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How I’m saving for travel this year

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

In about 10 weeks, I will be boarding a flight to Portugal for an amazing vacation. I’ve been wanting to go back to Portugal since I was first there back in 2012, but with so many other financial priorities this year (namely aggressively saving for our down payment), we weren’t sure if a 3-week European holiday was something we were going to be able to pull off. Was it the responsible thing to do, and could we even afford it?

We had a fairly big discussion about what our priorities were, and we realized that while buying a home is something we really wanted to do, living a balanced lifestyle was more important. And that meant travel. So I created a few spreadsheets and budgeting scenarios which would get us to our savings goals. Because RD isn’t as involved with his finances as I am, creating these scenarios helped him to better understand what we could (and couldn’t) afford as we started to plan what our trip would look like.

It was around this time that I really wanted to separate my down payment and my travel savings into two separate accounts. Because my travel money is always fluctuating depending on how much I spend and save in a given month, I wanted to be able to visualize exactly how much I had. But I also wanted more than the 0.8% interest that my bank was giving me.

After taking a look at the different banking options I had, I decided to keep my current bank for daily spending (and some of my investments), and move all of my cash savings (except my Emergency Fund) over to the EQ Bank Saving Plus Account, which has the highest interest rate I could find, at 2.30%. And even though it had the highest interest rate, there was no minimum balance requirement, and you didn’t have to lock your money in for any sort of time frame. These were two keys I was looking for, if there’s a good travel deal happening, I didn’t want my money locked away for a specific amount of time!

If you’re unfamiliar with EQ Bank, it’s a digital bank with no minimum balances, no monthly fees, and unlimited day-to-day transactions. So yes, it’s a high interest savings account, but it also comes with a lot of features that you’d find with a chequing account – like the ability to pay bills, transfer money between EQ accounts instantly (and for free), as well as 5 free Interac e-Transfers® per month.

I’ve been a customer for about 18 months now, and have been using it as my primary cash savings accounts for the last 6 months. The transition and implementation has been pretty seamless, and I can’t really see myself deviating from this set-up anytime soon. I really like how it works as a companion product to my current banking system, so I don’t have to decide which bank to use – I can use both. :) I’ve been able to transfer savings to and from my everyday bank and EQ, pay my credit card directly when I’ve spent money on travel, send money to RD with Interac whenever he’s paid for something, and I’ve been using the mobile app to deposit my freelance cheques directly into my savings – eliminating the need to have that money touch my chequing account.

I don’t have that much cash savings at any given time, but the money I do have, I want to be helping me get to my savings goals sooner – so for me, the 2.30% interest rate is a huge bonus. It’s almost 3x what I’m getting right now, and my travel savings combined with my down payment savings means I’ve been earning almost $120/month in interest alone this year. Not too shabby for a savings account!

So as a special treat for my readers to get your own summer savings started, new accounts opened have the chance to win one of 10 $150 deposits into your new savings account! That’s enough for a nice dinner out on your next vacation! :)

5 Tips on Finding a Career That’s More Than Just a Job

Note: this post is sponsored by Capital One Canada, but the views and opinions are my own.

One of the most interesting things I’ve done as a financial blogger was host a Facebook Live Q&A panel earlier this month with Capital One Canada at the Enactus National Exposition in Vancouver. The theme of the panel was Finding a Career That’s More Than Just a Job, which really resonates with me – and I think a lot of people that read this blog too. :)

If you’re not familiar with Enactus, it is a global organization that fosters entrepreneurship among post-secondary students. Since 2012, Capital One Canada sponsors an annual regional and national competition where student teams identify, develop and deliver financial literacy projects aimed at improving and shaping their local social and economic landscape. It was a pretty inspiring few days to say the least!

A career that you love

The main reason why I was drawn to this Capital One event was because of its core message:  Finding a career that’s more than just a job is so important to your personal happiness. For me, it’s rewarding to know that I’m in a career that allows me to reach my full potential.

Related: Are you passionate about your career?

I write a lot about career progression here on the blog, and the initiative it takes to really get ahead, find a career path, and secure an employer that’s worth committing to. In the panel interview, Senior Director of Partnerships at Capital One Jay Acharya said it best when he compared job interviews to dating. That’s how I’ve always looked at it as well! The exchange needs to be a two-way street with an equal performance on both sides – they need to love you, but you need to love them too. :)

Related: What do you look for in a job?

It’s important to establish what you want out of your career. Personally, it took me a long time to figure out what would make me happy. But now, I’m confident in who I am and what I’m looking for. I’m not afraid to walk away from a job offer if I don’t feel like I would fit in with the company culture, or if I don’t think it’s a company I believe in.

That’s exactly the point Hannah Stegen made in our discussion (she’s a former Enactus student and recently hired Capital One associate). She spoke about how Capital One worked with her to find the position that was best suited to her skillset and to what she wanted to do. I think that speaks a lot to the company and their willingness to find and retain the best talent. And after a few years of getting to know the team over at Capital One (they’re a platinum sponsor of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference too), I can honestly say that I think it’d be an amazing place to work.

One of the things that got me most excited was Capital One Canada’s flexible workplace and its comprehensive health benefits:

  • Benefits – Capital One offers a comprehensive benefits packages that cover standard health and dental, including fitness/gym memberships, additional time off for volunteering, and financial assistance.
  • Flexibility – the company acknowledges employees have lives outside of work, which means striking a work-life balance is crucial. That’s why Capital One allows employees to work remotely (at home or a coffee shop).

Related: Why I don’t want to be self-employed

I really want to share with you the short Facebook Live video (since I know most of you didn’t get a chance to watch it!) that includes 5 job searching tips:

Find A Career That's More Than Just A Job

We'll be live on Facebook with Krystal Yee from Give Me Back My Five Bucks to share tips for landing your next job. Have a question? Add it as a comment below and it could be answered live!

Posted by Capital One Canada on Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Head of Talent Acquisition for Canada at Capital One, Victoria Reynolds, mentioned that they’re hiring for a bunch of different positions – especially in the digital and tech space – so if you’re interested in finding out more about jobs at Capital One, I’d encourage you to go to www.CapitalOneCareers.ca for more information.

As for me, it’s taken me 10 years to build my career up to where I want to be. I feel like I’m on a real path to success now. I like challenging myself on a daily basis, I enjoy my co-workers, I feel respected, and I’m proud of the work that my company is doing – and I hope that you feel the same way about what you’re doing in your career too. :)

The best financial advice I’ve ever received

Note: this post was sponsored by Scotiabank for Financial Literacy Month, but the views and opinions are my own.

For Financial Literacy Month, I’ve been asked to share the best financial advice I’ve ever received. Now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know that I believe in the importance of having a financial plan, as well as making both long-term and short-term goals. I used to believe that once I had my heart set on a goal, any deviation from that path was considered a failure. But the best advice I’ve ever received was that in order to be successful in life, goals and plans have to be flexible and adaptable to whatever life may throw at you. And believe it or not, I got that advice from a children’s book.

This book was called Monty Goes South, and it was given to me by my field hockey coach when I was 17 just before I was about to “fly south” to play on a Division 1 NCAA team. It’s a story about how Monty the Canada Goose (yes, it’s a Canadian book haha) is watching all of his friends prepare to fly south for the winter. But because of his very real fear of heights, he has not learned how to fly. He considers all the different ways he could get south (like driving, sailing, or riding a skateboard), but eventually realized that he had no choice but to conquer his fear. He ends up flying south on his own terms and in his own way (backwards). :)

My takeaway from the book was that I would eventually achieve everything I wanted in life, I’d just take my own path to get there. That message stayed with me through my field hockey career, and I still think about my coaches and that message of hope today when it comes to my personal life, and my finances. I know there is not just one way, or path, to achieve financial success. It’s about learning the different investment vehicles and creating a financial plan that works for me in order to reach my end goal.

I’ve achieved a lot by turning my finances around in the last 10 years, but it hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been the life I thought I’d be living by age 34. :) But whenever I felt down about being in debt, not saving enough, or even not achieving any of the life goals that my friends were all experiencing (like marriage, owning a home, or traveling), I thought back to that book … and I reminded myself that I’ll get all of the things that I want, I’m just on my own path and need to follow my own plan. Okay yes, maybe that’s cheesy, but it has totally helped me conquer any “keeping up with the Jones” thoughts that have ever creeped into my head. When all my friends were traveling in their 20’s while I was paying down my student loans, sure I definitely had a case of FOMO, but I knew I’d get to travel in the future. And when I felt like my friends were all achieving amazing things with their careers (while mine was going nowhere)? I kept trying to learn new things, and eventually found my niche.

Maybe you’re like me and aggressively paid down your debt. Or maybe you’ve got kids, so you’re tackling your debt at a slower pace … or maybe you’re 40 and haven’t started saving for retirement yet. Wherever you are in your financial journey, just know that if you create your own UNIQUE financial plan, you’ll achieve your goals eventually – you’re just on your own journey there.

So, who gave you your best financial advice? Head over to Scotiabank’s Facebook page and tell them about the best advice you’ve received for a chance to win $1,000.

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