Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saving and Splurging

Anyone else feeling the chill in the air these days?  Blahs all around?  I have been hibernating at home, staying warm and planning my savings budget for the year.  And watching re-runs of Til Debt Do Us Part, with Gail Vaz-Oxlade.  I think Gail is fabulous and her no-nonsense attitude is great.  She genuinely wants to help people succeed, even if it means doling out the tough love and making people haul around TVs everywhere they go so they "feel" the impact of their debt (remember that episode?)  

Hubs and I recently paid off the remaining balance on our Visa, it is a nice relief to have that done with.  Our house Line of Credit and our vehicle loan are our two main debts and the rest is variable spending.   Hubs and I live on a "strict cash budget" just as Gail advocates.  We have a joint chequing account and from that we each take an allotted cash portion every payday for our own separate spending (fun money), and the rest goes to debt repayment, our bills, groceries, gas, vehicle maintenance, etc.  We have been doing this for years ever since Hubs helped me to smarten up about money after we first got married.   We used to have separate bank accounts but that didn't work out so well, so we switched everything to joint accounts and haven't looked back since.   Hubs created a workable budget to pay off our existing debt yet still have a life.  Big lesson learned there..... so much that I joke that Hubs has ruined me in a good way....I hardly ever use my debit card anymore and I only use Visa for online purchases when I have the cash ready to make a payment on the Visa immediately after I've bought something online.  I'm practically fanatical about it, I can't rest until I've made the payment.   Pardon my antics but trust me, once you learn the lesson, you never forget!

Hubs may be able to go on a work trip to the US in the Spring.  If he gets approved to go, I will be able to accompany him on the trip.  I am starting to sock some $$ into savings just in case the trip is a go, to pay for airfare and fun spending.  If the trip is a no-go, I'll keep the funds in savings anyway. 

We would like to have our upstairs rooms painted in the spring or early summer, so we will be saving funds for that.  (Neither Hubs and I like painting, nor are we good at it!)  We also have money budgeted together for investments and long-term savings, more so now that the Visa has been cleared up.

I have gravitated towards buying quality over quantity these past few years, and I have felt good about saving for items which may cost more initially, but proved to be good purchases in the long run and the items have lasted for a longer period of time.   I have generally felt dissatisfied when I cheaped out and bought a subpar item just because it was elcheapo ... .most times I would have to replace what I bought because it wore out quickly, or cheap clothes wouldn't fit properly, or items would become clutter in the house.  As one of the elder lawyers at the law firm I work at used to say "when you buy cheap, you pay twice."   I believe that is true. 

That said, I also believe in the concept of "Saving and Splurging".  If you want to splurge on something good (and possibly a bit expensive), try to save money somewhere else.  (Hubs and I do this on vacations -- if we want to eat out at a nice restaurant one night, we will have something small and inexpensive for lunch).   In our daily lives, we save money by making our coffee at home in the mornings,  packing lunches for work as often as we can, using the library for books and DVDs, carpooling together (we share a car).  We are getting better at meal-planning so that we don't waste food.  It's all about priorities and what is important to you.

One item I really wanted for a long time was a good black leather tote bag.  My Mom was shocked to learn how much I paid for my Dooney and Bourke purse (seen here), it was $260.00 US.   Mom would never spend that much on one item!  She is the queen of deals and hardly, if ever buys something at full price.  I explained to her that the bag is an investment piece and it wasn't like I just waltzed into Macy's one day and blew $260 on a purse without blinking an eye.  I searched online for different options and saved up the money for months beforehand once I knew which purse I wanted to buy and what brand.  Once I was in the store, I inspected the bag for quality and I was not disappointed.  I will have the bag for many many years, instead of spending $50 on a bag that becomes ratty and falls apart after one year.....then I would have had to buy a new one.  Each year.   Been there, done that ...too many times. 

Do you have any savings tips to share?  Do you have a splurge and save mentality? 


  1. Thoughtful post, LR. I also love that Gail, I think she's hilarious, she's tough but I think she has really helped many people.
    We are also save-splurge types. We've shared a car for many years which has been difficult at times, especially when I need to get my kids to the dentist, orthodontist or a swimming lesson. Sometimes we have to take the bus which my friends cannot believe, they are all two car families. We save thousands each year by not having a second car.
    When we travel we often have a "picnic" meal each day, either lunch or dinner, and sometimes just in our hotel room. A nice lunch out and then bread, cheese, some fruit and wine for dinner, that's no hardship but saves loads.
    We also splurge: we take nice trips and stay in pretty swish hotels and the one car we do have is very nice. I also don't skimp on clothing or accessories though I do sell things when I buy new.
    I am trying to spend less this year as we are very aggressively paying off our mortgage while still socking away money in our RRSP's and TFSA's, and of course our son is at University which is big bucks!
    For the first time I've made a list of things I want to add in my wardrobe this year (inspired by shopwithm) and I'm trying not to veer from that!

  2. I am also trying to sock away money. Sometimes it's just not easy is it?
    I have not bought a quality purse in a long , long time.
    Other things get in the way too often.
    But, I agree, buy cheap and you do often pay twice!

  3. Your bag is beautiful and will last a very long time, so I think it was a good investment to make.

  4. Hello:
    This all reads as very sound advice. Sometimes, financial lessons are learned the hard way, as you say, but once that kind of lesson is learned, then the habits of a lifetime can be changed for ever. One is never too old to learn new tricks!

    We totally agree with you about buying less and of better quality. That works well in so many areas, clothes, food... and does work out cheaper in the long run, we think.

  5. Emailed comment from Bliss @ Stepping on My Way to Bliss (word verification wasn't working today for some reason)

    ~I think you and your husband are on the right track. It is a constant effort to stay like-minded and on course. Master Bliss and I are still trying to work out a few kinks in our finances. One thing I think that we need to change is not having 2 bank accounts...they are both joint but one is for paying bills and the other is for gas/groceries/fun. I think it would be smarter to operate out of one account, taking the CASH we need for spending...and once it's gone, it's gone. In a brighter note, we have been doing much better with grocery spending. : ).

  6. DaniBP - We have gotten a few comments from family members and friends "you only have ONE car?" almost incredulously asked......why yes we do. It works well for us, sometimes we have to juggle schedules to make things work, but most days it works great. Glad to hear you and Mr. BP do similar things we do! When we were in NYC, we would go to Grand Central Market and buy a baguette, goat cheese, wine, fruit, orange juice, veggies, some kind of deli item, etc (something different everyday) and sit in our hotel room, enjoy our feast and read the NY Times. It was awesome.

    Annie - Saving is hard! It is hard for me to just save without a goal in sight but I'm getting better at saving just because.

    Rose - Thank you, I love it so much and I take it most everywhere I go!

    Hattatts - Oh yes, some hard lessons were learned, but I'm glad I learned them when I did!

    Bliss - Finances will always be a work in progress! Hubs and I have come a long way in 5.5 years. We had to find out what worked, what didn't, what ways we can improve, etc.

  7. ITA when it comes to clothes, shoes and accessories - quality over quantity is my motto. I shop a lot of local boutiques for specific brands that still keep quality part of the product.

    When traveling we will often look for a Whole Foods type of store and pick up a few trays of sushi or similar to eat in our hotel room or a park, weather permitting. It's easy to end up at a bad restaurant when traveling and we try to keep our evening meals light anyway.

    We eat our meals at home 99% of the time and buy good quality ingredients. I stock the pantry and make a lot of dishes ahead of time, especially for my husband while we are separated during the week. Going back and forth between city and country it's not possible to make do with just one car and I don't think I would want to do that but I can see how it would work for you.

    The D&B satchel looks like a classic.

  8. My goal is to live on a cash only budget and only use credit cards minimally. I think it's the best advice.

    If you do visit the US and are anywhere near the Boston area let me know... we could meet for coffee or lunch! xo

  9. Gail does a lot of lunch events out here to benefit the women's shelter. I've always been afraid to go - like I might get heckled by her or something lol! Dont know why, our only debt is houses but I could be better organized.

    I have been looking for a leather bag too - will have to check D&B!

    I am tired of the whole disposable clothing phase we are in right now. I havnt been able to find a decent pair of pants that wont fall apart after the first wearing!

  10. XOXO - Whole Foods is great too. I wish we had one here. I try to support local businesses when I can, but sometimes Superstore wins when we need groceries (it's exactly two minutes from my house). We try to make most of our suppers at home and only go out for a treat or to try a new restaurant occasionally. Will have to do a post about the best make-ahead dinners, I would love to hear yours!

    Debby - oh I will for sure! :) Hubs and I definitely want to visit Boston one day.

    Suburban Princess - I can't stand the disposable clothing craze right now either and I can't find a good pair of dress pants to save my life! Still on the hunt for a good pair. Oh I would definitely go to a Gail lunch, that would be awesome! She really cuts to the heart of the matter when working with people and makes them think about it.

  11. I am not great at saving - i am quite rubbish but my man is very good and thanks to him i have no debt and we buy what we can afford and no more - i am glad he is like that - i really can be a loose canon x

  12. We are definitely save and splurge types. We spend very little if anything on things that don't matter to us and save up for travel. That said, travel is a higher priority for Bill than it is for me. I am good at saving in general, but I'm not good about buying quality. I still make mistakes when I buy (you know, get it home and it just isn't that great anymore?) and I prefer those mistakes to be made at the thrift store than at a designer shop (not that I designer shops make clothes I think suitable for my retirement lifestyle). I expect LL Bean is about the right level for me to aim at, but to be honest buying any clothes just doesn't excite me that much these days. Sewing clothes, that's a different matter. I'm hoping to develop that skill over the next few years.

  13. Hi LR, somehow I missed this post so am a little late to the party.
    Hubs and I have been together for many years and are in a comfortable position now thanks to diligent saving and wise decisions. Thankfully our own parents instilled the merits of wise spending and I know we have passed this trait on to our own children.
    A great learning curve was having our first born in our mid twenties and reducing to one income. I was a home duties mum till both kids were established at school. Those early years of married life and child rearing were incredibly lean times, working to a very tight budget.
    Living within one's means is paramount. A financial drain of sorts was paying private secondary school fees for the kids but it was the best investment we made into their futures. A savings trust was established for this option when the kids were babies and really helped in meeting this commitment.
    You sound like you have a wise head on those shoulders so I believe you guys will be just fine!
    Ps..have answered your blog comment question over at mine x

  14. F & F - Sounds like we both have great Husbands!! :)

    Shelley - I wish I knew how to sew, but thankfully one of my Mom's friends is a fabulous seamstress so I have gotten her to do some alterations and I would like her to make me some outfits, she is very meticulous. Hubs and I definitely like to save for travel as well. I've made spending mistakes too, either made a wrong decision about sizing or the item ended up not being that great of quality or I didn't like it anymore....the learning never ends!

    Annie - Thanks! I love hearing about stories like yours! p.s. thx for the comments answer! :)

  15. great post, love your attitude!

    And I love the "when you buy cheap, you pay twice" quote. This is something I've always said myself but with different words. I'm definitely using these exact words from now on ;-)

  16. My husband and I definitely have a "save/splurge" mentality. We were very frugal when we were young out of necessity, but now that we are older and our family is raised we are finally enjoying ourselves more with a "life is short" attitude :)

  17. Latte Lisa - I love that quote too, the lawyer who told me that quote is retired now but he had the greatest sayings and lived by them!

    Pat - Good for you! I love hearing about your travels and finds!