There are several practices you can partake in on a daily basis to help conserve some of your hard-earned cash. You may find the following list will help you have more money left over at the end of each month to put towards anything from home renovations to your children’s education to investing:

  1. Find a credit card with a lower interest rate. There’s no sense collecting air miles or other such points if you find you’re having difficulty paying off your monthly bills. Credit cards are, after all, only useful if you avoid paying interest on unpaid monthly balances. And there’s not much point in paying 20% interest when you don’t have to. If you start shopping around among several credit card providers and discover a better rate than your current provider is offering, ask your credit card provider to lower your rate since you’ve found a better deal elsewhere. They may be willing to negotiate when they risk losing your business.
  2. Throw away your bank card and leave your credit card at home. ATM charges can add up and it’s hard to live on a budget if you keep paying for things on credit. Or, try only using your bank card once between pay cheques. That will help you budget your money accordingly.
  3. Do your food shopping at discount stores. Discount stores may be more crowded and offer less selection than your local higher-end grocery chain, and you’ll have to pay a quarter for the cart and bag your own groceries, but you’ll see a payoff at the cash register. If you’re shopping for a larger family, try buying in bulk.
  4. Start packing your own lunch. Not only is restaurant food expensive, but how many times have you ordered ‘just anything’ off the menu because you were really hungry? By packing your own lunch, you’ll not only save money, but you’re also likely to save in the calorie department as well.
  5. Bring a coffee maker or kettle to work. With coffee ranging anywhere from $1 to $5 a cup (depending on cup size, exoticness of brew and the franchise from which it is purchased), some people are dropping anywhere from $20 to $200 a month just to stay caffeinated. Don’t believe it? Try this: bring your own coffee to work, make it yourself and put the money you would have spent in a jar on your desk. At the end of the month, empty the jar and see how much you’ve saved.
  6. Cancel your gym membership. Go for a walk or run around your neighbourhood or office instead. After all, spring is almost upon us. If it’s muscle you’re trying to amass, then start doing push ups in your bedroom, invest in a chin-up bar and start walking up and down multiple flights of stairs. You don’t need to spend $50-$150 a month to stay active.
  7. Got kids? Forget shopping at Baby Gap. Buy children’s clothing at discount retailers or department stores. Better yet, call everyone you know with young kids, bring them all together and swap anything from shoes to strollers to clothes and toys.
  8. Find free or low-cost activities for your kids. School board parenting centres and city recreation programs are good places to start.
  9. If you’re getting $100 a month from the government for child care, try your best to keep banking it in a high-interest savings account for your child’s future. Saving can be hard, especially in these times, but a few dollars a month can go a long way over the course of 20 years.
  10. Itemize your monthly expenses and allocate money for each by placing it in marked envelopes. If you only want to spend $50 this month on entertainment, then put $50 in an envelope marked “Entertainment” and use it to entertain yourself. Once the money’s spent, that’s it.
  11. Instead of an expensive vacation to the tropics this year, why not try a "staycation"? A trip to the theater or a local sports venue is infinitely less expensive than a sunburn and you’ll be infinitely less depressed when you return to work the next day.
  12. Review your monthly plans for phone, wireless, Internet and television services. In general, households are paying significant sums for features that aren’t even being used. That includes everything from digital TV channel packages to wireless voice and data plans. Paying $30 a month for six gigabytes of data for your iPhone might seem like a good deal, but not if you’re only using 50 megabytes to occasionally check your e-mail and surf the web. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a better deal from your current provider if they want to keep you as a customer – particularly if you subscribe to multiple services and have done some comparison shopping. If long distance phone calls are costing you a fortune, you might want to think about signing up for one of those $5 a month zero-cent per minute long distance plans, especially if you’re currently paying 25 cents a minute on your cell phone.

How do you cut back to save money...? Any tips for the rest of us...?