5 Hidden Ways To Save Money

Owen Winkelmolen

Advice-only financial planner, CFP, and founder of PlanEasy.ca

Work With Owen

Whoever invented the ‘latte factor’ or ‘avocado toast’ created a very skewed sense of how to save money. Saving money by cutting back on coffee, restaurants, going out, vacations etc are very difficult ways to save.

They’re difficult because they’re very visible and often very social occasions… plus they’re a lot of fun, so why cut back there?

Hidden ways to save, on the other hand, are the best ways to save. Saving money on things that no one sees, or cares about, makes it easy to save.

This is the secrete to saving money, save money where no one notices.

What someone considers a “hidden way to save” will be different from person to person. Some people really care about certain things, it all depends on what they value. Maybe they really value the car they drive, the house they live in, or only eating free range/grass fed/organic foods, but for many of us these are easy ways to save money, if you do it right.

These are five hidden ways to save money. No needs to know how much you pay for these monthly expenses and saving money in these area’s can be very easy.

Related: Start our 12-month saving & budgeting program. Build your saving habit!



Save Money By Buying A Basic Car

Transportation accounts for about 15% of the average spending so cutting back on transportation can be a quick and easy way to save. Making one good decision can help you save money for years and years.

Unless you’re a ‘car person’, buying a basic car is the perfect hidden way to save. As long as you’re not in a sales profession, or driving clients around, no one really cares what you drive (and if they do care then do you really want to be friends with them anyway?)

Buying a basic car will reduce your vehicle costs, insurance costs, and your maintenance costs. Plus if you need to finance a car then it will be less expensive to finance over time.

Best of all, with a simple car you have lots of money left over to keep it in beautiful shape. You can splurge on a wash, wax and detail every 8-10 weeks and keep your “basic” car looking beautiful. By buying a basic car and taking good care of it you’ll have a beautiful car, one that looks brand new, plus you’ll still have money left over to save!



Save Money On Your Home

There are lots of ways to save money on your home, but one of the best ways is to live small. Why live in a monstrous 4,500 square foot home when a 2,500 square foot home will do? Why live in a large 2,500 square foot home when a smaller 1,000 square foot home will do?

Living small saves you a ton of money. Not only will your mortgage payments be lower, but your on-going costs will be lower, and your maintenance costs will be lower too, the perfect trifecta! With a small home your property tax will be lower, insurance costs will be lower, heating and electricity costs will be lower and best of all your mortgage will be lower.

On top of this you’ll also have less room for stuff. Instead of filling dozens of rooms with mediocre furniture with less space you can buy more expensive, high quality furniture instead. Not only will this look better but it will last longer too.

Living small means you can also spend more money on high quality upgrades per square foot, end up living in a nicer home, and still save money in the end!



Save Money On Electricity/Water Bills

No one cares what lightbulbs you use. No one cares that you have an ultra low flow toilet. No one cares that you drop the temperature a few degrees at night. No one cares that you have a low flow shower head. No one cares if you hang dry your clothes. Saving money on utilities is the perfect hidden way to save, no one sees or cares about these things.

Modern light bulbs and appliances can slash your monthly bills. A few behavioral changes can also have a big impact. Doing a few small things can slash your utility bills. If you’re someone who needs immediate feedback there are devices that can monitor your utility usage minute by minute. These devices cost $200-$400… but the instantaneous feedback can be an amazing way to change your behavior.

Stop sending money down the drain and get serious about your utility bills.

Related: Check out our 200kwh monthly electricity bills.



Save On Food/Groceries

Food is another great way to save money. Food can be up to 10% of a households monthly spending.

One of the easiest ways to save money on food is to stop throwing stuff out. The average family spends 10%+ of their annual food budget on waste. Meal planning can have a huge impact on food waste. Be more deliberate about what you buy and watch what you throw away.

Meal prepping is another hidden way to save money on food. Cooking in bulk doesn’t take much more time and you time it to coincide with deals in the flyer. Put these prepared meals in the freezer for future meal plans and you’ll be saving yourself time too. We just made a huge batch of carrot ginger soup, using 10lbs worth of carrots, for just $1.67!

Cut back on meat. No one really cares what you eat. Go vegetarian a few nights per week. Meat can be very expensive. Eating vegetarian can save you money on your weekly grocery bill. We have a few vegetarian recipes we love and they come out 2-3 times per week. This saves is 10-15% on our weekly food budget.



‘Rent’ Stuff From Kijiji/Craigslist

Some things are better bought used. There are lots of item you can find ‘gently used’ on Kijiji/Craigslist. Not only will you save money by buying stuff gently used but you can often re-sell this stuff later if you take good care of it. You can essentially ‘rent’ stuff from Kijiji/Craigslist if you find a good deal today and re-sell it in a few years when you’re done with it.

For example, bikes are one of those things that are very lightly used. People buy them with good intentions but then use them 1-2 times per year. My current bicycle came from Craigslist and cost $400. It’s a beautiful bike that I’ve kept well maintained. If I wanted to sell it today and upgrade to a different bike I could easily get $400 for it even though it’s been used it daily for 4-years.

Buy high quality stuff from Kijiji/Craigslist, no one will know the difference.

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Owen Winkelmolen

Advice-only financial planner, CFP, and founder of PlanEasy.ca

Work With Owen


Join over 250,000 people reading PlanEasy.ca each year. New blog posts weekly!

Tax planning, benefit optimization, budgeting, family planning, retirement planning and more...



Join over 250,000 people reading PlanEasy.ca each year. New blog posts weekly!

Tax planning, benefit optimization, budgeting, family planning, retirement planning and more...



  1. Sarah De Diego

    Hi Owen,

    Really great ideas that everyone can do and no one will notice (not that I personally care).

    My husband is starting to get his head around the “renting” concept. The problem is that we live on a huge property with access to cheap(er) items for purchase, room to store and he’s of the mind that “renting is throwing your money away”. However, when it comes time to use the items, after them sitting unused for a period of time (sometimes years!), they don’t always work as intended. We’ve done the math on a few items and if you factor in maintenance, space, money to purchase and time, we’d easily break even by renting.

    When it comes to food, I always try the generic brand once and if we like it (and assuming it’s cheaper), that’s what we get. Other people might notice the difference (visually) but my kids don’t and they’re the biggest consumers in the house.

    Regards, Sarah.

    • Owen

      Hi Sarah! Thanks for the comment! Renting is a tricky subject, as someone who has a fair number of tools I can appreciate where your husband is coming from. Part of the reason we rent stuff is due to lack of space, the other reason is because there is a lot of money that can get tied up in all that “stuff”. Over the last few years we’ve made $1,000’s from downsizing our “stuff”. All that money can be put to work now, either by paying off debt or investing.

  2. GYM

    I eat vegetarian for lunch usually, but yeah, meat is very expensive and can really add up.
    We try to have a vegetarian dinner meal one day of the week.

  3. Colleen Smith

    I just started checking out your your site and have learned lots already. Am anxious to read more… thanks! 😊


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