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New decks, puppies and kayaks came up a lot in your answers to my recently asked question about what pandemic splurge has given you the most happiness.

People fortunate enough to have kept their job and income intact this year have had an opportunity to save money as a result of physical-distancing measures. Some of this money is going into new stuff for ourselves, our homes and our families. Here’s how spending breaks down for the 1,500 or so people who responded to my callout:

There’s not much cause to be judgey about this spending. One-third of splurges were for outdoor renovations such as a deck and indoor renos such as adding an office. People are making their houses more comfortable and practical while adding or maintaining their property value. Splurging on food is a cost-efficient morale booster in my experience, and the spending on sports equipment is an investment in better health.

Asked what splurge gave them the most happiness, decks were mentioned by 374, or 25 per cent of the total. No wonder there’s a lumber shortage. Other popular splurges: 32 firepits or fireplaces, 22 puppies, 16 golf-related purchases (clubs, shoes and such), 14 kayaks.

Some of my favourite responses to the question of most joyful splurge:

  • “A very expensive bottle of olive oil that tasted like heaven on earth.”
  • “A really comfortable lounging chair to read in.”
  • “Wine, whisky and gardening.”
  • “Charitable donations. I’ve been able to triple my giving, which makes me feel useful in these weird times.”
  • “I splurged on an exercise bike and a pet – the pet wins on happiness.”
  • “A couple of great steaks and an excellent bottle of wine for a home BBQ with my wife.”
  • “Chickens – 12 laying birds.”
  • “Hagen Dazs Chocolate Chunk ice cream.”
  • “To bring my great grandfather’s two pocket watches up to spec so they were like new.”
  • “Globe and Mail subscription.”

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Rob’s personal finance reading list

The over-confidence problem in personal finance

A new report documents a gap between what people think they know about their finances and how they actually manage their money.

Insulted by his bank shows a mortgage-renewal notice sent by a big bank to a customer that uses posted mortgage rates close to 3 percentage points higher than available discounted rates. A renewal notice should be considered a reminder to start negotiating a rate with your lender. Some people must accept the rates printed on these renewals – otherwise, why would banks send them?

Who to follow and read in personal finance

A couple of bloggers have recently produced lists of resources for people to learn more about personal finance and investing. Here’s a list of books, podcasts and blogs to follow, and here are a bunch of personal finance bloggers to check out.

Ten credit cards to help you build rebuild your credit

Credit cards for people new to the country who want to build a credit history and for those who want to re-establish a good record as a borrower. Most are secured cards, which require a security deposit.

Ask Rob

Q: Are securities held in a non-registered account transferable in-kind to a TFSA account without incurring capital gains or losses under the deemed-disposition rule?

A: If the shares you transfer have risen in price since being purchased, then you will have a taxable capital gain in a transfer like this. But if the shares have fallen in price, you can’t claim a capital loss.

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

Plain-language answers to your investing questions from people who do not sell investments or advice for a living.

The money-free zone

Late Show host Stephen Colbert asks Bruce Springsteen here what his three favourite Bob Dylan songs are. Three of my faves: Like a Rolling Stone, Blind Willy McTell and The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories
  • Can this 41-year-old leave her job and ‘retire’ without the worry of running out of money?
  • ‘Multiple wheels are falling off the train’: Canadians are struggling with mental-health costs of COVID-19
  • Investors rush to get out of pre-built Toronto condo deals (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Rob Carrick and money coverage

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