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Insights & advice

How to manage the cost of living in Canada

November 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

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What is inflation?

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF),Opens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window  inflation is the rate of increase in prices over a given time period, usually a year. Inflation can be a broad measure, which looks at the overall price of living in a certain country for example, or it can be calculated to measure a specific cost, such as the cost of a loaf of bread, a haircut, or gas.

  • “Whatever the context, inflation represents how much more expensive the relevant set of goods and/or services has become over a certain period. Consumers’ cost of living depends on the prices of many goods and services and the share of each in the household budget.” - Ceyda Oner, IMF

How does inflation impact the cost of living?

As things become more expensive, people need to adjust their budgets to pay more for essentials like groceries. This can cause an issue if prices continue to rise, but wages, and in turn, household incomes don’t rise to keep up.

If buying the essentials costs more but your paycheque stays the same, you may quickly find yourself among the many Canadians who are struggling to keep up with the cost of living. Recent research from the Angus Reid InstituteOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window  shows that just over half of Canadians (53%) feel like they’re outpaced by the rising cost of living, especially by expenses like groceries, gas and energy bills.

The BoC is taking steps to fight inflation - Opens in a new window , but there are some steps you can take in the meantime to help manage the rising cost of living.

How to manage rising costs in your day-to-day life

  • Re-examine your budget

    A great place to start is by seeing what expenses can be scaled back, and if there are any that can be cut out of your budgetOpens in a new window completely.

    You can review bank statements, check your banking app or online accounts more frequently, or perhaps keep a written record of everything you spend over a month. This might help to spot money spent on things like take-out, coffee, subscriptions to streaming services or other online services you may have forgotten about, or other small costs that can quickly rack up.

    Be sure to have honest conversations about spending with others in your household, and when going over your budget, make sure you prioritize important bills such as utility bills and mortgage payments.

  • Pay down expensive debt

    When looking over your expenses, make sure to evaluate your debt repayments, too. If possible, you may want to put some of the money you’ve cut out of your daily budget towards paying off more debt, or consolidate high-interest debts into 1 lower interest payment.

  • Plan your meals

    If your grocery bills are running higher than you’d like, look for ways to make your money – and your food – go further. You can use weekly flyers to find deals on groceries, and plan meals that will generate leftovers. You can also join a loyalty program to generate rewards and offers that could help you save money, and buying with a list and resisting impulse purchases can help lower your bill, too.

  • Consider making lifestyle changes

    Some changes to your everyday life can also have a helpful impact on your wallet. For example, you could consider walking or carpooling to lessen the amount you drive, as well as planning errands to achieve as much as possible in 1 trip instead of many. You could also cut back on things like alcohol and meat consumption, and look for free workout videos or apps that can help you stay healthy mentallyOpens in a new window and physically while skipping the gym membership.

  • Explore ways to earn more income

    Along with cutting back, you may look for ways to earn more money to help pay for necessities. Perhaps you have a hobby that could turn into a side businessOpens in a new window, or you could look to progress your career and find a higher paying job. You could even consider changing careersOpens a new website in a new window completely if you think it would help financially.

  • Consider moving

    This may be a drastic step, but if you’re struggling with the cost of living in your current neighborhood, you could consider if moving somewhere less expensive is an option – particularly if you can work remotelyOpens in a new window. If you want to stay in your local area, you might consider downsizing and taking on a less expensive property.

The information provided is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. This information is general in nature, and is intended for educational purposes only.