Getting Robbed by Inflation

Five ways to get more from your dwindling dollars

Do you feel like you’re getting less bang for your buck these days?


It’s not your imagination.  A recent report from Statistics Canada shows that the needle has barely moved on Canadian wages (an increase of 0.4 per cent from January 2015 to January 2016), a stat made only worse by rising inflation.

An analysis from the Huffington Post adjusted wage growth during 2015, and the results are negative in nearly every province:

Province Inflation Nominal Wage Growth Inflation-Adjusted Earnings
Alberta 2.1% -4.3% Down 6.4%
British Columbia 2.3% -0.4% Down 2.7%
Newfoundland 2.4% -0.1% Down 2.5%
Manitoba 2.1% 0.4% Down 1.7%
Saskatchewan 2.2% 0.5% Down 1.7%
Nova Scotia 2% 1% Down 1%
Ontario 2% 1.3% Down 0.7%
New Brunswick 2.4% 2.1% Down 0.3%
PEI 1.9% 2% Up 0.1%
Quebec 1.6% 2.3% Up 0.7%

Source: The Huffington Post

For Jeff Schwartz, the numbers are concerning.  The executive director of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada has been championing budgeting and smarter spending since he founded the non-profit organization in 2005.

We used to teach frugality and budgeting as useful tools to help maximize incomes,” says Schwartz.  “With stagnant wage growth and rising inflation, those skills have gone from the ‘nice-to-have’ category to the ‘absolutely necessary’ category.”

Schwartz says bloggers such as Frugal Frieda provide excellent resources for finding ways to cut back in everyday spending, stressing the importance of “small victories” en route to big savings.

People tense up when we suggest they adjust their spending,” notes Schwartz.  “But we’re not asking you to completely overhaul your life – a few tweaks here and there can add up to big savings.”

Schwartz and the team at Consolidated Credit offer the following spending tweaks to help you get more out of your paycheque:

  1. Find out where it’s all going. Step back and look at your spending (apps such as Consolidated Credit’s free Budget Tool will help you track your money). You might see some glaring areas in which you are going overboard – focus your energies accordingly.
  1. Smarter grocery shopping. Increasing prices of fruits and vegetables have been particularly stinging in recent months. Be sure to go after the bargains.  The Flipp app takes a lot of the work out of coupon-clipping, and remember that many supermarkets will price-match cheaper items from other stores.
  1. Revisit your telecom bill. Canadians spend a lot on their phones, TV, and internet – on average more than $200 per month. Take a look your services and see if you’re actually using everything.  Consider following the millennial trend of “cord-cutting” and search for discount service providers.
  1. Stop guzzling gas. Gas may not be as expensive as it once was, but along with car maintenance and insurance, your vehicle can be a big drain on your budget. Is public transit an option where you live?  What about cycling or walking?  Could you get by with one vehicle instead of two?  Changing the way you get around can save you money, improve your health, and help the environment at the same time.
  1. Stop subsidizing your bank. Pay careful attention to the banking fees that you are paying, and work with your bank to customize an account that better suits your needs. While you are at it, try to negotiate a better interest rate on your credit card, or consider switching to a low-interest card.  Better yet, accelerate your credit card debt repayment so that you will no longer feed your creditor its monthly interest charges.

Have you stretched your dollar as far as it can go, but are still struggling to make ends meet?  If you are starting to feel financially hopeless, it’s time to seek help.  Speak to a trained credit counsellor at 1-888-294-3130 or try our free budget analysis to get the help you need. 

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