Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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How has market volatility affected your investing strategy?

I’ll admit that I’m checking my investment portfolio more often these days, and despite knowing that the market will eventually rebound, it’s still painful to see my investments headed in the wrong direction.

A recent report released by BMO Bank of Montreal confirmed that other Canadians feel the same way as I do. It found that about half of Canadians (53%) feel that market volatility will continue at the same rate or worsen in 2016, but about the same percentage still expect the value of their portfolio to increase.

I know that even though my investments are down right now, it just means that they’re cheaper to buy at the moment. :) And I know that over the long run, the value of my portfolio will continue to climb. It’s just hard to see my net worth sliding.

The BMO report also indicated that mutual funds are the most popular investment being used by more than half of Canadians (52%), followed by stocks (39%), and then GICs (37%). The majority of my retirement portfolio is in indexed mutual funds. I also have money in ETFs and individual stocks, but nothing in secure investments like GICs.

What I found interesting about the report was that over half of Canadians (56%) are turning to professionals to seek financial advice. I didn’t realize the number was so high! A few years ago I had the opportunity to speak with an advisor, who helped me create a plan based on my financial situation at the time. But now that so much has changed in my life, I’ve been thinking about meeting with an advisor again.

Even though I’m good at saving, and automatically contribute to a variety of different investment vehicles, I’m not a professional and having someone look into my investments and current plan to make sure that I’m on the right track to meet all of my long-term financial goals is something I’m definitely open to. Plus, an advisor can help provide clarity and insight to some secure investment vehicles I may not already use – like GICs, which offer predictable returns and can weather the changing market.

I also have a large sum of money sitting in high interest savings accounts (from the sale of my house), and given the current market conditions, I’m not interested in investing in anything too risky in case I want to use that money for a down payment later on.

Having a conversation with an advisor can help you maintain confidence in what you are doing, and also make sure that you have realistic expectations about your portfolio. Even if you don’t go on a regular basis, I do think it’s important to talk to someone whenever you encounter a big life change that alters your financial situation – like when you buy a home, change careers, or come into a windfall.

Even though my investments aren’t doing as well as they could be, I’m not changing my approach to investing. My portfolio allocations remain the same, and I’m confident that if I keep saving at my current rate, I’ll achieve all of my financial goals. I just might need an advisor to confirm that I’m on the right path. :)

Has your investment strategy changed at all given the current market volatility?

Note: this post was sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal, however the views and opinions expressed are my own.

Get rewarded for everyday purchases when using your debit card

Note: while I received compensation for this blog post, all views and opinions are my own.

I started using credit cards to earn points and rewards a long time ago. As many of you know, I support the responsible use of credit cards. I think that they can be an excellent way to earn travel rewards or cash back bonuses. However, they’re only beneficial if you can use them responsibly – which means never carrying a balance.

If you know your spending habits and can manage your budget effectively, a debit card is an excellent option, but doesn’t that mean you are missing out on rewards for everyday purchases?! That’s why I just don’t bother using my debit card at all if I can help it – I like the rewards too much. :) However, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.

Enter debit rewards cards.

I didn’t actually think debit rewards cards existed, and they don’t for the most part – but Scotiabank is the only bank in Canada that offers you debit rewards on your purchases with three separate debit rewards cards.

w2b-scene-debit-cardSCENE Debit Card

Most of us know what the SCENE rewards program is – you can earn points for free movies, merchandise, and more. This is perfect for students who like going out to movies, but might not have the budget to go as often as they’d like to go. You can earn accelerated points through Cineplex online and in person (5x based on purchases) as well as at a few other select locations including Sport Chek, Milestones and East Side Mario’s. You will also earn one point for every five dollars spent in other locations.

w2b-scotiabank-cash-back-debitMoneyback Debit Card

This card is very similar to cash back credit cards in that you can earn 1% on every purchase you make – up to a maximum of $300 per year. For those that open up an account before October 31st, you’ll earn double the rewards – $600 – through to that day.

NHL_Debit_Card_ReflectionNHL Debit Card

With every purchase made on a ScotiaHockey NHL® debit card, you will be entered to win grand prizes including four 2016 NHL® All-Star Game packages, four 2016 Stanley Cup® Final packages, four 2016 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ packages as well as 45 monthly prizes.

I’m actually really excited that debit rewards cards have been introduced in Canada. This means people that don’t want to rely on credit cards still have the ability to earn great rewards for their everyday purchases. And for those of us that will continue to earn rewards through credit cards, this is just an additional way to earn rewards through responsible spending.

What do you think of these debit rewards card offerings?

Why do you use a credit card?

Note: this post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Over the course of my twenties, I used different credit cards for different periods in my life. When I was in debt, I wanted a card with the lowest interest rate so that I could get myself out of debt as soon as possible. And after I got myself out of debt, I focused on finding the best credit card for my spending habits; one that would give me the ability to get rewarded for responsible spending.

I did a lot of research into different types of cards, and realized that there were essentially two different kinds of credit card users – the first category of users just wanted a credit card to make purchases they aren’t able to make in cash, and the other category of users wanted to be rewarded for spending. I definitely fell into the second category.

I knew I was mainly going to use my credit card for essentials – like gas and groceries and this kind of spending pattern is perfect for a cash back card. As you know, travel is my passion, so travel rewards credit cards are also a good option (and certainly one that I’ve explored over the years), but I knew it wasn’t my only option. Many travel rewards cards came with restrictions when it came to redeeming points and I wanted to really feel the benefits and rewards in my hand from using my credit card, something a cash back card can do for you annually.

For example, these days I typically charge between $750 and $1,200 on my credit card each month. With that kind of spending on a cash back card that offers 1.25% on purchases, your annual rewards can add up pretty fast. Take a look at these examples:

Monthly Spending Cashback
$750 $112.50
$1,000 $150
$1,250 $187.50

The new Amex SimplyCash card offers 5% cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants in the first six months (up to $250) and 1.25% after, so if half my spending went to those kinds of purchases, my first year using the card would earn me a lot more cash back. Also, most cash back cards offer perks for travelers too – such as travel assistance, car rental and theft damage insurance, among other benefits.

I remember whenever I used to receive cash back from my credit card, I’d save half of it, and put the other half towards something fun – maybe dinner out with friends in the city or even Paris? I think it’s this type of flexible earning that has helped me become successful in managing my money now, 8 years after getting my first cash back card.

How did you determine what kind of credit card you’ll use?

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