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With the power of social media and expanding personal networks, it's easier to "have an in" with someone who does a trade or service that can save you money, versus going a more traditional route.

We’ve all been there. The car needs emergency service that costs you hundreds of dollars you weren’t planning to spend. The toilet leaks, your fridge breaks down, you lock yourself out… frankly, you can be dishing out cash at any moment — often when you least expect it, and possibly when you can least afford it.

That’s why it’s important to put your social network to work for you, leveraging key connections that can save you money in your day-to-day life. Find out what your more distant Facebook friends or LinkedIn contacts do for a living, or even on the side. Maybe your grade 7 best friend is a mechanic, or your ex-colleague is studying interior design? Because when you know a guy (and by “guy”, we mean an experienced male or female expert in their given trade), you can prevent costly breakdowns, pay less for repairs, and save money on things you need. Here are five connections that can save you some serious cash.


Car owners often choose to go to the dealership where they purchased their car to get their standard maintenance and repairs done. While this might be the right move if you’re leasing, if you own your car, you can save big money if you take your car to an independent or small-chain mechanic who doesn’t charge the premiums that big dealerships do. What’s more, you can get personalized service and advice to keep your car running smoothly, preventing breakdowns before they happen. Getting a reliable referral and connecting with someone who is highly recommended can help make sure your car is well taken care of, for less money over time.


You probably don’t think that having a plumber in your contact list is necessary… until you do. When a plumbing emergency happens (burst pipes, gushing toilet, leaking dishwasher), calling up someone you find on the internet — and who you don’t have any previous relationship with — can cost you big bucks. And taking the time to find someone cheaper could be valuable minutes or hours that translate to additional damage to your home. Make a connection and keep the number handy, just in case.

Interior Designer

You don’t need to live in a palace to use the services of an interior designer. In fact, the smaller your space, the more value a designer can provide. If you’re just starting to furnish a condo or apartment, for example, a designer can help you pick furniture that fits your space and works well together. Usually for a flat hourly rate, they can keep you from buying flimsy items that might not hold up over time, help you pick pieces that will stand up over the years, and coach you on when you can go cheap and trendy and when it’s worth it to spend a bit more. And because they’re always out shopping and looking for deals and trends, they can let you know when things go on sale, and help you save on the things you want. Often, designers have relationships with certain stores too, which can mean discounts on products for you. And if you find someone who is just starting out, you won’t need to spend much to use their services.


Have a burned out lightbulb in an impossible-to-reach spot? Need some shelves mounted that take more than basic knowledge of a drill or hammer? Is your oven beeping for no clear reason? Having a handy person, um, handy — who can take care of a wide range of home services — can keep you from running to more expensive specialists in your time of need. They’re usually affordable, reachable, efficient and reliable, and typically have a big repertoire of skills that you can use over time.


If you’ve ever locked yourself out of your house, you know that calling a locksmith — especially late at night or on the weekend — could be a gasp-inducing experience once you get the bill. There are lots of independent locksmiths out there, and making a connection with one who maybe lives or works close by could save you some cash if you find yourself on the outside looking in.

So take a few minutes to troll through your connections and try to find friends and contacts that have key skills that can save you money. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Ask for referrals and recommendations. Chances are, a friend of a friend (and even a friend of that friend) can put you in touch with tradespeople you’ll want to get to know better.