A person new to HowToSaveMoney.ca might think that I’m a tight fisted miser who bends down to pick up every penny - or should I say nickel? - off the street and then goes home to curl up in bed and snuggle with my piggy bank while laying on my mattress stuffed with cash.
As enticing as that sounds, it simply isn’t so!
My goal in life is to save as much money on everything I can so I have more money left over to live a good life and to splurge on the things I enjoy! No, I don’t believe we need oodles of money to be happy, but I do definitely enjoy spending it on some things and I’d be lying if I said it never brings a smile to my face. I’m human like the rest of you, and we all like to spoil ourselves from time to time.
My Favourite Splurges
I’m a pretty frugal guy but I’ve come to value time a lot more than money over the years as I’ve been trying to run this site while balancing a full time job and family with two kids. Thankfully this is my full time job now which has given me some breathing room, but keeping things going around here is still like several full time jobs all rolled into one, so time is always at a premium.
That said, many of my splurges involve either buying back time or spending money to maximize whatever free time I do have. Then, there are several more related to rewarding myself for working hard and a job well done. Rewards for good work was ingrained in me at a young age and I haven’t been able to shake it since.
1) Healthy Food
After many years of “negotiation” with my wife, she convinced me that trying to count pennies when it comes to food doesn’t make a whole lot of cents (pun intended), because there is nothing more valuable than our health. I used to be a extreme couponing wannabe that shopped at 4 or more grocery stores always buying the loss leaders and applying a coupon whenever possible.
The simple fact is that whole natural (often organic) food doesn’t usually go on sale and there are almost never any applicable coupons. Who knew?!
Fortunately, with the introduction of the Loblaws PC Plus rewards program, I have been able to earn some points even on healthy food. One time I earned $80 worth of points on a $150 purchase, which definitely put a grin on my face reminding me of the good ol’ days.
When we’re at the grocery store I just close my eyes and put the healthiest (read ‘expensive’) ingredients in my cart while barely glancing at the price to prevent myself from throwing up in the grocery aisle.
There’s just something mystical about traveling and seeing the world. I didn’t use to be a huge fan but over the years have grown to love it for the culture, the experience, and the relaxation (hello Caribbean!).
We’ve been fortunate enough to travel across Canada, the United States, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. It has slowed down a lot since we’ve had kids, but we hope to gradually increase our travel time again as the kids get older.
Related: Tips For A Better Travel Experience
Thankfully, due to all the money saving techniques I am aware of, many of the costly travel expenses like airfare and accommodations have been purchased at drastically reduced prices or even free. However, once we arrive at our destination, the purse strings open and we just focus on having a good time for the short time we are there.
I look forward to sharing lots of travel tips with you all in the near future.
It’s cold here in Canada - duh, eh?
That said, it’s always warm in our house as we almost never skimp on heat. I’ve started to turn down the thermostat some and try to wear warmer clothes but for years it wouldn’t be uncommon to see someone walking around our house in shorts, even in the dead of winter.
Life’s too short to spend your days freezing in your own home, at least that’s my thinking. It doesn’t hurt that my wife is from a southern climate and that I have young kids to keep warm either.
This was fine when we lived in an efficient newer house but since we’ve moved to a much older and bigger house, it gets incredibly expensive in the winter time. I’m trying to curb the expense and we’ll definitely be looking for maximum heating efficiency in the next house we purchase.
4) Eating Out
With the busyness of life and the never-ending chores and work it seems to entail (especially when always preparing healthy meals from the most basic ingredients), we just love eating out. No shopping, no cooking, no cleanup, and very relaxing - what’s not to love?
This is our way of taking a break from the mundane and from super healthy eating. In some of our busiest months, I can barely fathom how much money we’ve spent on restaurants. I try to lower this cost by using entertainment coupon books and looking for other creative ways to save money, but it is still uber expensive - but totally worth it.
We didn’t get the dream house right out of university or anything, but I do dream of having a relatively large well-appointed house someday. It’s materialistic, I know, but I spend so much time at home that I want to love my living space from top to bottom. Someday...
I think it’s well known by now that I don’t drive old clunkers, at least not at first anyway. I have a system that keeps my car expenses super low on an annual basis, but I still do buy a new car every so often which is considered to be a mortal sin by some personal finance gurus. There's plenty of advantages to be had by doing this though and it actually doesn't end up costing a whole lot more than regularly buying used.
I’m a techy through and through. Technology is my job and technology is my life. I always wait for deals on technology and really hold back on buying the latest and great gadgets, but I still own a lot of technology.
We currently have 9 computing devices in the house when you count desktops, home theater PCs, tablets, and cell phones and they are all well-used. I dream of having a full high-end surround sound system and a fully automated home, but I’m a long way off from that. I’ve never actually owned a home theatre system and I think my newest stereo system is almost 10 years old cost less than $100 (I got it for free from Shoppers Drug Mart with points).
8) Making Memories
When it comes to making memories, the sky is almost the limit when it comes to spending money. Travel and eating out are the biggest expense in this category, but I also don’t shy away from going to the movies, visiting local attractions like water parks and the zoo, or even booking a helicopter to fly over Los Angeles. If you only have one chance in a lifetime to do it, then do it I say (within reason)!
9) Preserving Memories
Speaking of memories, I will pretty much ‘OK’ any expense related to preserving those memories for the future on our walls or in photo books. I try to find deals and coupons to lessen the cost, but I just can’t say no to lovely photo enhancements of our smiling children enjoying life. Things might not always be this good, so I want to capture the good times while they last!
10) Hired Help
Labour and services are among the most expensive things you can buy because the cost is ongoing and people are among the most costly resources there is. That said, we gladly shell out for a house cleaner to give us a few extra hours a week of family and personal time. Otherwise, we might never relax.
I’ll also gladly pay someone to help me with running this site to free up my time so I can focus on what’s important. I’ve paid developers, graphic artists, and other hired help and will continue to do so as long as I can afford it.
What Do You Splurge On?
Whew! This article might as well have been called “The Top 10 Ways I Splurge” - but the last thing this world needs is another “top 10” article, am I right? I honestly didn’t expect to come up with so many but fortunately our financial savvy and hard work has made it all possible without sacrificing our future.
I know I’m not alone in this either. Let me know in the comments your favourite things to splurge on and look out for my latest top 10 article next week! I’m only (partially) joking.