Every once in a while on Twitter I come across an article titled something like “I’m 24 And Here’s How I Bought A House On My Own!” but it’s written by an upper middle-class person with very generous parents, and people on Twitter are quick to point out how unrealistic this is and shouldn’t be touted as something we can all achieve.
Money is a touchy subject, but it’s one that’s a concern in the world we live in today. Prices for everything have gone up while wages have not, and the cost of living is getting unrealistic for many. In the late 50’s, my grandparents bought a 3 bedroom house in Ottawa, Ontario for around $20000, which is wild because that’s about what one year of university was for me if you added up rent and tuition and food and a bus pass. We sold their house a few years ago for way, way, way more.
Anyway, though I am a middle class white girl myself, my father instilled a really strict financial mindset in my brother and I (possibly too strict, but that’s an issue for another day) and now we’re programmed to constantly look for ways to save money, and I think some are worth sharing, because I know several young people who will openly mention not being able to afford this or that but then go buy something ridiculous like a fancy decorative lamp. And to each their own; I’m not judging too hard and I know it’s not my place to comment because maybe they really like that fancy decorative lamp and will get great use out of it, and their financial situation isn’t my business. But if you’re looking for some money-saving tips, here’s what I have to offer. In this post about pandemic life, I had a few people comment that they’d forgotten how expensive it can be to eat/drink out, so maybe this will help you adjust.
- Consider how and when you purchase entertainment. Being able to buy things for fun rather than for survival is important, and a $15 movie ticket for example isn’t going to make or break your life, but you can and should save on entertainment. My local movie theater has half-price tickets before noon, and I know waking up and going to a movie may not be as exciting as doing the dinner and a movie thing, but I’m saving a few bucks and seeing the same movie as everyone else. And you can use that saved money to buy snacks…not at the theater, though. Waaaaay overpriced. Movie theater popcorn is my weakness, but smuggling home food in my coat pockets is free.
And for other forms of entertainment like musicals, concerts, or sporting events, look into discount codes, online lotteries, legal resales, or going on certain days (related: this post on how to get cheap Broadway tickets). Sometimes you can’t find better deals or don’t have time to do the research, but sometimes you can save a lot if you wait a bit. Consider signing up for newsletters because sometimes discounts are sent out that way.
And then there’s the idea of streaming things illegally to cut down spending money on tickets…
- Price match when shopping. This is more for grocery shopping, but some places will let you price match other stores if you show a flyer. My father likes to use a weekly flyer app called Flipp to find and mark things we need and then he just shows them to the cashiers at the local grocery stores. I did this a few times while at school, and it’s super easy.
- Make use of libraries. I’ve raved about libraries before (like here). They’re great. There are books, DVDs, video games, audiobooks, magazines, and more ALL. FOR. FREE. I know owning books and movies is cool, but if you read a lot, that means you’ll need a pretty hefty budget set aside for that.
- Shop second hand. I don’t just mean thrift stores for clothes, I mean use Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Kijiji, and go to garage sales. There’s a risk by doing this, but a lot of the time, genuine people are selling good stuff they don’t use/need and they may be willing to bargain. I highly recommend this for people moving into a new apartment because there is a lot of furniture and kitchen things that people are selling.
- Consider alternatives to things you crave. I love chicken nuggets and fries. And McDonalds has really great nugs and superb fries, but at far too expensive Canadian prices. Over at Burger King, though, I can get even more chicken nuggets and fries for half the price (even less if I have a mailer coupon). And KFC’s $5 fill-ups? Awesome. So though I like McD’s, I’ll happily go elsewhere because I can get roughly the same food and more of it for less money. The same can be said for everything you have cravings for. I think a lot of people succumb to impulses, and while that’s fine sometimes, it can be costly over time.
- Stop going to bars to drink. Look, a night out on the town can be fun once in a while, but alcohol at bars is so overpriced. I can go to the store and get a mickey of rum and a 2L bottle of coke for maybe $17 dollars max and that’ll get me as drunk as I ever want to be. But at a bar, one rum and coke will cost like $8 dollars and it’ll be mostly ice. If your friends insist on going to clubs and bars all the time to drink and dance, suggest alternatives. Plus, there’s no paying cover when you drink in a friend’s basement.
- Consider what you’ll get good use out of and if it’s worth it. Buying a $100 pair of shoes that will last a while is better than buying a $20 pair that will wear out quickly and force you to replace them, but don’t you already have several pairs of shoes that you wear more? That’s right. I think it’s so easy to see something nice and something you know you’ll use a few times so you decide to buy it, but it ends up not getting used as much and therefore is a waste. Purses, phone cases, hats…things that you can only use one at a time are easy things to misjudge. Take some time to really think about if the thing you’re eyeing is really something you’ll use many, many purposeful times. Do not impulse buy, because it will end up in a closet or under a bed not getting used more than a few times.
It sucks that the economy is so rough these days (at least in Canada) that we have to really consider how we spend money and treat ourselves, but it is what it is. All of the above are things I do, but I hope I’m not coming across as holier than thou or judgy. Again, your money is your business.
If you’ve got money-saving tips to share though, let me know!
That’s all for now!