Dollars and Sense

My wife, Laura, and I got married at the ripe old age of 21. Both of us had never lived on our own, neither of us had a clue how to pay a utility bill, and if you would have asked me how much a month’s worth of groceries cost, I would have said, “How much is a box of Kraft Dinner?” In all seriousness, I have always been a bit of a penny pincher dating back to my youth. I’d rather make a cup of coffee at home than lay down a toonie at my local Tim Hortons. However, there is a fine line between trying to nickel and dime your way through life and actually spending some of your hard-earned cash. We’ve all heard the saying, “You only live once”. It is often heard when someone is bungee jumping for the first time, or leaving for a far off land, or maybe even when you’re making an impulse purchase.

The truth is, we do only live once. We only get one shot at this crazy thing called life, so let’s get out and live a little! Oh…hold on a second…my bank statement says I’m in overdraft, but I just got paid last week!

Money. Our lives often revolve around those papery-plastic, multi-coloured bills. As Dan Sadowski pointed out a few weeks ago, money is neither good nor bad. It is a tool and we should treat it as such. Look at it this way, when you’re out camping and you’re splitting wood for the fire, is it easier to split the wood with a sharp axe or a dull axe? In the same way, it only makes sense to be as sharp, or knowledgeable, as possible when dealing with our finances. Here are 3 helpful tips that my wife and I try to use in our day-to-day lives to stay organized financially.

Tip (1) Budget: It’s only a bad word if you make it one
When I used to think of the word budget I would say something like, “Well, there goes all my fun,” when in actuality a budget allows you to have more fun! Just try it. Sit down with your spouse (or a hot cuppa joe) and go through your monthly expenses. Laura and I use a budgeting tool on the web called It only takes 5 minutes and is eye opening!

Tip (2) Save for Retirement: The earlier you start the better
As a rule of thumb, we try (key word is try) to put 10% of every paycheque into an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) or TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account). Some months are easier than others, so that amount does fluctuate. A TFSA is different only because every dollar you make in it is TAX FREE! You use after-tax dollars in TFSAs and pre-tax dollars in RRSPs. Whichever you choose is up to you. The key is just that you are saving.

Tip (3) Be Generous!
The bible tells us about the importance of giving in Acts 20:35, which says, “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” It’s amazing that when you’re on a budget and saving for retirement, you can find a spare $5, $20, or even $200 just by organizing your money and making it work for you versus the other way around. Be generous and buy someone a coffee with your $5, or spend $20 on a food hamper for a family in need; the possibilities are endless.

In closing, I want to encourage you to get organized with your money. Talk openly, start a budget, save for the future, and give without regret (2 Cor. 9:7). The stresses of finances can be heavy, but the reward of financial organization is peace. Think dollars and sense, not dollars and cents.


Books I recommend:
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
RRSPs: The Ultimate Wealth Builder by Gordon Pape
The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton

-The Dave Ramsey Show


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