Margot Bai

Stouffville Free Press

Smart Moves for Taxing Times

Kate Gilderdale
By Kate Gilderdale
Stouffville Free Press, March 2007 Edition

As March winds blow, can thoughts of spring be far behind?

Unfortunately the approach of spring is also the harbinger of that much less welcome annual event, tax time. For the fiscally challenged, this is a good time to consider a financial plan which provides long term stability and the potential for early retirement.

Margot Bai, who works at State Farm Insurance in Stouffville, has written a book called Spend Smarter, Save Bigger, which provides strategies for effectively managing major expenses such as mortgages, cars, taxes and insurance. "A lot of books focus on small savings; I wanted focus on the big expenses that everybody has," she said.

"I wanted to write something that would be entertaining and easy to read. Every chapter is a story; I'm sharing my own story as well, to use as an example of what's possible."

For example, buying a home directly from a builder can result in big savings, she said. "We bought two homes from builders and both have appreciated in value. Some people don't want to buy from a floor plan, so the house tends to sell at a discount compared to a similar home in an established neighbourhood."

She also offers suggestions for getting the most out of the car you buy, saving on insurance premiums and making sensible investments to reduce taxable income. "I'm big on couples making major financial decisions together and on shared chequing accounts." That way, she said, couples share the responsibility for making the plan work and are more likely to encourage each other to save. Margot shows how she and her husband, James, have used the strategies in the book to make the most of their earnings and pay off student debt.

Spend Smarter, Save Bigger is available at Chapters. For more information on the book, visit

© Stouffville Free Press 2007