START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
Get to know where you spend, how it makes you feel and what really matters when it comes to your money!
Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
If there’s one thing I know about personal finance, it’s that I will never stop learning new and unique ways to manage my money. Over the past five years, I’ve made many changes to my style of saving, budgeting and spending habits. So, anytime a new idea or product comes on the scene, I like to take my time to explore whether or not this will help with my budgeting style.
First things first, I am a big believer in doing regular money check-ins. I set up one check-in each month to review all of my finances and prepare for the month ahead.
My money check-in meetings include:
A solid look at any upcoming or unexpected earnings
A thorough review of the previous months spending and the hold-your-breath moment where you find out whether you overspent
A review of the upcoming month to prepare for any reason my expenses might shift
And with that, a list all of the adjustments to make in my spreadsheets
In the months where I overspend, I attempt to find out what the cause was and find a solution to avoid making that mistake again. In September, I got a little bit too excited at the thought of the upcoming holiday seasons and started to buy items that aren’t essential, and that didn’t fit in my budget.
I spent $60 on a Costco membership (because snax) and over $150 on Christmas gifts. Therefore, I had to dip into my non-essential spending for October, which was spookier than Halloween.
Brightside is a banking app for Albertans interested in taking control of their finances quickly and conveniently. Like yours truly, Brightside understands that you shouldn’t have to stop spending money on the things you love to save for your future. To help, they created an app and integrated spend card so you can better manage your money and meet financial goals.
As you know, given my lack of control with overspending during the holidays, my financial goal of living within my means is my number one priority. I knew that a spend card you could pre-load would be a huge benefit to have. But why?
Brightside is for Albertans (me – and probably you), which means it’s a perfect fit. But beyond the apparent residency requirement, it’s also an excellent financial tool for anyone who wants to:
Live their life while still saving money
Spend and save without switching banks
Avoid account and transaction fees
Receive notifications that help you track your spending
Do all of this without having to do a credit check
One of my favourite things to do after downloading a new banking app is to dive into the features that can help me take my financial game to another level. After jumping in and exploring, I immediately knew that Brightside had everything I would need.
By far, my favourite feature within the Brightside banking app is the option to set up individual accounts for up to 10 financial goals. Whether you’re saving for an emergency fund or a post-pandemic vacation, you can separate your goals and see your progress individually, rather than one catch-all savings account.
How do I use this feature?
I currently have four separate accounts in my Brightside app. My non-essential spending, emergency fund, future home renovations savings, and my daughter’s activity fund.
Many people ask why I keep these goals separate, and more importantly, why I would want these savings accounts in a separate banking app. The answer is relatively simple: if you can’t see it, you lose the temptation to spend it. It’s much easier to save for my financial goals when the accounts are separate and out of the day-to-day banking that I check more frequently.
Can I get a woohoo for Brightside solving my overspending problem from last month with one single feature? The Brightside Spend Card is a loadable Mastercard® that helps you spend your money with control. Not only that, but you also get 0.5% cashback, which means you’ll be saving even more.
You can use your card worry-free, knowing that there are unlimited free transactions and that you can use the card anywhere that Mastercard® is accepted. Including online – or on your Starbucks app *wink face*. Like most banking cards, you can freeze your card if you lose it or fear it’s been stolen, and you also get purchase protection for 90 days.
How do I use this feature?
For my non-essential spending, the Brightside spend card limits how much I can buy in a month. Therefore, at the start of a new month, I transfer $200 onto my spend card. That $200 is for me to spend freely on anything that makes me happy. From coffee to sushi, the spend card helps restrict me in a non-threatening way and keep track of my habits so that I don’t go overboard.
Suppose you aren’t taking advantage of round-ups in any other banking app. In that case, this is an essential part of how I build my emergency savings without feeling the pinch each month – and Brightside is all about it.
With this option, you can round up any purchase from your chosen debit or credit card to the nearest $1, $2 or $5. Each week, they’ll round up those selected savings and transfer the money to a Brightside bucket of your choice.
How do I use this feature?
Because I’m already using the round-up option in literally every other place I can, I opted to go for the round up to the nearest dollar. Although it might not seem that significant, in the first week of using Brightside, I saved nearly $5 extra into my daughter’s activity fund (which can go a long way when we need to hit the dollar store on a rainy day).
Another winning feature that you can find in Brightside is setting up automated savings to make achieving your financial goals that much easier to work into a budget. The money can transfer from your current bank, to make the transition to individual savings goals that much easier.
You can customize the amount of money you save weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, just like you would with most savings accounts. But, you can also set this automation to stop after three months, six months or one year – because you’re a boss and already ran the numbers to know exactly how many days until you hit your savings goal.
How do I use this feature?
My go-to automated savings goal that I use is a small weekly transfer of around $10-20 into each account on Fridays or Saturdays. I do this because when I wasn’t managing my money, I was spending about $100 each weekend on things that I couldn’t afford.
When I finally made the switch and turned around my financial life, I didn’t notice when that money would transfer out into savings goals. It became second nature to check my bank account on Monday and see a chunk of money missing. Only now, I’m confident that the money went to a productive place.
Downloading Brightside is easy. But I have to say that choosing a spend card and setting it up is even easier, taking less than five minutes after getting the card in the mail (three of which I spent peeling the credit card glue off because it’s oddly satisfying).
You can download Brightside from the app store, and once you have the app, you can create an account with just an email address and a password you won’t forget (add it to the list). To set up your spend card, you need your Alberta-issued government ID and a cute smile for the selfies they’ll take to confirm your identity. As someone who is overly cautious about trying out new banking apps, I can seriously appreciate these security measures.
Once you have the card, you can enter your security code and load money onto it by connecting your daily banking information. From there, it’s all about having fun setting up and naming your new accounts and focusing on preparing realistic automatic savings transfers.
Hands down, the best part about Brightside is the ability to control my spending habits without having to feel like I’m restricting myself too much. It helps take away the stress of continually monitoring my accounts while still giving me the freedom to customize my financial life in the best way possible.
The worst part is that it’s only available for Albertans. I know all my other Canadian pals will feel left out right now *sad face*.
Some budgeting and banking apps, although equally excellent, charge you for the more necessary features that help you stay on top of your money. Brightside does not. This app (and the cute spend card choices) is entirely free to download and use.
It might seem unbelievable, but Brightside’s mission is to help Albertans build good financial habits and eliminate the stress that money can cause – particularly in tough times like 2020.
If you’re like me and want to curb your spending before the upcoming excitement of Christmas and the New Year, it might be the time to join us on the Brightside.
*silence floods the page*
Sorry, but it wouldn’t be a Mixed Up Money blog without at least one pun.
This post was sponsored by Brightside, but all personal thoughts and opinions throughout this blog post are my own. I am not an affiliate with Brightside, but instead, I am sharing this information because I genuinely use and love this app.
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.
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