How To Break Up With Your Bank

To switch or not to switch… that is the question! Switching banks has never been described as an easy or fun task. But what if I could help make the process a bit easier for you? I can’t promise it will be fun, but if you’re already feeling that itch to switch – it will be worth it in the long run.


Got the itch to switch?

So what would make someone get the itch to switch? There are many reasons why someone would want to make a break from their current bank. You could be going through a big life change that challenges you to review your relationship with your current bank. For example, moving to another city for that new job opportunity might make you switch if  you want to do your banking close to home. If you’re recently married like me, you and your hubby would have gone through a debate to decide whose bank gets the honour of opening your joint account.  You could also be looking for better rates because who doesn’t love a good deal? Honestly, as much as a good deal gets me going, the real value is finding someone that treats you like a person and not an account number. Whatever the reason may be, if you’re not happy then it is time to make a change!

How do you do that? I don’t know about you but I like a good checklist so let’s break it down step by step.

Step 1: Browse the options

You wouldn’t buy a book without reading the back and you wouldn’t buy a car off the lot without taking it for a test drive. Your bank shouldn’t be any different. Browse your options and ask yourself want do you want from your financial institution. Things to consider:

  • Would you rather a bank or a credit union? Don’t think there is much of a difference? There is and we’ve broken it down for you in a previous MONEYTALK blog.
  • What is your banking style? In a branch, online, or maybe a mixture of both? Check out what each financial institution specializes in.
  • Is it important that your financial institution is involved and supports your community in which you work, live and play? Take a look at what/how much they support.
  • Most importantly, ask what’s in it for you!

Evaluate your options and take a couple of your top draft picks out for a test drive. I recommend meeting with a representative from the option you are considering to see if they are a right fit for you and can provide what you are missing from your relationship with your current financial institution.

Step 2: Open a new account

You’ve done your research, played the field and now you’re ready to commit… what’s next? Jump in with both feet and open a new account. Most financial institutions offer a variety of ways to open up an account. If you want the human interaction, visit your local branch in your community or if you want the ease and convenience from your couch – there are typically online options (if there isn’t and that is something you value most – return to Step 1).

Pro Tip: Once the account is opened – make a small deposit into your new account to make sure everything is running smoothly.

Step 3: Identify monthly expenses and set up automatic payments

Make a list of your automatic payments that come out of your account on a bi-weekly, monthly and yearly basis. You’ll want to set these up on your new account. Some common automatic transactions to think about:

  • Your hard earned dollars: Direct deposits
  • The roof over your head: Mortgage payments
  • Subscription to chill: Netflix account
  • One more song: Apple Music/Spotify Premium
  • Connection to the world: Cellphone payments
  • License to Leg Day: Gym Membership fees 

Step 4: Transfer majority of your money

You’ve set up your automatic payments and now you have to make sure you have money in there to pay them. Time to transfer the majority of your money into your new account. Key word here is “majority” of your money.

Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to keep some of your money in your old account just in case that pesky internet bill slipped through the cracks.

Having said that, keep your old account open for at least a month to ensure you haven’t missed any of those automatic transactions. When all is clear, transfer the rest of your money into your new account.

Step 5: Closing time

Last, but definitely not least, is to close your account, I repeat CLOSE your account! Just because the balance is zero doesn’t mean it is closed and your bank will continue charging you fees until it is officially closed. Avoid having a “fee”k out when you realize the account was reopened and you now owe your ex-bank money. Contact your bank to ask how to officially close your account and get the closure you need.

 

If you’re feeling that itch to switch don’t be afraid to make a change. At the end of the day, your finances are one of the most important aspects in your life and you should feel safe, valued and confident with your financial institution.

Have any tips for the switch? Let’s hear ’em! Share by using the comment section below to save any headaches for those looking to break up with their bank.

 

4 Quick Tips to Save on Insurance

Home insurance. Life insurance. Car insurance. All important to have, ensuring you’re financially protecting yourself in case of emergency. With each insurance type comes many different options as well as a number of ways you can save. Here are a few savings tips and advice to look into when purchasing (or renewing) insurance.

Home savings that can be spent elsewhere

A part of homeownership includes purchasing home insurance to ensure you’re covered for loss or damage to your property due to unforeseen situations. Home insurance is a must, especially if you live in a condo, townhouse or apartment and share walls with a neighbour. You may trust yourself to not start a fire but you never know when your neighbour will find a way to set a bowl of ramen noodles ablaze. Some insurance companies offer different discounts to help reduce the cost of your home insurance including discounts for:

  • Having a monitored security system
  • Being claims-free for several years
  • Your age and the number of years you’ve been with the company
  • Having a good credit score

A big misconception that comes with buying insurance is that it is a standardized rate among all suppliers. When choosing home insurance, be sure to shop around for the best rates and ask what discounts each company can offer you.

Safe driving does pay off

SGI’s Safe Driver Recognition program rewards drivers with a discount on their vehicle insurance for safe driving. For each year you drive without an incident, you earn a safety point that corresponds to a discount on your vehicle’s plate insurance. As you can earn safety points, you can also lose points for unsafe driving such as speeding, accident, etc. If your safety wasn’t enough motivation to put the phone away while driving, one texting and driving ticket wipes away the points that would have taken you four years to accumulate. That could mean an additional $200 on top of the $280 ticket.

Bundling up

Some insurers will offer discount incentives if you purchase multiple insurances from them. The most common insurance bundles include home insurance and car insurance. When you are shopping around, check how much money you can save by bundling. It’s also very convenient for when renewal time comes around to do it all at once so you don’t have to wonder all year “Wait… is my car insurance due in March? Or is that home insurance?”

Improving your health

Life insurance prepares you for the unexpected and helps protect the people you love if something were to happen to you. When choosing life insurance, consider your family and work situation, life goals and your budget.

If you’re a smoker, your insurance premiums will be higher than a non-smoker. Now you may be thinking, well I just won’t tell my insurance provider that I smoke so I don’t pay as much. Wrong – don’t do this because if you hide it and it’s discovered you’ve been lying, your insurance could be rejected. On a positive note, if you need that extra reason to quit smoking, some insurance companies will consider you a non-smoker if you’ve been smoke-free for a year and will reduce your premiums. Not only will you be able to save on insurance, you’ll also be saving money due to no longer buying your cigarettes. Bonus, Smoker’s Helpline has a Quit to Win Contest where you can enter to win $500 cash if you quit smoking.

 

Whenever you’re purchasing insurance of any kind, be sure to do your research and shop around for the best rate. Always ask questions and inquire about any discounts your provider may offer.

Know of other discounts or incentives to save money on insurance? I’d love to hear them – share with me by using the comment section below.

Man and woman sitting on couch talking about finances

Honey, can we talk finances?

Does just the topic of finances with your significant other cause great stress in your lives?  In this blog, we will identify possible causes and how to turn “Honey, can we talk finances” from a negative to a positive.


What discussion topics are avoided in your household – politics, sex, in-laws… money??   I hear ya.  Do your money talks turn into the “Blame Game” or worse yet, don’t happen at all? Why is one of the most important things that impact our entire lives constantly being avoided?

We hear how money has been the leading cause of divorce/breakups for years but we still don’t talk about our finances as often as we should.  My co-workers laughed when I told them I wanted to name my blog “Just shut up and do it yourself” but sometimes that is exactly how we feel.   Am I right?

What’s the underlying issue?

  • Communication – Can you have an honest discussion about your financial situation without shaming, blaming or walking away? Struggling to manage one’s finances is common — but talking honestly and openly about it is not.  Do you only talk about finances when a disaster strikes?
  • Fear – Are you financial literacy savvy? What is your level of understanding? Nobody wants to look stupid or admit they don’t know.  Let’s face it, if your parents didn’t teach you and you didn’t learn it in school, how can you be expected to make informed decisions.
  • Upbringing – My parents never talked in front of us kids or taught us about finances. We had food, clothing, a roof over our heads – we never questioned how it got there. It just magically appeared. No worries. Depending on how the subject was approached or avoided in your household may impact your spending and saving habits.
  • Financial habits – Are you and your significant other financially compatible? Are you savers, spenders, or a combination? Two spenders without a plan – a harmonious relationship tend not to be had – unless you are a multi-millionaire at birth.  On the other hand, two savers might miss out on experiencing life.
  • Goals – Are you in it together? Do you have the same goals – homeowner, kids, early retirement? Do you share all the responsibilities and decisions or do you divide and conquer?

How can we fix this? 

  1. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate!
  • Commit to a time with no interruptions to discuss life goals – short and long term. What do you truly want out of life?  What is your current situation?  What is in the past is in the past; deal with the here and now.   Keep calm at all costs.  Experts suggest you do so on your 3rd date as this conversation is just as important as the marriage and children talk.
  1. Plan. Plan. Plan!
  • Schedule a monthly review of your short term finances:
    • Are all the bills paid and needs met – food, shelter, clothing?
    • Do you have any upcoming expenses – car repairs, insurance, taxes, dentist, renos?
    • Make a budget: don’t make it too restricted or you won’t stick to it. Factor in some fun and “nice to have’s” and an emergency fund for life’s uh oh’s.
  • Schedule a yearly review to look at the bigger picture, long term goals – buying a house, having kids/having more kids, investments, retirement. Definitely review sooner if you experience a life-changing situation.
  • Schedule a financial health checkup with a professional financial advisor at your financial institution. They will be able to ensure you are on track to meeting your goals and can also be useful mediators if need be.
  1. Educate. Educate. Educate!
  • Knowledge is money. We don’t deal with things when we don’t know anything about them or we make bad decisions. Pick a financial product and research it, attend workshops, watch YouTube, read more of our blogs or visit our website.  There is lots of great info and tools at your fingertips.
  1. Teach. Teach. Teach!
  • Talk to your children about finances, don’t exclude them.  You don’t have to divulge everything but your decisions do impact them. Teach them the basics and help arm the next generation with the tools they need to be financially successful.  Who knows you might be in their care in the future.  Make sure it is a nice place.

At the end of the day, talking to your spouse or significant other about your finances is important early on and continually throughout your relationship.  Don’t forget!!

Haven’t had a #moneytalk in a while!  What are you waiting for?  Schedule your talk now!!

What advice do you have to make the #moneytalk easier?  Share with us by commenting below.  We would love to hear them.

engaged couple holding a sign that says I said yes!

I’m engaged! Now what?

Being newly engaged is such an exciting time and an important part of the wedding milestone. But it’s important to put down all the wedding magazines and hold booking venues, to take some time to enjoy the engagement bliss and focus on your wedding budget with your partner first.


Congratulations! Now it’s time to freak out

Your turn has come where you’re finally engaged to be married and the first few moments are blissful and celebratory. Before you know it, the champagne flutes are empty and your Pinterest board has more pins than a sewing kit. It doesn’t take you long for the stress to kick in and you start asking yourself, ‘How am I ever going to afford my dream wedding?’

Hit pause

In the first month after you get engaged, it’s very important to take time to let these special moments soak in and avoid making big decisions. Instead, talk to your partner and discuss one-on-one what you both want your wedding to look like. This can be a challenge, especially as you may be tempted to make decisions right away and people are asking you every day if you’ve started planning. To avoid these inevitable questions have a planned response such as, “We haven’t started planning much, but we’re thinking a small wedding sometime next summer.” This will usually end the conversation without being rude or opening yourself up to outside opinions – trust me, you’ll get them.

Start the budget

Warning: you’ll want to sit down for this.

Now that you’ve taken time to soak up the first part of the engagement and have those crucial conversations with your partner on what you want your wedding day to look like, it’s time to get started with wedding planning. Before deciding on a venue, guests, or what your flowers will look like, you’ll first need to tackle setting a budget for your special day. It can be a lot and I recommend taking it one step at a time as to avoid feeling overwhelmed – start with these 3 steps:

  1. Decide on a wedding budget – This can sometimes start with conversations on who else would be contributing to your wedding and what dollar amount they are putting in. From there you will know how much will be coming out of your own pocket. Make sure your budget includes everything from rings, gifts, to finally the honeymoon. It’s also important to leave a 5% – 10% contingency in case you go over.
  2. List your priorities – Decide what’s most important to you as a couple. Is it food? Then spend more on food. Maybe it’s music – be willing to spend more on entertainment. If it’s just simply having everyone there, the more people usually come with a bigger price tag so you’ll need to compromise on other items, like no dinner and instead do a canapé hour.
  3. Get a budgeting tool – I like using Wedding Wire Budget Planner because it tracks all my categories for spending, tallies the costs against my total decided budget and sends reminders for payments. The biggest mistake you can make is not tracking your spending and costs get out of control pushing you off budget.

Now that your budget and priorities are decided the fun stuff can begin! Start doing your research on venues and vendors and try to stay calm when you see price quotes come back – that’s why you made a budget at the start. The fact is, weddings are expensive and the average cost of a Canadian wedding in 2018 was $27,000, but this doesn’t mean that’s what your wedding needs to cost. Don’t get hung up on what other people are doing and instead focus on what is right for you as a couple and what fits within your budget.

Are you married or getting married? I’d love to know what your wedding budget was/is as well as any challenges you had when it came to your budget and costs related to your wedding. As well, do you have any wedding cost saving tips? Comment below to share and be sure to check back soon for future wedding advice and tip blogs.

living room of home filled with moving boxes

5 tips for anyone moving out for the first time

Moving out on your own for the first time can be quite overwhelming, especially when it comes to your finances and all of the extra expenses you now have. Here are some tips for managing your finances when moving out on your own for the first time. 


Moving out on your own for the first time is a big life decision. Like any big life decision, it comes with its own set of challenges and excitements. Often, we focus on the excitement of it all – the freedom we’ll have in our own place, being able to make it our own, and more. Yes, those things are exciting, but what we forget or be naïve to is all the #adulting that comes with it, including all the extra expenses we didn’t have before. Paying rent or a mortgage is often a financial obligation people are aware of before moving out, but what often comes as a shock is the actual costs of maintenance, utilities, insurance, groceries, toiletry items, cleaning supplies and decorative items for your new home – really, a throw pillow is $35?!?

Growing up, my family required everyone to help. Whether you were running small errands to the grocery store, cooking meals or helping clean the house, everyone was expected to do their part. We also talked about money including the importance of budgeting, the difference between wants and needs and spending wisely. Although I did not enjoy this or see it as a good thing back then, I now understand that this was preparing me for the day that I moved out on my own.

This day came just a few months ago for me. Though it’s only been a short time of me being on my own, I’ve learned quite a bit. Here are all of the things I’ve learned and a few tips to anyone considering living on their own for the first time.

Shopping & cooking for yourself

I come from a family of five, all of whom were very active and ran on different schedules. This resulted in having large meals that provided many leftovers for the week. Large meals also meant large grocery hauls and bills. As someone who has very little experience in the kitchen, this was all I knew. Needless to say, the first grocery shopping trip was large and the few meals I cooked on my own were enough to feed my entire neighbourhood. This led to a lot of wasted food by the end of the week.

Tips:

  • Make weekly meal plans. Planning your meals also allow you to make a list of only the items you need. When you go grocery shopping, this will help reduce you from buying things you don’t need and save money. Here’s a tool I use: Mealime, a meal planning app for healthy eating.
  • Use a recipe. Often recipes provide serving sizes which can help you understand how much food you’ll be making. Cut the recipe in half in only cooking for yourself or two of you, helping ensure you’re not wasting a bunch of food

There’s food in the fridge

You know when you were younger, and you’d beg your mom or dad to take you out for food and they’d say no we have food at home? Yeah, I never thought I would have that talk with myself. However, eating out or ordering in all the time can add up quickly especially nowadays with all the food delivery apps available.

  • Don’t give in to cravings. Yes, I agree, movie theatre popcorn is way better and why make it at home when you can have it delivered, right? The reality, that craving will cost about 20X+ what it would cost you to do at home and though you may be craving it, your stomach won’t know the difference.
  • Delete your apps. Gone are the days of waiting on hold to place an order and in are the days of clicking a few buttons, within just a few seconds, to place an order for takeout. Because it has become too easy, we don’t take the time to ask ourselves if ‘we really need this’ or convince ourselves ‘there’s food at home’. By deleting your takeout apps, you’ll be forced to go online or call for takeout, decreasing the convenience and providing you time to rethink your spontaneous takeout purchase.
  • Pinterest is your friend! Cooking supper doesn’t have to be difficult. For someone like me though who doesn’t overly enjoy being in or is comfortable in the kitchen, I’m often tempted to just order in. I’ve quickly realized living on my own that ordering out often is not financially feasible and there are many quick and easy recipes out there – I just need to take the time to find them and make them.

Make a budget & stick to it

A budget can be a great tool for staying in control of your finances. It is something most people know they should be utilizing and to some extent do; however, most often this is a tool we start and then forget about or don’t stay on top of. When you move out, your expenses can quickly feel overwhelming if you don’t know how to manage them. My advice, create a budget and stick to it!

Tips:

  • Create a monthly budget using a budget calculator such as the Conexus Budget Calculator. This calculator allows you to get a clear picture of where you are financially and see how your expenses with within the recommended percentages.
  • In order to stick to your budget is to know what you’re spending. Use an expense tracking app such as Mobills. By tracking my expenses daily, I have forced myself to think about and know where I am spending my money, and not just on the big things like rent.
  • Set monthly goals. By setting goals it will feel like you have something to work towards and can get excited about at the end of each month to see if you achieved your goal. And be realistic; if you set unrealistic expectations this will only deter you from your budget as you might feel discouraged.

Be mindful of your spending

As eluded to above, tracking your daily expenses can be a great way to be more mindful of our spending.

Prior to moving out this is not something I did because it was never a worry of mine. I would buy a pair of shoes or a new sweater and not blink an eye. This quickly changed once I moved out.

Tips:

  • Create a list of wants and needs. Now, I don’t just mean your obvious list of food and shelter, but also all those ‘nice-to-haves’. A new pair of shoes or sweater may be needed, but having a list of wants and needs will help you set priority to your needs. This will help you to think through your purchases instead of impulse buying and can make a big difference.
  • Challenge yourself to no spending. Take the day, week or month off from spending on things you don’t need. Instead of eating out, challenge yourself to only eat at home. Or instead of going out with friends, have a game or movie night in. You’d be surprised how much money you can save this way. And hey, we have a blog on that to show you how!

Turn off the lights!

I don’t know how many times I’d leave the lights on while living at home to hear my Mom yell, “turn the lights off if you’re not in the room!” When we live at home there are many things we take for granted because we aren’t the one having to pay for them. The cost of electricity was something I quickly realized was one of those things.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did know that energy costs money and you need it to power your house. What I didn’t realize though is how my bad habits impacted these costs. Mom was right after all these years – but shhh, don’t tell her I said that!

Tip:

  • Cut your energy costs. Energy costs money and you can control/lesson your bill by watching how much energy you’re using. Check out our Cut Your Energy Costs blog for 8 great tips on how you can reduce your energy consumption. And remember, turn off that light if you don’t need it!

 

Though my parents prepared me for success in the adult world, there were many things I had to learn on my own. #Adulting can be hard, but with a bit of planning, tracking and self-control, at the end of the day it can be fun.

Have you recently moved out on your own, and have learnings of your own? I’d love to hear them – share with me by commenting below.

couple sitting on couch, looking at a computer

10 ways to take control of your finances

A New Year means resolutions and often times have a financial component to them. Here are 10 ways you can take control of your finances this coming year.


New Year. New financial you.

It’s hard to believe the New Year has already begun. With a New Year often comes resolutions – creating a plan for the future using lessons from the past – and many times have a financial component to them.

Here are 10 ways you can take control of your finances this coming year.

1. Set goals

We all have dreams of what we want to do and what we want to achieve. Make these dreams a reality by setting goals to achieve them. Organize your goals by priority and be sure they’re realistic and achievable. Tip: Start small. Small goals are easier to reach and help train your brain into believing you can achieve it, increasing your chance for success of future goals. Get started by checking out our Goal Setting Blog.

2. Take action

It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something and actually doing it. Put action to your words by creating an action plan setting dates you want to achieve parts/milestones of your goal by. Hold yourself accountable and reward yourself when achieving each milestone helping you to keep motivated.

3. Create a budget

A budget helps you manage your money, showing you how much you’re bringing in each month and where you plan on spending your money. It can help you not spend above your means and focus on what’s important to you. To make budgeting easier for you, we recommend using our online Budget Calculator.

4. Track your spending

By tracking every nickel you spend, you’re able to get an accurate picture of your spending habits – sometimes it can be very shocking how quickly or how much your purchases add up. Tracking your spending will also help you create a more precise budget based on your spending habits and allow you to identify areas where you may need to change your spending behaviours.

5. No-spend challenges

Each month challenge yourself to a spending freeze for a day, weekend or even the full month for all non-essential items. Or pick a different non-essential category to not spend on such as ‘No Eating Out March’.

We recommend challenging yourself for a day or weekend if doing for the first time. Check out our No-Spend Weekend Challenge Blog helping you succeed in taking an entire weekend off from spending.

6. Save for an emergency

Life can sometimes throw us a curveball, threatening our financial well-being and causing us stress. Set money aside each month into an emergency savings fund for those unexpected life events. Having a fund ensures if your car breaks down or your furnace goes in the middle of winter that you’re prepared and gives you peace-of-mind knowing you won’t need to stress trying to find money to cover these unexpected expenses.

7. Prepare for retirement

We all dream of the day we’ll retire – no more alarm clock, being able to take a nap whenever we’d like and playing that golf game on a Wednesday afternoon. Being able to retire the way we want though requires some planning in advance. Start preparing now by checking out our blog, Retirement: will you have enough?

8. Save your extra money

Throughout the year we come across extra money such as an income tax return or a cheque from our Grandma for our birthday. Though we may be tempted to treat ourselves, consider putting any extra, unexpected money you come across into savings – you’ll thank yourself at the end of the year when you have extra savings in the bank!

9. Invest in a TFSA

A tax-free savings account (TFSA) is a great way to save for just about anything, whether it be a short-term or long-term goal. What you save is not tax deductible nor are you taxed when you withdraw your earnings. As well, in 2019 contribution maximums have increased to $6,000. Learn more here.

10. Plan/review your estate

We often think that planning our estates is something we do when we’re older but in fact, everyone young or old should have an estate plan in place in case something unexpected were to happen to us. Having an estate plan helps our loved ones understand our wishes and how to carry them out if we were to pass. This can include naming guardians for children, instructions for your burial/cremation and how you’d like your property divided up and should be updated at each life event such as marriage, children, divorce, retirement, etc. Start your plan by speaking with a local estate planner or lawyer today.

A New Year symbolizes a fresh start and new beginnings. Hopefully, these quick tips help you feel more prepared to take on the new year and take control of your finances. For more financial advice, we encourage you to check out some of our other blogs or contact us today to set up an appointment with a financial advisor.

Hand scrolling through social media on a tablet

The financial pressures of social media

Social media has transformed the way we see things and how we share things. It’s important to understand our true identity vs. digital identity and how social media impacts us in order to keep balance in the digital world.


Have you ever scrolled through your social feeds and saw something that you wanted? Or saw photos of what your friends were doing such as a recent vacation or night out and started comparing your life to theirs. For many, the answer is yes.

Social media has transformed the way we see things as well as how we share things. The digital world allows us to capture every moment on camera and social media has caused us to feel the need to share all of these experiences. How much of what we share though paints the full picture of our true selves?

In reality, what we share on social media is what we want others to see – the food we’re eating, the vacations we’re taking and all the family and friend experiences we’re having. We create a digital identity that often differs from our true identity.

What’s not being shared is those not-so-good things, our behind the scenes – the food mishaps that caused for that pizza to be ordered, the credit card debt we have from going on that vacation or the meltdown we had trying to get our child out the door to their activity on time and realizing team fees were also due that day. We create a false sense of reality and the picture we’ve shared is only giving part of the story to those seeing it.

Outside viewing in

From the outside, when seeing these photos we tend to forget that there’s more to the image than what we’re seeing. Most often, we forget to look at the fuller picture and make ourselves believe what we see is a reality. We don’t think about all the unknown behind the scene details. We start to compare our own lifestyles and experiences to those of others and at times, start doing things outside of our comfort zone to keep up with those around us. We then share these experiences on social to show that we are doing fun, exciting things as well, creating our own digital identity.

It becomes a domino effect. Just like you’re feeling the pressure to keep up and share all the ‘fun’ experiences, others – including those you’re trying to keep up with – are watching your feeds and feeling the same pressures to keep up with you.  The cycle is never-ending as everyone continually tries to keep up with others and at the same time, fails to provide some of the truths of the behind-the-scenes.

Staying balanced

This never-ending cycle can impact us mentally, emotionally and financially. It’s important to stay focused and live the way that works for you, not the way others make you feel you need to live or how you feel you need to share with others. Here are a few tips to staying balanced in today’s digital world.

  • Know the difference between a want and a need. Do you really ‘need’ that pair of shoes you saw on Instagram? Before making a purchase on something you saw, ask yourself if it’s a want or a need? How will it make you feel and will this feeling last or be short-lived? Asking these questions help you be mindful when shopping and could prevent you from making a purchase spontaneously that you later regret.
  • Don’t just do it to check off the box. We grow up thinking we need to check the box based on where we ‘should be in life’. We find ourselves trapped by the mindset that we should have the house, the car, the family, etc. by a certain age, especially if we’re seeing our friends doing it on social media and it can normalize the movement of over-spending. Reality is we’re all at different life stages and all have different goals and priorities. Just because someone else is checking that box doesn’t mean you have to do so as well. Remind yourself of this and do things on your terms – when you’re ready and feel it’s the right thing for you mentally and financially.
  • Quit comparing yourself to others, especially financially! Do you actually know how much each one of your friends makes? Most likely not, yet we make assumptions and then compare ourselves to them. We think ‘well I make about the same as so-and-so, so I too should be able to take a hot vacation each year’. This creates an unhealthy relationship of what reality is, as we don’t really often know the behind-the-scene details. Instead of comparing yourself and keeping up to what others are doing, understand your well-being and set goals for you. Taking a hot vacation may be possible every year but do it on your terms and ensure you create a financial action plan to help you achieve this goal.
  • Be present and make personal connections. Our digital identity is just one piece of the story. By being present and interacting with friends outside of the digital world, you’re able to connect with their true identity. Often times, you’ll start to see the fuller picture of those posts – the behind the scenes – and get a better sense of the true reality of what’s being shown.

Social media impacts everyone’s mental, emotional and financial well-being differently. Understand how it affects you personally and be conscious of this next time you’re scrolling through your social media feeds. Remember that what you’re seeing is just what others want you to see and there’s usually a lot more to the story.

Like what you read and what to hear more? Check out our recent The FOMO Effect – A Panel Discussion, where we spoke with four, amazing local Saskatchewanians to hear their views on the pressures of social media and the impact it can have on our financial well-being.

We want to know – has social media had an impact on you financially? Share your experiences and your tips & advice on staying balanced in a digital world below.

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.

Baby lying down with silly face

Surviving the first year of parenthood: advice from Moms

The first year of parenthood can be stressful – financially and mentally. We spoke to several Saskatchewan Moms to get their advice on the first year of parenthood and things to consider.


If you recall from our blog, Costs of Raising a Child, the average Canadian spends approx. $10,000 – $15,000 each year raising a child – diapers, clothing, activities and more, it all starts to add up. When starting a family, creating a financial plan is essential. This is especially important for the first year of parenthood when finances can be a bit tighter due to not working and being on a reduced income.

Earlier this year, we spoke to several Saskatchewan Moms to get their advice on the first year of parenthood when it comes to their financial and mental health and things to consider. Here’s what they had to say:

  • It’s never too early to start preparing. Your due date is just an estimated date and your baby can come at any time. Be prepared for an early arrival by having your bag packed, finishing the baby’s room and applying for employment insurance in advance of your due date.
  • Budget. Budget. Budget. Creating a budget is key for the first year of parenthood especially due to an increase in expenses and for most, a decrease in income.  Use an online budget template to help you understand your new financial situation and to create a plan for the year.
  • Know the benefits you may qualify for. Other than employment insurance, there are a few other benefits that parents may qualify for depending on their family income including the Child Tax Benefit and GST credit. These additional benefits can help supplement your income, especially while on parental leave, and be used to help cover the costs of baby essentials. To learn more, visit Canada.ca.
  • Stock up on household items. A few weeks before the baby’s arrival stock up on household items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. This will help you to do smaller shopping trips once the baby arrives and are working around feeding and sleeping times.
  • Use coupons and cash rebates. Diapers, wipes and more can be expensive and many companies offer coupons to parents to help reduce costs. Another way parents can save money is by using cash rebate sites such as Checkout 51, which frequently has cash-back offers on baby related item purchases such as diapers.
  • Treat yourself. Once the baby is born, it can be hard to take time for yourself, especially in the first few months. Prior to the baby being born go out for supper or to the movies to enjoy a little you time. Once your baby is born, continue to treat yourself every so often, even if it’s grabbing a quick latte here and there.
  • Host girls night: Invite your close friends over one last time before the baby comes. Supply some appies and beverages. To help when the baby arrives, have each friend bring a pre-made freezer meal that you can heat up quickly for supper when time may be limited.
  • Buy used clothing: Try not to buy everything brand new as babies outgrow things quickly. Use sites such as VarageSale or attend clothing sales to find barely, worn clothing for a fraction of the store price.
  • Save, Save, Save: It’s never too early to start saving for your future family. Create a savings account that can be used to purchase baby items, help supplement your reduced income for when on parental leave and to get you started on planning your child’s future (e.g., RESPs).

With all the Moms we spoke to, the advice that came up over and over again was knowing you’re not alone. Having a baby can cause many things to change including our hormones, sleeping patterns, etc. and at times you may feel stressed or exhausted. Whatever you’re experiencing or feeling another parent is most likely going through the same thing and it’s important to connect with other parents, such as joining a parent group, to relate and go through these new experiences with. This not only helps to get you out of the house a bit each week but also is a great way to share experiences and connect with other parents going through the same thing as you.

The first year of parenthood can sometimes be challenging but it’s also the most rewarding as you get to spend the time with your newest addition and watch them grow.

Other parents out there – what tips or advice do you have for the first year of parenthood? Tell us below.

Dad taking selfie with son and daughter

Costs of raising a child

Having a baby is a very exciting experience, but what some may not realize is how much money is needed to raise a child each year. To show how the costs of raising a child add up, we’ve broken down a few child-related expenses to consider.


On average, a Canadian spends approx. $10,000-$15,000 each year raising a child. From diapers to clothing, activities, braces and post-secondary education, the costs start to add up year after year. And that’s just for one child. If you have twins or multiple kids, that amount may double, triple or more!

When planning on having a child, money should be a factor you consider. Understanding your finances and how much you’ll need to raise a child can help you determine if the time is right now, or maybe not for a few more years.

To show how the costs of raising a child can add up, we’ve broken down a few child-related expenses to consider.

One-time costs in the first year:

A car seat, stroller, crib, change table and baby monitor are just a few of the items you’ll need to purchase when having a baby.  All big-ticket items with larger price tags. It’s recommended you start putting money aside during your planning stage to cover these expenses when it comes time to purchase. Also, consider adding these items to your baby shower registry and asking family and friends to contribute to the larger items to offset costs. Purchasing second hand is also a great option for reducing costs; however, if you do this remember to look at expiration dates.

Food, diapers & clothing:

Baby necessities such as diapers, food and clothing can have a large impact on your monthly budget. On average, a baby uses more than 2,700 diapers in its first year. With diapers costing an average of $0.20-0.25 each you’re looking at roughly $550 a year in just diapers – that’s not including baby wipes, diaper rash cream, etc.

Additional costs can also include formula and baby food depending on your approach to feeding your baby. Whether choosing to breastfeed or not, formula feeding should be considered when factoring money as sometimes, even if planning on breastfeeding, unexpected factors may not allow for you to do so.  As well, as your child grows, they’ll begin eating the same foods as you and though you may not be buying baby food anymore your weekly grocery budget will increase.

Childcare:

Depending on your child’s age, you may pay anywhere from $250-$1,200 a month for childcare. Typically, the younger the child is means the more you’ll pay for childcare. Something to be aware of is that many childcare providers only take a few infants and young children at a time and it’s recommended you begin looking and putting your name on a waiting list as soon as you can to secure a spot for when you return to work.

Post-secondary education:

Though university may be 18 years away, it’s never too early to start saving for your child’s post-secondary education. Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) are taxed-deferred savings accounts and allow you to contribute as much money as you like up to a lifetime maximum of $50,000. To help your money grown faster, the federal government also contributes a percentage of money to the RESP each year based on your contributions. Check out the ‘What to know when it comes to RESPs’ blog to learn more.

Costs related to raising a child may vary per family due to each unique family situation. To understand how much raising a child may cost you, we recommend completing Money Sense’s Costs of Raising a Child Calculator.

Whether you’re thinking about having a child now or in the future, it’s important you understand the costs related to raising a child and create a financial plan.  Talk to a financial advisor today to get your plan started.

Parents – what financial advice do you have for other parents, based on your experiences? Share in the comments below!