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.


  1. Mike on March 2, 2007 at 9:15 am

    I bought this book and really enjoyed it as well. Just to comment on FT comment about the book not being as useful for a non-beginner – I would agree with that to some extent however it’s still worth a read and it’s great for the spouse who may not be as interested in financial stuff as you. My wife read it and really liked it.

    One question for Margot or anyone else – in the book it mentions disability insurance but not in any detail. We’ve been working on getting our insurance in order and two types of insurance that I’ve seen are Critical Illness and Critical accident – my wife has some crit accident ins. ($13/month) and we’re wondering if it’s worth keeping. And what’s the deal with the illness insurance – scam? good idea?
    It seems that both of these types of insurance are very (too?) specific in what they cover.

  2. FrugalTrader on March 2, 2007 at 9:28 am


    I noticed that the cover of the book was very attractive to even those not very interested in personal finance. When i was reading the book while visiting my mother in law (who is not financially savvy), she started to ask a bunch of questions about the book just based on the cover.

    I have very limited experience with disability/illness insurance, but a financial advisor friend of mine only keeps critical illness insurance. I guess the way he figures it is that the only way that would stop him from working is if he had a serious illness.

    My wife on the other hand, has own occupation disability insurance, and i’m in the process of doing some research on it for my own needs.


  3. Mike on March 2, 2007 at 9:52 am


    Critical illness can stop you from working but not all of them are insured ie stroke, heart attack…critical accident could stop you from working too…

    Anyways – feel free to post anything you find out.

  4. Canadian Capitalist on March 2, 2007 at 11:39 am

    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.

  5. Margot Bai on March 3, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    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.

  6. FrugalTrader on March 3, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    Hi Margot!,

    Thanks for stopping by, it’s an honor to be graced by the presence of the author herself. :)

    Do you have any future books in the works?


  7. Q Cash on March 4, 2007 at 5:17 am


    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.


  8. FrugalTrader on March 4, 2007 at 7:33 am


    Long time no talk! Glad to see you stopping by again!

    Busy around the house hey? Doing some renovations in your spare time?

    When you say that your expenses dropped significantly, what was that due to?


  9. Mike on March 4, 2007 at 10:09 am

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

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  13. […] In terms of which books to get started, my favorite beginner book is "The Wealthy Barber".  Rich Dad Poor Dad is also good book to read to get you started.  It's not a "how to" book, but a book to help you get in the frame of mind of how a wealthy person thinks.  Another great Canadian read is: Spend Smarter, Save Bigger. […]

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