Public Mobile Review

Ready to learn about the nity-grity of Public Mobile? Should you consider switching? Here's everything you need to know!

Public Mobile Review

My Public Mobile Story:

Cellphones: a necessary evil. Do you ever look at your cellphone bill and wonder, “Why it is so high?” This blog post could be the most important thing you read this year.

So first, a little backstory.

I was on Telus and had been for years. They had me and my wife hooked on a “grandfathered” business-only plan that was no longer offered. We were paying about $287 per month! And that's with no data overages.

Even on that expensive Telus plan, we still had to be careful about data, as we sometimes went over the data limit. Telus, like all the major cell phone carriers, has harsh penalties for going over-limit on your data plan.

We were stuck on this plan because we had a “business” account and had an unlimited amount of US-calling. I run a marketing agency where we build funnels and run advertising for small businesses

Even though we were calling US numbers less and less (Hello Zoom!) we were afraid to leave the plan, because we could never get that US-long distance place back if we left.

Now, truth be told, it was a little annoying that I couldn’t call Public Mobile and ask a rep some specific questions about porting my number – which was important to me. But eventually the desire to save a lot of money each month prompted me to give it a go.

Public Mobile Review

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it took us about 4 months of hemming and hawing before actually making the switch.

The switch was painless and quick.

So what is Public Mobile?

Public Mobile is a low-cost SIM-only service provider.

In my opinion, Public Mobile is the best, lowest-cost self-serve cell phone platform in Canada.

Essentially, they are a discount prepaid-only carrier that runs on the Telus network. (Public Mobile was bought out by Telus in 2013; originally they had been an independent carrier.)

The Telus high-speed 4G-LTE network provides extensive coverage, but every cell phone plan from Public Mobile is limited to “3G speed” data, but honestly, I have not noticed a difference. Since all the plans are set to 3G speed, you can turn off LTE on your phone.

The nice thing about it being a pre-paid plan is that you won't have a surprise by going over your talk or data limit. This is also a good thing to keep in mind if you have a teenager or somebody who doesn't pay attention to the data limits on their plan.

My biggest hurdle had always been that I was skeptical about the quality of the service and the coverage. If it's so much less, there must be some sort of nasty catch, right?

But the truth is that Public Mobile, being a self-serve department of Telus, has exactly the same quality of coverage.

Public Mobile Network Coverage

Telus uses the Bell Towers across Canada, so the coverage is just as good as Bell or Telus. This is important, because I live in a slightly rural area, and I have a cottage that is well-hidden from the world on a very private lake without motorized boats.
It's remote and beautiful.

Public Mobile Review

And one of the main concerns was I wanted to verify that we had coverage there – which we should have because we had coverage with Telus. We have had visitors to our cottage who are on Rogers and they had really spotty coverage there. Anyway, we actually activated a test phone just to verify it worked and it did.

That gave up the go ahead to leave our plan at Telus after over a decade and switch to Public Mobile.

Is there an activation fee?

There is no activation fee with Public Mobile.

Notifications:

I get notifications when I get a referral, make a payment, or hit 75% of my data threshold. So that gives me plenty of time to adjust.

Here's what I see when I make a new referral to Public Mobile and reduce my bill:

Public Mobile Review

If you want to sign up for Public Mobile, use my link and you'll get $10 off your first month.

IMPORTANT: Make note of this referral code when signing up to activate that bonus: WX60K0

You will need to enter it in step 4 (payment section) of the activation PublicMobile signup page to get your discount.

Can I Port/Use My Current Phone With Public Mobile?

Yes, you can just use your current number. There is no charge for using your current number, and the process is very simple.

In fact, you need to bring your own phone to Public Mobile. There are no contracts, so you can leave at any time. So use your current phone, and if you want an upgrade, buy a new phone straight out. Easy (and cheaper in the long run.)

My wife and I ported our numbers no problem.

How do I switch to Public Mobile?

To signup with Public Mobile, you do it all online. Use this link to get a discount on your first month. Be sure to use this referral code to get your discount: WX60K0

You do need a new Public Mobile SIM card. These cost $10 at Walmart in the electronic department. You need to ask at the counter. They are one-size (3-in-1) SIM cards with a detachable part to fit all SIM card trays. (Sounds weird, but it's easy.)

If you have an unlocked phone already, getting started is as simple as buying a SIM, activating it, and inserting it into your phone. You will be prompted to do this as you complete the signup process.

If you don't have a SIM card tool, you can use a pin to pop out the SIM card tray.
Everything else is done online and in the peace of your own home.

How To Sign Up For Public Mobile & Port Your Current Number From Another Cell Phone Company

I have a video demonstrating how this works:

Public Mobile Plans:

Every cell phone plan with Public Mobile includes nationwide long distance, unlimited texting internationally, voicemail and caller ID. They are charged on a 30-day billing cycle.

Here are the current Public Mobile plans:

Public Mobile Review
Public Mobile Plans

The plans are straightforward with no hidden gotchas. For example, even the lowest priced plan allows international texting and picture messages.

Voicemail, Call Display, Call Waiting, Call Forwarding and Conference Calling are included in all Unlimited Talk plans from Public Mobile.

Incoming from anywhere on the planet (when you are in Canada, that is) does not use up your Plan Minutes.

The plans all feel fair, which is kinda weird for a cellphone company.

They do have some addons so you can customize your plan and still keep it as inexpensive as possible. Personally, I'm on the $50/mo plan because I call to the States semi-frequently.

Public Mobile Add Ons:

They have some good add on plans. You can add these international long distance plans.

We have several long distance options available for calling from Canada including:

  • 1000 Minutes to the U.S. for $15;
  • 1000 Minutes to the U.K. for $15; 
  • 750 Minutes to India and Pakistan for $15;
  • 500 Minutes to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan for $15;
  • 100 Minutes to the Philippines for $15 
  • 300 International Minutes for $15 
  • 500 Canada-wide Minutes for $5  

*Note: these minutes roll-over to the next month… and stay in your account as long as you have an active plan, even if you drop the addon package…which is awesome!

In addition, you can add data plans, and even US roaming plans if you plan to travel to the US.

Regrets About Switching To Public Mobile:

Regrets? My only regret is that I didn't switch earlier. I get the same coverage without the whopping bill from Telus each month. I save literally OVER $200 per month! That's $2400 per year in savings.

Who own Public Mobile?

Public Mobile is owned by Telus. You are basically getting the exact same service as Telus for a fraction of the cost.

What are the drawback of Public Mobile?

You can't speak to somebody on the phone. Because of this, it might not be the best for older people who don't have anyone to help them get set up… not that it's very difficult, mind you.

They do have an active support community, and you can get a quick answer to your specific question from them. I have used this forum and received a prompt, personalized response. They do reward customers who answer questions in the community for a phone bill.

They don't have overseas support. So if you plan on using your phone overseas, you'd need to look at getting a temporary phone for all your awesome travels.

Lastly, I was hesitant about 3G speed. But I have found not a single time I have been waiting for something to load. I use Google Maps, Taxbot to track (and write off) my mileage, and sometimes on the go, I might use Safari and FIFA Companion App.

I have watched YouTube and it works fine – but I try not to blow through data by watching video while I am on data.

I have not noticed a difference in any way.

How to the rewards work?

You get $2 off for setting up Autopay – paying your phone bill automatically with a credit card. This makes sense and it's one less bill to take up your time.

You also get $1 off for every customer you refer per month. If you refer 10 customers, and they remain active, you would get $10 off your phone bill. This is a way to further reduce a necessary recurring expense. You also get a one-time $10 bonus for referring a new customer that first month.

There is also a long-term Loyalty Bonus: you get $1 off every 30 days after your first year as a customer, $2 off after your second year, $3 after three years, etc.

Support Agent Bonus: You get up to $20 off every 30 days when you contribute to their online customer support community.

If you join Public Mobile through this link you'll get a $10 credit on your account.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you already signed up and did not use a referral code, you can contact support and ask them to apply this to your account to claim your discount.

WX60K0 (Those 0's are Zeros by the way!)

What is the average speed of 4G and 3G data?

You can check coverage and network types in your area at the Public Mobile support page. The Telus network ranked second for download speeds in both the 4G and 3G network categories in Tutela's 2020 “Mobile Experience Report,” tests showed an average speed of 15.68Mbits/sec for 4G downloads and 5.30Mbits/sec for 3G downloads.

Public Mobile Cheapest Plan:

The cheapest Public Mobile plan is the $15/month 100 Minutes Canada-wide Talk Plan. This can be customized with some low-priced add-ons. With AutoPay, this is only $13/mo – plus you will get an extra 250MB of 3G data.

Why this plan rocks: As a base plan, this is everything most people need. You get 100 minutes of outgoing calls, unlimited incoming calls, no long distance charges within Canada and unlimited international text and picture messaging.

By the way, if you want to see just how much you pay for recurring charges each month is to download a cool app called Bobby.co.

The Public Mobile Plan I am on:

The best premium plan offered by Public Mobile is the $50 plan, which includes 8GB of 3G-speed data, nationwide unlimited calls, and free long-distance to the United States. This is great if you have relatives in the US. And the 8GB of data is plenty for streaming Spotify and doing whatever without worrying about hitting the limit. (I don't watch Netflix while on data.)

Check out the plans by clicking here.

Public Mobile: Should You Switch To Public Mobile?

Bottom line is that if you consider a cell phone a necessary expense, as I do, why not reduce that bill as much as possible so you can put that money towards something more productive?

Use this Public Mobile code to claim your $10 credit when you create your account: WX60K0

I'm putting my savings into this investment and into this one.

If you are Canadian and want to earn some free money every day, check out this blog post.

9 Tips On How To Pay Off Your Debt Fast

Like so many people (the average Canadian owes $1.71 for every dollar of disposable income), you may find yourself trapped by debt. Paying off debt can feel like an uphill battle, and the longer you wait to take action, the harder and more expensive it can be. Sisyphus anyone?

However, there are steps you can take now to help you pay off debt faster, and even have the advantage of time working for you instead of against you.

This blog post will give some some practical tips on how to get yourself out of debt. Fast!

1 – Re-Frame Your Credit Cards

Credit Card companies love to give credit. It's how they make money. And they make a lot of money. Even taking into account bankrupcites and uncollectible debt, companies like Visa and Mastercard are very profitable.

9 Tips On How To Pay Off Your Debt Fast
Visa Revenue is in the Billions!

But just because you have a credit card, doesn't mean you have to spend it. Many people mentally consider money available to them (in the form of unused credit) as money they can spend. This is a common mistake – and one that credit card companies exploit ruthlessly.

Don't make this mistake. It's not your money. It's literally money belonging to Visa or Mastercard. It's simply the option to borrow money at a high interest rate. Never forget that.


2 – Cut Expenses

The next thing to do after re-framing who the available credit on a credit card belongs to is to cut expenses…ruthlessly. Being in debt means that you are living above your means and you are literally spending more money than you actually own. That's a recipe for disaster.

9 Tips On How To Pay Off Your Debt Fast

So look at what you are spending and decide what to cut. You absolutely must cut some expenses. Spotify & Netflix subscription. I'm looking at you, kid!

“We've seen that the average number of subscriptions per-person has doubled over the last 18 months.”

Yahya Mokhtarzada – Truebill

There is a cool app called Bobby that tracks your recurring subscriptions and helps you see what you are paying for subscriptions. I really like this app, because:

a) it's the cutest squirrel you'll ever see and
b) it helps you see all your subscriptions in one place.

Bobby - Track subscriptions

Another thing Bobby does is that it lets you see the subscriptions you pay annually – just because you chose the pay annually option to save a bit of money, you still need to consider this a monthly subscription.

This is also helpful if you want to add in things you might pay quarterly, like car insurance payments or water utility bills. One of the problems people have with budgets are lump sum semi-regular payments that are hard to quantify on a monthly basis. Bobby can help sort that out for you, as typically those are under-estimated.

Trim is another service that can help you cut down unnecessary expenses, and even negotiate with lenders to reduce your debt. The key is to really reduce the amount of (unnecessary) subscriptions and other expenses you can cut.

Are there lower cost service providers you can switch to? I recently switched from Telus to a self-serve phone plan at Public Mobile. I love it. Same service for almost 1/3rd of the cost.

By the way, I highly recommend Public Mobile if you are in Canada. They run on the Bell towers, so coverage is excellent across Canada.

3 – Convert Personal Expenses to Business Expenses

I run an online business, and that entitles me to certain business deductions. You should always take advantage of any tax deductions you are entitled to. The problem for most people is that just don't know how – and often their accountants don't ask the right questions.

You may, in this new gig economy, have a side hustle. Maybe you do some writing on the side. Or you started a YouTube channel, or maybe you do some influencer work.

(By the way, this is a great platform for getting started as an influencer even if you don't have a larger social following.)

9 Tips On How To Pay Off Your Debt Fast

All of these things open up the door to converting expenses you would normally have no deductions for – to being tax deductible. For example, if you have a business, printer paper, new software and even that new camera you've been eyeing all become valid business deductions.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that even if you deduct expenses, you still have that expense, and any deduction you take reduces your overall income. So it's best not to make a purchase at all. But if it's something you need, and you can write it off, that's better than not writing it off.

Obviously, you need to track these expenses and be able to show the purchase receipts.

I use an app called Taxbot that allows me to write off the portion of my car expenses I use for business, and it also allows you to easily write off expenses – even if you don't have a separate business bank account. Here's how I use Taxbot to do that.

4 – Get a Second Income

Being in debt means that you spend more than earn. So maybe you need to earn more. This could be starting a side hustle in your spare time, or it could be a second job. There are also lots of opportunities where you can work remotely.

COVID-19 has opened the eyes of many business owners to the fact that remote work can even be more effective than a toxic workplace environment.

Do you have any skills? Why not start selling a service on Fiverr? There are gigs you can perform for doing simple tasks like running software you may already own. A couple examples are doing keyword research for somebody – or perhaps create pins for them in Canva.

Maybe you're crafty? You could start an Etsy shop for free and start selling some of your awesome creations. Show the world your skills!

5 – List Out Your Credit Card Debts

Open up a Google Sheet and list of your credit cards along with the minimum payments and the interest rate.

9 Tips On How To Pay Off Your Debt Fast

You have to have a clear view of your problem before you can find a solution.
Here is a site that has some calculators that give you insight into how much you're actually paying toward your principle vs your interest when you make payments.

This can help you prioritize which debts to pay down first. Be sure to include all consumer debts you have in addition to your credit cards, which could include medical bills, student loans and car payments.

6 – Debt Snowball Vs Debt Avalanche

Now that you have all your consumer debts listed out, you can pick your plan of attack.

Instead of randomly paying more to this card or that card every month, the best plane of attack is to choose to use either the Debt Snowball or the Debt Avalanche method.

Both allow you to consolidate your focus around a particular strategy and pay off your debt faster. This ensures that your drive down your debt with an intensity and focus.

Dave Ramsey often uses the Gazelle analogy to explain this concept with a line from the Bible:

“If you've signed surety, my son, do this. Give no sleep to your eyelids, no slumber to your eyes, and deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, a bird from the hand of the fowler.”

Proverbs 6:1-7


The Debt Snowball Method

With the debt snowball method, you pay the lowest loan amount first, regardless of the interest rate. This will give you the quickest win and knock off the smallest source of debt the fastest.

You pay the minimum amount to all the other debts and throw all your extra money at the one card until it's gone.

One of the main benefits of this method is that with those early wins, you can feel yourself getting out of debt and start to hardwire a new pattern with debt in your mind.

The Debt Avalanche Method

The Debt Avalanche method is a little different. With it, you pick the highest interest rate, and tackle that first. Again, you pay only the bare minimums on the other cards and pay as much as you possibly can to the highest interest rate card.

Technically speaking, this is can be a wise method, but it can also be a little more challenging to set the pattern because you won't necessarily reduce the number of your debts as quickly.

7 – Go Used

Consider selling your car and getting an older used model. This can save you thousands of dollars each year.

Another thing you can consider is if you can reduce your household to just one vehicle. This may not be possible if you live in a rural area, but if you live in an urban setting, this can save thousands of dollars each year.

By getting rid of a car, you not only reduce the auto payments, but also the gas, maintenance and insurance associated with that second vehicle.

This is a handy calculator that you can use to see exactly what kind of savings you can achieve by changing up your car situation.

8 – Get a New Credit Card with a Low Interest Rate

This is a little dangerous, because you're actually opening up more credit, but if you can get a teaser interest rate and transfer your debt to that new rate, you can come out ahead.

A good example is if you have a credit card at 21% interest and you can get a 1-year teaser rate for 0% – that would give you relief from that heinous 21% and as long as you didn't use the extra credit, you would save money.

Be careful using this method and be sure to re-read the first step in this article.

9 – Sell Some Stuff

We all have stuff. What can you sell (or rent) to earn some extra income?

Maybe you have a stack of books you'll never read, or an old computer, or guitar, or maybe you have boxes of CDs and only listen to Spotify now. (Hopefully you're on Spotify Free and have ditched the Spotify Premium subscription in Step 2!)

Give away or sell these things. You can make some extra money, and you can free up space and chi for new energy to come into your life.

Remember, you need to change up your action if you want different results in the future. So don't just read something else. Start making those changes now!

Any other tips you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!

GoPeer Review

My personal experience using GoPeer, a peer-to-peer lending platform for Canadian investors.

GoPeer Review

So what exactly is GoPeer?  GoPeer is Canada's first consumer peer-to-peer lending platform for Canadians. They have been featured in the news here.

What is Peer-To-Peer Lending?

Peer-to-Peer Lending is also known as Crowd-Lending or Alternative Lending.  It is a unique way to earn credit card-type interest without putting up a lot of capital.

Normally, if you are looking to get a loan, you would have to apply for a line-of-credit through a bank or a credit card.  However, peer-to-peer lending offers a unique alternative to traditional lenders.

GoPeer Review

How Is GoPeer Different from Lending Loop?

GoPeer offers consumer loans to individuals. And they allow unaccredited private investors (like myself or any Canadian) to invest in consumer loans. Lending Loop offers business loans to businesses. And they allow private investors to invest in business loans.

So GoPeer offers Canadians peer-to-peer lending on the consumer side, while Lending Loop offers alternative lending for the business side.

If you're interested in learning more about Lending Loop, I have a detailed blog post about my experience with that platform.

How Much Can You Earn From GoPeer?

You can earn credit card type interest. Take a look at a screenshot from the marketplace and you can see how you can be earning between 11.7% and 25.4% interest on your money.

GoPeer Review
GoPeer Platform Dashboard

Is GoPeer Legit and Safe to Use?

GoPeer is a registered in all provinces and territories, and is headquartered in Toronto, ON.

GoPeer is not accredited by BBB, has been established for two years and does not have any reviews on the GoPeer BBB page.

They have 29 ratings on Google Reviews, with an average rating of 4.5 across all ratings.  The negative reviews were mostly people complaingin that they got denied for a loan.

gopeer reviews
GoPeer Reviews on Google

Yes, GoPeer is legit and safe to use. All investments can be risky, and because of the de-stabilizing nature of COVID, it would be prudent to only invest money you can afford to lose.  I like the GoPeer model, however, because of how they vet their clients.  You do need typically a 600+ credit score rating to be approved, and the credit score is shown in the marketplace as one criteria to evaluate which loans you will invest in.

Peer-to-peer lending is not correlated with the stock market, which makes this a good addition to any portfolio, in my opinion.

How does GoPeer Work?

GoPeer is a lending platform that allows you to invest in micro-loans to individuals.  It is a peer-to-peer lending platforms that essentially is an intermediary between borrowers and private investors, allowing average folks to lend money directly to other individuals while earning a substantial return (interest rate) in exchange.

These P2P platforms leverage the power of the multitude to make capital available for businesses to operate and grow the economy.  And for investors, they allow you to diversify into multiple loans, as low as $10 per loan, which reduces your overall risk.

How can I get a peer to peer loan?

You can apply to get a loan here from GoPeer using this link and get $30 back when you may your first payment.  You should have a solid (600+) credit rating, as GoPeer has a proprietary method of evaluating who they will make loans to. 

Reddit has become a source of due diligence these days, but there are not many reviews on Reddit about GoPeer.

Is P2P lending a good investment?

I like P2P lending because you can earn credit-card level interest rates of return.  This is significantly higher than parking your money in bonds, money market accounts, or even a high-yield bank account.

One drawback of P2P lending is the time frame.  You can't liquidate your investment early, so you will have some money locked in for the duration of the loan.  Most loans on GoPeer range from 3-4 years in length, during which your capital illiquid.  I should point out that each month when the loan is repaid, you do get a bit of principle and interest back.

How much does it cost to start peer to peer lending

To fund your account you need to make an initial deposit of $1000.  However, this seems to be more of a barrier-of-entry as you can withdraw most of it after creating your account.  The minimum you can invest in any loan is $10.  This low amount allows you to spread even a meager investment of $100 over 10 different loans, which reduces your overall risk.

Which Loans Should I Invest In?

That depends on your risk profile. Best practice is obviously to spread your money amongst the maximum amount of loans. I tend to favour loans that are C+ or better. Here is the criteria you will see that will allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to invest in a particular loan.

GoPeer Review
Sample GoPeer Loan

I look at the credit score, the reason for the loan, the debt to income ratio, and the annual salary as a starting point.

Where can I get started with GoPeer?

You can use this link to get started with GoPeer.

You will earn $30 when you invest in your first loan as an investor, or when you make your first payment if you apply for a loan from GoPeer.

If you do have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments or privately via my contact page.

Top Tips For Creating A Functional Workspace at Home

Since March 2020, the world has been turned upside down.

With the Covid pandemic people from all walks of life have had to drastically change the way they lead their lives. 

No matter what part of the world you’re in, things that we took for granted in our everyday lives have changed dramatically to adapt to this new normal.

On a personal level, I know that not having the freedom to simply see friends and family has had its challenges.  Schooling our children has also changed – many of us opting to homeschool – and even how we go about doing our grocery shopping and enjoying our leisure time (from going to a restaurant to vacationing) has changed so completely that it has left the world spinning…

That said, as an online entrepreneur working from home the last 16 years, a home office has been my normal, but since the start of the pandemic many people have had to adjust to working remotely or starting a new way to make a livelihood by working from home because of job loss. 

Over the past year what’s changed for me is not only have I had more people contact me about creating a business from home (in addition to small business owners who need help with digital marketing solutions) but what has changed is that now I find myself having to counsel people on setting up workspaces at home that will serve the purpose of building and sustaining a business/working remotely for the foreseeable future.  

The Challenge of “Working From Home”

It’s a challenge to learn “how to work remotely” from home.  

(This little device certainly helps me out a ton!)

There is a delicate balancing act that involves adjusting to a new workflow having family around (especially if you have children and they are home during the day), learning to keep your personal life at bay, and keep it from invading your working hours. (This can be challenging especially when you want to do something around the home that you've been putting off.)

And this requires many of us to create a more multi-functional home than you may have ever intended it for when you first purchased your home.  

In fact, where I am in Canada, my rural area has seen an influx of people moving here as we are within 35 mins of a major urban center but far enough that they are able to buy homes within budget that will cater to the new situations (as mentioned above) that we are finding ourselves in since the start of the pandemic.

Moving: Bigger Spaces and Multi-Functional Homes

In fact, according to the Financial Post, a total of 87,444 people left the three major Canadian cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal) between July 2019 and July 2020 for other parts of the same province, up from an average annual exodus of 72,686 the previous three years… which is pretty significant.

Families are finding they need bigger spaces and different types of setups in their homes. People are now adjusting to raising their families and working from the same space whereas these traditionally were kept separate with having a workplace to go to pre-pandemic.  

In fact, some of our close friends just bought a house sight unseen (except for pictures on the internet) and recently did a cross country move to accommodate working from home (both remotely for one parent and a start-up home business for the other parent) all the while homeschooling their children. 

One of the main reasons for moving into a new home was the fact that interest rates have been so low since the pandemic started that buying a home with the space they needed to function in their new situation made the most sense versus renovating or staying where they were.

From my own experience, having always worked from home, we have moved several times and any space we move into has had to accommodate our home life as well as our work life – which means at least 2 rooms need to be dedicated to work offices.  The latest home we bought had 4 bedrooms, 2 of which were converted to workspaces and an opened attic loft that now serves as the bedrooms of our 2 children.

Different Businesses, Different “Work From Home” Set-Ups

Let me start by saying, if your work situation has changed because of the pandemic and you find yourself needing to create a workspace for yourself, (whether that be in current home or if you are in the market to find a new home to suit your needs) budget is obviously a huge consideration. 

If that’s the case, I have some tools later on that I’ll share with you like a mortgage calculator, tax programs etc…) to help you determine what you can realistically afford, but the first thing to brainstorm is the type of business you operate and the type of space you need.  

Top Tips For Creating A Functional Workspace at Home

For example, if you operate a freelance photography business like one of my clients, your workspace might be a studio where you set up your props, lighting etc…in which case you will need a large, and undisturbed area – preferably away from the hustle and bustle of the family, and possibly even a separate entrance for clients.  

A friend of mine, who is a photographer, just bought a new home during the pandemic because of the low-interest rates and the need to increase her studio space. Her old studio did not have a separate entrance which meant clients always had to pass through her private home which she didn't like. And of course now, with the pandemic, she wanted a complete separation of work and family space and found a larger space to comply with some of the new pandemic regulations.

If you offer massage therapy like another one of my clients do, your workspace will probably be a portion of your home dedicated to a  treatment room.  Again, a separate entrance might be helpful.  A massage therapist I knew ran her business out of her basement, another out of a second bedroom.  Again it all depends on the existing space or if looking to buy, what they can afford in a new home.

Another one of my clients needed a home office to conduct Skype sessions for personal development classes she held online or in my case, we needed 2 offices for each of us and a video creation room for all the tutorials and informational products that we created.  

So as you look at your own home or prepare to look at homes to purchase, here are some different setups you might want to think about:  

What Is Important In A Home/Work Space?

Since I have to deal with balancing the business-family dynamic, I look for spaces that can be shut off from the hustle and bustle of the house. 

If the space is available and you can afford it, choose a separate room as a dedicated workspace. You want to minimize distractions.  

Top Tips For Creating A Functional Workspace at Home

Closed off areas that come to mind would be a dedicated separate room like a spare bedroom, a dining room that has French doors to which you could close, a finished basement in which to put an office, or even a separate structure on your property like a small studio space is ideal.  If you are in the real estate market, when looking at houses keep in mind all the above points, but don’t overlook the garage.  A converted garage is a great space to create an office.  In fact in one of our rental properties, the tenants use the garage as an artist's studio and can work from there to create her beautiful pieces of art.

Other tips are to select a workspace that is large enough to operate your business. Instead of working out of several spaces in the home, keeping everything related to your business in one area is much easier to handle and to keep from your business taking over your home. 

If clients will be coming to your home, the ideal is a workspace with a separate outside door or very close to an outside door.

My First Home Office

For those of you who can’t find the space or lack the budget, the least expensive way to create a home office is to set up a space in the corner of your home.  In fact, many kitchens have a small nook or workspace that could function as a workspace for your business.  Clients of mine in small condos or flats have simply extended kitchen counters to make a functional workspace.

When I started my online company, the only space I had in my small basement apartment was a corner in the kitchen, right by the fridge.  Amazingly, that first year cramped into that small space my business made 6 figures year – which goes to show you that you can work from anywhere!

Helpful Resources

Having gone through many of the potential options for creating conducive workspaces in the home, I wanted to leave you with some of my top resources.

First, if you are new to working from home and are branching out on your own, there are definitely expenses that can be written off. I use a great program called Taxbot that helps me get organized so it’s one easy transfer to my accountant come tax time.  It tracks many of the deductions that I incur running a business and so I encourage you all to check it out.

For those of you realizing the limitations of your current home/workspace and are looking to find a new home, understanding where you are financially and having a good understanding of what you can afford is paramount. 

I have included a link to a mortgage calculator to help you figure out what you can afford and what I like about this particular calculator is that it provides graphs of loan repayments along with monthly and yearly amortization tables.    

Lastly, be sure that when you are planning your ideal workspace that you take into account how your own life works around you. Working from home is a delicate balancing act and with much thought and reflection can be a very positive and rewarding experience.

Good luck and welcome to the “new normal!

7 Ways To Invest Your Money

You’re here because you have decided to invest your money, that’s great, however it can be difficult knowing where to start. Whether you are looking to invest big or small we have gathered seven ways to invest your money Take a look below and see if any catch your eye, remember it's always important to do thorough research before investing any money.

7 ways to invest your money
7 Ways To Invest Your Money

Stock Market

When people think of investing they automatically think about the stock market. You might think that you have to pay in large sums to see a return, however, this is not the case. You can start by investing a small amount whilst you get used to how the stock market works and learn the jargon that comes along with it until you are comfortable enough to invest a little more. This way is great as it allows you to invest without the big risks.

Premium Bonds

If you have a UK bank card you are eligible to purchase premium bonds. Almost half a million British pounds worth are currently unclaimed by Australians. The way premium bonds work is that you pay in a minimum of £25 and you are put into the draw to win prizes. It's like the lottery but if you don't win, the money you put in stays in your account ready for the next draw. The more money you invest the higher your chances of winning are, the highest amount of money you can win is £1 million. If you are looking to make money quickly from your investment then premium bonds are not the right investment for you.

Cookie Jar

Before you invest you have to save up some money first. This is where the cookie jar method comes in. If you have something in mind you want to invest it, set a goal to have x amount of money by x date. Then work out how much you need to put away each month so you hit your target. Use a cookie jar or something similar to pop in your target amount each month and then when you have loose change toss it in the jar too. Seeing the jar fill up will motivate you to keep topping it up, then in no time, you will have your target amount saved and ready to invest.

Retirement Fund

You should be investing for your future and putting money into your retirement fund is a way to do this. If you are employed and earning more than $450 per month then you should automatically be paying into your superannuation fund. This is a government-run scheme that allows employers to match the employee's contributions. If you are self-employed you can still pay into your superannuation fund but you will have to set it up yourself.

Real Estate

Real estate is a popular way to invest your hard-earned cash, whether it's turning flipping a property or buying to rent. When buying real estate you need to be smart and keep a vigilant eye on the property market. Investing in property doesn't always have to be a quick turn around, investing in a family home or holiday home can be beneficial in the long run. Look at investing in up and coming properties like m vertica, properties that offer premium living with a range of facilities and perks are becoming increasingly popular especially in cities.

Digital Robo Advisors

If you are a novice when it comes to investing and are a bit apprehensive about it all then consider using a digital robot to invest your money for you. Digital Robo advisors such as Quiet Growth, Stockspot or InvestSMART are all great examples of Robo advisors you can use. The way they work is that you set your preferences such as how much you want to invest, how often, and what your investment interests are, it will then create a tailored plan to suit you and your needs and invest automatically.

Possessions

If you have a good eye for finding treasures from markets, thrift stores or small vintage shops then think about putting your skills to good use. Buying vintage items at a low cost now can make you lots of money in the future. This one is only good if you have the knowledge and knack for finding items that are being sold at a small price and when over time they will become more valuable. Vintage cars, art and antiques are all great possessions that can increase in value overtime.

Since you are here check out our tips on HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH AMAZON FBA.

Where To Find The Best Mortgage Calculators

Mortgages and numbers.  You can’t have one without the other.

So, does the mortgage rate really matter?  Where can you find out how big of mortgage you can afford?  What would happen in you made extra payments on your current mortgage?  How would that effect the future payments and potential mortgage length?

Making a mistake on a mortgage can have huge ramifications on your financial life and stress levels.

best mortgage calculators for consumers

Suffice it to say that when you want to figure out stuff about your mortgage, or potentially a new mortgage, you want to find some mortgage calculators.

Best Mortgage Calculator Site

One site I found that has a ton of great mortgage calculators is MortgageCalculators.info

One of the best things about this site is that it’s not cluttered with ads.  In the mortgage world, mortgage leads are big bucks – and therefore most of the sites with mortgage calculators tend to be full of ads.

This is distracting, especially when you just want to get some numbers and make a comparison.

Likewise, if you go to a bank website and use their mortage calculators, they tend to be biassed towards their own mortgage packages.  So I much prefer to do my calculations on a neutral, third-party site.

Additionally, the bank websites tend to have only the most basic of mortgage tools and calculators.

So if you want to dig deep into some top shelf mortgage calculators, this site really has everything laid out so you can easily access the calculators and go through your numbers and get a clear idea of what to do and what kind of mortgage works best for your financial situation.

This is another unbiased source of mortgage info.

Do Banks Have Your Best Interest At Heart?

Remember, the banks have a vested interest in selling you a mortgage. They make a significant amount of money from lending you money for your mortgage.

By comparison, many of the bank calculators are misleading – because they don’t has an many inputs – and can cause you to over-estimate your mortgage pre-approval numbers.  In fact, the banks have a vested interest (yes, that’s a pun!) in dumbing down the mortgage calculators on their sites to make a potential mortgage seem more attractive.

How Mortgage Calculators Often Mislead New Home Buyers

They often don’t even give you an option to factor in property taxes! Check out this CNBC article on the the “intentional” limitations of other mortgage calculators.

The point is that not seeing the full costs of a mortgage, and/or by using tools that may not give you the full picture is an epic mistake.

Another thing to be aware of is home insurance.  Home insurance has gone through the roof in the past few years.  In fact, our own home insurance has over doubled from about $125 approx per month to $410 per month.

Missing some key elements like this, that make up a HUGE part of expenses is significant. My own principle residence has seen a significant increase in the cost of home owners insurance. It's now $410 per month CAD, which for some people near where I live is equivalent to an entire mortgage payment! (By way of comparison, a decade ago, my home insurance was a little under $200/mo.)

(Personally, I think that insurance, particularly insurance that everyone is required to buy by law, is a bit of a scam. But that's a blog post for another day.)

Final Thoughts on The Best Sites For Estimating Mortgages

Big purchases require looking at all the facts. And if you really want to get a handle on mortgages, it's worth it to dig deep into the numbers and spend some time looking at different scenarios with the best mortgage calculators and tools.

Avoid the bank mortgage calculators, because they are basic at best, and misleading at worst.

With all the distracting stuff on the internet, I really value clarity and brevity.  And that’s the biggest strength I can think about in the world of online mortgage calculators. So grab a piece of paper and start running some numbers for your next mortgage.

Got a tip on getting a great mortgage rate? Leave a comment below and share it with our readers.