15 simple (and perhaps weird) ways to save money
How do we manage to find money to invest in dividend paying stocks when we are a single income family? Simple, by being frugal whenever we can. We are all about living frugally and trying to be as frugal as possible. Being frugal doesn’t mean we are eating ramen noodles daily and not heating our house. Being frugal simply means that we find ways to optimize our expenses and reduce or eliminate unnecessary expenses. Here are 15 simple ways to save money.
#1 No cable, no Netflix, no TV at home
When I first moved out from home for university and started living with roommates/flatmates, buying a TV was not high on my priority list. Because one of my roommates/flatmates would always have a TV, there was never a need for me to buy one. When Mrs. T came to Canada as an exchange student, she didn’t own many things. TV was one of the things she didn’t need and didn’t purchase.
When we moved in together over 5 years ago, we didn’t see any needs to purchase a TV. We simple felt there are better things to do (like having hygge) than spending our time in front of a TV.
Because we never had a TV, we had no need for cable subscription. We also don’t have Netflix subscription. No wonder my parents called me boring. 🙂
Here in Vancouver, the basic cable subscription is about $46 per month. After tax that comes to $51.52 per month. Obviously the monthly cable subscription will cost more if we were to subscribe to a more expensive package.
For Netflix, the monthly cost is $9.99 plus tax.
Overall, by not having cable and Netflix, we save $62.71 per month.
#2 Basic cellphone plans
Like many millennials, we have cellphones instead of a landline at home. Mrs. T used a Nokia “dumb” phone for the longest time, paying the basic $25 per month rate plan. Although she recently upgraded to a smartphone, which we got for free by redeeming some rewards points, she did not get a data plan. Rather than adding the basic data plan for an extra $10 per month, Mrs. T uses the many open wifi hotspots available for data access on her phone.
I have a cellphone plan from work. Right now the plan is $55 per month. Before I got a work phone many years ago, I used to be on Telus’ basic $25 per month plan. I would have kept my phone but it was tough to say no when my company decided to pay for my phone bill.
Adding everything up, we save $35 per month before tax and $39.2 per month after tax.
#3 Fill up gas in USA
Since we live near the US-Canada border and I have a Nexus card, I have been filling up gas in the states for the last year and half. The gas price difference is roughly $0.30 per liter, after currency conversion. I typically fill up twice per month for about 55 liters per fill up.
$0.30 per liter saving * 55 liter per fill up * 2 fill up per month = $33 saving per month.
#4 Use Cloth Diapers
Before Baby T1.0 was born, Mrs. T and I decided that we would use cloth diapers after the first month (because meconium is very difficult to clean). We were given some infant Bummis pre-fold diapers at the baby shower and purchased a few more packs ourselves. We also purchased bumGenius covers, and some cloth diaper clips. Instead of purchasing a diaper sprayer, we went with a home-made one. Later when Baby T1.0 was too big for the infant pre-fold cloth diapers, we purchase 40 used baby-sized Bummis pre-fold cloth diapers off Craigslist. In total, the cost of the diapers and accessories was about $350.
Originally we didn’t use any disposable diapers at all. But we soon found it was too messy when we were traveling. When Baby T1.0 started sleeping in longer stretches (i.e 6+ hours), we found that one cloth diaper couldn’t last the whole night. To make our lives easier, we decided to use disposable diapers at night or when we’re out for an extended period of time (not easy to clean a poopy cloth diaper without the diaper sprayer).
Luckily for us, Baby T1.0 was toilet trained around 1.5 year old. Today he only uses disposable diapers for naps and at night.
Because we already have everything, we decided to use cloth diapers for Baby T2.0 as well. We only use disposable diapers for night time or when we are out for extended period of time.
We change Baby T2.0 about 7 times a day with 6 of these in cloth diaper. According to my calculation, we save roughly $0.15 per cloth diaper instead of using a disposable diaper.
$0.15 per cloth diaper saving * 6 changes per day * 30 days = $27 saving per month.
#5 Eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of yogurt & cereal
We used to eat plain yogurt with cereal on top for breakfast. About 4 years ago we discovered an alternative – healthy and delicious oatmeal. By oatmeal I am not talking about these instant oatmeal packs that you eat on camping trips. Rather, I am talking about healthy organic quick rolled oats that we purchase in 40 lbs bags and measure a precise amount each night before going to bed and soak the oats in water overnight. We typically add some frozen berries while cooking the oats. To finish off, we would sprinkle with some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and hemp heart seeds on top. For some sweetness we typically drizzle a spoonful honey. Having oatmeal for breakfast is healthy, easy, and best of all, way cheaper than eating yogurt and cereal.
We save roughly $0.45 per person on breakfast by having oatmeal instead of yogurt & cereal.
$0.45 per person * 3 person (Me, Mrs. T, Baby T) * 30 days = $40.50 saving per month.
#6 Using manual lawn mower
When we moved from an apartment to a house a couple of years ago, one of the new tasks is mowing the lawn. Because we didn’t own a lawn mower, we had to purchase one to make sure our lawn wouldn’t go wild. Gas and electric powered lawn mowers cost at least $300. Even a used one can cost around $150. Instead, we purchased a manual lawn mower for less than $100.
Manual lawn mower doesn’t require any gas or electricity while allowing us to do some exercise when mowing the lawn – killing two birds in one stone.
How much saving do we get per month by using manual lawn mower instead a gas or electric powered one? Hard to say, probably about $5 per month in the summer time
#7 Air dry clothes
We rarely use our dryer. Instead, we dry our laundry on drying racks which we purchased at a 2nd hand store many years ago. When it’s hot and sunny, we simply move the drying racks on our deck and dry all the clothes there. During the rainy Vancouver season (i.e. non-summer time), we either dry clothes outside as our deck is covered or indoor. Given all the cloth diapers that Baby T2.0 uses and all the clothes that Baby T1.0 and T2.0 go through, I’m very glad that we air dry our clothes, or else our dryer would be running all the time!
Saving per month: $40.
#8 Buying milk in the US
We go through a gallon of milk about every two weeks. Because I go to the states to fill up gas roughly every 2 weeks, I would pick up a gallon of milk at the same time.
Milk in Canada typically cost $4.85 per gallon. A gallon of milk is $2.50 US at the gas station that I go to. Given the exchange rate of ~1.3, this means we save about $1.60 Canadian per jug of milk.
$1.60 * 2 = $3.20 saving per month.
#9 Only having one car
Suburb living usually means multiple cars for each household. We are breaking this norm by owning only 1 car. During workdays I commute to work so I take the car with me. Mrs. T gets around town by either walking or taking public transportation. This was the key reason for purchasing a brand new double stroller earlier this year. Fortunately, our house is about 10 minute walk from the closest grocery store and the town centre, making it easy for Mrs. T to get things done. On rare occasions that Mrs. T needs the car, I would take public transportation to work (significantly increases my commute time though).
The annual car insurance costs $1,800 (with 43% discount, highest possible discount rate, for being a good driver).
Gas cost estimate is $30 per month if we own a 2nd car.
This equates to $180 of saving per month.
#10 Grow our own produce
One of the reasons to move from an apartment to a house a few years ago was to have a yard so we could start our own vegetable garden. Mrs. T made a giant circle in our yard and divided the circle into different sections to plant many different things like spinach, kale, garlic, onion, strawberry, tomato, beet, carrot, plum, zucchini, pumpkin, and a variety of herbs. We also grow red currant, black currant, rhubarb, and apple in the backyard. It’s pretty neat to see how many things come out of our vegetable garden and yard. Many produce like garlic and onion can last us for almost a year so we’re almost self-sustained. Herbs are surprisingly expensive in grocery stores, so it’s nice to be able to go to the yard and get fresh herbs whenever we need some.
Saving per month? Tough to say, probably $40 per month
#11 Toilet business – if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down
No need for further explanation. 😉
Saving per month? Roughly $4.50
#12 Buy & pick seasonal fruits in large quantities and freeze them
We have made a tradition of buying and picking seasonal fruits in large quantities and freezing them. The idea is to purchase sufficient amount so they last anywhere from 6 months to a year. This reduces and sometimes eliminates the need to purchase frozen fruits during the year. For examples, we buy fruits like blueberries and peaches, we pick free fruits like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries (from our garden). We then use these frozen fruits for things like oatmeal breakfasts, smoothies, and pastries throughout the year.
It’s totally awesome to have a large chest freezer at home to accommodate all these delicious frozen fruits.
Saving per month? Roughly $20.
#13 Shop at Costco for non-perishable items
We stock up non-perishable items like toilet paper, baby wipes, zip-lock bags, tin-foils, and etc whenever they are on sale at Costco. It’s already cheaper to buy non-perishable items at Costco so things are even cheaper when they are on sale.
Saving per month? Roughly $5.
#14 Purchase 2nd hand clothes and toys
My parents volunteer at a local thrift store that donates all the proceeds to the local hospital. Through this connection, we were able to get many great quality 2nd hand items. Most of Baby T1.0 and T2.0’s clothes are 2nd hand clothes or pass-downs. Similarly, many of their toys were purchased from the 2nd hand store. Neither Mrs. T or I are big shoppers (shouldn’t come as a surprise). We don’t like shopping for clothes and non-necessity items. On the rare times that we do, we get exhausted pretty quickly when shopping for clothes. Looking at our wardrobe, many items were purchased 2nd hand as well. Many of our clothes are more than 3 years old. By not drying clothes in the dryer, we managed to keep our clothes in good condition for many years.
Really tough to say how much we save per month. Maybe $30 per month?
#15 Cut hair at home
I keep my hair pretty short so I get a haircut about once per month. Before meeting Mrs. T, I used to get my haircut at whichever cheapest barbershop I could find, usually costing about $20 per haircut including tips. When we started dating, one of the first things I asked Mrs. T to do was to cut my hair. We invested in a high quality hair trimmer and I have not visited a barbershop since.
Saving: $20 per month.
As you can see, by doing these 15 simple things, we save about $550.11 per month in the 6 months when we need to do lawn work and $545.11 for the rest of year. This adds up to $6571.32 per year! This is more than enough money for the annual $5,500 TFSA contribution room.
Saving money by being frugal is so simple. 🙂
Dear readers, do you have other frugal things you do to save money?