This Simple Living Concept Allows Us To Save Thousands

simple living concept 2



Simple living doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy all the frosting that life has to offer in order to live a better today for an amazing tomorrow. You can! Just about everything we do today will in part affect the outcome of our financial future and some people worry about whether they have done enough to get them to the finish line.

I’ve blogged for a few years now and ever since the beginning there has been one simple living concept that I have encompassed our entire financial path around because it works, a budget. The concept of budgeting for us revolves around this saying which I created years ago which is also pasted on our refrigerator door.

It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it – Mr.CBB

I received an email from a reader who is looking for some insight about investing and her financial future and motivation about not finding this blog earlier.

Dear Mr. CBB,

About 9 yrs ago I moved from Europe to Canada. It was always a big dream for me to live abroad and when I turned 30 I realized my dream, cashed everything I owned in, sold every last pot and pan on eBay and moved to Toronto, Ontario Canada. My starting capital here in Canada lasted just until I found a well enough paying job. But there were no savings left – mostly due to my fault: not living below my means.

Last December I had enough of living pay cheque to pay cheque. Especially now that I have a mortgage to pay off I felt increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of not being prepared for a potential emergency.

Related: How to be your own money manager

After a bit of Google searching and reading about the “Million Dollar Journey” I found your blog, Canadian Budget Binder. I knew right away that this was what I needed. A budget. A group for accountability and support. People who make saving and moving away from consumerism fun and exciting.

Thanks to your guest posts I also read the Frugalwoods’ blog and am working my way through Mr. Money Mustache’s story.

Everybody has great advice and I’ve started keeping track of my net worth, budgeting all my expenses on a monthly/weekly basis. I am writing down every single cent that is leaving my wallet or account. I even switched my bank to save on monthly chequing account fees.

The support of the Grocery Game Challenge group and especially being part of the daily “What’s for dinner” discussion on Facebook has actually helped me to go from daily Starbucks to barely any. After crunching numbers I realized how silly it is to spend $800 a year for coffee and that those $800 could become $1450 in just 10 years. With a simple compounded interest rate of 6% that can be achieved with a conservative Index fund.

Related: Coffee and Lunch Comparison of Two Co-workers

I digress – after initiating all these wonderful new things that will become habits in a few months (I hope) I am also regularly checking the value of my RRSP and RPP  portfolio etc. But now that the markets are off to a bad start this year, I am realizing that I am spending way too much time with my personal finances. I am calculating all possible scenarios.

I am watching like a hawk how the value of my retirement savings is going down, down down and… it honestly makes me a little sick. So here is my question: how do you keep from panicking. How to stop worrying “if I only had started earlier” or “if I only had saved more” or “what am I going to do, I will never be able to retire comfortably”…

How to deal with financial worries about the market?

What do you tell people who say “I should have found your site years ago”?

I wonder if other people feel similar. I can’t be the only one, otherwise antidepressants wouldn’t be some of the most described medications in the world.

Looking forward to reading and hearing what your suggestions may be.


Dear CBB Fan,

Thanks for your question submission and although it’s been in my inbox for a few weeks now I wanted to make sure that I took the time to answer it as thoroughly as possible. It’s amazing how numbers paint a different picture when we add them up over time.

Not many people think about the consequences of small purchases that add up in the budget. This is why it was so important for us to start budgeting and tracking our net worth. I believe that everyone should do this simple monthly task to keep tabs on their finances.

The hardest part about my hobby-job is not giving advice so I often suggest talking to a professional advisor when it comes to investment worries.

That being said it’s easy to have concern over uncertainty in the markets and when you have the money you worked hard for basically standing waiting to be attacked or handed a bouquet of flowers it can get tough emotionally if one is not ready for risk.

Doing what you are doing is comparable to someone who wants to lose weight and steps on the scale a couple of times a day only to get discouraged. It’s perfectly normal to watch your investments but if you are being swallowed up by the ups and downs maybe your risk tolerance isn’t as high as you once thought. This can be changed if you talk to your finance professional who deals with your retirement funds.

We all want to retire comfortably and some of us want to retire early but for many both scenarios will never come to fruition because of their lack of financial savings and debt load. Worrying about what you don’t have is only going to slow you down. Put on your motivation cap and ask yourself what you can do today so you can save more money for emergency situations and to put towards future endeavors.


How to deal with financial worries about the market


With the way the stock markets have been lately many people have scrambled wondering if they should be selling stocks or cashing out because they are worried they will lose it all.

Since the stock market crash in 2008- 2009 we’ve learned that what goes up must come down and vice-versa. With that means that investing will incur fluctuations and possible crashes. Your tolerance of this all boils down to risk and how much damage you are willing to take before your threshold collapses.

Without any further investments into my one of my wife’s investment funds she has more than made up for what she lost back in 2009 as of today. This leads me to believe that waiting it out can be the best option but it’s imperative that you watch your investments every step of the way.

A recent article in the Globe and Mail about Billionaire Warren Buffet,  “What Warren Buffet Wouldn’t Do and You Probably Shouldn’t Either” shares some insight about investing and how to approach your portfolio.

A couple of points that jumped out at me:

Don’t be too fixated on daily moves in the stock market: “Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.” (from letter published in 2014)

Don’t get excited about your investment gains when the market is climbing: “There’s no reason to do handsprings over 1995’s gains. This was a year in which any fool could make a bundle in the stock market. And we did.” (1996)

Don’t be short on cash when you need it most: “We will never become dependent on the kindness of strangers… . We will always arrange our affairs so that any requirements for cash we may conceivably have will be dwarfed by our own liquidity.” (2010)

Don’t beat yourself up over wrong decisions; take responsibility for them: “Agonizing over errors is a mistake. But acknowledging and analyzing them can be useful, though that practice is rare in corporate boardrooms. … When it comes to corporate blunders, CEOs invoke the concept of the Virgin Birth.” (2001)

Don’t get too up in arms about your investments but watch them closely but not too close is what I take from the above.


How to live the simple life…


Own it! That’s right, don’t beat yourself up get out there and do what you need to do so you feel good about the place you are at financially. That may mean you target areas in your budget that are suffering or work on setting goals to help motivate you to the next level of success. Whatever you chose to do it’s imperative that you’re optimistic even through any downfalls. No one ever sails through life without a hitch so don’t give up when the going gets tough.

Voluntary simplicity is a place you can be at IF you want to give up some of those luxuries that take down your budget expenses. You don’t need to furnish your home with all brand new furniture nor do you need to drive an expensive car or dress yourself in the finest clothes.

Minimizing clutter around the house and keep comfort levels to a minimum meaning “Less is More” will always create an environment that is conducive to simple living habits. We have 2 friends who we could easily crown the King and Queen of simple living. They hardly ever spend money on new items and their house looks like it’s straight out of IKEA.

Very sleek furniture, no television and very little decor around the house. Their car is used and the savings they have either goes towards their retirement or their daughters education fund. They don’t go on fancy holidays unless it’s back home to the UK and most of their entertainment is free through church events or friends.

They love the simple life and to be honest it would be difficult for me to see them any other way. It works for them because they want it to work and they find ways to keep themselves busy so they aren’t bothered by the norm of, having it all.


Worrying about your financial past


It’s human habit for us to look back on our life and wish we did or didn’t do something whether it was right or wrong. Sometimes we can be hard on ourselves because of missed opportunity BUT the key here is that you take the steps today to better your financial tomorrow.

You can’t look back and beat yourself up about it because you can’t control what has already passed. Although we have limited control over the financial market we do have the power to set financial boundaries with-in our comfort zone.

I remember a time thinking that if only my wife and I started budgeting hard-core like we do today back when we were renting a room. The rent was so cheap it was ridiculous and we had no other expenses apart from my wife’s cell phone and vehicle. We were basically debt free with-in the first year and saving the rest of the money in our savings account.

The problem was we weren’t tracking expenses and although simple living was essentially what we were doing, we could have done better. Put it this way, when you think you are being frugal but find out you were not as cheap as you thought you were going to be makes you realize your mistakes so you don’t make them again.

It wasn’t until we bought our first house together that the budget was born. We’ve never looked back and even though we have zero debt and no mortgage that doesn’t mean we hang up the towel on our monthly budget tracking. Everything counts today for the future and we certainly aren’t going to miss the opportunity today to do what’s right for us so we aren’t looking back wishing we did.

My point is that no matter what point you are on your financial journey there is no better time than today. Depending on your age investing in certain retirement funds might not work for you so it’s best to dump money into a Tax Free Savings Account. Talk to your financial advisor who is the professional and will give you the best advice you will need to ease your mind with your retirement future.


What you can do about your financial uncertainty


  • It’s up to you but I think checking on your investments a little less may ease the stress you are feeling about the fluctuations it he market.
  • Talk to your financial advisor at least once a year to go over your portfolio and go armed with a list of questions to ask him/her.
  • Remove clutter from your life because simple living means you will save more because you realize you don’t need much to enjoy a wonderful life
  • Keep on budgeting and tracking expenses even after you break through your investment threshold or paying off the mortgage or car loan.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something even if you know you can.
  • Set small and long-term goal victories to work towards as this will help keep the simple living concept alive with-in your family.
  • Educate and continue to educate yourself all over the web learning about finance and how it applies to your life.
  • Hang around like-minded people because it’s easier to relate with someone about a financial situation that you may want advice about. Chilling with the wrong friends can cause lots of damage to finances especially if you are a “Yes Person” and too shy to say, “NO” to spending.

One thing that makes simple living the easiest remedy for spending less and saving more


Budgeting and simple living


I’ll never stop bragging about how using a budget helped us to become mortgage and debt free nor will I say that it’s fine not to use one as I’m an advocate for seeing the numbers in order to move past the next crisis. Sometime people get discouraged with a budget but if you do it right you will wonder what took you so long to get done.

Simple living can be as easy as splurging less and enjoying the simple things in life like a sunset, rain drops on the cement or even just watching the birds fly around your place of residence while you drink your morning coffee.

It’s your life, your decision- make it the one that works for you.

What other tips can you add to this post to help the reader through uncertainty with the financial market and allowing herself to cut ties with over-spending and simple living?


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  1. You can’t hear it enough. Saving is extremely important in creating financial freedom down the road, but temptations sometimes get the best of us. I will have to remember your quote, “It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it.” Thanks for sharing your experience with your fan. It’s nice to see both sides of the conversation.

  2. Under the “Simple Life” heading, you mentioned that the couple drove “a used car.” among other expense saving methods.
    There is a saying in the automotive business, probably as old as the business itself, the “Everyone drives a used car.” It means that, once you drive your purchase off the lot, that vehicle is now used, and, even if you turned right around and sold it back to the dealer, you would lose money.
    The point is, you can have the latest model of any make, but it is still a “depreciating asset.” People are often too anxious to trade in their wheels for a newer model, when, in reality, the two vehicles are virtually identical, with the older one having a bit more wear and tear. Their lifespans are likely to be similar, and, almost certainly, they will provide the same service, which is getting the occupants from one place to another. Without question, some models offer a better experience for their owners, but you should keep in mind how much the improvement is costing. If you want, for instance, a luxurious ride, there are lots of cars on the used market that can deliver that experience without the cost of the newest model. Depreciation of the value is worst in the early years of a car’s life, meaning you can reduce the outlay for your preferred ride at the expense of the original owner. (Don’t feel sorry for them: nobody held a gun to their head when they bought.) One factor in favour of buying used, which isn’t always considered, is that the model’s history is known due to the collective experience of many buyers. When you buy a new car, you depend on the manufacturer’s reputation to produce cars with minimal defects or bad designs; even the best carmakers make mistakes, and occasionally even knowingly try to pass off problems onto the trusting buyers.
    Fortunately, most cars today, even the worst ones, are better built and more reliable than they were even a generation ago.
    Your main decision should be the amount you can pay or finance for a vehicle. The model’s history, or its prior history if buying new, is important, as is the projected cost of keeping it on the road. This includes, of course, fuel consumption, as well as maintenance costs. Maintaining a luxury import, for example, can be a major expense; an oil change for many models of Porsche, for instance, can cost several hundreds or more. Best to find out the cost of parts and labour, including frequency of wear-and-tear replacements, like brakes, exhaust systems, and suspension components, before you buy!

    1. Hi Barrie,
      Yes, you are right every car is a depreciating asset no matter if you buy it new or used. Thanks for the lengthy comment full of great feedback. Much appreciated. Mr.CBB

  3. Past is past. What I do is that I just learn from what happened in the past. One of which is that budgeting really helps because I can say that I am on my way to reaching my financial goals and the way I spend and save has never been the same like in the past. Glad that my past served me really well.

  4. The only reason you should look to the past is to measure how far you’ve come. I can attest that budgeting gives you a clearer picture of where you can change things and the motivation to make those changes. In keeping 2 years of budgets, I feel pride in my progress and a sense of accomplishment. And, I am motivated to keep up with the small changes to add up to a big difference.

    1. Hi Anne,
      I agree looking back at the past is a great measure of accomplishment or the need to do better. Congratulations on doing so well with your budget. 🙂 What kind of a budget do you use?

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