10 simple ways to save money (2024)



By Huma Hamid on August 18, 2023
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

By Huma Hamid on August 18, 2023
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

As life in Canada becomes more expensive, it’s important to have a savings strategy. Here are 10 steps you can take right now.


10 simple ways to save money (1)

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

As the cost of living increases for Canadians, having a savings strategy has never been more important to ensure you can live comfortably in the future. But many are unsure where to start. Not having a thought-through plan or having one that is too rigid and demanding can easily push you off track. That’s why it is essential to find strategies that work for you.



“The most important thing is to develop the habit of saving,” says Ayana Forward, a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (CFP) in Ottawa. So what are some easy ways to start saving without sacrificing too much from day to day?

1. Set mini goals as part of your long-term plan

“Saving money really comes down to self-discipline and goal setting,” says Brent Vandekerckhove, a financial advisor with RGF Integrated Wealth Management in Vancouver, B.C. To start, decide what you’re saving for and calculate how much money you need to meet your goal. Whether it’s saving for a car, a house, retirement or anything in between, your goal should be specific and measurable, as this will help you stay on track, says Vandekerckhove.

Having a concrete goal will give direction to your long-term plan. And sharing your goal with others around you can help keep you disciplined and accountable, he says. Even when working towards a long-term plan, it’s a good idea to set smaller, short-term goals, Vandekerckhove says. Reaching little milestones along the way will keep you from feeling overwhelmed and show you that you’re on the right track.

2. Decide how much you should put away each month

Although you may read that you should save 10% to 20% of your monthly income, this isn’t set in stone. The ideal amount of money you put away ultimately comes down to your goals and how much of your income is left after meeting monthly expenses.

The other thing to consider is how much time you have to save. For example, if you’re saving for retirement, consider your current age and how long you intend to work, among other factors. If you have a short-term goal, like purchasing a home within the next five years, you may have to save a larger amount each month than you would if you were saving for a long-term goal.

Use the MoneySense RRSP contribution limit calculatorUse tool now

3. Track your spending and savings

A key part of saving is tracking your money. This will help you develop conscious spending habits. According to Forward, everyone should do spending audits regularly to figure out where their money is going.

Start by reviewing your bank and credit card statements and making a list of every item you’ve spent money on in the last month. Look for unnecessary expenses that can easily be eliminated. This will help determine if you need to curb your spending and where to start.

“Think about what you want to prioritize. It’s going to be different for everybody,” advises Forward. “Make sure that those things come to the forefront, and anything that was in that spending audit that is unimportant, try to avoid or eliminate it.”



4. Use a money-tracking app

Setting a budget is about being intentional with your money. Having a detailed budget for all your necessities and discretionary expenses will allow you to keep an eye on your spending along the way, and stay on track.

If you have difficulty doing this on your own, there are many money-tracking apps available, like Mint and YNAB, which keep track of all your transactions for you. For those who prefer budgeting the old-school way, a simple spreadsheet works just as well—whatever helps you understand how your money is being spent.

Seeing your progression toward your target will help keep you motivated. It will also help you monitor what is working and what isn’t, so you can adjust your plan accordingly.

5. Find the right savings account

Putting your savings into the right account can help you reach your goals faster. For example, using a high-interest savings account (HISA) instead of a chequing account—earning little to no interest—can help grow your savings over the long term.

Compare the best high-interest savings accounts in CanadaRead now

When it comes to choosing a savings account, make sure to consider which one makes sense for your timeline and goals. A HISA is great for short-term goals, like taking a vacation or building an emergency fund. A tax-free savings account (TFSA) can also be a good option, as long as you have enough contribution room.

Other goals may call for other types of accounts. If you’re saving for a home, the new first home savings account (FHSA) might make the most sense, considering its tax advantages. And if your goal is retirement, a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) may be the best place to park your money, especially if you’re in a high income tax bracket.

Forward says always do your research to find the best account to reach your goal.

Compare the best savings accounts in CanadaREAD NOW

6. Automate your savings

Opening one or more accounts for your savings (according to your needs and goals) and scheduling automatic monthly transfers to the accounts can be a game-changer.



“You can make regular automatic contributions to an investment or savings account if you want to start saving,” says Vandekerckhove. “Having this automated will prevent you from spending the money in your bank account, and you don’t have to think about doing it every month.”

Forward suggests thinking of your monthly savings as a bill that needs to be paid. It should be the first thing that comes off the paycheque—yet it is often the last.

7. Review your monthly and recurring bills

One of the fastest ways to cut back on expenses is to start big—that is, with your monthly and recurring bills. Even a small reduction in the cost of your cell phone plan or hydro bill can lead to big savings over a long period. Here are some things you can do:

  • Get rid of subscriptions and memberships you don’t use, and set reminders on your phone to cancel automatic subscriptions before the free trials end.
  • Lower your cell phone bill by researching the best rates and packages in the market. Get rid of extras like expensive data plans, phone insurance and warranties that you don’t need. And, don’t be afraid to haggle with your provider or switch entirely.
  • Reduce your hydro bill by turning off lights and unnecessary appliances and switching out old appliances for energy-efficient ones. (You’ll also help the environment in the process!) You can also find the on-peak hours for your region and minimize your electricity consumption during those hours.
  • If it’s a been a while since you’ve reviewed your car, home, tenant or life insurance policies, request a quote from a few providers using an online aggregator (like ratehub.ca, owned by Ratehub Inc, which also owns MoneySense), and compare the policies’ premiums and coverages. You may be able to save money, or at least improve your coverage. Ask if you can save by bundling your home and car insurance.

8. Switch banks or credit cards to save on fees and earn rewards

As mentioned above, picking the right savings account can help your money grow faster. The best accounts can also help you save on costly fees. Some of the best chequing accounts in Canada don’t charge any fees, and some others offer rewards on your spending. Don’t let the inconvenience of switching financial institutions get in your way.

Compare the best chequing accounts in Canada Read now

The same should be said of credit cards. Depending on your spending habits, you might benefit from switching to a no-fee or low-interest credit card. In other cases, it might be advantageous to upgrade to a card that offers lots of rewards, such as cash back or travel points.

With credit cards, the most important thing is to pay off your balance—on time. Otherwise, the interest owed will likely outweigh any potential savings. But with the right card you may be able to save money and reward yourself at the same time.

Compare the best credit cards in CanadaRead now

9. Don’t overlook small expenses (and savings)

It’s just as important to look for savings on day-to-day expenses. Although these may seem trivial at first, they can result in substantial savings over time. Here are a few saving hacks:

  • Find coupons, discounts and deals that you can take advantage of. There are many apps and websites dedicated to this purpose, such as Swagbucks, Groupon, Save.ca, PC Optimum, Rakuten and many more. Signing up for emails from your favourite shops can also help you find deals. Another tip from Forward: If you leave something in your online shopping cart for a while, companies will often send you a reminder email with a discount code. Oh, and if you want to be pro-active, just DM the social account for the website and ask. Many will often share codes when requested.
  • Try not to spend too much on takeout (you could be spending hundreds of dollars a month without even realizing it). Try to cook at home or sign up for a meal/grocery delivery service, instead.
  • Shop online (for pickup, if possible), and save time and money. This will allow you to compare prices between all available options and choose the right products for you. This will also help you stick to your grocery list and avoid impulse buys.
  • Buy off-brand or generic products, which are usually the same quality but less expensive than name brands.

10. Don’t forget to have fun

A common mistake when saving money is believing that any spends on recreation have to be cut out entirely. This is impractical and often leads to a loss of motivation to save over time. Set aside some money every month for that daily coffee, your gym membership, dinners with friends or family, or whatever is important to you. Maintaining a balance in your life is necessary, says Forward. You should make a list of the priorities in your life and distribute your funds accordingly.



“I tell clients to enjoy their lives, but be reasonable about spending,” adds Vandekerckhove. “You don’t have to go into credit-card debt just because you want to go on that trip to Turks and Caicos.”

While staying within your means, don’t forget to have fun. The ultimate objective of saving is to live a comfortable and happy life, so why make yourself miserable in the process?

We often already know what needs to be done to reach our goals, but sticking to the plan can be difficult. Add in the unpredictability of life, and it can be easy to fall off track. If this happens to you, don’t beat yourself up and get back on the horse as soon as you can, says Forward. “Try not to get into a pattern of not making saving a priority.”

Read more about saving:

  • It’s probably time you switched banks—4 easy steps for Canadians
  • The cost of the average grocery bill in Canada—and how to lower yours
  • How to manage and save money without a budget
  • 10 ways to save more and pay down your debt

About Huma Hamid

Huma Hamid is a Toronto-based journalist who tells stories through multiple mediums, including photos, videos and written pieces. She is a former MoneySense intern.


  1. Hi there, I am a senior with a small pension, a CPP and an OAS pensions as well as a modest rental income. I also work 28 hrs per week. I was in debt when I first retired in 2016. I declared personal bankruptcy. I do not want to go down that road again. I have a few things I need to do like get rid of my 2 high interest charge cards, do the shingles on the house roof (rental house) and pay off my OSAP loan. I have a high car payment due to high interest rate because of my history. Any of the financial advise I read is about younger people and not really geared to someone like me. What can I safely invest in that will help me offset my income so I do not have to pay CRA my entire earnings. There is really very little I can find on budgets for seniors.


    1. Due to the large volume of comments we receive, we regret that we are unable to respond directly to each one. We invite you to email your question to [emailprotected], where it will be considered for a future response by one of our expert columnists. For personal advice, we suggest consulting with your financial institution or a qualified advisor.



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