Building Frugal Habits

When it comes to building frugal habits, I think the biggest and most important step you can take is to adopt philosophy. Think about the things you do, and ask yourself why you do them. This is the key to so many things, and being frugal isn’t an exception.

Now, be warned, taking a long, hard look at any aspect of your life can present you with both good and bad revelations. When it comes to being frugal, once you truly embrace it, it becomes an addiction. Not spending money is an addiction? That’s jazzing it up a bit. It becomes addictive to only spend money on what you need.

Since I truly embraced being frugal, I’ve put so many things back on the shelf, removed them from my shopping cart, and deleted them from my wish list. This may sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s very satisfying when you know you have only purchased what you will need and use. Now, when I do buy something, I am extremely satisfied knowing that it was money well spent.

The things I do own, I cherish, and the value goes beyond money. Once you know what you value, and you can see through the facade of more¬†and be happy with less. Frugal is a mindset, and isn’t really easy, but it does have a huge amount of impact on your life. In my opinion, it makes life better. Really.

-Mike

 

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The Allure of Luxury

One of the unfortunate side effects of the condo boom in Toronto is the surplus of luxury condos and a shortage of affordable houses. How is this bad? Well, pretty much every new condo built in the last 5 years is a luxury condo. Some are affordable but they come with costs that don’t really become apparent until you really take a step back and look at the condo living situation.

  1. Typically, the clusters of condos have a grocery store at the base of at least one building. Unfortunately, these are typically high end stores with name brand products. No store brand products in these smaller format stores. This means every time you go shopping you’re paying a premium on everything.
  2. These condos have lots of amenities but they’re only worth it if you use them. Too often to people like to talk about all of the awesome features of their building, only to never set foot in them. Additionally, if you own your unit, you’re paying for these everyday regardless.
  3. There are usually a lot of places to eat our nearby which can be tempting for some. I think this is typically a good thing, but some of the most mediocre restaurants I have ever been to are contained in these condo groupings (I’m looking at you, Liberty Village).
  4. This is a tough one. Do you really need this luxury living? A lot of people leave college having spent time living in less than ideal shared housing, and then make a jump right to a luxury condo. Can you spend a few more years sharing a house? How about splitting a modest apartment? There are other options out there.

More and more condos go up everyday, pushing people ever towards living in boxes in fancy towers. Some of us will hopefully continue to resist this urge, creating a need and want for reasonably priced housing without all the bells and whistles.

Canadians are addicted to home ownership, I just hope our thirst to own doesn’t destroy the affordability. Hopefully, we can use a little foresight and look to other countries and stop problems before they get out of control.

-Mike

Useful Subreddits

I’ve been reading http://www.reddit.com for a long time. Typically I’d waste time reading useless junk. I mean I still do, but I used to, too. All jokes aside, there is a tonne of great resources on Reddit and tonnes of talented people. Find me at /u/torontosurvivalguide

Below are some subreddits that contain a treasure trove of useful information to help make you more self-sufficient:

Business

DIY

Finance

Food

Lifestyle

Philosophy 

Self Sufficiency

Shopping

Travel

I hope you find something you like!

-Mike

 

 

Eliminate Your Bad Habits

I’m going to preface this by saying that I haven’t conquered all of my bad habits yet and I’m still a work in progress. However, I have a clear picture of where I want to be, and why I want to get there.

As a fairly social person, I used to go out a lot more than I probably should. Go out for lunches, dinners, clubbing, to bars, and more. Now I allow myself to try new things but I’ve cut drinking, most lunches, and dinners out of my day to day. Lunch is a relatively in expensive venture so I allow myself all you can eat sushi, Japanese ramen, and all you can eat Korean barbecue once a month. These are all cheap, delicious meals that I can’t make at home (yet!). These lunches serve as face time with my friends which is the most important thing for me.

I’ll have friends over for a homemade dinner, coffee, and homemade cider and beer. It is a great way to connect with friends and show them that my life isn’t boring after giving up the previously mentioned things. I still make it out to bars as well, sometimes for happy hour drinks or I grab a ginger ale as a treat.

Eliminating your bad habits saves you money, and helps harden your resolve and remind you of your goal. Here are some things that you may want to give up in part or in full:

  • Drugs – Adrenaline, Dopamine and Serotonin are free, you just have to earn them
  • Smoking – Same as above
  • Drinking – It’s bad for you and your wallet. Cutting down is a huge step forward.
  • Late nights – Sleep is precious; don’t give it up unless you’re gaining something.
  • Shopping – Really consider what you’re buying; you probably don’t NEED it.
  • TV/Netflix/YouTube – Whatever your poison, don’t consume too much of it.

On the flip side of things, gain good habits! Here are some examples that I can attest to:

  • Get Active – Exercise keeps you healthy, improves mood, and helps you think.
  • Reading – Keep your brain active, too. Knowledge is power.
  • Exploring – See something new. Exploration is a key human motivation.
  • Photography – A creative outlet that pays dividends.
  • Meditation – I don’t yet, but there is a lot of research detailing the benefits.
  • Education – Learn CPR. Learn a language. Improve yourself everyday.
  • Philosophy – Open your mind to new ideas. You might just learn about yourself.

Keep improving yourself! Don’t worry if you take a step back, just keep moving forward!

-Mike

 

Trading Comfort for Capital

I’m 27 years old and have lived a pretty comfortable life so far. I moved out of my parents house into a fancy condo. This I downgraded to a big apartment in an older build. Now I am realizing, I don’t want this much space and will find a room in a shared house. This will save me money and help me eliminate possessions.

Going forward, I will not stay in hotels anymore while travelling. Usually I stay in hostels, but I splurge on hotels. I don’t need that comfort at this point in my life, so I won’t spend the extra money required to upkeep that comfort. In hostels I’ll stay in larger rooms with more beds to further shave costs off travelling (my biggest expense).

Walking, biking and transiting to work versus driving has been my life so far. I don’t plan to change this. I will no longer Uber to work unless I have no other option due to time. I’ll walk to the GO station instead of transiting. 30 minutes enjoying a walk through the city is better than spending to sit on a hot subway.

Are you able to trade comfort for additional money in the bank? Determine your tolerance and push your boundaries. You might find you’re a glutton for punishment like myself.

Documentary: Slomo

I came across this documentary on Slomo, a man who took back his life from the poorly named ‘American Dream’. By his own choices, Slomo stumbled upon his meaning of freedom and life satisfaction after significant hardship. Listening to him talk about his new found freedom and life is inspiring, and I am glad I discovered a sense of what I want in life. Not everything is clear yet, but I see a light in the distance and I’m working my way there. Enjoy!

-Mike