Thursday, April 2, 2009


Since I'm not contributing to a retirement or pension plan through work, nor do I have any RRSPs yet, I save $300 a month for savings: $200 for emergencies and $100 for other. Emergencies are just that, hopefully I'll never have to use it, but things come up, in a big way, and if you're prepared somewhat financially, it won't rock your budget boat. Other includes everything else, usually fun voluntary things. I don't have any room in my budget for airfare, vacations, Christmas presents etc. so I need to have this extra cash in hand and that's what the other savings account is for.

Right now (after the tax refund comes in) my savings look like this:
Semi-serious: $565.47
Serious: $1630.98

Come October, I'll be making a fair amount less because I'll FINALLY have benefits (get ready teeth!) and so I'll lose my pay in lieu of benefits AND begin contributing 7% of my pay to a pension plan and 1.5 % to a mandatory savings plan my workplace matches. It's a good deal but will be an adjustment to lose the extra money so in the mean time I'm keeping the same monthly budget I will need then as far as discretionary expenses (so it's not a shock when I have $300 less a paycheque) and I'm making my own savings plan. By October I'll have $2700 in serious savings and around $1300 in semi-serious. Pretty darn good if you ask me.

If this hasn't been clear, I think having savings and some money on hand in case of emergencies is extremely important.

If you're in debt, do what you can. I've decided on paying a slightly lower amount each month on my line of credit in order to have more money to put into savings. Otherwise I would be savings free and giving away all my money and in case of emergency I would be stuck and emergencies happen! I did the calculations and by paying off my line of credit in 5 years ($650/m) instead of 4 ($800/m) I will be paying about $800 more in interest but would have also saved $9000 over that period. If you aren't sure how to proceed at least save some money for emergencies, $100-200 per month. You will appreciate it when your car breaks down, your kid needs braces, or you have to fly home for some emergency.

If you're debt free I would aim to be saving up to 30% of your income to savings:

10% to a retirement plan that you never ever touch (except if you're using it for a down payment on a mortgage, where the government give you a break on the withdrawal)
10% to a easily accessible high-interest savings account for emergencies (home repair, job loss)
10% for semi-serious savings in a high-interest savings account (vacation, new computer)

Once you have 3-6 months of your regular income saved for emergencies, you can keep on saving or invest that 10% for retirement or other long-term savings goals. You should keep in mind that your emergency money for 3-6 months will need to be added to as your wages and responsibilities increase, so it would need to be evaluated over time to ensure you have enough piled away.

Like your chequing accounts, all savings accounts are not created equal, so shop around! I started a few Jumpstart High Interest Savings accounts at Vancity (a credit union) a few years ago and they've been great to keeping my money close, but far away enough from my regular account that I didn't dip in without forethought. At 3% at the time, their interest rate was the best deal around, but now they've moved down to 1.75% in light of the economy. Find a deal that suits you. You should be able to save with little or no fees (especially if you do the bulk of your work on the internet), since they make money of your savings, so read the fine print.

Get saving! Not in the mattress or the piggy bank but that's not a bad start.

Do you have any tips for saving money?

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OSAP Repayment
Final Goal Date: Sept 2009

Started: May 2008
Finished: JUNE 2009!!

$0 .

TD Line of Credit
Final Goal Date: Sept 2012

Started: May 2009
Finished: ??

Only $33,326 to go! .

$12000 in Emergency Savings
Final Goal Date: ASAP

Started: Jan 2008
Finished: ??

$12000 in savings .