According to the latest figures from Statistics Canada our debt-todisposable income ratios are at an all-time high.
In the second quarter of 2016, the ratio was 167.2 per cent. For every dollar of disposable income there is $1.67 we have to pay back. The main drivers are real estate prices. With interest rates remaining at record lows, Canadians continue to feel comfortable borrowing more. If you’re worried about your debt levels, here are some common places many of us might be spending too much.
- Doing a weekly grocery shop. I’m not a big fan of bulk shopping. I find we buy too much and it goes to waste, or we buy the wrong kinds of things and we struggle to make the groceries work in our meal plan. My best advice is to shop every two to three days for your pre-planned meals. You’re more focused and the food is fresher too.
- Driving a car. Most of us don’t realize how expensive it is have a car. According to data from Canadian Automobile Association and Globe Drive research, the average annual cost is $10,456 a year. This figure is based on the cost of running a 2013 Toyota Camry, 18,000 km a year, with the cost of gas set to $1.23/litre, with regular maintenance and repair.
- Doing errands at the mall. According to research, on average, shoppers spend $105.11 per visit and average $3,910 in annual expenditure at a mall. (Alexander Babbage, Inc.) Many of these are impulse buys. My best advice, resist temptation and take your day to day errands as far away from a mall as possible.
- Shopping when we are tired. We know we make bad food choices when we are sleepy but did you know we also make bad spending choices. The attitude is, I work hard, I’m tired, I deserve it. But the real question is can you afford it?
- Shopping without a list. By not making a list before you leave the house you’re likely to spend more. Research show we spend 23 per cent more when we go into a shop cold with no plan, (Wharton school of business). Take one minute and make a list and plan. Seeing it written out will focus your spending and minimize your impulse buys.
- Having too much stuff. You know the saying “time is money” — research shows we are wasting a lot of time searching through our extra stuff. A British survey* recently found that during our lifetime we will spend a total of 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items. Cutting out the clutter will cut this time down, leaving you extra time to make money or think of creative ways to save.
- Underutilizing your health benefits. Many of us at work have health benefits that include extras like massage, acupuncture services and holistic appointments. Use these as an alternative to other outings. So rather than a lunch date how about a massage by a therapist?
Finding the extra money may be easy, but remember, once you’ve freed up all that extra cash, use it to pay down your debt.
* “We’re a bunch of losers” – Esure.com/Media_Centre/archive/wcmcap_100800.htm
RUBINA AHMED-HAQ is the Finance Editor for HPG. You can read her musings in Condo Life and Active Life. She’s also the Family Finance Advisor for PC Financial. She regularly contributes on TV and radio including CBC Radio, CBC News Network and Global News Toronto. Follow her @alwaysavemoney