Sometimes where you want to live doesn’t fit what you can afford. Here are 7 money-saving tips to help you stretch your budget.
- Share a place. Living with friends can be a great way to save while you start out on your own. Just be ready for some surprises. Not everyone is easy to live with. But you can get some valuable life experience learning how to compromise and solve problems. It also cuts down on how much rent or board you'll have to pay.
- Use public transit. A car loses value with age and also costs more. There’s parking, insurance, repairs and gas, for starters. You'll be surprised how much you can save just taking the bus or catching rides with friends.
- Don't buy what you don't need. If you don't need a TV or microwave, don't get one. Remember, you can watch free, legal video and TV shows on many web sites. You may also find it’s cheaper to do laundry at your local laundromat instead of having your own washing machine.
- Avoid eating out and buying costly prepared foods. You can save a lot of money if you cook for yourself. Saving just $5 dollars a day adds up to $150 a month. You can often make healthier food choices, too.
- Buy used. You'd be amazed at the discounts you can get on used items. This includes costly items like furniture and appliances. If you’re a student, try buying used textbooks. Just make sure you check that the edition you buy is the one your professor has requested.
- Pay cash. Don’t get or use a credit card unless you have to. If you pay cash you will be more likely to stick to your budget.
- Take advantage of student discounts and free stuff. Sites like Craigslist often offer free items, including furniture. There are also sites that advertise free samples and coupons. Just be sure to keep your eye out for scams. And always protect your personal information while online.
Did you know? In 2008, here’s what the average household in Canada spent on basic living costs out of their total budget:
- Shelter: 20%
- Food: 10.5 %
- Transportation: 13.5%
Lower income households spent over half of their budget on food, shelter and clothing. Personal taxes represented just 3 per cent of their budget.
Source: Statistics Canada, Survey of Household Spending, 2008.
Remember: There are all kinds of fixed costs when you first leave home. But there are also many ways to save money. So adjust your spending when you start out. Later, if life changes and you have more money to spend, you can make fresh choices – and hopefully start saving regularly.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.