Jan 10, 2014

4 small luxuries I gave up to save hundreds a year

When I decided to move out from a rent-free situation with my parents to living in a downtown condominium with my brother, I knew I'd be facing more financial challenges. I was (and continue to be) determined to be financially secure and independent without going into debt.

Although media makes it seem aspirational to live glamourously, its just not sustainable for those of us that aren't making excessive amounts of money. Exercising delayed gratification a lot of the time is what the rest of us have to practice in order to afford the things we want without going into the red.

From cutting these four habits,
I have saved a total of $6,208 per year -

which goes straight into my savings! 

Its amazing going from living paycheque to paycheque to having a little bit more in my pocket to go towards things that are important to me - financial security now and into old age.

Giving up these luxuries - small or large has made me realize how much these "conveniences" add up, and how quickly!

1. Gave up the car,  Now taking the train.

Car: ~$580/month vs Train: $200/month
Saving $380/month - Saving $4560/year

My 62 km commute (32 km one way) to work each day cost me $400+ in gas, with $60 in oil changes every few months and $150 in car insurance. Roadside Assistance with CAA cost me $100 for the year. This was my dad's car which he allowed me to use as long as I paid for gas, insurance and maintenance.  The cost of owning this car would have made this substantially more expensive. My estimate for car insurance if I owned the car independently was close to $300 per month, but since I was listed as a secondary driver with my dad being the primary driver it was a lot less.

Since moving downtown, I have relinquished the car and am taking the train instead to work. The distance from station to work/home is relatively close (10-15 minutes). I can now avoid traffic, read, catch up on work on my laptop during my one hour commute.

Its certainly not easy, and is especially tough on bad weather days too. With that being said, I just remind myself that I don't have to sit in traffic, endure other angry/bad drivers and don't have to deal with the burden of paying for a car.

2. Gave up takeout lunches,
 Now packing lunches instead

Eating out: $120/month vs Packed lunches: $70/month ($3.50 per day) 
Saving $50/month - Saving $600/year

On days that I rushed out the door, I'd often get breakfast at McDonalds ($5) and then lunch at the food court mall (ranging between $10-$15) 3-4 times per week.

I know pack lunches from left over dinners, which cost substantially less since I make everything from scratch using fresh ingredients. I am also eating healthier now, and nourishing my body (for the most part) with good wholesome foods. I pack in reusable microwave containers which is better for the environment as well.


Also see 9 Frugal Living Tips From the Great Depression.

3. Gave up paid coffee for free tea

Paid coffee: $47/month vs Tea at work: free;  
Saving $47/month - Saving $568/year

My favourite drink has to be the one at Second Cup called the "London Fog" - an early grey tea latte with a flavour shot of vanilla. I went from drinking that a few times a week to drinking free tea at work everyday. Luckily my workplace offers free coffee/tea to its employees so I certainly lucked out!

Also read Save $1000 per year on your daily coffee habit

4. Gave up my gym membership
for free workout videos

Membership: $40/month vs Training at home: Free; 
Saving $40/month - Saving: $480/year
* one time cost of $40 to buy equipment (yoga mat, 3lb/5/lb and 8lb dumbbells, and elastic rope)

I actually get a better workout working out home than at a gym because the personal workout videos give me directed and targeted working out. If I need advice or motivation I usually browse /r/fitness on reddit, subscribe to #fitness and #fitnessmotivation instagram accounts. There are also links to workouts on Pinterest as well! I repin workouts and fitness motivation quotes to my own fitness Pinterest board. I encourage you to start your own!


Also see 9 ways to save on gym fees and Study: Gym Not Required for Fitness.

Learning to live frugally and simply is also good for your soul - you appreciate experiences rather than things AND you work towards financial security into old age - who needs all that extra stress? You can try simplifying your life by reducing your posessions to 100 things. What ways have you saved?

Also see 7 ways to be financially savvy in 2014.

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See more posts on personal finances.

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