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It’s tough getting financially established. When graduating from school or looking for work, the list of financial commitments can seem insurmountable. While good financial habits take time to develop, everyone needs to start somewhere. No matter the situation, here are a few quick adjustments you can make to improve your personal finances.

Start small

A recent study by estimates that 62% of millennials are saving a minimum of 5% of their pay towards their financial goals. Saving for retirement and emergencies is difficult and sometimes there isn’t much left over after the cost of living.

On a full-time salary of $45,000, saving 5% works out to roughly $86 biweekly and adds up to up $2,250 in savings for the year. While it might not seem as much at first, you’ll be able to save more as promotions, raises, and new opportunities arise. If setting aside a fixed percentage seems like a tall order at first, a better approach may be to focus instead on diverting remaining funds towards one very specific goal: paying off a student loan, building up an emergency fund, or a saving for a down payment on a home.

Question the fees

Phone plans and cable packages are a good place to reduce expenses. Companies employ retention departments dedicated to convincing customers not to cancel existing agreements. Often, a simple phone call to providers expressing a desire to move to a competitor will result in a promotional offer and, subsequently, reduced fees. It costs a company more to acquire new customers than it does to retain them with discounts.

The financial sector has been known to add fees to existing services. As banks continue to raise minimum balances to waive service fees, consider online banks or credit unions with no-fee chequing and savings accounts. And if you’re going to invest, you can invest in GICs, which don’t charge fees. You should be aware that mutual funds fees in Canada are among the highest in the developed world. Instead, you can invest in index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to minimize the fees you pay.

Take advantage of the second-hand economy

Canadians saved an average of $480 and earned an average of $883 when buying and selling used goods, according to Kijiji’s Second-Hand Economy Index Report. Given the quality of items available at steep discounts, buying and selling second-hand goods no longer carries the stigma of necessity but is viewed as a stepping stone towards wealth and stability.

Beyond the savings and earning potential, second-hand sales serve also to subsidize the purchase of new goods and services or increase savings. It’s also worth noting that with some care, items purchased second hand may also be resold for additional gain.

The bottom line

Financial priorities can sometimes take a back seat given the many demands of everyday circumstances. But setting aside a small amount regularly for a specific savings goal, a simple phone call to a service provider, and second-hand purchases can help you save money and improve your finances. is a website that compares mortgage ratescredit cards and deposit rates with the goal to empower Canadians to search smarter and save money.