With a growing body of financial education available on social media or a quick visit to a search engine, it can be tricky to separate relevant advice from clickbait, especially for younger Canadians.
To learn which advice actually makes a difference to your bank account, The Canadian Press spoke to three millennials who offered the words of wisdom that worked for them.
Treat your credit card like your debit card
After reading David Bach’s book “The Automatic Millionaire,” Stefan Palios, a 29-year-old freelance writer and coach for freelancers in Windsor, N.S, started treating his credit card just like his debit card by only using it for necessary expenses and paying it in full every month.
“When you know you have to pay off your credit card in full at the end of the month (or risk 20 per cent compounding interest) that becomes a good motivation not to be frivolous. Or, at least it was for me,” he said.
“I even paid my rent on my credit card, which gave me not only really good rewards, but also a very, very good credit score,” he added, since his balance was paid each month.
In early 2015, Palios’s landlord at the time began accepting credit card payments on RentMoola.
“You get charged a payment processing fee, but my rewards were slightly more than the fee so I was still profiting. The real reward for me, though, was flexibility. I didn’t have to make sure the exact dollar amount was sitting in my bank account on rent day for withdrawal.”
“Further, the flexibility of it all is so underrated. It’s not just the rewards and credit score. It’s the fact that I can buy what I need now and pay it off when my next paycheque comes in. That’s enabled me to keep depositing into my investments plus buy in bulk, which has led to major savings.”
Palios makes sure he doesn’t overspend on his credit card by only charging items such as groceries that he knows he can repay when his next cheque rolls in. “The bigger stuff, like vacations, I plan for in advance to ensure I can pay the entire balance off each month.”
Make saving a top priority by setting up auto withdrawals
Jack Harding, a 29-year-old managing partner at Diner Agency in Toronto, said the best advice he received was to treat saving and investing just like your rent or mortgage — an absolute necessity.
Prior to that advice, he spent his early twenties figuring out to the penny what he could and could not spend every month and treated each month’s remainder as a chance to splurge.
His mindset changed after spending time following financial educational channels on Instagram and YouTube.
“[Their advice] totally changed my approach to finances,” he said. “I view savings as a non-negotiable and set up automatic withdrawals to avoid temptation.”
He decides how much to transfer by looking at his income and subtracting rent, food, and other necessities such as internet and phone. “I made sure my savings was a much larger chunk than my fun money and treated it as though I had no choice about it — hence the auto withdrawals,” he said.
Reassess your relationship to material possessions
Keagan Perlette, a 28-year-old freelance copywriter in Calgary, said self-help author Eckhart Tolle inspired her to find fulfilment in the beauty and joy around her, rather than material things.
Instead of purchasing items that promise to improve her life, she’s more conscious of the personal value of what she buys, she said. This advice was particularly helpful to her when she was paying down student debt and felt like she couldn’t have anything beautiful or frivolous in her life.
“Making discretionary purchases has become a slow and reflective process for me and it’s really helped me curb impulse buying and … cultivate the patience to save up for larger purchases or investment pieces that will be well worth their price,” she said.
She saves toward higher quality items and considers whether purchases will work for the long term.
“To make sure I’m spending my money on the things that will actually bring me joy long-term, I ‘keep’ them somewhere, often a Pinterest board or in an Instagram folder.”
Perlette pivoted to online shopping almost exclusively during the pandemic and now uses these digital spaces to admire beautiful items without taking them home.
“So many of the lifestyle items I’d like — everything from extra-nice linen sheets to Glossier makeup — are really selling a narrative and an aesthetic,” Perlette said. Being in marketing has given her extra insight into how such narratives are crafted, she said.
“Sometimes it’s enough to just go immerse myself in a brand’s Instagram content by enjoying the beauty of the items ‘in the store’ and leaving it there or finding other ways to bring that aspirational vibe into my life more cheaply.”