I was 22 and an Accounts Clerk in Timmins, ON. I had a truck (that I always forgot to fill up), a fridge full of name-brand food, and a beautiful split level home….none of which belonged to me.
After spending 4 years as a student in Ottawa, I moved back home to put my Commerce degree to use and save up for my life post-Timmins. It was a good life- I was lucky to have parents that would and could financially help me, so when I moved back home I had no debt and two jobs waiting for me. I drank a lot, worked out a lot, and slowly drove my parents insane- I wasn’t a bad tenant, but there are a few areas in which we didn’t (and still don’t) see eye-to-eye. A frequent threat from my father? “If you don’t hang-up your clothes you can find a new place to live”. After 16 months of living the dream, I finally embarked on my journey to Toronto and Seneca College. This was the first time I was paying my own tuition and own rent without the help my parents-a little terrifying, but I was ready for the independence.
When I was living in Timmins, I didn’t have to be that “smart” with money. I would work as a server nights and weekends to supplement my regular income, and most servers know that having tip money all of the time can be very dangerous. The first thing I did post-graduation? Well, I bleached my hair blonde. The cost? $400. OUCH. Back then, money was no object- I would put a little bit of my pay into a TSFA, and the rest would be saved or spent on online shopping (Timmins has very little to shop from), at the bar, on eyelash extensions (who WAS I back then?), and root touch ups for my hair once a month.
Living in Toronto has re-taught me the importance of living frugally. When a paycheque from my job doesn’t cover the cost of my rent, I know that I will have to be smart with how I spend my money. So, keeping all of that in mind…here are my tips on how to be smarter financially… (yeah, I know I tend to give out tips a lot, but I’m old and wise!).
Buy Marked Down Bread, Big Bags Of Milk, and Extra Cheese When It’s On Sale
I don’t eat a lot of bread, but I love having rye bread in the morning with an egg and rye bread can be a tad expensive. Cartons of milk? Expensive. Cheese? REALLY EXPENSIVE. Essentially, everything to me is expensive. But what I do is buy bread that is close to being expired (when it’s like a $1.00 a loaf) and then I freeze it). a I buy big bags of milk (only $3.97!!!)and freeze them too. When cheese is under $5.00? I buy a few bricks, and freeze them. It’s not rocket science, it’s just learning to deal with keeping food in the freezer.
I love Shoppers Drugmart. I love that frozen pizzas are often $3.33 there, and I love that their discounted racks often have sunscreen, lotion and other random products that are significantly marked down. This tip is simple- go to shoppers, creep their sales, buy what you need.
Go To Costco Whenever You Can
I don’t have a Costco membership, but my roommate does. We buy a lot of toilet paper (cheaply) from Costco. We also pick up tubs of feta (sometimes Greek food is all you need in the world), chicken breasts, and pretty much everything else from Costco. Buying bulk is key- and splitting with roommates is even more important.
Bulk Barn Is God
You can buy all of your baking and cooking needs at Bulk Barn. You can buy peanut butter, oils, jam, and syrup at Bulk Barn. You can buy treats, sweets, and tea at Bulk Barn. YOU CAN BUY EVERYTHING AT BULK BARN (…not quite, but you get the point). Like I said, buying things in bulk is key, and students get 10% off on Wednesdays if they bring in their student card. Go for broke- it’s worth it!
Those are just a few, not so difficult ways to save money. They’re simple, and I’m sure many of you probably already “follow them”. I’m still learning, but I know now that I don’t need to buy name brand things, and Value Village has become a bi-yearly stomping ground for me to find cheap sweaters and purses! Living within your means is better than going into hard debt.