore’s new Click and Collect service. This way I plan my meals in advance and buy only what I need. There’s no waste and I keep my budget well under control.
It's an unusual way to save money because people mistakenly think about the delivery fee. But the fee is insignificant when you think about all the unnecessary foods we tend to buy when we're physically in the store.
Savings: $50 - $100 or more
8. Get your coffee refill at McDonald’s!
Refills are one of many underestimated, uncommon ways to save money. Many people simple chuck their cups after having their coffee or don’t think to get a refill.
McDonald’s offers free refills and has a coffee reward card where you buy 6 coffees and get the 7th one free.
So I purposely buy a small coffee and get my refills, then reward myself with a free medium mocha latte (biggest bang for buck). On one cup of coffee per day, I only need to spend about $20/month.
9. Regift or repurpose kids gifts
I have a big family. So at Christmas time, when the kids receive several gifts from aunties and uncles, I let them keep half of them and even reserve a couple gifts for a couple months down the road. The rest I stock as gifts for future birthdays.
The picture below is just a fraction of the gifts we accumulate from Christmas, birthdays or other events.
Total savings: $50/month
10. Set a standardized gift amount
Just make a firm decision to stick to a specific amount for gifts. For instance, you can decide you’ll spend a maximum of $20 for everyone until you can afford more expensive gifts. Then don’t feel guilty about it.
Savings: $20-40 per gift
11. Use only one or two rewards systems
Focus on one program and your points won’t be diluted. You’ll reach milestone rewards much faster. You won’t be wasting money buying things just for points!
My favorites include:
Savings: $10-$5000 or more
12. Make the workplace your gym in winter
I use the stairs at lunch and coffee breaks. I also take walks every day. With a bit of thought you can find ways to get exercise in your day without having to go to the gym. Also one of many uncommon ways to save money because "going to the gym" is ingrained in our North American culture as something everyone does or should do.
Savings: $70/month or $840/year
13. Use Your neighborhood in summer
Get your bike out, go for walks, or take your kids to the park and play. Fresh air is so much more freeing anyway.
14. Trade your skills with family or friends
Everyone has a skill in our family. We have a mechanic, an IT person, a preschool teacher, machinist, engineer, pharmacist and civil servant in our family.
We trade favors to get things done free or at a discount. My brother-in-law fixes our car and my husband fixes his computer!
Savings: $50-$2000 or more!
15. Learn to cut your kids’ hair
I watched a 10 minute Youtube video and learned how to cut both my boys’ hair with an $18 basic haircutting kit from Walmart.
It wasn’t that hard.
Savings: $15/child every 2 months
16. Get Your Hair cut in China Town
I just recently made this switch. I’m used to getting $50-60 haircuts at a higher-end salon near my home.
But I was looking to cut costs and no other place compares to China town.
And being Asian, this was not new territory for me. I got over my anxiousness, then got myself a cut, wash and style all for $22.
Business philosophy is different in Chinatown. They make money with volume and provide decent quality products or service. In many cases, businesses here have figured out the pricing sweet spot.
Savings: $40 per cut
Hopefully this gets your creative juices flowing. Think through your own daily habits and how you can spot uncommon ways to save money.