Saying Good-Bye to the Spender and Hello to the Saver

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The following is a contribution from my good blogging friend, Mr. CBB from Canadian Budget Binder. 

We don’t have to look at our bills to know whether or not we are a spender or a saver. We either are or we aren’t. Not everyone has the ability to spend and save at the same time but it is possible to do. If you find that your debt isn’t going anywhere but up then making a change is likely a step in the right direction. Saving means just that, saving money so it grows, not saving money on something you buy because it’s on sale.

I remember a time when we used to think that we were big time savers and that we couldn’t do any better than we were at the time. We were wrong. We were spending more money than we should have been and saving less than we thought. This is the wrong kind of attitude to adopt and essentially what manufacturers love from consumers. In all honesty we didn’t know how much we were saving each month. All we would do is look at the bank account numbers and do a high-five because the number was higher than the month before.

The Easy Life


Sure many people might be saying that’s what we do and it works for us. It did work for us. I mean we didn’t dig ourselves into any major debt holes but we potentially could have after we bought our home.

When we were renting we didn’t have many bills to pay so life was good. It wasn’t until we bought our house that we went from being spenders without an agenda to savers with long-term and short-term goals.

Even though we had both previously owned homes it was so easy to get back into the “no responsibility” mode when we were renters. There wasn’t much care in the world to be honest but we did want to save as much money as we could. We would come and go as we pleased and the only bills we had were the ones we created on our own such as credit cards, cell phone, gas, car insurance etc.

Spending with our Eyes Half Open


We knew what we were doing but there were no goals or no money plan in effect for us. Although we didn’t go out to eat often we did go out on occasion and essentially just picked anything off the menu that we fancied. Our “live a little” mentality motivated us to chill out and take a break.

We still do this today but on an entirely different level, with a budget. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you know where the money is going. We thought we did but now that we look back we realize that we really didn’t.

When we needed shoes we would go and buy shoes but hope that they were on sale and getting the best price in town. The flyers would come to the place we rented but we didn’t so much go through them because we didn’t need much.

There was no set way that we looked for deals nor did we really push ourselves to the extent we do today. It was easier to pick the best product for the cheapest price when we went shopping.

Times have changed but that only comes with experience and knowledge, I think. I guess that was as far as we went when it came to comparison shopping. I’m sure we blew more money than we should have looking back but hey, you can’t win them all. Financial education is so important to us now.

It wasn’t until we started budgeting that our world stopped for a moment and we said, “wow, what have we done?” that things started to change.

Spending to Saving


From spending money to saving money all in one year it happened with the start of a budget and the drive to balance our lives. There is no need to take away spending because it doesn’t have to be a “naughty” word in the budget. Spending for us now is fun because we know the money is ready to be spent and all our other bases are covered.

Now we know how much money we are investing, how much is going to all of our future purchases which we call projected expenses. Although we can’t turn back time if we were to do it all over again we’d go back and change three things to make it right.

#1 – Plan


If we would have taken steps to plan better for our future by setting realistic goals both long and short-term and working towards achieving them it would have helped us to see areas we needed to improve.

It’s not just about saying it and doing it, it’s about writing it down and visiting the plan and changing it as you see fit.

#2 – Budget


What can I say about a budget that I haven’t said before? I’m sure we could have saved much more money if only we were using a budget. We are both quite disciplined individuals who can appreciate patience while working towards the end results. Although it’s different for everyone a budget was the cornerstone to the success of our current finances.

I don’t think we will ever stop budgeting although we do plan to continue making the process as simple as we can.

#3 – Educate


If only we knew more about personal finances, whether through reading more books or simply asking questions. One of the hardest things for me to understand is why I never did learn more about who was handling our money and what they were doing with it.

We simply rely on others to do the best they can with our money to help us live a happy retirement, free from money worries. What we didn’t do was take control by learning more about where the money is going and how it’s being invested or saved.

Now I do my best to read books and read other personal finance blogs and newspapers to keep on top of as much finance as I can. It’s all a part of learning.

We realized that we really didn’t need to say good-bye to the spenders that we were in order to save money. All we needed to do was plan what we wanted to achieve, document it and follow through. It was a simple concept and it still is today; in fact, it’s even easier now that we’ve been working on it together learning about our money over the last few years.

I think if we hadn’t stopped to analyze our spending habits a bit closer we may not have realized just how much we were actually spending and not saving.


This is a Guest Post By: Mr.CBB is the voice behind Canadian Budget Binder who says that “It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it.” Mr.CBB shares budgeting tips, frugal lifestyle, relationships, recipes, parenting, personal finance and so much more for his over 4500 fans all around the world. After all “money is money, debt is debt” no matter where you live.


Editor’s note: I love Mr. CBB’s thoughts here. Mrs. Frugal Rules and I had a similar journey and are now firmly entrenched in the saver camp. For us, it took seeing where our path was taking us and knowing that we wanted more than just living in the moment.


Photo courtesy of: 401(k)2012

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.


  • “Spending for us now is fun because we know the money is ready to be spent…” Love it! This is such a critical point people have to reach at some point in their personal finance journey. When we do the proper things via our budgets and savings, then spending can be very enjoyable and done without guilt.

    • You nailed it mate!! That is exactly how we feel. Since we know the money is there we can spend it if we need to. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain but it’s a good feeling and one that we don’t have to worry or stress over. Thanks for sharing Brian!

  • I am a saver! But when I first graduating from college, I was such a spender. I felt like I deserved to spend money.

    • You’re not alone but for those with that mindset they sooner realize that they must stop at some point or are forced to. That is when many look back and say, “why” . Sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes, that is how we grow! Thanks Monica for dropping by and commenting. Mr.CBB

  • Actually tracking my spending was such a huge eye-opener for me. Actually seeing where my money was going, instead of having a vague idea of it in my head, really spurred the desire to improve things. I think that can be the biggest step, and if you can follow through you can absolutely get to that place where spending is fun and guilt-free.

    • That’s awesome mate~ After a while of tracking expenses it becomes automatic and you don’t really think about it too much. We have a system in our heads and we know how it works, but like everyone else, we’re not perfect. It’s a game of life with our finances, play it right and we might just have something to show for it in the end. Have a great day!

  • Savvy Scot says:

    The concept of tracking your spending is definitely a good thing (especially for the out-of-control spender… but you have to be careful not to become too obsessive!

    • Ya, I hear you mate. We don’t get obsessive, heck we make mistakes like the next person. We are still trying to catch up from an over-spend in our grocery budget 2 months ago. If at the end of the year we notice it was a trend we will look at the numbers. I think the word “obsessive” also has different meanings to people. One may say no where another would say, hell ya.. you are obsessive. Have a good one!!

  • Tracking spending is key. If you don’t know how much you are spending and what you are spending it on, it’s going to be difficult to know what you can cut back on.

    • You’re the man DC… that’s it!! Some people don’t want to track and that’s ok too if they don’t want to know but for us it was imperative to know where our dollars were going so we could make improvements to the budget! Cheers mate.

  • pauline says:

    Well said Mr CBB, with a plan you really get further and faster. Yesterday I was at the supermarket and a couple in their 40s asked me to read the price tag for them, they couldn’t read numbers. I really felt for them because if you don’t even know how to count there is no way you can manage your budget well, and there are tons of sharks ready to take advantage.

    • That’s a very good point Pauline. There are many people that can’t count, nor read and some that move to different countries that still struggle with language and currency. I bet many of them rely on cashiers and others to help them out.

  • I think seeing savings grow is much more exciting that buying something at this point in my life. If I do buy, it’s money ready to be spent, like you said.

    • Kim, you have rocked the debts, the budgets, everything since I’ve known you and I can only imagine how your mindset has shifted. I think you are both doing a brilliant job and are well on your way. 🙂

  • Thanks John for having me guest post today, it was fun writing for you again!!! Cheers Mr.CBB

  • Alexa says:

    Making a plan and sticking to it has been what has helped me so much. Every week when I get my paycheck I make a list of all of my expenses for the week and follow it exactly. If I only have $40 left to go grocery shopping then that’s what I used. It’s liberating to make a plan and stick to it.

    • Hey Alexa!
      I’ve been following you for a while now since you’ve started blogging. It’s been interesting to read about how week to week you learn something new and how things have been changing for you. It’s been amazing and I know that the more we as personal finance bloggers continue to educate ourselves we will continue to see our goals closer than ever before. Have a great weekend Alexa… Mr. CBB

    • Aja says:

      You are right. Once you have a plan to have to stick to it. If I only have
      a certain amount of money for the rest of the week that is all I spend.

  • Read, read, and read some more! That is to what I attribute my small success so far!

    • Oh ya! I’ve read so much since I started blogging and before then. I love to read but it’s been the past 2 years that personal finance has been hot on my list and I can’t get enough of it. Learning about how to be in control of my finances is well worth the time and effort! Cheers Keren!

  • I’ve always been a natural saver, but having a plan and tracking your spending really does make a difference. It’s really hard to change your habits without a good plan you can stick to.

    • That’s what I was just explaining to Mark in my comment below. It all takes time but there has to be a plan, you are right. It’s all fine talking about what we want to do but it generally becomes a dream if we don’t bring it to life. Have a good one mate.

  • Spending can be exciting and fun at times but nothing beats the feeling of feeling secured and having worry-free nights because you know you have your saved money to back you up and not unpaid bills that keeps on coming at you.
    Though the transition to spender to saver can be difficult for some, you can make it look easy if you really have the desire to change, right?

    • That’s true from all aspects especially that it is hard to go from a spender to a saver. It’s the same as going from smoker to non-smoker, it all takes time. The problem is that there has to be goals and time-frames otherwise it just gets dragged on and on. You are right, waking up with no stress about money is a good feeling. I wish everyone a safe travel on their path towards debt freedom but grasp the bumps and learn from them so we never make them again. Cheers mate

  • Christina says:

    Having a plan is key! I use to be a spender but I realize I am still a spender but now its planned spending. I shop with a list for example. I have been getting better at saving too. I think there is a way to merry these two ideas (they are not exclusive).

    • Good for you Christina. Having a plan is very important and I’m a list guy all the way. Heck I have designed so many lists which you can get free at the blog because my fans wanted them too. They have helped us out so much to keep us on track. You can spend of course, we do and we have fun doing it and yes we did merry it with a budget and projected expenses… not looking back that’s for sure! Have a great weekend Christina!! Happy Spending! Mr.CBB

  • LOVE this, Mr. CBB. It’s SO about taking responsibility and making a plan, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing your story. It’s so motivating!

    • Thanks Laurie, when people tell me that what I write motivates me I tell them they motivate me as well. If I come by and share comments on your blog posts in some way you have motivated me and that’s important for me when it comes to my readers. I hope they can take something away and I hope I can learn from them whether through their own blog posts or if they are not blog owners through their comments. It’s a funny world we live in, but hanging out with the right people really does improve my life. Cheers

  • Justin @ The Family Finances says:

    In my household, we both tend to be savers. We’re a single income household with a little boy, so we work very hard at finding good deals and finding free entertainment and educational activities. In that sense, we’re kind of savers by necessity. If we spent money on the things that most “average” families do, we’d be in trouble.

    • It sounds like you know where your money goes and what you need to spend it on. Not everyone can say they can do that. I like that you find free entertainment. What are some of the things you do for free?

  • “we went from being spenders without an agenda to savers with long-term and short-term goals.” that describes me perfectly! Like you, I didn’t get myself into trouble but I was wasting money on things that meant very little to me. These days I’m singing a new tune. I have no problem spending money but I want to be sure that A) It’s something I truly want and worth my hard-earned money and B) I can afford it. I enjoyed instant gratification for a long time but I have sense discovered that buying something you truly love and can afford is far more powerful. Great post!

    • Instant gratification for many is just that, instant and then it wears off when the bill comes in. You are right it’s more powerful to save money and pay for it when you know you need it. Smart for you!!!

  • It is essential to track your spending! I remember the days when I was a spender. Now before I purchase something I ask myself if I REALLY need it; The answer is usually no. Great post Mr. CBB!

  • The figures don’t lie. It’s only when we take the time to examine them thoroughly that we can see just where things are going wrong. Great post mate!

  • Christine Weadick says:

    Loved the article, lots of good points in there. Keeping track of where the money is going is so important, as is the budget…. Having some money automatically rolled over is the only way we can save so that is what happens.

    • Well hello Christine, Fancy meeting you here!! Thanks for coming by to read my post. You know me well and how much tracking money is important to us as is the budget. Good to hear you roll over the money automatically especially if it’s the only way to save. Thanks Christine.

  • The tricky part is I wanna save and he wants to spend.

  • I used to be the same way when I had a full time job and life was easy. I wasn’t in debt and money never felt like a major concern, and I was doing all the right things like a 401k, etc. etc. But I could have done so much more and developed the habit so much earlier of working from a budget or spending plan. I think people think a budget is just for the people who are tight with money or low-income, and we all know that’s not the case at all.

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