Money We Have https://www.moneywehave.com Personal Finance and Budget Travel for Canadians Fri, 23 Jun 2017 01:14:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 It’s not an Investment, it’s Marketing https://www.moneywehave.com/its-not-an-investment-its-marketing/ https://www.moneywehave.com/its-not-an-investment-its-marketing/#respond Thu, 22 Jun 2017 04:05:05 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9443 Ads are all around us; there’s just no way to avoid them. We can try our best to block them online, but walk in any direction and we’ll come across an ad soon enough. Ads are just a part of life, but every so often there are ads I come across where I wonder what [...]

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Ads are all around us; there’s just no way to avoid them. We can try our best to block them online, but walk in any direction and we’ll come across an ad soon enough. Ads are just a part of life, but every so often there are ads I come across where I wonder what were they thinking?

I’m not talking about bad ads that make no sense (although there are many). What I’m referring to are ads that convince us certain items are investments. You know like jewelry, designer clothing, or even vacations. These ads are designed to get us to part us with our money. When it comes down to it, these things aren’t investments, it’s good marketing.

What is an investment?

To understand how ridiculous some ads are, we need to know what the definition of investments is. Here’s how Wikipedia describes investments.

“To invest is to allocate money (or sometimes another resource, such as time) in the expectation of some benefit in the future.”

Some will argue that comfort or joy qualifies as that future benefit, but is that how you should look view investments? Of course not. You need to think about from a financial perspective where an investment is an expected future return which could be dividends, capital gains, interest, or income.

Will you able to sell those designer shoes in the future at a profit? Maybe, if they’re a collector’s item, but if it’s marketed to the general public as an investment, then most likely not.

If you’re not making money in the future from your current purchase, then it’s not an investment.

Why you can’t take things at face value

I remember when I was researching engagement rings, multiple websites suggested that spending three to six times your monthly income on a ring was the average. This seemed a bit absurd to me since how much you spend on a ring shouldn’t be determined by your income. But since it was wedding sites with these estimates, I didn’t pay much attention to it.

Later when I was in a physically looking at rings, I realized how absurd jewelry was valued. Rings were on sale for $600, but the sales rep assured me it was appraised for $2,000. There was obviously no way it was worth $2,000 if they were selling it for $600. But, not to worry, it’s an investment the rep assured me.

Another thing that’s always marketed as an investment, but isn’t always true are home renovations. I do not deny the fact that a good improvement can increase your property value, but doing renovations doesn’t guarantee us a return. Yet somehow we’ve been convinced it will.

Think about it; those renovations just have a perceived value. Yes, that new kitchen might have improved your home’s value, but if you’re not selling for 20+ years, what good is it? You can’t just sell one room later to unlock some equity.

I’m not saying that a well-maintained home isn’t worth more than others. I’m just saying that you need to think about how things are presented to you and if they truly are investments.

Some investments aren’t actually investments

As weird as it sounds, even some investments are really just glorified marketing “scams.” The most common one being multi-level marketing companies. You get recruited by someone, and then your job is to recruit as many other people as possible. Yes, you’ll be able to offer some investments, but do you really think a company that will hire literally anyone is a good place to invest your money?

If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably be offered mortgage insurance by your bank. The idea here is that if you pass away, the balance of your mortgage will be paid off in full. The problem is, your premium will always remain the same, but the value of this policy drops as you make payments towards the principal of your mortgage. You’re better off just buying term life insurance since you get a fixed amount no matter what.

Final word

Anything can be marketed as an investment, but it’s foolish to think that all of these things will give you a positive return. It’s also foolish to think that buying something now will guarantee you a high return in the future. There’s no way to make a quick buck, so think carefully when you spend your money on these so called investments.

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My Baby Costs so far https://www.moneywehave.com/my-baby-costs-so-far/ https://www.moneywehave.com/my-baby-costs-so-far/#comments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 04:05:08 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9631 Many people know that babies are expensive. But nothing really prepares you for all that extra money you need to spend. My wife and I had already spent a small fortune since we had to go through IVF, so we weren’t looking forward to these additional costs. To prepare for all these expenses, most people [...]

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Many people know that babies are expensive. But nothing really prepares you for all that extra money you need to spend. My wife and I had already spent a small fortune since we had to go through IVF, so we weren’t looking forward to these additional costs.

To prepare for all these expenses, most people recommend having a baby shower. There’s nothing like getting a ton of free stuff from your friends right? Sure, that may work for some people, but my wife really had no interest in that. Instead, we decided to buy everything on our own. We’ve spent roughly $3,000 which sounds like a lot (it is), but here’s how the numbers break down.

Getting the baby room ready

Some people go crazy with their nursery and spend an insane amount of money, but we kept it reasonable and spent a total of $1039. Here’s what we spent on the room so far.

  • $339 – Crib and bedsheets
  • $150 – Baby box
  • $20 – Lamp
  • $100 – Wall art
  • $115 – Change table
  • $65 – Change pad and and covers
  • $200 – Baby monitor
  • $50 – Crib mobile

I know I said we kept things reasonable, but spending $1,000+ is still a fair amount. We were able to save a bit of money by buying a few things from HomeSense. We “hacked” our changing table by purchasing an IKEA shelf and adding legs to it so it also doubles as storage space for toys when our kid gets older.

We didn’t bother painting the room since we had already painted the year before. We kept the wall art simple and just purchased a few prints from Etsy and picture frames from IKEA. Some parents get obsessed with their nursery but we were pretty happy keeping things simple.

Mobile expenses for the baby

You don’t need many things to make your baby mobile, but these items tend to be the highest ticket items which can bring up costs fast. I’ve spent a total of $1,110 on the following:

  • $730 – Stroller
  • $35 – Cup holder
  • $240 – Car seat
  • $65 – Snug seat insert
  • $40 – Baby bag

Spending that much on a stroller pained me. I couldn’t believe how expensive those things are. That being said, my wife felt that the Uppababy brand was well worth the money. After speaking to other parents, they agreed. There are cheaper options available so you just need to see what’s out there and decide what works for you. Car seats don’t vary much in price, what you need to do is look for one that’s ideal for the type of car you have. Eventually when my child gets bigger, I’ll have to buy a new car seat. I didn’t list a baby sling since we were gifted one and I still need to buy a car mirror that will cost another $45.

On a positive note, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell my stroller and car seat used in the future. There’s a huge market for these items and I should be able to recoup 50% – 65% of my original cost when I’m ready to sell. Note that car seats have an expirary date so make sure you know yours if you plan on selling your car seat used.

Baby related expenses

Here’s where things get a bit complicated. Some of the following expenses are one time things, but you’ll see that many others will eventually be replaced. All of these small expenses have added up to $530 so far.

  • $80 – Breast pump related items
  • $45 – Nursing bra
  • $29 – Formula bottle
  • $29 – Bottle drying rack and cleaner
  • $35 – Baby tub
  • $20 – Pacifiers
  • $5 – Nail clippers
  • $22 – Nose Frida
  • $16 – Thermometer
  • $20 – Toiletries
  • $129 – Cloth diapers
  • $100 – Clothes

If $100 seems low for clothes, that’s because it is. At the time of this writing, we purposely didn’t purchase much as we suspect we’ll get some clothing as gifts or used clothing from other parents. Despite the fact that we bought cloth diapers, we’ll still need to buy regular diapers as a supplement.

After looking at these small expenses, I’m wondering if we made a mistake by not having a baby shower? I kid! We were always prepared for these expenses. That being said, we’re grateful that we were gifted some stuff.

Final word

No one ever said having children is cheap. I’m on the hook for all their expenses for the next 20 years or so. I could do a running tally (assuming this blog lasts that long), but the costs may terrify me. I’m joking! My wife and I are thrilled to be having a baby We’ll let you know when the little one arrives.

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The Questions You Should be Asking When you First Meet a Financial Advisor https://www.moneywehave.com/the-questions-you-should-be-asking-when-you-first-meet-a-financial-advisor/ https://www.moneywehave.com/the-questions-you-should-be-asking-when-you-first-meet-a-financial-advisor/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 04:05:38 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9652 Many of us know that having a financial advisor is important, but when you meet with one for the first time, do you know what questions to ask? The questions you ask and the answers you get should help determine if you’re comfortable with letting this person manage your money. It doesn’t matter if you’re [...]

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Many of us know that having a financial advisor is important, but when you meet with one for the first time, do you know what questions to ask? The questions you ask and the answers you get should help determine if you’re comfortable with letting this person manage your money.

It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with someone at the bank or your parents have set you up with someone they’ve worked with. You still want to ask certain questions so you know how a financial advisor works and what they can do for you.

Markus Muhs, an Investment Advisor and Portfolio Manager with Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Edmonton shares the most common questions you should ask, and the type of answers you should expect.

As you can see, when you’re meeting with an advisor for the first time, there are a lot of questions you should be asking. Some of the answer you’ll be given may be complicated to understand, so don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.

Even if you’re satisfied with all of the answers you’ve been given, you should do a quick background check. The Canadian Securities Administrators, IIROC, and MFDA all have search tools where you can look up any potential advisor’s registration, disciplinary record, and even a transcript of their relevant education. You’ll also want to Google what designations your potential advisor has and what they actually mean.

Getting good financial advice, if you can find it, can have a huge impact as you start to save money. Unfortunately, if you don’t have much money saved, you may find it difficult to find good advice.

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My Wife and I Saved a 50% Down Payment and Still Travelled the World https://www.moneywehave.com/my-wife-and-i-saved-a-50-down-payment-and-still-travelled-the-world/ https://www.moneywehave.com/my-wife-and-i-saved-a-50-down-payment-and-still-travelled-the-world/#comments Mon, 12 Jun 2017 04:05:45 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9361 I love reading about personal finance journeys. Nothing excites me more than reading about people overcoming their struggles with money and turning it into something positive. What I don’t enjoy reading are stories about people who have managed to save a ton of money while appearing to do very little. Don’t get me wrong, I’m [...]

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I love reading about personal finance journeys. Nothing excites me more than reading about people overcoming their struggles with money and turning it into something positive. What I don’t enjoy reading are stories about people who have managed to save a ton of money while appearing to do very little.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure some of these people worked hard, but sometimes their stories can be quite vague or their numbers questionable.

Back in 2016, my wife and I bought our first home in Toronto with a $226K down payment which was a 52% of the $432,000 purchase price. While we were saving, we still travelled on a regular basis; here’s how we did it.

We had a budget

Having a budget is one of the essential tools when it comes to financial success, so my wife and I created one early. As soon as my wife and I got engaged back in 2008, we started a wedding budget. We knew our wedding was going to cost about $30K (we still can’t believe we spent that much) and it was 18 months away, so we set up a plan. Since the math works out to about $1,100 a month, we made sure we saved at least that much.

Of course, having a budget is much more than just saving for a wedding. We had other expenses to factor in such as rent, groceries, a down payment, retirement savings, vacations, etc.

Travelling was a big part of our lives. As a result, we decided to budget more than the average couple for it. By setting this money aside, we’ve been able to visit some amazing places including Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, Thailand, England, and much more.

More importantly, we saved as a couple. We had common goals and made sure all our savings went towards them.

We avoided lifestyle inflation

After the wedding in 2010, we were up $25K. We had received about $30K in combined gifts, but we spent $5K on our honeymoon in Italy. We went to Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice where we had the best pasta, pizza, and gelato in our lives.

After returning home, we realized that we no longer had to budget for our wedding anymore which freed up that $1,100 we were saving every month. Instead of blowing all that extra cash on more vacations and eating out, we just put it towards our joint savings account.

During this time, we had also been getting promotions and raises at our jobs that allowed us to save even more money. We earned more than the average Canadian, but it’s not like we were pulling down a six-figure salary. The key for us was continuing to save to reach our goal of homeownership.

Since 2008, we were saving roughly $500 – $2,500 a month (or a rough total of $180,000) towards joint savings which was meant for our down payment.

We managed our expectations

That number may sound insane, but we were in a dual income situation with no kids. Instead of saving every penny, we made smart financial decisions and enjoyed our lives.

When we decided to buy a car, we bought one used for $18K. We didn’t NEED a car, but we wanted one for convenience. Despite the fact that we had enough cash to buy a car brand new, we opted for a 3-year old car since the savings was significant.

To be honest, we did up our vacation budget somewhere along the way(I don’t remember when). Since, our yearly budget for vacations is $7,800, we put aside $650 a month. We agreed that we could travel as much as we want in a year as long as we don’t go over our total budget.

When you’ve got a hard number in mind, and you love to travel; it’s surprisingly easy to make that dollar stretch. We chose some budget friendly locations such as Jordan and Hungary. We also visited destinations where we had friends and family that we could stay with to cut back on costs. Simple math shows that we spent about $40K on vacations over the years, but since we budgeted for it separately, it didn’t affect our ability to buy a home.

Finally, we kept our living expenses down. We lived in a rent controlled building where our rent was considered “cheap” by Toronto standards. We planned our meals which helped cut back on eating out, but we also kept a separate budget for restaurants and entertainment so we could spend guilt free.

We took advantage of any extra income

I already spoke about saving our raises, but we also made an effort to save any extra money that came across our way. Our tax refunds every year helped a little bit, but we also received cash gifts on a regular basis. It’s not like these cash gifts were huge amounts, but they did help.

I also started freelancing as a writer which allowed me to save an extra $20,000 over the years. When we were ready to buy, I sold all the shares in my company stock plan which was worth about $30,000.

We were also fortunate enough to have $30,000 gifted to us by our parents. We didn’t ask for or need the money, but they generously gave it to us anyways.

We didn’t get obsessed with real estate

Admittedly, had we bought years earlier, we would have been in a better position, but there was no way we could predict how hot the markets would be in Toronto. When we finally decided to buy, we set a max purchase price and bought within our means.

If you’ve been keeping a running tab, you’ve probably noticed that we had more than the $226K we used for our down payment saved. The extra money went towards our emergency fund, closing costs, furniture, other investments, and of course travel.

Saving a large sum of money is nothing special. It just takes time and discipline.

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Making the Most out of Your Summer Spending https://www.moneywehave.com/making-the-most-out-of-your-summer-spending/ https://www.moneywehave.com/making-the-most-out-of-your-summer-spending/#respond Thu, 08 Jun 2017 04:05:03 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9686 **This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Express. All opinions are my own. Let’s be realistic, summer is the best season of the year right? The weather is excellent and everyone just seems happier at this time of the year. However, summer can be expensive! It’s the season for vacations, [...]

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**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Express. All opinions are my own.

Let’s be realistic, summer is the best season of the year right? The weather is excellent and everyone just seems happier at this time of the year. However, summer can be expensive! It’s the season for vacations, weekend trips, weddings, meeting up with friends, concerts, and much more. That’s a lot of things we need to spend money on.

The funny thing is, we all know that summer is expensive. Generally speaking we’ll spend more money in the summer compared to other seasons. Even though we know these expenses are coming, some of us overspend in the summer and end up paying for it later. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your summer spending.

Map out you summer plans

Okay, so you know you have a lot of summer plans, but have you actually mapped them out? Take a look at what’s coming up over the next few months and write down the events you already have booked and the ones you haven’t quite decided yet. With all of your plans laid out in front of you, you can start estimating how much you’ll be spending this summer.

Be responsible with your spending

The summer is when Canadians tend spend the most money. Travelling outside of the country can cost you a few thousand dollars while attending a wedding isn’t exactly cheap. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the summer, but you need to be responsible with your spending. If you’re running low on funds, you may have to say no to some events. Prioritize what’s important to you and you’ll never have any FOMO.

Start budgeting for your expenses

If you don’t have a budget, what are you waiting for? Take a look at your income and then factor in all your expenses as well as savings. With all those variables in mind, you can come up with a budget that leaves you enough money for fun. The key is to remember those expenses that don’t come every month such as travel, weddings, etc. By saving for these expenses every month, you’ll have the money available to spend when summer rolls around.

Use a credit card that benefits you

Credit cards offer different rewards when you charge your purchases, but are you using them effectively? In fact, according to a recent survey commissioned by Amex and conducted by Nielsen found that 27% of respondents say they put everything on their credit card, while almost half (47%) put the majority of their purchases on a credit card. Since Canadians are using their credit cards so much, it’s important to choose one that actually benefits you

Every card has different benefits and multipliers while each rewards programs have their own conditions that you need to know about. These days I recommend using a cash-back card such as the SimplyCash Preferred Credit Card from American Express since the rewards are easy to understand. You’ll earn 5% cash-back (up to $300) on all your purchases in the first six months and then earn 2% on everything you buy once the Welcome Rates ends on all purchases, in every category. In addition the card comes with a comprehensive insurance package which includes travel medical, flight delay, lost or stolen baggage, and car rental theft and damage insurance, in addition to Front of the Line access. There is an annual fee of $99, but the cash-back earned and the benefits included are quite lucrative.

Entertain more

Entertaining your friends at home is so much cheaper than going out to a restaurant or bar. I recently bought a barbecue and used it for three weekends in a row while inviting different friends over each time. Why not throw a potluck and have everyone bring a dish over, then kick it old school and bust out the board games? Okay, maybe Netflix is the modern thing to do with friends, but the point is, good friends equals good times.

Take advantage of free activities

The best way to make the most out of your summer spending is by spending as little money as possible. Take a look at look at any free events taking place in your city or nearby where you live. These events are usually posted on city websites so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something going on for free. Parks Canada is still offering free Discovery Passes for 2017 which will get you into any of Canada’s national parks without charge. Alternatively, there are many attractions that offer discounted admission on certain days, so doing a little bit of research is well worth the effort.

Final word

Enjoying the summer doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. With these tips and by maximizing your cash-back rewards with the SimplyCash Preferred Credit Card from American Express, you can make the most out of your summer spending.

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Picking the Right Robo Advisor for You https://www.moneywehave.com/picking-the-right-robo-advisor/ https://www.moneywehave.com/picking-the-right-robo-advisor/#respond Mon, 05 Jun 2017 04:05:23 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9663 For too many years Canadians had to look southward and enviously gaze at the bevy of hands-off investing options that our American counterparts had to choose from.  Thankfully, this lack of choice in The Great White North has changed in a big way over the past couple of years. While you might be tempted to [...]

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For too many years Canadians had to look southward and enviously gaze at the bevy of hands-off investing options that our American counterparts had to choose from.  Thankfully, this lack of choice in The Great White North has changed in a big way over the past couple of years.

While you might be tempted to assume that the term “robo advisor” refers to some newfangled way of impersonally separating you from your money via a vaguely robotic medium, your future self will thank you for giving robo advisors a much closer look.  These fintech (Financial Technology) start-ups are really just taking the principles of DIY index investing, automating the stuff that can be automated through technology, and then replacing in-person meetings with your traditional financial advisor with online or phone conversations with a financial professional.

Essentially, what robo advisors are offering is an attractive middle ground option that exists between the traditional high-cost mutual fund model of investing, and the sometimes intimidating DIY route of opening a discount brokerage account and purchasing your own stocks, bonds, and ETFs without any personalized help.  If you are looking for a “set and forget” way to invest your hard-earned dollars that is easy to implement, and won’t siphon away all of your returns with high fees, then you may have found your ideal option.  The only question left is which of these new players on the fintech block should you trust with your investment portfolio?

Cost Comparison

While all robo advisors seek to cut costs to the bone, and then pass those savings on to their customers, it’s very difficult to compare “apples to apples” when it comes to robo pricing models.  The reason for this difficulty is that there are almost as many pricing models out there as there are individual robo advisors.  Some companies such as Wealthsimple charge a .4%-.5% management fee, on top of the MERs of the ETFs that they will use to build your portfolio (adding an estimated .2% to the overall cost).  While other companies such as Nest Wealth charge a subscription fee based on asset tiers, and then a fee for each trade that is carried out within your account.

The good news is that you don’t have to try to cross compare these different pricing models yourself – because we’ve already done that for you with our Canadian Robo Advisor Calculator.  Granted, it is borderline impossible to incorporate certain perks, and we have to assume an identical rate of return for each type of portfolio that we compare (which will slightly favour some options at the expense of others), but overall it is a great place to start in your quest to find the perfect robo advisor option for you.  There is no other place where you can independently compare the wide range of Canada’s robo advisors’ fees, commissions, and charges in such an efficient manner.

What Fits You Best

If after using our calculator you find that there are a few options that are relatively similar in terms of total cost, it is certainly worth your time to do a little more digging before making your final choice.  After personally answering hundreds of emails and comments pertaining to Canada’s robo options over the past couple years, I cannot say conclusively that there is a single company that is head and shoulders above the rest.  The overall satisfaction rate with the robo advisor model and the value-for-cost has been excellent, but folks who have tried each of the main robo advisors have found unique highlights, as well as areas they’d recommend improvement on.

Here are a few comparison points you might want to think about as you make your own personal priority list:

  •         Online usability and overall user experience
  •         Method of preferred communication  (email, text, phone call, Skype?)
  •         Perks over and above investment returns
  •         Compatibility with tax-advantaged accounts such as RESPs and RDSPs
  •         Portfolio construction models
  •         Active vs passive management strategies
  •         Tax loss harvesting and re-balancing options
  •         Convenience of use with budgeting apps like Mint

Personal Feel and the Advice Component

Perhaps the most important factor when it comes to ultimately choosing the best robo advisor for you isn’t price, or even what cool perks are offered – but instead boils down to something that is hard to quantify or articulate: personal touch.  Once again, I have received comments and review emails from several dozen people who have tried at least two of the robo advisor options, and there is no consensus on which companies separate themselves when it comes to communication, customer service, and response times.  From what I have been able to piece together, Canada’s leading robo advisors are evolving very quickly, and fixing any imperfections as they go.  In saying that, depending on your personal comfort level with investing terminology, technology, and overall personal finance knowledge, you’re going to value specific features and advice components differently.

Because it’s so hard to make broad generalizations when it comes to these financial disruptors, I hesitate to try to give specific advice beyond: Why not take a look at the top three leaders on your list and just get a personal sense of which way you personally lean?  Sure, it’s a little extra paperwork, but once you settle on one of these service providers you’re making a pretty big decision as far as your future financial plans go.

One interesting development that has surprised me over the last 12 months is that I am getting more and more emails from Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who are describing how impressed they are with the relatively new investment option.  While robo advisors are obviously appealing to Millennials who are quite comfortable with primarily communicating online and navigating software platforms, I would say they are an excellent option with anyone who has money to invest and values simplicity in their financial dealings.

When Kyle Prevost isn’t at the front of his classroom or trying to relive his glory days on a basketball court, you can find him writing at AutoInvest.ca and YoungandThrifty.ca.

 

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How to Keep Your Money Safe When Travelling https://www.moneywehave.com/how-to-keep-your-money-safe-when-travelling/ https://www.moneywehave.com/how-to-keep-your-money-safe-when-travelling/#comments Thu, 01 Jun 2017 04:05:57 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9568 One of my favourite things about travelling is exchanging my Canadian dollars for the currency of whichever country I’ll be visiting. There’s something about getting different coloured bills which sometimes come in ludicrous denominations that gets me excited about travel. I’ve already covered the best ways to exchange your money, but some people wonder how [...]

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One of my favourite things about travelling is exchanging my Canadian dollars for the currency of whichever country I’ll be visiting. There’s something about getting different coloured bills which sometimes come in ludicrous denominations that gets me excited about travel.

I’ve already covered the best ways to exchange your money, but some people wonder how to keep your money safe when travelling? It’s a serious concern considering that as travellers, we tend to carry more cash than we ever would if were at home. These tips should help you feel more secure regardless of where you’re visiting.

Only carry as much cash as you need

I know this sounds obvious, but way too many people travel with too much cash on them. I’m not sure if this is because they don’t have access to a safe in their hotel or if they think it’s safer to have the money on them, but it’s never a good idea to have a lot of cash on you. Generally speaking, you should only carry what you need for the day and you should try to separate your money. That means keeping some cash in your wallet and a little extra in a separate pocket or your bag.

Use credit whenever you can

I’ve been on week long trips where I spent less than $100 in cash. This is possible because I used my credit card the entire time. I personally prefer credit cards since they’re accepted at most merchants and I don’t need to carry as much cash on me. In case I lose my main travel credit card, I always have a backup one for emergencies. The other reason I prefer credit cards is because they give me no liability insurance. That means if my cards are stolen and used, I’ll likely get a refund as long as I can prove that I didn’t make those fraudulent charges. My preferred travel credit card is one with no foreign transaction exchange fees.

Protect your cards

Despite the fact that your credit cards will likely protect you due to fraud, you’ll still want to protect your cards as best you can. When using a foreign ATM, make sure you’re using one from a major local bank. You’ll also want to look for signs of tampering such as loose connections where your card is inserted. Extra steps you could take which may not be necessary include using a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) protected wallet and changing your PIN when you get home.

Use accessories to keep your money safe

When people ask how to keep your money safe when travelling? The most natural response is to use a money belt. I personally am not a huge fan of them because I find them awkward, but I do admit they to keep your money hidden. Another option that happens to be more fashionable is a scarf with a hidden pocket. To keep your money and luggage safe in your hotel, pick up one of bags or accessories from pacsafe. Their product is aimed at keeping all your stuff theft proof.

Don’t overspend

Part of keeping your money safe when travelling is by not giving it away. Always do research into the customs of every country you’re visiting. If it’s customary to tip 10%, don’t leave 15% or 20% unless you’re getting exceptional service. I’m not implying you should be cheap, but just know the local customs. Other things you’ll want to look up are things such as if it’s normal to haggle on prices at markets and if there is any tax refund for tourists. One other tip is to find out where grocery stores are located so you can pick up cheap water and food when you need to. In a sense, saving your money is keeping it safe.

Final word

If you take all of the above steps, there’s no need to stress out when you’re on the road. You’ve done all you can and if you happen to lose your money or credit cards, try not to freak out. Take the usual steps to recover you can and try to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

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How we Spent six Days in Portugal for Less than $2,000 Including Airfare https://www.moneywehave.com/how-i-spent-six-days-in-portugal-for-less-than-2000/ https://www.moneywehave.com/how-i-spent-six-days-in-portugal-for-less-than-2000/#comments Mon, 29 May 2017 04:05:43 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9189 Some of you know that I went to Portugal back in January. Although I’ve mentioned in passing how cheap it is to visit the country when I looked at all my receipts after my trip; I couldn’t believe how little I spent. My six-day trip to Portugal cost me less than $2,000. That’s less than [...]

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Some of you know that I went to Portugal back in January. Although I’ve mentioned in passing how cheap it is to visit the country when I looked at all my receipts after my trip; I couldn’t believe how little I spent.

My six-day trip to Portugal cost me less than $2,000. That’s less than I spent on a long weekend getaway to New York last year (when hotels were $350 CAD a night).

How is it possible that Portugal is so cheap? Well, it’s pretty straight forward. My flights were relatively inexpensive and hotels cost less than other major cities in Europe.. Food is ridiculously cheap and all of the attractions have pretty low admission fees. I’ll break down some of the costs below to give you an idea of how cheap Portugal is.

Flights and accommodations

I had always heard that Portugal is a budget friendly destination, but I never looked into it. My wife and I wanted to take a short holiday in January so we decided to look at flights to Europe.

It didn’t take us long to find a flight to Lisbon via SATA (Azores Airlines) for $550 each. This was not a sale, this was regular price. The only catch was that we had to depart on a Saturday and return the following Friday. If we wanted to return on say the Sunday or the following Wednesday; prices jumped up to $950. We decided to book the $550 flight on travel rewards I had so technically the flight cost us nothing (the $1,100 for flights is included in my total numbers).

As for accommodations, I had a fair amount of credit with Airbnb (thanks to everyone who used my referral link to get $50 credit), so I booked a flat in the Baxia area. This is the main tourist area, but it was still only about $80 Canadian a night. I stayed 5 nights so the normal price would have only been about $400.

How I spent my days

This trip was meant to be relaxing so I took things at a much slower pace than normal. Basically every day we would explore a neighbourhood and just enjoy the local culture. Listing everything I did will take up too much space, so I’ll just highlight three areas we quite enjoyed.

The oldest neighbourhood of Alfama is where you’ll find some of the most recognizable attractions including the Cathedral and São Jorge Castle (Lisbon Castle). Although taking the famous tram 28 was tempting, we decided to explore on foot where we could discover the back alleys and go into the shops. Here you’ll also find one of the best views of the city at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia

A 20-minute tram ride west of the city is Belém district of Lisbon. The main sites here are Belém Tower and Jeronimos Monastery which is a UNESCO heritage site, but recently the Coleção Berardo Museum (modern art gallery) and Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology have been getting more attention. Although the Monastery has an admission fee, both museums are free.

If you have time for just one day trip while in Lisbon, it has to be to Sintra. Located just 40mins away by train from Lisbon, Sintra is a town built in the hills that have quite a bit of history. There are dozens of attractions worth checking out here but we only had time for three. Moors Castle which dates back from the Moorish Era. Pena Palace, a brightly painted palace that sits on the highest peak of Sintra, and Quinta da Regaleira where people come just to see the wells and garden.

What I should note is that most attractions in Lisbon have a relatively low admission fee. The most I paid was €8, but many sites were between €2-6. We probably spent about €70 total (about $105) on attractions.

Eating for cheap

Here’s the thing about Portugal, most places are pretty cheap to eat. As soon as we landed, we stopped at a bakery for a snack. We paid just €4 for two pastries and an Americano. It Italy, I paid more just for the coffee.

Even food at restaurants was ridiculously cheap. My wife and I were at a local restaurant, and I thought the main courses were the appetizers because they were so cheap. I got an order of steak with rice and potatoes for €5. There are some more expensive places to eat, but even then it was only €10-20 per person. That’s a lot by Portuguese standards, but that’s normal for someone like me from Canada.

One thing to note is that there are a lot of tourist trap restaurants. Don’t eat at any place where there’s a guy outside with a menu trying to get you to come in. Also, reject any bread a restaurant offers you. Not only do you have to pay for the bread, but you also have to pay for the butter or anything else it comes with.

My wife and I were honestly spending less €40 a day on food. We were there for six days so that’s a total of €240 (about $360 CAD).

Final word

If you’ve been keeping track, that’s a total of $1,965 CAD (this includes the actual cost of tickets). I was actually shocked at how little I spent when I added up all my costs. Although Portugal is no longer a hidden gem, the costs have still remained relatively low. Head there soon before prices go up!

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The 10 Cheapest Airfare Destinations for Canadians https://www.moneywehave.com/10-cheapest-airfare-destinations-for-canadians/ https://www.moneywehave.com/10-cheapest-airfare-destinations-for-canadians/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 04:05:00 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9597 Cheapflights.ca has just released their annual Compass Report where they took a look at where Canadians are travelling to and how much it costs to get there. The data was taken from searches done on their own site in the last year from six major markets: Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The report [...]

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Cheapflights.ca has just released their annual Compass Report where they took a look at where Canadians are travelling to and how much it costs to get there. The data was taken from searches done on their own site in the last year from six major markets: Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The report covers everything from when Canadians search for flights to the most popular destinations, but for this post I want to focus on the most popular destinations in order of the average airfare.

It was interesting to see that not a single Canadian city ranked in the top 10. Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, and Winnipeg ranked 11th, 16th, 17th, and 19th respectively, but it does reinforce the idea that travelling within Canada is expensive. Let’s take a look at the top destinations for Canadians based on airfare.

New York, New York

Average roundtrip airfare – $348

There’s no surprise that New York has the lowest average airfare. The city usually ranks in the top 10 searched destinations by Canadians and it’s a major hub for air transport. Since it’s such a popular spot, prices tend to be lower due to the increased competition. Unfortunately, ground costs, especially hotels can be quite expensive in the city. That being said, pick up a New York CityPASS when you’re in town to help cut down on the cost of attractions.

Boston, Massachusetts

Average roundtrip airfare – $375

Boston has always been a popular spot for Canadians, but interest in the city has grown significantly over the last few years due to the Blue Jays. The Red Sox are arguably the Jay’s biggest rivals so it’s not surprising to see a crowd of blue and white jerseys at Fenway whenever the Jays are in town. If you’re not into baseball, following the Freedom Trail is well worth your time since it’ll take you to 16 historic landmarks that helped shape the U.S.  

Washington, D.C.

Average roundtrip airfare – $424

I visited Washington, D.C. a few years back and absolutely loved the city. Some people may be turned off by the current political situation, but there’s no denying that the city has a lot to offer. Most of the museums in the city and free and many of them are some of the best in the U.S. Of particular note are the Air and Space Museum and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Chicago, Illinois

Average roundtrip airfare – $442

Chicago is another city I have a lot of love for. In my opinion, the best attraction in the city is the architecture river cruise. There’s nothing quite like taking a tour of the city from the river while a guide explains the history of all the buildings around you. I also found the food scene to be excellent. Deep dish pizza was a bit too heavy for me, but local celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ restaurant, Frontera Grill served some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Average roundtrip airfare – $470

What’s interesting about airfare to Fort Lauderdale is that it’s $60 cheaper than Miami, but it’s only an hour north. The savings may not seem much, but it’s always worth checking both airports to see what prices you’re getting. Besides the proximity to Miami, Fort Lauderdale is popular because it’s a major departure port for cruises. If you’ve arrived at the city a day early, you can either relax on the beach or take an inner river cruise.

Cancun, Mexico

Average roundtrip airfare – $476

If you’re planning to go to an all-inclusive resort, always look for hotel and airfare packages since they’re usually cheaper. Now if you’re looking just for airfare, maybe that means you’ll be looking for your own accommodations. If that’s the case, it’s worth looking at Playa del Carmen where there are many private homes available for rent and plenty of public beaches where you can relax. Restaurants in the city, including the ones that are near the beach, are relatively inexpensive.

Orlando, Florida

Average roundtrip airfare – $478

I recently visited Orlando and had a blast there. Airfare prices can fluctuate quite a bit depending on the season so try to plan your trip during the low season if you can. If you’re heading to Orlando for theme parks, you’ll likely end up spending a small fortune. There are sometimes special discounts for Canadians, so do your research before buying your tickets. For more tips on how to see Orlando on a Budget, check out this story I wrote for MoneySense.

Tampa, Florida

Average roundtrip airfare – $481

Tampa is a great airport since it’s a reasonable distance to both St. Petersburg and Sarasota which are both popular spots for Canadians. The top attractions in the city are Busch Gardens, the Big Cat Rescue, and the Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center, but the Tampa Art Museum is also worth checking out. The riverfront is very beautiful with its boardwalks, bike trails, and landscaped parks.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Average roundtrip airfare – $483

San Juan is one of those destinations that has slowly been getting a lot of attentions from travellers. Most people only know it as a cruise port, but you may be surprised to learn that the country is an inexpensive destination. Despite using the U.S. dollar, prices are pretty reasonable compared to the rest of the Caribbean. You might be surprised to learn that San Juan has some stunning architecture and is one of America’s oldest cities.

Los Angeles, California

Average roundtrip airfare – 518

Rounding up the top 10 of cheapest destinations for Canadians based on airfare is Los Angeles. Once you arrive, you’re going to have a lot of choice of what to do. Will you head to Santa Monica Pier or Venice Beach? Maybe theme parks are your thing. If so, there are Universal Studios and Disneyland available. Architect nuts will want to check out the Disney Concert Hall and The Broad, one of L.A.’s newest and greatest buildings.

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Tangerine Celebrates Their 20th Anniversary by Giving to Your Favourite Community Initiatives https://www.moneywehave.com/tangerine-celebrates-their-20th-anniversary/ https://www.moneywehave.com/tangerine-celebrates-their-20th-anniversary/#respond Tue, 23 May 2017 16:30:40 +0000 https://www.moneywehave.com/?p=9572 **This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tangerine. All opinions are my own. Tangerine is celebrating their 20th anniversary today! To mark the occasion, they’re giving away five cash prizes, including one grand prize of $20,000 to organizations that matter to you! As an early client of Tangerine, I’m very excited [...]

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**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tangerine. All opinions are my own.

Tangerine is celebrating their 20th anniversary today! To mark the occasion, they’re giving away five cash prizes, including one grand prize of $20,000 to organizations that matter to you!

As an early client of Tangerine, I’m very excited about this as I feel like I’ve grown with the company. I signed up while I was still in high school because their high-interest rates and catchy ads encouraged me to save my money.

Over the years, they’ve come up with amazing products, but one of the best things about Tangerine is the work they do to give back to the community through initiatives like their #BrightWayForward community investment program, and now their 20th anniversary campaign.

The #Tangerine20 Contest

Tangerine knows that every bit counts which is why they encourage Canadians to earn, save, and keep more of their money. Giving back to the community is just as important to Tangerine, so they’re giving away a total of $42,000 to some of your favourite organizations and community initiatives. Here’s how to get in on the contest:

  • From now until June 16, 2017, Canadians can nominate an initiative via Tangerine.ca/Tangerine20
  • On July 6, 2017, the top 20 #Tangerine20 finalists will be announced on Tangerine.ca/Tangerine20
  • From July 6 to 26, 2017, Canadians can vote for their favourite finalists via ca/tangerine20. You’re allowed to vote once per day, per social profile or e-mail
  • On August 9, 2017, the winners will be announced LIVE on Tangerine’s Facebook page

The prizing breaks down as follows:

  • Grand prize – $20,000 (one winner)
  • Secondary prizing: one $10,000 prize, two $5,000 prizes, and one $2,000 prize

If you know of an organization in your community that’s saving up for an important cause, nominate them now at tangerine.ca/tangerine20. The official hashtag for this campaign is #Tangerine20 so be sure to share it on social media when talking about the initiatives close to you.

Although you have almost a month to enter, you’ll want to get your nomination in as soon as you can. Share with Tangerine why your initiative matters so much to you and how these prizes will help. Don’t forget to tell your friends and family about this contest so they can nominate your favourite organizations too.

Being active in your community

I have to admit, I’m not active in my community. My wife and I donate to charities that we believe in, but it’s hard to find time to get out there and contribute. Timing is always an issue, but when I think about it, time is one of the best things you can give.

I’ve personally attended a few #BrightWayForward events, so I’ve seen first-hand how important it is to give back. Yes, every dollar helps, but you can’t put a price on the joy that giving back brings people.

After recent life events, I’ve been meaning to get more involved with causes that have helped my family. Nominating these organizations is just one way I can get started.

By entering your local initiatives into the #Tangerine20 contest, they’ll have a chance to reach their savings goal faster if they’re one of the five lucky winners. It doesn’t matter if they’re trying to build a new soccer field or putting together relief packages; many organizations are making a positive impact on Canadians so nominate them now.

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