Apartment hunting can be both thrilling and disappointing. There is something to be said for the rush one gets while endlessly scrolling through posts on Craigslist, imagining what your things will look like in these strangers’ spaces. Valuable time is spent sending emails, collecting references and credit checks, and traveling to new neighborhoods to see for yourself a place you may soon call “home.” I was recently thrust into the dog-eat-dog world that is the Toronto rental market, and was hit with the reality that sometimes your dream apartment is hard to fit into your dream budget. The continuously rising rent prices are a large barrier for someone who lives in an expensive city on a moderate paycheck. After living 15-months in a very cheap one-bedroom, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to allocate an extra $350 CAD/month ($272.09 USD) for my new apartment’s cost. But these four things I changed about my spending have allowed me to do so:
1. Grocery Store Habits
Originally I had a $400 CAD/month ($310.96 USD) budget for groceries. My new neighborhood has a grocery store less expensive than my previous hub did, so I knew I could cut down my spending at least $20 CAD ($15.55 USD) a week. I now use the coupon app Flipp, which pulls flyer information from grocery stores in the area to easily list all the deals you want. When I create my grocery list, I search every item into the app and find the best deal so I can price match when going through checkout. I also shop for the items that are chosen for me from my PC Optimum account, which rakes up points I can convert to a dollar value. I cash in these points when I have a feeling that my grocery bill will be higher than expected.
Savings: $120 CAD/month ($93.29 USD)
2. Extra Volunteering
My idea of going out is typically attending a night of theatre solo. In 2017 I saw 83 plays, and I would say I volunteered for about 60% of them. In exchange for volunteer ushering the night-of, many theatres will give you a complimentary ticket. I reached out to two of the theatres I had been attending as a paid patron and have been added to their volunteer list. I know that seeing plays isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun evening, but I recommend looking at the money you do spend when going out and seeing if there’s a way to cut back. Do you like live music? Volunteer for a music festival! Take some time researching your hobbies and interests, and find some ways to get involved that are both good for you and your wallet.
Savings: $50 CAD/month ($38.87 USD)
3. Shopping Less
In the past, I allocated myself $100 CAD/month ($77.74 USD) for clothes shopping. I attempted to quit cold turkey, but through trial-and-error, I learned that it’s okay if I shop, using rules I created for myself, like a) only buy thrift items/on sale items, and b) don’t buy something right away — take at least a day or so to sleep on it. I have an allocation in my budget of $100 for a category I call “Personals” — things like shampoo, toilet paper, probiotics, etc. Now when I shop, I include what I spent in this category in my shopping budget. This makes me less likely to spend a lot, since I know Personals are things I can’t necessarily go without. I’ve also made a conscious choice to start using the Diva Cup (I bought it last year and then gave up due to frustration) so I can save on tampons and other feminine products I usually buy monthly.
Savings: $120 CAD/month ($93.29 USD)
4. Bill Adjustments
There are two bills I receive monthly: my phone bill and my waxing membership. I would peruse my phone company’s website every now and then to see if there were any deals happening, and saw my current phone plan being offered for $20 less, and immediately switched. And for my waxing bill, I’ve been a member for a year now, and my waxer recommended me for something called the Slow Growth Membership. This just means that now instead of being billed & waxed every four weeks, I now do every six weeks. Depending on how the calendar works out, this means that every now and then, a month will go by where I have no bill owed to them!
Savings: $60 CAD/month ($46.64 USD)
Changing my budget after living in peaceful bliss for 15 months was at first challenging, and at times upsetting. Months have passed where I’ve been disheartened by my willpower to say no to an elaborate brunch or a cute pair of leggings. But there are also good moments, like when I walk into the grocery store knowing I’m going to price match 75% of my list and am excited to see that low, low grocery bill. Your budget is unique to you and it can take some time until you become the master of it. Don’t get discouraged — just try again next month.
Hailey is a homebody. Follow her social medias @hailmast.
Image via Unsplash