Let's be real here, we're all on some form of budget. Whether you're a student, live on your own, or are saving up for a trip of a lifetime, the budgets are real. And tbh, they kind of suck.
I know that having a budget is a smart way of living, but sometimes we all wish we were famous so we could just blow money on a car we kind of like *cough cough Kylie Jenner*. Even though our city isn't as expensive as Toronto, it's still not easy to live in Ottawa. A bus pass every month is an insane amount, but if it's a necessity, there is no justifying it.
Just because you're on a budget does not mean you can't have fun. That's exactly what I'm here for. So here is a guide to living large in Ottawa without breaking the bank:
Visit museums for free
If you think museums are boring, you definitely haven't been to the ones in Ottawa. And even better, most of them are free during certain times such as: Canadian Museum of History and the Canadian War Museum on Thursdays from 4 pm to 8 pm, Canadian Museum of Nature and the National Gallery of Canada from 5 pm to 8 pm, and the Aviation and Space Museum daily from 4 pm to 5 pm.
Get together with friends and take advantage of cheap wing night deals
No matter if it's guys night or girls night, everyone loves chicken wings. Most wing nights are either a set price for a pound, or each wing is around 35 cents. That means you can get 10 wings for only $3.50, and you can't tell me that's not living large. You'll be so full and will for sure have leftovers the next day, which is the most amazing thing to remember once you wake up.
See all the beautiful street art there is in Ottawa
I feel like you're not a true Ottawan if you haven't taken a picture in front of street art. If you didn't know that there was this much, you're missing out. You'll definitely feel like you're not in Ottawa, and teleported to some alley in Los Angeles. Oh, and it's completely free too.
Get all your fresh food at a local farmers' market
Everyone thinks that farmers' markets are expensive, but they're actually a lot cheaper than shopping at a grocery store. For most produce, you can get a set rate that usually comes in a basket or a huge bunch. If you're super into eating healthy or want to but think it's too expensive, you'll definitely be winning with this life hack. The Ottawa Farmers' Market at Lansdowne Park is the only one in Ottawa that's all year round.
Ditch the gym membership and workout outside
If you're on a tight budget, you don't really need a gym membership. Working out from home or outdoors can give you the same benefits. Unless you rely heavily on weights, you'll be fine without a membership that realistically, none of us use the amount we should. Using Gatineau Park or the beautiful outdoors will definitely give you the same feeling and maybe even better results.
Save your money and travel to a beautiful place that's close to home
Of course travelling is on everyones bucket list, however when you're on a tight budget it can be hard to save an extra $100 bucks a month to plan a trip. If you find yourself wanting a getaway, Morrison's Quarry is the perfect place to feel like you're not in Ottawa. And if the weather isn't permitting, try out these places.
Experience the amazing food truck world in Ottawa
Even though food trucks are only around for a couple seasons in Ottawa, they're still worth trying out. Most dishes are around $5 to $9, which is a lot less than a meal at a restaurant. Plus, there are so many delicious ones to try that you won't get sick of them at all. If you're on a budget, even doing this once a week to treat yourself won't break the bank.
If the food trucks are closed, you can still find amazing food for under $6
When people think of cheap food, they probably think of stopping at a gas station for a bag of $4 chips and a $3 Coke. No thank you. Cheap food doesn't have to be unhealthy, and it doesn't have to be a greasy mess. Here in Ottawa, we have amazing bagel places, Greek places, taco places, etc., that will fill you up without making you feel like crap.
If you're over driving and taking the bus, try out VeloGo Bike Share
VeloGo Bike Share is a bike program in Ottawa that allows you to rent a bike for a few hours a day. Gas prices can be hefty, and so can parking be downtown. With VeloGo, you can rent a bike for a small price and take it around wherever you need to go and you'll get a little bit of exercise in as well.
Don't be afraid to buy used clothes or books
Ottawa has amazing used book stores and used clothing stores. I mean, Black Squirrel Books and Espresso Bar is a used bookstore and even better, it has a cafe that sells mean vegetarian donuts from Doughbaby Doughnuts. Thrifting has always been a trend, and I personally hope it never dies. Buying used clothes or books does not mean anything, all it means is that you saved a ton of money on a product.
Watch out for free events, or just free things to do in the city
One of Ottawa's most well known attractions, The Rideau Canal, is absolutely free and one of the best ways to kill time in the winter. This is just an example of all the free things you can do in Ottawa, next to hiking in Gatineau, watching free movies in a park, and we even have events like free cheese and potatoes. There is always some festival to go to in Ottawa, and most are free or around $5.
Take full advantage of happy hour deals
We get so wrapped up in what we're doing for dinner, we sometimes forget that happy hour exists. If you find yourself being too busy (or broke) to hang out with your friends, happy hour is the perfect place to meet in the middle. You can catch up over drinks and cheap food and what's better than that? Most happy hours are from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm, and who can say no to $2 tacos?
If you can't make it to happy hour, you can still save while going out on the town!
Put away the $12 strawberry daiquiri, and say hello to $4 bar rails and $3 caesars. This is proof that you don't need to spend all your money to have fun. I know that some people can go out and spend $100 at one place, which has never made sense to me. You can easily have fun off of $20 and not feel absolutely terrible the next day. Here are 12 bars in Ottawa that you can get drunk off of $12.
You should live large especially on your birthday, even if you're broke
I know a lot of people don't want to celebrate their birthday because they don't have enough money or they want to save instead. Well, here's a very helpful tip: a ton of restaurants or places will give you free food on your birthday. There are a ton of great places on that list, and a lot of them only require you to show your ID. Don't cheap out on your birthday, even if it means you get something for free!