Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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?

Breaking down my retirement portfolio

I’ve been asked to talk about my Retirement Portfolio and investments, so I’ll do my best. I’ve previously written a 3-part series on how I got started with investing (which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), but I’ve never really gone farther than that.

I explained in that 3-part series that for the first few years of investing, I was completely lost. Sure, I was saving a little bit of my money each month, but I really didn’t understand anything about what I was doing. 10 years later, I have just broken the $100,000 barrier to my Retirement Portfolio (yay!) and I feel like I have a good grasp on my goals and how to get myself there.

Breaking down the numbers

I’ve spoken a few times about how much I invest each month. I started off by putting away just $25/month into my RRSP while I was getting out of debt and working my first job out of college. Now, I’m investing about $1,760/month towards retirement.

It’s taken me a while to get up to that amount, but I’m really proud that over the past 10 years, saving for retirement has remained my biggest financial goal. And despite continuing to increase my contributions, I can still have a good life – which includes buying and (eventually) paying off our condo early, traveling multiple times a year, and never feeling deprived. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fact that I do make a comfortable income, but I didn’t always, and that has been a work in progress too.

So anyway let’s break down the money I’m saving:

  • TD Canada Trust RRSP ($650)
  • TD Canada Trust TFSA ($215)
  • Questrade TFSA ($270)
    • This account is made up of a couple of individual stocks I’m playing around with, but most of the account is in ETFs, following the Canadian Couch Potato ‘Assertive’ portfolio model for ETFs. I’m actually using only Vanguard ETFs as that is what he had listed a few years ago as his model portfolio, and am just going to keep going with that for now.
    • Contribute bi-weekly through auto-deduction, but only actually making purchases once every few months.
  • Corporate RRSP ($375)
    • This is my company’s retirement match program. I’ve chosen their ‘Aggressive’ portfolio model.
    • Contributions are automatically deducted from my bi-weekly pay cheques.
    • The amount listed above includes the corporate match amount.
  • Corporate SPP ($250)
    • This is my company’s Share Purchase Plan, where a % match is provided
    • Contributions are automatically deducted from my bi-weekly pay cheques.
    • The amount listed above includes the corporate match amount.

Basically I’m just doing whatever Dan Bortolotti tells me to do. :) Actually, while that really is true, I came to that conclusion after doing a lot of research on my own. Also, some of you know that I was lucky enough to get to work with a “fee only” financial advisor through my job with the Toronto Star, and after analyzing my finances, he offered up basically the same portfolio options. That gave me the confidence that I was on the right path.

Related: Is it possible to save too much for the future?

Taking advantage of opportunities

You can see that, while my work doesn’t provide me with a pension, they offer up a decent amount of free money to employees who want to take advantage of it. I’m currently maxing out the corporate match for both the RRSP and the share purchase plan, and will continue to do so because I thoroughly enjoy free money. :) Those contributions currently provide a really big chunk of my monthly retirement savings, which I’m extremely grateful for. And while I can’t really touch the RRSP, I’m basically free to sell my shares in the SPP.

Having fun

Having my Retirement Portfolio basically on auto-pilot might be a dream come true for some people, but I find it kind of boring. I love being active with my finances, and you can’t exactly do that with mutual funds and ETFs. :) So I give myself a (very) small allowance to play with buying stocks. Right now I’m only invested in two individual stocks for an amount totalling just over $2,000. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep things fun and interesting (without jeopardizing my future haha).

Related: Why 20-somethings might have difficulties retiring by 65

The goal

My goal has always been to retire early. I am three years younger than RD and I want to be able to retire by the time he hits his retirement age of 57. Right now I’m on pace to retire by 52, and I feel like it’s not out of reach to be able to retire by 50 since my salary will (presumably) keep increasing as I continue on with my career. I may not retire once I’m financially able to do so, but just knowing that I could is, to me, the definition of financial freedom. So that will continue to be my goal.

What are your retirement and investing goals?

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!

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