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.
For the average Canadian, housing is typically the largest line item in their monthly budget. There is a general rule of thumb that you should be spending 30% of your income on housing. Canadians are spending as much as 50%. My advice? Spend 20% or less. I also recommend spending a lot of time shopping around and weighing your options before you move.
The cost of housing in almost every major city in Canada is increasing year over year. Once you find the place for you, buy it or rent it. Yearly increases in rent and interest rates are lower than the increasing costs of the rent and mortgages themselves. The sooner you nail down a place, the better.
Once you have a spot, stay there as long as it fits your lifestyle. Avoiding cashing out only to be greeted with more expensive housing. This also helps eliminate moving costs, give you leverage when you renegotiate services, and more. Every time you move, you risk needing to swap out furniture, buy appliances, and spend money that you wouldn’t need to otherwise.
If you can live far below your means, you’ll have more money to save and more money to spend on things you want. If vault ceilings and stainless steel appliances truly make you happy, that’s okay too. For some, a quiet, comfortable place to lay your head it enough.
Are you overspending on housing? Do you have any housing tips?
You might be asking, why would someone else pay for your stuff? Well, the more common term would be ‘buying things used’. When you buy an item used, another person has put up the money for the immediate drop in value. Even selling an item new and in the package, you won’t get retail price for it. Some things you don’t always buy used, but things like clothing, dishes, cookware are easy to visually inspect.
If you’re moving out for the first time, you’re going to save a TONNE of money buying used. If you’re a single person, you can probably get by with 1-4 dining sets. Don’t bother with a 16 person plate set unless you host people frequently. Otherwise you’ll find yourself using the same plate over and over again; never making it to the bottom of your pile of plates. That, my friends, is what we call a waste of money.
You stand to save a lot of money on clothing as well. Typically, items you find used at thrift shops are in great shape, sometimes never worn, and they’re higher quality products. An H&M t-shirt never lasts long enough to make it to the thrift store racks. I’ve managed to buy brand new, white, Fruit of the Loom t-shirts that are MADE IN CANADA for $3-5. Where can you buy clothing made in Canada for that price?
Electronics can be hit or miss. Do your due diligence though and you can score a great deal. I recently sold my television because I’m moving. Someone got an amazing panel with little use for $150 less than retail. I got a really good deal on it during boxing, and definitely got my my money’s worth, but they got a steal as far as I’m concerned.
Before you buy anything, ask yourself, can I buy it used?
Quick Rant: I talk a lot about alternate lifestyles. Some of these lifestyles may seem strange but in the year 2017, a lot seems strange. With climate change, dwindling resources, and uncertain political climates, we need some drastic changes in the world to help get back on track and survive as a species. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it doesn’t seem too farfetched does it?
Not too long ago I discovered /r/vandwelling while being SUPER productive one day. Despite not spending my time usefully that day, I really discovered something I’d like to do. With a homestead as a frugal home base and a warm weather getaway property, living costs might cut into my travel budget. Enter an adventure van.
North America is a massive place, and I’ll certainly never see ALL of it. A van will help me get around to a lot of it, and do so on a budget. Never needing accommodation, having a place to cook, and keeping the amenities of home; these are all advantages of an adventure van.
There may come a day when I don’t need the van anymore, so I can pass it onto the next. The value from retrofitting a $5000/$6000 van will pay itself off in no time! RVs are hugely expensive and guzzle gas; I’m looking for a smaller platform. If I fall in-love with living in a van, I could always upgrade as well. An adventure van seems like a great way to test the waters of a different lifestyle. Check out the stories available on the web, instagram, reddit, and more. If van life isn’t for you, it’s certainly an interesting look into a different type of life.
I’ll continue to write about different lifestyles, with the hopes of people looking at alternatives. You never know how you might find happiness, try something new!
A couple years ago while visiting friends in Melbourne, Australia, I had some downtime so I decided to do some laundry. After the washing was done, I noticed there was no dryer. Oh, looks like I’m using a clothesline for the first time since childhood. I still get grief from my Aussie friends regarding North Americans’ use of dryers. In Canada, we don’t have the luxury of drying clothes outside all year round, but you can hang them inside during the winter as your house will be very dry (for those of us in Southeastern Ontario, anyways).
There are a huge number of benefits for such a simple task:
- Less damaging to your clothing [Lint is your clothing degrading]
- Wash Less! [Okay, so it’s labour intensive to dry everything. Only wash when dirty!]
- Better for the environment! [No electricity required!]
- No electricity required so it’s free! [No electricity or coin dryer cost]
- Humidify your house! [In the winter the added moisture will keep you healthier]
- Get outside! [Enjoy a few minutes outside; we all can use it]
Try it! More money in your pocket and better for the environment; it’s a double win!
Up until recently, I was trying to reduce my grocery bill as much as possible. Tweaking what I was buying, when I was buying it, and how much I was buying to tweak every cent. I realized that I was missing the mark a little bit and here’s why.
I was dedicating a fair amount of money to eating out. Eating out with friends is a social thing that I really enjoy, but I was definitely due for a restructuring of how I eat out with friends. Previously I’d spend a certain amount a month, eating at wherever I felt like. When this money ran out, I’d randomly crave sushi, Korean BBQ, and Japanese Ramen. Darn, I’m out of funds..I guess I’ll wait until next month.
The way I approach this now, is I make my social meals target things that I can’t make at home. I’ve reduced my eating out budget, and increased the enjoyment I get from it. The money I saved has been put into my food budget for greater flexibility. This flexibility has increased my recipe repertoire, allowed me to purchase bulk items on sale, and nickel and dime myself less when shopping.
Having more monthly spending for groceries also means I can have friends over for dinner more often, and share a homemade meal that always leaves other full and impressed. I’ve fulfilled my social needs, my love for cooking, my thirst for a better budget, and I’ve paid away less of my money in tips. Servers play an important role, but tipping has changed a lot in the last 30 years to make up for stagnating wages. Don’t get me wrong, I always leave a good tip and so should you. Now I just do it less often.
Think about the way your life works and align your budget to it; it will make you happier!
An economy is essentially a byproduct of monetary transactions. Money comes in, money is spent on services. Money is lent, money is spent, money is paid back with interest. These are the fundamental parts of the system.
Investing relies on the economy and we hope the economy grows in a healthy way. However, every investor should be prepared to weather a storm. Unfortunately, due to extreme amounts of lending and not paying back these loans in the western world, things are getting pretty scary out there. Is a crash imminent? I can’t say. What I can tell you is, by keeping your personal economy strong you can be prepared for this.
Lately, I’ve cut spending on items that don’t produce value. I’m spending more on investments, saving more liquid cash, and seeking novel ways to grow my money. If everyone were to do this, the economy would slow. The few FIRE minded people out there can benefit if they jump on this opportunity while the economy is strong; your money will go further when it’s not.
It may sound like I’m not enjoying the fruits of my labour, but I am:
- Getting more enjoyment out of the things that I have
- Finding joy and new experiences in starting businesses
- Focusing on internal growth. (Go to your local library and get a book. Do it now!)
I really enjoy seeing my net worth increase and learning, so this is easy work for me. If it’s not your cup of tea, I hope you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and can grow your own way.
Look at your personal economy and see how you can make it stronger, more robust, and be prepared to weather any storm. When the downpour starts, you’ll be happy knowing you came prepared and can hit it full on.