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What would you do with a $50,000 prize?

Written by Nathalie Bernard

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Tangerine recently concluded our 2015 Automatic Savings Program (ASP) Contest, rewarding a lucky Tangerine Client for regularly saving with us through an ASP. We had the pleasure of interviewing Sylvie, the winner of the $50,000 Grand Prize and a long-standing Tangerine Client. Wife, mother and grandmother, Sylvie exudes kindness, positivity – and of course great saving habits.

Sylvie is a model saver. As an independent massage therapist without a pension fund, she saves diligently for retirement and carefully manages her expenses to ensure she has enough money set aside for taxes. When not budgeting or planning for retirement, she's focused on saving for her next trip. Each week, Sylvie automatically saves $30 for future destinations through an ASP – the very habit that helped her to win the Grand Prize.

She has travelled to Europe three times to walk the famous Route of Santiago de Compostela – a 780 km journey from France to the coast of Spain. Wanting to help others make the same journey, Sylvie helped a depression therapy clinic in her hometown fundraise nearly $25,000, so 16 people could experience this trip of a lifetime as well. She modestly comments, "It's important to give back to others."

A Quebec native, Sylvie is currently in Vancouver for an eight-week class to learn English alongside her daughter who is also studying there. The timing of the ASP Contest prize was perfect – Sylvie learned that she had won the Grand Prize just as she made her last deposit for the class. She was so happy with the news that she announced it to her family over the holidays by framing the email confirmation… and hanging it in the living room, to her family's surprise.

When asked what she plans to do with the money, Sylvie's answer is: "I gave a little to my children to help them along, but the rest is going into my TFSA for now. We had renovations planned for 2017 to spruce up the house a bit, so we may have them done this year instead. A trip with my husband is also on the table. I think I'll just let the dust settle a bit before making a decision."

With such a long history of saving with Tangerine, we asked her to share her best saving tips. "Put something aside each week or with each paycheck," begins Sylvie. "Examine all your expenses closely and be willing to skip some depending on the circumstances. Saving takes time, but you'll feel very proud when you finally reach an objective."

We asked personal finance blogger Cait Flanders how she would use $50,000: “If I was given $50,000 today, I'd set aside $10,000 for travel and invest the rest – max out my TFSA then top up my RRSP (Editor's note: called an RSP at Tangerine). I want to go on an extended trip throughout the UK and Ireland this year, and $10,000 would certainly cover that – but everything else would have to be saved. I don't believe in buying 'extras' with extra money."

Personal finance and travel blogger Barry Choi had this to say about how he would use $50,000: "My first piece of advice would be to do nothing with the money. This could potentially be the largest sum of money you come into, so the last thing you want to do is to make a quick emotional decision. Once you have your thoughts collected, you can start making rational decisions. I recommend paying down any high-interest debt, such as credit cards, auto loans first since it'll give you a guaranteed return. After that, I would look into using that money to contribute to your TFSA, RRSP, or your home down payment. Since you've now prioritized clearing your debt and saving, go ahead and spend what's left on an experience like travelling."

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