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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.

building with credit union logo

Why I made the switch to a credit union

Not happy with your bank, but scared to make the switch? Read the experiences of one of our members who recently switched financial institutions after realizing her bank was not helping her to achieve her financial goals.


My financial institution was determined at a young age and like most, who I banked with was the same as my parents. As I got older, my banking needs changed yet I continued to bank with the same financial institution. Was my inherited bank actually doing what I needed it to though?

I started to realize how important this decision was. As I’m trusting an institution with my hard earned money, it shouldn’t be about staying with the bank that was chosen for me but instead being sure that who I was banking with was an institution that met my financial needs. That’s when I began to understand what type of bank I needed for me, and if I needed to make a change.

What I took into consideration

  • Is my bank listening to me and addressing the financial needs that benefit me – not my bank?
  • What are my financial goals and how is my bank helping me to achieve these?
  • Does my banks’ values align with my personal values?
  • How is my bank contributing to my local community?

I soon came to realize that I didn’t have a relationship with my bank. My account was very transactional but the bank never made me feel like I was anything but a number. I did some research about other financial institutions and through this research, I discovered a few key differences between credit unions and banks.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Credit unions are member-owned while banks are owned by its shareholders. What this means is you have a say on how your credit union operates while banks answer to its shareholders.
  • Credit union profits go back to their members such as offering No-Fee Chequing Accounts.  They also invest their profits back into the local community. Bank profits are paid to their shareholders and your local community rarely benefits.
  • Credit unions are driven by their members. They take the time to listen, ask questions and help you achieve your financial goals. You are their number one priority.
  • Credit unions have a one team model approach and are all part of the Ding Free network, allowing members to access a number of ATMs across Canada for free. With banks, you can only use their products and services and you will be charged for using other banks’ resources.

Overall, the biggest thing I learned was that credit unions and banks offer similar products and services. The way they operate though and treat their members are different. To learn more about the differences between credit unions and banks, I recommend checking out Credit unions vs banks: What’s the difference?

After considering what my current bank offers and evaluating the difference between credit unions and banks, I wondered why I hadn’t started looking into this earlier. Why hadn’t I made the switch – by switching to a credit union, I’d be able to save $185 each year just in bank fee savings – so what was holding me back?

My fears

  • Time! I didn’t want to spend a lot of time having to switch all my payments over or learning a new bank’s products such as mobile and online banking.
  • Was it really worth the effort to make the switch? How much work was involved?
  • What if I missed payments due to the switch resulting in added interest or canceled services.
  • Would I have to give up my credit card? I liked the credit card that I had at my other bank and didn’t want to cancel it.

I started to realize that most of my “fears” were excuses and if I really wanted to take control of my finances I needed to take the time to invest in myself. Ultimately, I liked how a credit union was local and I felt that their values aligned to my personal values. I decided to reach out to Conexus Credit Union, and after speaking with a financial advisor I soon realized they really did care about my overall financial well-being and knew that it was time to make the break up with my current bank and make the switch.

Making the switch

Switching over to Conexus was quite easy, especially with their tool called Click Switch. It allowed me to switch over all of my payments within a few minutes and just the click of a few buttons. My fear of time quickly disappeared.

Tips

If you’re like me and some of your fears include missing a payment due to switching or losing a credit card you love, consider some of the tips below before making the switch.

  • Do not close your current bank account until all of your payments are switched over. Keep the account open for a few months to ensure you haven’t missed anything.
  • Leave a small amount of money in your old account to cover any payments you may have missed switching over to avoid non-sufficient funds.
  • You don’t have to switch everything over at once. It’s perfectly fine to keep your loans or mortgages with your old bank until they expire or are paid off.
  • You can keep your current credit card if you’re not wanting to depart from it quite yet. Check to see if you can link your credit card from another bank to your new credit union account. This will allow you to still view your credit card balance in your new account and help you manage your finances in one spot.
  • If you are looking at getting a new loan to pay out a previous loan at your bank, make sure you get all of your approvals and payout amounts first before closing out your account or changing your direct deposit.

In the end, I made the decision to move to a credit union because I believed in their values as an organization. I felt it was easier to have an open and trusting conversation and it saved me money on bank fees. Ultimately, when determining your financial institution consider how your financial institution can impact your overall financial well-being. For me, choosing a credit union was the perfect fit.

List of payments

How much money should I spend on…

Where should you be spending your money? This blog shares the recommended percentages on where you should be spending your money on things such as housing, transportation and more.


 

A budget is a plan that can prioritize your money. It allows you to see how much money you’ll bring in each month (income) and where you plan on spending (expenses) your money. It also allows you to understand where you may be able to decrease budget within some categories such as living expenses or increase your budget in other categories such as savings. Most importantly, it helps to set a plan to not spend above your means.

A budget can also help you see what percentage of your income you’re spending within the different expense categories. Below we break down the different expense categories and the recommended percentage of income you should be spending within each.

Housing

We recommend keeping your housing expenses to 30-40% of your income. Housing expenses include your mortgage/rent, condo fees, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utility payments.

One popular rule of thumb says that you should set aside 1% of your home’s value each year for ongoing maintenance (vent cleaning, paint refresh, etc.). For example, if your home is worth $250,000, you should budget $2,500 each year for maintenance. We recommend setting money aside each month into a savings account to cover these maintenance costs when they occur. Doing so, will help you be prepared for those larger expenses and not be ‘scrambling’ to find money within your budget to cover a large expense.

Though many of these expenses are fixed, meaning you can’t change the expense amount, there are a few ways you can reduce these expenses. Consider reducing the amount you use/spend on utilities. This can include installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater to water your yard or trying out one of these eight energy-saving tips.

Transportation

We recommend keeping your transportation expenses to 10-20% of your income. Expenses in this category include vehicle loans, gas, insurance and maintenance.

Some ways to reduce expenses in this category include using city transit, carpooling or saving on gas by using GasBuddy.com to tell you where the nearest and cheapest gas stations are.

Living expenses

For living expenses, we recommend keeping to 20-30% of your income. These expenses include childcare, groceries, eating out, entertainment, phone, personal care, clothing, gifts, donations, medical, etc. Though there are a lot of expenses in this category, many of these are variable expenses meaning they can be adjusted based on your financial situation.

You may not be able to change your childcare fees, but expenses related to groceries, eating out, entertainment, phones, etc. can be adjusted. Things such as cooking at home vs. going out to eat or picking a smaller cable package or cell phone package are all ways to help reduce these expenses.

Budgeting doesn’t mean you can’t have fun but instead helps you be aware of how you’re spending your money and to treat yourself in moderation and within your means. Here are a few creative alternatives to consider to help keep expenses down within these categories.

Debt repayment

If you have debt, such as a balance on a line of credit or credit card, we recommend keeping your debt repayments at 10-20% of your income.

It may be tempting to reduce expenses in this category before others when adjusting your budget, but we recommend trying to reduce elsewhere, like your living expenses before adjusting these expenses. Setting 10-20% of your income towards paying off your debt sets a plan in action for eliminating your debt and helps towards your financial freedom.

It’s important to always budget money to ensure your debt’s monthly minimum payment is covered and then apply extra money to your debt to reduce the amount owed even faster. For additional advice and tips on eliminating debt, we recommend checking out our Eliminating Debt blog.

Savings

For savings, we recommend putting 10% or more of your income into savings each month. This includes savings for your goals (short-term, intermediate and long-term), retirement, emergency savings, RESPs and more.

This category is truly about being sure to pay yourself first. Not sure what we’re talking about – discover more here.

To make budgeting easier for you, we recommend checking out our online Budget Calculator. All you have to do is insert your monthly income, expenses and savings and you’ll get a clear picture of where you are financially. You’ll also be able to see how your expenses fit within the recommended percentages we just discussed.

At the end of the day, setting a budget can help you stay focused on what’s important and give you guidelines on how you’ll spend your money. As for ensuring you stick to this budget though, that will be up to you.

weights at a gym

Choosing a gym membership right for you

Finding the right gym or fitness program can be difficult. Here are a few tips and tricks to find a place that fits you and your budget.


As February continues, your New Year’s resolution motivation of going to the gym more often may be starting to wear off so finding a gym or workout routine that works for you and that you enjoy will help keep that motivation to continue going.  Here are some tips and tricks that can help you find a gym or fitness program for you and your budget.

Be sure to:

Do your research – With many different gym or fitness program options, doing your research and looking at reviews is so important! Narrow your search by making a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves to see what’s important to you. Use existing members or friends as a resource and ask them what they like and dislike about it.

Try before you buy – Almost all gyms and fitness studios offer trial periods allowing you time to assess the machines, amenities, cleanliness, etc. Fitness studios such a spin, yoga, or barre usually offer a discount or free pass to test out their different classes. Take advantage of these trial periods to find the gym or fitness studio perfect for you.

Be aware of contracts & fees – Be aware of extra fees and contract details before signing up. Can you pay monthly or do you need to commit to a year as a member? Are there any penalties to break your contract? Any hidden annual maintenance fees? Getting all the information up front will help you choose a gym that fits your lifestyle and your budget.

Assess:

Value vs. quantity – Track how often you’re going to the gym or fitness studio to determine if a punch pass or monthly pass is best for you. Punch passes are great if you’re not going often, but if you’re going frequently ensure you’re not paying more for punch passes than if you were to buy an unlimited monthly pass. Also, as a bonus, an unlimited pass may come with perks such as discounts on fees and merchandise, specialized classes, waiver of late cancel fees, extra perks such as towel or refreshment services and more! Find out what you get for each level of membership, so you can decide what’s a must have or nice to have.

Location – It’s no secret that the more convenient something is the more likely you will be inclined to attend. When picking a gym, it’s best to consider location convenient of when you’re most likely to work out. If you plan on working out over your lunch break at work or school, select a gym that’s close to there. If evenings and weekends are your preference, you should select a gym that’s close to home. On days when you’re crunched for time, having a gym close by will make things easier on your schedule.

One size doesn’t fit all – Just because your friends enjoy a particular workout, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll love it. You need to find the right workout for you, so you can enjoy being there and see the value in spending the money on your fitness.

Detail orientated – When you walk into a potential gym, pay attention to all the details. Is the lighting too bright? Too dim? Is the music too loud? Are classes too crowded? Overall cleanliness? Are machines broken down? Things that may not seem important during your initial tour can become major annoyances in the future.

In the end, the most important thing to consider is if you’re at a place you enjoy going to and one that fits your budget. Fitness shouldn’t cause extra stress, instead, it should help relieve stress so taking your budget and lifestyle into consideration is key to finding the right place for you.

Do you have any tips on selecting the right workout routine? Share them with us!

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 a phone in front of a computer

Kick-start your finances: tracking your spending

In order to make your budget successful, you’ll need to keep track of your spending. In this blog, learn how to easily track your spending daily, weekly and monthly.


You’ve set goals, analyzed your spending habits from the previous year, and created a budget for the year to come. The next step is to keep track of your spending and ensure you don’t go over budget.

To track your spending, every transaction, whether cash, debit or credit, needs to be accounted for. This means everything! If you find $20 in your coat pocket and buy lunch, you need to track it. If you scour the couch cushions for lost change to buy a coffee, you need to track it. Every penny you spend needs to be tracked to ensure you have an accurate picture of what you’re spending, which will also help you budget later on.

There are many ways you can keep track of your spending. Below are a couple of our favourites:

  • Create an expense tracker similar to the image below. Record each transaction you make under the expense category it belongs. Each week, total up the transactions and subtract from your monthly budget totals to show what amount you have remaining for the month.

  • Create envelopes for each expense category and write the monthly budget on the envelope. When you make a purchase, be sure to get a receipt and place in the correct envelope. Daily or weekly, total up the receipts and subtract the total from your monthly budget amount directly on the envelope.

You can also find a variety of apps and templates online to use. Some even give you the ability to enter your budget and spending and set up notifications when you’re getting close to your budget.

Whatever method you choose, don’t forget to include transactions that may automatically come out of your accounts such as fees, payments, etc. Throughout the month, be aware of how your spending compares to the budget you set. Make sure you know how close your spending is to your budgeted amount. Are you close to overspending? Think about what kind of behaviours, like buying lunch daily, you can change or which categories you can shift money from so you don’t overspend.

At the end of the month, cross reference your expense tracker to your monthly statements to ensure you haven’t missed anything. Then, look at the monthly spending and budgets and analyze how you did. What were your challenges? Were there any categories you thought you’d spend more in than you did? Can any adjustments be made to future budgets?

For example, during your analysis, you see that under the fuel category you budgeted $300 for the month but only spent $150. Is it possible you over budgeted? If so, could you lower the amount in future budgets and place the difference in categories that challenged you or to help grow your savings faster?

To be in control of your finances, being organized and consistent is key. Remember to start with goals and look at how you spend your money. Create a budget specific to you and then hold yourself accountable by keeping track of your spending. Remember to review and adjust as things may change.

retired couple hiking in field

Retirement: will you have enough?

Retirement – whether far away or just around the corner, it will require some planning in advance. Are you prepared?


We all dream of the day we’ll retire. No more alarm clock and having to get up early to go to work. Being able to take a nap whenever we like. And doing the things we want, whenever we want – a golf game at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, why not?

Being able to do all the things we want when we retire though will require some planning in advance. It’s recommended to start early and if you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. When planning for your retirement, here are a few things you should consider.

How much money will I need?

The amount of money you’ll need to retire will depend on what you plan on doing and the expenses you’ll incur. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • At what age do I want to retire?
  • What types of expenses will I have when I retire such as housing, bills, etc.?
  • What type of health insurance will I need? Will I need extra coverage as I get older?
  • What types of activities/hobbies do I plan on doing such as traveling, etc.?
  • Will I move into a senior’s complex and what expenses will I have?
  • Do I want to leave an inheritance for my family?

Considering all factors, what yearly income would you need and feel comfortable living off of? Take this amount and divide by 12 to get your monthly income. Is this still an amount you’re comfortable with? If not, you may need to relook at the things you may want to do or think about increasing your yearly income to make an amount that you’re happy with.

I know how much money I’ll need, but now what?

Now that you have an amount in mind that you want to retire with, you need to put together a plan on how to start saving money to reach this goal. Starting early is key as it allows you to save more over a longer period of time. Starting later is still possible, but you may have to put more money away in a shorter amount of time to reach your goals.

A retirement calculator helps you figure out the amount of savings you’ll need each year to meet your retirement needs. It takes into account any money you’ve already saved, retirement income you may receive from the government or an employer and rate of returns. It also helps show if you’re on track and provides advice on adjusting your savings if you have a shortfall.

Through the calculator, you’ll be able to see what yearly contributions you should be making. To find a monthly amount, take the yearly contributions and divide by 12. Does this amount fit your budget? If not, consider adjusting your retirement goal or putting away smaller amounts that fit your budget now with a plan to reevaluate and increase contributions over the next several years.

When creating a plan, it’s great to have an understanding of what your goals are and what is needed from you now in order to reach your long-term goals. It’s also important to know that things change in life and you may need to adjust your plan along the way. This is why it’s also important to speak with a financial advisor when creating a plan as they can provide guidance and advice based on your needs and things that may change over time. A financial advisor can also help determine what products would be in your best interest and help reach your goals.

Where should I invest my money?

Everyone’s situation and goals are unique as should be the products to best meet your goals and needs.  There are many different ways you can save and invest money for retirement such as RRSPs, TFSAs, etc. Talking with a financial advisor will help determine what products work best for you. Prior to discussing, become familiar with the different options available and jot down any questions you may have.  Your financial advisor can help answer these questions and set you up with any products identified in your personalized plan.

When planning your retirement, there are many factors to consider and starting as early as possible is key. First, understand what you want when you retire and factor in all related expenses. Talk to a financial advisor to help determine where you want to be and how to get there. And then start investing today. Putting as little as $20 every couple of weeks now can make a big difference later on. There’s no better investment than in yourself and your future… so what are you waiting for?