Saving for Thailand while spending on Pad Thai

October 21st, 2016

Sipping on a cold Singha outside a food stall on Bangkok to wash down your khao man gai, and slightly worried that the hard plastic stool you're sitting on is going to give out.

Or eating Phanaeng curry of braised wagyu beef accompanied by the tang kwa luck gin cocktail, enjoyed at the trendy Maenam in Vancouver.

Travelling and dining out - that’s a glimpse into how Canadians like to spend their money, according to a recent EQ Bank poll.

The poll found that our fellow countrymen’s top spending preferences are travel (69% of respondents ranked travel in their top three discretionary choices) and dining out (58%). However, does this match what we are actually saving for? Well, not quite. While 69% say they save for travel, only 12% acknowledge they also save for dining out.

Does this mean our travel budget is literally eaten up by our appetite for restaurants? 

Obviously, a trip to an exotic destination requires a larger investment and more diligent planning than a dinner out. Travel is something we save for. However, do we, in equal measure, prepare for the occasions of more immediate discretionary spending, such as dining out? The survey suggests that might be an area where Canadians may put their financial goals at risk. 

It’s far too easy to let discretionary spending eat into savings when you don’t pay attention to your day-to-day budget. And while some of us are incredibly diligent in keeping track of our spending, many others simply save for the big-ticket items, such as homes, education or that long-awaited trip. They hope the small stuff works itself out. Could this be among the reasons why Canadians’ ratio of household debt to disposable income continues to rise?

So, what should you do? 

A simple solutiondining-out

Buckets.

Automatic Buckets.

Not buckets as in pails. Virtual buckets in which you save a set amount of money for spending on a specific thing. Upfront budgeting is only the first step in the planning process. The second step is to actually stick to your budget. That’s where buckets come in.

Here’s how it works, in a nutshell. Identify the five to eight (or more!) most important expenditures or goals in your budget and set up savings goals for each of them. Then set up an automatic transfer that will move a set amount into each of your accounts each pay cheque. That’s it. You’ll now know exactly how much you have to spend on each of your priorities. So, if it’s the day before payday and you only have $20 in your “Dining Out” bucket, you’re going to have to cancel your night out at Bar Isabel in Toronto and hit a taco truck instead.  

Not only does this set-up with buckets help you stick to a budget, it will also help you stay on top of credit card debt. You can pay off the balance and avoid high interest rates.

Though this routine requires a bit of work, in the long run, it’s what you need to have your Pad Thai in Bangkok and eat it too. 

To dig deeper into EQ Bank’s survey on saving and spending, read here.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Equitable Bank. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Equitable Bank.