Tag Archives: The Simple Dollar

Top ways to stretch that dollar

Whether you’re saving for retirement or are living on those savings, one thing’s for sure – the more you can stretch your spending dollars, the more you can save.

Save With SPP took a look around the Interweb to see what the experts say about the spending side – or more particularly, ways you can spend less and save more.

The Money Saving Expert blog offers three great ideas to save big. They recommend you quit smoking, try to shop around for cheaper, generic prescription drugs, and to have a “money saving wedding.” They offer tips on “how to get the best value out of your big day, so you don’t spend the rest of your married life paying for it.”

Over at The Simple Dollar blog ideas include shopping for the bank that has the lowest fees and highest interest, watching less TV (and cutting the cord to cable), a great one – “stop collecting and start selling.” Those old collections of trinkets, keepsakes and other clutter creators can be converted into cold, hard cash, the blog advises.

At Clark.com, one idea is one that your humble blogger used to use when paid every two weeks. Since you are getting 26 pay cheques a year, work it so you are living on 24. The other two can be treated as bonuses. The extra money, the blog advises, can be used to “pay off debt, contribute to a retirement account, (be added) to a new car fund,” and more.

Other tips from this blog include shopping for a cheaper cell plan and cutting way back on restaurant meals.

The MyMoneyCoach.ca blog recommends another strategy that we have tried – banking your raises. “You lived on less before… do you really need those extra few dollars?” the blog asks. Use the same budget you had before the raise and bank the difference – and do it again with the next raise.

Other great tips from this blog are using tax refunds to increase your savings and picking one expense to cut out completely. Once you do that, you save the money associated with that single expense. Examples might be a coffee on the way to work, a subscription, and so on.

Life is good, and making it a little less costly is a strategy that will pay you back in the future. And imagine all the extra bucks you will be able to direct to your Saskatchewan Pension Plan account.

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

Have you committed financial infidelity?

My husband and I joke that it would be pretty hard for one of us to make a major purchase without the other finding out because all our accounts are online and both of us “visit” our money frequently. Also, our Capital One MasterCard has an annoying but useful safety feature that generates an email to each of us each time a charge is posted to our account.

However, an online poll conducted by Leger for Credit Canada and the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) earlier this year revealed that 36 % of Canadians surveyed have lied about a financial matter to a romantic partner, and the same number of participants had been victims of financial infidelity from a current or former partner. Furthermore 34%  of those polled keep financial secrets from their current romantic partner.

Kelley Keehn, a personal finance educator and consumer advocate for the FPSC, which helped create the survey told the Toronto Star that, “Financial infidelity is generally defined as dishonesty in a relationship when it comes to money, but she noted that the term is vague and it requires you (as a couple) to define what that means.”

“If you have separate accounts in your relationship and you both discussed openly that your money is your money and their money is their money, and you’re free to do anything that you want, then spending and saving and not telling the other person wouldn’t be an infidelity,” she continued.

Other survey results reveal that:

  • Participants aged 18 to 34 were more likely to be victims of financial infidelity — at 47% — than those aged 65 and older, at 18%.
  • Gender and income do not play a significant role.
  • 35% of men surveyed and 37% of female participants said they experienced financial deception from a partner.

When asked about the worst forms of financial deception they experienced from a former or current partner, common offences cited were:

  • Running up a credit card without informing a partner.
  • Lied about income
  • Made a major purchase without telling me.
  • Went bankrupt without informing me.

Financial infidelity doesn’t get as much press as the other kind of infidelity but it can destroy your marriage. In fact, a 2014 BMO poll revealed that 68% of those surveyed say fighting over money would be their top reason for divorce, followed by infidelity (60%) and disagreements about family (36%).

Blogging on The Simple Dollar, Trent Hamm offers Ten Red Flags of Financial Infidelity and What to Do About It. He concludes:

Financial infidelity can be overcome, of course, but it requires honest effort from both members of the relationship. Accusations won’t solve the problem, nor will anger. It takes time, it takes communication, and it takes calmness. If you can’t bring those to the table yourself, you are a big part of the problem. Moving forward isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about finding a new direction that works for both of you.”

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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 on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Jan 29: Best from the blogosphere

One of the key pieces of advice financial writers offer readers is to fund and maintain an emergency fund to help you survive job loss, unexpected house repairs and other major expenses you haven’t budgeted for.

The Simple Dollar’s Trent Hamm lists 20 reasons why you need an emergency fund. Some situations that I hadn’t thought of until I read this blog are:

  • Your identity is stolen, locking you out of your credit cards and primary bank accounts.
  • You have a domestic crisis and have to move out of your home.
  • A relative or friend passes away suddenly in a different part of the country.
  • You get your dream job but it means a steep drop in pay.

Sean Cooper’s recent blog The Joys of Home Ownership: Replacing My Dishwasher illustrates precisely the kind of situation where an emergency fund is so valuable. Cooper rents the first floor of his house and lives in the basement apartment. A relatively innocuous email from his tenants in December notified him that the dishwasher was leaking. This problem snowballed into $2,000 of expenses for plumbing, other home repairs and a new dishwasher. Luckily he had cash on hand in his emergency account.

Debra Pangetsu on MyMoneyCoach offers 7 Steps to Saving Money in an Emergency Fund. For example, she suggests:

  •  Breaking your savings goal into smaller steps,
  • Open a separate account,
  • Automating deposits into your emergency account, and
  • Using the emergency savings only in an emergency.

How much do you need to save? Two cents blogger Kristin Wong says that experts don’t always agree. Money guru Dave Ramsey believes you should save for three to six months of living expenses in a liquid high yield savings account. Andrew, founder of Living Rich Cheaply agrees you should probably keep some money in a safe place, such as a savings account but he thinks six months of living expenses is a bit excessive. He would prefer to have more of his money invested in a mix of stocks and bonds. Nevertheless Suze Orman recommends eight months of basic costs because it usually takes that long to find another job if you are unemployed.

What’s an emergency? Ramsey says there are three questions to ask before you use your emergency fund. Is it unexpected? Is it necessary? Is it urgent? Money Under 30’s Choncé Maddox also says you should consider whether there is a better way to pay for the expenses and if the benefit of using the money outweighs the cost.

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 on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.