SPENDINGSpending is a key part of managing your money well—so don't buy into the hype that spending as little as humanly possible is the only way to be good at money. Instead, focus on spending on things that matter to you, whether that's a house, a dog, travel, food—seriously, anything.
Spending money well is part of personal finance.
When I was first getting into the world of money, I read a lot of extreme frugality blogs, because it’s what I found first. That gave me the impression that spending money was Always Bad, and for a while I really leaned into that—check out my cringeworthy old posts if you don’t believe me.
Extreme frugality wasn’t sustainable, at least for me, but luckily it’s not the only way to approach spending when it comes to personal finance.
Spending money well will look different for everyone, but it means doing a few key things:
- Spending within your means, and not taking on credit card debt to fund your spending
- Balancing spending with your other financial goals, like saving for retirement and building an emergency fund
- Spending on the things that matter to you, and cutting back or compromising on the things that don’t
Those are sometimes easier said than done, because it means you know what’s coming in every month, where your money is actually going, and doing the work to understand how your spending actually makes you feel. But once you do that work, you can spend guilt-free and still hit your financial goals—and that’s worth a lot.
If I can recommend one thing to help you hit all these goals, it’s tracking your spending. Whether you do it in a spreadsheet or using software, or some combination of both, it’s the highest-impact thing I’ve ever done for my money, and it’s a key step in learning what spending well means for you.
Tools that can help you spend well
Free online chequing and savings accounts with built-in features to help you track your spending, see trends, set savings goals, and more.
A free prepaid Visa card that tracks your spending automatically and keeps you on budget. Get $20 free with code HALFBANKED when you sign up.
Get cashback on the online purchases you’re going to make anyways, at companies like Amazon, Sephora,
When it comes to online banking in Canada, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better, more complete, or more user-friendly option than Tangerine Bank. Tangerine used to be the Canadian branch of ING Direct, and was acquired by Scotiabank in 2012. While the name and...read more
As a follow-up to my post about easy ways to save more money, I want to talk about the flip side of things—hard ways to save more money. Specifically, I want to talk about the very worthwhile high effort, high impact ways to make a big difference in your financial...read more
It’s time for a how-to tutorial, pals: how to calculate your net worth. Calculating and tracking your net worth over time isn’t just for people with Scrooge-McDuck money—it’s one of the best ways to get a quick look at your overall financial situation and to track...read more
This post was sponsored by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, but all opinions and stories are my own. How do you know if it’s time to do a full financial review—and what should you look for when you do? That’s a question I’ve asked myself a lot in the past...read more
One of the most frequent questions I’ve heard since we got married is “How do you manage your money now that you’re married?” Truly, it’s been the second-most-asked question after “How much did you spend on the wedding?” because on both counts, there aren’t many...read more
If you ended the holiday season with some holiday debt, never fear. Here are five steps to pay it off and set yourself up to avoid it next year.read more
This is not your dad’s list of the best personal finance books to read in 2019. No offence to your dad either, but it often feels like the exact same books have been recommended on “best of personal finance” lists for the past thirty years. The classics are the...read more
This post is a paid collaboration with Tangerine, but all opinions and stories are my own. Financial literacy is one of those things that we all wish we had learned in school, right? It’s so easy to make the joke that while we were learning about isosceles triangles,...read more
In case you hadn’t heard, November is Financial Literacy Month here in Canada. It’s a whole month dedicated to financial literacy (duh) and since that’s not exactly a super-clear definition, let’s take a second to chat about what that actually means. Financial...read more
This post is a paid collaboration with CIBC, but all opinions and stories are my own. For a long time, I wouldn't have been the person to ask about travel credit cards for Canadians. If you’ve ever read a post about any of my travels, from our trip to Banff to our...read more
This post is a paid collaboration with the Real Estate Council of Ontario, but all opinions and house-hunting stories are my own. When you're house hunting, working to find the right real estate agent is important, because you want to be ready when you find a house...read more
If you’ve read some of my past posts about planning our wedding, you know that we had three big priorities going into the whole process. Hosting our friends and family for a meal. A stress-free planning process. Staying out of debt. I’ve talked at length about how...read more
If you missed the news last week, Wealthsimple announced that they’re adding a new feature, Roundup, to help you save more money. Basically, you link your regular cards to your Wealthsimple account, and they’ll round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and put the...read more
When you’re learning how to manage your finances, it’s easy to look back at past behaviour, and past spending patterns, and cringe a little bit (or a lot bit, depending on the situation). I know, because earlier this year, I went through my archives as part of...read more
Because planning a wedding wasn’t enough, in the middle of last year, we started talking about renovating our kitchen. Not actually renovating, to be clear, but discussing it. It’s our next big house priority after the roof, since our cabinets have seen better days,...read more
As part of preparing my session for the Canadian Financial Summit, on how to plan and finance a "medium-budget" wedding, I did a quick pie chart to break down how much we spent on each category. Similar to the One Minute Budget, and percentage-based budgets in...read more
Learning about money in real life can be intimidating. Where do you go? Do you have to wear a suit? What if they think you know more than you do?! Here’s how to learn about money without ever having to leave the house.read more
Weddings are not cheap (usually). Travel is not cheap (usually, unless you’re a travel hacker extraordinaire, which I am not). When you’re planning a honeymoon, aka travel that typically happens right after a wedding, you’re likely looking at a very not-cheap few...read more
As a lot of you know, I'm taking a few weeks off to celebrate my wedding this summer (here's a post about how we budgeted for the wedding, and the best wedding budget tips I've found this year!). That starts today, and I'll be back on August 20th with a new post! But...read more
Have you ever completely blown your budget because of a splurge you really wanted—and then felt horribly guilty about it? I'll wait while everyone admits to themselves that yes, we've all done this, because we're human. Saying you've never done this either means...read more