10 Ways to Save Money on Rent – Saving on Apartments and Condos

There is no greater cost for most of us than our housing costs – either our monthly rent, or mortgage. In some large cities – I’m looking at you Toronto and Vancouver – monthly rental costs can easily swallow up half of our paycheques! (Or, sadly sometimes way more!!) With rent prices skyrocketing, we thought it would be helpful to discuss some ways you can save money on renting an apartment, house or condo. If you can lower your rent costs, then you’ll be able to live within a budget. So, here are our 10 favorite tips!

1. Look for apartments in the ‘off season’

Sometimes you just can’t control when you need to rent a new place. For instance, if you’re a student – well, you need to rent an apartment to be ready for the new school year! But, if you are in a situation when you can be flexible about when you look for your new digs, choose winter time to search. Fewer other people will be searching then, and you might secure a lower lease because of it.

2. Add up all the costs – rent plus utilities

Sure, that gorgeous little downtown condo sounds like an impressive bargain! But, make sure you include all costs in your total rent payment. If the rent is $1500, but then parking is $150 and utilities are $200 your total rent payment is actually $1850! If there’s another condo located in the same building for $1750, with all costs included then you’re better off choosing Condo B. Do your research to discover what your full monthly housing costs will be.

3. Negotiate a lower rent

If you’re a brand new tenant, you may be able to negotiate rent by being knowledgeable about the area and what typical rental costs are. You can even print out similar properties with the rent that is currently being charged. If the landlord is reasonable, they may be willing to lower the rent. Or, if you’re a long-term tenant, use your record of excellent payment and tenancy to negotiate to either stay at the same rent or even lower it. Or, sometimes landlords are willing to negotiate for other freebies such as free additional storage space, or free parking. (I’ve recently done exactly that – received free parking that would’ve otherwise cost $65/month, because we are long-term, excellent tenants.)

4. Offer to do repairs, maintenance or lawn work

Your landlord may really appreciate it if you’re willing to do some of their hard work for them! It never hurts to ask if you could do some repairs around the place for a lowered rent. Or, you could do regular maintenance or yard work – such as raking up leaves, mowing the lawn, or shoveling snow. Ask them if you could negotiate your rent based on offering these maintenance services. Then, if they agree – get your agreement in writing.

5. Manage an apartment building

Some people get free rent by managing an apartment building! Others will receive reduced rent for doing this job. But, make sure you know what you’re signing up for. Other tenants will come to you with complaints, and worries and even possibly to drop off rent cheques. Make sure you want to take on this responsibility before signing up to be a resident manager. If this kind of job sounds ideal, then you may snag some very cheap rent!

Home sweet home

6. Get a Roommate

Sure, getting a roommate may be an obvious choice to reducing your overall rental costs, but make sure to do your research. As in: know the person you’re going to share your home with! Ask around your friends to see if anyone needs a good roommate, or even at your workplace. Set up careful rules about how rent will be paid, how utilities will be divided, and even how food will be shared.

7. Sign a longer lease

Have you found your dream place? Are you worried that rent prices are just going to continue going up, up, UP? Well, then sign a longer lease. Ask your landlord or the management company of your building if a longer lease is an option. This could be 1 year, or even 2 years or longer. Then, you’ll have locked in your housing costs for that period of time and won’t have to worry about that dreaded letter being slipped under your door telling you about rent increases.

8. Rental Incentives

Especially in areas where there are a lot of rentals available, and too few qualified renters – there will be rental incentives. Take note of signs in the areas you’re looking to live in of these special offers. $500 off, Free Parking, 1 month free rent, and other offers may be used to entice new tenants to sign a lease at that apartment or condo complex. And, if there are incentives, you know too that the landlord may be willing to negotiate a bit more in other areas – such as free cable or internet. It’s always worth asking! (Just be polite about it, and don’t seem as if you’re trying to take advantage.)

9. Refer a Friend

Often, larger condos or apartment buildings may have a referral system in place to reward you if a friend moves in. At one point, where we live, both we and our friend received $150 off rent, and all because we referred her! It’s worth checking it out, and seeing if there are any perks for referring people to live in the same complex you do. And hey, then you’ll know the neighbors, too!

10. Rent an unfurnished apartment

If this is the first time out on your own, you may be very tempted by gorgeous, glossy looking, fully furnished apartments or condos. But, the price for these can be outrageously high! Instead, choose a small first apartment and then furnish it very cheaply. You can do so by letting your family and friends know (it seems like everyone’s Auntie or Grandma has some extra, old furniture lying around unused in the attic) or also by finding freebies or very inexpensive furniture on Craigslist or Kijiji. It’ll take a little time to furnish your place, but this way you’ll also make it more your own, unique space.

No Frills Flyer Deals this Week – Grocery savings in Canada

Does No Frills have the cheapest grocery prices in Canada? We’re going out on a limb and declaring that YES, they do! And, even if you can’t get to a No Frills to do your shopping this week, you can download their latest flyer on your Flipp app, and shop somewhere like Walmart or Superstore – where they price match. A post on price matching is coming up soon! Watch for it.

(Oh, and before you head out to No Frills to stock up on bargains check out our article on our favourite eco-friendly produce bags. These are environmentally friendly ways to tote your stash of fresh fruits and veggies.)

Best No Frills Deals this Week – Starting July 5, 2019 – Includes amazing 50 Cent deals

Please note that these prices are for Western Canada:

  • Baby carrots, 2 lb bag $2.97
  • Chicken drumsticks $1.77/lb
  • Cherries (!!!) only $1.97/lb this week. Ahh, does anything taste more like summer than fresh, delicious cherries? (Okay peaches, I see you. Hopefully you’ll be on sale soon, too.)
  • Clover Leaf light tuna or Brunswick sardines – $1.00 each
  • Country Harvest bread $2.00 – STOCK UP PRICE! Pop a few of these in the freezer.
  • Dove – 8×90 gram bar soap; or 650 ml body wash $5.97 (Compare the price on Amazon HERE.)
  • Lindt Excellence chocolate bars 100 grams $2.97 (Lots of varieties of dark chocolate available. Mmmmm chocolate.)
  • Maxwell House coffee – large tin of 631 gram to 925 gram size – $6.97 (Compare the price on Amazon HERE.)
  • Navel oranges $1.00/lb
  • Organic bananas $0.87/lb
  • Organic strawberries, 1 lb – perfect for slicing and dishing up with fresh whipped cream – $2.97
  • Palmolive HUGE 3 liter liquid dish soap/detergent $5.97
  • Peace Tea iced tea – 695 ml cans – $0.87
  • Piller’s Turkey Bites or Pepperoni pepperettes $4.97
  • Robin Hood All purpose flour – large 10 kg size – $8.77
  • Stouffer’s or Lean Cuisine frozen entrees $1.97
  • Ziggy’s salads 1.25 kg – includes potato salad and macaroni salad and other varieties – $5.00

Crazy 50 Cent Deals at No Frills

These are mega deals! These are all of the fifty cent deals on at No Frills, starting tomorrow – July 5, 2019. Stock up on those your family loves!

  • Aylmer soup, No name sauce (such as poutine sauce) or soup cups $0.50
  • Beatrice or Dairyland 237 ml chocolate milk $0.50
  • Britannia Nutro wafers or Good Day biscuits $0.50
  • Carl Buddig sliced deli meats, 55 grams $0.50 (great bargain on this one!)
  • Foremost dairies peach or strawberry yogurt 175 gram $0.50
  • Friskies or Fancy Feast small tins cat food $0.50 (this seems like an especially good deal on the Fancy Feast!)
  • Kiwis $0.50 each
  • Lemons $0.50 each
  • Mr Noodles instant noodles 2 for $0.50
  • Nestle Pure life 1.5 L water $0.50 (Wow, this is an awesome deal!!)
  • No Name tomato paste, 156 ml $0.50

Wow, it’s a great week to stock up on some deals at your local No Frills! Happy shopping, bargaineers. If you find a bargain we missed, or just have a great shopping tip to share, then please leave a comment.

Reusable produce bags – grocery bags for your green life

Shopping for our daily groceries is just one of those tasks that you can’t avoid. Want to feed the family? Then you just have to go to a local farmers’ market, grocery store, or supermarket. After years of using flimsy (and often non-recyclable) plastic produce bags to stock up on onions, potatoes, apples and more – many of us are discovering that there are much better options.

Today, we want to share with you some of our picks for the best reusable produce bags. With care, these bags should last you years – and you won’t add even a smidge of waste to your local landfill! Making these small choices over time really add up to huge results. Okay, onward to our favourite shopping bags!

Cotton Mesh Shopping Bags

This 10 pack of Reusable Cotton Produce/Veggie Bags is a great starter pack for the home shopper! Say goodbye forever to plastic bags with this set of 10 produce bags. The tare weight is included on a tag, so you won’t pay extra for the weight of the bag at the grocery till. Set includes 3 small, 4 medium, and 3 large mesh shopping bags. To wash these cotton mesh bags: simply hand or machine wash in cold water, then lay out flat to air dry. Easy! Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags are a wonderful set of 6 bags. These natural, organic cotton bags are very breathable – much better for your fresh fruit and vegetables than plastic bags. This set of 6 comes with 2 each of the small, medium and large sizes. Simple Ecology is a wonderful, ethical company with high standards.

Farmer’s Market Shopping Set – Jute bag plus Cotton produce bags

This Set of 6 Simple Ecology Reusable Shopping Bag Gift Set would make a perfect gift for an environmentally conscious friend! This starter set is perfect for heading out to the local farmer’s market – it comes with a well constructed jute shopping bag, a beachy mesh shopping bag, plus 4 produce bags in both muslin and mesh. An awesome set – and at time of writing, it was $15 off! Hooray bargaineers!

Shopping should be fun! Yes, that even includes grocery shopping. But, for those of us trying to reduce our footprint on the planet, it also means making wise choices of how to carry our food purchases. Instead of automatically relying on plastic bags, choose to carry jute, cotton, mesh or muslin bags instead. When stocking up on produce, our choices for eco-friendly produce bags make it a breeze to shop! Your health and the planet will both thank you.

10 Best Frugal Living Blogs

Frugal living blogs keep us happily on a budget!

Frugal blogs are some of my very favourite blogs to read. While browsing through them, I am inspired, determined, and ready to take action to make an keep my budget! I love reading all of the creative ways that people around the world are finding to stay on budget, and still have a pretty amazing and fun life!

Many of my favourite blogs are from the UK – typical, since I’m a bit obsessed with that entire region! But, on my favourites list there are also a few favourites from Canada, and the US, too. So, here we go – here are some of the best budgeting/frugal living blogs online:

  1. The Non Consumer Advocate – This quirky blog has been a favourite of mine for years. Katy is a married registered nurse with a great income, and yet she lives life simply and fully. And is conscious of every penny! She’s currently funding her two college-aged children through university. While you’re there check out her 5 Frugal Things posts, which are the ones I always check for! (She came up with the popular concept first – kudos to her!) And, also take time to read through the comments section – her readers are true blue frugalites and I love reading their tips, too! Bonus points for: using beans so often! I need to up my bean game.
  2. Mean Queen – Life After Money – This British blog features Ilona, another quirky character that is a true inspiration to those of us who are trying to live a frugal life. Her frugality may at times seem extreme – such as how her meal plan may feature almost entirely marked down groceries! (In reality, I sort of respect that! HA!) And, she’s been blogging regularly for over 10 years! Quite a feat. Bonus points for: her artistic flair and downright individualistic attitude. (Oh, and even more bonus points for the fact that she loves cats so dearly. So do I!)
  3. SimplyFrugal.ca is a Canadian website/blog that features Canadian focused deals and bargains. Taya’s beautifully laid out website features all sorts of practical tips that are organized in such a way that makes finding the information you need a breeze! This includes budgeting tips, household tips such as organizing ideas, and much more. There are also sections that help you find Canadian coupons, and special deals. She even has exclusive Canadian coupon codes, so definitely worth your while to visit.
  4. Shoestring Cottage – is another British money saving blog. Oops, I guess my obsession with all things British is really showing itself here! This is another comforting blog that eases you in to your frugal lifestyle – especially if being money conscious is a relatively new idea to you. Jane posts frugal recipes, tips on saving on secondhand clothes, and is another one who posts Five Frugal Things posts that are awesome fun to read.
  5. Costco East Fan Blog and Costco West Fan Blog are two new blogs I recently discovered, and am amazed by! Each Monday, the writers go on a shopping trip to Costco locations in Canada to find all the secret sales and deals for that week! This is an incredible resource for Costco members who like to plan ahead, and budget for their shopping trip. These tips help you know when it’s time to stock up on a truly great deal on your favourite Costco items! (Whether that is toilet paper, spices, or OTC medicines.) And, I LOVE that they have two separate blogs- one for Eastern Canada, and one for Western Canada – because Costco sales can definitely be dependent upon region.
  6. Notes from the Frugal Trenches – is what I call a ‘comfort blog.’ Just as we sometimes reach for a piece of (ahem! I usually reach for a BAR of) chocolate or a bag of potato chips, there are some blogs that bestow upon us the same feeling of comfort as a portion of our favourite comfort foods. FT is a Mom of 3 living in Toronto, and has what may seem like overwhelming challenges in her life. And yet, she carries on like such a trooper, and makes life sweet on a very limited income. Her kindness emanates from her every word. Bonus points for: Her humanity. AND, how she squeezes delicious meals for herself and her children on a very VERY tight budget. Inspirational indeed.
  7. The Frugal Girl – is an incredibly popular American blog that features recipes, reviews, “What I Spent, What We Ate” posts about grocery spending, and much more. A very easy-to-read blog.
  8. The Frugal Canadian – is a site with all sorts of freebies and contests for Canadians, and other money saving ideas. All Canadian content, which is super helpful!
  9. Nana Pinches Her Pennies – is an American blog that is lovingly low-tech, and very raw in its realness. The writer shares her tips on how to live on a very low income. When you read her writing she sort of feels like your own Grandma, too. Bonus points for: wanting to hug the brave writer!
  10. Our New Life in the Country – is a beautifully written blog about a woman named Sue, who with the love of her life switched from a busy town life to one settled in the Welsh countryside. This blog is actually retired now, but Sue has created a new blog about even simpler living in a trailer (caravan) that she writes at A Smaller Life Living Simply. Bonus points for: the adorable pug named Suky!

This list of 10 favourite frugal blogs is, of course, just scratching the surface! The Internet is awash with beautifully written blogs that really help us frugalites try to stay on budget. Please leave a comment if one of the above frugal blogs is your favourite too, OR let us know about one we didn’t include. Happy frugal living, all!