Toronto author Gordon Stein combined his mechanical engineering degree, his experience working in sales, marketing and operations, and a love of helping others to write the new book Cashflow Cookbook.
Stein calls it “simple, fun and very approachable” — 60 financial “recipes” that, he says, can add up to $2 million in wealth if applied together over 10 years. But “you can skip parts of it — let’s say you don’t own a car, so you can just skip that section,” he says. “It’s like a cookbook as in you don’t have to read it cover to cover.”
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Stein said the recipe idea and the food puns were an influence from his mother, Thelma Barer-Stein, who died this past summer and published numerous books on food.
Stein, from London, Ont., but who currently lives in Toronto, wanted his book to stand out among other financial help books, making it fun and easy to pick up and to limit the amount of math jargon. He’s currently working on an American edition of the book.
In the next three editions of Smart Money, we will offer some of Stein’s recipes:
Vishnay was pleased with herself. In the two years since she divorced Frank, she had toasted two large credit card balances, mixed up a tasty balance in a family RESP and served up some home fix-it jobs herself.
Slicing about $1,000 a month from their spending had given them some financial freedom. It was time to reward herself and the two girls with a great family vacation, maybe someplace warm.
After two hours online, she had found a great hotel, cheap flights and even attractions that the girls would enjoy. She was about to book it when her eldest, Caroline, walked in.
Caroline loved the idea of a trip, but wanted a hotel with a gym. They found a nicer hotel, still close to the beach with a great gym for about the same price, but Caroline pointed out one of the flights conflicted with an exam. More searching and sorting and they had a great itinerary.
Vishnay thought she had better get input from her younger daughter, who was sure to have an opinion and was due home any minute. Serena arrived, dropped her knapsack in the middle of the hallway and her purse in front of the bathroom door. Vishnay was halfway through telling her about the trip to Florida and all the fun when Serena started rolling her eyes.
“The Canadian dollar has dropped 30 per cent against the American, we’re tight on money and you geniuses want to go to Florida? Why not take advantage of the plunging peso and go to Mexico?”
Darn it! Vishnay hated it when Serena was right. But the logic was sound. The three of them gathered around the laptop buzzing with excitement about the hotels and attractions in Guadalajara.
If you are in the habit of enjoying a nice annual vacation that adds to your debt load and sinks you deeper in the hole, you may want to do some “staycations” for a year or two while getting your finances in order, free up some cash flow and clear out some debt.
If you can enjoy a regular vacation while continuing to grow your net worth each year, then by all means continue to do so. But let’s see if we can plate up some ways to do it more economically, without taking away any of the fun.
Points: Use one travel reward card for all work and personal spending.
Hotels: Look at Airbnb, TripAdvisor and Trivago for independent hotels; and hotels.com, Priceline and Hotwire for best deals on the majors.
Airfare: Fly mid-week vs. weekends, book well in advance.
Timing: Travel just outside peak seasons for that area; if you are flexible, look at last minute travel sites like lastminute.com.
Shuttles: Check for free shuttles from airport to hotels, city centre vs. paying for cabs.
Food: Buy some basic groceries for the hotel fridge to save on eating out for every meal and snack, or consider renting a condo or hotel with a kitchen so you can make most of your own meals.
Hearty Serving (advice for a larger family)
Family of five, annual vacation
Fly mid-week to bring air tickets from $7,500 to $6,300
Book Airbnb apartment, taking lodging from $2,800 to $1,600
Reduce total cost by $600 by saving travel reward points
Original air and lodging $10,300; new cost $7,300
Annual savings $3,000; monthly savings $250
Light Serving (advice for a smaller family or single)
Original one-week all-inclusive package $3,100
Move trip just outside prime season, pay only $2,500
Reduce total cost by $300 by saving travel reward points
Original trip $3,100, new cost $2,200
Annual savings $900, monthly savings $75
Yield (what the savings would mean over time, if they were invested with a 7 per cent return)
Hearty: $43,250 over 10 years, $130,250 over 20 years
Light: $12,975 over 10 years, $39,075 over 20 years
There are many, many more ways to save on travel and dozens of apps and websites that can help. Stay curious, research each component (air, car, lodging) add new techniques and immediately use the savings to reduce debt or add to your nest egg.
Introduction by Alanna Rizza