When I was 10 years old, I received an allowance of $60 per month. In exchange for this sizeable allowance, I had to commit to tracking every dollar spent in a lined ledger notebook which my mom provided to me.
 To this day, I believe the first step in better financial management begins with understanding where your money is spent.

During November’s Financial Literacy Month (#FLM2015), I’ve taken the time to analyze some of my own spending habits, and realized that my most frequent areas of spending are food, beauty and events. This didn’t really come as a surprise to me, as those are exactly the topics Modern Mix Vancouver covers!

Now that I know where I love to spend, here are my tips on how to save more and spend smarter in these lifestyle areas:

Money-Saving Tips for Food:

Make Your Own Meals

Looking through my monthly bills, I realized that the majority of my food costs go towards eating out.   To curb my spending, I commit to only dining out when I’m catching up with a friend. For all other occasions when I’m by myself, I resist the temptation to order take-out, and commit to making my own snacks and meals instead, which is much more affordable.

Look Out Happy Hour

Many restaurants in Vancouver have happy hour specials, with discounted dishes and drink deals. My most frequently visited Happy Hour in Vancouver is ‘Hapa Hour” at Hapa Izakaya. At the Robson location, you only have to order by 6:30pm to receive the discounted menu price – you can stay at the restaurant for longer to enjoy your meal.

Money-Saving Tips for Beauty:

Use Your Beauty Product Samples

Many beauty and skincare brands allow you to try complimentary product samples, before buying a full-sized item. For example, Kiehl’s has a very generous product sampling program, while Sephora often offers free samples with purchases. To save money, try out and use up all your product samples first, before spending on full-sized items.

Buy in Bulk

Especially around the holiday season, many beauty and skincare brands will offer gift sets, which tend to be more affordable compared to buying the products individually. Make sure you also pay attention to the size of the product (rather than just price), as some gift sets tend to offer smaller quantities of the product than what you are typically used to.

Money-Saving Tips for Events:

Buy your tickets early for early bird prices

Buy your tickets as soon as you know you’ll be attending an event. Many events (from sporting events to concert tickets) have early bird pricing. The longer you wait, the more expensive the price.

Look Out for Free Events in Vancouver

Vancouver has so many free events happening on a regular basis. Especially during this time of year, there are endless winter celebrations to attend, from public performances, to holiday craft fairs to street festivals and parades.

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In addition to all of the above tips, when making a purchase, consider paying with cash or debit, and spending only what you have. The ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality of paying with a credit card may increase a tendency to overspend which isn’t ideal for someone trying to save money. For more Financial Literacy Month savings tips, click here.

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This post was written in partnership with Interac. For more information about Canada’s debit experts, visit: interac.ca.

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