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We live in an age of keeping up appearances, plain and simple.

Think about it. Every other person we know via social media is bragging about their exotic vacations and five-star lunches. Likewise, it seems like showing off your new purchases with shopping spree selfies has become the norm, right?

This can be both annoying and disheartening for Canadian couples struggling to make ends meet. Even if you do have some money in the bank, the fact remains that many people splash way too much cash trying to one-up their friends and family with how much money they’re spending.

But guess what? You can have the best of both worlds by keeping up appearances without breaking the bank.

If you’re a couple fed up with the rat race or simply want to give off a five-star lifestyle without the five-star budget, consider the following frugal tips as a solid starting point.

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Smart Housing

The debate over renting versus home ownership is a contentious one; however, it’s rarely even a talking point for many couples who are struggling to come up with a down payment for a home. Thankfully, the booming popularity of townhomes in Toronto signals an elegant yet affordable option for couples looking for all of the comforts of home minus the massive price tag.

Do not make the mistake of putting yourself in financial ruin for the sake of living in a fancy neighborhood. Make sure that any housing you purchase is within your budget before putting any money down. In short, townhomes are a smart step between a traditional apartment and a detached house.

Focus On Yourself Versus “Stuff”

Lavish hobbies such as collecting cars, exclusive sneakers and other high-ticket items are obviously out the windows for those trying to keep money in their pocket. That doesn’t mean you can’t have hobbies, though.

Instead, focus on hobbies which represent self-improvement such as biking or running, all of which can be done without having to regularly spend money. Likewise, focusing on your fitness will keep your health in check and therefore keep you away from the doctor’s office.

Creative endeavors such as painting, reading and creative writing are similarly enriching but won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Despite popular belief, there are ways to have fun beyond lavish nights out.

Rethink the Way You Eat

Food can be a huge sink of cash if you aren’t careful.

For starters, set aside times and dates in advance to go out to eat rather than blow out your food budget on careless nights out. Similarly, cooking at home for date nights is a smart alternative that will teach you a new skill and bring you closer together. After all, Netflix and a home-cooked meal can be just as much fun as dinner and a move out but for a fraction of the price.

Fashion Through Flash Sales

Most couples are hard-pressed to give up their favorite fashion brands in pursuit of a frugal lifestyle, which is rather understandable. The solution, therefore, is to focus on flash sales and major discounts from coupon sites such as Retailmenot. While there isn’t much glamorous about clipping coupons, you can save big by scouring for deals.

Make it a point to never pay full price when shopping online: there’s almost always a flash sale or competing brand out there looking to one-up the competition. Besides, finding deals online will ultimately keep you from amassing debt from out-of-control shopping sprees.

In a way, there’s a sense of fun in being frugal as you can make it look like you live a more lavish lifestyle whilst keeping more money in your pocket. If you’re a couple living on a dime, take pride in living a smarter, self-sufficient lifestyle that focuses on you versus spending money.

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