When you are unemployed, saving money can seem impossible.
Fortunately, there are still ways that you can (and should!) save every month. Each week in our free Money Management workshops we see people who are unemployed, students, or on some form of government support (e.g. AISH, EI, etc.). With a bit of learning and encouragement, they always seem to find new tools and tricks that help them save a little bit each month towards a goal – sometimes finding that they are now able to find and save thousands of dollars in unexpected ways. Read on for some money saving tips that may help take you from a day-to-day debt-focused mindset to a Savings Expert!
Cutting costs adds up faster than cash jobs
Everyone could use some extra cash now and then. When you’ve been out of work for a while, fast-cash promises like “Make Money Online!” may seem appealing. And it always sounds easy – like re-selling things (drop shipping), playing games for gift cards, or taking surveys. Unfortunately, the payoff for the time that you put in seldom earns the great rewards that are promised.
A better alternative might be to cut smaller costs and put the money you save aside. Even $15 a month can really add up – like brewing coffee at home three times instead of buying it at a coffee shop. In just four months this is over $50. In a year you’ll have $180. This is money you can use in an emergency, like when your car breaks down.
There are also resources available to those living on low incomes in Calgary, such as the Low Income Bus pass. Check out the Fair Entry program run through the City of Calgary to see if you qualify.
Beware the downsides to fast loans
Sometimes people consider payday loans, online loans, or other short-term loans when they need money quick. One alternative is to explore your other assets. Can you take city transit until you can afford those larger car repairs? Can you borrow an interview suit from a friend rather than buying one? Can you help your landlord with some painting in exchange for an extension or reduction on the rent? Momentum also offers a Job Boost Loan if you need the funds for work boots, training, or tools for that long-term job you’ve had your eye on.
If taking out a traditional loan really cannot be avoided, read the terms of repayment (service fees, interest rates and when they compound) carefully before committing – repayment rates on these loans can be quite high. And no one likes to be saddled with debt, especially the kind that doesn’t help build a positive credit rating.
Get help to build your savings habit
Single parents, immigrants and other Calgarians living on low incomes have been participating in our matched savings programs for 20 years. Momentum programs are a unique combination of savings tips, goal setting, and earning the rewards. Even if you think you can’t save, we can help you with the tools to start saving towards your first savings fund.