Simone is a teacher living in Toronto making $ 70,000 a year. At 34, she’s finally debt-free and ready to spend money on the next chapter of her life.
She is saving up for a wedding this year, which will be followed by a yearlong honeymoon starting in August. “About a year ago, we thought about saving money to upsize to a larger home, but have currently put those plans on hold as housing prices continue to go up,” Simone says. “We’re OK to stay in our two-bedroom condo for the foreseeable future.”
Simone plans to split the $ 80,000 cost of the wedding and honeymoon in half with her fiancé. They may spend $ 40,000 on each, or maybe $ 30,000 on the wedding and $ 50,000 on the honeymoon — it depends on how the planning goes.
Currently, she’s living with her partner — they’re both contributing to his monthly mortgage payments of $ 1,600 on a two-bedroom condo. To make some money and lower expenses, they rent out a second bedroom and a parking spot.
Health is really important to Simone. She makes breakfast at home — fruit and cereal — and walks to work every day, which takes around 30 minutes. Also, Simone and her partner have a habit of dining in, and using leftovers for lunch the next day. She also saves money on coffee — sharing the cost of the beans and cream with her colleagues at work. “Occasionally, I go out for lunch or coffee but I try to limit it to once every two weeks,” she says.
Another very important part of her life is exercise. Simone gets her workout on almost every evening — except Wednesday when she practices with a musical group that puts on local performances around the city.
“The weekend is our time to do household chores, buy groceries,” she says. But Simone does have time to socialize, which means a brunch or dinner date with friends or family. “I try to set aside a few hours on Sunday to mark and prepare lesson plans and if I have a lot to do, I enjoy going to a cafe in the neighbourhood to do that.”
Her vice? Shopping for clothes.
She’s hoping to get advice from a financial expert on how to save up the remaining $ 15,000 she needs for her dream wedding and honeymoon, in just a few months.
We asked Simone to track her spending in a week:
The advice: Janet Gray, a financial adviser at Money Coaches Canada, finds positives with Simone’s saving and spending to date.
“Congrats on your frugalness so far,” Gray says. “You are keeping your expenses low and saving towards a meaningful goal.”
> To get even more traction on your savings, allocate a fixed amount each month to any vice areas like clothes. For example, $ 200. When that amount is spent, you can’t spend again until next month when another $ 200 is available. You could do the same for takeout food and other discretionary spending.
> Do you have funds set aside to cover your mortgage while you are away for a year? Can you get a side gig to add additional funds to your savings? I like that you are not spending much on out-of-home food. It’s an area that many people underestimate their spending.
> You are able to save a large monthly amount now, but I suggest you take a closer look at your timelines and your discretionary spending to see if you need to make any adjustments.
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The results: Success! Spending in week 1: $ 403.99. Spending in week 2: $ 210.54.
What she thought: Overall, Simone thinks she did “pretty well” and didn’t buy anything she didn’t need. “I resisted going out for coffee, brought my lunch to work and prepared dinner at home nearly every day this week,” she added. With holidays out of the way, Simone says it’s easier for her to resist shopping for herself and taking advantage of the deals. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t resist signing up for another monthly membership (Amazon Prime) but it’s keeping me entertained at home so maybe it’ll pay off,” she says.
Take-aways: “Setting a spending limit of $ 200 a month on the nice-to-have things is good advice.” She knows she needs to still aggressively work on holding onto her earnings to reach her goal of saving up the remaining $ 15,000 needed for the wedding plans. “During our year away, we are considering renting out the apartment to help us keep up with mortgage payments,” she adds.
What she learned about herself: “Food is a huge weekly expense in our household, even for just groceries.” To lower her grocery bill, she’s hoping to eat less meat and dairy to save money and also maintain her healthy lifestyle.
Overall, she’s happy to hear that Gray believes she’s on the right track. “With some minor tweaks, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to meet my financial goal.”
Note to readers: Some details have been removed to provide further anonymity for the participant.