A Chanel bag here, a new outfit there, and the mention of homeownership sprinkled in between — I get that it could be easy to scroll through my Instagram feed and make some judgements about me, and my financial background, without thinking twice. Do I have wealthy parents? No. Have I purchased those things myself? Yes. How? By being selective and strategic about how, when and where I spend my money.
Now, I won’t sit here and pretend that I had a rough life growing up; my parents (who are both artists and have always worked for themselves) always did everything they could to make our lives as comfortable as possible! They even, very generously, helped me live in New York City for six months so that I could spend the summer before my last year of university interning at Teen Vogue. I know that this was not easy for them at the time (like, at all) but they made it happen. This didn’t exactly mean I was living in a cute walk-up in the West Village. I was actually living in a windowless room in the basement of a family friend’s place and sticking to a very lean budget of about $50 a week. On top of that, this was during the time when you absolutely did not get paid to be an intern at Teen Vogue. I was “living the life” and also learning how to be frugal af.
Although it might sound like a nightmare to some, I look back on those days quite fondly. I really admire how creative I was able to get with spending money and figuring out how I could stretch the few dollars I had as far as possible. This was all excellent training for when I decided to move to London, England, a year later. Yes, another one of the most expensive cities to live in in the world–where I lived off of 800 pounds a month (comparable to making $800 a month here in Toronto) while still somehow paying rent.
During these times of being extremely conscious of every dollar I had in my bank account, I formed some habits that I still practice to this day. Although I don’t always have to be as careful anymore, I still prefer to be thoughtful about how I spend my money, and it really irks me to ‘waste’ any of my hard-earned dollars if I can avoid it.
Saving money and having money in your bank account is awesome! But, making money off your savings is even better. That’s why I recommend EQ Bank’s new GIC. With as little as $100, you can guarantee a return on your investment from 2.76% on a 1-year term to 3.50% on a 5-year term.
In case you’re not yet in the habit of trying to save money or not trying to blow through your entire paycheque on pay day, here are a few simple tricks for saving money that have worked for me.
Buy Fewer Coffees
As a coffee lover, I know all too well how tempting it can be to purchase a caffeinated beverage from your favourite coffee shop. But let’s face it, an ‘artisan’ coffee can easily cost you around $4 whereas making it at home is practically free. I know, I know, it can be a great excuse to get out of the office and stretch your legs during the work day, but, if you’re in the habit of buying multiple coffees a day, try to cut down to one, and if you’re already on one a day, try dropping down to only a few a week. If you’re not a fan of brewed coffee, get yourself an Italian espresso maker and enjoy all the Americanos you’ve ever wanted at home! Thinks about it, even if you just cut out one $4 coffee a day during the work week, you’ll have saved $20 by each Friday. By the end of the month, you’ll have saved $80!
Pack Your Own Lunch
There is seriously no bigger money suck than buying your lunch every day, and it’s something I hate to do because to me, it feels like flushing money down the toilet every day at noon. Of course, going out for lunch sometimes is a treat I enjoy, but I prefer to pack my own lunch (or eat at home) for both the health and financial benefits it brings. Unless you’re purchasing really low-quality food, the average purchased lunch can set you back a good $15-$20 a day, whereas spending $25-30 at the grocery store can set you up for an enter week of delicious homemade meals. Sure, meal prep takes some work, but if it saves you $100 a week, wouldn’t you rather have that $400 in your bank account (or in your GIC) at the end of the month?
Take Public Transit
Admittedly, this is where I struggle the most nowadays because I loooove Uber. But, one look at my Visa statement and I instantly know that I need to cut down. I know that it’s cheaper than owning a car, but taking public transit is still the cheaper option, at least here in Toronto. Of course, there’s the ‘how valuable is your time’ argument that I often use, but we’ll save that for another day. Taking the transit, walking or biking is an easy way to cut down costs that could be adding up from your daily commute. Not ready to totally give up on ride-sharing? Do what I sometimes do and take Uber one-way (when you’re more rushed) and transit the other ways (when you’ve got more time).
Go Out Less Often
Although living in Toronto is cheaper than New York and London, it’s definitely not an inexpensive city to live in. Personally, I also find it to be absurdly expensive to go to many of the trendy restaurants that keep opening in the city, and I have a very hard time justifying spending over $100 per person every time I want to go for dinner and drinks. This doesn’t mean I don’t leave my house, but I prefer to invite friends over to my home for a dinner party or visit theirs for a more relaxed hangout that’s wallet-friendly. If we do go out, it’s often for something simple and cheap like Pho or Dim Sum. Yum!
Shop What’s On Sale
I get a legit thrill from finding a bargain and this applies even when I’m shopping for groceries or basic household supplies. I’m pretty sure I turned to my boyfriend and gave him a very enthusiastic high-five the last time I was at Shopper’s Drug Mart and saw that we’d saved $50 by buying the products we needed that were on sale. Do that twice a month and BOOM there’s the $100 back in your bank account.
Buy Groceries Daily
This is definitely a more European habit, and it’s one I picked up while living in London. Here in North America, we often do one ‘big shop’ a week (or even a month) where we buy everything we think we need. The problem here is that you can often over-buy and buy things you don’t need. I find that it also often leads to rotting foods in my fridge if my schedule changes and I don’t end up having time to cook or eat at home as often as I’d initially planned for the week. If shopping daily doesn’t work for you, try planning your meals in advance so you know what you’re going to make, and what you need, and hitting the grocery store a couple of times a week instead of just once.
Cancel Random Subscriptions
Subscriptions are sneaky and they’re designed to be. Enter your credit card once, prepared to be billed every month for ever and ever, or at least until you remember and finally cancel it. Sure, some subscriptions are handy and necessary (hello, Netflix!) but there are a lot that are not. If you’ve got a gym membership that you never use, cancel it. If you’re paying for a software or app that you don’t even know what to do with, cancel it. Going through what might be billing you unnecessarily could easily save you up to $100 a month that would help get you started with that EQ Bank GIC investment.
Do you have any money-saving tips or tricks that aren’t on this list? Please share! And for more information on setting up your GIC with EQ Bank, please click HERE.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)
*Please note that this post has been brought to you thanks to a paid partnership with EQ Bank Canada. That said, all thoughts and opinions are my own.*