building with credit union logo

Why I made the switch to a credit union

Not happy with your bank, but scared to make the switch? Read the experiences of one of our members who recently switched financial institutions after realizing her bank was not helping her to achieve her financial goals.


My financial institution was determined at a young age and like most, who I banked with was the same as my parents. As I got older, my banking needs changed yet I continued to bank with the same financial institution. Was my inherited bank actually doing what I needed it to though?

I started to realize how important this decision was. As I’m trusting an institution with my hard earned money, it shouldn’t be about staying with the bank that was chosen for me but instead being sure that who I was banking with was an institution that met my financial needs. That’s when I began to understand what type of bank I needed for me, and if I needed to make a change.

What I took into consideration

  • Is my bank listening to me and addressing the financial needs that benefit me – not my bank?
  • What are my financial goals and how is my bank helping me to achieve these?
  • Does my banks’ values align with my personal values?
  • How is my bank contributing to my local community?

I soon came to realize that I didn’t have a relationship with my bank. My account was very transactional but the bank never made me feel like I was anything but a number. I did some research about other financial institutions and through this research, I discovered a few key differences between credit unions and banks.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Credit unions are member-owned while banks are owned by its shareholders. What this means is you have a say on how your credit union operates while banks answer to its shareholders.
  • Credit union profits go back to their members such as offering No-Fee Chequing Accounts.  They also invest their profits back into the local community. Bank profits are paid to their shareholders and your local community rarely benefits.
  • Credit unions are driven by their members. They take the time to listen, ask questions and help you achieve your financial goals. You are their number one priority.
  • Credit unions have a one team model approach and are all part of the Ding Free network, allowing members to access a number of ATMs across Canada for free. With banks, you can only use their products and services and you will be charged for using other banks’ resources.

Overall, the biggest thing I learned was that credit unions and banks offer similar products and services. The way they operate though and treat their members are different. To learn more about the differences between credit unions and banks, I recommend checking out Credit unions vs banks: What’s the difference?

After considering what my current bank offers and evaluating the difference between credit unions and banks, I wondered why I hadn’t started looking into this earlier. Why hadn’t I made the switch – by switching to a credit union, I’d be able to save $185 each year just in bank fee savings – so what was holding me back?

My fears

  • Time! I didn’t want to spend a lot of time having to switch all my payments over or learning a new bank’s products such as mobile and online banking.
  • Was it really worth the effort to make the switch? How much work was involved?
  • What if I missed payments due to the switch resulting in added interest or canceled services.
  • Would I have to give up my credit card? I liked the credit card that I had at my other bank and didn’t want to cancel it.

I started to realize that most of my “fears” were excuses and if I really wanted to take control of my finances I needed to take the time to invest in myself. Ultimately, I liked how a credit union was local and I felt that their values aligned to my personal values. I decided to reach out to Conexus Credit Union, and after speaking with a financial advisor I soon realized they really did care about my overall financial well-being and knew that it was time to make the break up with my current bank and make the switch.

Making the switch

Switching over to Conexus was quite easy, especially with their tool called Click Switch. It allowed me to switch over all of my payments within a few minutes and just the click of a few buttons. My fear of time quickly disappeared.

Tips

If you’re like me and some of your fears include missing a payment due to switching or losing a credit card you love, consider some of the tips below before making the switch.

  • Do not close your current bank account until all of your payments are switched over. Keep the account open for a few months to ensure you haven’t missed anything.
  • Leave a small amount of money in your old account to cover any payments you may have missed switching over to avoid non-sufficient funds.
  • You don’t have to switch everything over at once. It’s perfectly fine to keep your loans or mortgages with your old bank until they expire or are paid off.
  • You can keep your current credit card if you’re not wanting to depart from it quite yet. Check to see if you can link your credit card from another bank to your new credit union account. This will allow you to still view your credit card balance in your new account and help you manage your finances in one spot.
  • If you are looking at getting a new loan to pay out a previous loan at your bank, make sure you get all of your approvals and payout amounts first before closing out your account or changing your direct deposit.

In the end, I made the decision to move to a credit union because I believed in their values as an organization. I felt it was easier to have an open and trusting conversation and it saved me money on bank fees. Ultimately, when determining your financial institution consider how your financial institution can impact your overall financial well-being. For me, choosing a credit union was the perfect fit.

mortgage documents and pen

Fixed vs. variable: picking a mortgage that’s right for you

Fixed or variable? When it comes to picking the type of mortgage rate you want, there are many things to consider. 


There are many questions and decisions to make when buying a house. How much can I afford? Where do I want to be located? How much can I put down? Something you may not be considering though is the type of mortgage rate you want – a fixed rate mortgage or a variable rate mortgage.  Understanding and picking the type of mortgage rate you want is a big decision, and without the proper knowledge and resources, can be quite difficult to make. When choosing the mortgage rate for you, it’s important to look at your situation and ask yourself what you are comfortable with.  Like any big decision someone makes in their life, it often starts with a good old-fashioned pro’s and con’s list.

Fixed

A fixed mortgage rate is one that remains the same throughout the entire term of your mortgage, no matter how much the market fluctuates. With a fixed rate, you’ll know exactly what you’re paying towards the principal and the interest on your mortgage.

  • Pro: Known as the ‘set it and forget it choice’, a fixed rate mortgage provides no risk if interest rates change and can provide a sense of security for people, especially if raising interest rates cause you stress.   
  • Con: Fixed mortgage rates often are higher than variable mortgage rates and are locked-in, meaning if interest rates were to decrease, you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the lower rates. They typically have higher payout penalties than variable mortgage rates if having to break a mortgage prior to the term being up.

Variable

A variable mortgage rate is one that fluctuates with the market interest rate, known as the ‘prime rate’. What this means is the amount of your mortgage payment that goes to the principal and towards interest can change month-to-month.

  • Pro: Generally, variable mortgage rates are lower and can result in interest savings and provide you with the option to pay your mortgage off faster. Variable mortgage rates also have a lower payout penalty (3 months interest) if the mortgage is broken prior to the term being up.
  • Con: Variable rates have a bit of risk associated with them, as they’re unpredictable due to fluctuating markets. If interest rates increase, the amount you pay towards interest will also increase.

When people hear the term variable, many believe this means that your payment fluctuates. What many don’t know is that when choosing a variable rate you have the option to set your payment amount so it’s the same each time. What this means is that each payment date your payment amount stays the same, but depending on an increase or decrease in interest rates the portion of your payment that goes towards interest and to the principal may change. To learn more, talk to a mortgage specialist.

To help explain the difference between fixed and variable rates further, we recommend checking out this great Know How video by Ontario’s Northern Credit Union.

Your buying situation

There are many factors to consider when choosing between a fixed and variable rate. To help break it down, here are the three questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is your risk tolerance?
  2. What is your financial circumstance?
  3. What are the chances of you breaking your mortgage before maturity?

Risk Tolerance

Everyone’s risk tolerance is different and depends on your personal and financial situation. For some, a bit of risk may be scary, while for others they may be comfortable taking one. If you’re someone who lays awake at night worrying about increasing or changes to payments, choosing a variable rate may not be for you.

Financial Circumstance

Your financial circumstance can have a large impact on determining if a fixed or variable rate is right for you. Do you live pay cheque to pay cheque or frequently spending above your means? If so, a fixed rate may be the better option for you. If interest rates increase causing your mortgage payment to increase does this cause you to worry? If you can handle an increase, a variable rate might be better suited for you.

Breaking your mortgage before maturity

Life happens and things change that may cause you to break your mortgage before your term is up. It’s important to understand when choosing a mortgage the rules around payout penalties – the fee you would pay if you were to break your mortgage before the term ends. Variable and fixed rates have different payout penalty rules and a mortgage specialist can help you to understand the penalty payout rules, but also calculate the payment.

Consider factoring in your personal situation and future goals to help pick a mortgage term length (one-year, three-years or five-years) based on your situation. Ask yourself:

  • What stage of life are you in?
  • Are you purchasing the house with anyone? (e.g. friend, sibling, etc.)
  • Is this home big enough to grow into?
  • Do I plan on relocating for work anytime soon?

With any decision, it is always important to do your research and speak with a mortgage specialist. They can provide you with guidance and advice based on your personal situation, help you to understand market trends and forecasts and assist you in making one of the most important decisions of your life.

To learn more, contact one of Conexus’ Mobile Mortgage Specialists today.

computer by picture of stick figures with word finance

The power of financial literacy

Financial literacy is a critical life skill that helps you to make smart, responsible decisions about your money. Build your financial knowledge using these tips.


When it comes to your knowledge of finances, how confident are you? Would you be able to answer basic financial literacy questions, such as:

  • What’s the difference between a savings account and a chequing account?
  • What is compound interest?
  • What’s the difference between a variable rate and a fixed rate?
  • What is an emergency savings fund and how much should you save?

According to an Ipsos poll conducted in 2017 on behalf of LowestRates.ca, 78% of Canadians believe they’re financial literate. When it came to taking a basic financial literacy test though, almost 57% of Canadians failed.

Financial literacy is a critical life skill and just as important in life as any other basic life skill. Why? Because money is all around us and something we deal with every day. Being financially literate means you understand all things money – how it works, how it’s generated, how to manage it, how to invest it and more. It means having the knowledge and confidence to make smart, responsible decisions about your money.

Improving your financial knowledge

It’s never too early, or too late, to improve your financial knowledge. Here are a few ways you can expand your financial knowledge and confidence with money:

  1. Take the Fin-Lit Challenge: Testing your financial knowledge will you see how much, or how little, you may know. This will help you identify topics that you may want to focus on to expand your knowledge.
  2. Talk to a Financial Advisor: Your financial advisor is an excellent resource for advice and knowledge, ensuring you’re not alone when making financial decisions.  There is no such thing as a dumb question. Meet with your financial advisor often and ask questions to ensure you understand your money and financial decisions.
  3. Read a Conexus #MONEYTALK Blog: Each week, Conexus #MONEYTALK publishes a blog providing expert advice, solutions and guidance on financial topics important to you. Savings, budget, investment 101 – we cover it all. Commit to reading the blog each week to continually expand your financial knowledge.

What financial topics would you like to know more about? Share below and we’ll be sure to do an upcoming blog on them.

Girl holding a credit card

Building blocks of credit

Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and can be a tool that can help your future.


The word credit may be scary or viewed as something negative, but it can be the opposite. Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and is a tool that can positively help your future. Looking to get a mortgage? How about a loan for a new set of wheels? Building and having a good credit score is essential throughout your life and enables you to borrow money for these life events.

Importance of credit

Building credit is important as it identifies how you manage debt. By paying back the money you borrow with on-time payments, it shows you can responsibly manage debt and sets you up for the future.

A credit score will be given to you based on your credit behaviours. Credit scores range from 300 up to 900 points. When you’re first starting out, you’ll be at the lower end of the range. As you build your credit and display good credit behaviours, this score will increase. A score of 700 or above is considered good while a score of 800 or above is considered excellent. As good behaviours help improve your score, it’s important to note that bad credit behaviours can decrease this score. This score is with you forever, and it’s important you display positive credit behaviours.

You may think playing it safe by avoiding credit all together is the way to go, but in fact, it may be hindering you in the future. Without credit, you can’t show if you can manage debt responsibly which can impact your ability to get a loan, mortgage, etc.

Building credit

Start building credit as soon as possible. Start by applying for a low limit credit card after high school and paying the entire balance monthly. Credit cards are a great credit-building tool and can offer great additional features and benefits above and beyond just helping to build credit. Benefits from credit cards can range from insurance coverage to rewards points and even cash back to help pay your balance!

Good credit behaviours

Remember, good credit means you display positive credit behaviours showing you can responsibly manage debt. You can do this by:

  • Paying your monthly bills (utility, cell phone, etc.) on time each month. Consider setting up automatic payments.
  • Understand your spending and talk to a financial advisor to ensure the credit you have (credit cards, loans, etc.) is manageable and fits within your financial situation.
  • Pay your credit card balance in full each month. Remember your credit card statement ‘due date’ is the date the money is due on the account and payments typically take a few days to process. Make payments at least 2-3 days prior to your due date to account for processing times.
  • Do not apply for multiple loans or credit cards all within a short amount of time. Each time you apply for a loan, mortgage or credit card, the issuer does a hard credit inquiry or ‘a hit’ on your credit score showing that your credit has been checked. Excessive applications could affect your ability to be approved as it may look like you’re a riskier borrower or could be perceived as desperation.

Understanding your credit score and how your behaviours impact this score is important.  You can do a soft inquiry (an inquiry only visible to you and that doesn’t affect your credit score) by using www.transunion.ca. We also recommend speaking to your financial advisor. They’ll work with you to understand your credit and create a plan to help you reach your financial goals.

As you can see, credit doesn’t need to be a bad word. Building and developing good credit behaviours early on, help set you on the right track for life. Contact your financial advisor today to see how credit can be a positive for you.

What questions do you have about building your credit? Ask below and we’ll be sure to answer.

girl taking picture of food

Do you have the fear of missing out?

In a society of technology, we continually face the pressure of spending money – seeing what our friends are doing and purchasing and feeling like we have to keep up. This fear of missing out (FOMO) can have a big impact on our finances.


The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. In a time where social media impacts spending habits, people are often urged to “keep up” and are constantly looking for the next big purchase, rather than save – because you can’t Instagram your savings account balance, but you can Facebook that vacation and Tweet that new pair of shoes. So, is the fear of missing out putting you into debt?

FOMO & debt

According to a recent study by public relations firm Citizen Relations, 56% of Canadian millennials (those aged 18 to 30) feel driven to live beyond their means because of social media. It’s the “fear of missing out” on trips, events, meals, shopping, sales – the list goes on.

Keeping up with your friends’ spending can be linked to social media as often when you make a big purchase you share it. If you miss that trip with your friends you are constantly reminded through social that you’re not there from their posts. Another study from Credit Karma found that nearly 40% of millennials have gone into debt to keep up with their peers. In an age of destination bachelor and bachelorette parties and destination weddings – how do you limit yourself to only spend what you have while still being able to afford the important life moments.

Say no to FOMO

  • Ask yourself “why”
    Before making a purchase ask yourself, “Am I making this purchase because I can afford it and it will make me happy?” or are you purchasing because your friends have it? Being able to identify a want vs. a need is an important question to ask yourself before you spend.
  • Limit yourself
    Figure out what works within your budget and set that as your limit. If you can afford to go out once a week for dinner and drinks with friends then stick to that. Find other solutions to going out, like inviting friends over and everyone brings a bottle of wine and appetizer.
  • Social media detox
    Limit your time on social media. Constantly keeping up with social media can directly relate to the feeling of keeping up.
  • Evaluate who you’re following
    Clean up the accounts you are following on social media by unfollowing stores and blogs. The less you see, the less temptation you will face to “swipe up” and swipe your credit card.
  • Buy for you – not your friends
    Recognize that everyone’s budget is different. We all have different incomes and expenses, so going on the expensive trip or upgrading your kitchen may have fit into your friends budget, but might not fit in yours and that’s OK.
  • Ignore the pressure
    Just like in high school, saying “no” to your friends might seem hard, but your friends should understand that sometimes you have other financial obligations. Finding an alternative hang out plan or trip that is affordable or further in the future that gives you time to save are great solutions to avoid the pressures of going out to spend.

Remember, FOMO is not an excuse to put you into debt. We’re not saying you should deny yourself of every experience, but instead when making purchases ensure 1) you can afford it and 2) it is making you happy – not your friends. Folding to the pressures of social media and your friends will not help your budget and will affect your finances later in life. It’s important to recognize the pressures of FOMO spending habits so you can spend responsibly.

Mom talking to son, with piggy bank, about money

5 Activities for Young Kids: Introduction to Money

Introducing your kids to money early on can create a foundation for financial knowledge and positively impact how they manage money later.


When I was a kid, it wasn’t the coin value that made me rich, but instead the number of coins I had. My friend could have three loonies in her hand, yet if I had five nickels I was the one who had the most money!

Understanding the value of money when we’re young can be hard, especially as we’re just starting to learn the concept of numbers, counting and math. It’s recommended you start talking to your kids about money early to help create a foundation for financial knowledge.You can build on this knowledge by continually discussing money and introducing new financial concepts as they grow. Having these conversations will provide them with strong financial literacy skills and an understanding of managing money, helping them to make smart, responsible decisions with their money in the future.

To get you started, here are a few ideas on how you can introduce the concept and value of money to your kids at an early age.

Role playing

Set up a pretend store or restaurant and take turns playing the role of customer and worker. The worker will be responsible for advising how much the purchase is and providing change. As the customer, you’ll be responsible for making purchases and giving money to the worker. If you do not have enough money, you may have to decide on which items are a need vs. a want. Role-playing will not only introduce the concept and value of money but also allow you to discuss the difference between needs vs. wants.

Sort & stack

A great way to introduce money and show the different values of money is through a sorting and stacking activity. Grab your piggy bank, empty onto a table and have your child sort the coins by size, and any bills by colour. Afterward, show them the different sizes and colours and how each equates to a different value. Once they understand that each coin or bill is worth a different amount, take it one step further and show them how much of one coin or bill would be needed to equal the same amount as another coin or bill (e.g., five nickels = one quarter or four $5 bills = one $20 bill).

Play a board game

Have a family game night and help teach the concept of money by playing games such as Monopoly™, Payday™ or the Game of Life™. Allow your child to be the banker, with some help, of course, to teach them the different values of money, counting and providing change.

The $5 dice game

Grab some dice and coins (or create your own) and see who can get to $5 first! In this game, players take turns rolling a die and collecting coins for their pot, based on the following values:

1 – Nickel

2 – Dime

3 – Quarter

4 – Loonie

5 – Toonie

6 – Lose a Turn

The winner is the first player to reach exactly $5. If collecting a coin would cause for the player to go over the $5, they lose their turn. Change it up by choosing your own dollar amount to try and reach. This game is a great way to teach your child the different values of money as well as develop their skills in adding and budgeting by not going over.

Flyer price tag activity

To help understand how much money would be needed to purchase a treat from the candy store, or the latest toy, play the Flyer Price Tag game.

Grab your local flyers and have your child pick out items that they’d want to buy. Cut them out (including the price) and place on the table. Then, using real money or money you’ve created, place the exact amount needed in order to make that purchase. Depending on age, you can also introduce GST and PST and how to account into the amount of money you’ll need to buy the item.

Take it one step further, and use the money your child has saved in their piggy bank. This can help teach them how much of their money they’d need to spend in order to get that item. If they do not have enough for that item, it allows you to start the conversation of savings. This also is a great activity to talk about needs vs. wants and making smart decisions on how you spend your money.

When talking to your kids at an early age about money, be sure to keep it fun to help them stay engaged. Use real-life examples of things that interest them to help them relate to what you’re teaching.

Talking about money can be hard – when we’re young and when we’re adults. Introducing and talking about money early on allows our kids to gain confidence and not be scared to ask questions when it comes to money. It can also positively influence their behaviours on managing money, as they get older.

Do you have another fun game or activity for kids that introduces the concept and value of money? Tell us in the comments below.

person holding pen looking at investments

Investment terminology 101

Choosing an investment best suited to help you reach your goals can be hard, especially if you’re unsure of what all the different investment options are. Get up to speed with the latest investment terminology here.


Financial well-being means having the confidence that you’ll be able to achieve your financial goals and dreams. Investing your money is one way to help reach these goals and dreams but knowing where or how can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out.

The type of investment you choose should be based on your goals. The investment options will look different depending on if your goal is short-term or long-term. Below is a list of different investment options, their purposes and the benefits of each, to help get you started.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

  • A great way to save for retirement.
  • There is a limit on how much you can contribute each year – refer to your RRSP deduction limit statement on your Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.
  • Variety of investment options including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and rates based on your risk appetite.
  • Any contribution you make, you can claim as a tax deduction on your income taxes. You won’t be taxed on this money until you withdraw it. The ideal time to withdraw these funds is in retirement when your income is lower, meaning fewer taxes you’re having to pay on your income.

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

  • A perfect way to help you save for your child’s education.
  • Federal government grants and incentives are available to help your savings grow faster.
  • There is a lifetime maximum of $50,000.
  • Different types of plans and deposit options, working for all unique family situations.

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

  • Great way to save for just about anything!
  • Use to save for short- and long-term goals including weddings, emergencies, vacations, retirement and more!
  • Variety of term and rate options to choose from including flexible options.
  • 100% tax-free – you don’t pay taxes on money earned or withdrawn.
  • Maximum yearly contribution amount of $5,500. Unused contribution amounts carry over year over year.

Term Deposits & Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

  • A term deposit can be used to invest in RRSP, TFSA or regular savings
  • Have the potential to earn a higher interest rate than a savings account.
  • Variety of rate, term and redeemable/non-redeemable options.
  • Generally term deposits and are used if wanting a low to no risk investment option.
  • Different interest rates for different term lengths. Typically, the longer the term the better the interest rate available.

Mutual Funds

  • A mutual fund can be used to invest in RRSP, TFSA or regular savings
  • Short- or long-term marketplace investment options available.
  • Variety of options available for all risk appetites – low, balanced or high growth.
  • Investments aren’t guaranteed. Potential for larger returns but with higher risk.
  • It’s recommended you work with a trusted financial advisor for advice and fund management.

Market-Linked Guaranteed Investments

  • Great for investors who are seeking both security and potentially higher returns than the more familiar secure investments.
  • Bridge product between term deposits and mutual funds.
  • Can be invested through an RRSP, TFSA or on its own to build your wealth.
  • Investment is 100% guaranteed and your return will depend on how the stocks perform during the length of your investment term.
  • Variety of options with a variety of term lengths to fit your schedule and goals.

When it comes to the world of savings and investing, there are many things to know. We recommend sitting down with your financial advisor to understand your investment goals and determining which investment solutions are best suited for you.

Excited to get started investing in your future? We are too! Contact us today to get started!

couple looking at tablet

Pay Yourself First

Paying yourself first means saving first and spending what’s left over. This blog teaches you all about the why, how and where.


You’ve heard the term ‘pay yourself first’ many times, but what does it actually mean? For us, ‘pay yourself first’ means saving first and spending what’s left over – to put money into your savings each payday, as soon as you get paid and before you’re tempted to go and spend on something else.

But why?

Paying yourself first not only helps you reach your short and long-term goals, but you may also be surprised with all the benefits you’ll begin to see, including:

  • Setting saving as a priority;
  • Creating positive financial habits;
  • Being in control of your finances and future; and
  • Improving your overall financial well-being.

By spending only what’s left over after you save, you’ll also begin to understand your needs vs. wants a bit more, and understand how your previous spending habits may have impacted your saving habits.

But how?

Determine your short and long-term goals and the amount you want to save. Prioritize these goals from most important to least important.

When starting the pay yourself first method, start small to become comfortable with saving first, and spending what’s left. As you become more comfortable with the method, increase your contribution amounts.

A great way to ensure you don’t break away from this habit is to set up automatic money transfers each payday to move money automatically over into your savings.

But where?

There are many different ways to save money and your short and long-term goals can help determine which type of account you may need.

For example, if you’re saving for retirement, you may consider putting your savings into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan or Tax-Free Savings Account. If you’re looking to build your wealth, you may consider putting into a term investment or Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

Talk to a financial advisor to help understand what savings tool may be best for you and to set up an account.

Being in control of your finances helps you be in control of your future. By paying yourself first, you’re taking a positive step in creating good financial habits and contributing to your overall financial well-being. Now it’s up to you – start paying yourself first… on your next payday!

income tax form

Smart ways to spend your income tax refund

It may be tempting to spend your income tax refund on a new pair of shoes or a fancy dinner, but that good feeling of splurging is only temporary. Consider spending your income tax refund using one of these options.


According to the Canada Revenue Agency, close to 90% of Canadians who have filed their 2017 income taxes received a refund, with the average refund being $1676. Do you anticipate receiving a refund this year? If so, how do you plan on spending it?

It may be tempting to use all of this money to splurge on yourself but that good feeling you get from splurging is only temporary. Here are a few smart ways to spend your income tax refund – helping you feel financially-well now and in the future.

Pay off debt

Have a balance on your credit card or line of credit? Working to pay off your student loan or car loan? Consider using your tax refund to reduce or eliminate this debt. Putting towards your debt will not only reduce the amount of debt you have but also decrease/eliminate the interest you’re paying on this debt.

Emergency savings fund

Are you prepared for an unexpected emergency such as job loss, injury or illness? If your car engine went on you tomorrow, do you have money set aside to have it fixed? An emergency savings fund ensures you’re prepared for life’s unexpected curveballs. Use your refund to start or contribute to an emergency savings fund. Unsure how much you may need? Check out our Importance of having an emergency savings fund blog to help you out.

Extra payment on your mortgage

Some mortgages have the option to make extra payments allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster – check your mortgage agreement to see what extra payment options you may have. Consider using your refund to make an extra payment on your mortgage, which will be applied directly to the principal amount. This will not only reduce this debt faster but also reduce the amount of time you’ll be paying off your mortgage.

Put into an RRSP

Retirement may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Help reach your retirement goals quicker by putting your refund into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Check out our Retirement Planner Calculator to see if you’re on track for your retirement goals.

Put towards your child’s education

Post-secondary education costs for your child can add up quickly – will you be ready? Consider putting your refund into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help pay for the costs of this education. Our RESP Calculator can help you figure out the cost of your child’s post-secondary education and map out the savings required – through individual contributions and government grants.

Save the money in a Tax-Free Savings Account

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) allow you to save money in an investment tax-free, with a maximum yearly contribution limit of $5,500. These accounts are great tools for saving money for short and long-term goals and give you the flexibility to withdraw the money you save at any time. Saving for a family vacation or a new car – consider using a TFSA to get you started. Check out our TFSA Calculator to see your potential benefits to investing your tax refund into a TFSA.

However you choose to spend your tax refund, be sure to do so wisely. A new pair of shoes may be nice, but your return on investment would not compare to using one of the options above. We’d love to chat and see which option may be best for you. Contact us today!

jar labelled budget with coins in it

The importance of having an emergency fund

Life happens and sometimes an unexpected curveball is thrown our way, threatening our financial well-being and causing stress. Having an emergency savings fund helps us be prepared for these unexpected life events.


If your furnace broke down tomorrow, do you have the money to fix it? What about if you were laid off from work, do you have money set aside to cover daily expenses until you got back up on your feet? Or what If you got hurt while playing a sport causing you to be off work for six weeks, would you be able to cover your mortgage payments, bills, groceries, etc.?

Life sometimes throws us a curveball, threatening our financial well-being and causing us stress. An emergency savings fund helps us be prepared for those unexpected life events.

What is an emergency savings fund?

An emergency savings fund is money you’ve set aside for life’s unexpected events such as the loss of a job, a debilitating illness or injury, or a major repair to your home. It provides you with a financial safety net and gives you comfort knowing that you can tackle any of life’s unexpected events without adding money worries to your list.

What if I don’t have an emergency savings fund?

Without an emergency savings fund, you’re living on the ‘financial’ edge, hoping to get by without running into a crisis. If an emergency does happen, it can cause a little problem to turn into a big, expensive financial situation. It can also cause a lot of additional stress.

As well, without an emergency savings fund, many people turn to debt instruments such as credit cards and lines of credits, to help cover costs. Depending on your financial situation, this could cause even more money worries as it’s only a short-term solution.

How much money should I save for an emergency?

When looking at the amount you need to save for an emergency, a good rule of thumb is three to six months’ worth of expenses. Calculate this amount using a budgeting tool. Over a few months, track the amount you’ve spent on your needs including housing, utilities, food, insurance, transportation, debt and personal expenses. Once you’ve completed this, you should have a good idea of the amount you should set aside for emergency purposes.

How can I save for an emergency?

Making regular payments into a savings account each payday is the simplest and most effective way to save money. It may not seem like a lot to begin with, but don’t let that discourage you. Over time, if managed properly, the fund will grow to the required amount.

When should I use my emergency savings?

When determining whether to use your emergency fund, ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Is it unexpected?

An unexpected emergency is one that you didn’t anticipate occurring, such as:

  • Loss of a job;
  • A debilitating illness or injury; or
  • Major repair to your home or vehicle caused by circumstances out of your control.

Annual reoccurring expenses, such as property taxes, would not qualify as an unexpected emergency.

2. Is it necessary?

Needs are often confused with wants and you’ll need to determine if the unexpected emergency is a want or a need. For example, if you have a water leak in your kitchen and you have to put in new flooring, this could be considered a need or an emergency. On the other hand, if your flooring is old, and you want an updated look, this would be considered a want and you’re emergency savings should not be used.

New items are great; however, your emergency funds should not be used for them.

3. Is it urgent?

When an immediate need arises, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’re going to pay for it. When making a decision on whether the expense is an urgent need, determine if it will affect your ability to provide the basics for you and your family.

Remember, the money you have set aside should only be used if you have an unexpected, immediate expense. If you do use money from your emergency savings, be sure to replenish the money as soon as you get back on your feet by making regular payments.

Life may throw you curveballs, but being prepared will give you peace-of-mind knowing you have money set aside for those unexpected events. It will also help your overall financial well-being and reduce stress.

Are you prepared for an emergency? We’d love to help you get started – contact us today!