receipt on top of a variety of items purchased

Kick-start your finances: where does my money go?

Not sure where all your money is going? This blog helps you dig deep into your spending habits and understand where your money is going each month.


When you think about your finances, do you immediately feel overwhelmed and stressed? Do you ever wonder where all of your money is going? Do you keep saying you’re going to get on track with your finances tomorrow, but tomorrow never happens?

In order to do so, you first need to understand how you spend your money. We’re here to help. In this blog, we’ll look at your spending habits and at the end, you should have a better understanding of exactly where your money is going. Before starting though, be sure to check out and complete Kick-start your finances: goal setting.

To complete the steps in this blog, you can do online using a personal financial management tool or manually. Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to gather the following information prior to starting:

  • Any financial statements from the last year including bank accounts, mortgages, investments, lines of credits, credit cards, etc.
  • Pay stubs showing the income you made in the last year.
  • Any other documents that show income or expenses incurred last year that may not show on the documents listed above (i.e., receipts for cash purchases, etc.).

Step 1: What is your monthly income?

This means all the money that you make – any source of income including your pay cheque, support payments, property income, etc. Look back at the last 12 months and write down all sources of income you made each month. Note the take-home amount (after deductions) as this represents the money you have available to spend.

If you received any non-guaranteed income, such as tips or money as gifts, note in a sub-category called ‘Extra Income’. Separating this amount is especially important when determining your monthly income for budget purposes. As this amount is not guaranteed and unknown, it shouldn’t be included as income when setting a budget; instead, any extra money received should be noted as ‘Extra’ and go towards helping you reach your goals.

Knowing the money you bring in helps give you an understanding of what money you have to manage. Later on in this blog, you’ll also use this amount to see if there were any months you spent over what you actually brought in.

Step 2: Where does my money go?

When we see how much money we bring in, sometimes we are shocked and wonder where it goes – especially if we aren’t consistently budgeting and tracking our money. To understand where your money goes, categorize each month’s spending transactions for over the last year. Categories should be specific and could include:

  • Mortgage
  • Utilities (separate per utility to provide a further breakdown of each cost)
  • Groceries
  • Entertainment
  • Restaurants/Eating Out
  • Insurance
  • Gas
  • Investments
  • Savings

If you took out cash and are unsure of what purchases you made with it, place into a category called unknown.

Being as detailed as possible is important to really help you understand your spending habits. In order to compare your spending to your monthly income, categorize each month’s spending individually. To see a yearly total, simply add the category’s total for each month.

Once all transactions are categorized, you’ll be able to see what you spent per category. Take these amounts and compare to the recommended spending guidelines below:

  • 25-40% on housing;
  • 10-20% on transportation;
  • 40-50% on living expenses such as groceries, etc.; and
  • 10-20% on savings.

How do you compare to the recommendations? Were there any categories you didn’t realize you were spending that much on?

When you look at spending as a whole vs. individual transactions, the results can be shocking. Typically, when we make smaller purchases, we don’t tend to think of them as making a difference; grouping similar purchases together though, give us the big picture and some of the small things can actually be bigger than what we thought.

Step 3: Am I spending above my income?

To understand how your spending compares to the money you’re bringing in, take your monthly income and minus the total expenses you had that month. Were there any months you overspent? What products, such as credit cards, etc., did you use to compensate? If you found any months that you overspent, take a look back at the different categories and transactions – was there anything you could have done differently?

An additional bonus for Conexus members:

As a Conexus member, you have access to our Personal Financial Management tool which will make this challenge a bit easier to complete. Through the tool, you not only can see all of your Conexus accounts but you can also connect and see any accounts you may have at another financial institution. The tool does its best to categorize your transactions automatically, but you may need to change the category on some transactions from time to time.

Another benefit of using this tool is that you can set up budgets later on. You can find more information, including tutorials and “how to’s” here. And hey, if you’re not a Conexus member but really want to use this tool, consider becoming a member today!

Now, it’s your turn

Having an understanding of the money you bring in and how you spend it is a big task alone. It can also be a bit stressful and overwhelming when you start to see the big picture of your spending habits. This could be your opportunity to kick that feeling and to help you reduce this stress.

Take the challenge today. Look back at your income and spending over the last year. Is there anything that stuck out? Are there any themes such as one-time yearly expenses that you weren’t prepared for, etc.? Be sure to note any themes or areas you want to improve as next week, we’ll be taking this information a step further and focusing on how to create a budget that works for you. We’ll also show you how to prepare for those one-time yearly expenses and eliminate some of the unnecessary spending you didn’t realize you were doing until today.

We want to hear from you. What is your biggest take away from this blog? Were you surprised by any of your spending habits? For us… let’s just say we didn’t realize how fast those daily coffee purchases were adding up! Join the conversation – share your experiences below.

Credit unions vs banks: What’s the difference?

When it comes to managing your finances and choosing where to bank, there are many things to consider including whether you should choose a credit union or a bank. 


Credit unions and banks are pretty similar in the types of products and services they offer. However, there are many differences in how they operate. Whether you are looking for a new financial institution or just starting out, here are a few of the differences to help you determine which is a perfect fit for you.

Credit unions are part of the local community. They not only live, work and play within the communities they serve, but also give back to their local communities to help improve the financial well-being of their members. When it comes to managing your finances, you want to ensure the financial institution you choose has your, and your communities, best interest at heart,

At the end of the day, your financial institution should have you as their number one priority. Would you have it any other way?

hands with money

Kids & Money: Have the #MONEYTALK today

It’s important to have the #MONEYTALK with your kids. We talked with Jacques D. to learn how he talks to his kids about money and the tools he uses.


Teaching your kids about money when they’re young can help set them up for success in the future. Not only will they have an increased knowledge and understanding of managing money when they become adults, it can also positively influence their behaviours when it comes to managing their money.

The biggest questions parents ask are how early should I start talking to my kids and what things should I teach them? We sat down with Jacques DeCorby, Conexus’ Vice President of Retail Banking, and Dad of three, to learn more about how he has the #MONEYTALK with his kids and the tools he uses.

When did you first start teaching your kids about money and what are some of the things you are teaching them?

We started talking to our kids early teaching them about the value of money and the power of savings and giving behaviours. We also talk a lot about a need vs. a want and have discussions on how money makes them feel, whether they’re saving it or spending it.

Do you give your kids an allowance? If so, when did you start and how did you determine an amount to give?

We started giving our children an allowance all around the same time, with the oldest being about ten and our youngest being five. I don’t recall how we settled on an amount to give them, but it was an amount that we could fit into our budget as well as help our kids see the value of money. We haven’t adjusted this amount, but it does make sense to periodically review the amount as it could illustrate the influence of inflation.

When teaching your kids about managing money, are there any tools you use?

We use the save-give-spend tool – pay yourself first with savings; give back and support your community; and, the remainder can be used for discretionary spending. In our household, we agreed on the split of 40-10-50 but another common split is 20-10-70.

We use this tool when splitting any money they receive including their allowance and money as gifts. With my oldest starting a part-time job, we also use this tool to help him manage his pay cheque. Though we have set these split percentages, they do have the option to put more into their savings if they chose. With three boys, it is interesting to see their different personalities – our oldest can’t spend it fast enough while our younger two are more focused on saving.

Another tool that we have introduced is the Conexus Credit Union app. At a certain age, our kids started getting their own electronic devices and phones and we made sure they added the app to their device to show them how to use it. It’s always fun to watch their reactions as they see their savings grow.

What advice do you have for parents wanting to teach their kids about money?

Save. Save. Save. Plan. Plan. Plan. Budget. Budget. Budget.

When talking to your kids about managing money, identify savings and set targets and milestones. Expose them early to different short- and long-term savings vehicles. Most importantly, let them make some spending decisions on their own after you’ve had the discussion on needs vs. wants. For example, if they really want that pack of gum at the store, have them purchase it using their own money. Be sure to follow up from time-to-time to talk about their spending decisions and ask them how it made them feel and if they’d do anything differently.

Also, as your kids become older (teens), I recommend parents start introducing the concept of credit ratings and the importance of building and maintaining a strong one.

By teaching your kids about money, what impacts can this have for them later in life?

By teaching your kids about money they’ll have an increased knowledge and understanding of managing money as they get older. More importantly, they will build positive behaviours and money management skills that will help minimize stress later in life that tends to affect so many other aspects of our overall health and well-being – physical, mental, social/family, occupational to name a few.

Any other advice you’d like to add?

It’s important that young people also start to build a strong network of trusted advisors around them including financial advisors. Talking about money can be hard, and introducing them early to money allows them to gain confidence and not be scared to ask questions when it comes to money.

Thanks Jacques! These are all great tips and advice. Financial literacy is important for all ages. We can’t wait to start having the #MONEYTALK with our kids and using some of the tools you shared with us today!

Do you talk to your kids about money? Share with us in the comments below including what age you started talking to them about money, tools you’ve used, other advice you have and more.

image of fraud

Keeping what’s yours, yours

Protect yourself from fraud using these tips on detecting scams and protecting your information.


Dora the Explorer was a show that played over and over in our home. Though many of our kids are now older, we still know all of the lyrics to “The Map Song” and who can forget Dora fending off Swiper every episode by saying “Swiper No Swiping” three times. If only it was that easy in real-life when protecting ourselves, and our information, from scammers.

With the ever-growing digital technologies, we’re also seeing an increase in the number of scams out there. Malware, Trojans, phishing attacks and more – it seems to be each new day is another new scam. But how do we keep up with all that’s going on around us? How can we tell what’s a scam and what’s not?

Below are a few tips on how you can keep yourself and your personal information safe. Check them out below.

Look for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Most scam emails contain spelling mistakes, bad grammar or altered logos. A phishing email may look real at a quick glance, but there’s usually something wrong.

Hover over the sender’s email or links to URLs to see if legit.

If you hold your cursor over the sender’s email or a URL that is the email, it should display the full email address or URL. If the email address or link address looks weird, don’t click on it. If you’re unsure about a website, instead, go directly to the company’s website and log in. If there’s something that needs to be taken care of, you’ll usually have a notification within your account.

Don’t give up personal information.

The majority of companies will never ask you for personal information by email or phone. Fraudsters will many times use scare tactics to make you panic and give up the information. Don’t give in.

When it comes to your banking, set up online banking security alerts.

You can set up online banking security alerts so that you can receive a text or email when there is suspicious activity on your account.

Never disclose your PIN or password to anyone.

This information should be kept private. Create strong passwords using a combination of letter, numbers and symbols. Never tell anyone your passwords and when using your pin, prevent others from seeing it by shielding with your hand.

 

Most importantly, if it feels wrong, it most likely is wrong. If you are ever unsure, contact the company directly.

For more tips on protecting yourself including tips for computers, smartphones, wi-fi and more, visit Protect Yourself.