Maintaining Frugal Habits in a Post-Pandemic World

Daneille Mattis


How Canadians can save money in a post-pandemic world

For many Canadians, the pandemic has been a crash course in getting creative with budgets. But even if you’re itching to get back to “normal” once it’s all over, some of the changes you’ve made in this past year are worth turning into lifelong financial habits. 

During the pandemic, because we’ve been spending more time at home, most of us have spent less money on things like eating out, entertainment, and new clothes. We’ve seen how small changes in regular spending during the lockdown, like making coffee at home or cutting our own hair, can add up to big savings over time. 

According to the Bank of Canada, Canadians spent about $4,000 less on average last year than in 2019. In fact, some households were even able to pay off debt or add to their savings during the pandemic after cutting expenses and simplifying their spending.  

As Canada begins to reopen this summer, there’s no reason to abandon these budget-friendly changes and go back to old spending patterns. Here are six great money-saving tips for a post-Covid world.

 

Cooking at home

Before the pandemic, Canadian households spent an average of $2,775 a year on restaurants and takeout, according to Statistics Canada. During the pandemic, when we weren’t ordering takeout or food delivery, Canadians leaned into cooking at home for both safety and convenience—and because it’s fun to try new recipes. 

Even as we ease back into dining out, you can save thousands of dollars annually by continuing to prepare most of your meals at home—especially if you can plan your meals and avoid food waste. 

 

Rethinking our commutes

In 2019, Canadian households spent on average $300 a year on public transit and $11,258 a year on vehicle expenses. If you’ve been able to work from home in the past year, you definitely saved both time and money by not spending (literally!) hundreds of hours commuting by car or transit.

The good news is that, even as many workplaces start to reopen, some businesses are choosing to continue remote or hybrid work models, giving employees more flexibility. Find out the policy for your workplace, and see whether you might be able to continue working remotely, at least on some days. You’ll save big bucks and priceless time. 

 

Exploring green spaces

Without malls, movies, or restaurants, we’ve had time to explore more of the green spaces in our communities. Not only have we learned to savour a walk in the woods or an afternoon at the park, but those indulgences often cost nothing.

This summer, find new ways to enjoy the park spaces near your home with friends and family. From geocaching to kayaking, there are plenty of free and low-cost activities you can do outdoors. 

 

Caring for ourselves

Whether it’s learning to use a foam roller instead of paying for a massage or bravely cutting our own hair, we’ve learned in the past year that a little DIY self-care goes a long way in cutting costs. 

Avoiding the spa and salon and continuing these routines at home can easily help you save hundreds of dollars a year. For example, assuming that the average haircut costs $60 to $80—and that you’d normally get one every other month—you could save at least $360 a year just by trimming your own bangs and layers.   

 

Rethinking fitness

During the pandemic, most of us put our gym memberships on hold and tried outdoor workouts or found ways to exercise at home. And whether it’s embracing an early-morning run or a YouTube yoga session in our living room, we’ve discovered that fitness doesn’t require a monthly fee.

In Canada, gym memberships can cost anywhere from $10 to $250 a month, so cancelling your membership for a mid-range gym net you up to $720 a year in savings. That’s money that could be put to good use elsewhere.

 

Brewing great drinks

If drive-thru coffee or fancy lattes were part of your morning routine in “the before times,” you may have spent the past year perfecting your at-home brewing skills. 

Maintain that do-it-yourself habit even when you have to head back to in-person work, and you could save $1,095 a year, assuming that your daily coffee costs $3 a cup (the savings jump to $1,825 a year if you’re buying $5 lattes). Plus, think of all the single-use coffee cups you would be saving from the landfill! 

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