The Smart Spending Blog at Mogo is your home for the best in personal finance strategies on saving, spending, budgeting and deals. We get a lot of questions on budgets, the best ways to do them, and the easiest steps towards financial success. Here are some of the most popular budgeting posts – including some that have saved our readers hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars! Dig deeper into each article and see why Mogo is here to save you bucks, and how we can help you do it! 1. Cash in hand budgeting Learn how you can save money by only using cold, hard cash. Ditch the fancy budgeting software and tough strategies – and look at how we recommend dealing with weekly and monthly budgets where cash is king. 2. Skip budgeting software, and crowd-source it Want another great tip for mostly-cash budgeting? Add the extra step of family involvement. Share financial goals and money-limits with the entire family. It’s a great way to get everyone on the same financial page – and definitely helps with weekly budgets and spending limits. 3. Getting ahead of the game Start saving now to make expensive times of the year much, much easier.
Here is a great piece of budgeting software that will (positively) impact your financial life. What is it? Mint.com/Canada is a safe and secure way to monitor your spending, savings, debt and properties. It’s intuitive system lets you look at your finances from every angle. Set goals, budgets and more – and even receive email telling you when you’ve met goals, or are running low on funds. Mint talks to you in simple language, that makes for an easy, honest look at your money. Best of all – this is totally free. Is it safe? Mint has been available to Canadians since early 2011 – with over 30,000 Canadians taking the financial plunge in the first month of availability. Mint has ringing endorsements from The Globe and Mail, The National Post, TheStar.com and Money.com – and now Mogo. With Verisign, McAfee SECURE and TRUSTe certification, this site adheres to the tough standards of online banks and government informational security concerns. How can I use it? We always like to tell you that the biggest part of the financial battle is knowing what you have and knowing what you owe. We really suggest getting a (totally free) account
Look, I know it’s summer. We’re all thinking about BBQs, the beach and what we’re going to do for the next long weekend. But what if I told you a little bit of planning now could make the holiday season in December much easier on you? That snapped you out of your summer coma. Whatever December brings your way, it’s usually an expensive month. We all know it, but somehow it always manages to sneak up on me. Travel expenses, presents, winter tires for the car or the hottest new toy for the kids – it really adds up. Do your part now to ensure December is a little easier on your wallet so you can sit a little softer when the season finally comes. Spend your time with family instead of worrying about money or taking a second job hauling Santa’s sleigh. Automate: This is the best and easiest way to do it. Automate a few payments to make December as easy as possible on yourself. Once per month, I automatically deduct $65 from my checking account. It gets put into a bank account marked “December”. After 12 months ($65 x 12), I’m left
Sometimes as a smart spender, you need to decide when to be a smart saver. So here’s a tip that could save you $100 in under 10 minutes… and you don’t even need to do a thing! Sound too good to be true? Keep reading to find out what we mean and you’ll be able to save as much as you want. When you’re looking to cut your costs, it’s important to decide between needs and wants. For things that you actually need, you will have to adjust your budget accordingly. But in the famous words of the Rolling Stones ‘You can’t always get what you want’. For me, my spending gets out of control when I stop really thinking about what I want (and even convincing myself it’s something that I need). Let’s look at three things I want to get over the next two months, and see where I can make some cuts. (For the sake of explaining here, let’s assume they all cost $100 exactly). - 16GB photo card for my camera - Renew 3 magazine subscriptions - Concert tickets to a show in June When I actually
Here’s a tip that works well with one-off purchases coming up. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m sure you’re a Smart Spender, with a balanced budget and tons of compliments on how good looking you are. Beyond that, I’m sure you’ve trimmed up your budget and cut out all the unnecessary pieces. That doesn’t mean you’re finished! Since you’ve been so great at cutting out the costs in your life, it’s time to think about earning some extra bucks. Now, I’m not saying you should go out and start working 22 hours/day, 8 days/week, but if you’re really saving up for something, it can be worth it to take on some extra tasks. Let’s pretend that you’ve got a great summer planned. You want to spend one or two weekends away, you’ll have some ‘stay-cations’ to cut costs, and you’re even on track to make all your bill payments. Then, out of nowhere, some friends call you up to invite you to a great music festival. The problem is, that’s $150 you don’t currently have – and
OK – it’s time to get psychological here, and no, there won’t be a test! We’re going to talk about the effects ‘sunk costs’ can have on your finances. A sunk cost is money that you’ve put towards something you can’t get back. Whether it’s a non-refundable purchase (sale items), a phone or a deposit on a vacation rental, it’s spent money – regardless of what you do afterwards. Sunk costs can get dangerous when you need to spend more just to get value out of what you’ve already spent. For example: You spend $200 on a set of golf clubs, and go to the driving range (another $10). You’re no good, so you get two lessons ($45 each). Let’s say you did all that and it turns out you still don’t even like golfing! That was $255 of your hard earned money! Rather than ‘waste’ the money you already spent, you hit the range some more and schedule some tee-times – continually spending cash to ‘recoup the value’ from your original spend. Do you see the problem here? If you spend $A, but need to spend $B to get enough value
If you’ve got some little spenders running around the house, it might be time to start teaching them a little about saving and responsibility with cash. A little work while they’re young can go a long way towards encouraging solid spending habits and a lifetime of benefits. When you ask around with your friends about when they started having their own bank account, you can bet that those who are better with their cash now, had a good early start. Getting the jump on personal finances can start with a quick ten minutes. I would recommend front-loading the financial experience with a little bit of work. Whether you’ve got an extra project around the house, a neighbor who needs some help or just some house cleaning you’ve been putting off for a while, it’s great to show kids how they can earn money through hard work (great concept, right?). Work out a deal with your child that they can keep half of the money to spend on something fun, while the other half goes into their first bank account. This will sound impossibly grown up to them, and the responsibility of it will feel awesome.
Budgeting programs are a complete waste of money. There, I said it! Why spend upwards of $100 on a program whose entire function is to suck your time away and make you miserable? Sure, we all need to manage our money, plan for our expenses and save a little. It doesn’t have to be difficult though. I’ve always found that a simple sheet of notebook paper, or a spiral-bound notebook and a pencil take far less time to manage and have no learning curve like financial software does. The easiest way to control your finances: Set aside fifteen minutes a week, grab your notebook (and your partner if they are interested) and write out your expenses and your income. If your budget changes because of a birthday, a new loan or a new account just add it in. When you pay a bill, check it off on the paper. Having that simple written guideline is enough for most of us. It tells you approximately what you will want to spend on groceries, school expenses, bill payments, etc. If your budget changes, scratch it out or erase it and reconfigure. That usually takes about five minutes and you’re
DISCLAIMER* This isn’t a boring budget piece. This is an easy tip you can use to watch your spending. We know that BUDGETING sucks; this is a much easier replacement that takes less time.* How many times have you sat down and painstakingly worked out a detailed budget – or at least wanted to? Maybe you argued with your spouse a little about what should go where, but you had it under control. Maybe you even had that nice “I-did-a-budget glow” for a day or two. Then you got paid, waited a few days, and watched your carefully crafted budget give a last dying heave and splatter into nothing – with all the grace of a bug hitting a windshield. We’ve all been there. Learning to make a budget that takes everything into account is hard, and there’s a lot of trial and error involved. In fact, Darwin’s theory of budgeting is that your budget has to evolve, not dissolve. Don’t be too hard on yourself. There is a nearly fail-proof way to simplify everything, and it’s much easier than you think. The solution? Use cash. It’s just human nature. When we look at our
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