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How to save money on your utility bills and other expert-approved tips

Click to play video '30-day anti-budget and other ways to manage finances in 2021' 30-day anti-budget and other ways to manage finances in 2021
Finance expert Kelley Keehn checks in with The Morning Show to share tips for saving money in the new year for long-term gains. – Jan 20, 2021

For Canadians who are having a hard time sticking to their new year budgeting plans, you’re not alone.

On Monday, Canada Post reported that 2020 was a record-breaking year for online shopping.

Edmonton-based financial expert Kelley Keehn shares tips on how to curb your online shopping habits and save more money with an anti-budgeting plan.

Read more: Canada on track for record online shopping year due to coronavirus pandemic

Keehn recommends tracking your spending for 30 days, rather than constricting yourself to a tight budget.

“What are the categories that your family is actually spending money on? Then multiply it by 12,” she said, adding that this can help you get a better idea of what areas you can save money in.

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“Maybe you do have enough for that RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) contribution this year, or to pay down on debt, or to actually save for a vacation one day when we can travel again,” she said.

Keehn says the average Canadian is spending about $5,000 on subscriptions, booze, weed and gambling.

“Not that there’s anything wrong with those things but… if you could slash that in half, that puts $2,500 in your savings account,” she said.

Going through your subscriptions and cancelling things your family no longer uses can also go a long way, Keehn adds.

Read more: No job during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s what you can do in 2021

Keehn says we can use our banking apps to help us track our spending habits and save money.

Many banks have a ‘round up’ option that allows you to round up any card purchases and the change is moved into a savings account.

“Every time you spend money, you can elect to add an extra dollar, $5, even $20 to that purchase — it goes into a little secret account that you’re not seeing often,” she said.

Also, Keehn adds, if you have at least three products with your bank — like credit cards, loans or mortgage payments — you can call them and ask for free banking.

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“If you’re loyal to your bank, you can actually get free banking but if you don’t ask they’re not going to offer it,” she said.

Read more: What should you do with cash saved during the pandemic? Experts weigh in

For people trying to curb their online shopping habits, Keehn recommends unlinking your credit card from online accounts.

“From all those websites that make it way too easy — that one click,” she said, adding that physically having to get up to go get your card might deter you from making the purchase.

Keehn also recommends taking 30 days to think about your purchase and revisiting it later if it’s still something you’d like to buy.

“And it also allows you to savour that purchase if you’re taking weeks to do it,” she said.

Read more: Running out of financial aid during the pandemic? Money expert on what to do next

For many Canadians still cooped up at home due to provincial lockdowns, there are many ways you can save on your utility expenses.

Changing your furnace filter more often can save you an average of $60, Keehn says.

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Other ways to save include putting a timer on your water heater, buying energy-efficient light bulbs and installing a clothesline.

Keehn also recommends using a programmable thermostat.

“It’s wintertime — we need the heat, of course, but you don’t need it all the time when you’re maybe going for that walk or sleeping at night,” she said.

To learn more tips on how to save money and spend less in 2021, watch the full video above.

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