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Are you a Savvy Saver? Take the Quiz

become a savvy saverIt’s Financial Planning Week here in Canada and  TD has launched an online Savvy Saver Quiz, to help you understand more about your personal finances. Whether you are dealing with student loan debt, mounting credit card bills or looking at retiring it is always important to know where you stand financially. I can never say this enough. You can always make better choices when you are well informed. That is why a simple quiz can help you make important decisions.


Are you living paycheque to paycheque because you’re spending too much on little things that do not matter?  Do you have an emergency fund? I have often written about how important an emergency fund is?  There are so many things to think about to make you a savvy saver. Are you contributing to an RESP for your kids, an RRSP, a TFSA? There are so many ways you could be saving today. Taking the TD Savvy Saver Quiz is a great first step in a) understanding whether your finances are on track and b) getting easy advice on next steps you can take to meet your financial goals.

Why not take this quick and easy quiz and see where you stand? You may find you have some little changes you can make that can make a big difference in your life today and help you to be a savvy saver.

Changing Banks Can Be Simple

Bank Safe Combination © by Todd Ehlers




Have you ever been frustrated at your bank? Ever thought of switching banks but didn’t want the hassle or headaches? Did you know it is easier than ever to switch financial institutions?

“A new, national survey conducted by FirstOntario Credit Union, one of Canada’s leading member-owned financial cooperatives, reveals that the average Canadian has been with the same bank for more than 15 years, yet more than 40 per cent of those surveyed are unhappy with the high service fees their bank charges them. “ They asked 2500 hundred Canadians this question and this is what they found.

Canadians like me are so very tired of bank fees. We are all looking for ways to save, and reducing or even eliminating bank fees is on the mind of many. Most Canadians put up with the bank fees simply because they think it will a hassle to change banks.

Let me make it clear: changing banks can be very simple!

In that same survey 42% of Canadians said they weren’t happy with were they were. I think all the banks need to look at that figure. An other 10% said that even though they thought of switching they simply did not want the headache, or thought it would be too hard.

How wrong they are, switching banks here in Canada can be simple and painless.

First Ontario Credit Union today released 5 steps that you can use to switch banks, even if a credit union is not for you, it is a simple process.



There are serious misconceptions among Canadians about what is involved in switching financial institutions, and for many people even the thought of switching can be daunting. The reality is that switching is simple and straightforward and we can even help you switch. Here are five simple steps to get you started.





Any big decision requires a bit of planning and getting organized. Setting a date will give you time to plan according to a timeline that works for you.


There is nothing like a deadline to get most of us moving!





As simple as this might sound, it may surprise you how many people you know have actually switched banks or gone to a community-based credit union. Their experience may prove useful, and they can point out shortcuts or give you tips that could come in handy.


More than 10 million Canadians are members of an affiliated credit union or caisse populaire across Canada, drawn by lower banking fees and the ability to have a voice in how their financial institution is run.





Generally, you are able to open a new account with an initial deposit. Plus, at a credit union you will also become a member and co-owner at the same time.

At FirstOntario Credit Union, getting started is easy. Click here to find out how we can take care of most of the details – free of charge.





Ensure your new account is fully functioning:


* Order new cheques and a new credit card

* Reroute your direct debits – we can help! Click here to find out how.


* Reroute your direct deposits – ask the credit union for a direct deposit authorization form that includes your new account information. Give this form to your employer and anyone else who makes direct deposits to your account. It may take one or more pay cycles for the change to be made, so keep your old chequing account open and watch for the switch.


If you have direct deposits for payroll or government cheques, FirstOntario will also provide you with a form to assist you with switching over any incoming deposits you may have on the old account.



Online banking has become a standard offering by most financial institutions. FirstOntario provides Members with a number of easy, convenient ways to bank and access your money. You may even want to use more than one type of access, depending on your location, the time of day, and the type of service you need.


Now even if you are not thinking of a credit union, these steps will work no matter where you are thinking of.

I want to add an extra step here:


Find what is going to work best for you, and your money needs. Honestly, being with a credit union served me well for years but at this time it doesn’t work well, so I found a solution that did. The reason a credit union doesn’t work at this time, I can’t get face time with a teller close by. For me location was an important element in deciding.

*this is a paid post by First Ontario, and #myownbank. Even with it being a paid post, my opinions and thoughts remain my own. First Ontario is also the paid sponsor for the #cdnmoney chat on Jan. 11, 2012. They will not have input at the conversation, but will be watching the feed to see what thoughts real Canadians have about banking.

Choosing the Right Financial Institution

Bank © by 401K

How did you decide where you bank? What were or are you looking for in your financial institution? How do you know recognize a great bank?

These are just some of the questions we are going to talk about this Wednesday as part of the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter.

For me I have personally banked with a few credit unions along the way, and 3 of Canada’s big banks. Most recently I’ve been banking with BMO, Desjardins, and ING Direct. I am new customer to the last one on the list.

I was first attracted to BMO because of their partnership with Airmiles, and over the years I have seen several dividends from it. But I also love my little home branch on the Danforth. Most times when I have to visit a branch I get good service and when I have had a problem with the account I can call 24/7 and get an answer. In the almost 10 years I have been with them I have only once ever had a bad customer service experience. But I pay through the nose. I hate the fees upon fees at the BMO. So because BMO charges so much to look after my money I started to look at other banks and do the comparisons.

Last year I paid out over $300 in fees, and I am a small customer, so I wonder what others had to pay. As well the interest rates are not the best at BMO.

I started banking with Desjardins, the largest credit union in North America quite by accident. I had been banking with the Province of Ontario when they had their own financial institution which they then sold to Desjardins. My little branch in Hamilton, and then my branch on the Danforth( which they closed) served me well for many years. I loved the service. I loved the low fees and they knew me. Even when I was a welfare mom, and this is where I banked during those hard years I always was treated with respect. I was very sad when they actually closed the branch on the Danforth. The staff there were wonderful. My account there has been practically dormant because I no longer find in convenient to get to the location, and I don’t want to get dinged with an ATM fee.

When Desjardins closed the Danforth location I started looking at other banks on the Danforth and decided on BMO because of the partnership with Airmiles at the time, as I look back not necessarily the best reason for choosing a financial institution.

This time around as I am looking to rebuild credit, and save for a future. I looked a little more carefully, and with an agenda in mine. I will be honest if I had found a credit union nearby I may have chosen one but decided on ING Direct. Why?

Here is what I was looking for:

1. Low fees or nonexistent fees for accounts with even less than $1,OOO that allow for a number of debit transactions for free, I use debit quite a bit.

2. A fair interest rate.

3. Smart, friendly customer service, make me feel like you care about my money.

4. As I rebuild I will be looking at things like perhaps RRSP, mortgage etc so they had to have good products for these areas of my life as well.

5. Since I am a digital mom, a decent online presence.

6. ATM’s where I need them.

I think when we look at banking and what we want and need we have to know we can change banks if you aren’t getting what you need, you can find a lower rate, higher rate, better customer service, whatever the key elements are for you. Remember though banks can change fees, products etc. so it is important to keep up to date on what your bank is doing. If you don’t like what you are getting you can find often a bigger bang for your dollar, meaning you spending less, and getting more value. How about you? What is important to you when it comes to banking? and choosing a bank?