Until my 20’s, the thought had never even occurred to me to become financially responsible. I had built my bad spending habits throughout my teens when I had no bills and no commitments. There was no issue when it came to spending money on pricey clothes and coffees, not to mention concerts, movies and dinners out. If you could think of it, I probably did it – and didn’t think twice about it.
This lifestyle was all fine and dandy until I entered my twenties. Thankfully, my parents let me stay at home rent free throughout university, my only real expense being my phone bill. Unfortunately this did not help to improve my spending habits what-so-ever.
Frankly, the combination of never learning about finances in school, not listening to my parents, and getting used to spending all my income led me to develop impulse shopping habits, poor financial decision making skills, and no savings to speak of.
It wasn’t until I really looked at my finances and started becoming stressed right out. How could I have let myself go years without honing any real financial skills? How did I have virtually no expenses yet still have no money to show for myself? I was embarrassed and scared that I was nearly 25 with no real savings to speak of.
So, I did what any high-strung-stressed-out-millenial would do – I turned to the internet. I scoured website after website, blog-post after blog-post. Pinterest. Instagram. Any platform I could find that would allow me to type into a search bar. Lucky for both you and I, the internet is full of tips and tricks for how to cut your spending by re-thinking simple, everyday tasks. Below I have listed the top five tricks I use every day to cut my spending, and how much on average I save per month as a result.
1. Quit buying takeaway coffee everyday
Ugh if someone had only said this to me sooner. I was seriously spending anywhere from $2.50-6.00 a day on coffee (of course, living that latte life). It truly made no sense either because I had a coffee machine at home (that I literally used whenever I was at home)! So, I stopped buying coffee everyday. I now make my coffee at home and buy a flavoured almond milk ($5-7, lasts 2 weeks) and add it to my coffee.
Weekly savings: $25
Monthly Savings: $100
2. Call your phone company to discuss your rate
Have you been a loyal customer for months or years? Have you simply signed up but have a few questions? CALL YOUR PHONE COMPANY! I had been with my phone company for 6 years and always renewed my plan over the phone (I recommend this because when you actually call them they have more authority to make decisions and changes than people at the kiosks do). Somehow, I ended up entering a plan (with a phone) that was $85, plus a bonus pack (which I wasn’t using), and with tax it came to a whopping $103 per month. I never really paid too much attention to it but in hindsight it was absurd that I was paying that much when I entered the plan with the phone. So, I called my phone company and asked a few questions (always be polite, I can’t stress this enough. At the end of the day they are human), and got my rate reduced to $60 a month before tax ($68 with tax)!
Weekly savings: $8.75
Monthly savings: $35
3. Making your meals at home
Guys this one could make me cry. If I had just planned lunches and eaten less dinners at home I can’t even begin to count how much extra money I would have today. I would spend an average of $10 a day on lunch at least 4x per week. I also would spend close to $100 eating out for dinner (drinks included). This was insane to me once I started adding up how much I was spending! Now I no longer eat out for lunch, and I stick to 1 dinner out per week (if that, with a budget of under $50). The amount you end up saving will personally depend on how much you spend per week on groceries, but I guarantee you will save a serious amount of cash from eating at home. Make it fun! My friends and I have taken to doing dinners at home and trying out new recipes!
Weekly savings: $90 ($40 for lunches – just stopped buying, $50 for dinner – budget reduced)
Monthly savings: $360
4. Switch gyms/workout from home
As fitness is becoming more popular in this day and age, several gyms are opening up all over the place. This gives consumers options to choose which gym they would like to go to, often with a wide variety of price tags for memberships. I don’t particularly enjoy memberships however a gym membership is a must for me. I would eventually like to switch to a home gym, but for now this is the plan. I switched gyms and ended up cutting my gym budget in half. I was originally spending $48 a month (this was a youth discount too) and recently switched to a gym which charges me $26 a month. This gym currently fits my lifestyle perfectly and is in close proximity to my house. Of course there are usually more bells and whistles with the pricier gyms, but if they are not directly contributing to you reaching your goals, don’t hesitate to switch gyms! Even better: create yourself a home gym and skip the membership altogether!
Weekly savings: $5.50
Monthly Savings: $22
5. Watch where you park
Surprisingly, this is a big one for me. In Ottawa when you venture downtown and certain places, parking costs a pretty penny. Out of convenience, I used to just park anywhere and everywhere without really thinking of the financial implications. Parking would cost me anywhere from $10-15 depending on the week. Little did I know, if I often just parked farther away I would be able to snag a free parking spot (most have time limits so be careful to check this out). In the winter this one is a pain, but so is spending $10 a week on parking. Not only do I increase my step-count on my Fitbit, but I get a little extra exercise and save more cash.
Weekly savings: $10
Monthly savings: $40
These tips I used to save money did not require rocket science or a degree in astro-physics. What it did require was me sitting down, looking at my finances, looking at the weak areas I had, and acting on them. In order to save, I had to plan and stick to my budget. Actually sticking to your budget is what makes the difference. Also, so does sticking this money in savings. If you don’t put at least some of the money you’ve saved into savings, you haven’t actually saved it.
I’m challenging you to incorporate at least one of these five things into your weekly lifestyle! Are you new to saving? Is this not your first rodeo? Have any super easy tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!