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Live on 40%, Save 60%? Comments

mary-jo_dionneCould you live on 40% of your income—and save the other 60%? It sounds impossible (or tortuous), yet Mary-Jo Dionne says she's learned to make it happen—and happily—with a system she calls the 1-2-3 saving strategy.

"Every time I get paid, I instantly pop 10% into my shopping/mad money account; 20% into a business expenses account; and 30% into a taxes account. I've learned to live on the remaining 40% only--this is what I use to cover mortgage, retirement, bills and real-life stuff," Dionne wrote to us.

Really?! Live on less than 50% of your income? Even in the disciplined corridors of DailyWorth's headquarters, we struggle to save 20%.

I contacted Dionne, a freelance advertising copywriter and amateur pet lobbyist in Vancouver, to learn how she became a mega saver.

Dying to hear how she does it? Us too!


Dionne says her savings skills were honed from a very young age, watching her single mom make careful and creative money choices. She remembers showing her an article about a couple who had saved a million dollars through small acts of frugality (like reusing sandwich bags). After that, Dionne says their kitchen was festooned with drying plastic baggies. " I used to look at them and think, 'Wow, we're going to be rich.' "

She was nine years old.

Since then, Dionne has relied on tiny acts of economy to build her savings muscle. "I haven't made any huge sacrifices," she says, "but I've made hundreds of smaller choices you might not even notice."

Like any woman, she likes her little luxuries—facials, highlights, going out—but she's is strict about using her "mad money" stash to pay for extras. And she minimizes what she pays for everything else. "I'm very micro," she says.

•    She'll feed her Starbucks habit, but get a Tall instead of a Venti.
•    Rather than live in Vancouver, an expensive city, she lives a few miles outside it.
•    When her boyfriend picks pricey grocery items or fancy imports, she shaves bucks off their       bill by choosing lower cost items and store brands.

It doesn't sound like much—because it's not, Dionne says, and that's the point. Saving isn't painful or sacrificial, because it's all small moves. And it adds up. The girl goes to Hawaii—and clearly shops around, OK?

Because every paycheck is subject to the 1-2-3 saving rule, Dionne gets a thrill (you might say a fix) by watching her money pots fill. "I regularly get down to $27 in my checking account each month," she says, "but then I look at all my little accounts, and I can hear the angels sing."

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