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How to budget better as a millennial

Rounding it up

  • Budgeting can be tedious, but it’s a vital component of financial management, especially for millennials!

  • Millennials tend to spend more money than previous generations on comforts and conveniences like fancy dinners, Ubers, and the latest tech.

  • Cut down on eating out, taking taxis and Ubers, and shopping online to budget better and save money.

7 min read

Chrissy Kapralos
#millennial#budgeting#saving#finances

Budgeting is a struggle for all ages, with only 49% of Canadians actually tracking their expenses with a budget. Can we blame them? Budgeting is boring, at least that was one of the reasons cited for lacking a budget. Others claimed a lack of time, and feeling stressed when thinking about money, as reasons for not having one.

Regardless, not having a budget doesn’t affect anyone but yourself in the long run, and that rings especially true for millennials, who have some of the biggest spending habits to date.

Remind me again… who are we talking about when we say millennial?

Millennials, or “Generation Y,” encompass everyone born between 1981 and 1996. According to Maclean’s, they’re the most highly educated generation in Canadian history, they love anything farm-to-table, and they also happen to be the biggest spenders.

How can I start saving more as a millennial?

Hello, fellow millennial! You can start saving significantly more by reducing your expenses in three main categories: Uber, food delivery, and online shopping. While these three areas can make your life a lot more convenient, they come with fees and costs that add up — fast. And remember, even if you’re not a millennial, you can still benefit from cutting down on some of these costs.

Stop Ubering everywhere!

We know it’s uber convenient to be chauffeured to your destinations, but it’s also uber expensive. The odd ride might not seem like a big deal, but if you form a habit, those rides can do some real damage to your wallet. Between Uber and Lyft, studies show that some millennials are spending over $100 a month on ride shares. If you need to shave some money off of your expenses, consider the following tips to save money on ride shares:

1. Delete the apps

Having Uber and Lyft on your phone makes it that much easier to use their services. Try deleting the apps to make it more difficult for you to book a ride. You might be less likely to go through the trouble if you need to redownload it. Or better yet, deactivate your account! Signing up again will be an extra hassle that could deter you from using the service

2. Manage your time better

Many people use Uber to get somewhere ASAP, likely because they’re in a rush. If you take a bit of extra time to plan your schedule, you might not need to pay for last-minute expenses like an Uber ride.

3. Avoid price surges and peak times

If you are set on booking a ride, try to avoid peak times and price surges, which happen around rush hour and holidays.

4. Get a bicycle, walk, or take the bus

No car, no problem — there are plenty of alternative methods of transportation to get you from point A to B. Plus, if the weather’s nice, you can save money and energy by walking, cycling, or taking the bus.

Cut down on your food delivery

Food delivery is a major reason why so many millennials, especially single ones, are overspending on food and living paycheque to paycheque. Experts recommend 10-20% of your income as a good basis for food spending, yet some millennials spend between $500 and $1000 a month.. While we can’t calculate the income of every millennial, a monthly food budget of $1,000 likely surpasses the 10-20% figure.

Here are a few tips to help you cut down costs on food convenience.

1. Take-out instead of delivery or dine-In

If you must dine out, opt for take out instead of dining in or delivery. You can save on delivery charges from the restaurant and/or a food delivery app like Uber Eats or Skip The Dishes. Additionally, you can save on marked-up alcohol costs that you might incur when dining in, and instead pick up a bottle of wine from the liquor store. And remember, regardless of how much you spend picking something up, you’ll always earn 0.5% cash back with your KOHO card, and even more if you’re buying food from a Partner PowerUps retailer.

2. Meal kits

If you still have trouble finding time to do grocery shopping, you can save money by using a meal kit instead of ordering in delivery or take out. At an average $8.99 per meal, Chef’s Plate offers meal boxes with portioned ingredients to make cooking easier, healthier, and cheaper than dining out. You can also enjoy an extra 3% cashback by using Chef’s Plate, since they’re one of KOHO’s Partner PowerUps.

3. Get groceries

If you really want to save money on your food costs, stop eating out altogether, or save it for special occasions. Especially during the lockdown, avoid the temptation to eat out — just quarantine and cook! Did you know that ordering delivery from a restaurant is, on average, 5 times more expensive than cooking at home? Meal kits are slightly better cost-wise than ordering out, but they are still 3 times more expensive than home cooking. Cooking at home often averages out to 4$ per meal, per person. Even then, there are tons of ways to continue saving money on your grocery bill.

Ease up on the online shopping

With millennials making up almost 33% of the buyers for online purchases, we may have a shopping problem on our hands.  Being home all the time these days doesn’t help, as working from home can seriously affect your budget.

Online shopping is also a big motivator for emotional spending. Amazon prime might be convenient, with cheap monthly subscriptions in exchange for free shipping, but don’t let that fool you into thinking you’re saving money. In fact, millennials love shopping for discounts and are receptive to loyalty programs, making Amazon Prime particularly appealing. Being on the lookout for a deal, however, doesn’t always mean you’re saving money. With the immediacy and convenience of click-to-door delivery, it’s easy to overspend on things you don’t really need, as is the case with many millennials these days. In fact, millennials are shockingly prone to consider discounts, or the illusion of one, over product quality. Over time, this leads to spending more money on the same product, if the poor quality results in having to buy a new item. If you don’t believe us, see for yourself. KOHO’s app tracks your expenses and helps you visualize where your money is going.

Here are some tips to help you tone down the spending with online shopping.

1. Shop used and vintage

Do you really need a brand new TV? Or a brand new designer handbag? If you must have these items, you might consider checking the secondhand market to save a few bucks. With platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Kijiji, Bunz, and Craigslist, there’s a good chance you can find what you’re looking for in decent condition, at a decent price.

Not only is this a great way to save money, but you’ll also help the environment by opting for used goods, since you’ll lower packaging waste and emissions from delivery cars and trucks. You can also put all of that extra money into a KOHO account and earn 1.2% interest on it with KOHO Save.

2. Evaluate your subscriptions

An Amazon Prime subscription might not pose a huge monthly cost at only $7.99 a month, however, you should evaluate your spending habits resulting from your subscription. Are you using free shipping as a way to justify frivolous purchases? How much are you really buying that you actually need? Consider cancelling your subscription to encourage you to stop ordering so many things online.

3. Wait it out

Many online shoppers experience a rush or high through browsing products online. It’s easy to click the buy button when you’re feeling that rush, even if you don’t really need the product. To combat this impulse buying, make yourself wait before pulling the trigger. A good rule is to make yourself wait 72 hours before making a purchase. If you can’t wait that long, try going for a walk or making yourself a coffee before you make the purchase. This can help you come off the shopping high and revisit after you’ve had enough time to really consider whether or not you need it.

The savings you experience by shaving off expenses from Ubers, food delivery apps, and online shopping  can be massive. Being a millennial doesn’t have to mean your budget goes out the window. With the help of some planning and self-control, as well as KOHO’s handy features, you can enjoy your millennial lifestyle without blowing your budget.

Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy is a freelance writer and editor who is passionate about making financial education accessible. She is also a communications advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. When she isn't writing, you can find her practicing yoga or watching horror movies.

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