10 personal finance tips from Gail Vaz-Oxlade

“Don’t use credit like a back-up plan”

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Canada’s no-nonsense money expert, recently announced that she’s retiring (comfortably, we presume). As the debt-to-income ratio of Canadians creeps towards a record high, Vaz-Oxlade’s trademark real-talk on saving, spending and expensive lattes will undoubtedly be missed. In honour of her retirement, here are some of Vaz-Oxlade’s wisest nuggets of personal finance wisdom.

Create spending priorities:
“Figure out what’s important to you. So what is it you really want? Is it eating out and spending time with your friends? Or do you want to own a home of your own? Decide, because you may not in fact want to own [a home] — you may simply be bowing to the pressures around you to own.”

Tax your fast-food:
“Keep a container in your car and every time you pick up a coffee, grab a sub or munch on a muffin, drop a buck in your bag. This will be your Fast Food Tax. Hey, if you can find the money for the coffee, you can find the money to save for your wedding too!”

Don’t leave the finances to one partner:
“It’s not unusual for one person to assume the nitty-gritty of daily finances…. The problem is that when one person is excluded, or totally abdicates responsibility, it means the other can mess things up with no monitoring or grow resentful at always having to do the detail…. Taking turns managing the chequebook, and having regular conversations so that both of you are clear about what’s going on, means you’re both in the know and working to the same ends. It also means that one person doesn’t have to deal with all the crap, while the other merrily laughs off the stress and frustration with, ‘You’re managing the money, so this is your problem to deal with.’ (Yes, there are dopes who say this.)”

Forget the fancy wine:
“$20 is about as much as you need to spend to get a great bottle of wine. And there are $10 bottles that taste great too! And if you’re going to be drinking all night, start with a more expensive $20 bottle, and then switch to the cheaper stuff later in the evening. Most people won’t notice.”

Don’t buy into retail therapy:
“Plastic is anesthetic — it dulls the pain, and then what happens is you just keep waiting for the next fake high.”

Cut the coffee:
“If you’re saving $20 a week by drinking less coffee (or taking it from home) and you’re 30 years old, eliminating that one bad habit will mean $84,000 in your pocket. Yup, $84,000! That’s some pretty expensive coffee.”

Be open with your partner about spending

“I’m truly amazed at the number of people who hide stuff from their partners. They go shopping, bring home a bag of stuff, and rip off the tags — because, of course, their partners are morons and won’t recognize a new outfit when they see it…. If you can’t be open about what you’re buying, that should tell you something. If you think your partner is going to object to your spending, hey, listen up! And if you’re planning to mate and you haven’t sat down to talk about your money, you’re a fool, plain and simple.”

Don’t plan on early retirement:
“Life is for living. Saving is for the future. Doing either to the extreme, or neither for the sake of the other, is dumb. And so is the idea of spending the last 35 years of life doing nothing productive. Add 10 years back into the working equation and you not only put more money in your retirement savings pool, but you spend less years living on that pool of cash.”

Don’t use credit like as a back-up plan:
“If you bought that sales pitch that a line of credit (or any credit) is an emergency fund, you was fooled! Credit is debt waiting to happen and debt can be an emergency of its own. Sure, that line may see you through until you get another job. But then you’ll have to deal with getting that sucker paid off.”

Slow and steady is how you repay debt:
“One step at a time. You are on your way. Expect challenges. Keep your goal where you can see it.”

 

This article originally appeared on Chatelaine.com

5 comments on “10 personal finance tips from Gail Vaz-Oxlade

  1. Track your spending. If you don’t know where your money goes, it can be difficult to find opportunities to save. Keep track of your spending habits to help identify areas where you can cut expenses.an app like Geltbox Money will help you keep track.

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  2. Great tips Gail! I have forwarded to my nieces and nephews.

    Frances

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  3. As much as I appreciate the overall advice, I must say I disagree with the last point “Slow and steady is how you repay debt.” The way I see it (as taken from Mr. Money Mustache), DEBT IS AN EMERGENCY! TREAT IT AS IF YOUR HAIR WAS ON FIRE! GET RID OF IT AS FAST AS YOU CAN.
    The bottom line: You should save way more than you spend.

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  4. Retired on my 55th. Gail’s advice is essential. As about self discipline, realistic planning, steady reduction of debt and save/invest a little often.

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  5. thanks for the advice Gail! :) Because of your shows I could say, I am not a money moron :)

    Reply

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