How many of you remember learning life-simplifying, money-saving tips in eleventh grade? Twelfth grade? Okay, what about first year? Second year? Any year? Oh, that’s right, rather than learning valuable life skills, we instead spent our time learning the Pythagorean theorem and how to hold a 10-second keg stand.
Suffice it to say, for many of us, the extent of our life knowledge can be, well... quite limited — especially when we’re just starting to leave the nest and experience "real life" for the first time.
The bills roll in and our funds all too quickly deplete (sidenote: who knew turning on the AC was so expensive!?). Maybe our accounts become overdrawn, or a bill goes unpaid. Worse, maybe we forget to make a payment altogether. Ouch.
Considering that 1/3 of Toronto's millennials still live at home, according to census data collected in 2016, it's pretty safe to say that living on your own isn't the easiest road to navigate.
But there are resources available out there to help a money-struggling "first-time" adult out, like mobile apps, websites, and other tips to survive — and thrive — during your first year on your own. And if you're craving some solid advice, no worries. We've got your back.
Get a piggy bank
Okay, maybe not a piggy bank per se, but something that functions like a piggy bank. A mason jar, an envelope, an empty pillow case — literally anything that lets you contain the loose change that you'd otherwise not qualify as actual money.
Keeping this excess money AWAY from your wallet (AKA away from temptation's fingertips whenever Starbucks' newest Frapp drops), and in a location where you can physically see it, makes saving money tangible. At the end of a few months, you'll be shocked to see how much you've accumulated in loonies and nickels. Let's just say, there's a reason our parents used to spend hours rolling their change!
Find a "budgeting method" that works for you
Alright, I know what you're thinking: yikes. Budgeting is what you do when you've got a family and kids and car payments and mortgages to think about, right?
Yeah, no. Absolutely no. Budgeting is often the last thing you're thinking about when you first leave the nest, but you should be working on your budget even before you leave. A good, solid budget is often what's going to help make sure that you can pay all your bills on time and still afford groceries. At the very least, it'll help you identify where you overspend, where you can afford to sacrifice, and what you need to do in order to not go running home hoping your parents haven't turned your bedroom into a home gym.
There are tons of budgeting methods for you to pick from: the envelope method, zero-based budgeting, the 80/20 budget, just to name a few. Try out a couple and see which one works best for you, and don't worry if they don't all pan out. Through trial and error, you'll find one that you can stick with!
Brown bag it
A simple tip, but a SUPER key one. Eating out adds up fast — sure, a $15 meal one day might seem like no big deal. But multiply that by five. Or seven. Suddenly, that's $75-$105 you're spending, per week, on food... which, assuming you're doing groceries, you've already got at home. That's money that could be lining your wallet, going towards rent, or being spent on something you don't already have.
But limiting yourself altogether isn't necessarily the most sustainable idea, either. Remember: It's all about balance! Commit to bringing your own lunch to work or making your own meals five days a week, then allow yourself a day to eat out! It'll taste that much better knowing you earned it.
We've all been there: We want it, we get it... only to regret it 30 days later when that credit card bill rolls in.
When you're tempted to make a large but non-essential purchase, or you're questioning a potential purchase, wait 30 days. The time will help you decide if it's something you really need. If you decide against it, you'll be relieved you never spent the money. If you decide you want it, you'll trust your decision all the more.
This goes for more than just clothing. When it comes to decorating your place (whether that's a bedroom or any other room), you can find almost everything you need on sites like Kijiji, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.
This is especially helpful when you're just starting out: Decorating and furnishing a place can be pricey! Plus, shopping second-hand is a sustainable choice for more than just your pocketbook; it's an environmentally friendly option, too!
Grow your own veggies
Yes, we may have some of the most brutal winters known to humankind, but we do have year-round sunlight which means you can grow your own food — veggies, that is.
You can actually grow some of the most commonly consumed vegetables indoors, all year round; think carrots, arugula, scallions, and tomatoes, for example. All you need is a window, a couple of planters, and a watering can.
For real! Set aside a fixed percentage of your paycheque. It can be anywhere from 2% to 10% or more. Just think of it exactly like tax: It's something you need to pay and money you won't get back (yet, anyway).
You can set this up using your bank's automatic savings plan feature to ensure the money is automatically transferred to your savings account!
Learn the magic of prioritizing
"No" is a scary word, but trust us, it's incredibly rewarding to use. When you first move out, it can be tempting to keep your old habits — like going out eating or drinking with friends, spending three quarters of your paycheque on clothes, or otherwise being a bit of a douche with your money.
Once you're on your own, you can still do all of the things you used to love doing... just less. And that's totally fine. It's okay to sacrifice brunch with friends for a quiet morning in; it's okay to catch up on your Netflix queue instead of going out to the movies. There will be other opportunities to go out and have fun, but skipping bill payments because you blew all your money on twelve outings in a week can have lasting consequences.
Make a money mantra
Last but not least: repeat, repeat, repeat! By repeating words, or a phrase, you focus your attention. And where your attention goes, energy (or, in this case, money) flows!
Your mantra can be something as simple as "money comes to me" — whatever combination of words that's easy for you to remember and repeat. Say it in the morning when you wake up, at night before bed, and at any point during the day! Consider it a meditation practice for the money-saving maven.
And don't forget, your smartphone is pretty much your bestie when it comes to financial management.
Mobile apps can be incredibly key when it comes to keeping track of your expenses. Paytm Canada, for example, is an app that allows you to pay your bills directly from your smartphone. With every transaction you make in the app, you earn Paytm Points, which you can then redeem with their partners for things like a cup of coffee, groceries, a ride home and so. much. more.
With apps like, it's almost too easy to be money smart. Available for free download on Google Play and the Apple Store, Paytm's rewards include Amazon, Uber, Starbucks, and Sephora, just to name a few. And (yep, there's more) you even get welcome and refer-a-friend points. More points = more rewards! If you refer a friend, you’ll both get 5,000 points (AKA a $5 e-gift card) when they pay their first bill. Getting rewarded to pay bills? Yep, adulting can actually be fun.
Paytm now also accepts Visa credit cards for bill payments! That means you can pay your bills with a credit or debit card, a linked bank account, or. Plus, Paytm is the only app in Canada that lets you pay your tuition with a credit card AND earn points while you're at it!