May 2009 7

Living well in Vancouver on less

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Is the financial crisis giving you headache? Vancouver is not an inexpensive city. Everybody (who's ever visited or even seen pictures) would like to live here.

Here are some tips to reduce your cost of living in Vancouver without decreasing your quality of life.

1) Grocery
Hunger is the best chef and also the worst shopper, therefore eat first before you go shopping for food. Also prepare a shopping list and stick to it. Comparing prices per ounce or pint will save you a bundle. To find the cheapest alternative, you often have to search the bottom of the shelf. The most pricey item, on the other hand, will be displayed at your eyes hight. In case you’re not a professional taster, the difference between a $9 and $30 bottle of wine is $21. But be careful: buying something only because it is cheap is foolish. Only buy what you previously put on your shopping list.

Moreover, buy your meat at the specialty shop with natural grazing. But buy your staples in bulk at one of the less expensive supermarkets. Moreover, avoid processed food as much as you can. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier and far less expensive per pound than almost anything processed.
2) Coffee
Are you a caffeine addict? Most busy people are. But is your stop at that coffee shop really necessary? Why not make your favourite drink yourself: you can get a coffee pot for about $10.
3) Bottled water
Plenty of fluids are important, but does it have to be bottled water? Try to filter your tap water instead. Can you imagine the amount of the plastic bottles you leave behind every year? On top of that the water in Vancouver is some of the best in the world. Vancouver's tap water is better than the rest of the world's bottled water.

4) Snacks
Snacks are important for those long periods between main meals. Fruits and vegetables works just as well as any chocolate bar, only it is healthier and much cheaper alternative. Who knows, you might even get slimmer.
5) Music
Are you still taking up living space with an ever growing collection of expensive CDs? Today you have the option to pay per song as opposed to pay per the whole album for as little as 99c with iTunes and even less with Amazon.
6) Movies
You can pay anything between $20 and $30 for 2 cinema tickets these days. If you don’t mind staying at home, switching to Netflix for $9 (unlimited viewing) is a much cheaper alternative. Having said that, do you really enjoy watching all the channels you are billed for every month? Your cable TV provider surely has more than one billing option. Choose just the set of channels you actually will watch. No need for the mega channel package. You only have one set of eyes in your heads. You can't watch 150 channels even if you try. Or you'll end up as bug-eyed as the guy in Clockwork Orange if you do.
7) Phone
As possessing a cell phone is a necessity for most people, cell phone bills could become a burden just like any other bill. Try to text as much as you can instead of calling and compare your current plan with the the plans of other network providers. Don’t be afraid to switch if you could save. More in person meetings instead of endless nattering on a cellphone is a way of improving your quality of life, your personal relationships, saving money and improving your health (research indicates too much cell phone conversation is bad for your memory if not a cancer risk).

8) Smoking
Smoking has been out of fashion for a long time, but if you still find it difficult to quit, rolling tobacco might be your option. Learning rolling cigarette properly might take you around a week of practise, but the reward is awesome. You will be able to save as much as 50% of what you are paying now!

9) Fuel
Even though the green activists would persuade you that in fact you don’t need your car, it is not always true. Except for the occasional repairs, gas is the one thing that raises the cost of car usage. Decreasing it by checking the prices of gas online in your area is hustle free trick that could save you fortune over the years.
10) Credit cards
Credit card interest and fees are a killer of any budget, if you can’t repay your credit card spendings on time, which you probably know very well. Closing your credit card accounts except for one left for emergencies is the way forward. If you stick to paying cash, you will never pay the interest again or the late charges. You will also not spend more than you have, which is really the only way to go.


If you have any other ideas on how to save money, let me know. I love to live well and enjoy the company of family and friends, but I love saving money and saving time to put it into our great quality of life in Vancouver. The best things in life are free - a walk by the beach, a run on the boardwalk, a walk up the mountain in Capilano. I do wish I could do something to reduce the green fees, one of the few really good things which isn't free.

One Response to “Living well in Vancouver on less”

  1. sue anderson

    Okay, so where can you buy bulk rolling tobacco in Vancouver? (I’m in Kitsilano.) Preferably organic…

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