finding the balance between living and saving

A bunch of shit I don’t need, and you may not either

A bunch of shit I don’t need, and you may not either

We all have our spending vices. Apparently one of mine is Crappy Tire.

I got a call from the Canadian Tire credit department the other day informing me I’ve spent $1200 there in the past year and wouldn’t it be great if I had an Options Mastercard to get 10x the points on my purchases! (No.) I was a little shocked to hear I blew that much cash at Canada’s favourite auto/home/garden/wtf even is this gadget retailer, but It got me thinking about my spending habits and where I’ve successfully cut back in the past.

Cable TV
Does this even need saying? With the advent of streaming, I haven’t had a cable subscription in years. The only thing I miss is HBO, who should really get around to negotiating a streaming service for Canada.

Holiday decor
We put up a tree decorated with white twinkle lights and a gold star. Some may think that’s spartan, but I think it looks scandi-chic.

I used to be all about the twice per season treat yo’self manicure in university. I have no idea where I found the money or why I kept it up, because I destroyed them in a matter of days in the gym or the kitchen sink. I’ve since learned how to satisfactorily paint my nails my own damn self. Decidedly un-pro tip: stick to translucent pinks ‘cause it’s harder to see fuck-ups.

Pricey skincare products
According to SkinStore, the average American woman’s skincare/cosmetics routine averages out to $8/day, with skincare products accounting for the bulk of that expenditure. That is insane.

I am obsessed with taking care of my skin. Unfortunately, I also have a skin condition that prevents me from using products that contain esters and fatty acids with carbon chain lengths 11-24. This is a real pain in the ass, because the vast majority of skincare products contain both of those things. I have to (illegally?) import my sunscreen from Japan. There are very few drugstore products I can put on my face without turning into a splotchy, itchy mess.

And yet, I still strongly believe that most skincare products over $25 are little more than snake oil. The Korean beauty and wider Asian beauty markets have an awesome selection of affordable products. Canadian company Deciem’s “The Ordinary” line is also a game changer for the skincare industry. Most of their products contain high concentrations of actives, but ring in under $10. Hallelujah.

Cosmetics in every shade under the sun
I’m not here to debate the worthiness of wearing or spending on cosmetics, but I do know that if I go to work without concealer and mascara, there’s a 100% chance someone will ask me if I’m tired. I also know there are only 3 shades of lip colour/eyeshadow/liner I actually feel comfortable wearing. My Youtube beauty-guru inspired days of palette and lipstick hoarding are behind me.

A billion products for the shower
Shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor, shaving cream. Dat’s it. I also don’t stockpile these things because I find I get bored of scents quickly and usually crave something new when it comes time to replace them.

Booch is one of those things people either love or hate. There is no grey area. I am a LOVER, but it is also absurdly expensive and usually only available at health food shops. Thankfully, kombucha is stupid-easy to make at home. Ask around on social media for a starter scoby (that mushroom thing) and I guarantee a local hippie will come through for you.

Booze at home
I went through a phase where I felt it was necessary to always have a 6 pack of beer or a bottle of wine on hand in case company dropped by or I just needed a drink.  I now live less than a 3 minute walk from two liquor stores, so if there’s ever a real need to pick up alcohol, I just toodle down the street. Turns out I rarely ever feel the need to go get booze.

When I was a teenager, it somehow felt necessary to return from a trip with a t-shirt, magnet, or keychain as a physical testament to the fact I had actually been to a place. At the time I felt travel was a scarce and precious privilege worthy of trinkety totems. I later discovered that most souvenirs never added any joy or utility to my life. I’m now lucky to be in a position where I take upwards of a dozen trips per year between work and leisure. I rarely return home with something I didn’t leave with.

Morning coffee
While we do have a cruddy Keurig at work, my office also orders beautiful beans from Calgary’s Phil and Sebastian. My coffee-obsessed coworkers (bless them) have a constant stream of freshly ground Chemex or Espro coffee on pour. This eliminates the need for the morning cafe pitstop.

If I were still spending on all these things at the peak rate I used to, it’d average out to ~ $250/month. That’s a helluva lot of money “saved” for very little effort. While I’ve been able to cut back on these purchases, there are still areas I’m aiming to do better in. I shudder to think how much I spend at Mountain Equipment Co-op over the course of a year, for example.

Where have you been able to curb your spending? What needs more work?

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