National Newswatch

TORONTO — Shannae Ingleton Smith has a crammed calendar this summer.

The Toronto influencer known online as @torontoshay and co-founder of the Kensington Grey talent agency has two or three events scheduled every week, including some in New York and New Orleans.

"It's a lot in terms of budgeting," she said.

"Staying home during the pandemic was really great for wearing a lot of loungewear, not wearing a ton of makeup...It was great for my skin and for my pocket because I wasn't shopping too much, but as events have had this resurgence, I am finding myself spending more."

Where the last two years of the health crisis were spent cancelling or postponing weddings, showers, birthdays and other festivities, the decrease in severe COVID-19 cases and growing comfort with gathering is pushing many to make up for lost time by partying once again.

But at the same time inflation has reached a 39-year high, pushing up the cost of going out. Payments processer Moneris found the amount Canadians spent on beauty and barbershops alone in April rose by 67 per cent since last year.

Gayle Ramsay said the big question is: "How do you still get back to those — whether it's baby showers or weddings — and be able to provide a gift and have the things that you haven't done for a while and at the same time, how do you manage the costs with rising inflation?

The answer lies in a budget, said BMO Financial Group’s head of everyday banking.

If you have money set aside in advance for a packed summer, it makes handling the costs easier, but also reveals areas you might have to cut back on, if you're keen on making it to every event, she said.

To pick where to pare back, Ramsay noted some banks like BMO have services or account features that alert customers when they spend more than usual in a category.

If someone has several invites and isn't able to budget for all of them, Shannon Kennedy recommends prioritizing events to attend based on location, which can cut down on travel costs.

Once one has figured out what invites to accept, there are ways to save on your outfit too, said the owner of Ottawa-based Kennedy Event Planning.

"There's no shame in the game of rewearing a dress or a suit to two different events," she said.

Ingleton Smith agrees.

"That dress you wore like three years ago, nobody remembers it," she said. "It doesn't matter if you posted it on Instagram or not."

She's been scouring her closet for outfits she can rewear but punch up with different jewelry, accessories and even hairstyles.

Others recommend raiding a friend or family member's closet, if you're keen on varying your look. Some suggest turning to dress or suit rental services, though consumers must watch out for membership fees and rental prices that can sometimes cost as much as a new dress.

If you're travelling for an event, consider carpooling or staying with friends or family to slash hotel and gas prices, Ramsay said.

If neither is an option, look at what discounts you can get through loyalty programs you already subscribe to and consider redeeming points you have racked up for gas or plane tickets, she added.

Ingleton Smith similarly recommended booking ahead, looking for deals and preparing for there to be more competition than there was in the last two years for flights, rental cars and accommodations.

While Ingleton Smith stresses no one should ever go into debt or sacrifice paying their bills because of their social calendar, she said it's important not to deprive yourself of fun either.

"Will you die happier knowing that you went to that villa in Mykonos with all your girlfriends and you created memories that will last with you forever? Yeah, you will," she said.

"If you come back with a little bit less money in your pocket, then maybe you work a little bit harder or do a few things extra to make some extra money to make up for that extra spending."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 14, 2022.

Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press

The Canadian Press
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