doing things in toronto on a budget

I had started off my previous post on eating on a budget intending to focus on all the ways you can save money while living in this crazy expensive city. Turns out I had a lot to say about food so I had to break this up into two posts! Here’s my catch-all post on other ways you can save money in Toronto.

KEEPING YOU AND YOUR WALLET FIT

I go to Hone Fitness because it’s a super affordable gym with a lot of locations that are convenient to me. They have a location that’s a 10 minute walk from my office, and another that’s opening right near my house this summer. Membership gets you access to all their locations and they’re always opening more.

COST: When I joined it was only $20/mo but I know that they have increased their costs to $15 bi-weekly which is still a great deal. There are no additional membership fees and no contracts to be locked into. They also tend to do a special offer when they are about to open new locations (recently $12 bi-weekly when they were opening the Bloor/Bathurst location).

Some days I don’t feel like setting my own workout routine and for those days I use ClassPass. I’m probably not the first person to tell you about ClassPass but if I am, here’s the elevator pitch. You pay a monthly subscription and get an amount of credits that can be used at any of the fitness studios in their network – and there are a lot of them! It’s great if you don’t want to just stick to one studio or if you just want to try a variety of classes. I stick to mostly just barre and pilates but they have almost everything you can think of, including a Beginner Beyonce class at the Underground.

COST: Your first two weeks are free and then you’re switched over to the paid plan. If it’s out of your budget but you still want to go to a class once in a while you can switch your account to what they call ClassPass Lite which is only $15/mo and you get 6 credits per month which you can still use for classes! If you can find 3 credit classes to take, then it’s only $7.50/class which is much less than what you’ll be paying at most studios.

(I promise that these photos are from different days, I just have strong preferences in my workout clothes.)

If you’re looking for recommendations, I really enjoy Barre Belle studio in Forest Hill, Elle Fitness on King West and 889 Community in Yorkville! Also great workouts can be found at Barre3 and BOLO Body Love (the one bootcamp I went to almost killed me).

FRUGAL FASHION

Anyone who knows me knows that I am incapable of not trading or thrifting clothing. If you want the whole lowdown on trading in the city, head over to my post on Bunz. I’m going to save the bulk of my sermon on how much I love thrift stores for a whole other post (as well on how you can thrift successfully in Toronto!) but for now I leave you with my top three recommendations on where to go:

  1. Common Sort for curated brand-name + vintage pieces. They also buy your clothing and accessories and I live dangerously close to their Annex location.
  2. Value Village by Lansdowne for the selection. This is a huge Value Village so I would only send you if you’re (a) not looking for clothing, or (b) a seasoned thrifter who won’t be put off by the hours needed to comb through all the racks here. I have never not left with a great find but it’s a numbers game here.
  3. Salvation Army by Lansdowne for an easier thrift experience. The complete opposite of the VV right down the block, this thrift store is small and very manageable if you’re new to thrifting or only have half an hour to devote to going through things. They’re pretty organized and I have found a number of great finds there, including my favourite printed dress for the summer and a needlepoint art piece for our bedroom.

NOT JUST BOOKS FOR THE BROKE

If you don’t already have your library card you are missing out. Not just on physical books but also audio and e-books through Libby (an OverDrive app). It connects to your library system (and if you live in Toronto, membership is free) and you can borrow e-books to read on your commute. Or anywhere, really – it’s up to you. Bonus tip: if you’re a student and have access to multiple library systems (school, hometown, wherever you are for co-op) then you can add them all to Libby and get popular and coveted books faster since different systems have different loan queues.

But wait — there’s more! Your library card can get you access to the museums and art galleries in the city (and also the zoo!). Museums often have discount/free/pay what you wish nights, but if that doesn’t work for your schedule or budget you can borrow a pass from the library.

Borrowed a pass to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) earlier this year.

HAIRCUTS, ON BUDGET CUTS

If you’re not that fussy with your hair and want to save on some money every time you want to get it done, consider going to an apprentice at a salon. Their prices are lower because they’re still gaining experience but you can still get a great haircut for a fraction of the usual cost. I like Parlour but they only do the apprentice cuts at their Beaches location.

COST: I believe mine was only $35 (not including tax and tip) and it looked awesome. You can also go to the Aveda Institute for student cuts or see if your fave salon already has an apprentice program.

MORE MOVIES, FOR LESS

You probably already know to hit up Cineplex on Tuesdays for their discount price of $10.99, but did you know about Imagine Cinemas? Their prices are $10 regularly, and have an even better Tuesday price of only $7. You can even get reserved seating at their theatres in seats that recline! It is a truly decadent experience particularly when combined with their free popcorn flavour packets. Just let me recline in a reserved seat and give me dill pickle flavoured popcorn and I’m happy.

They have a smaller selection of movies, which is to be expected, but that’s not to say you can’t see your fave blockbusters at the same time that everyone else is cramming into expensive and non-reclining theatre seats! They have two locations in Toronto: Market Square right by St. Lawrence Market, and Carlton Cinema which is right by College Station. Both locations even have a student combo on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Looking for an outdoor alternative to fully reclining seats? There isn’t one (because fully reclining), but the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show provides a great summer film experience. There are 4 different locations (with different schedules and films chosen so you have lots of opportunities to drop by) and it’s free! Donations are welcome and encouraged because that way you help ensure that there will be future films screened outdoors in this beautiful city of ours. The Fort York location is kicking things off with Thelma & Louise on June 15th, or if you’re closer to Corktown, they’re starting the season off with E.T. on July 4th. Other locations include Christie Pits and Bell Manor Park so take a look at the specific locations for films you want to watch and details on snacks to buy on site (or just bring your own picnic basket!).

My tips:

  • bring earplugs just in case they set the volume a bit too loud
  • consider a yoga mat under your blanket for extra comfort
  • possibly just invest in a stadium seat for ultimate summer film viewing
Christie Pits setup for the summer film fest

So that’s it! Staying fit, looking cute, having fun, and everything in between — all on a budget in this crazy expensive city of ours. Let me know if you have any additional hot tips on how you save money in Toronto!

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