You're probably picking up on a common theme in these personal finance pages, that I LOVE to squeeze every cent of value out of whatever service I'm using. If it doesn't serve a purpose, or if it's a bad deal I have zero loyalty, nor should you. I'll put a good amount of work into reducing my recurring expenses even if it only saves me a few dollars a month. That difference really adds up over time, and it's money you could be investing and compounding, which is especially important if you're younger.
On this page, I've taken the opportunity to highlight the best deals I can for my recurring expenses.
The items you find below won't be the best for everyone, but I'll write a little bit about my use case and rationale. If you find yourself in a similar boat, hopefully you can up your savings percentage too!
Pro tip: when you work through setting your budget each year, go through each line item and reevaluate the competing offers for those services. Push the price down every year as far as you can. You can try to reduce the work involved in switching by asking your existing service provider to match the competing offer.
Have you ever used FaceTime or Skype on your mobile phone to chat with friends and family? Did you know it's possible to use a similar app to replace your phone's calling and texting function for a fraction of the cost phone companies are charging you for the same service?
Now that LTE data is available across Canada, data connections (WiFi or cellular) are reliable enough on smartphones to turn this into a real cost savings. Most Canadians don't realize that carriers offer data-only tablet plans that can be used to deliver data services equally well to your smartphone.
With cellphone bills going as high as $100/mo lately, it's refreshing to use this trick to push your bill down to as low as $15/mo.
Fongo Mobile ($0/mo + $9.99/6 mo for SMS = $1.67/mo)
- Unlimited national talk & text
- Voicemail, Caller ID, Conference Calling
FIDO Tablet Data 3GB ($15/mo)
- 3GB LTE Data across Canada
With the above set up you'll need to buy your own phone outright. But you're usually better off doing this anyways.
All in, I pay $16.67/mo+tax for my mobile phone.
The beauty of using Fongo is that your phone number is tied to an app on your phone, not the SIM card you have. This gives you the freedom to get the best available rates whether that's from a different Canadian provider, or picking up a SIM card from a local provider when you're in another country.
I use KnowRoaming while away. The best part is that it gives you unlimited free WhatsApp use anywhere in the world! You'll pay a bit more than domestic prices with this, but it means you get access as soon as your plane touches down!
Sign up at KnowRoaming.com
Use my offer code ALEKI29 to get a 30% discount and $5 credit on an already insanely cheap $10 SIM card to get started.
Full disclosure, I get a $5 credit for pointing you their way.
Pro Tip: before you leave and switch your sim card, use the call forwarding feature to forward your calls to the number you get with KnowRoaming, and none of your callers will even notice you're out of the country.
Home Internet / Phone / TV
You've heard of cord-cutting right? If you're ready to get with it, you'll learn how I get HD TV, Netflix, CraveTV, CBC Premium, Amazon Prime Video, Acorn TV, Home Phone, and High Speed Internet for $73.80/mo.
Here's the secret... two of those services are actually free (no monthly bill). Unbeknownst to most Canadians, free HDTV is streaming through the air right around us, all we need is a relatively cheap antenna to pick it up. Bye bye cable bill! Check out this site to see which channels you'll get, but if you live in a city you'll most likely get the big Canadian channels.
Heads up: with lower-cost providers, some have said that customer support is the biggest difference. But, just remember, they are selling you the capability coming through the plug in the wall. Take ownership over your equipment and home network.
Internet - Carrytel $39.99 (use my referral code KI9378 for $10 off modem or installation)
- 50mbps down, 10mbps up (good enough for 4K)
- Unlimited traffic
- Netflix - $10.99/mo
- CraveTV - $71.91/yr
- CBC Premium - $4.99/mo
- Acorn TV - $63.00/yr
- Amazon Prime Video - $79/yr
- CBC, Global, CTV, etc. HD Antenna - $0/mo (Antenna was $30)
- Freephoneline.ca - $0/mo ($79 voip unlock set up fee, and bought $15 device Linksys PAP2T online)
- Most people probably don't even need home phone. This is a not-so-guilty nostalgia thing for me.
My annual home telecom/entertainment budget is: $885.55
Unless you've got super complicated taxes. Just do them yourself - it couldn't be easier with SimpleTax.ca. Pay what you like (including $0). But, it's fantastic, and saves you tonnes of time and effort, so I'd send at least $10 their way.
Now, this one might be difficult to swallow for some, but I've made a point of not buying a car. Considering that some estimates place the cost of car ownership at $10,000+ per year, and knowing the alternatives available to me in a city, I couldn't justify it.
If you're about to take the plunge, consider this first:
- Is a car-share service available in your city?
- Do you have easy access to good public transportation?
- Would you like to join the eBike club? (Shout-out to Scooteretti).
My Transport Situation (in order of frequency):
- Within my city, and daily commute during months of at least 5° C weather: eBike Scooter (~$100 annual service, ~$600 battery replacement every three years), $0.25 / day of use for charging).
- Within my city, when I need a car: VrtuCar ($10/mo membership, $3.99/hr+$0.39/km - insurance and gas included).
- During the cold months, or on rainy days: Ottawa's fantastic public transportation system OCTranspo ($113.75/mo or $3.35 per ride).
- Going to home to visit family: VIARail (Ottawa to London is $205.66 round trip if booked early).
- Flight: always find lowest price on Google Flights, then book it on PCTravel.ca for 30 PC points/$, AND the airline points.
My annual transportation budget is $2,285.15 (not including flights/vacation).