how to save money fastI’ve written about my saving strategies and frugal living before, but I’ve decided to write an updated post in a numbered list format on how to save money and the various ways to save money on a day to day basis.  This post was inspired by similar posts on other blogs like CashMoneyLife.

Included below are 25 28 ways that I save money:

  1. I use a points or a cash back based credit card that gives me the best return for my spending.  Here’s a post and picture of what’s in my wallet.
  2. I arrange my banking so that I don’t pay any fees and use a discount brokerage that minimizes my trading expenses.  The current favorite of Million Dollar Journey readers for a low cost, no frills discount brokerage is Questrade (I have a TFSA and RRSP with them).
  3. When buying consumer items, I try to separate my “needs” and my “wants”.
  4. When I find something that I “need”, I do comparison shopping or wait until it goes on sale.  If I find the item online, I check Ebates or Great Canadian Rebates or for additional cash back opportunities.
  5. I try to watch movies at home (or use Netflix) instead of going to the movie theatre.  However, since we enjoy the theatre, we still visit the movies on occasion.  Here is how to maximize Scene points.
  6. When making a big purchase, like a mortgage or a vehicle, I negotiate and shop around for the best rate.  This will save you thousands in the long run.
  7. I drive with gas efficiency in mind.
  8. In addition to reducing trading fees, I keep our ETF/mutual fund management expense ratios (MER) as low as possible by using indexed ETFs/mutual funds.
  9. I try to save energy around the house with CFL’s, programmable thermostats and proper insulation.
  10. We do laundry once / week (we do more now because of kids, but try to be as efficient as possible).
  11. I brown bag my lunch to work.
  12. I prepare my lunches in bulk and store them in individual plastic/glass containers.
  13. I cook at home whenever possible.
  14. I perk my own coffee (or drink the coffee at work).
  15. This is more of a healthy lifestyle choice, but I don’t smoke, do drugs, and minimize drinking.
  16. I use basic cable instead of the fancy cable packages.
  17. I combine my cable/internet/telephone with the same provider to take advantage of the discounts available.
  18. I use term insurance instead of universal life or whole life insurance.
  19. As with anything else, I shop around for my insurance products.
  20. I pay a higher deductible on insurance products to reduce the premiums.
  21. I buy with quality in mind in the expectation that it will last a long time.
  22. To please my reading habit, I go to the library (or get publishers to send me free books for review) :)
  23. I make my deposits into my high interest rate savings account and RRSP automatically on a bi-weekly basis.  Basically when I get my paycheck.
  24. When purchasing a home, I save for a large down payment to reduce mortgage insurance fees (CMHC).
  25. I buy clothes when they wear out, not when they go out of style.
  26. I track my spending/budget with Excel or (recommend not connecting your bank account, only credit cards).
  27. When my income increases, I aim to keep lifestyle inflation at bay.  Basically, I bank my raises.
  28. To save money on car rentals, I watch the fluctuating prices on Expedia and when a low price shows up, I bid slightly lower on Priceline.

What are some ways that you save money? Do you follow the frugal living lifestyle?


  1. Monique on October 28, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Love all the tips and love all the comments just as much!

  2. […] managing your food life is being organized. If you can make an effort to do this then you will save money and time.  As well, you’ll probably eat a little better, eat a wider variety of food, and […]

  3. Ed on November 20, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    always ask for discount before buying big ticket items, specially if they have a scratch or are demo. ask for the sale item, instead of buying full price new ones. shop on ebay and craiglist. if you can trade work for an item, do it.

  4. snotnosekidless on December 14, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I got a vasectomy so I wouldnt have the burden of children…Beat that savings plan!

  5. Geekdad on December 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    Well written, of course you could always stay at home and cut out all your entertainment.. lol

  6. mrbizi on January 1, 2010 at 3:13 am

    Here’s how I saved a couple of thousand dollars this year – I stopped getting my 10-year old Volvo serviced at a Volvo dealership and instead now go to a private mechanic I was referred to to get my car serviced and repaired.

    I noticed that as my car had gotten older, the volvo dealers ( and I’ve been to more than a couple) would regularly find parts that needed to be replaced (citing safety issues). For the last few years I was spending around $2-3k in repairs alone (albeit still cheaper than buying a new car). I got fed up and started to ask around, and true enough my repair expenses went down significantly this year.

  7. […] 25 Ways I Save Money: Million Dollar Journey’s FrugalTrader shares 25 easy ways to save money in the short- and long-term. […]

  8. […] Saving and Frugality Some great money saving articles were submitted in this Carnival.  Frugality is the name of the game!  Besides these articles, here are some more ways to save money. […]

  9. […] I was not born organized. It doesn’t come naturally to me. Over time, I’ve had to learn systems to get and stay organized. I’ve read lots of books on the subject and work very hard at staying organized. There are still times when being disorganized has had a financial cost. Now, being organized is even more motivating to me, knowing it can save me time and money. […]

  10. poorunivkid on January 31, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    haha best way to furnish your house – kijiji/craigs list!! seriously folks, there are gold mines out there on these sites. it only takes a few moments of every day to review new ads.

    be warned – these places are also used by people trying to get your money. never pre-pay, and always take someone with you to pick up your items.

  11. on March 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Great tips. Some of them are common sense, but we can all use reminding from time to time, and this is a really useful list. Separating needs from wants is one of my favorites,

  12. 10 Best Ways To Save Money on April 29, 2010 at 4:20 am

    I have to say that the library is a great resource. In my county, if you are a member to one library, you can take things out from ANY library in the county…and on the Web site, you can search for DVDs that are available…let’s say you want to get two movies that you knew just came out, you could find out what libraries have them. I like to combine this with number 100 and ride my bike to the library for exercise.
    I am constantly amazed that you can come up with all these great ideas

  13. Kris on May 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    If you are a fan of Canadian Money Saver magazine, I have an article in the May edition called “Rules & Tools of the Frugal” which deals with money saving tips. Most libraries subscribe to it or you can buy it at any Chapters.

  14. Sensei on June 15, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    Love the article, I tend to follow quite a few myself. To save more money, I tend to cut time going out, and spend it at home.

  15. bb on August 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    at Safeway, there is a machine by the register and the new releases are $1.79!

  16. Kelli on October 8, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Go to the library & rent movies , you might have to wait a little to get the latest
    ones but you couldn’t have possibly seen all the one year old ones either. It’s free big savings if you’re a movie watcher hands down.

    If you have high speed ( only ) stream movies off of youtube or It’s free and you get to see all the latest new movies.

    Drive to florida for vacation ( if you have a van ) turn it and use it into a camper.
    Take the seats out , and park in truck stops every night. It’s totally free providing you’re gone first thing in the morning and wow… you get to see Florida and enjoy the weather for peanuts. We bring our own dry groceries across the border ( cause you can’t bring dairy, meat , fruit and veggies ) .
    You can warm up your food in the truck stop microwave, and bring in your own
    cup to get hot water. ( well we do that lol ) and enjoy ourselves every year for more less the price of gas. Go on free walking tours , enjoy the beach, It’s great !!!

    Do not have a pet. Way toooooo expensive and holds you back too much.
    Get a plant . lol ….. you can never leave town for a week without having to get a sitter or someone to take the dog out every day. Just a big expense and a big responsiblity . (my opinion ) we just know so many people with dogs and we hear the complaints all the time.

    Happy $aving !!!

  17. Ashton on October 12, 2010 at 1:46 am

    I try every month to make sure my income is higher then whatever I spend. It’s very hard to do, but helps to build a quick emergency fund.

  18. HowToSave on October 31, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I like point 19, “I buy with quality in mind in the expectation that it will last a long time.” I’ve started to do this rather than just buying the cheapest thing. In the long run it works out better

  19. Cheap SSL on November 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Woah there are so many great tips here.
    I completely agree that sometimes living frugally can get to be a little overwhelming, not to mention embarrasing. So with that said I feel that there are some areas you just aren’t meant to be frugal in.

    I have been searching the internet for a few months now on how to be frugal and tight with your money but not showing it. I guess that you could say when it comes to my reputation, i’m not that proud of being a ‘tight artist’. Now while this article gives some standard tips on how to do things frugally… i would really like to see a post that shows how you can live frugally, but not seem like it to your family and friends. Theres got to be a way……. I know it….I just haven’t found it yet…..

  20. F C H on December 1, 2010 at 3:51 am

    I live off the grid. And I am very proud of being frugal and don’t care who knows it. But when I do go out or whatever, I will always pay my own way (not a bum). Credit cards are always paid off each month, if there is any balance at all. Don’t have satellite or cable tv. 2 channels over the air and internet connection is enough for know. Cell phone is the only phone. Usually brown bagging and definately NOT dependent upon Tim Hortons, I build my own coffee. Building my own very small house when I am not working. I work when there is work and play when work slows up. Very seldom take time off from work in busy times. I buy vehicles used, and always pay cash. I shop for used tires long before I need them. My vehicles don’t need all the bells and whistles, they just break down and are expensive to fix. A good running vehicle is by far more important than a real pretty looking one. I don’t have a girl friend and never will unless there is one out there that thinks kinda the same as myself when it comes to money and frugality.

  21. Monique on December 5, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    We save money by reading tons of books on the subject and following others who are doing the same as us.

  22. Yufayl on January 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Drinking IS a drug!

  23. Scott on January 30, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    One thing I do to earn additional interest is to charge everything I can to my CC, while keeping hardly any money in my chequing account, allowing me to keep it all in a savings account, and transfer as required. As long as you do not pay interest on the CC this works great.

  24. Cheapsk8 on February 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I’m seeing a lot of the same tips repeatedly, but there is one tip that can help you get some of life’s luxuries for the cost of your time.. barter!!!! I’m an esthetician and will barter a pedicure or something to get my kids’ hair cut, or their pictures taken or a massage for myself. My husband’s a mechanic and will fix cars for a case of beer (which is a luxury on a fixed income) or find a friend who is in the same boat as you and help each other out, This is great when it comes to child care, household chores, yard work, baking etc…

    As far as food goes, you can get a bunch of people together to split on the cost of huge bulk orders, but you can also get together and spend a day baking large batches of muffins, breads, and casseroles to freeze.

    you can also sprout your own sunflower sprouts all year round and have fresh greens high in antioxident and nutrient to eat for pennies.

  25. Cheapsk8 on February 13, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    The other thing I wanted to add was don’t hire a professional if you don’t have to. There are books, online videos and courses at home Depot for example on how to do stuff yourself for virtually free. You might pick up a new hobby down the road because of this. As much as I’d like a professional to come in and paint my house, or grout the tiles in my bathroom … i’m quite capable of doing myself (or making my husband do it!. lol)

    Oh and also buying floor models of larger ticket items can save you big bucks too.

  26. inspired by money on March 11, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Ways I save money……..
    1. Savings with ING, hard to beat the interest, and also no fees.

    2. Went down to one vehicle (I know, not for everyone…we have two teen kids and still can do it).

    3. Started a consulting business, so that so many things are now tax deductible.

    4. got a line of credit, bought property, fixed it up a bit, sold it for three times what we paid, then with the money bought a repossessed home under market value, fixed it with the same monies from first sale, (therefore no mortgage), Sold our primary home which produced a savings of over $100K (with no capital gains, as it was our primary residence), then moved into mortgage free home. Took the profit from sale of primary home and bought rental units. Can now retire and live off of rental units. (all this and I just turned 40 and if anyone can be inspired by this, I am also a female).

  27. inspired by money on March 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    I also forgot………..
    more of my personal tips
    5. I never buy new vehicles, and when I get one we keep it till it is approximately 7-10 years old. Even buying one just a few years old saves thousands of dollars.

    6. I always make soup with the left over carcasses the day after having chicken or roasts. usually lasts a few meals, and helps with brown bagging lunches.

    7. do my own income taxes. Revenue Canada `s sites are very in-depth and informative once you get used to using them. I may hire an accountant as a consultant as needed (which of course is tax deductible due to tip 3), so as to not miss anything, but I find If I get “intimate“ with my taxes, I understand how to spend and save throughout the year. The more I teach myself, the less I need my accountant, as well.

    8. My family has at least one “meatless“ supper per week. Favorite being home made waffles with yogurt smothered in berries.

    9. Eat left overs (some people don`t. I once watched my friend start to dump enough left over spaghetti in the trash, enough for one more full meal. Of course I stopped her and made her put it into the fridge).

  28. JoeB on July 13, 2011 at 1:48 am

    I like a lot of these ideas but Microsoft Money? A bit old school, especially with free services like Mint around. Nonetheless, great post.

  29. Gates VP on July 13, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    @JoeB: the post is dated Dec 2009, so it’s over 18 months old. FT is a Canadian blogger and was unavailable for Canadians at the time. It took another year to arrive in Canada.

  30. BGV on July 27, 2011 at 11:25 am

    How do you avoid being called cheap?

    And does your friends and other significant people in your life know your financial situation?

    • FrugalTrader on July 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

      @BGV, lol, who says I’m not called cheap? Surprisingly, I’m not called cheap very often, at least not to my face. :) Maybe it’s because I’m “cheap” with my self, but not with others. And no, not many people know about my financial situation.

  31. Jayboard on August 10, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Every day when I get in from work or where ever I empty the change in my pockets into a cookie tin. It usually takes about 6mos to fill and usually on average amounts to $250 – $300. I have been amassing all my rolled change at home because if it goes in the bank it will just disappear. I have saved about $2000 so far and is going to be used for any emergency that pops up. The bank teller won’t be too happy though when I go to cash it in.

    I drink alot of coffee and was spending about $3 a day but now I grind and make my own. A bag of beans is about $8 and will yeild about 3 avg tins of cofee which sells for around $6-$8 each. I’m saving about a$100 a month just in coffee.

  32. Grace Poole on August 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    There are several things I do to save money. My friends say that if you look up the word “frugal” in the dictionary it would have my picture over it. First spend less and send more if you are in debt. My kids and I have had lots of fun this summer doing free or inexpensive activities, I ALWAYS pack a picnic to avoid spending $50+ on eating out on outings. This adds up so quickly. We also use coupons or find outings in near by little towns at a fraction of the price. I also grow a garden, hang out my laundry, and in the winter use drying wracks (which I got for 50% off on sale). For kids items and cloths I check out yard sales and Thrift stores and even better when the Thrift store has 50% off sales. I run the dish washer and washing machine on “off peak” hours, usually after 10pm, I always make extra dinner and put it in the fridge so my husband and I can take lunch to work the next day. While not at home I turn up the temp for the A/C or turn the temp down to 17 or 18*c so I’m not paying for heat while I am not home.
    These are some of the ways I save. Having a meal plan is essential and I base it on sales in the fliers, I also take all my fliers and shop where I can price match and I use coupons in addition to price matching to get the lowest price.

  33. Dylan on September 6, 2011 at 4:43 am

    @12… Not true about Germany. They don’t make you turn off your car at stop lights. Where on earth did you hear that? But… To get a driver license, it costs between $1,500 and $3,000 and takes roughly a month. Consequently, people save a ton by riding bikes.

  34. Shiraz on October 26, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I do my laundry and run my dishwasher at off-peak times to save on my energy bills. It makes a big difference over the course of the year!

  35. Crystal on October 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Disconnect the cable and watch TV via online or though NetFlix, Cable $38 a month = $456 a year, Netflix $7.99 a month = 95.88 a year … total savings $448.01… plus you save on all the box rental fees!

  36. Brie on February 22, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    I love finding new ways to save money every day. I am constantly looking and trying different things in hopes that I cut my spending costs every month. I am working towards being a millionaire someday and hopefully my frugality and wise investing will help me achieve my goals one day.

  37. Scott on March 22, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    A few things we do:

    1) Look through the grocery store flyers, compare prices, and make a list for each individual store based on what is on sale that week.

    2) Pay all bills/expenses on a points credit card (Cineplex Scene VISA card). I have not paid for a movie in years.

    3) By cooking a little extra food at night, you have enough leftovers for lunch at work the next day, tasty and cheap.

    4) There are always gas stations that are 3-5 cents/liter cheaper, we always stop there while in the area.

  38. ObsessedFrugal10 on March 29, 2012 at 3:17 am

    I use a credit card that provides rewards (points accumulation) that I can apply toward reducing my mortgage. In 4 years, I have reduced the principal on my mortgage by about $3000 just by using the credit card. And by the way, I don’t pay annual fee on my credit card and I don’t carry any balance.

  39. jet on May 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    When traveling if distance between cheap gas is to far, to travel on a tank of gas bring some extra in a jery can so the expensive gas wont need to be purchased.

    sleep in your car instead of a hotel room.

    Always coast to a stop unless stopping on a hill to save breaks & gas.

    Never drive the speed limit if it is above 90kmh (extra wear on tires, more gas used, more stress on engine, any stones on road when flying up from tires will do more damage to paint & cause rust, more stress to front end from hitting seams in pavement

    When traveling down hill instead of using breaks or traveling @ a higher speed put vechile in a gear that reves engine higher then engine idle speed so the energy from gravity will cause the vechile to burn less gas then @ idol.

    Use electronic rust control so car will take 4 times longer to rust out instead of more expensive ways.

    Buying a used vechile is not always the best deal i.e., I bought a new 2005 plan jane sunfire with a 6000 dollar rebate & 1500 off from GM card. Which was cheaper then sunfires that were 2-3 years old @ the time.

    Dont try to buy a skill that cant be bought i.e., I use old skis that have been left over from ski swaps that no one bothered to pick up & I love the way they ski & many are amazed @ my skiing ability.

    Be an independent thinker, Never buy something that everyone else is buying just to be part of the herd. ( from buying labels on clothing to investments)

    If credit card has a fee as well as other banking fees & your a valuable customer to the bank or financial institution they will often pay it. ( prefure credit unions over banks)

    If money is sitting idol in brokerage acccount waiting for next set up. Do what the banks do lend it out for those buying stocks on margine. (one chicago) backed by the exchanged that has a AA credit rating

    Use consumer reports from library to compare quality of products & pricing

    View money as a median of exchange that represents life energy when using it.

  40. jet on May 28, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Men should change their hair style to brush cuts. Then a family member can easily cut thier hair with a trimmer set from Wallmart or Costco

    To cut down on dentist bills buy a phillips sonic tooth brush & a water flosser.

    Women should do thier own nails & never buy makeup. (average of 160,000 is spent for makeup by a woman in a life time)

    Day traders should never pay commisions to a third party even discount brokers but trade directly on the exchange when practical i.e., NADEX

    Follow owners manual for vechile maintance. (know what parts need greasing on your car & if someone does your oil changes make sure that they also lubricate these parts.

    Never buy cereal oats are cheaper

    Comparison shop on internet

    Have the passenger in your vechile get out & check time left on parking meters if there is more then one empty one to chose from.

    When entering grocery stores quickly scan for carts with money in them.

    Dont buy a gym membership if you can do a similar workout cheaper.

    Try to buy only assets ( that which puts money into your pocket & try to avoid buying liabilities ( that which takes money out of your pocket i.e an expensive car that is hard on gas & expensive to insure.)

    If purchasing a condo consider buying it cheaper by buying it before it is built ( warning is up to you to make sure how safe the company is)

    print out a copy of any GIC that are coming do & take it to differnt financial instututions for them to compete. Also check out rates from Globe & Mail but remember a credit union will often pay dividend on top of interest earned. Check history of there dividends for some what of a guide. For TFSA & RRSP see if they will pay transfer fees & if it is possible to remove transfer fees when the GICs mature. (in writing)

  41. Driller2012 on July 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Wow, people put a lot of effort into saving pennies. We try a few things like –
    -xmas lights on timers/minimal lights to start
    hunting – a moose fills the freezer with meat for a year
    -unplug appliances like microwaves when not in use
    extra money on the mortgage
    but work covers most things mentioned here:
    – cell phone
    – gym membership (includes squash)
    – medical, dental etc
    – company fishing trip – lots of halibut in the freezer
    – lunch once a month
    – xmas gift, so far we have received – 2 ipods, gps, shirts

    just remember if you get hit by a bus you don’t want to be the richest person in the graveyard. you only live once! Enjoy it!!

  42. Lou on August 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    We turn down the water heater, and when we need hot water, we have to run the water to get it hot, so I fill up the water jug with the cool water and water the house plants with it.
    We also try not too flush the toilet all day long and only when necessary. When cooking we always cook extra, enough to have another meal of leftovers.
    We use the oven on cool days and BBQ on hot days.
    I have been cutting my husbands hair for 35 years and treat myself to a $17.00 haicut about every two months.
    I never buy cookies & cakes, or buy prepared meals – almost everything is homemade.
    We try to save money by buying bulk pasta & canned goods, & drinks.

  43. minimize without any loss on August 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    Definitely negotiate! specialty stores, appliances, furniture – if you buy it today, you pay less ;) the same goes for services and rent. telephone, cable, Internet.. though better to just get high-speed internet and VOIP / Netflix it to eliminate television and telephone bills altogether.

    for cellphone, the smartest thing to do is buy an unlocked (android) phone, then to go get a tablet sim which is internet only and costs 5-35$ per month (usually scaling). then with that phone you use Google Voice and one of many free sms apps

    I have a tablet sim in my phone and no internet/cable/telephone. When I am on the computer I use the internet from my phone (tethering)

    drive less
    eat less
    read a book – most of them are free online (even without pirating)
    also, order stuff online when the price and shipping is reasonable.

  44. Extreme Couponing Canada on August 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Great money saving tips.

    I also do a bunch of these like bagging lunch to work, making my own coffee and tea in the morning and putting it in a travel mug for the day.

    I also try to drive as little as possible and walk to work and the grocery store if I can. That also saves on gym memberships :)

    You can also save on your electricity bill by opening all blinds and curtains during the day for natural light!

  45. Marguerite on July 25, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I subscribe to cable during Nov., dec. Jan and Feb. only, the 4 months I spend more time inside in Eastern Cold Canada. I also have a prepaid cell phone, which I use for emergencies only, this costs me $100. a year – I stock up on non perishable food when they are on sale, I check the weekly specials for meat, fish, etc. I buy good quality clothes on sale, ideally 50% or more off.

  46. SST on July 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    A couple books for a hands-on approach to frugal home-life:

    Flight From the City (1933) — Ralph Borsodi
    (frugally free@)

    The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto (2010) — Kevin Carson
    (frugally free@)

    If you can find Borsodi’s ‘Prosperity and Security : a Study in Realistic Economics’, let me know.

  47. KathHudson on November 24, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    It is even possible to save money while traveling! The main trick is to use roaming simcards instead of your regular ones. I used TravelSim last time I was on trip and it was just great

  48. Campbell on May 24, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Great lovely things have been said above.Very informative ineed.
    I would love to add that buying a new cell phone every month or changing many of them in a year can definitely put a hold on your savings

  49. Ardeshir Mehta on September 17, 2014 at 9:56 pm


    You issued a couple of ideas.

    29. I don’t buy groceries and cleaning supplies UNLESS they’re on sale. (Except when I run out and HAVE to buy something, but that’s not often, because I buy more than enough and store it in the basement.)

    30. I buy my clothes at second-hand stores. (Overcoat: $15; Jacket: $10; dress pants: $7, dress shirts: $5. Can’t do much better than that. And not all of them are actually USED; my dress shirts, for example, look like they are brand new and somebody just didn’t like them!)

    31. I use Kijiji and eBay a lot.

    32. AND I shop at different dollar stores a LOT. Save B-I-G!!!

  50. Ardeshir Mehta on September 17, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    ERRATUM: In my previous post, the word “issued” should be “missed”.

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