Roundup Savings Features: Three Ways To Use Them Effectively

If you missed the news last week, Wealthsimple announced that they’re adding a new feature, Roundup, to help you save more money. Basically, you link your regular cards to your Wealthsimple account, and they’ll round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and put the spare change into your chosen account—yes, including your investment accounts.

I think this is a super helpful option to have, but it’s not a new idea, nor one that you’d need to use via Wealthsimple. The same concept is used in apps like KOHO (which I use) and Mylo (which I haven’t tried yet), and I first used a roundup-type savings feature in university on a savings account via Scotiabank.

The good old days! (I recently went back to speak to a university class I took almost a decade ago. Rounding up your purchases to save more is not new, and neither am I as a human being.)

Since I’m basically an OG user of roundup-type features, and a current one at that, I wanted to share the three best use cases I’ve found for enabling this type of feature, no matter which platform you use to do it.

You genuinely don’t think you can save any more money

If you’re in a place where your monthly financial commitments feel like they’re basically equal to your income, and you can’t fathom finding any additional wiggle room to save money, these types of features can be a great first step to getting out of that mindset. Are you going to save hundreds a month using a roundup feature? Probably not. Will you save tens of dollars you didn’t expect to? Yes!

You want to save up for a medium-sized fun purchase

Let’s say you want to buy something purely fun or frivolous, but you want to do it responsibly—and it’s a bit outside of your monthly fun budget. Setting up a round-up feature to stash your spare change towards the goal of a purely fun purchase that would be nice, but isn’t a huge priority, is a great way to save up.

This is how I currently use my round-ups in KOHO. I’ve got a savings goal, and every time my round-up amount hits $10 or so, I cash it out and put it into my savings goal. It means I’ll save up the $50 to $100 I’m aiming for faster, without really having to think about it. Once I do, my insert-fun-purchase-here is fair game to buy anytime. (It’s how I bought a gold necklace earlier this year, saved up for my latest Lush order, and now I’m saving up for my annual planner.)

This works specifically because I’m not counting on the round-ups to fund my retirement, or putting pressure on them to hit a certain amount. That way, it’s never an incentive to make additional purchases “to get the round-up,” which is one relatively fair critique of these kinds of programs.

(It goes without saying that buying an additional $5.50 thing to save $0.50 isn’t ever going to be your best savings plan.)

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You want to experiment and see if you notice the money being saved

Based on my current financial life, my RRSP makes more sense for the bulk of my retirement savings, so I’ve been largely letting my TFSA kind of hang out in Wealthsimple and do its thing, sans regular contributions. But with Wealthsimple’s new Roundup feature, I figured why not test it out and see how much really gets added to my TFSA every month by rounding up my everyday credit card purchases? (I mostly use credit for easy cashback and tracking, as opposed to debit. To each their own!)

So last night, in between games of Two Dots as I was zoning out in front of Quantico re-runs on Netflix, I popped open my Wealthsimple app and linked it to my Tangerine credit card. Does that sound easy? Because I really hope it does, it was super easy. I selected my TFSA as the recipient of my roundups, and my chequing account as the place for them to withdraw the money, and boom: I’m now experimenting with rounding up my spending to see how much it adds to my TFSA.

If it goes well, and I don’t notice the impact, maybe it’ll be time to add a regular contribution back into my life, but that’s the best part. I can test it out first, super easily, and see how it goes.

You don’t need to round up, but it can’t hurt

Here’s the thing I can say with total confidence about these types of features: If you’re on the fence about using them for pretty much any reason, you should just give it a shot, whether it’s on Wealthsimple, KOHO, Mylo, or your regular bank account.

In my experience, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how little you miss the money, but unless you’re making tons of purchases, you may also end up a bit underwhelmed with how much accumulates—which is a good thing, and a great prompt to save more on your own if you can swing it!

If you’re sure you don’t want to use them, I’ve also got a solution for ya. For a similar effect, set up a $10 to $15 automatic savings contribution into a dedicated account every paycheque. In the same way that you wouldn’t miss the better part of a dollar every time you buy something, you’ll easily adjust to having $15 less per paycheque, and the money will build up at roughly the same rate if your roundup amount is to the nearest dollar (or if you don’t buy many things).

P.S. The Wealthsimple links are affiliate links, because I love and use their services, so we’ll get a small commission if you sign up at no cost to you! Plus, you’ll get a $50 bonus when you invest $500 if you sign up via my links.