“We’ve cut back as much as we can, and it’s still hard to make ends meet.”
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. In fact, you’d be in the overwhelming majority of Canadians walking a fine tightrope. And it’s getting tighter with higher gas and grocery prices.
Firstly, the average Canadian family devotes 23% of their yearly spend on food and private transportation. So, every dollar saved here has more value to the overall fight against inflation.
Secondly, it would be smart to build money-saving habits in these areas because the inflation we are seeing is a direct result of the pandemic and recent world events. It may stick around for a while.
And thirdly, as you’ll see below, you have a surprising amount of control over both.
The best way to save on gas is to use less of it. Walk or bike when you can and enjoy the added benefits of fresh air and a bit of exercise. If public transit is an option and not completely inconvenient, take the extra few minutes to save a few extra dollars. Depending on where you’re going, it may be faster than driving.
When you do have to drive, you can use apps like GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas station in your area. And you can make a tank go farther by being mindful of your driving style. For example, gentle acceleration and stopping can improve fuel consumption by up to 39 percent, according to the CAA. If you’ve ridden a bike, you know how much more energy it takes to go from stationary to top speed rather than a slow, gradual climb to top gear. Your car works the same way, with the gas playing the role of your leg power. The reverse is also true: riding your brakes uses more gas than coasting to a slow stop.
When you’re in the car not driving, keep in mind that you waste as much as a litre of gas for every 20 minutes of idling. And when you hit milestone kilometre marks on your speedometer, remember that keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy by 4 percent. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly these days.
In conjunction with your effort to use less gas, let’s look at some ways you can save on fueling yourself.
One way to avoid the rising costs of food is to gravitate more towards foods that aren’t going up in price.
StatsCan has noticed this trend in potatoes, sweet potatoes, bananas and broccoli, but the best place to find less expensive food is to check the store flyers. Put what you find into an app like RecipeLand right there in the store. Boom, dinner plans.
Fruit and vegetable prices have skyrocketed this year, so one way to get your vitamins while saving a bit of money is to buy frozen produce that will never rot before you have a chance to eat it.
Milk prices are also on the rise, so this might be a good time to explore soy, rice, coconut, cashew, hemp or almond alternatives.
Also, be on the lookout for shrinkflation, which is where food producers will keep the price stable but cut back on what you get for it (common in packaged goods, facial tissue, chips, and coffee).
One of the easiest ways to save some cash on your grocery bill is to buy items in bulk. This saves you from having to go back to the store—using more gas! —and buying the same things over and over regularly.
It may cost more upfront, but it can seriously save you money in the long run, especially if the price goes up the next week.
You’ll want to make sure that what you buy in bulk is something that you will actually use though. There’s no point in buying lots of perishable items that will go back by the end of the week. Pasta, chips, rice and toilet paper are great examples of foods to spend a little more on now for savings down the road.
And another way is to start gardening and grow your own food. Basic vegetables like lettuces, potatoes, broccoli, etc., are fairly easy to grow yourself. And the more space you have, the more you will save.
You can continue benefiting from your home-grown food long after the summer months. Jarring your food will keep it preserved and allow you to learn how to make your own salsa, pickles, jam and more.
Additional bonuses to discovering the joys of gardening are the added nutritional value and knowing exactly what goes into your food.
This economic situation won’t last. Like previous slowdowns, a return to more stable times may take time but will happen. In the meantime, build some money-saving habits and be thrifty where you can. Tough times can teach us important lessons that will serve us well in the long run.
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