Frugal Living

10 Ways Canadians Are Wasting Money

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I can’t help but continue to chime in on sharing frugal living experiences with my readers in the face of recession.

Today, Canadian Budget Binder reader Angela Mainse explains how years of frugality have made her a family expert on saving money.

With many Canadians struggling to find affordable living, pay bills, and put food on the table, some may feel going into debt is the only way to survive.

What can we do together to fight back against the bureaucracy of government?

Not a whole hell of a lot because I’m convinced we can only help ourselves.

We can share, educate, assist and treat people with kindness. Everyone has a back story, and not all Canadians are wasting money the same way, if at all.

I’ve had countless readers tell me they have no more budget to trim, and I wish I could do more.

Often just reading about what others have been through allows a bond even of strangers online who can relate to each other.

Let’s discuss and recognize expenses that may work against your budget.

Wasting Money
Ten Ways Canadians Are Wasting Money

Frugal For Life

I’ve been frugal or cutting back for years my whole life, and I’m not a big fan of waste.

We’ve reduced our expenses for years in so many ways by looking outside of the box.

Doing so allowed me to return to school several years ago; I was out of work, and my husband only worked part-time.

In all that, we tightened our finances enough that we never had to get rid of the cable tv and took on no new debt.

We could eat for $30 or less a week for three when our son was in middle school.

Even if we can’t get our grocery budget to that point in 2023, we will continue to work with the same principles.

Stop Wasting Money
Money Wasted Is Cash That Could Be Spent Where It’s Needed.

Before this story blew up on my Facebook page, I had already written ten items Canadians may want to review.

You’re not expected to relate to each one but ask yourself whether it’s something you can do without to help get you to your financial goals.

For example, finishing our basement will cost upwards of $60,000, and for us to pay cash, we need to buckle down and save.

Ask yourself what priorities you have and begin jotting them down while considering your expenses.

1. Subscription Boxes

I’ve tested meal kit subscription boxes, and although tasty, I couldn’t justify the expenses.

Subscription boxes may be filled with monthly gourmet foods, pet foods, wine selections, beauty products, or junk food.

These types of boxes are groomed in such a way that subscribers love personalization.

Aside from the costly aesthetics, are you saving money or wasting money?

2. Paying Interest On Credit Cards

I’m not a fan of paying interest, but there are times in our lives when we have to.

For example, we pay interest on a mortgage, car loans, and school loans.

Credit cards, in my opinion, have some of the highest interest rates designed to sink and float users.

Pay the minimum balance, and you’re floating but sinking in debt like a revolving door.

Be the person credit card companies despise, and that’s someone who never pays interest.

If you’re wasting money on interest fees, get rid of the debt and keep your ship far away from the deep sea.

3. Utilities

Wasting money on utilities will always be a thorn in our sides unless we pull it out.

Look at your utility bills and decide what changes can be made to reduce the bill.

For example, investigate where the water is going if your water bill has increased.

I only wash clothing in the evening by setting the wash after 7 pm for cheaper rates.

The Ontario Electricity Support Program is another avenue to explore for low-income earners.

4. Coffee Pods

Some people will argue that coffee pods to brew at home is cheaper than coffee at the shop.

I agree that this may be true, and for some people, coffee pods are the sacrifice, but for others, it’s still the menace.

Do the math and consider your goals and how fast you want to get to zero debt or a bag of savings.

5. Eating At Restaurants/Fast Food

Canadians waste far too much money grabbing fast food and eating at sit-down restaurants.

One meal on a bill with a tip, and you’ve got at least a week’s worth of groceries for one.

6. Buying Too Much Junk Food

When grocery money is tight, start crossing off the junk food from your shopping list.

There’s no room for junk food when you’re without food or living on a tight budget.

7. Big Houses/Condos/Apartments

All I have to say about Canadians wasting money buying bigger space than needed is that it’s costly.

Although the banks or mortgage lenders say you can afford it, do you want to be tied to a mortgage for years?

Have you considered what might happen if the primary breadwinner loses a job, is critically injured or passes away?

Are you even using the space, or is it to show family and friends how successful you’ve become?

Related: Should I buy a cheaper or more expensive house?

8. Alcohol

Buying alcohol for home or enjoying drinks on the town should not be a “need.”

If you’re drawing in debt, consider removing or reducing the amount of alcohol purchased.

Retired last year and checked all our extras then got rid of those listed above and then made our budget.

Except alcohol, it’s our indulgence but watch for the lowest price and get it then.

Nancy Holborn- CBB Facebook

9. Telecommunications

Coming from the UK, I can safely say that Canadians get hosed on everything from cable to wi-fi to mobile phones.

Over the past two years, we got rid of our home phone, followed by cable with Rogers, and we haven’t looked back.

We have Amazon Prime with free movies and an Amazon Fire Stick to watch enough television to keep us happy.

There was a point where I wasn’t sure if we could do without cable but looking back, it was just excused.

Often it’s taking the leap that’s the most challenging part, but the savings were worth it.

10. Gambling

Canadians, like most countries that offer to gamble, love to wager money to win money.

Occasionally, we will buy lottery tickets, but it’s certainly not an everyday or weekly purchase.

People get excited when they win $100 but forget they spent $1000 to win it.

I remember Mrs. CBB’s conversation about her bingo days in her 20s.

She was lucky at bingo and won many jackpots in her time but was told by a regular woman that you have to track what you spend vs. what you win.

Unless you do this, you won’t honestly know if you’re ahead or behind when gambling, whether at the casino, bingo, or with lottery tickets.

You will be ahead if you win big bucks, but that depends on how much cash you drop.

Did you know that some casinos fly high rollers in via helicopter and have a secret entrance into the casino?

True story as we have friends in the casino industry that fill us in with shocking stories.

Other Ways Canadians Are Wasting Money

gym membership
Are you wasting money paying for a gym membership and not using it?

Canadian Budget Binder Facebook readers wasted no time sharing ways they were wasting money but have since kicked the habit.

  • Buying Garden Plants That Are Not Food – Lori Novak
  • Designer Brands – Lori Novak
  • Banking Fees – Sharron Willcox
  • Subscriptions That Were Free But Forgot To Cancel – Lauren Lendvay
  • Gaming Subscriptions and Items For Kids such as Roblox, Animal Jam – Stephanie Porter
  • Manicures and Pedicures – Lori Novak
  • They are overstocking On Grocery Items And Not Using Freezer and Pantry Items = Food Waste – Lisa McMahon.
  • Not Price Matching – Elizabeth Whitmore
  • Buying Cigarettes – Amanda Masters
  • Amazon Membership – Buying What You Think You Need or Impulse Buying – Christina Scotburn
  • Purchasing a Gym Membership and not using it – Sharron Willcox

Investigate Your Money Flow

Canadian Budget Binder reader Angela Mainse had lots to say about wasting money.

As a long-time reader and top fan on the CBB Facebook page, she’s a wealth of information.

What I liked about how she answered my call for input from my CBB readers was how she was on top of everything.

She knew what she wanted to say because she had already done the research and knew where she didn’t want to waste money.

If more Canadians took the time to dig deep into where they are spending money, there are often holes in the budget.

Another point I want to bring up is that we need to squash the stigma of being afraid to talk frugally.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money and sharing ways wasting money has impacted each other.

Stop Wasting Money Now!

Heating and cooling, temperature control, excessive water use (long showers, baths too often, leaky faucet or toilets, running the dishwasher half empty if you have one)

For Ontario residents not planning around electricity time of use – I cook on the weekends and strictly reheat for much of the week.

Atlantic Canada has just as much, if not more, to worry about when it comes to debt and affordability.

The new MNP Consumer Debt Index suggests Atlantic Canadians are more concerned about their ability to pay off debt than anyone else in the country. 

Perhaps most concerning is the survey’s finding that 62 per cent say they will be in “financial trouble” if interest rates go up higher.

Twenty-seven per cent of people in Atlantic Canada say they already don’t make enough money to cover all their expenses.

An increasing number of respondents say they have borrowed money that will be difficult to pay back quickly, have taken loans from friends or family, and are dipping into their savings.

Country 94.1

Wasting Money In The Kitchen And The Garden

Using the oven to cook only one thing – when I hear it, I always have multiple items to be cooked. Half loads of laundry, dry when you need to, and hang dry for the remainder.

Food waste – better pantry rotation helps that – I don’t follow first in, first out I sort by best before date – often that affects the order.

Repurpose food scraps- our apple peels become apple juice, potato peels become roasted potato-like chips, and other veggie scraps and meat bones become large stock. Other compost is for the garden for vegetables.

Grow a garden if you can, be it a full one or just something in a pot, and save seeds each year

Eating Out Affordability

Reduce takeout or restaurant dining – it’s nice to have a treat occasionally but choose wisely.

For us, that’s likely once a month unless January, when we don’t spend anything other than bills and groceries.

Wasting Money Paying Full-Price

I hate paying full price for anything; so many people do; we watch sales instead and work it into a budget.

Paying Credit Card Interest – Save Money First

Save for something before putting it on a credit card – it can waste too much interest.

We went without a dishwasher and a clothes dryer for many months to save and get the sale we wanted.

Wasting Money By Not Negotiating

Not negotiating cable, phone, and tv if you have it is potentially wasting money. Yes, we could get rid of it, but we don’t want to go without small luxuries.

So we negotiated with the company for reductions, and someday we may dump it all, but for now, it fits within our budget.

Related: How to negotiate a deal with Rogers communications

Not Planning For Life Insurance

We are not getting life insurance early enough as the costs increase as you age.

Ideally, we should have gotten more than we thought we needed initially; new policies will never be as cheap.

Repair Instead Of Replace

Thinking about this more, replacing clothing items if they can be repaired is a huge money drain.

The soles came apart on my winter boots last year; I bought shoe goo and fixed the soles rather than a new pair of boots.

Even on clearance, I would never get boots as cheap as I got the repair, and I didn’t even use them all.

I still sew holes in socks or repair seams in clothes rather than buying a replacement until it’s no longer repairable, then I repurpose it if I can.

Socks and towels that just can’t be fixed become rags for cleaning, which reduces money spent on paper towels.

Taking Inventory At Home

It does not know what you have at home and buying replacements – food, batteries, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and storage containers.

Unless it’s a great stock-up price, I hate getting something I already have

Wasting Money Buying What You’ll Never Use

I am purchasing objects that collect dust – appliances, fitness equipment, and anything you purchased and didn’t use. If I buy it, I use it, or someone in the house does.

Still trying to love the air fryer, though; I use it; we got it for free with points at Canadian Tire ages ago and don’t love it. It will not be replaced at the end of its life cycle.

It wasn’t part of the fad of getting one, we saved up points for years until we got it, and at the sale price I wanted, we didn’t redeem extra points.

Your Finances Fund Your Lifestyle

Although many of the tips shared today are relevant for everyone, some may not be.

I say this because not everyone has the same financial lifestyle.

An example might be that I enjoy spending my allowance on beer when someone else may find it a waste.

What needs to be done is a complete examination of where money is being spent.

Anytime someone does this, it’s imperative to be realistic by not making excuses for expenses.

If I were in $5000 worth of credit card debt and buying beer, anyone on the outside would see that as wasting money.

I would have to agree that my allowance would be the first thing to go if I had consumer debt.

Decide what financial goals are essential and what needs to be achieved.

For example, consider the fastest repayment plan if you’re in debt for $1000.

Related: How the snowball debt repayment plan works.

So, although all of the ways Canadians waste money may be relevant, they may not be consistent with your situation.

The idea is to review where your money is being wasted and find ways to improve your debt-to-income ratio.

Angela’s final words about her frugal living journey hit home because Mrs. CBB and I can relate.

It was worth the hardship, and the habits never went away.

Happy Budget, Happy Life.

Thanks for stopping by,

Mr. CBB

Discussion: Have you recognized ways you were wasting money and made changes?

Share your comments below.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks Mo. We can sum it all up on needs vs wants. And from what your Facebook members pointed out, it’s obvious that wasting money is more subjective than objective. To some, a gym membership is a waste while others see it as an achievement. So in the end, it all boils down to the individual situation, their personal values and ambition.

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