Is the economy recovering fast enough for you, or have bills have become so unmanageable it seems you’re working all the time, only to sign your paycheques over to creditors? You are so not alone.
We’re all maxing out credit or renegotiating loans and mortgages, downgrading our cable contracts and buying new iPhones.
Wait…what was that?
Yes, new iPhones. I see it every day – people who feel starved to make mortgage payments buy new, shiny toys and download the coolest apps. It’s not my place to judge whatever it is that makes people happy in this most definitely depressing economic climate (and maybe wide-spread, multi-demographic iWhatever love could be considered a stimulus package, no?), but it does contradict what I’m about to share with you.
Five ways that I, a freelancing single-mom*, manage to live in the 34th most expensive city in the world, Vancouver – and how I could dare assume it possible to move to the 2nd most expensive city, Paris:
Live in a smaller space, with more amenities
You don’t need a 1500 square-foot, three-bedroom town home in the suburbs, to house two parents and a child. Yes, it’s nice to have front, back and side yards, but it’s also costly. Move into a smaller, more energy efficient space, closer to all of the amenities that your family will use, like schools and grocery shopping. It will require less costly upkeep and you’ll save loads of cashola.
Take the train in
I’m not being green. A lot of major cities have a more-than-passable public transportation system available for you to get from Point A to B without the costs of maintenance, gas, insurance and the stress of defensive driving – generally for cheaper than the cup of coffee you bought on the way to the bus stop. And you can safely answer your iPhone while in en route.
Use cash, even though Visa’s accepted almost everywhere
It’s easy to live outside of your means when you’re spending imaginary money. Sticking with the cash you’ve got available, forcing yourself to save for the big-ticket items and feeling the blunt force trauma of splurging is worth it. Save credit for where it’s due: temporarily purchasing a car or home, or shopping online, when you can afford to immediately pay the balance of the amount borrowed.
Cut back on food and entertainment costs
A date-night, here, some movies, there. Books, iTunes, take-out. All of the above. It’s costing you. Cook more, buy groceries in bulk, consider borrowing movies from the library or friends and scaling back your cable package, avoid the daily latte and lunch habit for a brown bag and walk around the block. Try tracking your spending habits for a month, and see how you can still be entertained and fed on exhausted evenings, without sacrificing your bank account.
Shop till you drop, sort of
I buy my daughter’s clothes at the end of every season – when prices are drastically marked down – for next year. This means that I’ve never had to do emergency shopping runs because she hit a growth spurt, since I’ve always had at least a box full of clothes and shoes in the next size or two larger, all gotten for 70% off, or more. Or free: I’m not ashamed to accept gently used hand-me-downs from her friends a size bigger, and to pass on out-grown clothes to smaller friends and family.
I apply the same rule to shopping for my own clothing – shopping off-season, for drastic markdowns – and yet neither of us has ever had to sacrifice style. Here’s the proof: by doing this, I’d say that in her three and a half years, I’ve spent no more than $700 on clothing, coats and shoes for her and saved thousands.