There are lots of easy ways to save money each month but these four are probably the easiest.
Saving and investing on a regular basis is a key way to achieve financial goals. Creating a strong habit is important to accumulating a significant amount of wealth. Without a regular habit of saving and investing it can be quite difficult to make significant progress.
Even a small change can have a significant impact if it’s done consistently over a long period of time. There isn’t a big difference between financial success and financial stress. Even as little as $10/day can have an enormous impact over the course of a few years. Extrapolated over decades the difference is staggering.
Thankfully with technology this can be made quite easy. There are a few simple ways to save money each month. And accounts like the TFSA and RRSP make that even easier. They allow contributions to compound tax free, providing a significant boost to savings and investments.
There are a few easy ways to save money each month. The four ways we’ll focus on in this post all use automation. They take advantage of programs or systems that already exist. This helps make it easier to setup and maintain a healthy savings habit.
Automation is great, it helps maintain a good habit, and it makes it easy to “set it and forget it”. Best of all, automation means that we typically don’t even see this happening each month. By automating contributions to savings and investments we hardly miss the money being funneled away for future goals.
Having the option to defer mortgage payments has been a great source of relief for many Canadians. The large banks introduced options to defer up to 6-months of mortgage payments. But what is the cost of mortgage deferral and how does your mortgage change in the future?
The option to defer mortgage payments has been incredibly helpful for those with reduced income or cash flow. It’s provided an enormous amount of relief. It’s even allowed some people to build up a small amount of emergency savings (a personal finance best practice).
But what is the cost of these reduced payments? How will interest be accrued? What options do you have to reduce this accrued interest in the future?
In this post we’re going to use our free debt calculator to estimate the cost of mortgage deferral. We’re going to explore how the deferral impacts both short-term and long-term finances. Plus we’ll look at how different repayment options may impact the total amount of interest paid and the length of time to mortgage freedom.
Spending is one of the most important factors in someone’s personal finances. Even a small amount of extra spending, over a long period of time, can have a very large impact on someone’s financial situation.
In this post we’re going to explore how large this impact can be. To do that we’re going to follow two people through their financial lives, from starting university all the way through to late retirement. Year-by-year we’re going to see how spending impacts their finances.
Spending is an interesting topic. It’s such an important factor in everyone’s finances and yet everyone spends money differently. We all value things differently, which means we choose to spend extra money on different things. This makes it very hard to figure out what “the right amount of spending” actually is. Spending is very subjective.
What makes it even more complicated is that we all have learned habits and behaviors that impact our spending. These habits are learned over time and can be very difficult to break.
Plus, we’re all impacted by our past spending decisions (ie locking into an expensive car lease, buying ‘too much’ house, putting a vacation on credit). Even if we have the best intentions going forward, these past spending decisions can be an anchor.
Spending also has a large impact. A small amount of extra spending can have a large impact over time. Compounding means that just a little bit of extra spending, over a long period of time, has an enormous impact on our financial lives.
As an example, spending an extra $10 per day seems small. It’s pretty easy to spend $10 per day. This is a coffee every day plus a purchased lunch every other day. This is a nice meal at a restaurant once per week. It’s an extra piece of clothing every week or two. Or it could be a slightly larger home costing an extra $100,000, which comes with extra interest expenses, extra property tax, and extra heating and maintenance costs. It could be driving to work instead of walking, biking or using public transit. Or it could be a combination of these things.
Even though an extra $10/day in spending seems small and is easy to do if you’re not paying attention, over time it has a huge impact on a person’s financial life.
This post will follow two people through their financial lives, with one person spending $10/day more than the other. It may seem small, after all it’s only $10, but that adds up $3,650 per year, or $36,500 every 10-years, and that doesn’t even account for compounding.
By following two people through their financial lives we’ll see how spending an extra $10/day causes their financial lives to diverge dramatically.
For our example we’ll use two friends from high school, Katie and Kyle, they’re both 18 years old and about to enter university. They’re both entering an engineering program and have very little saved for university. They’ll use student loans plus summer jobs earning $12,000 per summer to help pay for their education.
Most important however is that Kyle is the more spendthrift friend out of the two, spending an extra $10/day than Katie. This habit of spending vs saving will continue throughout their lives with Kyle always spending $10 more per day and Katie saving that $10.
Let’s follow Kyle and Katie through a few periods of their life. We’ll see how a seemingly insignificant $10/day can cause their financial lives to diverge dramatically over time.
It may not always be that obvious, but habits have a LARGE impact on our day-to-day spending. Very little of our monthly spending is actually driven by pure decision making. Although we would like to believe we’re in control of our spending, the truth is most of our day-to-day spending is driven by our spending habits. Even when we think we’re making a unique spending decision, “should I buy this new toaster or not?” it’s still likely influenced by our past spending decisions.
Spending is also very important, it has an ENORMOUS impact on a financial plan. Unlike other financial factors, whether than be investment returns or income, spending is the number one factor when it comes to financial planning.
Spending even an extra $10/day means a potential $192,389 LESS at retirement.
PLUS! Spending an extra $10/day IN retirement requires an extra $91,240 in financial assets at the start of retirement.
So not only does spending more mean you have less financial assets at retirement, it also means you need more assets to support that spending, a double impact!
Spending is important to every financial plan, and because spending is driven by habits, that also means habits are important.
And… unlike any time in recent history, our spending habits have been disrupted like never before.
Social distancing, self isolation, work from home, school closures, essential versus non-essential business etc. These changes have had an enormous impact on our spending habits in a very short period of time.
Despite the very negative reason for these changes there is a positive aspect, our spending habits have undergone a massive disruption. Unlike any time before, now it’s easier than ever to evaluate spending habits and decide what is truly important and what is simply nice to have.
Many of us will need to evaluate our spending habits out of necessity, but many of us can also take this time to evaluate our spending habits out of choice. We can all use this disruption to our normal spending habits as an opportunity to change our habits in a positive way for the long-term, putting us on a better financial path in the future.
Starting a family is probably one of the most complex periods in a person’s financial life. There are changes to income, expenses, insurance, investments (RESPs) etc.
Anticipating and managing all these changes can be overwhelming. It’s good to have a framework to help understand what changes you can expect and how large they may be.
It’s also a good idea to prepare yourself financially for all these big changes. There are a few things you can do to prepare your finances for a decrease in income and an increase in expenses.
Generally you can separate the financial changes when starting a family into six different areas.
There are changes to…
– One-time expenses
– On-going expenses
– Taxes and Gov. Benefits
In each of these areas there are different financial impacts that come with starting a family. Some of these impacts are positive and some are negative.
For example when it comes to Income, most new parents can expect to receive the Canada Child Benefit, one of the most generous benefits in Canada. This government benefit could add thousands to a new parents annual income (plus its non-taxable!) But at the same time a new parent may take 12-18 months off work which has a very negative impact on Income.
There are also many new expenses a new parent will face. There are one-time expenses, on-going expenses and then short lived but high cost expenses like daycare.
To help a new parent plan all these changes we need to look at each area separately to understand what changes we might expect.
They say the best time to plant a tree was 20-years ago but the second best time is now.
The same goes for financial planning. The best time to build a plan is before a crisis/recession/depression but the second best time is today. A good financial plan will help ensure that you’re prepared for a recession or financial emergency.
Having a financial plan provides an incredible amount of peace of mind. A good financial plan will already have anticipated a scenario like this and will ensure you’re still successful. It will highlight how to prepare for a recession and what changes you need to make to ensure you are successful over the long-term.
There are a few best practices that can help improve the ‘robustness’ of a financial plan. These are practices you can start using right away, even if they weren’t previously part of your plan.
Some of these best practices focus on behavior. They help manage your financial routine during emotional periods like this. Some focus on flexibility. They ensure that you have room in your plan to absorb the unexpected, whether that be changes in income, changes in expenses, or changes in investment returns.
It doesn’t matter if you’re in retirement, starting a family, or just starting to save and invest, there are a number of ways that you can prepare for a recession that will help you feel better about your finances and your long-term plan.
This post will touch on many of these best practices. These are best practices that we’ve covered in previous posts, so we’ll cover the basics here and link to past posts for more detail.