Closer look at finances may help in saving dollars

Though many of us have financial concerns throughout the year, it always seems to hit home at this time. And no wonder, since we’ve just been living large through the holiday season.

But don’t worry, don’t stress. There are ways to stretch your buck, and it doesn’t have to be difficult or lifestyle altering.

Of course, we can’t all be top-earning celebrities like Tom Cruise or his wife, Katie Holmes. One tabloid magazine reported that she dropped $100,000 US on Christmas presents for her family, including a $30,000 Cartier watch for him.


To the average person, that kind of money could be spent on so much else: For some families, that’s several years’ worth of diapers; for others, perhaps a down payment on a much needed car; for others still, a long overdue trip to visit family abroad.

Since I’m not in that league, and I didn’t win the recent $30-million lottery, I’ve got to be realistic and figure out how, like so many of you, I’m going to make it through the year. Undoubtedly, I’ll have to implement some changes in order to save more and spend less.

Although your spending habits may feel like they’re set in stone, with a little help and a lot of determination you can change the way you spend. For some people, it’s as simple as seeing the numbers. For others, it can be a real challenge.

For example, many people enjoy grabbing a cup of coffee on their way to work. A Starbucks grande vanilla latte with soy milk (about $4) is going to set you back much more than a Tim Horton’s double-double (about $1.50). And both cost more than brewing your own coffee at home and filling a to-go cup.

Believe it or not, you could save hundreds of dollars a year by not having take-out coffee! Now for some people, this is a financial wake-up call and they’ll not blink an eye at making their own morning java. But others won’t be able to break the habit.

Well, if that’s your one luxury and it makes you happy, then great. We all have to make our own choices in life. But it’s important, sometimes, to be practical.

Fun though it isn’t, taking a look at your yearly spending can really help you see where you may be able to save in the future.

Another big expense is transportation. Crunch the numbers: Is it worth it to keep your vehicle, insurance, gas and car payments included, for those few weekends that you drive out of the city? Would it be more cost effective to just rent a car when you need one?

Take the time to go through your finances. If it seems overwhelming, see a financial counsellor or planner. Drop by your local bank and inquire.

You might be surprised at how easily you and your family can cut back expenses with a little help from a professional.

Lisi Tesher is a freelance writer and photographer living in Toronto with her husband and two children. She cares passionately about social injustices, children’s health and education, and diversity.

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