Cost-Saving Ideas: 22 Practical Tips for Newcomers
Cost-saving ideas can be especially helpful for newcomers because saving money in Canada can be quite a challenge. The financial choices you make within your first year can impact how live in Canada for the next few years. This is why it’s important to make good decisions now, so you can benefit in the years to come.
Home Cost-Saving Ideas
1. Look for furnished or basement apartments for rent
Furnished homes can be very helpful because they save a lot of time, money, and effort. You also won’t have to worry about how you are going to move the furniture if you are planning to move somewhere else in the future.
It is very likely that you will move somewhere else and it is a good idea to find a home on rent that is just enough to meet your needs. Anything after that will cost you more money than you need to pay.
2. Live close to amenities
Living close to amenities is a great comfort and it is also an excellent cost-saving idea. If you usually check your expenses at the end of the month, you probably noticed that gas takes up a big chunk of the expenses.
Living near to schools, grocery stores, and places you would visit often means that you would usually walk there, saving you a lot of gas.
3. Live close to your workplace if possible
You should also try to find a home that is near to your workplace because driving 20 km to your job then driving 20 km back home can take a lot of time, and cost you more for gas.
Furniture Cost-Saving Ideas
4. Search for local organizations that provide basic furniture at minimal or no cost
No matter which province or territory you live in, there will be local organizations that help newcomers by providing them with basic furniture at a low cost or sometimes even no cost. One organization that does this is the Furniture Bank though you will have to pay a small fee to get the furniture delivered to your house.
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5. Buy used furniture from Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace
Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace are online sites where people can buy and sell items locally. Here is how they work: You go to the website, you search up whatever furniture (or any other item) you are looking for, and you contact the person selling that item. Then if you are satisfied with the item, you can set up a time to meet and check out the furniture.
Some people are even willing to deliver for free or for a small cost. A lot of the people selling furniture on Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace are people that are moving or trying to clear out everything from their house, so the furniture is usually in very good condition.
6. Buy new furniture from Ikea
If you don’t want to buy used furniture, there are also some good options to buy new furniture. Ikea is the world’s biggest furniture retailer and for good reason. Not only is the furniture affordable, it is also of very good quality. What you may not like about it is that you have to assemble the furniture yourself at home.
Cost-Saving Ideas for Clothing
7. Buy clothes in the clearance season
Another great cost-saving idea is buying out of season. You can buy brand new clothes for up to 80% off from clearance sales! Clothing stores put out-of-season clothes (and other items) on sale with huge discounts. You could save a lot of money just by buying clothes you will need in the future but don’t need right now. An example is buying snowshoes after the snow melts, and buying shorts when it starts to snow.
8. Buy from stores like Winners and Marshalls
If you missed the clearance season or you just need clothes immediately, it might be worth visiting stores like Winners or Marshalls. These stores sell branded clothes for a lot lower prices than what they would normally sell for. They also have a wide variety of clothes, ranging from active wear to jewelry.
9. Buy used clothes
Buying used clothes is another way to save money. You can find cheap used clothes that are in really good condition. The owner usually sells the clothes because they have been out of use so you will get them at a good price.
Transportation Cost-Saving Ideas
10. Walk or cycle as much as you can
The best way to go from one place to another is to walk or cycle. Not only does it save you money but it is also a very good way to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. I am not saying you should walk or cycle 20 km, but if it is as little as 2-3 km, cycling there would be the best option. If your destination is only a kilometre away, then you should consider walking as well.
11. Use public transport
If you often have to go farther than you can walk or cycle, you might want to consider using public transport. There are many reasons to choose public transport over the car. You need to pay for car insurance, maintenance, and gas. Not to mention the cost of buying the car itself. Having a public transport pass costs around $150 a month. That is a very good price compared to owning a car.
12. Buy a used car
If public transport or cycling does not work for you or it isn’t convenient, you need a car. But where should you buy it from and how much should you pay? If you only need a small car to run your daily errands, you can usually find a used car for under $5000, depending on where you live.
One thing to keep in mind before buying the car is its fuel economy. This means how much gas it consumes per 100 km. If it is anywhere from 8 l/ 100 km and below, the fuel economy is pretty good, saving you a lot of money. Some good websites to buy used cars are Autotrader and Kijiji Autos.
Grocery Cost-Saving Ideas
13. Sign up for your grocery store’s weekly flyers
Almost every grocery store in Canada offers weekly flyers that give discounts on certain items. Some of these grocery stores will require you to sign up for their weekly flyers to access the discounts but most will not.
Save.ca is a website where you can access almost all flyers from stores all over Canada. In my first year, I used save.ca regularly and it saved me a lot of money.
14. Shop at No Frills / Walmart / Dollarama
Now that I have told you how you can save money in your grocery store, I have some suggestions from where you can get your groceries. Walmart is a chain of grocery stores that has everything from clothes to food to utensils. It is very convenient to have one near your home because you can get almost anything from Walmart at a good price.
If your local Walmart is too far, then you should look for No Frills. No Frills is a Canadian chain of grocery stores owned by Loblaws that offers a wide variety of foods. Unlike most grocery stores, No Frills is limited to only food and not things like stationery or clothes. However, it is slightly less expensive than most of the other big grocery stores so it is a good idea to know where your local No Frills is located.
Dollarama is another good store but it doesn’t fall under the category of grocery stores. Yes, it does have some food like candy and canned foods, but it is better known to sell inexpensive items (all of its items are under $4). You can find things like stationery, canned foods, working tools, and kitchen utensils all for at good prices.
Food Cost-Saving Ideas
15. Cook and pack your lunch
It might be tempting to stop by at a restaurant and pick up a burger but it may not be a good choice, both financially and healthwise. The better cost-saving idea would be to cook your food. If you have a burger craving, you can get the ingredients and cook the burger yourself. It will cost you a lot less as compared to the ones in restaurants.
16. Save money when eating in Restaurants
If you do want to go to restaurants once in a while, you should be on the lookout for coupons. Coupons can give you lots of good deals but they are only eligible for a certain period of time.
This is why it is a good idea to sign up for websites like Honey. Honey is a chrome extension (on laptops/ Chromebooks) and app (on mobile) that finds and applies coupon codes so you can save money on different things you order online.
If you go to the restaurant in person, then you won’t be able to use Honey as it only works when you order food online. Honey will also save you on other products you purchase online like electronics, as it usually works on most things you will order online.
17. Use the Food Bank (if needed)
Food Bank is a non-profit, national charity that helps Canadians by distributing food among those who need it. If you are a newcomer and are having difficulty with finding a job, Food Bank is a very good option to get by your first year. Here is how the Food Bank works: People donate food or money to the Food Bank. The Food Bank then buys food and gives it out to the people that need it.
Other Cost-Saving Tips
18. Divide your paycheck
Another really good cost-saving idea is to divide your paycheck. There is no specific template because every family spends their money differently but no matter what your pay is, dividing your paycheck will save you a lot of money. To divide your paycheck, make a budget in things like food and entertainment, and then plug in fixed amounts like your rent and insurance.
Once you have accounted for all your monthly expenses, make sure you don’t go over your budget and the rest of the money should go into your savings account. This is one of the most foolproof cost-saving ideas and almost every successful family does this.
You will be surprised by how much money you save just by organizing where and how you will spend it because it prevents you from spending too much.
19. Shop Black Friday and Boxing Day Sales
Black Friday (last Friday of November) and Boxing Day (December 26) are the two best times of the year to buy anything because there are huge sales everywhere. Black Friday marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and these sales continue until the end of December. This is the best time to buy things like electronics and furniture.
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20. Shop in thrift stores
You might be surprised how much money you could save by shopping in thrift stores rather than some fancy branded stores. When I say shop in thrift stores, I mainly mean for things like clothes.
You can find used clothes in thrift stores for up to 95% off their original price! A lot of people are concerned about the quality of the products they buy but this usually isn’t a problem because the thrift store sorts out all the good stuff and throws away the bad stuff before they stock the shelves.
Most people donate things to thrift stores because they don’t need it, not because it’s broken. That’s why you see so many clothes, as clothes get outgrown easily.
21. Search for free or low-cost items from Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace
Like I mentioned earlier, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace are websites where you can buy and sell items locally. The reason I am mentioning them again is to tell you how useful they are and how you can even get free items from them.
Here in Mississauga where I live, I find Kijiji to be somewhat cheaper but that might differ depending on where in Canada you live. There is always a question about the quality of the item. You can always set up a time to meet with the seller (usually at their house) and check out the item. If you are satisfied, you can make the purchase. If not, don’t feel pressured to buy it and move on. I have got a lot of things from Kijiji and they are still going well for me.
22. Look for garage sales and moving out sales
There are always people that are moving and they often have garage sales or moving out sales (whatever they want to call it). Because they won’t take everything with them, they sell items for a very low price. This leaves room for negotiation to further reduce the price.
The best way to find garage sales is to look for ads online. Some good websites to find garage sales are Gsalr and Kijiji. Another good way to find garage sales is to look for signs. I often take a walk around the neighbourhood and spot garage sale signs which are not listed online.
These cost-saving ideas can go a long way to help you budget and shape your financial future in Canada.
My name is Zain Unsami and I am a freelance content writer who currently resides in Mississauga, Ontario. I immigrated from Pakistan to Canada 5 years ago and have lived
in many cities ever since. I have lived in Calgary AB, Edmonton AB, Regina SK, London ON, and Mississauga ON, while visiting over 40 Canadian cities and towns. I have a
great passion for writing and I love helping people through it.