All Posts By

Marissa Anwar

What to Consider When Choosing a Bank

June 1, 2021

Banks are a significant decision.  Who you trust with your money requires more research than simply looking to see what hours they’re open so you can drop off a deposit.  The following are essential things to keep in mind the next time you’re looking at which bank to go with.

Safety for your Money

What security does each bank offer to your finances?  Do they guarantee to pay back any financial loss from errors on their side?  Is there an easy way to contact them quickly and lock your card if you notice potential fraud occurring?  If not, you should keep going.  Although our lives shouldn’t revolve around money, our well-being does. Therefore, you should find a bank that has your financial security in mind.

What to Consider When Choosing a Bank

Fees

What are the fees for these banks?  Do they have ATM fees more painful than the steps to buy a house, or are their overdraft fees killer instead?  When you’re applying, carefully look over any information, they give you about your fees and account maintenance.  This isn’t like starting up a new phone and automatically hitting ‘I accept’ on every option to get to the good stuff: if you don’t read this paperwork, you could be leaving yourself open to many fees and expenses.

Online Banking Features

The essential part of most bank accounts, the online banking features can allow you to do anything from transferring money to friends to locking your card when you know you aren’t going to use it, so you don’t risk incidental charges.  If you care a lot about your ability to be as hands-on as possible with your account, it’s a good idea to look for excellent online banking features.  If you find good banks that have bad apps or websites, keep looking!

Are They Willing To Grow With You?

If you want to buy a home within the next five years, it’s a good idea to find a bank with lending options available.  Not only will you easily prove your financial health to them, but you’ll also be able to have your lending and banking all in one location for less hassle.  Of course, you should still shop around for reasonable interest rates: but many banks offer lower interest rates to people who already have an account with them.

Branch Availability

Although we can accomplish nearly anything with our phones, that doesn’t mean that we should!  Not only is getting cash out at your bank’s physical location cheaper, but it’s also an excellent way to keep up to date on any changes. For example, if you have any issues, you can drive five minutes and talk it out in person instead of staying on hold on the phone for forty minutes.

This also means that you should keep an eye out for available branches even where you don’t live.  If you’re out of town, you shouldn’t have to worry about whether you’ll find a unit for your bank or not. Instead, find a bank that’s where you need it to be.

Three Effective Apps and Sites to Get Your Finances in Shape for 2021

December 8, 2020

As each New Year approaches, many of us decide to get our act together financially and start properly planning for the future. But how many of us start with the very best of intentions only to discover that they’ve gone by the wayside by the time that March rolls around?

Well, here’s your chance to make 2021 different by using these three ways to make budgeting easier, saving simpler, and organising your finances much more straightforward.

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Comparison sites

A good starting point is getting on one of the comparison sites like comparethemarket.com to see if there are any savings you can make on everything from home insurance to your utility bills and from credit cards to broadband. Each one may just represent a moderate saving but, taken together, they will all add up.

As well as saving money on necessities like food and bills, you can also see if you can enjoy savings on your entertainment. A key industry that take advantage of the offer comparison system, for example, is online casino. Comparison sites like bonus.ca trawl through online casinos that have been rated by other customers, such as King Billy and Casino Friday, and organize them into the best bonus offers and free spins. This allows for players to entertain themselves without going overboard on spending. There are also entertainment comparison sites that focus on the best TV streaming services and entertainment systems, even video games; so it’s well worth having a look online to see what you can save. 

Expensify

If you have to travel for work, you’ll know how complicated it can be to keep track of all of your expenses. The result is that you can forget, or be unable, to claim all the cashback that you’re entitled to. This is where expensify.com comes in. But it does far more than just help you to note down what you’ve spent and where. You can take pictures of receipts, track the mileage you’ve covered, and download all the information you need onto your work laptop for printing. There’s also an interface that accounts departments are starting to use which lets you submit your expense claims without having to fill in any forms.

This allows users to be more organized financially while spending less time and effort on the task and reduces the likelihood of missing out on any cashback owed. These missed expense claims have the potential to add up to a significant sum, so it is advisable to keep track and claim. 

Toshl Finance

Who says that finance can’t be fun? This app from toshl.com does much of what other budgeting apps do, but it adds engaging elements of animation. This animation includes representing your finances as a river with tributaries that pay for various expenses along the way. In doing this, it also makes short and longer-term projections. It even uses GPS to help you map exactly which shops, bars, and restaurants are receiving the majority of your spending money.

As well as being entertaining, Toshl finance allows a fresh perspective of your finances and helps customers to realise possible excess spending. This is instrumental in saving money. 

Used all together, these three will cover off pretty much all your finances. This could mean that your New Year financial goals could finally be met in an easier, maybe even more fun, way. 

7 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

July 7, 2020

Going on a spontaneous trip sounds great, but only if you have ample time and money to spare. If you want to explore exotic locations in an affordable way, budget traveling may be the best option for you. That does not mean having to settle for anything less than the best, though. Here’s a list of some of the tips and tricks you can follow to enjoy a luxury vacation without totally exhausting your bank account.

7 Tips for Traveling on a Budget

1.     Book Your Tickets in Advance 

Buying airline tickets at least two months in advance not only saves you last-minute cancellations and unavailability, but it is also cheaper. You can most probably find the best prices by booking early when airlines are still adjusting their fares. Make sure to follow all major airlines on social media. Keep a lookout for promotions and reward programs, and subscribe to their newsletters for first-hand inside information on the latest deals.

2.     Know When to Travel

For budgeters, I often recommend traveling ‘off-season’. But consider this: what is ‘off-peak’ in one country might be peak season in another! Different tourist destinations have different off-seasons, so do your research to avoid unnecessary price hikes and crowds of over-excited vacationers. Another good tip for international flyers is to schedule their departures on Tuesday or Wednesday and return on Monday or Tuesday. It might seem unimportant, but this minor adjustment can save you hundreds of dollars. 

3.     Know Where to Stay

Always conduct comprehensive research on places for your stay. Ask yourself: how close are the major tourist destinations? Where can I get the best prices and room options? Who offers a free upgrade? Knowing answers to these will help you plan a more wallet-friendly and relaxing vacation. Also, if you’re traveling alone, consider staying in a hostel instead of hotels, rental homes, and resorts. Not only is it priced lower, but it will also provide a true backpacker experience with interesting memories.   

4.     Indulge in Free Food

Other than the complimentary breakfast package, many hostels around the world, and even certain resorts, offer free food. You can find anything from baked goods and pizza to BBQ, and a lot more. Plan an entire day of site-seeing and stock up on free eatables to keep you satiated on your adventure.  

5.     Use Public Transport

Learn the routes and pricing systems of the underground, light rail, and bus systems of the places you want to visit. This can save you a lot of time and money as compared to renting a car. There is no hassle of gassing up, finding a parking spot, and having to wait at roadway barriers to reach your desired location.

6.     Turn Your Vacation into a ‘Work’-ation 

Another cost-effective approach to traveling is to make it a work trip. A conference in a different city, a major client’s site needs visiting, and a global office you would like to collaborate with – find anything vacation-worthy and take the proposal to your boss. Companies usually have a separate budget for employee travel, so you might be able to avail the opportunity as well!

7.     Use Alternate Airports

Alternate airports usually offer lower rates as compared to international airports, and sometimes even cater to local airlines that are more cost-effective than their larger equivalents. For instance, if you are flying into New York City, fly into a nearby smaller airport such as the Westchester County airport

Do not let your budget dictate where you can go for a vacation. The next time you are in tourist-mode, use these simple yet effective tips to plan a cost-effective and exciting trip. 

Three New Year’s Financial Goals to Follow in 2020

February 25, 2020

A You.Gov survey about New Year’s resolutions revealed that 29% of Canadians planned to set some sort of 2020 aim for themselves. Some of the most popular resolutions they chose were, unsurprisingly, about money, with 49% saying that they would like to start saving, and 33% saying that they would like to set a budget.

However, what’s wrong with these resolutions is that they are difficult to follow for many people. To set a New Year’s resolution for your finances and keep to it, you’re going to have to figure out the smaller details, turning your aims into smaller and more easily manageable tasks.

Three New Year's Financial Goals to Follow in 2020

Don’t Spend Without a Deal

To start with, you can begin to remind yourself not to spend money without looking for a deal first. There is a famous saying that says “don’t buy pizza without a coupon”, but you could also try replacing the word “pizza” with “anything” to see where it gets you.

Most of the products and services that you pay for have deals, it’s just a case of going looking for them. Your local grocery store will likely have deals available on its app or as part of its newsletter, while your favorite clothing stores likely offer loyalty programs. You can also get good deals on entertainment. For example, many gaming sites such as Steam tend to offer seasonal sales on popular titles and, similarly, if you like to play online casino games, there are often many different sign-up bonuses on popular sites. For example, the Bonus.ca list of Live Casino offers discusses how you could get free spins and bonus money. Furthermore, for streaming services, see if it’s more affordable to enter a family plan with your friends than it is to pay for a subscription each.

erson holding ballpoint pen writing on white paper

Source: Unsplash

Match Your Employer Contributions

If you work for a major company and not for yourself, then it’s likely that the business has some sort of employee pension plan. Some pension plans just provide employees with an easy way to put money away for retirement but, very often, employers offer to match your contributions. 

Your employer may have a cap on their contribution but, whatever that cap is, try to max it out each month if you can. If the cap is 3%, put in 3% of your salary so that your employer would put in another 3% so that you’ve put money amounting to 6% into your pension plan. On a salary of $100,000 a year, $6,000 may not seem like much but, because of compound interest, you could potentially be retiring with much more money than you thought. 

Get One Side Hustle

A report by Sage on globenewswire.com revealed that one in three Canadians are now working on a ‘side hustle’. A side hustle is a side business that you work on as well as your main job. It may be the age-old favorite of having a lemonade stand on the side of the road, you may make money selling clothes on eBay, or you may do virtual assistant work for busy entrepreneurs. 

Having a side hustle could put another few hundred dollars in your bank account each month, helping you save towards a big purchase such as a house or spend and enjoy yourself. All the while having the peace of mind that you can do whatever you want with that extra money because you’ve earned it.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save more money as a New Year’s resolution, but it’s the way that you go about them matters. Give yourself the best hope at succeeding at your resolutions by planning ahead how you can reach them!

The Ultimate Smarter Loans Review

December 18, 2019

Finding a loan can be complicated, cumbersome and quite confusing – even in Canada. The online directory of Smarter Loans aims to simplify this clumsy search and streamline the process for Canadians across the nation. That is why this smarter loans review exists!

Smarter Loans provides a robust website of information. It claims to share “only the best, highest rated providers of personal and business loans in Canada,” noting that individuals can gain loans swiftly following an online application. It operates under a mission focused on helping Canadians “make smarter financial decisions” through education and comprehensive connections. The site also promises safety and convenience in addition to speed.

Led by co-founders Vlad Sherbatov, company president, and Rafael Rositsan, brand CEO, Smarter Loans works with dozens of professional journalists toward a validated list of loan recommendations. They research, review and qualify every external company featured on the site, per its “About” navigational section. This 30-plus listing of journalists include financial industry leaders, entrepreneurs, experienced writers and others, many of whom have brief biographical features for perusal. Smarter Loans notes that these “thought leaders from Canada’s leading companies contribute content to educate visitors about financial matters.” And education seems paramount to the online company, one that also extends a written commitment to transparency, safety, superior customer service and responsible lending.

These tenets form the basis of Smarter Loans, which focuses heavily on the minute details of loans – background information, loan rates, customer reviews and more, ranging from mortgages and credit cards to auto, personal and business loans. The site also features a frequently updated blog, tools for comparison and links to well-maintained social media pages.

At first look, the service is engulfed in an excess of details, appearing almost overwhelming. But further inspection showcases an easy-to-navigate website with ample information for applying and obtaining a loan. There are, however, various pros and cons about Smarter Loans that require a bit of consideration for any potential user in Canada:

LET’S TALK POSITIVES

Start with the good news, right? There’s certainly plenty of it for Smarter Loans. Here are some of the most positive attributes for the brand:

  • Smarter Loans is, succinctly, a one-stop-shop for the loan process. They make it super simple for any individual in Canada who is interested in any type of loan to gain the proper information then pre-apply. It’s not only an accommodating and proactive resource but also an extremely accessible one for any person who has an internet connection.

  • Three words: It is free. For such a healthy Rolodex of loan details, you’d typically expect a lofty price tag. But Smarter Loans provides all of its well-researched information completely free of charge. Who doesn’t like “free”?

  • The amount of information shared across the website is sincerely significant but in a mostly good way. Smarter Loans has left few stones unturned as it divulges details. Its promised professional research is demonstrated highly through its loan summaries, fact sheets and beneficial uses for potential borrowers.

  • Smarter Loans absolutely demonstrates the well-rounded knowledge of its leadership and contributing writers. From specific loan pages to informative pieces across the blog, the expertise and experience occurring behind the scenes is evident. For those within the financial industry or simply interested in the loan process, Smarter Loans proves to be an immensely valuable tool.

  • The website contains undeniable organization and efficiency. Users don’t have to comb through pages upon pages of content when seeking supremely specific information. Smarter Loans has utilized several navigational tabs with stacked subtabs to maximize proficiency as much as possible.

    Canadians can navigate via their residential province with every location listed. They also can choose by their desired loan type – personal, business, mortgages, trucks and trailers, equipment, auto and credit cards – with more precise types (such as home renovation loans and truck fleet financing) also noted. Navigation extends to lenders, trucking brands, business industries and mortgage rates. This helpful mapping by Smarter Loans increases readability and ease of use. Any user can discover his or her uniquely specific information with just a few clicks despite the abundance of data available across the entire site.

  • The pre-application process is both timesaving and easy. To apply initially for a loan on Smarter Loans, an individual must have basic personal information in addition to his/her credit score and gross monthly income. In just 15 to 20 short inquiries (depending on the loan type) – two of which request a person’s name – the pre-application can be submitted, and the loan process immediately begins. Swift and simple.

  • Smarter Loans’ social media presence is terrific for today’s technology-driven society. The brand holds pages across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, most of which have been updated within days or weeks. These channels showcase photos, facts, links, achievements, videos and more, reaching audiences in arenas that they regularly use. And that is truly vital to success among digital mediums.
Everything you need to know about Smarter.Loans

NOW, AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT

And with the good must come the bad. For all its successes in sharing services, Smarter Loans also encounters a few pitfalls across its site. Here are some of the negative qualities:

  • Yes, the website presents a lot of information – but it can be A LOT of information. While that’s beneficial if someone knows precisely what they seek, it’s overwhelming if one is unsure- however, this smarter loans review isn’t going to hold that against them. Outwardly, as previously mentioned, the abundance of navigational tabs and loan-specific details is simply engulfing. Most individuals would feel at least a bit hesitant to dive right in on the very first site visit. That said, a simple search functionality will solve this.


  • Because Smarter Loans publishes so much content, it can be challenging to narrow down the publishing date for each article. 

BUT, IN CONCLUSION…

Sure, a few faults exist for Smarter Loans, but the strengths of the site and service far outweigh any missteps or missing details. All in all, Smarter Loans is a superior resource for Canadians who need a loan and need it quickly or simply want to gather comprehensive info on loans, interest rates and best-served audiences. From personal to business, mortgages to automobiles, Smarter Loans truly provides an impressive, thorough website to the financial market and the digital space.

Why is an Investment ISA is Important For Your Financial Freedom?

February 25, 2019

You may have heard the word ‘Investment ISA’ being thrown around quite a lot especially when it comes to discussions around beating the inflation or having a more robust future pension plan, but fact is not a lot of people are actually well aware of what an Investment ISA is all about.

Well today, we are going to demystify Investment ISAs for you by going through why they are important for your financial freedom and then taking a look at the different investment opportunities present in there so that you can find an option where the risk vs reward ratio is just right for you!

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