Savvy Saving Tips for your First Year Away from Home

When I left my home in Edmonton, Alberta to embark on my university journey in Vancouver not only did I leave the sub-zero temperatures and the snow, but I also left behind the financial safety net that (usually) comes when living with your parents. Although I worked for many months ahead of time to financially prepare myself for this move, there were still many factors involved in maintaining my financial stability once classes started. 

Moving away from home to pursue university or college is an exciting and fulfilling adventure, but it also signifies the beginning of your financial independence as a young adult. In the face of this independence looms many roadblocks eager to send you tumbling into a pit of debt – think increasing tuition prices, hefty textbook costs, and the generally mind-boggling living costs in the Vancouver area.

So, if you’re like me and just starting out on your own, or just wanting to get your finances on track, here are some savvy saving tips I have gathered during my first year away from home.

Make a Budget (but like really do it).

I know you’re probably hearing this for what seems like the thousandth time, but that’s for a good reason. And if there was ever a great time to check in on what you spend your hard-earned checks on, it would be your first year away from home. Now that you have to factor in things like rent, phone bill, utilities, and groceries, it’s really important to know how much money you actually have so that you don’t end up spending your utilities money at Happy Hour.

Plus, a budget is so universal and customizable. You can either look up a simple budget template online (like this one here), or just open Excel and get started with a blank workbook. Pay for the gym every month? Yep, you can just write that in. Want to add in a monthly brunch fund? You can do that too! Your budget is solely your own, and it can be as granular or as general as you’d like. Just remember to account for money in and money out as accurately as possible and, voila! A real-adult budget.

Track Your Spending

So you want to know where your paycheck keeps going, but don’t want to make a budget? Try tracking your purchases by simply recording them in your Notes app or in a journal. At the end of every day or every week, check in with how much you spent. You may be shocked at how much money you’d save by cutting down your daily Starbucks run to just once or twice a week.

You can even make it a competition with yourself by setting weekly spend limits and seeing if you can stay within them.

Get Your Friends On Board

One of my favorite things about being in a new city is all the amazing new restaurants and cafes that I get to try. However, one of the worst things for my budget is all the amazing new restaurants and cafes that I get to try. 

Although I am a big advocate for treating yourself and celebrating with friends, sometimes I can go a little over board with the brunches and the wine nights. Instead of having to cancel on the next girls night out, collect some friends and make a dinner at home together! Not only will this be a blessing for the budget, but it might also be a fun new tradition (and a way for food aficionados to show off their cooking skills!). 

Set Saving Goals

Now this one might seem like a no-brainer, but there can be some pitfalls along the way when it specifically comes to saving for larger goals. Saving up for a big trip or purchase right out of the gate might actually be too daunting of a task to achieve. Especially if the date of the goal is far into the future; if money is running low in the present you might end up having to use those savings for something more pressing.

So instead of setting massive goals, start with small monthly goals that are lower in price and easier to achieve, such as a special date night or a clothing purchase. Once you find yourself mastering these goals, then move on to the larger sums.

One tool I have found to be useful when saving for big goals is to immediately put 5% or 10% of your paycheck in to a savings account right when you get it. This out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach makes it so much easier to accumulate large sums over time. Do it right and you won’t even notice that money missing.

Follow Social Media Accounts that Promote Healthy Spending

It is no secret that we live in a society driven by hyper-consumerism. However temping it may be to outfit your life with the latest and greatest products, doing so can also encourage detrimental spending habits. Because money can be such an emotional factor in life, it is a good practice to remove yourself from that influence in times where stress is high.

Simple ways to take a step back from that influence include unfollowing Instagram accounts that trigger impulsive spending, such as clothing stores and websites, and even some influencers.  The other is to actively follow accounts that promote good spending habits. An example of this is the Instagram account @girlboss. They run multiple series focused around savvy ways for women to manage their finances such as #ScrimpCity and #WealthToMe.

Thanks for reading!