No car, no cable, no cash: tips for low-income living in Kits


Photo credit: ArielKettle

Photo credit: ArielKettle

Living on a low income simply means that there are some things that you will have to do without. If you prioritize happiness and sculpt a lifestyle that caters to you and your wants and needs, then ideally these things will not be missed. Each person will make different choices about what they can easily cut out of their lives. For me, the three things that many people around me have in their lives that I’ve chosen to cut out of my own rarely even impact my day-to-day.

The first is that I don’t have a car. Many people who live in the heart of Vancouver, especially Kitsilano, likewise find that a car is fairly unnecessary. For all the grumbling that we do about Translink, I can testify, from my various jaunts around the globe, that we have it pretty good. It is relatively easy and fast to get from Point A to Point B on the bus or train. And, it’s cheap. I pay $91 per month for a pass. Compared to the insurance, gas, parking, etcetera, that a car entails, this is peanuts. What’s more, I have some great times on the bus. It’s often an opportunity for me to catch up on emails or reading, or, at the very least, to engage in some entertaining people-watching. I also find that I opt for walking a lot of the time. Sometimes, instead of waiting for the bus, I simply walk over the Burrard Bridge to get downtown. It’s a couple extra minutes of fresh air and views that only makes my day better. Taking the bus everywhere does mean that I have to use a little foresight to get my timing correct and to plan my routes, but, ultimately, it makes so much sense for me and my life.

The second is that I don’t have cable. This is an easy one for me, as I don’t really like to watch TV. For all my love of pop culture and appreciation for television, I will choose to read a book rather than flick through channels every time. So cutting the cost of cable out of my life is a no-brainer. (And, living in Kits means that I’m always five minutes from the beach or a Happy Hour, so long nights isolated in my apartment are few and far between anyway.)

Having said that, I do have my favourite shows that I like to keep up with. It’s very easy to watch them for free (and even to watch them for free legally). Networks load their shows up onto their websites. Even though I don’t have cable, I do have a TV, and I have a wonderful HDMI cable (is that what it’s called?) that hooks my computer up to the TV so that I can watch my shows on the big screen. I don’t have Netflix, I don’t have Apple TV (is that what it’s called?), or any of those things that you have to pay for to watch TV shows. I pay for my WiFi, and I watch Coronation Street, The Bachelor, and old episodes of The Hills through my computer. (I am not a technology guru. It’s very likely that my way is the old-fashioned way. If so, please help me.)

The third is that I don’t carry cash. This one is not any type of sacrifice or elimination, but it’s just a habit that allows me to keep careful track of my spending. I’ve talked about this one before. By paying for everything with a card, I can log on to my online bank statement and see every transaction I’ve made. By carrying cash, it becomes so easy to forget $4 here and $15 there, and that adds up to wasted, lost money. Read more about this here.

These are the three big things I have cut out of my life to ensure saving every month. Like I always say, it’s about choices and priorities, and while your lifestyle might require a car, or your perfect night-in is binge watching the Food Network, these are things that I can eliminate without at all affecting my happiness.

Do you have any major savings that you’ve invested in? Do most people around you pay for something that you’ve chosen to cut out? How have you made it work for you?

Last modified: October 2, 2016

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