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Top Tips From Credit Counsellors

by:
Sandra Sherk

Have you ever wondered if doctors do everything they tell us to do? Do dentists really floss every day? And do dietitians always eat healthy? Well, I’m here to tell you that our certified credit counsellors do practice what they preach by following the ideas and suggestions they discuss with their very own clients.

Just the other day at lunch, I was thinking how frugal our staff is, as most bring their lunch to work. (And good-looking lunches at that.) They’re saving money by cooking extra at dinner the night before; they’re getting free coffee at work instead of stopping at the corner café; and I see very few water bottles, but there are always glasses in the dishwasher.

So what specific money-saving habits do our credit counsellors engage in?

Chantelle

Chantelle never buys a book or DVD—she picks them up from the library. “You can even put a hold on books that are currently out on loan,” she says.

She also never buys anything full price; instead, Chantelle shops in the same stores and knows their sale rotations. She also doesn’t subscribe to store mailing lists anymore (and has selected “unsubscribe” from the lists she was already on) because, as she puts it, “their emails tempt me to shop unnecessarily for things I don’t need.”

Alisha

Used items can be good as new for Alisha. She buys gently-used items, such as furniture and bikes for her kids off buy and sell sites like Kijiji. Some communities even have local buy and sell sites for added convenience.

Paulette

Paulette loves Starbucks but also knows how the cost of those lattes can add up. So, she sets a monthly budget for coffee and goodies, and buys a gift certificate from Starbucks for that amount. If she overdoes it at the beginning of the month, then that’s that—she has to wait until the next month to get her Starbucks fix.

When it comes to lunch, Paulette only purchases her lunch once a week as a treat and keeps a few non-perishable items in her office for days that she doesn’t have leftovers to bring for lunch. She also uses cash for her day-to-day spending, as this is a very visible way to see how much she has left until payday. She knows that what is in her bank account will cover her high priority expenses (needs) and the money in her wallet is for the less important things (wants).

Cathy

Some nights after a busy day at work, Cathy just doesn’t feel like cooking. But, rather than go out to eat or order in pizza or Chinese food, she checks out the deli counter at her local grocery store. They have prepared foods for far less than she would pay at a restaurant. (And no delivery fees to boot!)

Myself!

You might be thinking, what about you, Sandra? 

Well, I am in complete agreement with Chantelle about sales—I just did my spring shopping for next year at 40-50% off. I might subscribe to a store’s email list but if I don't need anything I won't open the email.

I’m also like Paulette in that I keep store-bought cookies and other treats in my desk in case my sweet tooth acts up, rather than buying overpriced goodies at the cafe.

Another money-saving tactic of my own is that I never use another bank’s ATM; I refuse to pay a fee to that bank and to my bank as well. I work hard for my money and I want those funds to stay in my account. While it’s tempting to use another ATM out of convenience, it can become a habit and those fees add up fast.

I also do laundry and turn the dishwasher on after 7:00 pm or on the weekend. These are considered off-peak hours, and can offer significant savings on your hydro bills.

Got Some Tips of Your Own?

This is only a sampling of the ways our counsellors are able to do the most with their money. We are proud to be frugal, but don’t call us cheap!

If you are a client of Credit Canada, feel free to tell your counsellor examples of how you've taken control of your money in order to be debt-free. (And share some examples with our readers in the comments below!) If you aren’t a client, but feel we could help you, we are a simple call or click away—and be sure to check out our Budget Calculator to see how saving a few dollars a week can really add up in just months.

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Topics: Credit Counselling

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