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Money 2020: Experts Share Top Tips To Jump-Start Your Finances

Rachel Surman Dec 22, 2019

Borrowell teamed up with some of Canada's top financial bloggers to get their advice to help you jump-start your finances in the New Year! Let's see what they have to say.

Desirae — Half Banked: “It’s okay if you can’t save the recommended percentages just yet."

money 2020 - des

Who is Desirae?

Desirae is the blogger behind Half Banked, a personal finance blog for millennials who want to manage their money and still have a life. She believes you can use your money to live the life you want and she’s on a mission to help her readers do just that.

What’s an important part of her story?

A big part Desirae’s work on Half Banked has been informed by the first few years of her career. At that point in her life, she couldn’t have told you the difference between an RRSP and a TFSA and she believed that she may be stuck in a place of under-earning. She remembers those early years of her finances vividly as they were a major source of stress. 

Desirae’s best piece of advice?

"Personal finance rules are the pirate’s code of money. Personal finance can be a daunting place when you’re first starting out — especially when it seems like there are rules for everything. There’s usually always a good reason for the rule, but if you’re just getting started, think of them as pirate’s code — more like guidelines. It’s okay if you can’t save recommended percentages just yet, look at them as guidelines and something that gets you one step further towards a win." Read more of Desirae’s advice.

Barry Choi — Money We Have: “Learn the basics of personal finance."

barry choi personal finance - money 2020

Who is Barry?

Barry Choi runs the blog Money We Have, one of Canada’s most trusted sources for money and travel advice. He’s a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes regular media appearances. After having a personal finance advisor deceive him, Barry decided to fire him. He went on to educate himself on personal finance because “no one will care more about my money than me.”

What’s an important part of his story?

Barry was fortunate to have parents that taught him the basics behind personal finance. They encouraged him to start saving and investing for retirement at a young age. So at 16, when he received his first paycheque, he took their advice and started investing in his future. While he didn’t always follow all their advice (like practicing Cantonese), he always listened to all their money advice. 

Barry’s best piece of advice?

"If someone offers you free money, take it! One of the biggest mistakes I made when I was young was not joining his company’s defined benefit pension plan as soon as I could. If your company offers you a pension, RRSP matching or a company stock plan, join it and max out the benefits." Read more of Barry’s advice.

Sarah — Smile and Conquer: “Worry less about material things! Instead give yourself the gift of experiences.”

Sarah - money 2020

Who is Sarah?

Sarah writes the blog Smile and Conquer and covers topics from debt to investing, to buying your first home. It’s her “little section of the internet where I talk about money.” After graduating from university, she took an admin job in finance. But as much as she enjoys her career and having an impact on how people live their lives, something was missing. She was learning a ton about money and thought a blog would be the perfect way to combine her newfound love of finance with her old love of writing. “I took the leap, and Smile and Conquer was born. I knew little to nothing about blogging, but it’s been a fun adventure!”

What’s an important part of her story?

Sarah shares that money, even if you're not thinking about it now, will be a more significant part of your life then you could ever imagine. She suggest saving, being smart about credit, and never being afraid to ask for what you want. She recommends that we nurture friendships and most important, spent money on the things you love! Then it will never be wasted.

Sarah’s best piece of advice?

"Establishing good money habits should start now. Don’t wait until you have a full-time paycheque, start practicing when you’re only earning a small amount and don’t have a lot of expenses. Take the time to figure out what you enjoy doing (hint it’s probably food, travel, and concerts) and allow yourself to spend guilt-free in those areas. Within reason, of course, you’re not Beyonce!" Read more of Sarah’s advice.

Sean Cooper — Author of Burn Your Mortgage: "Learn the various factors that make up a good credit score in Canada so you can improve it."

Money 2020 - Sean Cooper

Who is Sean?

Sean Cooper is a man of many talents but most notably known for burning his mortgage and writing the bestselling book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for Canadians. He made news headlines around the world when at 30, he paid off the mortgage on his home in a mere three years! He relates his success and “extreme achievement” to simple yet effective lifestyle changes that anyone — from new buyers to experienced homeowners — can make to pay down their mortgage sooner.

In addition to being a bestselling author, Sean is also an in-demand personal finance journalist, speaker, and fee-only money coach specializing in budgeting, debt management and pensions.

What’s an important part of his story?

Sean recognizes that if his parents hadn’t sat down with him to talk about credit cards like they did, he may have ended up like a lot of his friends in university — burdened with credit card debt and a poor credit score. He equates the decent credit score in his 20s to his financially responsible parents, who taught him the importance of using credit responsibly.

Sean’s best piece of advice?

"Learn the various factors that make up a good credit score in Canada and then take the necessary steps to build and improve your credit score so that when you’re ready to apply for credit or a mortgage, you’ll be in great shape. To make sure your credit score is heading in the right direction, use monitoring tools to keep track of it monthly." Read more of Sean’s advice.

Bridget Casey — Money After Graduation: “I wish it had been as easy to check my credit score then as it is now. Check your credit score!"

Money 2020- BC

Who is Bridget?

Bridget Casey is the founder and content creator of Money After Graduation. From paying off debt to investing in the stock market, Bridget provides clear, actionable advice that will transform your finances. Bridget holds a BSc. from the University of Alberta and an MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary. She is regularly featured as a millennial finance expert as a guest on BNN and CBC and was recognized as one of Alberta’s Top Young Innovators in 2016.

What’s an important part of her story?

Bridget remembers her credit score as a vague number the banks knew, but she didn’t, which often left her wondering why credit card applications often came up denied. "If I had been able to easily check my credit score when I was young, I would have been able to do a better job at taking care of it. I wouldn’t have received one denied credit card application after another with no idea how to fix it. Instead, I’d know exactly where I was going wrong and how to change it."

Bridget’s best piece of advice?

"Tracking your credit score is an essential metric of your financial health. Lenders will use it to assess your reliability as a borrower, but you should use it also to assess how well you’re doing financially and if you’re managing your debt appropriately and if you know where all your money is going." Read more of Bridget’s advice.

Michelle Summerfield — The Classy Simple Life: “Invest in your future and learn everything you can from whoever you can — both the good and the bad. It’s never too late!”

Money 2020 - michelle summerfield

Who is Michelle?

Michelle Summerfield is the founder and content creator behind The Classy Simple Life. From living simply, to happiness and success, to achieving the level of money and abundance you desire, Michelle is on a mission to help you live your best life and become the best version of you. After divorce and job loss, she made growth a priority in life and went from bystander to a woman who actively creates her life. She helps others to create their own story and inspires others to think bigger, brighter and create the life they truly desire. She is also a personal development writer, motivational speaker and aspiring life coach. 

What’s an important part of her story?

Michelle was fortunate to have what she calls a “Warren Buffet”-like father. A hardcore saver and very money-wise person, he taught her at age 16 the importance of opening a bank account, a retirement savings account, and regularly putting money into each. While she didn’t always follow his advice, a few things stuck, and this spender learned the valuable lesson of wants versus needs.

Michelle’s best piece of advice?

"BE abundant. Start practicing abundance early and practice it before your bank account reflects it. When you practice and embody abundance, you feel incredible, and you become an unstoppable force. You become a magnet for all the goodness to flow into your life." Read more of Michelle’s advice.

The last word

Thanks to all of our financial bloggers for this amazing advice. As you can see, you have what it takes to improve your financial well-being! If one of your New Year's Resolutions is to take control of your finances, the Borrowell app is a great place to start. You can access the Borrowell Credit Coach to get personalized tips to improve your credit score and soon, you'll be able to access Borrowell Boost - Canada's first bill-tracker and predictive advance - on a subscription basis. Download the Borrowell app to jump-start your finances!


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