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Personal finance

Tips to help you save and stick to your budget

January 17, 2024

Certain life events can affect our finances and sometimes cause us to review our budget. These include changes in our working conditions, our pace of life, rising inflation, or even future plans. If you're looking for ways to save, we've compiled a list of budgeting tips and tricks that don't require too many sacrifices.

In this article:

Groceries, insurance, transportation… A sizable chunk of our income goes toward basic expenses, and cutting costs can seem impossible sometimes. But by tweaking your spending habits and sticking with it, you can save without giving up life's little pleasures.

My budget: A handy tool 

You can use My budget to get an overview of your income and expenses directly on AccèsD or in the Desjardins mobile services app. Your expenses are grouped into categories like food, telecom services, retail stores and more. Once you know where your money is going, you can adjust and set budget and savings goals to help turn your plans into reality.

1. Tips for saving on groceries

  • One word: plan! Start by creating a weekly menu based on what’s on sale and in season—it’s a great way to save a few bucks. Next, make a list before you go shopping. It’s not a bad idea to have a small snack before you go to avoid making hunger-inspired impulse buys.
  • Try grocery shopping apps to get discount coupons or save on items with fast-approaching expiration dates. Or pick up some “ugly” produce—while many shoppers snub their noses at imperfect fruits and veggies, they’re just as nutritious.
  • Be creative to avoid waste! If you’re missing an ingredient for a recipe, resist the urge to go buy it. A quick internet search could help you find an alternative you already have at home. You can also reuse vegetable peels to make homemade broth, or turn herb or fruit scraps into delicious sweet syrup.
  • Get cooking! It may be tempting to buy ready-made snacks or meals, or to get your favourite dish delivered, but what you save on time, you lose in your bank account.
  • You can also cut costs by stocking up on no-name brands or buying in bulk. And this isn't just the case for food—it's a great way to save on household products too.

2. Tips for saving on transportation

  • Log your mileage and let your insurer know if you're working from home on a regular—or daily—basis. You could save on your premiums!

  • Shop around for insurance or bundle your coverage. By combining home and auto insurance, you could get special offers with some insurers.

  • Sign up for a program that analyzes your driving habits and behaviours through an app on your smartphone. The information from your driving is used to offer you a personalized car insurance premium. That means having good, safe driving habits could help you save on your insurance.

  • Use public transportation, hop on your bike, carpool or opt for alternative transportation. 

  • If you need a new car, buy used. You won't have to worry about depreciation!

3. Tips for saving on electricity

  • Turning down the temperature by 1°C could save you 5% to 7% on your annual heating costs.1 Consider setting your thermostat 3 degrees lower at night, while you're snug under the covers.

  •  Caulking drafty doors and windows and installing weatherstripping, outlet covers and  window insulation film in the winter can help prevent air getting in or out. These air leaks and infiltrations can account for up to 25% of a home's heat loss.2

  • On cold days, warm your house with sunlight by opening the blinds and curtains. On hot days, do the opposite.

  • Even when they're turned off or in standby mode, many electronics still eat up electricity. It's known as phantom power. Completely unplugging anything you're not using could save you money, especially since up to 40% of the annual energy consumption of electronic devices happens while they're turned off.3 

  • When you use the right soap, washing clothes in cold or warm water is just as effective as hot water and considerably reduces your electricity consumption.

  • Skip running the dryer and use a clothesline or indoor drying rack.

  • Running the dishwasher only when it's full requires less hot water and electricity than running it multiple times.

  • When possible, use electric landscaping equipment like electric mowers, leaf blowers and hedge trimmers. Electric maintenance tools are up to 10 times more efficient than their gas-powered counterparts.4 

  •  If you want to replace an old oil or propane heating system with a more efficient eco-friendly option, you could qualify for financial assistance from government programs like Rénoclimat and Chauffez vert. Over time, the energy savings from a heat pump, geothermal energy or an electric water heater can be more than the initial outlay.

4. Tips for saving on accounts

  • Choose a plan that's suited to your needs and avoid taking out money from other institutions' ATMs to save on fees.

  • Sign up for Desjardins email alerts and notifications. Getting critical information at the right time can help you save. For example, if you get an alert saying that you have insufficient funds for an upcoming preauthorized debit, you can top up your account and skip the headaches and fees.

  • Pay off your credit card in full every month. If you can't, try to pay more than the minimum due to save on interest. Bonus tip: Sign up to get an alert when your credit card payment is coming due.

  • Choose the financing with the best rate for big purchases. For example, use a home equity line of credit or personal line of credit to pay for renovations or other big things you need. 

  • Use equalized payments for electricity bills. It's easier to manage your budget with predictable payments.

  • Take advantage of discounts for employees, students and older people. For example, some grocery stores might offer student discount days, and many telecommunications providers offer reduced rates to students or employees of certain companies. Big box stores and transportation services also often offer discounts to older people on presentation of an ID card or on a certain day of the month. Ask your employer, student association or the store where you're shopping!

  • Build up an emergency fund so you're not caught off guard when the unexpected happens. The small amount you start saving regularly now can turn out to be a big help in the long run. If you're not buying a coffee on the way to work anymore, put that amount into an emergency fund instead. You'll be off to a good start. Use the Savings goals tool to build your emergency fund at your own pace, based on what you can afford.

  • As for the items you only use a few times a year, borrow them from friends instead of buying them (tools, fondue set, ladder, etc.). 

5. Tips for saving on entertainment

Don't forget to set aside something for yourself. Self-care is important, and it should be part of your budget! Here are a few tips to help you use your "fun money" wisely:

  • Pay attention to your cell phone, internet and online streaming service bills. By choosing a plan that's more in line with what you actually use, you can save on the bells and whistles you don't really need. In case anything changes, you can always renegotiate your contract.

  • Cut your cable. You can watch your favourite shows online or by subscribing to an on-demand video service. Like everything else, it's all a question of balance! Even if streaming service subscriptions seem cheap at first, they can add up.

  • Be careful with online shopping and make sure you don't spend too much without realizing it. 

  • Wait 2 days before buying anything that's not essential. If the impulse has passed, you can probably go without.

  • Think about repairing broken items instead of replacing them. Shoes, bags, clothing, furniture, small and big appliances, computer equipment, cell phones… Pretty much everything can be fixed, you just need to find the right person for the job.

  • Shop at second-hand and used book stores and organize clothing swaps with your friends. If buying new is your only option, look for discounted items or end-of-season sales.

  • And the golden rule? Don't pay for anything you're not using. That means cancelling your gym membership if you're not going. 

  • Keep an eye out for free activities, virtual tours and city events.

6. Tips for saving toward a goal

Buying a cottage? Planning your next summer vacation? Financing a return to school or diving into a new passion? All these goals require planning. When you get into a savings habit, your money will grow with minimal effort. Getting started is the most important step, even if you're just putting away a small amount at first. Here are some tips to help you build momentum:

  • Based on what you can afford, put aside a percentage of your net salary (ideally 5% to 10%) at every paycheque and break it down according to your goals (tuition, cottage down payment, etc.).

  • Pay down your debt before thinking about long-term projects. It's a priority! Use the Manage debt tool to check your debt level in a few quick steps and get personalized tips to take control of your finances.

  • Save any extra money (salary increase, bonus, tax refund, inheritance, etc.) to reach your goal more quickly.

  • When you file your taxes, make sure you're getting all the tax credits you're eligible for (medical expenses, GST and solidarity credits, childcare, etc.). If you have any questions, it's a good idea to consult a professional.

  • Using tools that help you plan the money side of your goals can help you feel more motivated. You can use Savings goals on AccèsD or the Desjardins mobile services app to help you find the best savings product for your needs and track your progress. 

By fine-tuning your day-to-day habits, you can work toward your financial goals without overhauling your lifestyle. To get off to a good start, the first step is to create a budget.


If you have any questions or need personal support, contact your advisor.