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Thursday, October 5th, 2023

The coffee factor: Balancing saving and spending- Ask a Vancouver Mortgage Broker

The coffee factor: Balancing saving and spending

deb2104c423991efdbfbb33fdf91By Ellen Roseman | Tue Jan 08 2013

ve for tomorrow? How do you balance small pleasures with big investments?

Earlier this week, I wrote about millionaire Kevin O’Leary’s advice to stop buying coffee, lunches, magazines and cigarettes.

If you cut spending and invest the difference, you can be $276,000 ahead over 20 years, he said in a new book about men, women and money.

The column stirred up much online debate.

I’m going to share some reaction I received, along with tips from two books sharing the same title,Money Rules.

“Tackle the big problems,” said Ted Whipp, a Windsor reader. “I put the weekly coffee savings advice in the same trash bin as the energy efficiency canard about turning out the lights.”

Buy a new fridge if yours is 15 years old, he advises. A fridge can consume 20 to 25 per cent of the home’s entire energy bill. That makes a bigger dent than a 60-watt light bulb.

Whipp cut his car insurance costs 50 per cent last year by shopping around. And he eliminated his cable TV bill.

Related: 10 easy ways to save 

“I invested in an Apple TV (worth $100), an $8 a month Netflix subscription and a $45 over-the-air indoor and digital/HD capable set of rabbit ears. The cost was recovered within three months by not paying for cable.”

Eric Lange doubts you can become a millionaire by giving up $3 coffees. But he does wash his own shirts instead of getting them dry cleaned, ironing eight shirts within an hour while watching TV.

He and his wife didn’t buy a cottage until they had the money saved up and bought a used boat instead of a new one. New boats drop in value quickly (much like a car), while used boats in good shape hold their value.

His advice: “You need a partner who agrees with 95 per cent of what you’re trying to do. And you need to know when to give in to the five per cent the other partner really wants.”

Jeanne Erickson likes the Lang & O’Leary Exchange, a CBC business show. About O’Leary, she says, “I don’t like him, but he came out with one very valuable statement, which is, ‘Don’t retire in debt.’”

Gail Vaz-Oxlade, also a well-known TV personality, offers the same advice: Pay your mortgage off before retirement.

“Where are you going to find the money to stay in the black if your income drops by 30 to 40 per cent but your expenses stay the same?” she asks in Money Rules (Collins, $21.99), which has 261 rules spanning 500 pages.

My favourite rule is #7, “Your banker is not your friend.” Banks expect their people “to shovel as much product as they can,” she says. “Stop thinking that the bank would actually put your needs first.

Great minds think alike. Money Rules by Jean Chatzky, financial editor for NBC’s Today show, has written a smaller book (94 tips, 110 pages, $14.99, Rodale Books), which also packs a wallop.

I like rule #18, “You will spend more with credit than with debit and more with debit than cash.” Using plastic is not nearly as painful as spending cash, so bring the green stuff and leave your cards at home.

Jil McIntosh, a writer for the Star’s Wheels section, got down to ground in her blog, saying coffee dates shared with her husband were worth the cost.

Related: How to live like the millionaire next door 

“For half an hour, it’s just us. And it’s really nice,” she writes. “So at $7 a throw, we’ll spend $364 over the course of a year. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have the cash.”

What’s the good of working if you don’t spend a little to enjoy yourself? If you live to be 85, you may wish you had put that money away — but McIntosh doesn’t think she will.

“I expect I’ll be more likely to look back on those afternoons, when it was just the two of us, sitting and talking, sipping our coffee, watching the world go by and say, ‘That was money well spent.’”

Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her or