Act 318

Re-open your RRSP

I say re-open because I know that I’m not the only one who has committed the most foolish financial offense of all, cashing in RRSPs. Big big mistake. And I admit I’ve done it more than once. Once to go back to school and once to help save my sorry butt. Life happens. And I wasn’t even in a drunken stupor at the time.

A few months ago I spent some time with a local, independent and well-respected financial advisor. This time I didn’t just go to my financial institution and get it all done in one place – that too was a big mistake. Anyway, he, unlike the staff at my credit union, actually spent some time getting to know me rather than just having me sign papers to take money out of my account. This was instrumental in setting the course for a rationale and respected approach to my new relationship with money which I hadn’t previously had.

He helped me understand why I can’t just pay down debt and not save because I’ll never make up the time I’ve lost saving. It’s not about the amount (well, it sorta is), it’s about the commitment to it as a part of my forever budget. So we agreed on a monthly sum, less than he’d recommended and not as much as I wish I could contribute, but still, seven months in, I have money I did not have this time last year and I hardly even notice its automatic withdrawl.

I used to put much more in, when I had it. But I didn’t really respect it as much, obviously. I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again.

If you miss the days where you too had savings, don’t rob yourself. Set up a small monthly contribution. It really adds up. I added it up today and I won’t lie, I’d like to put a little gold star back in my financial book. And if you have the ear and respect of young people, encourage them to start now too.

If only, if only… No time for regrets. Too many mistakes to make up for.

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Act 315

Plan your route

How many of us just jump into the car to run that errand or pick that something up at the grocery store that we forgot.

I try not to do this. I drive my youngest son to school, park at the office and try to plan my route so I don’t have to double back and waste time, money and fuel. When I’m home, I stay home – unless it’s an emergency of some kind. If I forgot something, it waits till I drive back to town in the morning. While today wasn’t a good example of this for me – having driven into and out of town three times, it was a good reminder that planning my route has saved me loads on fuel this year. I can comfortably see that my new found driving “cheap”ness probably saves me $20 or $25 a week on fuel. And it adds up. Except, of course, for today. But it couldn’t be helped. And it was a good reminder that my usual stubbornness pays off.

PS – speaking of stubborn, only 50 posts to go and I’ll have committed 365 debt defying acts – happy about that.

Act 167

Shop the bargain bins.

There’s no shame is saving a penny. In fact, it’s a pretty honourable pursuit. Keep in mind that retail locations are like giant real estate developments for products. The lower the profit margin, the less desirable the real estate (read way at the back or off to the side or up high or down low), the better the price. When a product is on its way out, its often deep discounted and put in a bin to go to its next life at a discount retailer or to certain thirft shops. Shop in the bin, you never know what you’ll find – and if it happens to be something you need, you’ll find savings as well.

Act 118

Say “Basta” to bottled pasta sauce

It’s easier, faster, yummier and cheaper to make your own pasta sauce – red or white, meat or veggie.

It might be more convenient to spend a few dollars on a jar of sauce but you can make your own with a tiny bit more time and at least you’ll know what’s really in it.

I made an alfredo/carbonara in all of 5 minutes and it probably cost less than a dollar. Plus nothing is wasted because we only made what we needed.

It’s a common refrain on this site – but convenience is costly. So spend the time, save the money and use what you’ve got. Every dollar you don’t spend is money saved for something else.

Buon appetito!