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My compliments, Canada, for mostly ignoring the buy now, pay later option when buying things like clothes, cosmetics, electronics and airline tickets.

BNPL has been around a couple of years and it hasn’t caught on so far despite some ideal economic conditions. We’ve seen a spending boom on goods and services since the worst of the pandemic, based in large part on what’s been described as revenge spending. Splurging, in other words.

In a recent IPSOS survey, just 15 per cent of those surveyed said they have used instalment payments on credit or debit card purchases, while another 10 per cent said they hadn’t tried BNPL, but were aware of it and would likely use it. Almost four in 10 had heard of BNPL, but hadn’t used it and were unlikely to do so. Everyone else was unaware of it.

If you select the BNPL option when buying something, you typically end up paying a small percentage upfront and the rest through a few biweekly or monthly payments. BNPL is better than carrying a debt on a credit card because no interest is generally charged on your unpaid balance. But let’s be clear about what BNPL is really about – getting people to spend more than they can afford at the moment. It’s a win for retailers and the companies offering BNPL services when this happens.

Used once or on rare occasions, BNPL is defensible. But serial usage means you’re overspending and at risk of getting overwhelmed by your instalment payments. Try the SNBL alternative – save now, buy later.

For more on BNPL, check out this episode of the Globe and Mail’s Stress Test personal finance podcast for Gen Z and millennials.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

Big-time savings in the kitchen

Consumer Reports cooked up this list of ways to get more value from your grocery spending and get more efficiency from your fridge and stove. Lots of stuff to chew on here. Sorry.

If I had a million dollars

A financial coach on saving $1-million for retirement. It’s doable, she says.

Should he sell his investments to buy a house?

A Reddit discussion launched by a Vancouver renter with more than $500,000 in investments. He wonders if it makes sense to sell off his investments to buy a home. Now for a deep dive into the cost of living in another expensive city, Toronto. Breakdowns for both renters and owners.

A guru of frugality buys a Tesla

One of the most influential voices on achieving financial freedom is a guy who goes by the name Mr. Money Mustache. Here, he blogs about spending US$52,000 on a Tesla to replace his aged minivan. It’s all about balance.

Ask Rob

Q: What do you think about treasury bills and the new exchange-traded funds that hold them, UBIL and CBIL?

A: I wrote about them last month. Thumbs up.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

The Bank of Canada offers a tool to calculate the effect of inflation on investments and savings.

The money-free zone

How to remember Gordon Lightfoot in a personal finance newsletter? I choose the song Rich Man’s Spiritual. More thoughts … Lightfoot biographer Nicholas Jennings calls this the coolest cover of a Lightfoot song – I’m Not Sayin’, by Nico, who later recorded with The Velvet Underground. I also like Harry Belafonte’s version of Oh Linda.

Watch this

A financial planner walks you through the new tax-free First Time Home Savings Account, the new best way to save a home down payment.

From the Twitterverse

The line one recent morning at a downtown Toronto food bank. Our two-tier economy – busy restaurants and airports, busy food banks.

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More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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