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The financial landscape for families these days is so tough that even the group representing elite financial planners is kind of stumped.

FP Canada recently published results of a survey on “quiet spending,” which means money spent either unconsciously or without prior planning. The survey found that 51 per cent of people are concerned about their current financial situation, but most in this group have not changed their quiet spending habits. Examples of quiet spending include buying things in the checkout line at stores, taking advantage of sales to buy more than you intended and putting monthly subscriptions on a credit card.

FP Canada oversees the Certified Financial Planner designation, which tells you a planner has been rigorously schooled. But these planning Einsteins have taken a wrong turn in publishing a survey that basically shames people for small missteps. And that’s saying it’s even a misstep to buy some streaming subs to entertain your family through a long winter of not going out much because you’re trying to cut spending.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland made a similar mistake recently when she sought to highlight government cost-cutting measures by mentioning that her family has cut its $13.99-a-month Disney+ subscription to save money. People don’t need lectures on cost-cutting right now – it’s already happening after a summer spending binge.

RBC Economics said in a note last week that spending by bank clients on credit and debt cards seems to have plateaued lately. “We expect discretionary purchases to slow more substantially as rising debt servicing costs and inflation cut further into household purchasing power,” the bank said.

If you’re heavily in debt, a non-profit credit counselling agency might be able to help lighten the load. For help with all your interconnected money issues, definitely consider using an accredited financial planner. Mind the cost, though. Planners could easily charge $1,000 to $5,000 and more for a consultation. Some will want to manage your investment portfolio, and throw in a financial plan as part of the services you get for your portfolio management fees.

Obviously, the planner route is for those with means. People who are so financially precarious that they can’t afford a Disney+ sub need not apply.

For more on money shaming, check out this episode of the Stress Test personal finance podcast.


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Rob’s personal finance reading list

The 22 per cent rent increase

A Dalhousie University student and her roommates were recently told by their landlord that their rent will rise to $3,300 when their lease expires in May from $2,700. Across the country, soaring rents have created an affordability problem with no easy answers.

Meanwhile, in the housing market …

An analysis of 10 cities finds that affordability has improved since the summer. Prices have come down, while mortgage rates are up only a little. June 2022 may turn out to be the low point for affordability.

Has BNPL jumped the shark?

Usage of buy now, pay later services has dropped 46 per cent in the past five months, according to this report. I’m OK with that. BNPL allows you to buy something and pay for it in monthly installments. There aren’t usually any fees or interest charges, but BNPL makes it easy to overspend.

If I won the lottery

A writer dreams of winning the lottery so she can wreak revenge on the developer who starts construction on a home next door every day at 7 a.m.


Ask Rob

Q: I looked up the Evolve High Interest Savings Account ETF that you mentioned in a recent column on my online broker’s website and it says this fund pays 1.66 per cent. That seems a long way from the 4 per cent yield you mentioned in your column … am I missing something?

A: It’s your broker that might be missing something. Here’s the product profile for HISA – it clearly says the gross yield is 4.24 per cent. Subtract the 0.14 per cent management expense ratio and you get 4.1 per cent on a net basis. Lesson: it never hurts to cross check what your broker’s website tells you about an exchange-traded fund with the online product profiles all ETF companies provide. These profiles are comprehensive and easy to follow. Must reading for ETF investors.

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

There’s no user’s manual for the Canada Pension Plan, but this primer from a personal finance website isn’t a bad substitute. Here’s info on how to receive CPP and Old Age Security when you’re outside Canada.


The Money-Free Zone

Mavis Staples, Nick Lowe and members of Wilco rehearse the song, The Weight. Too good.


Watch this

Scroll down this item to check out comedian Larry David’s commercial for FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange that has filed for bankruptcy. Very funny – in an awkward way. Mr. David is being sued along with other celebs who endorsed FTX.


What I’ve been writing about

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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