Finances

The Year You Start Investing

theyearyoustartinvesting.jpgEvery year, we start with the best intentions to improve our lives.

Including our finances…

But does it seem like the time just passes by and nothing ever gets done?

With investing, there is just too much information out there. Maybe you even decided to be proactive: You sat down at your computer one day and googled investing, and BAM!

354,000,000 results were returned. Crap.

Diary of an Investing Procrastinator

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How To Find an Apartment that Fits Your Life...and Your Budget

howtofindanapartmentthatfitsyourlife.andyourbudget.jpgI was a newly-minted university graduate…

Ready to take on the world and get a place of my own.

I had high hopes of finding somewhere that hit ALL of my criteria for a place to live, including the following:

  • Walking distance to my new job in a central, trendy neighbourhood
  • Within a five minute walk of groceries, Starbucks, restaurants and a major transit station
  • Close enough to everything that I wouldn’t need a car
  • Big enough to fit my queen-sized bed, dresser and a desk

Seems reasonable, right?

Here’s the kicker: my budget was $500. Tops.

So I set out to Kijiji with my must-haves in hand. Apartment hunting can seem like the world is your oyster… until you skim past the price on that dream listing a block away from work with the granite countertops.

Hello dreams, prepared for a crushing trip back to reality.

Against all odds - seriously, all of them - I found an apartment that fit all of my criteria, gave me the lifestyle I had been hoping for, and helped me stick to my new grad budget. So I know what I’m talking about when I say it’s possible to find a rental that fits both your lifestyle and your budget.

To get the same results, you’ll need to look at 3 main factors before you sign on the dotted line.

  1. Location
  2. Amenities
  3. Budget

Each one will have a few different factors that will influence your dream-apartment wishlist, so let’s get started! Keep reading » about How To Find an Apartment that Fits Your Life...and Your Budget

Are Robo Advisors Right For Your Retirement Savings?

areroboadvisorsrightforyourretirementsavings.jpgThis article was sponsored by ModernAdvisor.

Canadians don’t save enough money to comfortably retire on.

More and more Canadians are choosing to work into their golden years with most claiming they want to stay active. While I’m sure that is true for many, there are definitely others that simply can’t afford to retire in comfort.

Generation X and Millennials can no longer rely on holding down lifetime jobs with full pensions. Honestly, even counting on a decent retirement savings matching program from their employer is often too much to hope for.

Like it or not, we’re being forced into competently managing our own retirement savings without much help. Even people with an aptitude for money like myself are prone to making costly investment mistakes.

Going for generic advice from your bank can be even worse, often locking you into funds with enormous fees that erode your retirement savings right under your nose. Bank needs to “make bank” after all - have you seen their profits?

Robo Advisors, like ModernAdvisor - the lowest cost Canadian online advisor, provide another option that could be the right one to help make your ideal retirement a reality.

Robo Advisors vs. Mutual Funds

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11 Ways To Lower Your Power & Utility Bills

11waystoloweryourpowerandutilitybills.jpgUtility costs are a fact of life.

Water and heat (like food) are non-negotiables…

But it doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to shrink this monthly expense now, does it?

There are plenty of ways to save money on utility costs. And anyone can do some of these simple changes.

Whether you live in an older, less efficient home or a new build - there are lots of tips and tricks you can use to save and lower your bills.

Let’s get started.

Minor Household Changes

Here are 4 minor changes you can make to your home to save on your utility bills: Keep reading » about 11 Ways To Lower Your Power & Utility Bills

Free Gift Card Offers (Up To $100 To Popular Stores)

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I've been touting free gift card offers on this site for a long time now: see here, here, and here. Most of them have been a free $100 gift card to Amazon.ca or another popular Canadian store in return for applying for an awesome credit card that earns you even more free money in cash back or travel rewards.

These credit cards usually also come with no annual fee (at least for the first year) and sometimes a hefty points sign up bonus to boot. Then, after the first year, there is no obligation to continue with the card if you decide it isn't for you. It's really a fantastic deal and one I've taken advantage of several times myself.

Since this has become a pretty regular thing, I thought I should make a permanent page that lists legitimate free gift card offers that I am aware of and will continue to update at the beginning of every month.

Proof That It Works

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Your Free Money - 14 Ways To Claim It Now

yourfreemoney-14waystoclaimitnow.jpgIs free money too good to be true?

If someone comes up to you and offers you free money, no strings attached - what would you do?

I know. You’d probably keep walking in the other direction…But here’s the thing:

There is actually a ton of free money available to most Canadians just waiting to be taken advantage of.

But first - let’s answer a couple of questions...

Where does (legit) free money come from?

It could come from the government, your employer, a business looking for new customers - or simply by choosing to give your bank less money (because they have enough of it for goodness sake!).

What do I require from you to get access to all this money?

The willingness to spend a little time and take ACTION. You need to get organized and follow through on making some simple changes to your life. Then, watch the free money and savings start rolling in.

If that sounds good to you - then let’s get started.

A Note About Claiming Your Free Money

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How To Get Your Free Credit Score And Report in Canada

howtogetyourfreecreditscoreandreportincanada.jpgChecking your credit score for free has long been possible in the USA, but here in Canada you always had to fork over roughly $20 to either Equifax or Transunion to see your score.

There was, and still is, a clever way around this that I will tell you about later - but the big news is that you can now get free instant access to your credit score!

Unsurprisingly, there are a few small strings attached - but I think you will find them quite reasonable. I know I did when I decided to get my own score for free a couple of weeks ago.

Before I get into the free scores, I want explain what credit scores are and why you should know yours. But, if you just want get your score ASAP, here you go:

Get Your Free Credit Score Now

What Are Credit Scores And Credit Reports?

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Better Money Habits in 3 Easy Steps

bettermoneyhabitsin3easysteps.jpgWhy do we do the things we do?

As creatures of habit - how exactly were our habits formed?

According to Charles Duhigg author of The Power of Habit, our brains have a 3-step process for forming a habit:

  1. Cue - a trigger that activates an action or routine
  2. Routine - an action or response we’ve learned to do that gives us access to a predictable reward
  3. Reward - something our brain craves.

The key to forming a habit is through repetition. Then after enough repetition, actions and routines become automatic. There’s no more thinking required from our part...we just DO.

We’ve picked up many habits we’ve observed and learned over the years...

But how many of these habits were intentional?

How many were accidental - those habits we had no control over and were the result of the situation we were in at that time?

Can we create new habits that we want?

And can we break old habits we no longer want?

Let’s explore...

Create Habits You Want

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How To Get A Credit Card Annual Fee Refund

howtogetacreditcardannualfeerefund.jpgHave you ever considered signing up for a credit card but decided against it because of the annual fee?

I use two main cards right now for almost all spending and they both have annual fees - Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite ($99) and the Capital One Aspire Travel World Mastercard ($120). When I got these cards I considered the annual fees and still decided having them would pay off.

The Scotiabank card pays 4% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, and you’d need to spend over $200 per month on gas and groceries alone for the card to be worth it. I easily meet this threshold and last year I earned about $500 with this one card.

The Capital One card has an annual fee of $120 but when I applied for it also came with an annual bonus (no longer available) of 10,000 reward miles worth $100 - that means the annual fee is essentially $20. Not bad for a card that pays 2% back on all spending with no category restrictions.

Annual fees need to be taken into account when determining which card is right for you, but there is also the possibility of having your annual fee waived or refunded.

How To Get Your Annual Fee Refunded

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10 Best No Fee Cash Back Credit Cards in Canada for 2016

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It's pretty much universal - everyone hates fees!

I go out of my way to avoid fees whenever possible. For instance, I haven't paid any bank fees for nearly my entire life. I hopped right from a free student account into a no-fee President's Choice Financial account and haven't looked back.

But, there are actually some times when it makes sense to pay a fee.

As you can see from my all-inclusive cash back credit card rankings, most of the top ranked cards have an annual cost. The light bulb moment happens when you do the math and realize that any money you pay in fees quickly gets refunded to you and more through increased cash back earnings. As long as you funnel all your spending through your credit card and pay it off every month, you can earn at least 50% more than a no fee card will net you.

That said, there are still many people who still want to completely avoid fees. Fees suck and you may even be worried that paying the fee will pressure you to overspend. If so, then the following list of top no fee cash back cards is just the thing for you.

Canadian No Fee Cash Back Credit Card Rankings for 2016

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