Book Review: Spend Smarter, Save Bigger

Margot Bai and her publisher were kind enough to send me a free copy of their new book “Spend Smarter, Save Bigger” for review. This book primarily focuses on how Canadians can save big on various topics like mortgages, cars and insurance.

Without further ado, lets get to the guts of my review of the book.

Main points made by the book:

  • Explains the difference between living within and living outside your means.
  • Explains the advantages of budgeting with financial software like Quicken.
  • Mortgage tips – Short or long?
  • Home and Life Insurance – What your deductible should be.
  • Reducing driving costs – How to pick a good used car at a great price.
  • Investing Basics – How to pick out a financial adviser, which funds to choose.
  • RRSP considerations – Bigger is not always better.
  • Charitable Donations – How it works and why you should donate.

What I liked?

  • I enjoyed how the book explained a lot of the savings strategies and techniques in terms of real life people/couples. I always find it enjoyable reading about real life scenarios, the decisions made, and the outcomes.
  • I appreciated that the author put some of her personal financial information in the book. Some examples include which car repair shops she uses, which mutual fund firms that she invests with, and her resulting net worth from following some smart personal finance strategies.
  • Tips on saving on home purchases when choosing between new builds and mature properties.
  • I learned a bit about choosing a financial adviser/planner and the credentials that should be considered.
  • The charitable donations chapter.
  • The “cheat sheet” summaries provided at the end of each chapter.

What I didn’t like?

  • No real negatives about the book, only that this book may not be suitable for those who are already financially savvy.

Who should read this?

  • Anyone who is just starting to learn about the vast world of personal finance. This book will provide a great starting point to get you ahead in your financial life.

Final Thoughts:

  • I give it two thumbs UP! Great book that is written clearly and flows nicely which makes it an extremely easy book to read. It provides a comprehensive all in one book for someone starting out in their personal finance journey.
  • If you are interested in purchasing this book, you can buy it directly from their website:
  • Canadian Capitalist interviewed the author AND reviewed the book a few weeks back, you should check that out for a second opinion.

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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14 years ago

Thanks for info Margot – I only noticed because we are in the midst of assessing/obtaining insurance.

Q Cash
14 years ago


Great articles this past month.

Sorry I haven’t dropped by lately but things have been busy around the house :-)

I specifically enjoyed your Retiring Early articles.

After two months, my expenses have dropped significantly and I use MS Money to keep track of things.

The recent market drop had me sweating a little, but I decided to chill and remember that I was euphoric when the market hit this level on the way up :-) and remind myself that I am interested in cash flow, not capital gains.

Looking forward to more great articles.


Margot Bai
14 years ago

Hello Million Dollar Journey,

Thanks for your flattering book review – I’m so glad that you enjoyed it and found it worthwhile.

Mike, you are quick to notice my mention of disability insurance. The truth is I wrote a whole section on Disability and Critical Illness Insurance that did not make the final cut.

In response to your enquiry, I have posted the text on my website at

Quick summary is that disability is best obtained through work when available, otherwise a private plan may be necessary. I also explain the various types of disability insurance you may already have.

Critical Illness insurance is great but can be pricey. You have to decide for yourself if it fits into your budget. I personally have Critical Illness insurance.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck as you investigate your options.

Canadian Capitalist
14 years ago

Thanks for the link and glad to find that you liked the book as well. In fact, I picked up a tip or two that I didn’t know about. I’ll agree that folks trying to get smart about their finances will find the book most useful.