Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A cat wears designer attire during Pets Fashion Week Russia in Moscow.

When it comes to spending, even the experts are not always smart.

Take Lesley Scorgie, the 26-year-old author of Rich By 40, who once took a stock tip from her hairdresser and bought into the tech company Wi-LAN Inc. during the dot-com boom. She ended up losing her money and looking for a new stylist. "That was really dumb."

How did we get this way and what can we do about it? Share your story and advice with Globe readers.

Story continues below advertisement

These days, Ms. Scorgie is more savvy about how she spends her money. "I've got my nice shoes and bags and things like that, but I choose to be smart about how I go about acquiring those things. … Shopping with a discount in mind is really what I do."

For those still struggling with overspending, Ms. Scorgie offers these tips:

1 Get ruthless. Set your priorities straight and be ruthless about sticking to them. If retirement savings are more important than seeing a movie once a week, stop seeing movies once a week and plow that money into your RRSP instead. Ask yourself whether you really need the item in question, or if you just want it. Then wait a few weeks before buying. You might reconsider.

2 Get active. If you're used to driving, try taking public transit, carpool, walk, run, bike or inline skate instead. Entertain yourself by getting active. Go running, biking, walking, skating or hiking; do yoga outside; play football or baseball; walk the dog; play with your kids; or create some romance with your partner.

3 Get healthy about your food habits. If you smoke or drink, stop. Cook at home rather than eating at a restaurant and buy food in bulk, especially if you've got a family. Buying locally grown food and shopping at a farmers market can be cheaper.

Globe videos on debt and how to deal with it:

  • Debt: How fast are we sinking?
  • How to get out of the debt trap
  • Common mistake: Too much real estate debt
  • Control that impulse to buy, buy, buy
  • Managing student debt: How to do it best
  • Hitting the wall with credit troubles?
  • Got a debt headache? You're not alone

4 Get cheap entertainment. Borrow books, CDs, magazines and DVDs from your local public library. Sign your kids up for free programs sponsored by your municipality and school board. Rather than going out with friends, have a coffee, go for a walk, test out a recipe at home, watch old flicks, play board games or spend more time chatting. If you like to travel, stay closer to home. Drive to a destination rather than flying. Look for travel specials and take advantage of travel rewards programs.

5 Get negotiating. Always ask for a discount and don't buy things that aren't on sale. Negotiate cell phone, cable and Internet plans. Most importantly, call your bank or financial institution and negotiate the interest rates on all loans and credit cards. A 10-minute phone call can result in hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest savings each year.

Story continues below advertisement

6 Get a bargain. Buy used through local websites, eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, estate sales and auctions. Check out vintage stores for cool clothes, jewellery and accessories. Wherever you shop, check to see if they have a free rewards program. Investigate whether you'll receive a rebate or tax credit for your purchase. For example, if you're going to renovate your home, retrofit with energy-efficient hot water tanks, windows, doors and faucets. Check to see if you have coverage or subsidies through your employer or the government for things such as child care, fitness expenses, health and dental expenses. (A side note about bargains: A good deal that you can't afford is never a good deal.)

7 Get the minimum. Pare down your purchases. Get the iPod Shuffle instead of the iPod Nano (or the car without the sunroof). Examine all your expenses to see if you can shave off any of the extra bells and whistles (you probably don't need 300 cable channels or the top-of-the-line dishwasher).

More Globe stories on debt:

  • Debt: Get out and stay out
  • How to avoid filing for bankruptcy
  • Canadians unprepared for the Takeaway Decade
  • Tax tips: Pay down mortgage or make RRSP contribution?
  • Family finances: Flying solo or with a co-pilot?
  • Many homeowners should have rented
  • Debt will bite consumers: report
  • A plan to cope with a debt cloud
  • Spring clean your finances
  • Improve your money skills

8 Get environmentally friendly. Save on utility bills by washing laundry in cold water, turn the temperature down a few degrees in your house, turn the lights out, and properly seal your doors and windows. Reuse and recycle old plastic bags and containers.

9 Get smart about maintenance. Do your own maintenance. Many people pay others to do things they could do themselves: housecleaning, yard work, home maintenance, car maintenance, washing, ironing. You could even start your own small business doing things others don't want to do.

10 Get rid of excess credit. Cut up all but one or two credit cards. No one needs more than that - ever. The more cards you have, the more they occupy your available credit. Keep the one with the longest history, lowest or no annual fee, best customer service and lowest interest rate. Some cards automatically give you an annual credit limit increase. But instruct your credit card company to keep the limit at a level you can afford. If you struggle with credit card temptation, get the cards out of your sight! Cut them up, bury them in the backyard (I'm not joking), stick them in a sealable bag, fill the bag with water, and put the whole package in the freezer. By the time your cards have thawed, you'll have had a chance to think twice about making that "must have" purchase - and don't bother trying to hammer the ice; that will just wreck the cards.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies