20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget

20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget

These days, it seems like everyone’s looking for ways to cut costs and stretch their income further. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your household expenses without making radical changes to your standard of living. When combined, these small adjustments can add up to significant savings each month.

Here are 20 things you can start doing today to lower your bills, secure better deals, and begin working toward your financial goals.

1. Refinance Your Mortgage – For prime borrowers, mortgage rates are at or near historic lows. Depending on your current mortgage rate and the terms you choose, refinancing could save you a sizable amount on your monthly payments. There are fees and closing costs associated with refinancing, so you’ll need to talk to your lender to find out if refinancing is a good option for you.

2. Evaluate Your Insurance Policies – If it’s been a while since you priced home or auto insurance, it may be worthwhile to do some comparison shopping. Get quotes from at least three insurers or independent agents. Try bundling your policies to see if there’s a discount. And inquire about raising your deductible, which should lower your premium.(1)

3. Bundle Cable, Phone, and Internet – You can also save money by bundling your cable, phone, and internet services together. Shop around to see who is willing to give you the best deal. If switching is too much of a hassle, ask your current provider to match or beat their competitor’s offer.

4. Better Yet, Cut the Cord on Cable – In many cases, you can save even more if you cancel your cable subscription altogether. An antenna should give you access to the major stations, and many of your favorite shows are probably available on-demand through a less expensive streaming service subscription.

5. Revisit Your Wireless Plan – You can often save by switching from a big brand to an independent, low-cost carrier. If that’s not feasible, ask your current provider for a better deal or consider downgrading to a cheaper plan.

6. Adjust Your Thermostat – Turning your thermostat up or down a few degrees can have a noticeable impact on your monthly heating and cooling costs. To maximize efficiency, change your filters regularly, and make sure your windows and doors are well insulated.

7. Use Less Hot Water – After heating and cooling, hot water accounts for the second largest energy expense in most homes.(2) To cut back, repair any leaks or dripping faucets, install low-flow fixtures, only run your dishwasher when full, and wash clothes in cold water when possible.

8. Lower Overall Water Consumption – To decrease your water usage, take shorter showers, and turn off the sink while you brush your teeth and wash your hands. If you don’t have a low-flow toilet, retrofit your current one with a toilet tank bank or fill cycle diverter. And irrigate your lawn in the morning or evening to minimize evaporation.(3)

9. Conserve Electricity – Save electricity by shutting off your computer at night and installing energy-efficient LED light bulbs. You can minimize standby or “vampire” power drain by utilizing power strips and unplugging idle appliances.(4)

10. Purchase a Home Warranty – While there is an upfront cost, a home warranty can provide some protection and peace of mind when it comes to unexpected home repair costs. Most plans provide coverage for major systems (like electrical, plumbing, and HVAC) and appliances (such as your dishwasher, stove, or refrigerator).

11. Outsource Less – From lawn care to grocery shopping to minor home repairs, we pay people to do a lot of things our parents and grandparents did themselves. To save money, try cutting back on the frequency of these services or taking some of them on yourself.

12. Prepare Your Own Meals – It costs nearly five times more to have a meal delivered than it does to cook it at home.(5) And home cooking doesn’t just save money; it’s healthier, cuts down on calorie consumption, and can offer a fun activity for families to do together.

13. Plan Your Menu in Advance – Meal planning is deciding before you shop what you and your family will eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It can help you lower your overall food bill, eliminate waste, and minimize impulse purchases. When possible, buy produce that is in season, and utilize nutrient-rich but inexpensive protein sources like eggs, beans, ground turkey, and canned tuna.

14. Plant a Garden – You can save even more on produce by growing it yourself. If you have space in your yard, start-up costs are relatively minimal. Gardening can be a rewarding and enjoyable (not to mention delicious) hobby for the whole family. And it could save you around $600 per year at the grocery store!6

15. Review Memberships and Subscriptions – Are you paying for services and subscriptions you no longer need, want, or can utilize? Determine if there are any that you should suspend or cancel.

16. Give Homemade Gifts – Who wouldn’t appreciate a scratch birthday cake or tin of cookies? And if you enjoy crafting, Pinterest and Instagram are full of inspiring ideas. Show your recipient how much you care with a homemade gift from the heart.

17. Minimize Your Debt Payments – The best way to reduce a debt payment is to pay down the balance. But if that’s not an option right now, try to negotiate a better interest rate. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer to a 0% or low-interest rate credit card. Keep in mind, the rate may expire after a certain period—so be sure to read the fine print.

18. Get a Cash-back Credit Card – If you regularly pay your credit card balance in full, a cash-back credit card can be a good way to earn a little money back each month. However, they often come with high-interest rates and fees if you carry a balance. Commit to only using it for purchases you can afford.

19. Ask for Deals and Discounts – It may feel awkward at first, but becoming a master haggler can save you a lot of money. Many companies are willing to negotiate under the right circumstances. Always inquire about special promotions or incentives. See if they are able to price match (or beat) their competitors. And if an item is slightly defective or nearing its expiration date, ask for a discount.

20. Track Your Household Budget – One of the most effective ways to reduce household expenses is to set a budget—and stick to it. A budget can help you see where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut back. By setting reasonable limits, you’ll be able to reach your financial goals faster.

Want more help getting a handle on your finances? Use the budget worksheet below to track income and expenses—and start working towards your financial goals today! Please reach out to me for a downloadable version.

HOUSEHOLD BUDGET WORKSHEET

  Expected Actual Difference
HOUSING
Mortgage/taxes/insurance or Rent
Utilities (electricity, water, gas, trash)
Phone, internet, cable
Home maintenance and repairs
FOOD
Groceries
Restaurants
TRANSPORTATION
Car payment/insurance
Gas, maintenance, repairs
OTHER
Health insurance
Clothing and personal care
Childcare
Entertainment
Gifts and charitable contributions
Savings, retirement, college fund
INCOME
Salary/wages
Tips and other
MONTHLY TOTALS
Total Actual Income
Total Actual Expenses
ADDITIONAL SAVINGS

WE’RE HERE TO HELP
We would love to help you meet your financial goals. Whether you want to refinance your mortgage, save up for a down payment, or simply find lower-cost alternatives for home repairs, maintenance, or utilities, we are happy to provide our insights and referrals. And if you have plans to buy or sell a home this year, we can discuss the steps you should be taking to financially prepare. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

The above references an opinion and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be financial advice. Consult a financial professional for advice regarding your individual needs.

Sources:

1. Insurance Information Institute –
https://www.iii.org/article/twelve-ways-to-lower-your-homeowners-insurance-costs
2. Department of Energy –
https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/water-heating/reduce-hot-water-use-energy-savings
3. Money Crashers –
https://www.moneycrashers.com/ways-conserve-water/
4. Harvard University –
https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/poster/top-5-steps-reduce-your-energy-consumption
5. Forbes –
https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#2c53b2f35e54
6. Money –
https://money.com/gardening-grocery-savings/

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Brampton, Burlington, Georgetown, Halton Hills, Market Reports, Milton, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto
Burlington April 2020 Market Statistics

Burlington April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Burlington, Market Reports
Halton Hills (Georgetown) April 2020 Market Statistics

Halton Hills (Georgetown) April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Georgetown, Halton Hills, Market Reports
Mississauga April 2020 Market Statistics

Mississauga April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Market Reports, Mississauga
Toronto April 2020 Market Statistics

Toronto April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Market Reports, Toronto
Brampton April 2020 Market Statistics

Brampton April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down
Posted by Christine Pecharich in Brampton, Market Reports
Oakville April 2020 Market Stats

Oakville April 2020 Market Stats

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:

Home Sales and Listings

  • Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
  • New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).

Home Prices

  • The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
  • The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
  • The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down
Posted by Christine Pecharich in Market Reports, Oakville
Milton April 2020 Market Statistics

Milton April 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release April 2020 Stats
Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins released the following key housing market statistics for April 2020:
Home Sales and Listings
• Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 2,975 residential transactions through TRREB’s MLS® System. This result was down by 67 per cent compared to April 2019. Weekday sales remained within a relatively steady range during the month, averaging 130 per day.
New listings amounted to 6,174 in April 2020 – down on a year-over-year basis by a similar rate compared to sales (-64.1 per cent).
Home Prices
• The average selling price for April 2020 transactions was $821,392 – up by 0.1 per cent compared to the average price of $820,373 reported for April 2019. The semi-detached and townhouse market segments experienced annual average price growth above the rate of inflation. The condominium apartment and detached segments experienced year-over-year price declines on average.
• The trend for the MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark, which had been on an upward trajectory since the beginning of 2019 flattened in April. On a year-over-year basis, the Benchmark was up by 10 per cent.
• The MLS® HPI indices represent prices for typical homes with consistent attributes from one period to the next. The fact that the MLS® HPI was up year-over-year by a greater rate than the average selling price suggests that the share of higher end deals completed in April 2020 versus April 2019 was down

Posted by Christine Pecharich in Market Reports, Milton
March 2020 Market Statistics

March 2020 Market Statistics

GTA REALTORS® Release March 2020 Stats

Toronto Regional Real Estate Board President Michael Collins announced that Greater Toronto Area REALTORS® reported 8,012 home sales through TRREB’s MLS® System in March 2020 – up by 12.3 per cent compared to 7,132 sales reported in March 2019.

However, despite a strong increase in sales for March 2020 as a whole, there was a clear break in market activity between the pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 periods. For the purposes of this release, the start of the post-COVID-19 period was the week beginning Sunday, March 15.

  • The overall March sales result was clearly driven by the first two weeks of the month. There were 4,643 sales reported in the pre-COVID-19 period, accounting for 58 per cent of total transactions and representing a 49 per cent increase compared to the first 14 days of March 2019.
  • There were 3,369 sales reported during the post-COVID-period – down by 15.9 per cent compared to the same period in March 2019.

For March as a whole, new listings were up by three per cent year-over-year to 14,424. However, similar to sales, new listings dropped on a year-over-year basis during the second half of the month (beginning March 15) by 18.4 per cent.

The MLS® Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price was up by 11.1 per cent year-over-year in March 2020. The average selling price for March 2020 as a whole was $902,680 – up 14.5 per cent compared to March 2019. The average selling price for sales reported between March 15 and March 31, was $862,563 – down from the first half of March 2020, but still up by 10.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Milton Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 12.1%

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +9.5 %

Oakville Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 12.4 %

Number of Sales over this time last year:  + 27.2 %

Burlington Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 16.1 %

Number of Sales over this time last year:  + 16.2 %

Halton Hills Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 17.0 %

Number of Sales over this time last year:  + 32.2 %

Mississauga Summary:

Average Sale Price over this time last year:  + 17.9 %

Number of Sales over this time last year:  +16.1 %

Posted by Christine Pecharich