A few weeks ago, my dear friend Jen attempted to explain to me the finer points of her RRSP.

Pretending to listen (sorry Jen, you lost me at “minimum disbursements”) I got to thinking — is this the same girl who routinely blew off her early morning accounting class in favour of hungover pancake breakfasts at our favourite greasy diner? When we were at university, our idea of an investment strategy was selling used textbooks for a Thursday night bottle of wine. It didn’t seem necessary to think about saving for anything beyond our weekend plans.

Eventually, Jen did attend enough accounting classes to complete her degree. She now holds down a very respectable bank job while I opted for more education and many more Thursday night vino-drinking sessions.


As a result of our divergent post-grad choices, Jen has become a savvy financier, complete with office-appropriate heels and a respectable retirement savings plan. I, on the other hand, am known as the irresponsible art school friend who regularly has more money on her Starbucks card than in her chequing account.

After rent payments, my cellphone bill and an overpriced gym membership (because I swear I’ll start going next week) I’m lucky if I have enough leftover for my daily grande latte habit.

So how do such close friends develop such drastically different spending habits? My parents have always had a “we can’t take it with us” approach to their retirement savings so they might be partially responsible for my spendthrift attitude. But I know they aren’t entirely to blame.
Ever since my first babysitting profits started rolling in I’ve always thought about money in an it’s-there-so-I-might-as-well-spend-it kind of way. As I get older, and presumably wiser, I’m starting to realize that might not be the most responsible attitude.

So, in an ongoing effort to become a grown up, I’ve decided it’s time I give my finances a serious makeover.

Jen has promised to give me a lesson in budgeting and I’m resolving to embrace a lifestyle of frugality by cutting back on my not-so-necessary expenses. I’m starting with a solid investment — a coffee maker for my kitchen.

Sure I’ll miss that early morning barista banter, but at $4 a pop (that’s a whopping $1,460 a year) it’s easy to see that I need a serious detox from those fancy frothy beverages.

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