When times are tough, plenty of people complain about the high cost of living. Few families, however, are willing to think outside the box and do what it takes to cut costs and positively impact their bottom line. For Canadians, saving money can be a challenge. With savvy saving and shopping, however, thrifty Canadians can free up resources and get ahead.

1. Get to Know Your Neighbours

While the Canadian dollar is strong; there are still more money-saving opportunities for Canadian shoppers who love cross-border shopping. If you live near the border or travel to the United States on a regular basis, it can pay big to make use of the resources available to the US market. While prices at online shops are the same for both American and Canadian shoppers, shipping can be a killer for Canadians. For just a small fee, you can rent a post office box and have your packages delivered to a US address for much less than delivery to your door.
Couponing is another area where Americans have the advantage; many manufacturers’ coupons are limited to the US market. Canadians, however, can take advantage of these targeted deals by planning a large, carefully executed shopping trip to a US grocery store with a generous coupon policy. Coupons can be ordered via online marketplaces such as eBay.

2. Invest the Extra

It has been said that most people automatically adjust their standard of living to match any increase in income. However, if you never see the extra, you never miss it. Create a standard budget that matches your everyday living expenses. If you receive an unexpected income boost, put this directly into savings, or use it to pay off debts such as your mortgage or credit cards. Over time, this sacrifice makes a huge impact on your bottom line.

3. Downsize and Save

Downsizing has always been a smart money-saving strategy. With wildly fluctuating housing markets, choosing a smaller home or apartment adds up to big savings, especially in a buyer’s market. Smaller homes are also generally less expensive to heat, cool and maintain. If you have a large home that you are locked into, consider renting a portion to a couple or small family, or look into house-sharing arrangements. Use the money that you free up toward other financial priorities, such as creating an emergency fund or reducing debt.

4. Cutting Costs with Kids

Statisticians can really get going about how much it costs to raise a child. For thrifty Canadians, however, kids don’t have to break the bank. There are dozens of strategies smart parents use to keep costs down. Though health care isn’t a huge problem for Canadian families, you can’t enjoy the benefits if you aren’t using the system. Keep your kids healthy with regular check-ups. For those things that you do have to put out cash for, look for frugal alternatives. Clothes from consignment shops, for example, are impossible to differentiate from brand new apparel. It also makes sense to look around your community and find free activities that are family friendly. By thinking outside the box, you’ll probably find you can save big on all kinds of expenses generated by having children.

5. Tips for Travel

Chances are good that you are among the 75 per cent of Canadians who regularly drive a personal vehicle. This leads to expenses such as fuel, maintenance and insurance. While most people cannot completely do away with driving, you can cut costs. For almost all drivers, it doesn’t pay to own a new car. Cars depreciate faster than any other asset, so buy a good-quality used car with the best gas mileage possible. When you do have to drive, consolidate trips as much as you can or carpool. In addition, keep your car well maintained to ensure that all systems are operating as efficiently as possible. It’s especially important to have a complete tune-up before cold weather hits.

About Natasha Carr

Written by Natasha Carr @ Kanetix.ca your online resource for shoppers looking to compare insurance quotes, credit cards and mortgage rates. Kanetix offers consumers a better way to shop around by providing more quotes and more choice, giving Canadians more opportunities to save money.