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Tips to Save Money as a newcomer in Canada

No matter how much money you have in your bank, saving a small amount on day-to-day transactions will end up in a significant saving at the end of the year. The financial decisions you make during your first year in Canada might have a long-term influence on your financial health. I have learned a few tips on how to save money as a newcomer in Canada that I will share in this post.

Small changes to your daily activities and a little thinking before the act can end up in a lot of savings. These changes in no way would compromise your lifestyle, instead would become a part of your life once you start seeing the results.

Start preparing before coming to Canada – There are a few things you should bring to Canada that will save you money and vice-versa.

  1. Utensils – Although you’ll get almost everything here, but consider bringing the most important utensils like flat pan, steel plates, casserole, pressure cooker etc. so you don’t have to buy things immediately
  2. Clothing – Get more warm jackets over t-shirts. Get a pack of under garments, these wear out a lot due to washing conditions and expensive to buy. Babywear is expensive, so get some for at least a year
  3. Whole Spices – Not that you will not get these here, but the quality is inferior. One kg of whole spices will last you also most a year.
  4. Electrical appliances – Consider a full-blown food processor with different attachments, its difficult to find one here or too expensive. Shaver, trimmer, hair straightener, epilator etc. Ensure all appliances at 110V.
  5. Medicines – At least 1 year medicine, if regularly taken, with prescription.

Once you land in Canada, consider the following strategies to save money easily just by proactive thinking. Here is the list of different categories where you can save money during the initial days in Canada.

Airport Transfer – Consider negotiating a deal with the hotel partner for the transport to be included in the room rental. Transport is expensive if you are unprepared. Ride with friends if you are coming together or in case you meet like-minded people on the flight.

Pack Your food – Pack some food that lasts for a few days after you arrive. It will take you some time to adjust so it’s better to be prepared with some noodles, packed food, homemade food, energy bars etc. Eating outside will strip especially if you are with the family.

Eat homemade food – On average, a two-person meal in a restaurant will cost $30-$50. Even if you restrict your diet to McDonanls/Tim Horton etc. each meal could cost between $10-$15 per person. So for a person eating out, the monthly expense could be upwards of $900, easily. Whereas a $900 grocery could last for a month, for a family of four.

Mobile plan – Opt for a monthly plan with 6 GB of monthly data (max.). You will find public Wi-Fi connections in most public places like malls, schools, restaurants and of course home. Unless you want to stream videos every day, there is no point opting for a higher plan. It’s a complete waste of money. Consider carriers like Koodo, Fido over Rogers, Bell, Telus etc. You can get a good deal with good service.

Housing – Initially while renting, look for a fully furnished basement suite with all utilities included. This will save you a lot as compared to a condominium/apartment. Not all basements are basements, some are ground-level floors too. Most condos/apartments will have maintenance fees and additional utility changes. These charges may vary depending on your usage, area, ageing appliances and other factors which are difficult to determine initially.

Don’t Make Coffee a habit: It is very common here to drink coffee three times a day and that too from a cafe like Tim Hortons, Starbucks etc. Even if you drink that much, drink at least two at home. This will help you save at least 50% of your expenses on coffee.

Buy a small car – No need to buy a car if you live alone, you can manage with public transit. It is also good for your health and the environment. However, if you have a family, the car is a must as it saves a lot of hassles and transportation costs. Buy a small car, instead of a big car which is heavy on the gas. A small car could save you up to 50% on gas expenses.

Buy a used vehicle – A vehicle is a depreciating asset and loses at least 15% value within the first month. Look for used vehicles on Kijiji or Facebook marketplace, if you can self-evaluate the condition of the car. You may want to visit a reputed used car dealer; in case you want to play safe. You could save up to 50% on a 5-year-old car and up to 8% on a 10-year old car

Buy used home items – Used item sale is very common in Canada. People move or discard old items when they buy new ones. These items still have a long life and may are often almost new. Buying a used item can save you at least 50% of your money spent on a new item. Items like home furniture, cycles, home appliances etc. are considered good buys. Classified websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook marketplace are places to buy and sell. Yard Sales, Garage Sale in your area could get you some good deals as well.

Buy from Walmart and Costco – While every retail store has its USP, most of our shopping happens from Walmart and Costco. It helps us save a lot of money over other stores.

Don’t buy perishable items in bulk – Buying items in bulk is a good strategy, however, many times we end up throwing away perishable items instead of using them as they become unusable. This will eventually cost more, so choose wisely. Sometimes, we use more than required just because you must finish it, which is again not a good option.

Buy daily-use items from Dollar Store – These stores carry items of low quality, however, daily-use items and disposable items could save you up to 70% over other places. Consider Dollar Tree and Dollarama for items like plastic containers, lunch bags, stationery items for kids, picture frames, wrapping paper, greeting cards, toilet paper, party items, disposable plates/spoons, seasonal items etc. from these stores.

Prepare a shopping list – A well-prepared shopping list will keep you impulse buying and also save you from frequent return trips.

Compare prices and request price match – Unlike India, products in Canada do not have a maximum retail price printed. Therefore, you must compare prices for items across retailers to get the best deal possible. There are some mobile applications like Flipp and Reebee which contain digital flyers, use them to compare the best deals. Only a few would know that most retailers offer a price-match guarantee, which means, if you show the price of an item lower than their store, they will match the price. This strategy could save you around $10-$50 per bill if used wisely.

Use Coupons – This is not new and sometimes saves you significant money on purchases. You can find coupons on many online sites like,,,, and many others.

Banking Fees – Traditional Banks charge a monthly service fee from all customers, unless you maintain a minimum balance, you can avoid this fee by banking with an online-only bank. These banks offer the same services, except for a physical branch. Some of the prominent banks in Canada are Tangarine, Simplii Financial and EQ Bank. If you want to open an account in a traditional bank there are some offers for newcomers in Canada.

Use a cashback Credit card – Compare credit cards based on cashback offered and yearly service charge. Credit cards could be your best friend if used wisely. For example, I earn a cashback of around $40-$80 every month (depending on my purchases) on a CIBC Dividend platinum. This is a significant saving or earning of around $400-$600 every year.

Buy from factory outlet stores – Every city will have some factory outlets or discount stores like Winners and Marshals. Search for these stores near you and try shopping for some good deals, you might end up saving 20%-30% on most of the items.

Black Friday and Boxing Day Sales – End of the Year, from November till January it is time for shopping. Most of the brands attract customers by rolling out various offers and discounts. Black Friday (last Friday of November) sales are the best followed by the Boxing Day (December 26) sale to buy anything at huge discounts.

Use the Library – The public library offers a lot of free activities like books, the internet, audiobooks, free information sessions on different topics, etc. You might get some good STEM toys for kids too which are expensive otherwise. Get your printouts from the library it is the cheapest.

Let me know what you think about the list and if you have more ways to save money as a newcomer, I will include your suggestions in my list.

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