Simple Inspiration Interview with Stephen from How to Save Money.ca

How to Save Money

 

Are you looking to save money?  I have the person for you.  Stephen from How to Save Money.  His blog HowToSaveMoney.ca shows people from all walks of life how to save money on everything they buy and does it without cutting back. It’s all about getting exactly what you want for as little money as possible.  Then, the leftover money you have can be spent however you choose: savings, investments, entertainment, travel, clothes, cars, jewelry … it’s up to you.  He does not try and tell people what to spend their money on, just how to spend less of it.

Let’s learn a little more from Stephen in this week’s Simple Inspiration Interview:

What event lead you to start How to Save Money?

Beginning to earn and spend my own money in my college years really got me thinking about how much things cost. I used to think the price on the shelf was the price you paid, but then I noticed that every store had a different price for the same product.
That realization led me to do a lot of research on saving money on the things I bought which in turn led me to be active on money saving forums. I found a goldmine of information there that was inaccessible to the general public so I decided to make it easier to read and more accessible through HowToSaveMoney.ca.

What is the biggest financial challenge you see from readers of How to Save Money?

The site is more geared to teaching people to maximize the value of their dollars no matter their status in life so there is no one financial challenge that really sticks out.

How have you simplified your personal finances?

My finances are far from simplified because often the best money saving deals involve a little bit of extra work and complexity. You can earn thousands of dollars opening new accounts and trying new products and services.
Lately I have simplified some by cutting down on my accounts, always sticking with no fee banking from the start, and not worrying too much about budgeting. I find that being money conscious and trying to save on every purchase is enough to not over spend.

What was your biggest challenge or roadblock when it came simplifying?

It’s really the generous sign up offers and rewards available from having multiple accounts that makes it difficult.

How did you overcome this challenge or roadblock?

I try to balance the upfront reward with the extra time involved to make sure it is worth the effort because there is nothing I value more than my time.

How has simplifying changed your life?

The more I simplify, the more I’m able to focus on the things I enjoy in life. Again, it’s a balance, but I’m definitely open to more simplification in the future.

How long did it take you to simplify?

It’s a work in progress that will probably never be done =)

How much of your personal finances have you automated?

Most of my finances are automated at this point. The one thing I never automate is my credit card bills which I prefer to pay manually twice a month. That way I can review all the charges and ensure they are correct.

What do you automate?

All my bills really: internet, cell phone, water & sewer, home and auto insurance, ETF investing, etc. I do pay my life insurance bills to save money on their automation fees once a year.

What advice or tips would you give to others who want to simplify their finances?

Simplification is good but make sure you aren’t over simplifying. You could be missing out on some big rewards if you never try something new or re-evaluate your finances. If you put it on auto pilot, make sure you check it every now and then to ensure it isn’t steering you into an iceberg!

What’s your best savings tip?

My site is overflowing with tips on how to save money, but my best one single tip is to plan ahead when it comes to everything. A little planning will both save you and earn you a ton of money!

What book, blog, or podcast would you suggest to someone who is looking to simplify or improve their finances?

My favorite personal finance blogs other than my own are My Own Advisor, Boomer & Echo, and Million Dollar Journey.

If money was not a concern, what would you do for fun?

My favorite things to do are spend time with my family, travel, and play video games so I would probably do more of all than that!

Do you have an emergency fund established, if so how did you determine the amount needed to fund it?

I have lots of funds that can be accessed in case of an emergency, but none of them are designated as an emergency fund. I don’t believe an emergency fund is always necessary because there are lots of ways to get funds in an emergency.

Thanks Stephen for sharing your story.  As well as offering some great tips to help simplify your finances.

If you would like to read more from Stephen check out his site HowToSaveMoney.ca I am sure you will find at least one tip to help you save.  You can also  follow him on twitter via @howtosave

To read previous interviews in the series click below


If you are interested in sharing how you have simplified your financial life, send me an email and I will follow up with you.  Enjoy the rest of your week. Til next time, take one step at a time to simplify.

Your Vacation Planning Can Help with Your Financial Planning in 10 Easy Steps

10 Steps Vacation Planning

Who does not dream of going on a great vacation with family or friends? At least I know I enjoy taking a vacation each year. Planning your vacation can take some time to plan.

However, we always seem to find a way to make it happen.  We find a way to save enough money, we shop around for the best deals, and we know where we are staying and what we will be doing while on vacation.

But when it comes to our personal finances we seem to forget how to plan. We can spend more time planning our vacation than planning our financial future. Why not apply the same excitement and get it done attitude to financial planning as you do to your vacation plans. Doing this can have just as much impact on your life as a vacation or even a greater impact.

I know planning can be a daunting task. You probably ask yourself: Where do I begin? What’s step one? How can I save more?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning, especially when you haven’t planned before.

Here are 10 steps to help you create a financial plan like you were planning your vacation:

Visualize the Perfect Situation

When planning your vacation you have to decide what’s the ideal place for you to visit, activities you want to do, how you plan to travel, and what time of the year you want to travel.

The same as planning your finances. Write down what you would like your financial life to look like.  What would it take to get there? What time frame do you have to get there?

Set a Budget

You usually set a budget when planning for your vacation at least I hope you do.  Same with your finances, set a budget to manage your monthly expenses. Having a budget is the key to a good financial plan.  A well prepared budget enables you to have a clearer picture of your spending.

Decide Where You Want to Go

You have a picture of the perfect place and have set your budget. Now you have to decide where you want to go. By deciding where you are going it sets a goal to work towards. A lot of people talk generally about what they want their finances to look like but never set a specific goal or put a plan in place.

Deciding where you want to go is important as it forces you to set a definite goal. Having goals in place makes it easier to commit to.

Determine Your Time Frame

When vacation planning you usually decide if you’re traveling by car or plane and how long you will be on vacation so you can plan appropriately.

The same can be applied to your financial plan by determining the time frame it will take to reach your financial destination you desire. To help achieve your goals establish long-term and short-term financial goals.

Start Saving Money

Time to start saving! When vacation planning I am sure you save over time to cover the cost of your trip. I try to allocate funds throughout the year to my vacation fund. It makes it easier to save that way.

Same with your personal finances. Establish a saving plan. Having a saving plan in place will provide you with a financial peace of mind. Here are three savings you should consider establishing if you do not have any savings in place:

Retirement Savings

Emergency Savings

Future Spending Savings

Automate Your Bills

While you are traveling you don’t want to forget about your bills so automate them. Same is true with your personal finances get rid of your mail, go paperless, and set up online bill payment for your recurring bills to ensure you won’t miss any.

Consolidate

When packing for your trip you try to consolidate as much as you can. The more suit cases you bring adds additional cost and hassle so you consolidate the number you bring with you.   You do this by reduce the amount of items you bring with you.

Consider doing the same with your financial accounts. Consolidate your bank accounts, investment, accounts as well as providers. Consolidating will help:

  • Reduce the number of statements you receive
  • Easier to keep track of your accounts
  • Possibly reduce fees

Buy Insurance

When planning your vacation, you may consider purchasing travel insurance. This will help protection you if something occurs and you have to cancel your vacation. Maybe some occurs while you are traveling travel insurance may help cover some of the cost of this unexpected situation.

Same is true with your personal finances. You want to make sure you have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage. You do not want to be left standing uninsured when a medical, natural disaster, or other financial situation occurs which can place a significant financial burden on you.

Hire professional help

When planning a vacation you may hire a travel agent to help you arrange your travel plans and accommodations.  So when preparing your financial plan consider hiring professional advisers to help you reach your financial destination.  The ride to your destination will be smoother and quicker if you hire good financial professionals to help you.

Stay Focused and Inspired

The planning process can be long and time consuming but stay focused at the goal at hand. Here are some inspiring stories how other have simplified their finances which will help you:

Simple Inspiration Interview – How Creating a Budget Helped Mr. CBB Simplify His Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview – Taking a day off helped Peter Anderson Simplify his Finances

Simple Inspiration Interview with Jeremy from Go Curry Cracker

Use these 10 steps as a guide to help better organize and simplify your personal finances.

But no matter what your financial goals are, these steps will help you stay organized as you begin to put your financial plan in place.

So take action now by applying these simple tips to design your financial future and begin to simplify your personal finances.

What accounts everyone should have to save more money?

Savings Accounts

Do you wish you could save more money now?

Have you ever wondered if you have enough money to protect you against financial setbacks or even more, to be able to retire one day?

The only way to save more is to have accounts to hold your savings.

How many accounts do you have to save money?

I am not just counting your bank savings accounts which is probably linked to your checking account.

How many true savings accounts do you have in place now?

One

Two

Three or more

The more accounts you have the more likely you are to save more.

Take a minute to list your savings and do not count your checking account as one. The reason I would not count your checking because if you are saving money in your checking account its likely you will spend it. So if you are using your checking as a savings account stop and open a separate account to save money.

So if you cannot count your checking account and you already have a savings account open, that only one savings accounts.

So what other account can I save money in.

There are other account you can use to save money.

Here are 5 other savings accounts you want to have if you want to save more money:

You may not need all 5 depending on your financial goals and objectives but here is a list of a few you should consider:

Retirement Savings

Retirement savings account should be one account you have in place to plan. It’s one of the easiest to establish since most employers offer some sort of tax-deferred retirement savings account. So it makes it an obvious place to start your savings.

Better yet, most employers usually will help you establish the account when you become an employer of the company it’s not some hidden secret. It’s usually one of the perks of employment, they may even offer you free money to if you contribute up to a certain percentage something you must take advantage of. Your employer will usually provide you with all of the details so you do not have to determine which provider to use.

If you do not have a retirement account established, check with you employer to understand what retirement savings options are available. If your employer does not offer you retirement savings look into establishing a Roth IRA.

Emergency Fund Savings

Unexpected expenses will occur one day. We just don’t know when they will occur. Your car will need a repair or something in your home may need to be repaired. When this happens you probably ask yourself “Where will I find the money to pay for this additional expense?” These sometimes minor expenses can become a financial burden if you are not properly prepared for them.

Having an emergency fund in place can minimize the stress those unexpected expenses can have on you. An emergency fund becomes your safety net to cover those financial shortfalls when the unexpected expense occurs.

Medical Savings

You can put medical cost in the same category as unexpected repairs or emergency expenses. You never know when they will occur but you have to be prepared for them. If not, they may put you into an financial burden.

We all have some form of medical insurance but most medical insurance does not cover 100% of your medical cost. Many medical insurances require an annual deductible which must be meet before insurance covers the cost. So with this said you will probably have some unexpected medical cost throughout the year. You should establish some type of medical saving which would hold enough money to cover your deductible, prescription costs, and co-pays. You can set up a Health Savings Account through your insurance, bank, or even your work.

 College Education Savings

If you have children, you have probably read how education cost continue to increase every year. If you don’t begin to save while they are still young you may have to turn to other forms of financing the cost of tuition. Funding your child’s future college tuition is another easy savings that you should establish. The earlier you begin the less of an impact it will have on your cash flow when your child enters college

 Future Purchases Savings

There are not many things we can guarantee will happen in life. But it’s pretty close to a guaranteed that you will make a large purchase in the future. You are likely to purchase a new car, new home, or other large item in the future. Many times you may make your next purchase sooner than later.

If that is the case, who does not want to already have money saved for this upcoming purchase.

Those are 5 savings accounts you should put in place to help you save more as well as help you be prepared for unexpected expenses and future planned purchases.

 What other savings account can you think to utilize to save more money?

ACTION STEP

If you only have one of these savings account established, put an additional savings account in place so you can save more.  Try to do this within the next 30 days.

Remember take one step at a time to simplify your finances.

8 Excuses That Are Preventing You From Saving

8 excuses

How many times have you said

I want to or I should but…

We all have good intentions to do things but we seem to come up with an excuse or a reason not to do something.  This creates a road block which prevents us from accomplishing what we set out to achieve.  I say it often I would like to or I should but never do it.

The only way you will  reach the achievements you set for yourself you will have to move past these road blocks.

And instead of saying I want or should begin to say I will.

An area of our personal financial lives I heard this term is when it comes to saving money.  I hear many excuses why we are not able to save money each month.

What is your excuse for not saving money?

I should save more but I am young and I have time to catch up. 

The sooner you begin to save money the better off you will be.  You will actually save less each month if you start sooner due to the compounding effect of your money.  Save now you will not have to worry about trying to catch up as you get ready for retirement.

I save enough

You believe you save enough.  What percentage of your gross income are you saving annually?  Are you currently maximizing your retirement savings such as 401k or IRA?  Have you contributed the max to 529 plan or Health Care Saving plan?  If you are maximizing all of these accounts you get a huge high five and I want to interview you to learn how you are maximizing your savings.  If you are saving enough, your you able to retire today and not worry about going back to work.  I believe you can never save enough.  You should save as money money as you can.

I don’t earn enough income to save

Everyone is at different income levels but each of us has an opportunity to save.  Even if you are only saving a small amount each month it’s better than not saving at all.  Start with a small percentage of your income or maybe just start saving a few dollars each week.  By starting you are taking the necessary steps to save money.

I try but can’t save

What have you tried?  Try saving a small amount like $50 per month or pay check.  Saving is about attitude.  Have a can do attitude and I guarantee you will be able to save.  Take the first step by finding a system that works for you and implement it.

My expenses are high

If your expenses are too much to save, it is time for a financial assessment to see where you can possible cut some expenses.  You say you have a lot but there maybe some fat in your expenses that you can trim.  If it’s a little as $50.00 per month that is better than nothing.  What you are able to trim from your expenses?  There is always an expense you can eliminate so you can save.  What expense can you eliminate for a week so you can save some money?

I have to much debt

If too much debt is your excuse, it time to reevaluate your debt plan.  Are you not saving because you are aggressively paying down your debt?  If this is the case possible consider reducing your aggressive plan slightly.  It may not sound like the most logical thing to do.  Consider this, if you are not saving because to you putting the funds towards paying off debt that means you are not saving for an emergency fund.  If you don’t have an emergency fund,  you will probably have to use debt to cover any unexpected expenses which will put you back into debt.  I am sure that’s what you want to do.  If you have a significant amount of debt,  consider putting some money sided in case of emergency.  All of your hard work to pay down you debt can go down the drain with one unexpected expenses.  Looking for ways to eliminate debt here is a Simple 6 Step Process to Eliminate Your Debt.

I don’t know where to start saving

I hear this one often.  You don’t have to have  the perfect start but you must start some where.  There are many places you can start to save money.  The quickest and easiest way to save money is to have funds take directly out of your pay check.  This simplifies the process.  You set it up and it’s done for you each pay period.  What’s easier than that.  That’s just one place to start.  There are others but start there first if you are not sure where to begin.

I am not sure how much to save

If you are not sure how much you should be saving.  Just start with a small monthly amount each month and then raise the amount every few months if you see you have some extra money.  Also check out the automated system created by Digit.  It monitors your account to determine the amount of money you can save and then it automatically saves it for you in a separate account.  That’s a place to start if you are having difficulty determining how much you need to save.  If you want to learn more about Digit watch this video.

 

I believe those are the majority of the excuses I have heard.  Now its time to stop making excuses and actually start saving.

What’s your excuse?

What are you going to do to start saving today?

If you would like to save more sign up for my newsletter I will share tips to help you simplify your finances which will help you finds ways to save more money.