Trim your monthly spending with these easy steps

When Yale graduates Thomas Smyth and Daniel Petkevich scanned each other's credit card bills, they were surprised by what they found.

See Full Article

Petkevich was paying for renter's insurance for an apartment he hadn't lived in for two years. Smyth was being charged monthly for subscriptions to the streaming service Hulu and video-sharing website Vimeo Pro -- and he wasn't using either.

"We realized this is small problem for us, and a small problem for a lot of people, but the emphasis is on a lot of people," Smyth told

Smyth admits poring over someone else's credit card statement was "totally weird and quite intimate," but it seems to have paid off.

The duo recently launched the San Francisco-based startup Trim, a service that helps you track your monthly subscriptions, and easily cancel any that you don't need.

Small charges add up

Smyth said the typical Trim user has seven to eight subscriptions and often cancels one through the service, saving about $15 a month, or $180 a year.

On its own, the amount may seem inconsequential, but financial experts say making minor changes to your monthly budget often add up to major savings.

"It's the small things, what we refer to as leakage," said Scott Hannah, CEO of the Credit Counselling Society.

Hannah said most individuals can account for about 80 per cent of their spending, and that usually covers the major expenses such as mortgage payments, taxes and insurance payments.

It's the remaining 20 per cent of spending where small adjustments can add up, he said.

Hannah said replacing a daily latté run with coffee you make at home can add up to $1,800 in savings at the end of the year.

"You have to put it in a bigger perspective," he said. "What's the annualized savings, what's the difference I can really make?"

Using himself as an example, Hannah said he cut his cell phone, Internet and home phone bill down from $200 a month to $120 by bundling the payments through one provider. The savings add up to nearly $1,000 a year.

When it comes to insurance payments, Hannah said paying monthly comes at a premium, but paying the annual amount upfront often results in savings of about $150 a year.

Ontario-based financial advisor Sandi Martin of Spring Personal Finance said the first step in cutting back costs is tracking what you're spending.

Watch out for 'miscellaneous spending'

"Almost everybody has their credit card statement, or their bank account statement, and it's not too much work to go back and reconstruct an average of how much you spent over the last three months," she said.

She said, what often surprises her clients who take a closer look at their budgets is the "miscellaneous spending."

While those tiny transactions may seem very inconsequential at the time, they often add up to one big line-item in your budget.

"There's really no fulfilling sense of having gotten anything out of spending that money," Martin said. "You don't really know what you got out of spending $15 at a convenience store."

She said giving yourself "an allowance" for these smaller purchases is an easy way to curb those habits.

Martin added that individuals often get into a habit of continually paying for certain bills without shopping around.

"Never assume that my cell phone bill is my cell phone bill, or my home insurance bill is my home insurance bill, and not really dig into the details of what you're getting for that money."

She said bank account fees are another area where you may be able to find some quick savings.

"You can find some pretty savings if you approach your bills with a questioning attitude," she said.


Latest Economic News

  • Tickets without barcodes: Concert venues experiment with new systems

    Economic CBC News
    When fans score tickets for events at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg in the future, they might notice the absence of a familiar feature: that ubiquitous zebra-styled inventory tracker bar that adorns almost every retail product imaginable. Source
  • The dirty truth about makeup and the oil change debate: CBC's Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

    Economic CBC News
    Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need. Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday. Internet prices dialing up Your internet bill could get even more pricey. Source
  • After overcharging for bread, should Loblaws demand ID for a $25 gift card?

    Economic CBC News
    Jenn Iskiw says she'll be grocery shopping elsewhere after feeling betrayed by Loblaws — twice. First, for artificially inflating the price of bread for 14 years, and second, for demanding she send ID to get a $25 gift card offered as compensation for bread price fixing. Source
  • Facebook suspends data analytics firm that worked for Trump campaign

    Economic CBC News
    The Massachusetts attorney general said on Saturday her office was launching an investigation after reports that Cambridge Analytica had harvested private information from more than 50 million Facebook users in developing techniques to support U.S. President Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign. Source
  • Trump's goal of 'energy dominance' could change the global balance of power

    Economic CBC News
    Fuelled by technological breakthroughs and cuts to taxes and regulation, the United States is on target to become the world's biggest producer of crude oil in the next five years. Let that sink in. The U.S will be bigger than Russia and Saudi Arabia. Source
  • How to avoid spending money on unnecessary oil changes

    Economic CBC News
    Oil changes are by far the most common service performed on vehicles in Canada. Customers pay quick lube facilities, private garages and dealer maintenance centres well over a billion dollars a year for the service. But a CBC investigation finds many of us may be changing our oil far more often than automakers require. Source
  • Trans Mountain protester arrested, one day after court grants injunction

    Economic CTV News
    BURNABY, B.C. -- Burnaby RCMP say they arrested a woman who chained herself to a work truck Friday morning, one day after the B.C. Supreme Court granted Trans Mountain an injunction against demonstrators. Just before 8 a.m. Source
  • Enbridge, TransCanada shares flat after steep dive due to U.S. tax ruling

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Shares in Canadian pipeline companies Enbridge Inc. and TransCanada Corp. failed to recover fully Friday from a steep sell-off on Thursday after the U.S. said it would eliminate a tax break for owners of certain interstate pipelines. Source
  • WestJet union drive helped by unhappiness with pay formula, says flight attendant

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- A WestJet flight attendant says rules that effectively pay starting workers less than minimum wage because they're compensated only for time in the air is helping shore up support for a union drive at Canada's second-largest airline. Source
  • Sask. premier blasts 'mind-boggling' rail backlog of grain shipments

    Economic CTV News
    REGINA -- Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says it's mind-boggling that grain shipments have been delayed again by rail backlogs this year. Moe told the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities on Friday that this is the second time in four years that grain shipments have been delayed. Source