We all love to live in luxury. Unfortunately, given the recent economic crisis, most of our wallets have felt the strain. Some of us have compromised – giving up one luxury for another; some of us have given up indulging altogether. But the truth is, all we need is a slight check on our spending, and some smart budgeting! In the spirit of saving money, Taskhire.ca has brought you a few ways to keep that checkbook balanced and still have enough to indulge from time to time.
1) Bagged Tea or Coffee
Many of us rely on caffeine for that quick fix, and don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you give it up! But think about how much that daily $3 latte is costing you – let’s say you have one every weekday – that’s about $60/month! Instead, buy coffee singles and take them in your purse. At the coffee place, ask for a cup of hot water – some places will charge you, but not more than about a quarter. These Folger’s Singles are only $6 for 19, only one shy of a month’s worth.
Other options – Tea. How can you dislike tea? There are millions of flavors, it warms you up, and it’s portable. Not to mention it’s a healthier alternative to coffee. Give it a try!
2) Dollar Movie Theaters, Bring Your Own Candy
Movies are fun – you get to sit in a dark theater with surround sound, hand deep in a bag of popcorn or Raisinets, and gasp, cry or laugh alongside dozens of other people. But when you leave, your wallet is inevitably $24 lighter.
Believe it or not, most cities have a cheaper alternative: dollar theaters. These locations normally play movies that have been out of theaters for a few weeks. So instead of seeing Harry Potter 7 the day it’s released, you can wait a month (or two) for it to come out in the dollar theater. You’re so busy anyway, why not? And while you’re at it, why not make a quick pit stop to buy candy at the local Pharmaprix instead of buying the same thing for twice as much.
Of course, if you just want to watch movies and don’t mind skipping out on the theater experience – there’re always services such as Netflix or Blockbuster mail-ins for anywhere from $6-$30/mth, depending on your needs.
3) BYOW – Bring Your Own Wine
Everybody loves going out to eat – the service, the friends, the wine…not having to wash dishes. In fact, according to this article from BNET, many people spend almost half of their food budget eating out. But when you go all out on a dinner with friends and family, it can get very pricey – especially once you start adding drinks to the tab. That’s why BYOW restaurants are so convenient. Whether you’re going on a casual date with your boyfriend, or need a little extra something to get you through dinner with relatives, you can save by bringing your own booze. Most will allow you to bring either wine or beer. Quebec in particular is known for these restaurants – and you won’t be scrimping on service or food quality, either! One thing, though, check to see if the restaurant has a corking fee and for how much before toting your own bottle! Here are some good resources for BYOW restaurants in Montreal.
4) Living Social
According to their website, “LivingSocial offers one fantastic deal every day with discounts of up to 90% at local restaurants, bars, spas, theaters, and more.” At the moment, Living Social is one of the largest discount sites in Montreal, along with Red Flag Deals and Tuango.
This new trend combines our social needs with our budgeting ones, offering coupons for exercise classes, restaurants, dry-cleaning, maid services, laser hair removal treatments, Mani/Pedi packages, pet services and the list goes on.
5) Buy local
Really want to buy fresh fruits and veggies, but the supermarkets are just too expensive? In Montreal, there are tons of little fruit and veggie markets – especially near popular metro stations. These make take a little bit of searching to find, but they’re definitely worth it! Beware of the more popular markets that can be somewhat uppity and expensive. Still, though, it’s possible to find deals in these places, too. Three of the largest markets in Montreal are showcased on this blog post on tourisme-montreal.org.
6) Browse Taskhire for Short-Term Tasks
Got a free afternoon or weekend? A free hour? 30 minutes? Taskhire.ca is a great way to make a little extra money in your free time. Maybe you’ve got two hours between classes that you normally spend vegging out watching TV at your apartment. Or perhaps you need to take your dog on a walk – may as well walk an extra dog and get some money for it!
Another thing – doing chores for people is a great way to expand your network. If you complete the task well and on time, you now have a contact that will vouch for your reliability. Or who knows, maybe they’ll help you out with one of your chores later.
7) Go Out Early
If you frequent bars and clubs, drink tabs will quickly eat away at your budget. But, let’s face it, who wants to sit at home on a Friday night? There are plenty of ways to bring down the cost of going out. For one, go to happy hour. Sure, going to a bar at 6pm is not quite the same as going at 11pm, but it’s certainly better on the wallet!
Or, if you prefer going to clubs, going early can help you here, too. Most clubs will offer a lower (or nonexistent) cover charge to people who come before 10pm. So take some friends and go populate the club! Remember, once you’re in, you don’t have to pay again – you can stay as long as you want.
If you’re still strapped for cash, you could always throw a BYOB house party.
8 ) Shopoholic? Make a List!
If shopping is your one luxury you don’t want to lose, don’t worry, there’s a solution to that, too. First, make a list of the things that you need or could use – new sheets, another mixing cup, a winter coat, more socks, etc. Then, if you feel the urge to shop, choose something on your list and set out specifically to get it. So if you need dishes, go to Home Sense, not Urban Outfitters.
If you absolutely must go to a mall for impulse shopping, before you make a purchase, ask yourself, “will I use this? Do I need it?” If you can’t answer a definite yes to both of those questions, put it back and give yourself 24 hours before deciding whether or not to buy it.
Thrift stores and Craigslist buying are always good alternatives as well.
9) Sell Things You Don’t Use or Haven’t Finished
Okay, so you purchased that chair with the intention to reupholster it yourself, but it’s been a month and it’s still in that same corner of the living room untouched and taking up space. Got another project you haven’t finished? Maybe it’s not a chair to reupholster. Perhaps it’s a quilt you want to make, or a guitar you intended to take lessons with. If it’s been a month, and it hasn’t been touched, it’s time to let it go. Remember, there are plenty of projects you can take on in the future, so finish the ones you have or let them go.
Craigslist is a great place to sell items you no longer use. You can sell anything from jewelry to kid’s toys to furniture, and most times you don’t have to move the stuff yourself.
10) Take Affordable Vacations
In this economy, many people have cut out vacationing altogether, opting to stay at home instead. But with the added stress of a tighter budget, getting away for a weekend or even just an evening might do you more good than you think. In this day and age, when you think of vacation, you think cruising the Bahamas, or perhaps spending a week in Cape Cod. Despite there being more affordable options, these types of vacations can still rack up quite a bill.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to take affordable vacations; you just have to be smart about your planning. Ever think about going to the beach…in the winter? Or checking out the ski resort in the summertime? National parks are also pretty cheap for overnight stay and still provide plenty of things to do. Another thought – perhaps your best friend lives in Quebec City, or a relative lives out in the countryside – go visit! People these days are so set on “going somewhere” that they forget to take advantage of the possibilities close by. You don’t have to hop on a plane to take a vacation. Try a road trip, explore your local options!
Ultimately, you will have to make some compromises in order to maintain a social lifestyle in this economy, but with these tips, you just might be able to keep that caffeine habit alongside your shopping one instead of booting one for the other.
Any other money saving ideas? How else have you been thrifty? Leave us a note in the comments!