‘Ottawa’ Ask an Adult,’ Valuable Budget Lessons with Personal Finance Coach Chantel Chapman
Welcome to Ask An Adult, a series on money management for millennials by Mogo’s financial fitness coach Chantel Chapman. As a millennial herself and self-proclaimed “adult in training,” Chapman has made it her mission to educate people about financial literacy basics, from day-to-day spending habits to smart savings practices and credit scores. In her past life, Chapman was a mortgage broker, a job in which she quickly recognized the widespread need for financial literacy education that is digestible, straightforward and to the point.
Chapman is a firm believer that people at every age find themselves making financial choices that aren’t always in their best interest. With Ask An Adult, which will appear every three weeks, she answers direct questions from millennials, entrepreneurs and parents interested in educating their children — or themselves — about how they can manage their finances more effectively in a language that makes them sit up and take notice.
Chapman has dedicated her career to working with teams and jump-starting anyone ready to dive into the world of “adulting” or entrepreneurship. In addition, she hosts Mogo’s Adulting 101 events, providing practical advice to audiences on financial literacy and entrepreneurship.
In our #AskAnAdult series this week, Alyssa Lau asks:
Q Hey Chantel! Staying on budget is tough, especially when there is so much good food to buy. What are your favourite tips when it comes to budgeting? Do you use any phone apps or tools to help?
A Hey Alyssa! First: I feeeel you, girl. My guiltiest spend is on food. I buy ALL the food. Smaller-cost items are usually the ones that get you. Often, you don’t put much thought into them on an individual level, but food steadily shrinks your bank account while your waistline grows (mine anyways).
Another one that gets me is app purchases and subscriptions. For example, when people subscribe for things like music-streaming apps, on-time payments are automatically set up. For that reason, they can be suuuper easy to lose track of! I like to limit myself to two apps that I absolutely need and two apps that I really want — it adds up to about $40 a month on average, which I think is totally reasonable for anyone’s budget!
Here are some of my personal budgeting tips:
Know how much money you have coming in at the beginning of the month and make a plan for it. So simple but absolutely mandatory!
Set a day rate, playa: Calculate how much you spend on stuff that gets you through the day and don’t go over that rate. There is a golden rule to this, though: don’t ever borrow from the future (duh). If you don’t spend it all in one day, you can carry forward that $$. This method works so well that Mogo will be adding a “Daily Spend” section on its Mogocard account coming.
Not saying it’s healthy to make it rain at the clubs, but going out for drinks on Friday shouldn’t leave you stressing about your funds on Monday.
Give yourself some “Rick Ross” money. Like Rick’s song, it’s tempting to BMF (Blow Money Fast). To keep myself in control with my spending, I give myself some money that I can spend guilt-free each month. Ironically, the success to budgeting is to give yourself a little money each month to BMF. It’s like dieting: if you eliminate carbs, sugar, gluten and fat all at once, I can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to have a cheat day seven days a week and start sweating when you see doughnuts.
It’s the same with budgeting — your Rick Ross money will let you satisfy your guilt-free spending in a controlled way and take away the urges of overspending because you’re not putting excessive restraints on yourself. I also separate my discretionary spending money from my chequing account that has my $$ for bills. If you can clearly see how much you have in your spending account — you will know where you are at without “accidentally” dipping into the #adulting fund meant to pay your bills.
I have tried some budgeting apps but I find them to be a lot of work and I end up not using them after a while (aka every diet I’ve tried, ever).
My preferred method is to sit myself down, write out how much of a financial mess-up I can potentially be on a day-to-day basis and create my monthly (or weekly for all you keeners) budget based on those numbers. Budgeting is not complicated, but if you need an outline there are a lot of great templates on the Internet! Doing it old school makes you more mindful. Pairing this with smart tools like an account just for your spending and my tips above will keep you in shape.
Q What are some things you do to make sure you stay on budget while travelling?
A There are a couple options when trying to stay on budget when you’re traveling:
- Be rich
- Set daily budgets before you leave
We are more likely to be less diligent with our budgets when we travel, but it’s all about pre-planning and continuing to check in each day.
I totally understand how nerve-racking it is to check in on your own bank account because it usually happens when you think you might be broke. But if you check daily, you can track your spending and see where you’re sitting financially and not have to hold your breath every time you use your debit card.
Here are my travelling tips:
When booking hotels and flights always delete your cookies before browsing (or open a private window). Travel sites straight up nail you when they see that you’ve visited their site in the past and will jack up their prices intentionally.
Know your day rate and stick to it.
You can usually get the best exchange rate by swiping your debit/credit card or taking out cash from ATMs locally.
Do what the locals do. Always stay away from the tourist spots, as they are usually overpriced and probably not as cool as they look on Instagram.
Do you have a question to ask? Send your questions to email@example.com
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