Ramit Sethi

Book reveals a way to build wealth – conscious spending

August 23, 2018

We Canucks keep breaking the wrong kind of record – levels of debt. In fact, one would not be surprised if the phrase “becoming debt free” is starting to appear on people’s bucket lists.

An eye-opening booked called I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi is a nice addition to your self-help library.  Among the many excellent ideas in this book is the notion of “conscious spending.” Sethi writes that becoming wealthy does not mean you must become super-frugal, living as cheaply as you can and buying the lowest cost items possible. Instead, he says it is important to think hard about what you ARE spending money on – conscious spending.

“Frugality alone doesn’t get you to your goals. It’s a helpful but not sufficient condition. So I take another approach of trying to write about money holistically, while urging you to make your own decisions about what’s important enough to spend a lot on, and what’s not,” he writes.

Most of us don’t think before we spend – unconscious spending – he writes. We just put it on the credit card and then hope for the best. A far better approach is to have a “prescriptive budget,” or a spending plan, for the month ahead. Many of us don’t know, he writes, what’s going out in any category – such as subscriptions and membership fees.

“We not only lack a prescriptive budget (“I want to spend 20% on my retirement account, 10% on savings, 20% on going out…”), we even lack a descriptive budget (“where is my money going?”),” he notes.

But the exercise of knowing where you WANT to spend your money in advance of spending it is empowering, he says. You may want to buy lots of shoes, go out a lot, or some other passion. What you want to spend your money on is up to you, there is no standard approach to take, the book notes.

The book is written in a very friendly, informal style – it’s like listening to sound advice on money from a close and trusted friend. It’s a good read with some fresh thinking on a subject that is of growing importance.

Once you’ve moved to a prescriptive budget and are conscious about your spending, don’t forget to make SPP part of your retirement savings plan. Your future you will thank your present you.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. After a 35-year career as a reporter, editor and pension communicator, Martin is enjoying life as a freelance writer. He’s a mediocre golfer, hopeful darts player and beginner line dancer who enjoys classic rock and sports, especially football. He and his wife Laura live with their Sheltie, Duncan, and their cat, Toobins. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

May 9: Best from the blogosphere

May 9, 2016

By Sheryl Smolkin

Selecting a career is one of the most important challenges all of us have to deal with, and it doesn’t only happen once when we graduate from high school. I went to law school and embarked on an initial career as a family lawyer. However, nine years later I moved into pension and benefits law, and as a retiree I have a new career as a journalist. My husband has degrees in electrical, biomedical and software engineering, but spent most of his career in software design.

That’s why I think Bridget Eastgaard’s blog The future you are saving for does not exist on Money After Graduation is a “must read” for you and your kids. She says, “One of the most dangerous things you can do for your finances (and your happiness) is to plan your life under the assumption that everything will remain as it is. It won’t. I think we intuitively understand this, but you don’t know what you don’t know, and that makes imagining anything different extremely challenging. But these perspectives and biases can hinder us by limiting our flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing world. ”

So if you or your child are picking college or university courses or even if you are graduating from high school or with an undergraduate degree, how do you know what skills are in demand now and will still be highly sought four or more years from now?

The truth is none of us has a crystal ball. But you can check out Canada’s Best Jobs 2016: The Top 100 for a start. I’ll bet you’d never guess that the top three jobs on the list are: mining or forestry manager; urban planner and pharmacist. And construction managers, police officers and nurse practitioners are also highly ranked.

Heidi Grant Halvorson in the Harvard Business Review writes that The key to choosing the right career is to find a career that fits well with both your skills and values. She characterizes people in two ways. Those who primarily see work and life goals as opportunities for advancement, achievement and rewards have “a promotion focus.” The rest of us are mainly prevention-focused. We see our objectives as avoiding danger, fulfilling responsibility and being someone people can count on. Halverson believes that understanding our dominant focus can help with career selection.

In How to choose a career that you’ll love, New York Times bestselling author and founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, Ramit Sethi says, “The smart approach is to explore ALL the careers you’re interested in, test each to see if you’d really enjoy doing them, and move on to other jobs if they’re not a good fit. It’s kind of like window shopping at a mall. A shirt or pair of jeans may catch your attention. You might even try them on, but you wouldn’t just pick any random thing off the rack and say ‘I guess I’ll wear this for the next 10 years,’” he says.

Getting the chance to try different careers and work environments on for size is one reason why co-op co-op programs including one or more paid work terms are so valuable. An interesting blog on myuniversitymoney.com explores the pros and cons of co-op programs. Author Mr. Harvey is a former co-op student and he says the job hunt seemed to be an endless cycle of applying and interviewing for jobs which was a lot of work and stress on top of his studies. However he agrees that co-op students get lots of experience and many students are offered permanent jobs.


Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.