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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.

Pile of sticky notes with New Year resolutions written on them

Adjusting your New Year’s resolutions

If you’re struggling to stick to your resolutions or have already failed trying, don’t give up. Instead, adjust or re-start your resolutions following these tips to help you succeed.


We go into the New Year saying this is going to be the best year yet. And it is…for the first few days anyway. Then the holiday excitement wears off, we go back to our normal routines and continue with the same habits we did before. By mid-January, we start to realize the resolutions we set were a bit more than we could chew and we soon give up on what we said we were going to do.

When it comes to sticking to our New Year’s resolutions, statistics show only 8% of people actually succeed. Why? Often the resolutions we make are unreasonable, unrealistic or we’ve set too many.

Does this sound familiar? If you’re struggling to stick to your resolutions or have already failed trying, don’t give up. Instead, adjust or start your resolution over. The only way to succeed is if you continue trying.

Here are a few tips to keeping your resolutions.

Have an action plan

Resolutions are goals and should have an action plan showing you where you want to go and how you’ll get there. Review these plans every so often and adjust your plan based on your personal situation, helping you to stay on track for success.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

We can only do so much at once. Instead of trying to do everything at once, prioritize your goals in order of what’s most important to you. Focus on completing one or a couple goals at a time to not feel overwhelmed with trying to do it all.

Celebrate the small wins

Create milestones within your plan and celebrate when you achieve them. Smaller goals are easier to reach and help keep you motivated in reaching your goals.

Ask for support

Share your resolutions with your friends and family. Ask them for support and to hold you accountable to these resolutions. Speak to professionals for advice on your goals and tips for achieving them.

Whatever your goal is, it’s important to be agile and take the time to pause and adjust as necessary.  We may only be a few weeks into the New Year, but now is a great time to re-examine your resolutions and make any adjustments to ensure they’re realistic, reasonable and set up for success.

Did you make any New Year resolutions this year? What were they and are you on track to achieving them? What are some of the challenges you’ve come across? Share 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.

person holding pen looking at investments

Investment terminology 101

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


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

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

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

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

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

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

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

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

Term Deposits & Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

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

Mutual Funds

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

Market-Linked Guaranteed Investments

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

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

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

#MONEYTALKs to have before marriage

Money is an important conversation to have in any relationship. Our Conexus experts share their advice on important #MONEYTALKs to have with your partner.


Wedding season is upon us and love is in the air. Have you had the #MONEYTALK with your significant other yet? Money can cause stress in a relationship and having discussions about money with your partner can help ensure you’re on the same page, and not become a bigger issue down the road.

So what type of #MONEYTALKs should you have with your partner? We asked our Conexus experts to give us their best marriage financial advice – here’s what they had to say:

“These conversations can be complex and sometimes uncomfortable to have. Everyone’s situation is unique. I would advise having many smaller conversations around priorities, resources and goals to find common ground.” ~Jason A.

 

“What are your goals and dreams and what does success look like for you? For some people, it’s all about saving, while for others, they want to focus on enjoying life. Making sure you’re on the same page about saving vs. spending is absolutely key.” ~Nicole H.

 

“It’s important to agree on a process for discussing finances and building that as a regular part of the relationship. Over time, life happens, goals change, etc. and having money chats as a regular discussion in your relationship is a great way to ensure that money doesn’t become something that pulls you apart over time, but rather, something that can help bind the family together.” ~Eric D.

 

“Have a discussion around personal feelings related to debt (i.e. what the couple is willing to go into debt for vs. what they’re not.) If one person is okay with debt and the other is not, it can cause strain. Communication and ensuring you find someone that shares your financial values helps to support a strong relationship.” ~Kim M.

 

“Discussions about money seem to be awkward for many. Early on, establish a mutual agreement to keep no secrets. Be upfront and honest with each other about your individual financial health and set goals together. And let’s not forget that this usually means compromise by all parties!” ~ Susan S.

 

“Include your financial experts early on in the conversation to help alleviate fears and concerns and help come up with the right plan and approach for you and your partner!” ~Kyle D.

 

“Have a good degree of financial knowledge. When both people have a good understanding of the topic, the conversations will be stronger and one person won’t be making all of the decisions while the other merely accepts what is happening.” ~ Marcie A.

 

“Share the responsibility of paying bills, budgeting, savings, etc., if you decide to have only joint accounts. It’s important that each partner have this knowledge and share the responsibility so that if something were to happen to the other person, they’d be able to continue these financial tasks.”~Kyla F.

 

“Understand how your ‘love language’ relates to finances. If one person’s language is gifts and the other prefers quality time, this could play into budgeting and lifestyle goals. Be sure to have conversations around as many aspects of finances as possible to ensure you understand each other’s feelings towards money and are on the same page.”~Lisa C.

Money is one of the biggest causes of issues, arguments and stress in a relationship. It may not always be easy to talk about, but starting early and discussing frequently can reduce stress and make these difficult conversations easier to have. It can also help prevent bigger issues from happening further down the road.

Do you have advice for other financial #MONEYTALKs couples should have before getting married? Comment below!

bill that says past due

Kick-start your finances: eliminating debt

Debt can have a negative impact on your day-to-day life. Here are a few things to know to become and stay debt-free.


It’s no secret that money can be stressful and is one of the top stressors on individuals, relationships and our ability to give back to our communities. Debt can be one of the reasons for that stress and play a huge roll in your health (physical, mental and emotional) and in the way you interact socially.

Debt can also prevent us from getting ahead financially. Whether one larger debt or a combination of several small ones, it can be difficult to make payments to eliminate that debt while still saving money for your goals. What is the key to eliminating debt and having financial freedom to save more money for your goals?

Don Hendrickson, Conexus Member Experience Coach, says there are three things to know to help you succeed in eliminating your debt:

  1. Being aware;
  2. Creating a budget; and
  3. Setting up automatic transfers.

“It’s key to understand how much you owe and the interest rates on each area of debt so that you can create a realistic plan on how you’ll eliminate this debt,” said Hendrickson. “As part of this plan, you need to create a budget that sets out a schedule on how you’ll spend your monthly income which should include your debt repayment amounts. If you’re struggling to find money in your budget for your debt repayment, look to see if any of your want expenses such as entertainment can be reduced.”

Once you’ve created a plan, set up automatic money transfers to have your debt payments come directly from your account each payday. This helps reduce the temptation on spending elsewhere and keeps you on track to reaching your set goals.

When it comes to multiple debts, Hendrickson says tackling your highest interest debt first will save you the most money in the long run but you may also want to consider paying off a smaller balance first to help motivate you.

“There’s some research that shows paying off a smaller balance first gives you the feeling of success and will help motivate you to continue,” said Hendrickson. “For example, if you have a $1,500 line of credit balance and $10,000 in credit card debt, tackling the $1,500 will give you the feeling of success and may also provide a great learning experience that you can then apply to tackle your other debt.”

When it comes to avoiding debt, Hendrickson said there are many things you can do including:

  • Living below your means and not spending more than you earn.
  • Don’t feel the need to ‘keep up’ with those around you. Only do what you feel comfortable with and that your budget allows.
  • Pay yourself first by making a habit to take 10% or more of your income and put towards your goals including an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund will ensure you’re prepared for whatever curve life throws you.
  • Sit down with a financial advisor at least once a year to review your short-, medium- and long-term goals and make a plan, or re-evaluate your existing plan, to ensure you’re on your way to successfully reaching those goals.

Debt can be stressful and coming up with a plan will not only reduce this stress but also help you towards financial freedom. Be sure to contact your financial advisor for assistance. Not only will they be able to help you come up with a plan to eliminate your debt, but also work with you to set a plan for your future. There’s no better time than now to take control of your finances – get started and make tomorrow, today.

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!

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Kick-start your finances: goal setting

Setting financial goals helps you to figure out what’s important, focus on priorities and analyze your wants vs. your needs. 


We all dream about what we want to do and what we want to achieve. From going on a vacation, paying off debt, putting money away for our child’s education or having enough money set aside for retirement; these dreams become our goals and like most things, have a financial component to them.

Unsure of where to start? Taking the time to set goals will provide you with an understanding of your big picture. It allows you to figure out what’s important to you, focus on priorities and analyze your needs vs. your wants. Below you will find some advice on creating realistic and achievable financial goals, helping you make tomorrow, today.

Creating goals

There are three types of goals:

  1. Short-term Goals: These are goals that you can achieve in a short amount of time – less than one year – and can include things such as a minor home renovation, paying off a credit card or starting an emergency fund. These goals can also be shorter goals that contribute to a larger, long-term goal such as starting to put a small amount of money away for retirement.
  2. Intermediate Goals: These goals take a bit longer to achieve – between one to five years. Saving money for a down-payment on a home or saving for a family vacation are great examples that may fit into this category.
  3. Long-term Goals: These goals tend to be longer – 10+ years. These goals are often re-assessed throughout the course of their timeframes to ensure you’re on track and often are adjusted due to changing situations/environments. Some examples of long-term goals may include saving for your child’s education, paying off a student loan or saving enough money to retire.

Now that you know the different types of goals, write down your short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals for 2018. When making a list think about things such as:

  • What makes you happy? (e.g., family, vacation)
  • What makes you stressed? (e.g., credit card debt)
  • What do you wish you had? (e.g., new furniture)
  • What things do you like doing? (e.g., traveling, spending time with friends)
  • Where do you see yourself in one year? (e.g., taking a hot vacation) Five years? (e.g., having a down payment for a home) Ten years? (e.g., having my student loans paid off)
  • What does having overall financial well-being mean to you? (e.g., understanding my money and not having to worry if I’ll have enough when I retire.)

When setting your goals include specifics, such as costs and timelines. Also look to see if your goals are realistic and achievable. Small goals are easier to reach and help train your brain into believing you can achieve it. This can also increase your chance of success in future goals. Below is an example of how you can take the things important to you and group into short-term, intermediate and long-term goals.

Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize.

Once you have your goals written and organized, it’s time to prioritize. This will help you understand what’s most important and where you should focus your time, money and energy.

Though it is great to have lots of goals, actually achieving them all may be difficult. You must take a look at your goals and ensure they’re also realistic and achievable when you look at them all together. It’s important to set yourself up for success and work within your means.

Prioritizing will also allow you to make any adjustments needed to make these goals achievable. When prioritizing ask yourself:

  • If you could only achieve one of these items, which one would it be?
  • Are there any goals on my list that are needs vs. wants?
  • How long do I have to achieve this goal – is that a must or can it be adjusted?
  • Can I break any of my larger goals into smaller goals?
  • Can I put a hold on any of these goals and begin working on only once I have completed another goal?

When prioritizing and making adjustments, be aware of how achieving these goals will impact your finances now. Online calculators can help you understand exactly what you need to do now to achieve your goal within your timeline. Depending on your current financial situation and the impact your goal will have (e.g., monthly contributions), you may need to re-adjust or plan your goals differently.

Team effort

If you are married or have a significant other in which you share financial responsibilities with, it’s essential you work together when creating your financial goals. Work together to develop a list of goals and discuss what’s a priority and what’s not. Together, determine what is achievable and ensure you’re on the same page – if not, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Once set, be each other’s motivation and hold each other accountable to help ensure success.

Talk to your financial advisor

The most important thing you can do once you’ve created and prioritized your list of goals is to talk with your financial advisor. They will be able to provide you with advice on your goals and help you look at the big picture. They may also identify any obstacles that impact you reaching these goals and provide guidance on what types of adjustments can be made. Your financial advisor will also be able to tell you which products, such as RRSPs, Tax-Free Savings Accounts, mutual funds, etc., you should consider helping contribute towards your success.

When it comes to kick-starting your finances, start off by understanding what’s important to you and what you want to achieve with your finances.  Create short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals and prioritize accordingly. Once you’re done, make an appointment with your financial advisor to discuss and determine what tools and resources are available to help you succeed. Don’t have a financial advisor, no worries – you can request financial advice here.

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Being real with your New Year’s resolutions

Only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Here we explain why and help you to set resolutions that are achievable.


Have you ever said to yourself that you will start doing something tomorrow, yet tomorrow never comes? Or had a bunch of New Year’s resolutions that you quickly gave up on and added back to your list the next year?

You’re not alone. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, approx. 8% of people actually achieve them. But why is that? The answer… you.

When it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions we tend to set the expectations way too high, setting ourselves up for failure right from the start. And if the resolution is achievable, many times we don’t make the effort or change our behaviours that would allow us to succeed.

We need to stop setting ourselves up for failure and really focus on making tomorrow, today. Whether you want to improve your personal fitness and nutrition, focus on your finances or quit bad habits, you need to ensure your goals are attainable and provide a realistic expectation, a target date and an action plan on how you will achieve your goal.

Example 1: attainable goals

For example, in 2018 you want to increase the number of days you go to the gym from once a week to four times a week. Instead of jumping in feet first, set a target date and slowly incorporate a new gym day into your weekly routine until you are up to four gym days a week. Create an action plan on when you will go to the gym by booking time in your calendar in advance. By writing it down, you’ll be more motivated to do it and won’t be tempted to book yourself for something else.

Success will also require you to make changes to your lifestyle and behaviours. New Year’s resolutions won’t happen on their own and you must take action or make changes to see results.

Example 2: changing behaviours

Your 2018 resolution is to save money by cutting out your morning coffee purchase. In order to do this though, you must change your behaviour in stopping each morning. You may also need to create a new habit of making a coffee at home each morning to eliminate the temptation of stopping, which in the end will help you succeed.

Changing behaviours can be hard and you must be consistent in order for them to become a part of your everyday norm. According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes a minimum of 21 days to form or change a habit. That doesn’t seem too long when you read it but can feel like forever when trying to do it. Don’t panic though – stay consistent and hold yourself accountable – within time, you won’t even remember what the old norm was.

The key to achieving your New Year’s resolution is ensuring it’s attainable and having an action plan that helps you succeed. When it comes to your financial planning resolutions, we’re here to help.

Starting Jan. 1, we’re challenging you to Kick-Start Your Finances by taking our 6-week challenge. Each week, we’ll be tackling a new topic related to you and your money and we encourage you to join us along the way. Together, we can build an action plan and help you take control of your finances in 2018. Join us next week to learn more and take the challenge!

Happy New Year!