Financial Resources

Let’s rap.

Managing your money seriously does not have to be so hard, and we live in incredible times.

I can deposit a cheque from my phone, you guys.

There are so many amazing tools available to help you rock your finances, and this list is only a short sample of them.

Specifically, it’s the short list of them that I have experience using and that have worked for me. So if you’ve been wondering where I bank or invest (no? I’m the only one who’s that nosy?) this list should give you the answers, and a bit of an idea of how each one has helped me.

PS. I’ve added a few resources at the bottom that have helped me get my blog up and running, just in case you were wondering!

I’ve broken the financial resources down by the following categories:

Financial Services

Tangerine

I once paid $50 in bank fees – in a single month. I know, it’s madness. I finally wised up and switched to a no-fee chequing account with Tangerine, and it’s been brilliant. I can do everything I need to do from the comfort of my own home, and as of December 2015, I’ve saved $98.23 in bank fees – and earned $50.18 in interest – without doing anything differently.

If you’re looking for a super-convenient banking option that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, I can’t say enough good things about Tangerine – and if you switch now, you could easily earn $100 in bonuses

I mean, free money. It’s pretty great, right?

Wealthsimple

I wasted so much time letting my long-term savings sit around in cash, earning next to nothing in interest. Sure, I knew I was supposed to be investing, but I never really knew how to get started.

Then I started to hear about robo-advisors, which will recommend and rebalance a fairly straightforward portfolio for you, with really reasonable fees (especially compared to big banks or traditional financial “advisors.”) After some research, I went with Wealthsimple, and I’ve been super happy with them ever since – even though I invested right before the downturn. Their customer service has been really responsive, and even with a few bumps getting my automatic transfers set up, they were really open and communicated super well with me.

wealthsimple-resources-page-ad-half-banked

For a limited time, I’ve teamed up with Wealthsimple to offer you fantastic folks a great deal – if you decide to take the plunge and start investing with Wealthsimple, you’ll get a $50 bonus added to your account. With returns, who knows what that might turn into over time?

This promo is only available for a limited time, so if you’ve been thinking of investing – give it a try. I seriously do love their stuff, and I have all my retirement savings with them.

(I’ll get a $50 bonus if you sign up via that link too – thank you!)

Financial Books

Ok, disclaimer: these are all Amazon affiliate links. I’m a big fan of using your local library as much as you possibly can, but Amazon just has the best and most-easily-linked information about books. Feel free to take the list and head straight to your local free-book-emporium!

Stop Overthinking Your Money, by Preet Banerjee

A perfect overview of “how to get an easy A in personal finance.” Preet is so good at writing in a straightforward, fun way, and he lays out a few simple steps to ace your finances – plus the next steps if you really want to hit that A+ mark.

I Will Teach You To Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi

Ramit’s book is really similar, in that it gives you all the basics you need to know to manage your money and “get rich.” His writing style is hilarious, and he’s super no-nonsense. Some of his references are specific to the US, but not enough to make this anything other than a must read – especially for millennials.

Money Rules, by Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Do you wish someone would just freaking tell it like it is? Gail is that person. She’s written several books, but Money Rules was one of my favourites of hers. It’s straight talk about the new rules of money, and while there were one or two I disagreed with slightly, there were hundreds that had me nodding along.

The New Frugality, by Chris Farrell

Interested in how to be frugal in a world that seems to have bypassed it as an awesome part of life? This book is a great start. It’s not quite the extreme frugality espoused by some bloggers, but it gives you a great rational for being a bit more frugal than the mainstream personal finance advice out there.

Plus, true story, when The Boyfriend’s family saw this book – checked out from the library, naturally – on our kitchen table, they said I was a keeper. SO.

 

Financial Blogs

One of the best – and definitely the most entertaining – ways I’ve been learning about money is by reading the wealth of amazing personal finance blogs out there. It helps that literally every single one of them is run by a friendly, amazing, wonderful human being, and connecting with them has been a huge perk of running this blog!

If you’re looking to dive into the personal finance blogosphere, here’s a big list of some of my favourite blogs out there. This is far from a complete list, and each of these bloggers will have their own recommendations – so start here and go from there!

Financial Products

Mindful Budgeting Program

If you read through my fall-of-2015 posts, you’ll know I bought the Mindful Budgeting Program at the beginning of October, and I was almost immediately in love with it. I’m a huge advocate of tracking your spending – I really believe it was the silver bullet to helping me get on track with my savings goals – and Cait’s program gives you a wonderful introduction into the world of tracking your spending.

I wrote a fairly in-depth review of the program, so if you want to know more about my experiences with it, you can read through it. If you’re already sold, it’s $17 USD, comes HIGHLY recommended, and you can find it here!

PS. Cait also made a (physical) Mindful Budgeting Planner for 2016 that I’ve just started using! You can grab one here.

Financial Apps

Mint

Ready for a mixed review? Here we go.

I think Mint is a fantastic introduction to tracking your spending, because it takes almost no effort to get started.

That said, it’s really reactionary. At the end of the month, you can log in and see what you spent, and the historical breakdowns are fantastic – but once the money’s gone, it’s gone. I actively used Mint for almost three years and it never did much to alter my spending habits in any meaningful way.

But for a first step, it’s pretty good, and integrates well with almost every financial institution.

*Your Bank’s App*

As I mentioned, I’m with Tangerine, and I love it. But you know what makes it 10 times better? They have a killer app. I can do everything I need to do – including depositing cheques – right from my phone.

What your bank offers might be completely different, but you should get their app no matter what. Having access to things like your credit card balance and your account balances while you’re on the go can be a really good thing – and they might even have some bells and whistles that make it even more worth the space on your phone.

My “financial apps” folder on my phone has:

  • The Scotiabank app (to track my oldest credit card)
  • The Amex app (to track my Amex gold card)
  • The Tangerine app (to track all my day to day banking, saving and my Tangerine credit card)
  • My Calculator app (because hi, I only use it for money stuff)
  • The following app, which gets its own recommendation

Canadian Mortgage App

So I haven’t bought a house – yet – but I like to be prepared. Since The Boyfriend and I are saving for a downpayment on a place in a few years, and we know the area and price range we’re looking at, I like to keep an eye on what our future budgets will look like – and make sure we’re being realistic with what we can afford.

I love playing around with the Canadian Mortgage App to calculate everything from our expected payment to how much house we can actually afford, and the best part? It’s free. You can grab it here, and if you’re going to be in the housing market anytime soon, I highly recommend it.

Plus it’s totally addictive. You’ve been warned.

 

Blogging

So listen – this isn’t a blog about blogging. That said, if you’ve stumbled here and you’re interested in the services and tools I used to build my little corner of the personal-finance-internet, here they are with a few notes about how I’ve used them!

Creative Market
This is my go-to source for fonts and stock images that don’t suck – especially ones that I use for setting up my Etsy store and my different listings! They also have some lovely themes you can use for your self-hosted WordPress blog.

Themeforest
This is where I bought my current blog theme, and their theme store has a HUGE range of different options. Worth a look if you’re going to think about setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog!

Bluehost
Speaking of self-hosting, this is the host I use, and I’ve been with them for years for my other, “professional” website. You can buy a domain name and set up a self-hosted WordPress site really easily with them – I’ve never had any issues, and every time I run into a totally-self-inflicted technical issue, their customer support has been top-notch.

Buffer
A free, wonderful way to schedule tweets to go out at pre-selected times. I use this for my Half Banked twitter account to make sure I can send out all of my friends’ posts during the day while I’m working! It’s free as long as you only want to schedule up to 10 posts at a time.

WordPress
This is the platform I use to actually “do the blogging” bit of running a blog. It lets me manage all of my content really easily, and is a great platform to choose if you ever want to self-host your blog. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but nothing too steep!

Adobe Creative Cloud
I’m lucky that I’ve learned how to use programs like Photoshop and InDesign by brute force necessity at my day job, so I use Adobe’s Creative Cloud programs to edit most of my photos for the blog.

iMovie
That said, I am a total novice with video editing, so any videos you see on the blog have been made with a combination of iMovie and basic Photoshop skills for the still images.