“Put it back on the shelf”, and other money tips from My Aunt Jane

By: Vin Heney on November 10, 2016
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My Aunt Jane has taught me some goodies over the years, as all Aunt Janes should. These include (but are not limited to) how to write, how to ski, how to cottage, and how to humour.

But this blog is all about finances, so let’s stick to the moola lessons. Here goes.

You’re responsible for your own retirement.

Some of us are lucky enough to rely on fat pensions or family inheritances, but most of us aren’t. So the onus for long-term stability is on you. That may sound harsh, but My Aunt Jane doesn't give a damn, so suck it up and start maxing out your TFSA (not your credit card).

Put it back on the shelf and go home.

For years, My Aunt Jane hammered this one home. About to drop a few hundo on new kicks? Go home and live without them for a week. If you can’t stop thinking about them, then maybe they’re worth picking up. But more than likely, you’ll realize that you can go without. And it’s much easier to pass on a purchase when you’re miles from the store, removed from the consumer commotion, and getting by fine with your other kicks.

Pay with cash so you feel the pain.

Speaking of spending, try doing most of it with cash. Back to the shoe example: even if you can’t live without those kicks, it’s gonna hurt a hell of a lot more to hand over a pile of twenties than it is to swipe and never see the money leave your hand. It’s popular advice for a reason: letting go of your hard-earned cash should hurt a little.

Save up first and buy it with a clear conscience.

Some things you need to buy, and if you’re paying attention, you can see them coming a mile away. Like a car. Not everyone needs one, but for those that do, take a cue from My Aunt Jane. Put a little money away each month until you have enough to buy a trusty VW. Sell your old one to your brother. Go and buy a new one. Use it, love it, but start saving for the next one the minute you drive it off the lot. You’ll never have buyer’s remorse if you understand your needs and pay for them in full.

If you track every penny, you’ll be streets ahead.

Money is hard to earn and even harder to save, so know where the hell it goes. I already wrote about this, but it warrants repeating: tracking isn’t about being cheap, it’s about being conscious of your behaviour. And spoiler alert: mindful spending means smarter spending. It’s harder to drop twenty on lunch when you’re accountable for it at the end of the day. Like My Aunt Jane says, “If you’re tracking your expenses, you’re streets ahead.”

Money is a powerful motivator, so use it to kick bad habits.

My Aunt Jane used to be a smoker, and not the kind that resented the addiction, the kind that loooooooooved it. Old photos tell the story well: she was, without fail, a badass with a smoke happily in hand. But as with all love affairs, nothing lasts forever. She decided to kick the habit and did so with the help of money. Every time she would’ve bought a pack, she instead put that money aside, without exception. She did that every day for a full year. 12 months later? Still a badass, no longer a smoker, and with serious coin to boot.

Don’t be afraid to spend a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon.

Being savvy is not about being cheap. Every time we’d visit my Aunt Jane (this still applies), she may as well have been throwing money around the room. Cash for junk food? Absolutely! Boot into town to grab lunch? Uhhh...YES. Hell, she’d be forcing twenties in my pockets as I was walking out the door. And if I ever asked for her opinion about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, especially ones that wouldn’t break the bank? Well, My Aunt Jane has a theory for things like that: “Don’t be afraid to spend a nickel to see a cow jump over the moon.”

So there you have it. Be as smart with your money as My Aunt Jane is and you too will be streets ahead.