Balancing consumption & conservation

We may have been deluded into thinking money is an infinite resource because we’ve had unprecedented access to credit, but that doesn’t make it true.



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Money — like any other resource — is finite. Since we only have a set amount of time during which to make money, and we hope to last well past our working lives, it only makes sense that we figure out what the balance should be between consuming our financial resources and conserving them.

Sure, dinner out a couple of nights a week makes the week a little smoother: it’s nice to get out or to order in when you just can’t think of what to cook or you’re just too tired to bother. But if you’ve got an $80-a-week restaurant habit, that’s costing you over $4,000 a year. Cut it in half, and you’ve got an extra $2,000 for the future. Invest that $2,000 for 30 years at 7%, and your conservation means you’ll have an extra $9,000 to eat later on. Do it every year and you’ll have almost $139,000. Food…check!

It’s much the same when it comes to choosing where we will live. It’s become de rigueur to buy a huge home fully equipped with every conceivable convenience. We want marble in the front hall and granite in the kitchen. Bathrooms aren’t just bathrooms anymore; now they are spas. It’s almost embarrassing to take someone from Europe or Japan through a typical North American home because we waste so much space. In the mean time, we’re spending so much on our mortgages that we don’t save a cent for the next chapter of our lives when a much cozier existence with money left over for simple pleasures like heat will really count.

Conservation isn’t as hard as most people think it is. It does take a little thought, and some planning. Maybe a little less itch-scratching. If you aren’t of a mind to conserve, what are you planning to eat when retirement finally does roll around and you’re left with a lot of stuff, but not much money? And how much of that stuff can you burn to stay warm?

19 comments on “Balancing consumption & conservation

  1. How are you, I appreciate your blog. It has a lot of usefulinfo.


  2. Gail, you are absolutely my favourite! I watch all your shows and I have learned so much from you. Great article!


  3. when i ask my clients to save here at the bank it's almost as if i'm begging them to run around naked in front of an entire crowd of people. I can't tell them that when they say that they have nothing to save yet spending 50 to 300 bucks easily with their debit card that they do have money to put away for a rainy because then i would be called rude. When the bank asks you put money away in a savings account – yes it benefits the bank because it sees your assets grow and you're more likely to be a customer that is saving for the future, thinking ahead, and possibly a candidate for other products that the bank wants to offer you; but think about it this way – it's YOUR money that you're putting aside for a rainy day/emergency funding/down payment on a mortgage/education/vacation and just remember – it's still a win-win situation. and banks are more likely to offer you credit when they see that you are growing your assets and providing for the future since it benefits them that they know you will be able to pay them back!
    and yes, i hate service fees as much as the next person since i have to pay them too, but when we offer you a solution to save on those fees – at least listen to what we have to say!


    • All I had to do to get away from those fees was keep a $3000 float in my account every month! Doesn't it just boggle your mind that people balk at that idea?

      I was able to get rid of my overdraft protection, too, because I basically became my own overdraft protection (not that I'm ever writing cheques or swiping cards for money I don't have anymore anyway).

      It just kills me that people outright refuse to do such simple things to save themselves money.


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