How to save money and still have a life

I’d like to start by saying I am lucky to live in Winnipeg for a lot of reasons — Huffington Post said Winnipeg is Canada’s 7th best city for affordable housing and jobs (as of 2016).

My life has changed a lot in the last 9 months: I moved from the suburbs into an apartment by myself, got a “big girl” job, and decided not to buy a car. I’ve learned some tricks pretty quick that allow me to have a metric shit-ton of fun and live my life, while still saving some money, and paying my credit card and bills on time.

Reward yourself by signing up for rewards

My boyfriend makes fun of me because my wallet is massive and stacked with tons of punch cards, rewards cards, and old giftcards with .33 cents remaining.

But man, do they save me money.

Here are my top five favourite FREE rewards programs

  1. Air Miles
  2. Sephora Beauty Insider
  3. Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum program
  4. PC Plus points
  5. Plum rewards (Chapters/Indigo)

Shop local and still save

It’s important to support entrepreneurs, and the only thing more warm and fuzzy than helping someone send their kid to college or pay their rent is getting rewarded for it. Woohoo, it’s a win-win.

We Heart Winnipeg: This card JUST launched and it’s only $10. Good value based on the fact that they are new and still growing, plus their branding is really cute.

Culture Card: I use this app for some specific discounts (namely 15% off the thermal experience at Thermea, 2 for 1 Goldeyes tickets, and 20% off services at The Aveda Institute), but the app is also a good place to find fun stuff to do.

The Local Frequency: If you eat out a lot at local restaurants, this is the app for you. They scan your code, and you get a percentage of your purchase back (I think it’s 3% or something depending on what you pay with) in COLD HARD CASH to spend at local stores.

GET OVER YOUR FEAR OF USING COUPONS

You better shelve that sh*t. How can you pass up a good ol’ deal just because you’re worried you might look cheap?

Show & Save: An oldie but a goodie. For $20, ya can’t go wrong.

The Lifestyle Pass: Great for fitness and health fanatics who love trying new things.

SPC (Student Price Card): When I was a post-secondary student spending every dime I had at Polo Park Mall, and this card was EVERYTHING (I worked at the mall in retail for 5 years, so I sank a lot of money into that place).

Please note: even if you get a coupon for a free service/item or a discount MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE A GOOD TIP WHEN APPROPRIATE. Just cause you’re using a coupon doesn’t mean you get to be cheap AND be an asshole.

Make cuts to make room

Ok there’s this local comedian named Dan Verville and he used to do this bit about walking down the dairy aisle and not being able to afford anything. At the time I was still living at home, so I truly wasn’t in on the joke yet. F*ck a shopping spree at Polo Park Mall, when I get to the phase in my life where I can afford pre-shredded cheese, you will be hearing about it in my Instagram story.

I looked at my priorities a few months into living alone, and realized what I truly wanted to spend my money on: experiences, fitness, fun and the occasional margarita when it is well-deserved.

Here’s how I make it work…these are just some of the things I’ve given up or compromised on personally so I can save my money for what matters to me. Everyone’s priorities are different!

  1. I don’t get manicures, pedicures, facials, fillers, lash extensions or waxes. Ever. Practice makes perfect. Teach yourself how to do fake nails and pedicures!
  2. I try to only go to a salon twice a year to get my hair coloured. I always go to the Aveda Institute Winnipeg because the services are inexpensive (like we’re talking between $60 and $80 to get my long hair coloured, cut, and styled), the service is great for the most part, and the educators make sure your hair comes out perfect.
  3. I don’t buy dairy or red meat at the grocery store. I don’t buy wine that is above $12.
  4. I don’t have cable. I actually don’t even own a TV.
  5. I work from home, so I’m typically able to cook and eat all three meals every day at home. Even when I work at coffee shops, I try to avoid buying food at all costs.
  6. The public library system is your friend. Remember the library card you got as a kid? FREEdom amiright?
  7. I own an iPhone 5S. No wonder my Instagram pictures suck.
  8. I *try* to only shop when I need to replace things (my pants ripped a hole or I’m out of something), or when there’s a really good sale. However, I’m not perfect with this and I know it.
  9. I don’t really buy decorations for my apartment. I will probably change my mind about this down the line, but pretty much everything in my apartment was DIY’ed, donated by friends or family (the only thing I bought is my table and my bed) or gifted to me.

*My guilty pleasure is Coal and Canary candles, but I feel good about buying those because I love Tom and Amanda to death, and I like supporting them.


The truth is, I will always remember that time I drove a jet-ski over 5ft. waves in Gimli for the low price of $60. That was only two or three months ago, and already I don’t recall what bikini I was wearing or if I shaved my legs. Experiences are everything.

What’s your favourite money saving hack? Let me know in the comments.

— RJH

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