The Best Online Tools For The Financially Clueless

The other night over the phone I had to answer a series of security questions related to my banking history in order to access my online banking account. I panicked when I realized I didn’t know any of the answers. I tried to silently mouth the questions to my husband so he could Cyrano de Bergerac me the answers. I know it’s cheating, but I’m clueless when it comes to our household finances.

But this hasn’t always been the case.

I used to be financially savvy. I got my first credit card when I was in high school and never missed a payment. I saved up the cash for my first car and paid my own way through university without the assistance of a student loan.

So what happened?!

Short answer: life

I got married and started a family and things got complicated. One of our children has special needs which require a vast portion of my time, energy and brain power to keep on top of everything.

Ask me the date of my daughter’s next physio appointment or the dosage
of a certain medication or how to read a recent
cardiac scan and I’m all over it. But ask me the amount of our monthly mortgage
payment or the current limit on my Mastercard and I’ll just stare
at you, head cocked to one side, looking awkward.

So my money wise husband and I developed a plan to divide and conquer—I take care of all things kid related and domestic, while he takes care of the finances and recycling. Though if I’m honest, he’s been slacking big time on the recycling.

I recently came to the sobering conclusion however, that not knowing what our financial map looks like is unwise.

I’m not about to take over all the bill payments or renegotiating our mortgage—my husband is excellent at it and he actually enjoys doing it. But, I am going to start taking a compound interest (money pun acknowledged) in our family finances so I’m prepared, more apt to spend wisely, and hopefully setting a smart example for our kids.

The Problem? I have zero time
A Solution—> Online tools you can trust (FYI I’m generally highly suspicious of the web) that do the bulk of the financial research for you

Last week I sat down with some of the people behind ratesupermarket.ca to learn how the site works and how I can use it to help me.

There are several sections on this FREE website offering current and well laid out information like: which lenders offer the best mortgage and insurance rates, comparisons of chequing/savings account fees and growth rates, mortgage and savings calculators, and the MoneyWise blog which is written in a language I can understand. But what caught my attention is the Credit Card Comparison Calculator.

How it works:
Select and customize the areas you’re interested in. For example, if you’re looking for perks, are you wanting cash back or travel rewards? Or maybe you commute and want a credit card that offers gas incentives?

Put it all in there and the site will generate a comparison to show you the card(s) best suited for you and your current life needs.

https://www.ratesupermarket.ca/credit_cards

Here’s what I learned from just a few clicks:
We used to put all of our payments on a card that offered grocery reward points. Then, as we anticipated more travel in our imminent future (events coming up out west where I’m from) we switched over to a travel rewards card. This seemed like a smart choice for us.

This decision was based on ZERO research other than, “Hey, that sounds like a good idea.”

After learning about this website and giving it a go, we discovered that we are actually losing money—it turns out the travel rewards do not match the dollar value of the grocery rewards. Hashtag…math.

So we’re switching back—easy since we haven’t gotten around to closing out our old credit cards. Sometimes procrastination works in my favour. 😉

An important note to mention is since ratesupermarket.ca isn’t affiliated with any particular financial institution, the information provided is objective, unbiased and can be customized to reflect your current financial needs.

Since *97% of my banking takes place online (when I can actually remember my login password), it makes perfect sense to take advantage of free online tools like this to make help informed financial choices.

*Only around 3% of my banking takes place in an actual bank—meeting with our financial advisor at the branch or going in to physically get money (money order for a wedding present, loonies to put in our Easter eggs instead of candy). The last time I visited my branch I was in line with half a dozen seniors. The line took forever. Finally the old lady in front of me said, “I don’t understand the hold up.” I responded, “Uh, I don’t think you can say ‘hold up’ in a bank line-up.” I laughed. She didn’t. Yet another reason to do my banking online.

Disclaimer: I was asked by ratesupermarket.ca to explore and comment on their website. I was compensated for my time. Opinions, as always, are my own.

Header image photo credit: Call from Johnny Depp via photopin (license)

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