Keeping it cheap

(…especially after a shopping binge. #christmas)

Ah, yes, good old holiday shopping. Don’t you just love it when you overspend? No? Me too.

The next few weeks (sometimes even the full month) can be challenging for some people where spending money is concerned. Over the years, I have been getting better at what I like to call “numbing my shopping palate” after the holidays — I try my hardest to curb my shopping appetite (which can sometimes get incredibly strong!) by giving myself plenty of other things to do. I’m a big believer in keeping myself busy: the more occupied I am with other things that have nothing to do with shopping, the less likely I am to spend.

Here are my favourite things to do to keep my cheque book in tow:

Visits with family and friends

If everyone’s schedules can line up, why not offer to host a small afternoon get-together? One of our favourite things to do is put out a spread of cheese and crackers, enjoy a cup of coffee, and chat — or even play games on our Nintendo Switch. My husband and I like to play Jackbox Games’ assortment of offerings. You Don’t Know Jack is a favourite, and even if you suck at trivia, the mileage of laughs will leave you with an afternoon to remember. If you’re not into the tech scene, why not whip out a board or card game? I never knew so many people liked to play cribbage until I met my husband…

Neighbourhood walks

Every neighbourhood has its favourite haunts. Block off two hours or more to explore your neighbourhood. The time of day and the weather can offer a variety of perspectives to appreciate. When I need to stretch my legs, I love walking along Columbia Street in New Westminster, especially after loading up on a toasted bagel and cream cheese at home.

For me, neighbourhood walks give me an excuse to use my new Garmin vivoactive 4 (which is a total next level gadget over my Fitbit, which recently broke) — which I am definitely enjoying.

Thrifting/vintage item hunting

I’m lucky to live not far from three stores that are known for great vintage finds (or relatively new clothes that still have tags on them). Not too long ago I was able to nab some goodies from my local Salvation Army for less than $15.

It’s typically ideal to go thrifting if you have a few items in mind, but you can also go thrifting if you’re itching to find one-of-a-kind pieces. Just make sure you know what your budget is, and if there is a potential winner, give the item a good once over just to make sure there isn’t an issue with it. (One example: I usually stay away from items marked ‘as is,’ because more often than not, I don’t have the time to make the intricate fixes to the piece.)

This is also a great way to tire yourself out. Part of the excitement behind thrifting is the hunt; hunting through bins and racks takes a lot of energy! And even if you don’t bring anything home (which is a bonus if you’re trying not to spend) I guarantee you’ll be passed out at the end of the day!


In the same vein as thrifting or vintage item hunting, looking for great reads (that you don’t have to commit to!) is another great way to pass the time. I like to see what’s new on the library site; I’ll also look for recommendations and other people’s favourites on Chapters Indigo or on Reddit. (Favourite subreddits: r/books, r/literature and r/booksuggestions.) Do note that not everything you read isn’t going to be a winner…example below. *facepalm* But at least you learn!

I try to make this a minimum half day activity because the main library in my city is a 20-minute walk, and while it’s small, the staff are great about putting out recommendations on the shelves. There is a second library not far from me, although the most convenient way to get there is by car so I’m not a fan of going there, since I try to avoid driving as much as possible.

Once I get home, I take stock of my books and spend the afternoon reading them. Sometimes this all spills into a second (or third!) day — before you know so much time has gone by…and you haven’t spent a cent.


Who says you have to wait for the New Year to get everything all tidied up? Why not skip those Boxing Day (or week) sales and get your apartment organized?! In our home, we’ve been really good about keeping things neat and tidy, but it doesn’t hurt to get everything sorted, even if you’re just taking baby steps. Plus if you start cleaning now, and you’re making it a goal to get your home clean during the New Year…you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Look for free events in your area

This can be a hit or miss (especially after Christmas) but some cities will keep the festivities going with free or low-cost events. My municipality does a solid job with their calendars, but all you have to do in most places is use Google to get the scoop!

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