During the Family Financial Challenge, I’ve been reading over “Money Rules”, by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Some of the pages have made me cringe, but some of the others have left me feeling very accomplished and smart when it comes to our finances.
Gail would tell you that learning about finances is “at least as important as learning to drive a car or learning to cook.” I will admit that when Graham and I met, I had a lot to learn about finances. I did foolish things, like taking a cash advance on a credit card, treating the cash I earned waitressing with a cavalier attitude (Rule #68: Tip Money is Real Money!) and justifying expenses by telling myself I “deserved” certain things that I couldn’t really afford.
Having reviewed Gail’s book, I can still see a few gaps here and there but I can also see that together we have come a long way in terms of our financial education. Right now we need a dose of confidence, so to celebrate the things we do “right” with our money, I have made a short list of the things that Graham and I already do well when it comes to our finances.
- We contribute to RRSPs for ourselves, even if it is only $50 per month.
- We contribute $100 each month to an RESP for Nate. (Rule #49: Your Kids’ Financial Education is Your Responsibility!) The Canada Education Savings Grant will make contributions over the life of the RESP to a maximum of $7,200! That’s free money. You’d be nuts NOT to have this set up for your kids. (See Rule #129: Don’t Pass Up Free Money!)
- We rarely buy clothing brand new, preferring to shop at thrift stores like Value Village, St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army. In all three locations, the bonus is that purchasing items there is also a charitable donation. Short story: I needed a new pair of jeans recently. I went to my town’s local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store and happily found two pair of American Eagle jeans that fit me. The pricetag on each? $4. Sweet deal, right? Well when I went to the cash register to pay, the volunteer ringing up my purchase said, “Okay, these have a pink line on the tag, so they’re 50% off.” So my pricey brand American Eagle Outfitter jeans cost me a total of $2 each. I’d like to personally thank the person who donated those jeans. I’ll be telling that story for awhile.
- We’ve eliminated services from our cable account that we don’t use. For example, we got rid of cable and the PVR and use Netflix and streaming video, instead. We got rid of our home phone line because we never used it. This cut our monthly cable bill by about $80/month.
- Graham brings leftovers for lunch to work every day in a little crock pot that he plugs in when he gets to the job site trailer every morning. He stays away from “the gut truck” and enjoys healthier, less expensive food, instead. The guys he works with are often jealous of his lunch!
- No vehicle payments!
- We have made it a priority to pay down our mortgage as soon as we can. (Rule #203: Accelerate Your Mortgage Repayment!) We make weekly, accelerated payments and at this point we are scheduled to own our home before I turn 50.