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How TO Fall for a Scam

Yes, you read that right. Fraud is not new and is something that’s been around for a long time – we all know a family member, friend or co-worker who has fallen victim to a scam. We all think “it will never happen to me” but it’s easier than you think to fall for a fraudster. Let’s take a look at how it can happen.   


With ever-growing technology, we’re seeing an increase in the number of scams out there and between 2014-2016, it’s estimated Canadians lost over $290 million to fraudsters. Scams and fraud can originate through a variety of different channels including phone, email and social media, and some of the top scams include romance scams, income tax extortion scams and phishing.  

 Here are a few tips on how to protect your information and detect one of the scams out there: 

Caught in a bad romance 

 Gone are the days of having to go to the bar or local hangout to meet that special someone. With the growth of technology, many relationships nowadays are starting online. 

Unfortunately, this has also caused an increase in romance scams and, in 2018, Canadians lost more than $22.5 million to this type of scam. That’s a lot of money that could have paid for heartbreak chocolate and ice cream.

A romance scams usually starts with a fake profile on an online dating site or social network and the scammer pretends to be someone they’re not by using a fake name, photos, etc. The scammer will build a fake relationship with you over a short period of time and often professes their love for you early on. Just as the ‘relationship’ is getting ‘serious’, your new bae will have a financial emergency such as a health issue or wants to visit you in person and needs you to send money. After you’ve sent the money, they’ll continue to ask for more… and more… or they’ll stop communicating with you altogether.  

Don’t let love blind you and use these tips to protect your money and your heart. 

  • Look at the photo – does it look real? Many scammers use photos from the web for their profiles.  Check to see if the photo is real, not stolen, by doing a reverse image lookup 
  • If the person can never video chat or keeps finding excuses not to meet up, it’s probably because they aren’t who they say they are. This is called “catfishing”. 
  • Never… ever… under any circumstances send them money for any reason, especially if you have never met them in person.  

Congradulations! Your our sweapstakes winner! 

Phishing is a common type of fraud that often comes in the form of a prize, threats such as your bank account being locked and you must take immediate action to open it, or a refund due to an overpayment on your account. Scammers will use a variety of channels including phone & text, email and fake websites.    

Don’t take the bait and follow these tips to recognize when you’re being phished: 

  • Most scam emails and texts contain spelling errors, bad grammar or altered logos. At first glance, it may look real, but upon further inspection something may be wrong like the sub-heading above. Did you notice the spelling errors in our heading or did you have to scroll back up for a second glance? 
  • Check the link before clicking on it by holding your cursor over link to display the full URL. If it looks suspicious, it probably is. Instead, contact the company directly or visit its website to confirm if any actions are required from you. 
  • Beware of urgent or threatening language. Causing a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic in order to draw an impulsive decision from you. 

No one cares that your first cat’s name was Fluffy 

 Raise your hand if you’ve seen a quiz or survey filled out by one of your friends pop up in your social media feed. Now raise your hand again if you’ve ever done one of these quizzes or surveys and shared with your followers.  

I’m also guilty.

With social media, we’re seeing more than ever people sharing information about themselves online.  Yes, it may be fun to reminisce on your past and share all the things you love such as the name of your first pet or the make of your first car, but you know who also loves this information… scammers! 

Sharing this info can be a goldmine for hackers and fraudsters as it helps them build their knowledge of information about you even more. A lot of the time, we also choose security questions for our different accounts related to the answers of these questions, putting us at further risk of being hacked.  This also allows fraudsters to build a profile around you so that they can confidently walk into a bank and pretend to be you. 

Reduce the risk and stop oversharing information about yourself on social media as well as: 

  • Choose security questions and answers that can’t easily be guessed. Your mother’s maiden name may be an easy one for you to remember, but it’s also an easy one for fraudsters to google. 
  • Don’t share photos of your personal and financial information such as your driver’s license or new credit card.
  • If going away on vacation, don’t share details on social media before you go or while you’re there. Doing so is equivalent to saying “I’m not home right now, please feel free to come break in and steal my stuff, especially the new TV I just posted on Instagram.”
  • Make your accounts and posts private so that only those you know and trust can see what you’re up to. Don’t be afraid to prune the friend-tree every once and a while. If you don’t know what someone has been up to in a while, you also have no idea if their account has been hacked.

The sophistication of fraudsters is increasing and as organizations raise the bar on security, fraudsters up their tactics to try and trick us into giving them information and our money. For more information about protecting yourself from fraud and to learn about different scams out there, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/services/finance/fraud.html 


Ever fallen victim to a fraudster or know someone who has? Comment below with how they tricked you to save someone else!

The Gift Of Goals & How To Reach Them

Tis’ the season for spending.  If it’s not school textbooks and parking passes, then it’s hockey fees and new skates for the kids. If you’re like me, you’ve already caught the holiday fever and you’re shopping for gifts and baking supplies. Among all this spending on others during this time of year there is one person we forget to include – ourselves. It’s important to make sure we are giving ourselves the gift of time and effort by setting up some of our own financial goals.


Make a List. Check it Twice.

Setting financial goals and how you plan to achieve them is an essential part of financial literacy. But how do you get started?

The easiest way to get started is by making a list. This study on goal setting found that we are 42% more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down. Don’t let bad hand writing stop you, writing down your goals can come in many forms; write in a notebook, type it into the notes section on your phone or save a spreadsheet. Don’t be afraid to get creative! What works well for me is to attach sticky notes on the fridge beside my grocery list. I find that with the amount of times I open the fridge, I’m constantly being reminded of my financial goals and it really helps when you are taking inventory of what you need to buy for groceries.

Your financial goals and how you plan to attack them are unique to you, so why wouldn’t the way you write them down be?  If all it takes to get some motivation to increase your chances of achieving your goals is by writing down a list then that is ink put to good use!

I’m also a big list person and to show you how serious I am about them,  I am going to give you some tips I’ve learned for setting financial goals in, you guessed it – a list!

Try These Tips!

Create SMART goals:

Setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely gives you a sense of direction, helps you organize and track your progress.

Set ‘sub goals’:

Achieving a long term goal can seem overwhelming when you look at it as a whole. Break it down by setting smaller goals that contribute to the long term. Achieving these help you see the progress you are making and keep up the motivation to continue working towards the larger goal. We all know there are times we need a little extra motivation so it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate achieving the smaller goals along the way.

Share your goals:

Sharing is caring right? By telling a friend or a family member our goals helps motivate us and holds us accountable. I might be slightly more competitive than the average person, but telling others makes me want to do anything not to fail, not only for myself but for them too. The same study referenced above showed that over 70% of participants who shared their progress on their goals with a friend actually accomplished or made significant steps toward accomplishing their goals. Bring on the goal gossip!

Speak to a financial advisor:

When in doubt, speak to someone who helps set financial goals for a living – a financial advisor. They are able to provide advice and different solutions you may have never thought of. They will also be a cheerleader in your corner and hold you accountable in your progress.

Check and cheer:

Make sure you monitor your progress, keep an eye on your current status and be open to adapting as your needs change. When you do reach that goal (big or small) – CELEBRATE! You’ve put a lot of time, preparation and thought into getting yourself into a better position financially so celebrate that feeling when you’ve saved enough for a hot vacation and can still afford groceries! For me, one of the best feelings I’ve had was when I was finally able to put a down payment on my house while leaving enough budget to furnish the place. Trust me – it’s worth it!


Now that you have the tools you need it’s up to you to get started! There is no better time than now to give yourself the gift of financial goal setting, especially during the high spend season!

In the spirit of sharing, we want to hear what tips have worked for you with your financial goal setting? Help the rest of us out!

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.

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.

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!

It CAN Happen to You: Protecting Yourself From Fraud

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


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.