How to Save Money Without Making More

how to save money without making more

Half of Canadians live paycheque to paycheque. That’s a staggering statistic. But, with how expensive some of our main cities have become – I’m looking at you, Vancouver and Toronto – it’s not so surprising. So, how does one save money when struggling to make enough as it is? Here are a few ways you can save money without making more.

Blog post on saving in bite-sized-chunks:

First, you absolutely need to know how much money you make and how much you spend.

This is non-negotiable. There’s no way around it – I’ve tried 😆 There are many options and apps that can help. I gave myself a month to track everything, which gave me a light at the end of the tunnel for the tedious work of data entry. Track what you make and go through every penny you spend on your debit and credit cards and keep receipts for all cash purchases.

You’re right, it’s a pain to do, but saving your receipts for a few weeks and entering information is worth it for how much this pays off!

I entered everything into a blank excel spreadsheet. Here are the categories I put each expense under:

  • Insurance
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Gas/Transportation (including car/bike repairs)
  • Gifts/Clothing
  • Medical expenses
  • Phones/Internet/Cable
  • Membership (Netflix, kids’ programs, Amazon Prime, etc.)
  • Work expenses (tools, dues, uniform, etc.)
  • Debt repayment
  • Savings/Investment contribution

You may have miscellaneous expenses to create categories for. The only way to do this wrong, is to not do it! I can almost guarantee you’ll have an unexpected or emergency expense. Do not toss it thinking it was a fluke. There will always be emergency expenses that need to be accounted for.

Once you know how much you bring in vs. how much you spend, you’ll have an idea of where the problems are.

Save the extra.

Now that you know how much you should have leftover each month, you’ll know if there’s any money left to put in a savings account. I’ve been putting $25 a week into a side account (with compounding interest) for a few years now and it’s been a lifesaver.  Learn more here. Sometimes you just need to save in bite sized chunks when you want to save money without making more.

A few years after starting our own bite sized savings plan, I came across the “latte factor”. If you’re new to that concept, here’s a quick video.

What resources do you already have?

Many people are already working multiple jobs or have other reasons why it’s hard to make ends meet (let alone save), simply saying “you need to make more or spend less”, doesn’t work.

What resources are at your fingertips that you might not be using? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Credit Card Benefits – credit cards often offer little ways to save you money. Like free travel insurance if you pay with your card, bonus dollars if you spend a certain amount,  cash back, warranty extensions/coverage, etc.
  • Employee Benefits – Do you understand your plan? These plans can cover an a lot of health expenses and might offer other benefits. Some companies also offer investments opportunities – don’t risk missing out because you didn’t want to ask a silly question. Someone in your office (probably HR) is responsible for this plan and can help you understand it.
  • Other Member Benefits – The other week, my phone company paid for me to take a friend to the movies just because I’m their customer. We get discounts at certain stores because of my Partner’s company affiliations. Some of my networking groups give me discounts at stores or free first visits. Look at the groups/organizations/companies that you’re a part of and do a dive into what they offer their members!

What’s the interest rate on your savings account?

If you leave your money in a savings account that promises to grow by 0.5% each year (your interest rate) and you leave it in there for 10 years, you’re losing money – thanks to inflation.

Inflation is 2% on average. So, if you’re savings account is only making 0.5% interest, it’s not keeping up!

You’ll hate this next idea but I’m bringing it up because IT WORKS.

Anytime I’ve been in a tight financial spot, I switch to cash. There’s no more of a determining answer on whether you can get take-out than having $1.00 to use.

I take out cash once a week and make envelopes for each category. I chose to do it every week because it’s easier to not spend money when there’s less at your fingertips. Here’s what my envelope system looks like:

Envelope 1: Food $200.00/week
Cat food, cleaning supplies, and other household items are in this budget.

Envelope 2: Entertainment $40.00/week
It’s tempting to leave out when things are really tight, but at some point you’ll be out for an impromptu coffee or want a 6-pack and you don’t want to be tempted to put it on the credit card!

Envelope 3: Gas $60.00/week

Envelope 4: Clothing and gifts $20.00/week
This one typically sits for a little bit until an expense comes up. It feels really good to be prepared!

Envelope 5: Clothing & Gifts $20.00/week

Then, I make sure there’s enough in the account for auto with-drawls – strata fees, car insurance, etc. – and we strictly live off the cash in these envelopes. Some weeks I’m surprised to find there’s money left over! 

Now, I do it even when things aren’t tough because it makes me spend more consciously so I can strive towards the bigger things I want.

Remember, you’re in control of your spending. It takes time and effort to take control of your financial future and say a temporary no to things you really do want. You’ll get from this what you give to it.

Keep your focus in clear sight and I promise, you can start to save money without making a penny more.


Your Christmas Budget Cheat Sheet

Did you know that 42% of Canadians don’t have a budget for Christmas? CPA Canada’s study says most of us PLAN to spend less but only about half will actually budget. Hmmmmm. On the flip side, 1 in 5 admit they’re gonna blow whatever budget they didn’t create . In response to that, I’ve created your Christmas budget cheat sheet!

Now, if you’re celebrating the Holidays, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah or a really expensive Wendesday, that’s great too! Use this cheat sheet as you see fit.

Christmas is busy and budgeting isn’t fun. But, and especially if lowering stress and self-care is going to be a New Year’s Resolution, it’s a necessity.

What can you do about it? Well, I’m glad you asked! 😉

Scroll to the BOTTOM of the page and grab a worksheet freebie!

When it comes to budgeting, making a plan is the best route! There are 10 tips in your Christmas budget cheat sheet. You’ll find a few of them have helpful links – be sure to click on those!

Grab your freebie below!

1. Think back to last year:

How much did you spend? Did it seem worth it?

2. Pick a number: 

BEFORE you get to the store, decide how much you’ll spend on each person and keep track of that number.

3. Shop for deals: 

We all have a little computer stashed in our pocket (your smart phone!). Before you hand your card over, do a quick search online and see if another store has a sale on that item.

4. Send an e-card:

If you like to send a Holiday card each year, why not send an e-card? It’s MUCH cheaper (FREE most often) and so much better for the environment.

5. Know why you’re giving the gift: 

Think of that one person (or group of people) that you “have to buy a gift for.” Just in case you need it, here’s your permission to NOT buy them anything. It doesn’t make you cheap or a scrooge. You’re not obliged to buy Christmas presents! That’s an idea that’s been SOLD to you.

6. How many leftovers do you want?:

In our family, we joke about ‘pawning off’ the leftovers so the cook doesn’t have to eat half a turkey 😆 But think about how silly that is! If you find you have a tonne of leftovers each year, try cooking a little less. Now that’s a win-win! Another option is that, after dinner, you bring a warm tupperware and a fork downtown for a homeless neighbour.

7. Pick a name: 

The last few years, our family has been drawing names using this program. (not an affiliate link) It’s made Christmas so much easier! We each pick one name and have a spending limit. It’s really helped our budget and we all leave with things we actually wanted; no ‘filler presents’.

8. Try a more needs based approach to buying for kids:

One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing to wear, one thing to readand one thing for the family.

9. Limit your decor: 

I have a deal with myself to not get more than the 1 bin I have for Christmas decorations (not including the tree). Now, that might be unrealistic to you, especially if you have kids. Maybe it’s 3 or 4 bins. Whatever it is, limit yourself to what fits in the space you’ve allowed. Remember, you’re paying for those items, the bin, AND the storage space they’re in – think storage lockers and extra sqft in your home. If you find a piece you LOVE, something else has to go!

10. Don’t be afraid of change: 

I’m a huge fan of traditions. Especially holiday traditions! But if they’re not serving you anymore, consider making a change. For example, if you always open a few presents on Christmas Eve (which means you have to buy ‘enough’ for Christmas Day too), try switching it up! A family game and a movie might be even more memorable.

I hope these Christmas budget tips come in handy this season! 

Remember, when the lights are taken down, the credit card still has to be paid! It’s worth planning a little now to save yourself from money stress in the New Year.

What’s YOUR favorite tradition during the Holidays? Comment below!

Download Link: Your Christmas Budget Cheat Sheet

P.S. Have you heard of ‘conscious consumerism”? I’d encourage you to look into that. Check out this video on the social responsibility. 

Would this blog have been helpful to find just a few weeks before Christmas? Sign up for our newsletter to get helpful tools like this right when you need them!

3 Easy Savings Plan Tips for Beginners

Today, we’re going to talk about savings plans for beginners!

We all need to be putting money aside for emergencies…maybe there’s a trip you want to take. Our family likes to save for tattoos 😉 These 3 savings plan tips for beginners are easy to use!

Whatever it is, this info is perfect for those of us just starting out. Jake and I have been using these since we moved in together. It’s helped us out of some really tight spots, and got us on a 3 week vacation to Australia. Look at that beach!

It’s worked so well for us, I thought I’d share it with you. Here are 3 Savings Plan tips for beginners!


The reason I’m suggesting so often is because bite sized chunks are a lot more manageable. Let’s use $100 as an example. What I’m suggesting is that, rather than putting aside $100 a month, put aside $25 a week. It’s a small enough amount of money that you likely won’t notice it leaving your account, but still adds up to your ultimate goal. Ideally, you’ll be putting aside a lot more than that, but $100 is a good place to start!

The second tip is: AUTOMATE IT!

Unless you’re a total Type A Superstar, you’re not going to remember to log into your banking app once a week and transfer that money over! Let’s just automate it and get the banking app to do it for you. Have that amount set to go at the same time/same day every single week.

If you know what your goal is – maybe you’re saving for a big trip that you know will cost $5,000, here’s where you’ll figure out exactly how long it’ll take you to save up enough. 

If you’re saving $100 a month, it would take you just shy of 4 years to save up for that trip. Now, set that expectation for yourself and be dedicated to putting the $25 a week aside with your automatic transfers set to go for the next 4 years. Option 2 is taking another look at your budget to see if you could bump up the amount you’re saving, even if it’s just by a bit! But it helps to know how long it’ll take up front, so you don’t get discouraged when it’s not happened as fast as you thought.

The third and final tip is: KEEP IT OFF YOUR CARD.

DO NOT make your savings account accessible by debit (or any other) card. It’s way too easy to see something shiny or put a couple small expenses on that account. But we’ve all been to Costco and know how quickly $20 here and there can add up! So, make it easier on yourself and don’t have easy access to the account.

We’ve found a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) worked best for us.

It doesn’t offer you a card to make deposits or withdrawals by and is not the type of account to use if you’re planning on putting a bit of money in and taking a bit out. It is, however, fantastic for saving for goals or emergencies! You also don’t get taxed on the interest you make by keeping your money in the account – that’s where the Tax Free part comes into play. In a TFSA, you would earn more interest as compared to a savings account over the long term, and the tax-free nature of the TFSA earnings means you’ll keep more in your pocket. Click here to learn more about a TFSA!

It’s been a great option for us and may be for you too. Please make sure you sit down with a Financial Planner or representative from your bank to see if a TFSA would be a good option for you and to learn about the rules that come with that type of account.

The information in this post is based off of my personal experience and opinions. It is for general information only, so do contact a professional who is able to look at and advise your specific needs before making any decisions. 

Those are the 3 tips that we’ve been using for our own savings plan! We started about 5 years ago and having an emergency plan/savings fund that wasn’t stressful to contribute to has made a big difference for us. These beginner tips have worked great for us and I really hope they work for you as well!