In Collaboration with Koho
Are you tired of living paycheque to paycheque? Stop watching your bank balance dwindle to zero before payday and take control today. I sat down with Sherry Andrew, a Certified Financial Coach at KOHO, for a money masterclass. She shared incredible budgeting tips that will help you spend less, save more, and live well without ditching the stuff you love. Get ready to become a budgeting ninja with these expert money moves!
- But first, what is KOHO?
- Get to know the pro (she’s just like us!)
- Prepare your mind & the rest will follow
- Getting started with KOHO budgeting tools
- How to stick with it (and not freak out when you don’t)
- Stop the bleeding
- Prioritize your expenses
- Set realistic goals
- Find easy ways to save money
- Give yourself a round of applause
- Ingenious tips for your toolbox
- Need help to stay on track?
But first, what is KOHO?
Show of hands: how many of you wish there was an app that could help you get your financial crap together? Well, that’s exactly what KOHO is, a Canadian fintech company with a mobile app and Prepaid Mastercard that makes you the CEO of your own money.
You can track all your spending in real-time, earn cash back on purchases, and even set savings goals within the app. Every penny in your account earns bank-beating interest until the moment you spend it. Plus, with features like RoundUps and The Vault, you can save extra dough without even thinking about it. No more eating Mr. Noodles until payday, I mean, unless you want to.
Get to know the pro (she’s just like us!)
Let’s spill the tea on how Sherry became a Certified Professional Financial Coach. It all started when life hit her with a curveball – she lost her job out of nowhere. At the time, her budget was just a bunch of scribbles on paper and her credit card bills were sky-high. Until this point, poor Sherry had been stuck working way more overtime than she ever wanted to, missing out on life and precious time with her husband and kid. I’ve been there, what about you?
After getting fired, she knew something had to change, but where the heck do you start? Luckily, with some help from a career coach and a lot of certification courses, Sherry was able to turn things around and find her true calling as a financial coach for people like us.
Prepare your mind & the rest will follow
Before you even think about a budget, Sherry says we should take a trip down memory lane and really think about our experience with money growing up. “Good or bad, those experiences stick with us and impact us more than we know,” she explained.
Then we need to find our “Why”: why are we ready for change, and what will happen if we keep doing what we’re doing? For me, I was sick of the stress and losing sleep over unexpected expenses. I wanted to feel in control of my life, not like Katy Perry’s house of cards one blow from caving in.
And I wanted to stop working two jobs that were killing my physical and mental health. If I stayed on this path, I was headed for a brutal burnout.
Next, we need to “flip the script,” says Sherry. Instead of associating the word “Budget” with restriction, think of it as “a path to your goals, and a path to the life you want,” she explains. A budget is kind of like the rules of the road. Speed limits don’t take away our freedom to drive when and where we want, they support our journey by helping us get there safely.
Getting started with KOHO budgeting tools
Now let’s get down to business. To start using the KOHO budgeting tool, you need to have a KOHO account and download the app on your smartphone. Once you log in, scroll down to the blue “See All Transaction” button at the bottom of your screen. Next, tap on “Insights” followed by “Edit My Budget.”
Here, you will see different categories such as “Fixed Expenses,” “Bills and Services,” “Eating and Drinking,” etc. This is where you’ll enter your after-tax monthly income and create spending limits for your expense categories.
Create your budget
To create a new budget category, click on “Edit My Budget”. Select spending categories from the list to set monthly spending limits. For example, if you want to reign in those painful grocery bills, tap “Groceries” and type in something like $400 as your monthly limit.
Track your spending
After creating your budget, it's time to track your spending. Whenever you make a purchase with your KOHO Prepaid Mastercard, it will automatically be categorized based on the merchant code. This gives you a great visual to see where your money is going and where you need to tighten the screws.
For example, grocery store purchases will fall under the “Grocery” category while restaurants will fall under “Eating and Drinking.” You can manually change a transaction's category by clicking on it and selecting another category from the drop-down menu.
Stay on track
The best part of KOHO's budgeting tool is that it holds you accountable by showing you how much money you have left in each category. Set goals and get a quick visual update with a colour-coded progress wheel.
RoundUp is by far my favourite KOHO feature because it puts my savings rate on steroids at the tap of a button. It works by rounding up every purchase made with your KOHO card to the nearest amount you want like $1, $2, $5, or $10. For example, if you choose a $2 RoundUp then buy something for $4.50, KOHO will round to the nearest $2 and move that extra $1.50 to your savings. Pro-tip, move it to the Vault so you won’t spend it.
What’s the Vault? It's like a secret hiding spot for your cash that you don't want to use right now, which is so much better than stuffing it under your mattress. Money in here can’t accidentally be spent because your Vault funds are off-limits unless you move them to your Spendable account.
How to stick with it (and not freak out when you don’t)
Creating a budget is one thing, but sticking to it is a whole other kettle of fish. You’re human and the universe can be a real a-hole sometimes. It happens to the best of us. Here’s how to stick to your budget and overcome challenges.
Stop the bleeding
The easiest way to stick with it is to see where you’ve been bleeding money. Open up KOHO, review what you’ve been spending on, and create a plan of attack – literally. For example, if you find yourself shopping online a lot or getting late-night munchies delivered too often, uninstall Amazon and DoorDash pronto. For a gentler approach, start with deleting your payment information from apps to make impulse purchases super inconvenient.
Prioritize your expenses
Another way to stick to your budget is to lock down those essentials. Pay your bills first and contribute to your savings account before spending on other things like entertainment or dining out. Put the due dates on the calendar where you can see them or create alarms on your phone so you know what’s coming due and for how much. This way you’re always prepared.
Set realistic goals
Setting goals you can actually achieve is critical. If you go too hard right off the hop, you’re more likely to experience “budget burnout” and fall off the wagon. Be honest about what you can afford and adjust accordingly if necessary. Don't set yourself up for failure by aiming too high or expecting perfection.
When the inevitable happens and you overspend, give yourself grace. Think about why it happened and try to identify triggers like your mood, stress level, and environment. This will help you avoid the same trip-ups going forward.
Find easy ways to save money
Picking off that low-hanging fruit can save a ton without cutting back on what you love. Look for deals on groceries or buy items in bulk when they're on sale, switch off lights when leaving the room, use public transportation instead of driving alone, and look for cheaper service providers for things like your phone, internet, and cable.
Our favourite hacks include Flipp App for coupons, Flashfood for cheaper groceries, and discount services like Public Mobile for your phone plan and CanCom for internet. Ask your credit card company to reduce your rate or transfer the balance to a low-interest card. Find out if you can save money bundling your home and car insurance, or shop around for lower premiums.
Then, cash in on those payments by making them with your KOHO Prepaid card. The free Easy Plan gives you 1% cash back on groceries, bills, and services. But you can get up to 2% cash back on more purchase categories by upgrading to a paid subscription plan.
Add up the savings and your cash back, then move that money to your Vault each month so you don’t spend it. Boom! You just boosted your savings without skipping Starbucks.
Give yourself a round of applause
No matter how small, a win is a win! Stay motivated by celebrating progress and milestones. Think of budget-friendly ways you can reward yourself when you achieve a goal. For example, when you pay off a credit card or hit a specific balance in your savings account, treat yourself to your favourite latte, dessert with friends, or that movie you’ve been dying to see.
Use KOHO to create goals for bigger things like a much-needed vacation or a big purchase. Tap “Save” at the bottom of your screen, followed by the “ + “ next to “Your Savings Goals.” Name your goal, enter how much you want to save, and when you want to reach your goal. Enter the amount you have to contribute right now, or skip if you plan to start at a later date, then choose an action plan if you miss a contribution. KOHO will track your progress from your Savings dashboard.
Ingenious tips for your toolbox
Managing financial challenges can be tough, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. Plus, budgeting is not set in stone and should flex as your needs and goals change. Sherry gave me these awesome tips to budget like a boss:
Need help to stay on track?
Sometimes we need an accountability buddy to keep our eye on the prize. KOHO Financial Coaches are like personal finance gurus, giving you the lowdown on all things money. They're certified experts who can help you make smart decisions with your cash to reach your financial goals. They'll sit down with you and chat about your finances, helping you make a budget, save money, improve your credit score or pay off debt.
Smart money moves should be easy and accessible for everyone. That's why KOHO Extra subscribers get free access to an in-house financial coach, who's also an Accredited Financial Counsellor in Canada. So whether you want to save your cash back or pay off credit card debt, your coach has your back.