How to be Broke in Toronto

As a student living in the central down town core, I can tell you that the name Toronto is becoming increasingly synonymous with words like “broke” or phrases like “sorry miss, there’s not enough money in your account to purchase this slurpee.” To be honest, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered selling my possessions so I could afford my first year textbooks; but after two years of city living, I’ve perfected the art of being cheap. Here’s my two cents… scratch that, I really need to save my pennies. Here’s my advice on living in Toronto on a budget:

Avoiding the over priced food chains in the Eaton Centre

The tempting whisper of consumer culture’s familiar food chain names can be a hard one to ignore. Seeing as you’re living in one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, why not stray away from the familiar flavours Pita Nutso or New York Fries has to offer. When you don’t have time to pack your peanut butter sandwich in the morning, try checking out some of these delicious, cheap eats around campus: Salad King  Kyoto House  Oakham Cafe  Hair of the Dog  Imperial Pub  Love at First Bite Nando’s  The Senator and don’t you forget our new RU Eats Hub Café for affordable, healthy, juicy, delicious eats right on campus.

Getting Thrifty

Most of you are probably cringing at the thought of shopping at thrift stores, as we all know too well, when we try to look like this:

Example of the unattainable vintage babe look.

We end up looking like this:

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 6.16.02 PM
Thank you to Jenna Marinucci for this photograph.

An alternative to the dimly lit Queen Street West stores, which market lice infested sweaters someone’s grandmother didn’t even want as fashionable, are stores like the Kind Exchange. Located a few blocks North of campus, the Kind Exchange buys and sells your lightly worn, recently cleaned clothes. Alas, cheap, modern clothes with no sweat stains, lingering odours, and zero risk of contracting a mysterious skin rash! Selling your clothes here is the perfect way to make a quick buck, while clearing out your closet to make room for more clothes! Check them out on instagram.

Create a budget plan and stick to it.

Take out the same amount of cash every week, and challenge yourself not to use your debit card until the week is over. It’s a great way to keep track of your weekly spending. Look to our partnership with RBC, RU Money-Smart, for tips on balancing your budget.

Cut and maintain your own hair

This one is my favourite. Cut your own hair. It’s honestly not that hard. I’ve been cutting my hair for two years and I’ve saved a few hundred dollars in the process. Not to mention, it’s a great way to perfect that “I just got out of bed and woke up as a grunge teen from the 90s” look that is certainly NOT out of style, no matter what your mother tells you.

Check out free gallery openings in your area

I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other pretty well throughout this post, so I’m willing to share a slightly embarrassing habit of mine I like to call “going to cool places for free and keeping my fingers crossed that there’s an open bar.” Toronto has a wide range of cultural, and social events which will occasionally host free nights, open to the public. Keep your eyes open for updates from your local galleries; whether it’s a new photography exhibit, or a guest speaker, it’s free, it’s enlightening, and sometimes you can get a free glass of wine out of it. Here are some galleries around campus with free admission: Gallery Arcturus  Free Night at the Art Gallery of Ontario  Ryerson Image Centre.

Cover photo taken by Mark Binch.