Frugal Tips


It’s not just the big things such as vacations and mortgages bills that drains your piggy bank. It’s the daily expenses such as three Starbucks coffees a day or two packs of cigarettes that add up to a significant amount a week.  So here’s my list of frugal tips on how you can save on daily expenses.

Ditch that Car

If you drive your car less than three hours a week, but still pay for a monthly transit pass to go to work, you have to stop to think – do you really need the expense of a car? Gas, car payments, insurance and God forbid, car repairs can add up to over $5,000 a year versus the maximum of $172 for a three zone monthly pass ($2,064 a year).  You can also join a car sharing program such as car2go which charges members $13/hour or $65/day or zipcar for $7.75/hour or $73/day or rent a car from Enterprise starting at $65 a day.

The Breakfast Club

I rarely have time to cook myself a good breakfast before I leave for work.  So I buy myself cans of tuna, crackers, deli meat and naan bread, half of which I eat of home and the other half at work.  But on the odd occasion, I might indulge in the following inexpensive breakfast meals:

  • 6″ inch Subway breakfast flatbread or sub for $3.50 (4 choices);
  • any two pastries (muffin, long john or fritter) for $2.50 at 7-Eleven and all hot beverages are $1 only;
  • Signature Danish and small premium roast coffee for $2.69 at McCafe;
  • Hot Breakfast meal (various choices) with coffee and hash browns for $5.29 to $6.29 at Tim Hortons;
  • there’s no more $1 breakfasts, but IKEA has a cinnamon bun and coffee combo for $2.

Starbucks aka Megabucks

I love Starbucks but I only indulge in one or two tall Americanos a week as my coffee indulgence ends up being $5.15 by the time I add up all the little extras like coconut milk. But if I had two of these a day it would cost me $71.40 a week and $3712.80 a year.  Yipes. Consider only having specialty coffees (at Starbucks or other coffee places) once or twice a week and drinking the free coffee your workplace supplies.  But if you really can’t stomach the workplace coffee, then bring your own coffee machine to work (if it’s allowed) or even a thermos.  McCafe coffee is considerably less money with their large special coffees costing only $3.39 compared to the tall specialty coffees that cost $4 to $7 at any coffee places. .

Lose Your Expensive Lunch Dates

If your social life includes at least two lunch dates a week with your friends at restaurants where you spend at least $15 on lunch, that adds up to $1,560 a year. I’m not telling you to ditch your lunch dates, but to simply think about cheaper alternatives such as meeting at food courts where there are plenty of food stalls that offer lunch for less than $8.  Because I work downtown I have access to food courts where I can find hearty soups for $5.50, salad bars where a big salad for $13 is enough for two meals and four selections at $12 at a Chinese food stall is enough for two meals.  The following are some really super duber cheap lunches:

  • Tim Hortons has inexpensive lunch selections for less than $10.
  • On Tuesdays. Taco Bell has $1.49 tacos, Triple O’s has Triple Burgers for $3.33 and KFC has a $3.29 special which gets you two pieces of chicken and fries.
  • At Urban Fare, for $12 in the take-out section, you get one big piece of cooked meat (chicken, ribs or lamb shank) plus two sides, which is enough for two lunches
  • Whole Foods has a Protein Sampler Salad for $11.99 where you pick a protein salad and two veggie salads  I find this is enough to last me for two meals.

Snack Happy

I don’t know about you, but I tend to eat more at work than at home and find myself snacking all day at my desk.  A cookie at a coffee shop, a banana at a salad bar or a bag of chips will cost about $1-$2 each.  Whereas if you buy a big bag of potato chips at any grocery store it will only be approximately $2.50 to $3 for twice the amount, .


Supper’s Not on the Table

Do you hate to cook or just plain hate eating at home alone?  Well, eating out as everyone knows can be expensive unless you have a budget.  Here’s my list of budget friendly dinners:

  • Hap-happy hours.  The whole city is buzzing with happy hour specials ever since it was legalized.  Well, from $1 bites, half priced wine bottles and more, click here for he index page to all my happy hour lists in BC:;
  • The Warehouse Group of restaurants: Warehouse, The Moose ($5.95), El Furniture Warehouse (Granville) and East Hastings), The Factory and the Dime offer food for $4.95. It’s not gourmet and you’ll find yourself surrounded by young kids and party goers at nigh. The Moose also has some wicked daily specials such as wings for 25 cents on Tuesdays, sliders for $1 on Thursdays;
  • There’s a whole slew of $1 pizza places downtown or get a small Take N Bake pizza (3 toppings) for $3.99 from Fresh Slice;
  • Whole Foods has a 2- for-1 take home pizza special on Tuesdays
Frugall Tips2

So In Love with Costco

I used to think that Costco was only for families and that buying in bulk would be futile for a single person like me. But low and behold when I went to a friend, I found all kinds of items that saved me big bucks that makes the membership fee of $60 a year worth it .  The following are some of the best buys at Costco:
  • you can’t beat the $7.99 moist rotisserie chicken;
  • a bottle of Vitamin C with 350 tablets ($17.99) costs the same price as 100 tablets at a drugstore and because different locations don’t offer the same vitamins/supplements, you can order these online and have them delivered (shipping seems to be free although some people say it’s added into the price of the item);
  • a bag of 10 Cara Cara oranges are $10.99 whereas they are usually $3.99 or $4.99 a pound at a supermarket (I paid $7 for 3 Cara Cara oranges at Whole Foods);
  • a package of 48 Kirkland batteries costs the same as 12 batteries of other brands sold at other stores;
  • shop while you’re waiting for your passport photos at Costco which cost $6.99 – and yes they are accepted at the Passport Office as I used them for my 2017-2027 passport;
  • grab a quick cheap dinner after shopping:  $1.50 (plus tax) for hot dog and soft drink;




Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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