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HSBC wealth adviser: That cup of coffee could mean paying off a bill

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During tough economic times when most people just want to put their heads down and carry on, a local finance expert is calling for people to stop and take account of their expenses.

Ellen Goodyer, head of Premier and Wealth at HSBC Bermuda, sees first hand what many people are ignoring about their finances: the little things.

“What I find is that because we are so busy trying to get on with it, we’re actually surprised on where we spend our money,” she said. “When you sit back and itemise everything, it’s always really interesting as to how much more you could set aside or how much of a better situation you would be in if you were more aware of what you were spending and how you were spending.”

Things as small as a daily cup of joe and a muffin could set people back hundreds of dollars a year she said.

“You pick up a cup of coffee every day on your way to work but do you actually ever realise — depending on the kind of coffee — it could be $5 a day, $25 a week, $100 a month. That could mean paying off a bill,” said Ms Goodyer. “I think we could make things easier on ourselves by being aware of what is going on.”

She also explained that looking at different brand names while food shopping and comparing prices will also make a difference over the long run. Even choosing between fresh produce versus frozen could potentially shave a couple dollars off a grocery bill.

“We go around the grocery store and put things in our trolleys but do we actually pay attention to how much things cost? Do we actually ever look at the receipt after we shop at the store?” she questioned. “All of these things add up over time.”

Ms Goodyer suggests keeping a notebook to track what you spend each time cash or your debit card comes out of your wallet.

“Like being on a diet where they check what you eat, count your calories,” she said. “You actually have to physically make the effort. When you total each of your days — it’s quite an eye opener.”

Though, do these little changes actually make a difference?

“Absolutely,” said Ms Goodyer, adding that the savings “can be significant. I’ve never seen it not make a difference. We’ve been able to make a significant enough difference in people’s lives where things have improved by truly reviewing things and being prepared to make changes.”

When many people are struggling to make ends meet, Ms Goodyer questions what the term wealthy really means. Does it mean you have the large house on the hill or just that you aren’t drowning in debt?

“Does wealth mean you are in a comfortable position every month because you know what your outgoings are versus your income so you’re not waiting for your paycheck every month? That’s a pretty comfortable existence,” she said.

But she adds her practical advice is for everyone — even the guy who owns the house on the hill — because “you never know what is going to happen tomorrow.”

Once the money-saving changes have been made, then people can start to think about what to do with that extra cash. Perhaps sock it away for retirement or for a university fund.

Whatever the plan, there are many resources available in Bermuda and experts willing to talk about those next steps, she said.

“Stop. Think. There are a lot of people out there to help.”

Little things add up: Ellen Goodyer, head of Premier and Wealth at HSBC Bermuda

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Published April 04, 2013 at 9:57 am (Updated April 04, 2013 at 9:56 am)

HSBC wealth adviser: That cup of coffee could mean paying off a bill

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