OTTAWA -- If you want to save for a car, a home, a vacation or your retirement, an Ottawa money coach suggests the first thing you need is a plan.

"I think if people don't have a plan, they don't really do it," says Janet Gray of Money Coaches Canada.

"If I have a plan, I'm committing someway, somehow to do that. So I think they're kind of one in the same. If you don't do one, and you just leave it to haphazard or coincidence or the spur of the moment, it doesn't really happen or it will happen and you won't get the results that you want to get."

Gray says while you're saving, make sure you categorize your goals into separate areas to make it more "realistic."

"So, you should have a savings for the holiday in six months, you should have savings for your retirement in 10 years," said Gray. "You can have multiple savings accounts, but it really helps to have them labelled because you've committed to it if it has a name."

Janet Gray of Money Coaches Canada shares five tips to help you save money in 2021.


"If you don't know, then you're just guessing and we're often bad at that," says Gray.

The money coach recommends tracking your monthly spending, then try to live below your means so you have extra cash for unexpected expenses and to also set aside for your savings goals.

"I think you really want to commit to paper what the numbers are; real numbers, not just numbers that you kind of think, 'well, last month I think it was this but maybe that was the month before.' No, you want to actually jot it down," said Gray about analyzing your expenses.

"Then once you know here's how much income I make, here's how much I'm currently spending but I want to spend less than I earn so that I can save for those items that are important to me or those emergencies that may pop up."

Once you've realized how much you're spending a month, Gray recommends setting up a "spending and saving plan" to help you meet your savings goals.

"If you have a spending plan, you know where your money is going to be allocated and part of that is you're going to save, and that's a plan."


The money coach recommends paying off your credit card balance every month, or don't use your credit card if you can't pay your monthly balance.

"If you don't pay your credit card down, then you're giving away 20 per cent," said Gray, noting most credit cards charge 20 per cent in interest fees.

"But, if you're using your credit card then you have to be able to pay your monthly balance, or you're using someone else's money and that always comes at a cost."

Credit card


"Avoid impulse purchases."

If you're planning a big vacation, to build a pool in the backyard or some other big expense this year, Gray recommends plan, save up and watching for sales.

"I think you should plan in advance and do a lot of study around it. A lot of people will probably spend more time planning that trip to Disney then they will spending some of the impulse money that they do," said Gray.

The money coach notes COVID-19 has prompted some people to buy a new backyard pool or other items.

"You want to plan for that. If you’re going to buy a pool and it is going be $60,000, than maybe you want to consider it a little bit longer, take a different look. If you're going to have payments for five years, is that going to preclude you from doing something else?"

Swimming pool


"We call it expense leakage or spending leakage."

Gray suggests looking to reduce existing fees for subscriptions and services like phones and streaming to help save money. You can also try to negotiate a better fee for some services.

"Do I really have seven subscriptions for all those streaming services that add up to $100 a month? I forgot, I only watch one of them," said Gray.

"Those little $7-$10 things will add up; so take a look and see what it is that you're really using and see where you can cut it back or maybe even negotiate a better price."



When purchasing essential things, Gray recommends looking for sales and discounts on apps and in flyers.

"If you're going to be buying a new couch, then look for a sale. If you're going to be buying a new appliance, then try and get the best deal and the best warranty," said Gray.

"It's worth while to look for those things. You can find discount codes online or set up flyer alerts, especially if they're substantial amounts."

Gray adds, "I'm emphasising essential purchases, because our discretionary purchases need to be secondary to our essential purchases because you don't want to spend your grocery money on something that wasn't essential. It's really important to have the distinction in your mind and in your spending plan."