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There is endless talk about the saving and investing side of personal finance, but not about spending. Can we spend smarter?

A recent thread on Reddit offers some ideas on smart spending. The question that started the discussion: “What upgrade was totally worth the price?” A few notable responses were gathered together on the Lifehacker blog, and they’re worth a look because, for the most part, they’re quite affordable. The list:

  • A good backpack
  • Wireless headphones
  • Paying for movers instead of doing it yourself
  • Quality sheets
  • A phone charger with a longer cable
  • Better garbage bags
  • Living alone instead of having a roommate

Here are a few splurges I find to be worth the money:

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  • A warm winter jacket
  • Good coffee. Not lattes etc., just a quality cup
  • Vacations (take fewer trips, go to more interesting places)
  • A decent bottle of bourbon

High levels of household debt tell us people are overspending widely in their lives. One way to throttle back on spending would be to splurge strategically. Buy the utility grade of products you don’t care about, and splurge on a few affordable things you take pleasure in.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

Rob’s personal finance reading list…

How not to overspend this holiday season

I was talking to a credit counsellor the other day who mentioned how busy things typically get in January. Thus, a list of tips for limiting your holiday spending.

Five myths about the Canada Pension Plan

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The president and CEO of the CPP Investment Board cuts through a lot of the nonsense talked about the CPP. Worth reading if you worry about whether the CPP will be there for you when you retire.

The 411 on inheriting debt

A primer on what happens to your debts when you die. Pay close attention if you have co-signed a loan or taken on joint debt.

RESPs: Individual or family plan?

One of the most common questions I get about registered education savings plans is whether it’s better to open an individual or family plan. Here’s some info to help you make the best pick for your situation.

Ask Rob

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Q: Rather than gambling on one of the various marijuana companies, I bought an exchange-traded fund, HMMJ, thinking it would be safer. The shares are now worth less than 50 per cent of what they were. Would you wait it out or give up?

A: I would give up, take the loss and reinvest the money in something else. Probably a Canadian market equity ETF. That’s no comment on the prospects for cannabis stocks, a sector I know little about. Rather, it would be a way to get away from speculation on a narrow market niche and back to diversified long-term investing.

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

A buy-vs-lease calculator for people in the market for a new vehicle.

Video of the week

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All about “emotional spending,” which is tied more to your emotional state than real needs. Some might know this term as retail therapy.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

  • I’m divorced with two kids, a house, and meagre retirement savings. Will I be OK?
  • Five ideas to reduce the clawback of OAS benefits
  • As reliable as Old Faithful, Fortis has raised its dividend once more (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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