5 top money saving tips for newcomers

A young girl stacking piles of quarters.

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Handling money is a skill you’ll have to learn when you arrive in Manitoba. You’ll need to discover the cost of goods, how far your dollar goes, usual taxes you have to pay, how much rent and utilities cost, and all other information that goes into planning for your everyday living. You will need to ensure that your savings will go a long way and cover your expenses until you have a steady income especially if you are in the process of looking for a job. Here are a few tips:

  1. Avail of your benefits

    Find out about government benefits that you are eligible for. Examples are the Goods and Services tax/Harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit, Canada Child Benefit (CCB), and the Manitoba Child Benefit Program. There is even Rent Assist if you are a low-income renter. These are monthly allowances that will help make ends meet for you and your family. To know more about these benefits, including other free services you may be eligible for, use the Canada Benefits Finder.

    Get your Social Insurance Number (SIN) card a few days upon arrival. You’ll need your SIN to apply for government benefits and to get work. Also get your Health Card to have access to a broad range of insured health services in Manitoba (go to this article: Essential documents for newcomers to know more). Remember, a free health check-up today may prevent you or a family member from racking up medical bills later on.

  2. Stick to a budget

    Budgeting is crucial when you have limited funds. It helps you focus when planning for your next steps. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has an easy to follow, step by step guide in making a budget which you can see here: Making a budget and sticking to it.

    A budget calculator can also be an efficient tool if you already have a clear idea of your financial goals. Here’s a link to the FCAC Budget Calculator.

    Watch this video for tips from the FCAC on How to reduce your spending:

  3. Pick the right bank account

    Paying for goods and services is usually done using a debit or credit card. Of course, you could always use cash, but transacting through banks is the safest and most convenient way to go.

    When choosing a bank or credit union, consider your transaction pattern and the average monthly balance you can keep. This will help you save on service fees. Compare bank products and rates by asking around, checking bank websites or asking the help of an advisor. You can also use the FCAC Account Selector tool. Read the article Essential facts newcomers need to know about financial institutions in Manitoba to know more about choosing the right bank and type of account.

  4.  

    Ways to save money at the grocery store, Home and Family, Manitoba Association of Home Economists

    Video with Arabic Translation
     

  5. Save on household and grocery bills

    According to Statistics Canada, an average Canadian family spends around $500+ on food a month (2017 Average household expenditure). If you are also paying for rent, utilities, clothing, and home equipment, the total will take a big chunk out of your savings. Here are a few money saving hacks you can try:

    • Make a grocery list. Check your pantry and fridge before going to the store. Plan your meals to incorporate ingredients you already have. Make a list of the items you need.
    • For groceries, check out newspapers for coupons, or look for groups on social media (e.g. Facebook groups) to get leads on great discounts and sales.
    • Check supermarkets for products on sale. You can stock up on these if they are non-perishable. Always check the “best before” dates. Also ask about special offers at grocery stores. They have promotions that offer discounts on certain days or for certain products.
    • There are many great finds in garage sales and thrift stores. Garage sales pop up in the neighbourhood during summer (it’s a great way to meet your neighbours too). Thrift stores also have additional discount days where you can get 50% off on your purchases.
    • Don’t get cable TV, instead, use the money to enroll your kids in sports activities or get out and see Manitoba. Check out the Winnipeg Leisure Guide for activities and read this article on 20-plus free (and almost free) things to do in Manitoba to plan your family’s next outing.
    • Be power smart to save energy and save on your hydro bills.
  6. Keep an emergency fund

    It’s a good policy to save enough funds to keep you and your family afloat for at least six months should (knock on wood!) you lose your job or encounter unexpected expenses. Also consider investing in a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) (you can also learn about RESPs here). for your kids. These investment instruments are backed by the government which allows you to enjoy your savings tax-free, and in the case of RESPs, matched by government grants which is essentially free money for your child.

Article updated April 29, 2021.

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Community Resources

Download Talking about Money and Making your Money Work. These are easy to understand booklets to help you understand how to earn, spend, save, invest, borrow money, and many more.

You can also get these booklets from Community Futures Manitoba. Making your Money Work is also available in audio and American Sign Language video formats.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has many resources for consumers to help guide you in handling your finances.

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