Margot Bai

About Spend Smarter, Save Bigger

Have you ever:

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you can save thousands every year by following the ideas in Spend Smarter, Save Bigger. Inside, you will learn how to get the best car for your cash and slash the amount of interest you pay on your mortgage! You will discover the best tax strategies and how to shave hundreds of dollars off your insurance bill. You'll also learn to invest your new savings for above average returns, while paying below average investment fees!

Spend Smarter, Save Bigger gives Canadians practical advice on how to save money in BIG ways! Instead of wasting your money on short-lived luxuries, spend it on things that have lasting benefit. Saving money is the one reliable path to wealth that anyone can follow. You can turn an average income into significant wealth, just by making smarter choices on spending and saving your money.

Spend Smarter, Save Bigger cover design By Karen Petherick

Chapter Summary

  1. Spend Smarter, Save Bigger
  2. Other People's Money
  3. Choosing Financial Freedom
  4. Taking Care of Business
  5. Budgeting Made Easy
  6. Two are Better than One
  7. My Financial Story: How I Got Here
  8. The Big Savings Start at Home
  9. Mastering your Mortgage
  10. Preparing for the Unexpected: House, Life & Health Insurance
  11. Driving down the Cost of Driving
  12. Choosing the Right Vehicle
  13. Keeping your Vehicle on the Road: Insurance and Maintenance
  14. Safe Driving for Healthy Savings
  15. Investing Basics Every Saver Should Know
  16. Easy Investing Alternatives to Grow your Savings Faster
  17. What are RRSPs Really For?
  18. Saving Money and Helping Others


  1. Spend Smarter, Save Bigger opens with the story of Sarah and Mitch, a couple taking early retirement in their mid-fifties. Though they came from modest beginnings, their careful spending and saving habits enabled them to accumulate well over a million dollars and retire in comfort. Introduces savings as an unerring path to financial success for average working Canadians.
  2. Other People's Money introduces George and Kathy, newlyweds who embrace a high-spending, high-debt lifestyle. Though they earn good money, their heavy spending results in a huge debt load that nearly bankrupts them when their first child is born. Endless advertisements for the products of a better life woo consumers to buying on credit. Financial freedom starts by eliminating debt through living on less than you earn.
  3. Choosing Financial Freedom tells the story of Adam and Jody, a young couple who focus on paying off their student loans quickly and saving up for new purchases. Their early sacrifices pay off in Jody being able to work from home part time after her maternity benefits end. While small savings can add up, finding big savings is crucial to financial success. A questionnaire helps assess your slippery spending habits. Take a vacation from shopping to uncover your spending weaknesses.
  4. Taking Care of Business revisits George and Kathy in deep financial trouble and provides an action plan to turn things around. Managing personal finance, like running a business, involves balancing your spending in relation to your income, paying off your debts and building up your assets. Consistently paying your bills in full on time requires living on less than you earn. Rather than evaluating purchases based on their monthly cost, the total cost, including the impact of taxes, needs to be considered.
  5. Budgeting Made Easy. A young couple struggles to bring their finances together as Jerry spends his way into debt while Rachel saves her money. Eventually, they reach a crisis point where Rachel agrees to pay off Jerry's debt and they begin following a family budget. An effective budget enables you to buy the things you really want while saving for the future. Using personal finance software makes keeping track easier.
  6. Two are Better than One shows how two people sharing their lives together can save faster than one alone. However, the couple must work through disagreements about money and develop common goals. A marriage is steadily sinking as the shop-aholic wife Heather keeps adding to credit card debt while her husband Charlie is saving money behind her back for a motorcycle. In a financially successful relationship, both partners must be involved in the family finances and be accountable to each other for their spending.
  7. My Financial Story: How I Got Here tells how my life experiences have shaped my views on the importance of saving. I describe how I managed money through university, getting married, moving to the city and buying my first house. I also introduce section two on finding bigger savings where I continue to share my personal money experiences
  8. The Big Savings Start at Home shows the financial advantages of home ownership over renting. Strategies for buying a new home at a discount and a resale home below market value will put you thousands of dollars ahead. Choose a home that meets your needs and will appeal broadly at resale. If your home is in demand, you should be able to sell it without an agent, saving thousands more.
  9. Mastering your Mortgage makes a strong case for choosing shorter mortgage terms and negotiating for the lowest possible interest rate at each renewal. Exercises help the reader calculate the annual cost of their mortgage and explain how to find the best rate available. Starting out with a smaller mortgage and making mortgage prepayments will save tens of thousands in interest charges over the life of the mortgage.
  10. Preparing for the Unexpected: House, Life & Health Insurance emphasizes that insurance is meant to help us recover from large losses that we could not bear alone. When buying home insurance, understand policy features, including covered perils, exclusions and special limits. Term life insurance offers the most affordable protection for the time it is needed most.
  11. Driving down the Cost of Driving Financing or leasing a new car purchase is risky because you usually won't be able to get out of the deal for several years without taking a loss. Compared to having two cars, sharing one vehicle with your partner will save thousands every year. Driving a reliable vehicle for its entire useful life will provide the best long-term value.
  12. Choosing the Right Vehicle suggests that you should choose a vehicle based on what you need it to do. Before you buy, research different makes and models and insist on top reliability ratings to save on future repair costs. Always negotiate the purchase price separately from the financing terms to ensure you are getting the best vehicle price.
  13. Keeping your Vehicle on the Road: Insurance and Maintenance Choose the highest deductible you can afford that provides worthwhile savings on your premium. Consider dropping the collision coverage as your car gets older and its value goes down. Always ask a mechanic how long a suggested repair can wait and call around for quotes if you feel the price is high. Ask about aftermarket parts and refurbished parts for your repairs.
  14. Safe Driving for Healthy Savings shows how the right driving habits could save thousands of dollars each year in fuel, wear and tear, moving violation charges, collision costs, insurance deductibles and premium increases. Almost all crashes could have been predicted and avoided by either driver, including the driver considered not-at-fault. Every time you get behind the wheel, leave distractions behind and focus entirely on the task of identifying risk and avoiding collisions.
  15. Investing Basics Every Saver Should Know begins with a story about a young couple who invest with a financial advisor, only to loose $1000 in sales fees when they decide they need the money to buy a house. The chapter breaks down the fees involved in investing including MERs and loads. Basic investing concepts are covered including, equities and fixed income, mutual funds, market indices, active and passive investing styles, asset allocation, geographical mix, rebalancing and dollar cost averaging. I suggest a simple, low-cost investment strategy for those starting out.
  16. Easy Investing Alternatives to Grow your Savings Faster explores the world of mutual fund companies, advertising and fees. The chapter describes the credentials and services of different types of financial advisors. By investing directly with a fund company, you can access quality mutual funds with lower fees and receive free investing advice from the fund company's advisors.
  17. What are RRSPs Really For? While RRSP are a great way to save for retirement, their primary purpose is to defer taxes. Taxes are most people's greatest lifetime expense and there are many ways to save on taxes, including spreading out income and paying off your mortgage quickly. An older couple who saved a fortune over forty-five working years regret not taking early retirement when the husband suffers a stroke at age sixty-seven.
  18. Saving Money and Helping Others measures financial success by our willingness to help others less fortunate and prepare ourselves to weather hard times. Living frugally also reduces garbage and pollution, helping save the world ecology. You can create the life you want by consistently saving money in every area until you have enough to pursue the lifestyle you choose.