Times are tough right now. And for most, that means the need to really get thrifty with our spending. In honour of Mother’s Day, I’ve shared some money-saving tips from my amazing mama — plus some books that have changed my perspective of money. I hope they can help you while we all figure out the “new normal” that COVID-19 has given us.
There comes a point or points in life when lessons from our parents really hit home. We might have previously ignored them. But when I was paying off my debt — and since having done that – woo! — I really focused back on the things my mum taught me about saving money.
My mum is the most #GetThrifty person I know. And that doesn’t mean she’s cheap. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. She worked so hard to make sure we had everything we needed. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to live well — even when money is tight. Abundance comes in different forms and sometimes it comes from simplicity.
Here are some money-saving tips from my mama. I hope these tips can help you at this very weird time in the world. (Because no one wants to be in debt right now!)
Make your meals
I really want to support local—especially now—but the reality is that it’s less expensive and usually healthier for the Brit and me to make our meals. The Brit does most of the cooking and he has a great recipe book called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. (The author wrote it after having to #GetThrifty when she lost her job.) And you can find some easy and tasty pantry staple recipes from my foodie friends here.
Take inventory before you shop
Pantry, fridge and closets. It’s the best way to know what you have and need — and prevents food waste. Also, we’re mostly all home right now, so there’s almost no excuse for not spring cleaning.
What to do with the things we don’t need? 1-800-GOT-JUNK has contactless pickup, and Poshmark is also a great app/site to sell your gently used clothing—you print the mailing labels at home. (Check out my Poshmark closet here and use my code WEST_COAST_CHIC for $15 towards your first Poshmark purchase!)
Meal plan to make the most out of your groceries and pantry
Taking inventory is a big part of this. We got a whiteboard so we could get better with planning our meals and grocery order. It has also made for less food waste. If you “suck” at meal planning and have the means, consider ordering HelloFresh or another meal delivery service.
Do you NEED it?
Or do you want it? And if you want it, will you actually use it? Clothing-wise, does what you want to buy go with at least two things in your wardrobe? Is it something where the cost could actually go towards something you actually need or create more value? Lots of Devil’s advocate type questions that I ask myself on a regular basis. But they need to be asked.
Quality over quantity
If you’re going to buy something, make sure it creates value for you. This is actually something I got from both my parents. Vancouver-based entrepreneur Jenna Herbut said something on our recent City Girl Talks episode that works perfectly: “Cheap is expensive.” If you save to buy those lovely ankle boots (or the Fluevog shoes that my mama absolutely loves) and you take care of them, they’ll pay for themselves in the years that you have them. If you buy a lesser quality, cheap pair, they will probably fall apart after five wears.
(My dad also has a cute story about when he and my aunt were kids. She always bought lots of things with her allowance, but my dad would save or buy one quality thing.)
What do you already have available to you that could work just as well as buying something? Example: Many people are on a fitness craze right now. But you don’t have to buy all the things for your home gym/studio. If you don’t already have one, the only thing you “need” to buy is a decent yoga mat. (I highly recommend the Halfmoon Yoga Essential Studio Mat for both quality and price.) Everything else can be substituted: use soup cans for weights and cereal boxes as foam yoga blocks.
My friend Meredith shares a nice story in episode 28 (43:10) of my podcast about how she recently saved some money and also got to have some time with her mum.
Buy things on on sale
Back to the boots example. (Can you tell I have my eye on a pair for fall?) If at all possible, I will buy something on sale over full price. I watch for when my favourite wellness brands have sales and that’s when I tend to buy my shampoo, face products, etc. If there’s a promo code for something I need, I will use it. And if I’m grocery store and toilet paper or tuna or something I consume on a regular basis are on sale? I am more likely to buy it.
But, it’s important not fall into the trap of “oh, it was on sale, so I HAD to buy it”. This is where need vs. want is an important distinction.
Put money into a savings account on a regular basis
Outside of my work RRSP, putting money away to have a cushion is something I struggled with in my 20’s. Partly because I had credit debt. Partly because I didn’t make use of the systems available to me. (Which was silly.)
Setting up automatic withdrawals to go into my savings means I don’t have to worry about it. Initially, it started with just $25 per paycheque, but even that adds up quickly. I know it might not be the easiest time for saving, but as I said, even the smallest regular contributions can add up quickly. (If you have the means, it’s also actually a really great time to be buying stocks…)
Consider making a phone appointment with your bank to ask questions about your finances and learn about your options. There’s no better time than now. Also, some great books focused on or that gives some on-point finance advice for women are:
- The Latte Factor (David Bach)
- Smart Women Finish Rich (David Bach)
- The Soul of Money (Lynne Twist)
- You’re a Badass at Making Money (Jen Sincero)
- Everything is Figuroutable (Marie Forleo)
I got it from my mama.
You can also hear some great #GetThrifty tips from guests near the end of every City Girl Talks episode. Happy saving my lovelies!
What are some key things you’ve learned from your mum?
“What you focus on you create more of.”Jen Sincero