Posts

stack of pancakes with fruit and syrup

No-spend weekend challenge

Weekend spending can add up. Consider taking the weekend off from spending and see how much money you can save. You may be surprised by the results.


When it comes to the weekend, how much do you spend? Think about the last few weekends and all the things you did. Did you eat out at all? Go shopping? Had a coffee date with a friend? When you start to look back at your last few weekends you may be surprised by how many of your weekend activities had a cost to them.

Many of us tend to spend more on the weekend as we’re not working to make money, but instead, we’re out spending the money we worked hard to make. This is because instead of having work to occupy us, we’re looking for ways to keep us busy.

What if you could take an entire weekend off from spending? What could you do with that extra savings? Give it a try and take our No-Spend Weekend Challenge this weekend.

The challenge

What qualifies as a no-spend weekend? It’s taking two days in a row such as a Saturday and Sunday and making an effort to not spend money on non-essential things. No dinners out. No brunches. No weekend coffee. No shopping. It means getting creative with what’s in your fridge and weekend activities, and only spending money on necessities such as groceries if needed.

Game plan

Ready to take the challenge but unsure where to start? We’ve got you covered. To help you succeed, we’ve planned an entire no-spend weekend for you below. All you need to do is accept the challenge and enjoy the savings!

Saturday

Get your day started off with an activity like free yoga in the park, a bike ride or grab your tennis racket and hit the court. In the afternoon, set some time aside to finish that project around the house you keep putting off or doing some of that dreadful cleaning such as washing walls and baseboards. Finishing it will make you feel so good and accomplished without spending any extra money.

In the evening, pack a picnic and blanket and walk to your neighbourhood park for an early dinner in the park. Too cold? Why not have a picnic in the living room?

End the evening with a game or movie night, dusting off games or DVDs in your collection that haven’t been used in a while.

Sunday

Start your lazy Sunday off with coffee and breakfast in bed while watching your favourite TV show. Use items in your fridge to make the ultimate omelette or whip up a quick batch of pancakes using this simple recipe.

Then head outside with your camera or smartphone to take some family photos. Explore your neighbourhood to scout out cool back alley or coloured walls for your backdrop.

For supper, take the pantry challenge and make a Sunday family meal with only the ingredients that you have at home. Spend the rest of the evening doing a puzzle or reading a book, then head to bed early for a good night’s rest.

 

Not spending money doesn’t have to be boring. The key to success is planning ahead so you take out the obligation of spending. The above schedule can be used as just a guideline for your no-spend weekend and feel free to sub in other free activities that you and your family enjoy. Need some more ideas? Try some of these no-spend activities out!

Taking the no-spend weekend challenge may be easier than you think and something you want to incorporate into your life more often. Challenge yourself to a no-spend weekend once a month, or if you’re ambitious, consider having a no-spend day at least once a week. Whatever you decide, remember there are endless ideas out there that don’t have to cost a thing and will help you save dollars in the end!

Completed the challenge? How did it go – hard? Easy? What did you learn? Share your experience below.

Woman holding piggy bank

Kick-start your finances: automatic savings

You can’t spend what you can’t see, right? Set up automatic money transfers from your chequing account to your savings account to reduce the temptation of spending somewhere else and keep you on track to reaching your financial goals.


You may have heard the term ‘pay yourself first’ but what does that actually mean? For us, it means setting goals, creating a budget and putting money aside regularly to achieve those goals. An effortless way to do this is by setting up automatic saving transfers.

Through automatic saving transfers, it’s easier than ever to save money. Through the tool, you’re able to schedule reoccurring money transfers between your accounts. Because it’s done automatically, it doesn’t let you think twice about moving the money into your savings and reduces the temptation to spend it on something else. You can’t spend what you don’t see, right?

Once you have your short and long-term goals identified, we recommend opening up different accounts for those that require savings. Talk to a financial advisor to determine what type of account is best for you (e.g., TFSA, RRSP, savings account, etc.). From your budget, determine how much money to transfer into each account and how frequently you’d like to contribute. Then, using online or mobile banking, set up a reoccurring transfer each month.

If you’re paid bi-weekly or twice monthly, we recommend setting up your automatics transfers for each payday. This way, you can have smaller, more frequent transfers that add up to the same monthly amount, but don’t seem to be as large of an impact all at once.

Automatic payments take away excuses and procrastination. There’s no more saying you’ll do it tomorrow as it’s automatically done – making tomorrow, today. By taking directly out of your account, you’ll forget it’s there and won’t be tempted to spend it elsewhere. You’ll also be on track to reaching the goals you set and could be surprised at how quickly it adds up!

Paying yourself first means investing in yourself. It is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your financial well-being. Now it’s your turn – take the challenge and be one step closer to taking control of your finances today.

person holding sign that says budget

Kick-start your finances: creating a budget

Create a budget that works for you using the information and templates in this blog.


Let’s create a budget. A budget is a tool that helps you manage your money. It shows you your full financial picture – the money you bring in each month and where you plan to spend it. It helps you determine what a want vs. a need is and shows you where you can cut expenses to ensure you only spend what you have. It also allows you to see where there may be any extra money that you can put towards reaching your overall goals quicker.

This blog focuses on creating an annual budget that works for you. You can complete this challenge manually on a piece of paper or online. If doing online, here are several great budget templates that can assist you:

Whatever method you choose, the process will be very similar.

Determining your monthly income

The first step of a budget is figuring out how much money you’ll have each month (see Kick-start your finances: where’s my money going). Under the income section of your budget, list all sources of money (pay, support, grants, etc.) you’ll receive in the coming months. Remember, this is the take-home amount as it’s the money you actually have available to spend.

For those with a regular pay cheque – one that is the same each time – your income should be around the same amount each month. Note: If you’re paid bi-weekly, there are two months each year that you’ll receive three pay cheques.

For those that have irregular or seasonal income, it can be a bit more difficult and there are two ways you can determine a monthly income amount for your budget:

  1. Use your average monthly income. You can find this by taking your last six months’ total income and dividing by six.
  2. Use your lowest amount of monthly income that you received in the last six months. For example, if you’re monthly income over the last six months ranged between $1,900 and $2,200, use the $1,900 amount in your budget.

Whether you have a regular or irregular monthly income, it’s important to not over-estimate this amount when creating a budget. A budget provides you guidance on how you will spend this money and over-estimating will cause you to budget money you don’t have. If you end up receiving more money in a month than what you budgeted, use this extra money and put towards reaching your saving goals faster.

Remember, you shouldn’t include any non-guaranteed income such as tips and money received as gifts into your anticipated monthly income budget. Non-guaranteed money is exactly that – not guaranteed and unknown – and should be treated as extra money for your goals.

Creating a budget based on what you have

Now that you have noted your income for each month, it’s time to create a plan to spend this money. First, create a list of all your expense categories. The spending analysis you completed in the Kick-start your finances: where’s my money blog can assist you in creating categories specific to your spending habits. Be sure to include categories for your saving goals and any debt payment expenses, such as credit cards, you may also need to budget for each month. Once you have these categories, take it one step further and create sub-categories for each expense. This helps provide a detailed understanding of each category and identifies fixed expenses (ones you can’t change) and variable expenses (those you have control over and can change).

Example:

Next, you’ll need to allocate money to each expense. It may be easiest to start with expenses that are fixed such as mortgage/rent, utilities, etc. and then move into the variable expenses such as groceries, entertainment, etc.  Don’t forget to include expenses that aren’t monthly such as sporting fees, gift purchases, etc. – for these expenses, place the budgeted amount under the month they’ll occur. It’s also okay to leave a category at $0 if you don’t plan on spending anything in that category within a given month.

Once you have your amounts allocated, look to see how it measures against your monthly income. If you’re under-budget, woohoo! With this extra money, look at adding more to your saving goal categories to help you reach your goals faster.

Example:

If you’re over-budget, some adjustments will need to be made. First, look at your variable expenses – are there any places you can reduce your budget such as groceries, entertainment, etc.? Adjust as needed until you become balanced, or even better yet, under-budget.

If money is really tight in one particular month, consider not budgeting money for one of your saving goals. Use this as a last resort though and ensure it doesn’t become a consistent thing. If you’re noticing a trend in not having enough money to cover your expenses month after month, consider bringing in extra income or making some changes in your day-to-day life. For example, pick up a part-time job to bring in more income or start using public transit to help reduce costs related to your vehicle.

One-time, occasional expenses

Expenses that only occur once or twice throughout the year can have a big impact on our monthly budget. For these expenses you can do two things:

  1. Budget the full amount in the month the expense occurs; or
  2. Budget smaller amounts each month leading up to the expense.

The second option helps reduce the pressure of finding these one-time costs within your budget all at once and is especially helpful if you have several large, one-time expenses that all occur within the same timeframe.

For example, your child plays soccer and club fees of $400 are due every September. Consider putting smaller amounts into your budget each month that can be used to pay for the expense when it comes due. If you were to start in February, by putting $30 away each month, you’ll have $210 by September which would only leave you with $190 extra to budget in September to help cover this expense.

Example:

Create separate savings accounts for your goals

When saving for your goals, place this money in a separate account for each goal. Set limits on accessibility (i.e., must go to a branch to access the money) to reduce the spending temptation. By placing in a savings or investment account, you’ll also gain interest and see the money grow faster.

If you put these all together, you have your annual budget – your full financial picture.

Setting a budget helps you focus on what’s important and gives you guidelines on how you’ll spend your money. It’ll be up to you though to ensure it actually happens the way you say it will. You can do this by keeping track of your spending – see Kick-start your finances: track your spending for more information.

Have any questions? Ask below in the comments!