Code - Financial Independence

How to Save as Much Money as Possible

This post will give you all my best money saving tips. That’s kind of a must to become financially independent and, if that’s your thing, retire early! You can also just pick a few of them to save money as you see fit. The list will be updated as I find new ways to save extra cash.

Notice: this post contains some affiliate links, I use the links to generate some revenue and maintain the site but I will never recommend products that I haven’t used myself and that I don’t have a positive experience with. The goal of this blog is to help people get financially independent and invest, not to make a ton of referrals on products I with dubious quality.

There is a lot of stuff so I’ve divided the post into a few categories. Here is the table of content.

  1. Cars
  2. House and Apartment
  3. Consumption
  4. Food
  5. Lifestyle
  6. Things You Shouldn’t Go Cheap On

How savings scale works

Very High – more than 50 000 $ in savings.
High – around 10 000 $ to 50 000 $ in savings.
Medium – around 1000 $ to 10 000 $ in savings.
Low – around 100 $ to 1000 $ in savings.

Cars

Get the Smallest, Most Efficient Car for Your Needs

This is a must as cars are very expensive to buy and maintain. You should get the most efficient and smallest car possible that meet your needs. No, kids don’t always require a van or a truck. You can rent these if you really need them for a short period. I’d suggest to buy used as you’ll save on some of the depreciation.

High Potential Savings

Take the Right Type of Gas

Gas types

Look up in your owner’s manual what gas your car requires. If it says regular, don’t buy premium you’re simply wasting your money and I think refineries have plenty enough money already. Most people think their car run better with higher octane which is not true if not required, it simply creates more pollution.

Medium Potential Savings

Easy on the Gas Pedal

Don’t drive your car like you stole it every time you get behind the wheel, always pull slowly from a stop or a red light. Most of fuel consumption is to get the thing going. If you have a heavy foot, try to drive smooth for once, you’ll save a bunch of gas, and money! I currently have the best fuel economy of all the manual BRZ owners I’ve seen, that’s not because I don’t use it, that’s because I know when to give it gas and because I always try to pull slowly when not in the power band.

Medium Potential Savings

Read the Owner’s Manual and Maintain Your Car

How do you think I’ve kept my car 17 years in such good shape? I maintained it, washed it, had it repaired and I know the basics of how it works to make sure the maintenance is scheduled right. I also don’t let small problems go on and on and become big issues. The owner’s manual is full of good resources about your car and you have to follow this guide if you want to keep your vehicle for a long time, believe me.

Also, keeping a logbook can be a good idea detailing every maintenance done, which is what I do.

Honda Accord 2000

My 2000 Honda Accord before I sell it in 2016.

Medium Potential Savings

Use engine braking

I see a lot of people coasting to a stop in a manual car, instead of doing so, simply lift your foot of the gas pedal and use compression when coming to a stop. Compression doesn’t use gas at all and helps your car stop, saving brakes at the same time. You can also rev match downshift to compress even more your gear.

Low Potential Savings

Buy Used

Cars lose a ton of value in the first few years, that’s nothing new. But some of them lose more value than others, sometimes it’s because they are junk, but some other times you might find a car that lost value but is still in great shape and doesn’t have so many recalls and problems. Finding a used car to buy requires research because knowledge will save you money on repairs. You need something that, with maintenance, will rarely break, just like my old Accord!

It’s true that I haven’t bought my last car used, but I think I learned my lesson well and will buy used the next time for sure! Sometimes, rarely, it might make (not financial) sense to buy a new car, if you really maintain it and want to drive it into the ground and really want something specific. It’s still better to buy used financially.

High Potential Savings

House/Apartment

Don’t Own Two Houses

I want the least possible of what’s paired with borrowing money and especially housing. In fact, a house is not a revenue generating asset so I treat it exactly like a car. It might not seem like it depreciates but it requires so much maintenance, money and time that it’s just like it. You own a second house or a camper? Let’s face it, you cannot live in two houses at once and you have two money sinks instead of only one. In fact campers are the worst because they are not stuck in the same place (what artificially creates value for an aging house) and are replaced by new models every year, therefore, depreciate at an alarming rate. It’s at the top of my list of the worst financial mistakes you can possibly make, even worst than a car. Just rent one instead…

I don’t see the point of buying a cottage either unless you live there most of your time and are financially independent already. Banks can’t stop making record high profits year after year because of people borrowing like crazy, stop this nonsense at once…

If houses were really money generating assets, bank would simply keep them. Yet, for some strange reason that’s not what they do. And believe me, they’re pretty good at figuring out what generates money and what doesn’t, like a few billions in profits a year good.

Very High Potential Savings

Own the Smallest Possible House

There are people in developing countries that live in very very small spaces with their entire family, yet, people here live in super large spaces and figure out they need spare bedrooms. I just don’t get it. Buy an inflatable mattress if you have people sleeping over, you’ll save tens of thousands of dollars on that extra room or two. Worst case you can let them use your bed and use the inflatable mattress yourself.

Again, housing is extra expensive in cities so you want the least possible of it if you want to live close to work because daily commutes drains the crap out of your paycheck. Believe me, I’ve done 2 to 3 hours commute a day and would never do that again.

Very High Potential Savings

Stop Paying for Storage

I get rid of everything I possibly don’t need because I don’t want to pay for storage, this is just crazy. Less stuff makes it easier to get organized and to move from one place to another. Just cleanup your stuff and you won`t need to rent storage space, it’s easy as that.

Most things we own, we own them based on our emotions but stuff doesn’t equal real people. My rule of thumb is if I haven’ used *put item name here* in the last month, it’s useless and can possibly be trashed. Obviously some things are seasonal but they should be kept to a minimum, and I hate stuff for holidays so I also keep a minimum amount of them. It`s nice to celebrate Christmas for example but it shouldn’t need a complete closet. Remember that holidays are for getting together with people, not with stuff.

Medium Potential Savings

One Cleaning Product, Multiple Usage

I try to find ways to use either cheap cleaning products like vinegar or a single product for multiple usage. This way I don’t buy 3-4 products for the whole house, one for the dishes and one for cleaning. It’s good to save a few bucks!

Low Potential Savings

Ditch the Dishwasher

I admit this is a nice accommodation for procrastination but lets face it, it takes a lot longer and uses electricity and hot water. It also makes it more complicated to move out of your current place.

Medium Potential Savings

Seal Your Windows

I use those large plastic wraps or removable caulking to seal the windows of my apartment during the cold months of winter. Since doors and windows are where the building loses the more heat, I can save a bunch of electricity that way. Takes a bit of time but worth it!

Low Potential Savings

Wear a Sweat Shirt When it’s Cold Out

If it’s cold outside it’s very tempting to jack up the thermostat but heating is one of the most costly thing on your utility bill. I always try to put on a second shirt and heat to around 20 degrees celcius when I’m at home and around 17-18 when I’m not. Honestly, my apartment is not really well insulated so I figured out that it’s a lot cheaper to completely shut off the heating system during the day and to put it back up when I’m back from work. Still, I don’t recommend this practice unless you’re sure you’re really saving money as I am and that your place doesn’t go below 10 degrees, otherwise plumbing could freeze and that would be very bad.

Medium Potential Savings

Replace the Most Used Lights With LEDs

LED Light

LEDs are still expensive, but 6W vs 60W can make a difference if the light is often on. If you know you’re going to stay in the same place for quite some time, I’d suggest you try replacing the most used lights with LEDs.

Low Potential Savings

Hang Your Clothes

The dryer is one of the most energy hungry appliance in your home. I try to hang the clothes as much as possible, especially during summer. The only two things I rarely hang are underwear/socks and towels.

Medium Potential Savings

Use Your Shower Towels for A Week

You’re already clean when you come out of the shower so why use the towel only a few times when you can use it for a full week and save on dryer and washer electricity. That’s an easy one!

Low Potential Savings

Stop Buying Counter-top Appliances

Unless you’re really using them, stop buying a bunch of counter-top appliances that do the exact same thing as what you could do in just a little more time with your hands. Also, try to buy a multi-purpose counter-top appliance if you’re going to do so. For example, I bought a toaster oven to grill toasts, make chicken, nachos and whatever else that can go in the conventional oven. Therefore, I have one appliance for a lot of usage and I am not keeping my regular toaster. Counter real estate is precious! Anyways, these appliances cost money and they clutter your kitchen.

Medium Potential Savings

Don’t Be Afraid to Rent

People always tell me that I’m pouring money down the drain. In fact, I can save about 1000 $ more per month while renting rather than owning, I also don’t carry the burden of responsibility over the real estate. And that money is all going into my investments to make more money instead of going straight to the bank and a little towards my principal. A house is not and investment, it’s a quality of life that you might or might not deserve depending on your net worth and the rental market.

Renting can also save you from owning a car because you can be closer to work, which is a really big deal.

High Potential Savings

Don’t Buy Furniture Just to Fill Out Space

If it won’t serve an immediate purpose, I don’t buy it, everything around me must be used or will be removed/trashed or sold. I have empty spaces in my apartment but I don’t store money in stuff.

High Potential Savings

Choose One Source of Energy

I’m currently stuck with a company I won’t name that starts with “Em” and finishes with “bridge” that try to make me think natural gas is somehow good for the environment when one of their pipeline just blew up a few days ago in British Columbia. When you have two sources of energy, you have to pay a flat fee for both which might up your bill considerably. Here is my own example, last year I paid 650 $ for all my electricity bills and 600 $ for all my “not so” natural gas bills. The thing is, I pay around 3-5 $ in actual gas per month because only my water heater is on the gas line. That’s around 540 $ in collateral fees. No wonder they like to plug in their gas lines in every apartment.

My call on this one is, do the math and choose the most efficient and environmental friendly way at your disposal if your have control over the source you’re using or you might end up just like me.

Medium Potential Savings

Keep an Eye on Your Electricity Stats

Most of electricity companies provide a control panel on which you can see your monthly/daily usage. I monitor my usage and try to reduce as much as possible.

Low Potential Savings

Monitor the Electricity Usage

If you’re crazy like I am, you can monitor the electricity consumption of your appliances to know what is more or less effective. For example if I need to remove humidity from the air, I know that my dehumidifier uses less power than my electric heating system. You can use this tool to do so which is what I am personally using. You might be surprised at how much power an alarm clock uses for its purpose…

Low Potential Savings

Consumption

Resist Buying the Latest Gadget On the Market

Technology depreciates at a never seen before rate as innovation is right around the corner to replace it. I’ve long ago given up on the bull sh*t and now just wait. If I really need that thing, I’ll buy it on sale a few months down the line.

Medium Potential Savings

Don’t Buy Stuff That You Don’t Absolutely Need

Beware of the advertisement trying to create needs in your head for something that you don’t really need. My personal tip on this is to cut the cable TV and to install uBlock Origin plugin on your Web browser. That way you won’t be tempted to buy stuff unless you need it so bad you thought about it yourself!

High Potential Savings

Shop With a List

I always know what I need and what I’m shopping for. For instance, I need two pair of pants, nothing else. That also means that I do grocery with a list to make sure I don’t buy junk food.

Medium Potential Savings

The Sale Price Is the Real Price

I don’t care if it’s 5 000 $ off, the price on the tag is now the real price. Am I willing to pay that price for that object and do I really need it in first place? If the answer is no to any of those questions, then I don’t buy it!

Medium Potential Savings

Keep Your Old Cell Phone and Lower Your Bill

If you keep your cell phone long enough, you’ll enter the select club of the bring your own device (BYOD) people. The only club you really want to be in because it means that you’re polluting less and that you’ll get better prices and more leverage to deal. I don’t buy a new cell phone unless my old one doesn’t work anymore or is broken. I still use my good old Blackberry Z10. You can get a similar device here. Which leads me to my other advice, never buy a top of the line cell phone and buy it cash because you want that BYOD plan.

Medium Potential Savings

Stop Buying Lottery Tickets

I have a serious problem with the lottery and how they rip people off. I cannot see any situation in which it’s a good thing to buy a lottery tickets of any sort. I think the odds are not well represented because no one seem to figure out how much they don’t have a chance of winning in 1/14 000 000 for a 3 $ ticket. Stop wasting your money and stop feeding this ridiculous machine and become financially independent. Instantly win 3 bucks by not buying a lottery ticket! Here is a post for more in-dept information about this nonsense.

I also don’t buy lottery for charity, I give straight to charity instead because that way at least my money doesn’t go for prices to winners.

Medium Potential Savings

Don’t Buy Extended Warranty

Don’t buy extended warranty, if you maintain the product you’ve bought it should last a descent amount of time. Also, most products already come with a standard warranty of one year or more against defects. Plus, you get another comprehensive warranty with your credit card let’s say the product lasted for 1 year and 1 month on a one year warranty for a dryer. It just doesn’t make sense for a dryer to last only a year. A claim can be done to replace the object or get reimbursed for the repair. Check with your credit card company for more details.

Finally, if you’re in Quebec, Canada we have extra protection with the consumers association but if you still want to buy the extended warranty, deal it at 50 % off, you’ll be surprised at how willing they are to negotiate. Proves my point it’s a rip off.

Medium Potential Savings

Careful With Memberships

Memberships are rarely good, unless you really shop or use this place for what it’s worth which is almost impossible for people trying to save money for financial independence. I’m talking about Costco membership or Amazon Prime. I just don’t buy enough stuff to make it worthwhile and will just go elsewhere instead. Other than that I have a Netflix membership that we (my girlfriend and I) use quite a lot.

Low Potential Savings

Points Cards and Other Crap

Points rarely are in favour of the customer, in fact they never are. The entity that issues points will use your data to give you promotional content and make sure you buy more stuff you don’t need. Also, points make you spend more because it’s like a game. Oh it’s 20 times the point this weekend at Shoppers Drug Mart, I’ll go take a look. It’s free if you don’t go! You may have 40 $ in bonus points but you spent 90 $ that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Most of the time the reward is so bad that it’s not even worth keeping the card in your wallet. For example, I gave back my Petro-Canada card a few years ago after I figured out that after about 3 000 $ of gas in one year I had the “privilege” of getting a whooping 10 $ off gift card in the form of a 10 cents a litre card. Sorry but that’s just not worth the hassle of going there on purpose. I’m not that mathematically challenged.

I made some calculations with the Optimum point card as I try as much as possible not to look at the loaded offers and buy only what I need, most of the time I can get up to 2 %. That’s on top of the 2 % of my credit card for a total of 4 % cash back for groceries. It’s not bad but it used to be better as now I get offers for the pharmacy which I don’t want. Is it worth it for 2 %? I’ll let you make up your mind but I think the savings are almost negligible (about 60 $ a year) for the trouble of handling a card that dictate what I should buy which is not always on sale.

Medium Potential Savings (time and energy also)

Always Pay Your Credit Card On Time

Credit Card

I use my credit card like a debit card and it’s always paid on time, that way I give the credit card company the least amount of my money because they already have plenty enough. Not paying your credit card on time or overspending can go through your savings at a never seen before rate. The penalties are simply ridiculous, no one has any valid reason for missing a payment, if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.

Medium Potential Savings

Careful with Bank Fees

Look, you shouldn’t be paying the bank for them to be able to use your money to make more money. Is this the world up-side-down? The bank should be paying you to generously lend them your hard earned money. Cut the checking account fees as quickly as possible and use your credit card or cash for any outflow of money. The way I do it is: anything that comes out is by credit card and I put all my cash into the bank as soon as I get some. If it’s in cash, it’s not working for me and it’s harder to manage. Be it in a savings account as an emergency fund or in my investment accounts, I prefer the money virtual than real.

Low Potential Savings

Some Stuff Should Be Revised

Insurance and cables companies in particular, don’t reward loyal customers. Instead they prefer to suck as much money from them as possible. You should review your insurance at least once per two years and find better price elsewhere. In fact, as your car ages for example, your insurance should be cheaper. You would be surprised at the savings you can get from this strategy. It’s the same idea for cable/fiber, you need to stay on the lookout for deals on their Website because Internet is close to mandatory these days.

Medium Potential Savings

Assess Your Mobile Data Very Carefully

If you’re in Canada, make sure you don’t watch videos on your cell phone. In fact, data is extremely costly here. I take the least possible amount of data for emails and Blackberry Messenger (BBM) and stay on the lookout for WiFi networks which are free (except mine at home obviously!). In other words I take the cheapest plan possible to just meet my needs in data because data drives the price of the plans. I use FIZZ which is Videotron for my cell phone plan, it’s been good for the last two months, consider checking them out if you’re in Canada, they’re pretty cheap. Here is my referral code in case you want a 25 $ off : U5DAO. Keep in mind that you must have your own phone if you want to go with this company. Also, you might have to configure your APN network settings.

One remark about free WIFI, be careful about man-in-the-middle attack, never go on your bank account or enter sensitive information on a public wifi.

Medium Potential Savings

Stuff Does Not Bring Happiness

I don’t know what does but I know what doesn’t. Buying things does not bring happiness and makes me poor. Buying the necessary to make my life easier is the way to go, nothing more. Once I understood that, I built a shield around myself to destroy all unnecessary desire for stuff I don’t need. For some reason logic always takes over and kills the will for useless crap, practice is what you need to do to accomplish such a mindset.

High Potential Savings (your money and your time!)

Simplify Credit Cards

I don’t really believe in all the rewards and stuff that come with credit cards. In part because I don’t spend enough to be making any rewards. This crap makes you spend money and think you’re earning something in return but in fact you’re just spending more than you would have without it. And guess what, they make a nice commission out of you buying useless stuff from the merchants. I use one credit card only, that cost nothing and with 2 % cashback on grocery because I need to feed myself to live.

Medium Potential Savings

Watch Out for Subscriptions

Subscriptions can drain out your saving rate. In my opinion, it’s ok to have for instance a Netflix subscription as long as you use it. Personally, every month I review my subscriptions and make sure I am using them to their full potential or cancel them at once. Stacking up subscription can quickly make you lose track of where money is going.

Medium Potential Savings

Watch Out for Management Fees

Management fees can eat up a lot from your investments. Make sure you parent out your financial institution or whoever you’re using to invest your money so they don’t charge you astronomical fees. My say is to stick with something below 1 % management expense ratio (MER) for mutual funds and below 0.5 % for ETFs.

High Potential Savings

Food

Remember Grocery Prices

For some reason I have a visual memory for prices, therefore, I know when a price is good and when it’s not. You can save a lot of money if you buy according to sales in the flyer but beware of scam sales. Sometimes it’s advertised at the regular price that’s why you have to remember prices. Another reason why I am targeting grocery is that you will always need to eat and buy some, you might as well go for the best value for your money.

Medium Potential Savings

Go for the Cheapest Grocery Store

Grocery Store

Grocery stores have different grades, even if they’re not advertised. My guess is that it’s in part because we must feed the rich and the poor. The rich will go for the fancier presentation and the pack boys and the poor will go for the lowest prices with not so great presentation. I don’t care about the look of the place, I’m there to buy good quality products at the right price. Go for the simple looking grocery store that will give you a lower average grocery price monthly.

Medium Potential Savings

Cut Back On Meat

Meat is very expensive, it’s possible to greatly reduce monthly expenses by buying eggs, legumes (like llentils and chickpeas) and tofu instead or simply cutting meat for a few meals a week. I’m not vegan or vegetarian, I eat what I want but I constantly try to diversify in order to eat less meat, be healthy and save money at the same time.

Medium Potential Savings

Don’t Cheap Out on What’s Good for You

I don’t cheap out on what’s good, but I will definitely prefer what’s on sale. If it’s a vegetable or a fruit, chances are I might buy it even if not on sale. Any other products I’ll wait for lower prices, unless maybe for meat which I don’t buy for more than 60-70 $ a month for two people. But if it’s dairy or any other luxury product, I am very patient. Also, eggs and tofu can be cheaper than meat and will make a good meal.

Medium Potential Savings

Eat Real Food

Stop buying supplement and vitamins that just go straight down without getting absorbed, I mean right down in the merchant’s pocket in one of the most prolific industry ever created. No sh*t! They sell powder not food! If you eat healthy then you need none of that stupid crap (except B12 if you don’t eat meat). Save your money for real food. Want more information? look it up in this book (I’ve only read part of it but I intend to finish reading it soon). Really good book from a really knowledgeable author.

Medium Potential Savings

Eat Healthy

Eating healthy food is like an investment for the future, and it doesn’t cost much more than eating crap. Unprocessed or minimally processed food tend to be cheaper because it hasn’t been altered from its original form. Plus, here in Canada most fruits and veggies are tax free, thanks government!

High Potential Savings (on your health!)

Eat Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Look, I know fresh tastes better but it’s cheaper to buy frozen and it’s already precut! No work to do and I get a bunch of mixed fruits or vegetables that I can put in whatever recipe I’m doing. If I can’t get fresh at a good price, I buy frozen.

Low Potential Savings

Don’t buy Soft Drinks or Water Bottles

Soft drinks are a complete waste of money, as well as water bottles. Why buy sugar in a can that’s not even good for you. I bet you’ve seen a lot of ads on Pepsi and Coke, most of the time if they need to advertise something it’s because it’s not good for you, think dairy, sugar treats and the like. Anyways, I have yet to see an ad on how carrots and apples are good for your health…

Water bottles is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, why buy water (that you’re already paying for in your taxes by the way) that comes in a plastic bottle that creates pollution?! There must be something I’m missing or maybe I’m just smarter than the mass… Unless you’re really in need and absolutely cannot find a way to store water in some other container which very rarely happens. Rarely like flood type of rarely or house to the ground type of rarely, you should never even pay 1 cent for that bull sh*t. Save your money these companies have plenty enough.

Medium Potential Savings

Lifestyle

Don’t Buy Pets

Pets are expensive to buy, to feed and to take care of. The bigger, the more expensive and if it’s a pure breed it’s even more expensive. Make sure it’s well worth it because the commitment is real. I really like animals but I don’t see why I would buy a pet as if it didn’t have to right to its own will. As if I would be so confident that the life I can offer is so much better than what it could get by living outside… not so sure. Plus that’s something that will keep you stuck in the same place, just like a house but this time it’s alive and it has rights and feelings. That’s my opinion, you can make your own but I would calculate everything, a small dog can cost around 30 000 $ over 15 years, not counting inflation. I’d say make sure you never buy it in a heartbeat.

High Potential Savings

Ask Someone You Know to Cut Your Hair

Getting your hair cut can be costly on a yearly basis. Watch your wallet grow as you cut that expense by buying a pair of scissors and an electric clipper. Ok, I don’t own that exact one but Whal is pretty much the go-to when looking for a cheap, great quality clipper.

Low Potential Savings

Use Your Bike or Walk While You Still Can

Bike

I’m feeling grateful that I can walk and bike, I have well working legs most probably as you do. Walking and biking will save you a ton of money, the traffic jams and the environment at the same time. It will also keep you in good shape, I try to take my bike or walk to work as much as I can.

Medium Potential Savings (high muscular benefits!)

Take the Bus

Basically, do anything not to use your car because it’s the biggest money pit you can buy. Except maybe for your house in some cases… But! A car needs to move once in a while otherwise it will break down.

Medium Potential Savings

Don’t Travel If You Don’t Have To

Transportation is often very expensive, I try to choose the cheapest or less of a hassle way to travel. In that case, I don’t mind paying a bit more if I can just put my butt on a seat and wait for the final destination. I choose the laziness over the effort. But sometimes it’s just too expensive to be lazy, especially if your savings rate is not that high i.e. less than 50 % (for FI people).

Air travel causes pollution and is very costly, from my calculations, it seems better financially to stay longer in one place instead of moving around all the time.

I’d suggest to make sure you really need to travel and take the cheapest option at your disposal.

High Potential Savings

Organize Activities That Are Fun and Less Expensive

There are many activities that can be done without blowing the budget like going for a bike ride, going to the park, making a trip to visit the nearest city. You can also do some yard work, play a sport or a video game. Other good ideas would be to visit friends and family or to organize a diner at your place. Pick your favourite inexpensive activity to get people together!

Medium Potential Savings

Make an Habit of Saving

If you have trouble saving, I suggest you set a specific date in the month, put it in your cell phone’s calendar as a reminder and set an amount to transfer from your bank account into your savings/investments account ready to get into the market or whatever investment vehicle you’re using. I use mostly ETFs and mutual funds and here is how the process looks like.

  • I make money from my income sources (job, business and dividends);
  • I put 50 % or more of what I earn into my savings account while waiting for it to reach about 10 000 $ (but you can go for 5 000 $ if you prefer);
  • I then transfer the full amount into the designated investment account (regular or TFSA or RRSP) and rebalance the portfolio;
  • Repeat the procedure.

It worked very well for the last few years but you need a lot of dedication to make this work.

Restaurants to a Minimum

Restaurants to get together with friends or family, restaurants to meet clients, that’s good for me. Restaurants because I’m too damn lazy to make my lunch in the morning, nope. I save a whole bunch of money by not eating out while at work. I am at work to make money and feed my hungry portfolios, not to spend it on restaurant!

Medium Potential Savings

No Smoking, Less Drinking

I don’t smoke and I drink rarely. That’s because neither are good for my health and because they are really costly. Alcohol goes into the luxury category in my grocery list. I will gladly buy beer for friends but not for myself because it will rot away before I drink it. Stop smoking and reduce your drinking habit, you’ll save a bunch of money.

Medium Potential Savings

5 Minutes Showers

5 minutes shower

I take 5 minutes or less showers to save water and gas. Here we don’t have a water usage meter but if you do, it could save you a bunch. Especially if you take baths which use about as twice as a normal shower. I also replaced the shower head because this can also save a lot.

Low Potential Savings (save the planet!)

Budget!

This might sound like the most boring part, but it helps me keep control over what’s going in and out, that’s how I see my efforts to save more and how efficient or inefficient I am. It gives me insights on where I could improve and if I got some spare money for more activities. A budget is essential to summarize all the other saving habits, it’s like a control panel for motivation. Just use Google Sheets with the annual budget template and you’ll be up and running in no time.

High Potential Savings (because it’s part of the basics)

Donations

I always try to donate a bit of what I earn. It might sound counter intuitive but a donation will prevent you from donating an unknown amount of money which might be more than you would normally plus, it does something good for the people in need! Budget for your donation and give back what you can at your own pace. Helping others is part of the journey to saving, 1 $ is as good as 1 000 $, that’s how I see it.

Potential earnings!

Pay Off your Debts!

If you have any debts, it’s time to focus on paying them off because they’ll pull you down while you’re trying to reach financial independence. You can use debt snowball or avalanche depending on your style and state of mind. You need to be debt free if you want to invest!

High Potential Savings

Set Goals!

Setting goals helps me to stay focus as I know my goal is not to buy that new whatever toy at Walmart but a lot bigger than that. The freedom of running my own business and writing this blog/recording Youtube videos/having more time for my family and friends is a lot more important to me for instance. You have your own goals and I bet it’s not filling your house/apartment with a lot of sh*t you don’t need. Goals will keep you on track as it does for me, everyone need objectives in life. What I recommend is to write 10 major goals you want to accomplish in the next 20 years or whatever you want to put it, just write them. Keep them close and you’ll stay focus.

There Are Some Things That You Shouldn’t Go Cheap On

Body Maintenance

Treat your body like you’ll only have one, because that’s the case. Sometimes your best insurance is maintenance. Exercise, walk, bike, eat healty food and try to sleep at least 7 hours per night. I agree, this does not mean 100 % chance that you won’t get sick for some reason, but I see this as probabilities. The more you try to put them on your side, the best chance you get to live a great healthy life.

Get yourself some good tools to maintain your body. For example, flossing every day and using an electric toothbrush can save you quite a bit of money in the long run in dental insurance/dental care. Sometimes it’s not the quality of the tools you’ll use, only that you take care of yourself by doing the bare minimum.

Not drinking like crazy and eating potato chips all day long while watching TV is surely putting chances on your side, get outside and exercise a bit. Basically, what I’m trying to say is to think long term about the impacts of what you’re doing to your body right now. Save yourself potentially big health issues.

A Good Mattress

You need to sleep, so do I, even if I don’t really like sleeping. A good mattress, not the cheapest, not the most expensive, but the one you’ll feel best on is essential. To be productive, to enjoy life, you need a good night of sleep. I don’t go cheap on mattresses.

Car Safety Features

BRZ in winter

I mean, winter tires and summer tires. I never go cheap on those because they could save my life on icy/wet roads. In fact, it’s the only point of contact between me and the road. Hey, I’m not saying to buy the most expensive ones, I’m saying to buy good tires for your usage and according to the type of climate you live in. Also, car repairs, I do them as soon as they come up because a well maintained old car is not very different from a brand new car. I know that from my old 2000 accord which lasted me 17 years and is still on the road as of today! Maintenance is not just mandatory on a car, if you don’t have time or money to maintain what you buy, then it’s probably too expensive or you have too much stuff!

Need a second opinion on tires? Here is a great video.

Home Safety Features

The best insurance is sometimes found in cheap little things like a fire alarm. In fact, even if you have a very good life insurance, you’ll still be dead if you’re stuck in the fire because you didn’t pay 3 bucks for a new battery. Most of the incidents can be avoided if you take some safety measures like adding a CO alarm near possible sources, installing a fire alarm on each floor and keeping a fire extinguisher at hand near fire sources. You can also educate yourself on how to deal with kitchen fires. Basic maintenance of your house and car can swing the odds on your side.

Don’t Get Too Caught Up

This is not a mandatory list to FI or anything, which means the goal is not to do nothing but stay in place all day just to save money. In fact, it’s much more focused on trying to filter what can be money pits in which you don’t want to fall for unless they really bring happiness. Just like your Netflix subscription for example, if you’re a big movie fan, then you should keep it. It’s all about the optimization of your spending to increase your saving rate!

You must realize that small steps have to be done on the path of increasing your saving rate. It’s all the small things that stack up that will kill your budget. If you go too quickly you may find yourself falling back where you were. Again, the goal is to focus on what really brings happiness and clear out the rest.

I welcome any other ideas in the comments that might help people save more money!

More information about FI: I still want to recommend my favourite book about FI if you’d like more information. It’s not that expensive and explains really well how financial independence works. Just keep in mind that it’s been written for the U.S., so you might have to check out the equivalent ETFs at Vanguard Canada.

Extreme FIRE: if the tips above were not extreme enough for you, you can get some hardcore stuff on this blog and the book that comes with it (really good read by the way). Good luck!

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