Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Top 10 Tips for Saving Money & Getting Out of Debt

I wrote a previous post about the kind of life that I'd like to design for myself starting now in my early 30's. At the end of that post I made some declarations of things that I need to start doing and continue to do in order to achieve this, my uncommonly wealthy life. Today I'm here to talk about the financial side of this dream. Today I'm talking about the wealth in uncommon wealth. 

I know that usually when I talk about uncommon wealth on this blog it's not really in reference to money and finances, but I'm not naive to the notion that money is a requirement of modern life. However, I do not believe that one's wealth is solely based on the amount of money in one's bank account. I think that true uncommon wealth comes from a self-approved and designed life full of rich experiences, relationships and joy.

Now I do realize it takes money to achieve many of these things and in the past I've made the mistake of trying to live a full life beyond my means and this has left me with considerable debt. I don't think debt is something that is a necessary evil of everyday life, I think that with forethought, planning and discipline, anyone can live the life they want within their means. And that is what I plan on doing going forward.

Today I plan on sharing my strategies for how I'm going to get to a better financial place. What this better place looks like to me is my debt totally paid off, savings in the form of an emergency fund and a growing retirement savings plan and saving money for the things I want to do instead of going into debt to do it.

10 Tips for Saving Money & Getting Out of Debt:
  1. Use Alternate forms of Transportation: If you can get way with it use transit. I'm fortunate to live in a city in which public transit is readily available and accessible. I pay a monthly fee for my transit pass, which is tax-deductible, and I don't have to worry about car payments, insurance, gas and maintenance. I've also signed up for a car-sharing service: Car2Go for those times when you just need a car. There's others: Zipcar, AutoShare and there's always a taxi or a company like Uber. There's many options for getting around that don't involve car ownership, and they're much more environmentally-friendly too.
  2. Make use of the library: Get a library card, it's free! With your card you can take out books, movies, music and download eBooks for free; as well as use the computer, internet and printing services if needed (sometimes for a small fee). 
  3. Make your own meals, coffee and snacks: I saved a lot of money when I switched from eating out and doing take out on the regular to buying groceries and making my own meals instead. It's budget friendly and healthy to make your own meals, snacks and drinks and bring them along to work, travel and even entertainment. The freezer is also your best friend because almost everything can be frozen and saved for later consumption, instead of wasted.
  4. Make cleaning supplies using cheap household items: Baking soda, white vinegar and lemons is all you really need to clean your entire house for cheap and bonus you're also being environmentally friendly.
  5. Have at-home spa days: I love a good pampering just as much as the next person but it doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to get it. I've become a bit of a master lately at doing my own masks, facials and nails so I don't have to pay through the nose for someone else to do it. Best of all, it can all be done while binge-watching your latest TV obsession ('Orange is the New Black' season 3, anyone?)
  6. Find the free and cheap events and entertainment options where you live: There's usually all sorts of wonderful free or cheap but totally fun events going on if you just do a little digging. Movies in park, drive-in movies, movie cheap nights, concerts in the park, outdoor theatre, fringe festivals, street and art festivals, cheap nights at the museum/art gallery, 'prix fixe' events at restaurants, wine/food tastings/sampling, etc. So much to be found and so much to do: time to be a tourist in your own city! Also checkout cost saving apps/websites: Scene Points for Cineplex, Groupon, Living Social, etc. 
  7. Use of coupons, money-back apps and points programs: Using these are all great ways to save money on the everyday essentials if used correctly. You shouldn't just buy something just for the sake of buying it because you have a coupon or money-back offer, trust me I've gotten sucked into that trap before and it's a waste of money. Some points and loyalty programs are a waste of time, effort and money also if they reap little in the way of benefits or if you have to save up the points forever before you see any kind of benefit so choose wisely. Ones I like: PC Plus program, Checkout 51 and Flipp.
  8. Purge, sell and then only buy what I need and when I need it: I know that every girl has been susceptible to this at one point in their lives when it comes to buying beauty products, clothing, jewelry, bags and shoes. I've done it too: bought something because I thought it was cute, or thought I needed multiple colours, or I'd use it one day. Nope, you all know that you end up using and wearing the same favourite things over and over again so why do we do it to ourselves: keep buying crap that we don't actually need? Well no longer: I'm going to purge my stuff and then sell what I can, donate or throw out the rest and start from there. I'm going to wear and use things up and only buy more when & if they need to be replaced.
  9. Cancel subscriptions & memberships that I don't use: I cancelled my cable and I do not have a home phone. I put money into a good internet plan, cellphone plan and watch only Netflix. I don't use the Next Issue subscription I have so it needs to be cancelled and I need to cancel subscription boxes I'm currently paying into that send me stuff automatically every month; stuff I don't need. 
  10. Tell other people about my goals and get help and advice: By being honest with people about your financial predicament leads to some unexpected gains. I think sometimes as a society we are embarrassed to talk about money woes but when you start opening up about it you realize that everyone can relate and there's a lot of great advice and support that can be gained. Bonus: many of your friends and family will be in your corner about coming up with inexpensive ways to spend time together.
My next steps will include doing the necessary research to go from financially ignorant to financially savvy, setting up automatic withdrawals from my bank account into a high-interest savings account on pay days, consolidating my high-interest consumer debt and creating a realistic budget and sticking to it. Stay tuned for updates on my journey to financial freedom. 

What are some other ways that have helped you save money? Anything I'm missing, let me know because I'm always looking for ways to improve and add to this list. As always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Some other resources to check out that have helped me:
Squawk Fox - Sexy Consumer Advice
Daily Worth - Financial Advice for Women
'Money Rules' by Gail Vaz-Oxlade


  1. Impressed that establishing an emergency fund is an early priority. Not overly complicated, but applying even some of these will lead to success. Oh, remember not to grocery shop when hungry!

    1. Thanks for the feedback and advice! Is there anything you can think of that I didn't add to this list that has helped you get into a better financial position?

    2. The fact you've immediately focused on establishing an emergency fund, discovered what you can do to improve your situation (ie: the list), and most importantly dedicated the time to learn about personal finances, you're off to a stellar start. The next hard part will be the continued execution; its an ongoing, continuous process.

    3. Awesome, thanks!
      Stay tuned & I'll keep you updated on my progress.