Saving and spending habits

Life can be expensive. Seemingly every day, we’re spending money, both on necessities and things we enjoy. There’s a sliver of the population that can pretty much buy whatever they want, but for most of us, restraint is required. In short, money is a scarce resource, so we have to make tough decisions when it comes to our spending.

With this in mind, we asked some Foresters employees about their saving and spending habits.

SAVE:

Alan Fox looks for deals and is always ready to stock up if the price is right. “I always take an extra few dollars when shopping. If something I normally buy is on sale, then I buy as much as I can at that price. Last week I had so much bottled water in the cart I couldn’t steer it”, he says.

Alan has some words of wisdom for people who want to save money:

“Be an educated shopper. Always be looking at prices, even on items you rarely purchase. Then when there’s a deal, you’ll know that’s the time to buy. – Alan Fox

SPEND:

Alan suggests being wary of buying what you can’t really afford; “don’t put anything on your credit card you can’t pay off when the bill arrives!”

SAVE:

Harish Chandru has a number of ways he saves money on day to day expenses. Rather than buying lunch or coffee, he makes his own. He also aims to reduce the cost of his daily commute, either by taking transit or sharing a ride to work. Just like Alan, Harish also looks to buy items when they go on sale.

SPEND:

As for the things that are worth spending more money on? Harish lists retirement, homes, cars and life insurance. He also doesn’t mind getting a new cell phone every now and then, even if his current one still has some legs, replacing it “every few years if there’s a better version, because of the software upgrades and compatibility issues.”

SAVE:

Rebecca Molke sees transportation as an area where money can be saved, taking transit instead of driving, Ubers or taxis. And at the grocery store, she sees an upside to buying ugly produce. “It is usually marked down and it’s not the apple’s fault it isn’t perfectly symmetrical,” she reasons. Echoing Harish, Rebecca also saves money by packing lunches rather than buying them.

SPEND:

Rebecca lists wine, most tech products and clothes as items that are worth spending a little more money on.

“Clothing should fit well and be long lasting. These days it’s like clothing is disposable,” – Rebecca Molke

There are some notable themes that emerge here.

For one thing, there’s a recognition that seemingly small costs can seriously add up over time. Just think about someone who buys their lunch every day. A $10 lunch may not seem like much, but if you work nearly 250 days a year, that’s almost $2,500.

In a similar vein, buying a coffee on a daily basis can leave a meaningful dent in your bank account as the weeks and months go by. Driving when you can take transit has a similar cost, even if it makes your commute faster. All that gas and maintenance can be pricey.

Of course, spending well means spending wisely, a point that shines through the employee responses. That means buying more expensive items if they give significantly more value than generic brands. It also means putting money towards longer-term goals such as retirement.

The lesson here isn’t to avoid spending money on life’s little pleasures, but to do so in moderation.

That way, you can hopefully save enough for the things that truly matter in your life.

Special thanks to Alan, Harish and Rebecca for sharing your tips!

416736 CAN/US/UK (09/18)

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Andrew Hepburn is a freelance writer based in Toronto who specializes in financial issues. He's written for Maclean's, Canadian Business, MoneySense, Morningstar and T.E. Wealth, among others.