Saving money and completely absolving debt may sound like a dream to some Canadians. To Cait Flanders, that dream became a reality. Find out Cait started saving money to reach both her short-term and long-term financial goals.

Mediaplanet  What is the first step to saving money?

Cait Flanders If you want to save more money, you need to do one of two things: earn more or spend less. I typically choose to spend less, as being frugal has taught me I don’t need many things in life to be happy.

MP How important are long-term and short-term goals?

"Everyone’s situation is different. For some, they truly don’t have enough at the end of the month — and that’s when you need to earn more money. But, for people who make a decent salary and still can’t save, I think a lot of that is because of mindless spending."

CF It’s important to have both long-term and short-term goals, but I prefer to have mostly short-term goals as they are more tangible and easily attainable. One thing I like to do with long-term goals, for example, is break them down into smaller chunks. So if you wanted to save $40,000 to buy a home, your first goal could be to save $10,000 in one year.

MP  Is a budget necessary when trying to save for the future?

CF I think so — at least when you’re just getting started with saving, so you can see where all of your money is actually going.

MP  Why is it so hard to save money?

CF Everyone’s situation is different. For some, they truly don’t have enough at the end of the month — and that’s when you need to earn more money. But, for people who make a decent salary and still can’t save, I think a lot of that is because of mindless spending. If you can’t seem to save, but also don’t know where your money is going, tracking your spending will help you understand and see where you could cut back to save more.

MP Paying off debts is important, but so is living your life. How do you properly allocate finances to include travel and other hobbies?

CF Over the years, I’ve learned what I value is travel and what I don’t value are things like clothes, shopping, etc. I’m happy to be frugal and not buy much, if it means I can save for retirement and travel. The trick is to figure out what your goals and values are so your budget aligns with it.

MP  Do mobile applications help Canadians stick to their budgets and start saving money?

CF Personally, I’ve never found any apps particularly useful. I’m someone who believes that writing things down can provide a greater impact than punching a few numbers into a screen.