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Fast track your savings using artificial intelligence

Note: this post is sponsored by RBC, but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

I think it will come as no surprise to you that I spend a lot of time analyzing and creating budgets, planning for my future, and trying to figure out the best way to spend and save my money. :) I have multiple spreadsheets that I manage manually, and while I actually do really enjoy this type of work, I have often found myself wondering if there was a better way. I’ve tried so many apps and software over the years, but end up coming back to my spreadsheets because they are personalized to me and what I want to see.

This is why I was so interested to learn more about RBC’s new programs called NOMI Insights and NOMI Find and Save. They are the first bank in North America to use artificial intelligence to automatically track spending and fast track your savings.

Not only is the user interface really attractive and easy to understand, but you can also get real, actual insights about your finances (without having to dig out the data yourself). There is a fully automated savings solution that goes above spreadsheet budgeting and spending categories – it uses predictive technology to help you save money based on your current spending habits. IT LEARNS HOW YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY and adjusts based on that information. I honestly can’t think of anything cooler in the financial space right now.

There are two products that RBC has made available to all clients this month:

NOMI Insights

This program will help you stay on top of your day-to-day finances by giving you timely tips and advice. It will also track your spending, plan for upcoming expenses, and give you a heads up when needed about upcoming bills. I can see how this could help you reach your goals sooner by making you more aware of your finances, and I think would be a great addition to anyone’s financial management tool belt, but especially useful for those who don’t currently track anything, or for those who have good intentions, but life just gets in the way and they end up falling behind.

NOMI Find & Save

This is what I’m most curious about. NOMI Find & Save uses predictive technology to find amounts of money that clients can spare. It’s a completely personalized savings tool that learns your spending behaviours and looks for pockets of money in your cash flow to automatically move over into a savings account. It will never set aside more savings than you can afford, and you can even receive push notifications alerting you every time money is saved!

Personally, I’m really curious to see how these programs work, and what this will mean for the future of daily banking in Canada. I’m someone who loves data of all kinds (I’m just as obsessed with analyzing my FitBit data as I am with financial data). It’s something I think is fun and interesting, and to have a financial tool that can learn my spending behaviour and potentially help me save more money? That’s something to get excited about.

What are your thoughts on artificial intelligence entering the personal banking world?

Hello Simplii Financial!

Note: This post is sponsored by Simplii Financial but the views and opinions are my own.

Back in August when President’s Choice Financial announced that they were going to end their banking service, I was as shocked as anyone. Some of you know I had been a PC Financial customer for almost a decade! I had switched most of my banking over to another bank about two years ago, but still kept my PC Financial account open just in case I ever wanted to switch back.

That’s why I was so curious about Simplii Financial entering into the direct banking scene. I’m always one for competition, and was intrigued as to how they were going to entice new customers.

Simplii Financial promised a seamless transition from PC Financial – with no changes to account numbers, or pre-existing automatic payments, or any issues with automatic payroll deposits. And that was true. I found I was able to login to the Simplii website with my existing PCF debit card number and password. Aside from a fresher image, everything online looked exactly the same.

I will admit that one of the reasons I switched away from PC Financial was because you couldn’t transfer money between different chequing accounts without having to pay $1.50 for an Interac e-Transfer. In fact, I blogged about that more than once! Honestly, that really made it hard for me to use the bank for my daily needs, because if I need to transfer money to my boyfriend’s PCF account, I had to pay each time. That’s why I was really pleased to see that one of Simplii’s offerings was free, unlimited Interac e-Tranfers.

I’m not going to list pros and cons of the different online banks there are in Canada, but I feel like Simplii definitely stacks up against them. They have the standard no-fee daily banking, their ATM network (using 3,400 CIBC ATMs) is really good, and customer service is available 24/7. They also offer a wide range of other products too – including mortgages, RRSP, GIC, TFSA, lines of credits, and loans.

I’m really interested in seeing how people react to Simplii and what their next steps are for gaining a bigger share of the direct banking market. I’m not in a position where I’m going to switch banks right now, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on them. To be honest, they’ve already done good in my books by introducing free Interac e-Transfers. :)

To learn more about Simplii Financial and their offerings, please visit their website at www.simplii.com!

Would you consider switching over to Simplii?

I’d also love to hear about your transition over to Simplii!

How to save on a Canada 150 vacation this summer

 

Note: this post was sponsored by RateSupermarket.ca, but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

 This has been an expensive year so far, with buying a condo and organizing a trip to Portugal, but now that summer is here, all I want to do is spend time outside, go on vacation, and just relax. Summers are always hard on my wallet, but because I’m super conscious about my spending, I never let myself get too carried away. :)

But because we have a lot of house expenses we’d like to take care of this year (like paying for a renovation, patio furniture, a dining set, and a spare bed – just to name a few), I need to be extra careful with my cash flow. Every dollar I spend on vacations means less to spend on the condo – and vice versa. There needs to be a nice balance between the two, and it starts by budgeting and prioritizing what is most important to us.

Last year we spent most of our vacation time exploring Canada, and this year – Canada’s 150th birthday – will not be much different. All of our summer vacation plans will be spent seeing first-hand just how amazing this country is.

Speaking of saving and of Canada 150, here’s an exclusive offer from RateSupermarket.ca. For a limited time, apply for a President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® through RateSupermarket.ca and get a $150 e-gift card & up to 20,000 PC® points when you activate your card.1  

So, here’s how I plan to save money this summer on my vacations (while still having the best summer possible) – and any other tips would be much appreciated!

Have realistic expectations

We were originally planning a 5-6 day road trip to go hiking in the Stein Valley, but since we’re got a European vacation later this fall and we also have condo expenses to take care of, we decided to be realistic with our budget. Sure, we could afford to go, but we’d rather not stretch ourselves too thin. So instead we’ll have a little relaxing staycation at home, get up into the local mountains, and save the Stein Valley for another year when we don’t have so many competing expenses.

Camping

Our two-year anniversary is coming up in August, and to celebrate we’re getting on our bicycles, taking a ferry over to one of the gulf islands, and going camping for 3 nights at a gorgeous private campground. We stayed there last year as well, and had so much fun bicycling around the island, going to the farmer’s market, and lazing around our oceanfront campsite. It’s the perfect frugal getaway, but it also helps that we already have all of the camping gear needed to have an adventure like this.

Using AirBnB

This is a pretty standard thing to do, as I’m pretty sure most people use AirBnB nowadays. We definitely try to stay in AirBnBs or use HomeAway for every vacation we go on. Not only does it save us money because I get to cook at one or two meals a day, but it also feels nicer and more relaxed to be in an actual home. And there are some pretty amazing AirBnB places – when we were in Whitehorse last fall, we got to stay in a yurt overlooking a gorgeous lake, and on our last trip to Tofino, we stayed across the road from Chesterman Beach in a perfect little cabin.

Know what your priority is

You can afford anything, just not everything. So if you’re like me and on a budget, chances are you can’t afford to stay in the best hotel, eat at the fanciest restaurants, and do all of the touristy things in the city. This means that when I’m creating a budget for any trip, I try to figure out what the priority is for me. Usually it’s being outdoors and sightseeing – which means I need accommodation in a central location, and a mode of transportation to get me to where I want to explore (whether it’s walking, transit, taxi, or renting a car). So I create my budget around that kind of trip, and everything else – like fine dining and fancy amenities – don’t really get much thought.

How are you planning on celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday this summer?

1 Apply online and when you receive your PC Financial Mastercard credit card, you will also receive four welcome coupons or offers each worth 5,000 PC points. Use your PC Financial Mastercard and redeem each coupon or offer to receive 5,000 PC points with any purchase at the checkout in participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold. See coupons or offers for full details. Coupons or offers have no cash value. For all offers, allow 2-3 weeks from qualifying purchase for bonus PC points to be awarded. Each offer is limited to one per new PC Financial Mastercard account and may be terminated or changed at any time without notice.

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