With the rising cost of living, people share ‘inflation tips’ to combat rising costs


A sharp rise in gas and food prices is largely responsible for the cost of living in Canada rising at its fastest pace in decades.

With inflation at its highest level in almost 40 years in Canadapeople are getting creative in their attempts to save money in any way they can.

Students, seniors, families and financial experts have shared their « inflation tips » with Cross Country Record host Ian Hanomansing.

Parked car in favor of the electric tricycle

Birgit Arnstein is a 75-year-old grandmother and retired nurse from Osoyoos, BC who recently bought a tricycle and converted it to run on an electric motor. She said she did it to cut down on the gas she bought to drive her car around town.

« I go to meetings, I run errands, I drive across town to meet friends for walks — normally I would have driven my car for all of those things, » Arnstein said.

WATCH | How Torontonians are coping with rising food costs:

How do you deal with food inflation?

On the streets of Toronto, several Canadians shared their thoughts on how high food prices are affecting their family budget.

« It didn’t make sense with the price of gas [to drive my car]. It ended up costing about $100 every two weeks. Admittedly, it’s an investment to acquire this trike, but I pay it back quickly without driving my car as much. »

Recently, Arnstein also started working two days a week as a dishwasher at a bakery to earn extra income, she said.

« It’s heavy work, but I have major dental bills coming up, so this will help me. »

Meticulous meal preparation helps reduce the grocery bill

Calgary’s Kate Schutz said meal planning has become an economic exercise for her family. They follow two sets of meal plans, depending on the season, each including 21 different dinners which are served on a three week rotation.

« I thought we’d get really sick of it, but these are the foods we’d probably be cooking anyway. It just helps us be a little more organized and avoids impulse purchases or multiple trips to the grocery store each week. “, she said. .

A mother, daughter and father smile in front of their kitchen refrigerator.
Kate Schutz, left, her daughter Heidi, center, and her husband David, right, stand in front of a meal plan calendar on their kitchen refrigerator in Calgary. (Kate Schutz)

Schutz estimates it saves them at least $100 a week on groceries.

« I think [my family] like knowing what to expect. Everyone knows it’s week three, for example, « Wednesday three » tonight. It really makes shopping easier and reduces food waste. »

Schutz, her husband David Ronneberg and daughter Heidi, also rely on a large vegetable garden for fresh produce. They say they buy mostly from thrift stores and reuse things whenever they can.

Earn more, spend less, set aside

Personal finance educator and author Kelley Keehn says there are three key categories to keep in mind when trying to deal with the rising cost of living:

  • Reduce your expenses. Track all your expenses for 30 days or browse 30 days of statements and see what you can cut. Call your mobile, Internet and TV providers to negotiate better deals. She says the same goes for your home and auto insurance. Keehn recommends renegotiating or putting expensive items on hold, if possible.

  • Earn more income. Whether it’s a second job or a side hustle, Keehn says making more money can be more fun than cutting costs. She says to focus on the skills you have and trust that others will pay for them. Another approach recommended by Keehn is to rent out a room in your house to a college student as another secondary source of income.

  • Stretch your budget. Keehn suggests extending your mortgage amortization to get a lower payment if you can. You’ll pay more interest in the long run, but a lower payment will help you ride out the inflationary storm and you can pay later to catch up, she said. If your mortgage is in good standing, you may be able to skip one payment a year without penalty — and that can put thousands of dollars in your hands right now, Keehn said.

WATCH | Kelly Keehn explains how rising interest rates affect Canadians:

What the Bank of Canada’s rate hike means for you

According to personal finance expert Kelley Keehn, the Bank of Canada’s decision to raise interest rates will make life even more expensive in the short term. Now is the time to start paying off the debt.

Financial journalist Renée Sylvestre-Williams recommends putting money aside in an emergency savings fund, if possible.

« Depending on which economist you listen to, either we’re in a recession or we’re about to go into a recession, and that could be bad, » she said.

While people are aiming to save three to six months of living expenses, a more realistic goal might be the equivalent of a cash paycheck, Sylvestre-Williams said.

Student housing on wheels

Soaring rent prices in Vancouver have left two international students at the University of British Columbia looking for other housing options.

Two men make a circle with their arms in front of a motorhome.
Alessio Brandolese and Paolo Ferronato are Italian international students now living in Vancouver. They are shown here making a circle with their arms in front of a motorhome they bought because renting accommodation was too expensive. (Alessio Brandolese)

Italians Alessio Brandolese and Paolo Ferronato ended up buying a cheap motorhome on Craigslist.

“Otherwise we would have spent all our money on rent and we wouldn’t have had any leftovers to enjoy Vancouver,” Brandolese said. « We prefer to spend money on travelling, buying skis and cooking, so we can enjoy our time in Canada more. »

While traveling, Brandolese and Ferronato try to bring friends with them to split the cost of gas.

The couple acknowledged that although the van resulted in high unexpected repair costs, they do not regret buying it. Their focus has always been on spending on the things they love to do rather than just saving money, they added.

‘The misfortune of some is the happiness of others’

Darlene Sovran from Sudbury, Ontario helped start an online clothing swap alongside her friend Holly Louise Graham.

A woman is sitting at a kitchen table and typing on a laptop.
Darlene Sovran of Sudbury, Ontario helped create an online clothing exchange that has grown to include hundreds of users and other household items. (Darlene Sovran)

The Facebook group has grown to hundreds of people, and apart from clothes, users also trade items such as tools and other household items.

« People are exchanging very nice things, knowing that everything is going to happen – there is a lot of trust and generosity in the group, » Sovran said. « The misfortune of some is the happiness of others. »

Besides swapping clothes, Sovran, who owns an older van, limits the distance she travels and how often she drives to cut expenses.

Written by Bob Becken. Cross Country Checkup produced by Steve Howard and Abby Plener.

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