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How to boost your home budget with these tips.

According to TransUnion, the average consumer’s debt and borrowing in Canada increased to more than $27,000 (excluding mortgage obligations) in 2013 — a 3.47 percent increase over 2012.

If your personal debt level has increased in recent years — and you’re looking to knock it down a notch — reducing what you spend on common household purchases may help.

Bank some bucks with the following 5 saving tips:

  1. Eliminate excess energy costs: Electronic devices and appliances that are plugged in draw power — even when they aren’t being used — which can account for up to 15 percent of your monthly hydro bill, according to Hydro One. Adding a programmable power bar or disconnecting items can help. If you live in Ontario or another region that offers smart meters, Ontario Ministry of Energy also suggests trying to change your peak energy use times to less popular hours, when electricity is lower priced. Find out more about smart meters — which track energy consumption — and preferred time-of-use electricity pricing from energy.gov.on.ca. Check out these energy saving tips and cost calculators from Hydro One.

  2. Get rid of extra expenditures: Consider canceling services you don’t really use, like a landline — for example, a basic home phone plan from Bell or Telus costs around $30 per month, which could be money back in your pocket. Canceling a rarely read newspaper or magazine can also save you some cash.
     
  3. Swap your water source: According to Statistics Canada, bottled water is the main drinking water for three in 10 Canadian households. A Chatelaine magazine analysis found that switching to tap water could save you more than $900 a year. (Adding a water pitcher filter system should only cost you about $20.)

  4. Shop smart: MyMoneyCoach, a free public service provided by the nonprofit Credit Counselling Society, recommends buying generic brands, instead of name brands, which can save you 25 percent (with a potential $720 in annual savings), shopping at discount grocery stores to save 10 percent, using discount produce stores to save 32 percent, and buying fresh food, instead of pre-packaged items. For on-the-go assistance, check out mashable.com for 25 apps to save you money.

  5. Eat organically — and economically: If you want to buy organic — which can cost double the price of conventional produce — but are on a budget, you may want to consider splurging on fruits and vegetables that have the greatest risk of having a high pesticide residue. To find out which items potentially contain the most and least amount of pesticides, check out the Environmental Working Group’s annual list, based on analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture data. For 10 tips to save on organic food, check out this article from iVillage.ca. You can also track the cost of specific organic foods found at farmer’s markets throughout Canada at organicpricetracker.ca

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