Technology has changed our world in many profound ways. It really is impossible to ignore it. With the high price of cell phone, internet and streaming services it’s hard to remember that there are pieces of tech and software that can actually help you save money.
Mary-Ann Marriot, Licensed Insolvency Trustee with Allan Marshall & Associates explores ways of using technology to save money. She offers advice on:
- Points cards and how to stack points
- Cash back apps and how to increase your earnings
- No-fee banking and asking your bank for a break on fees
- Using technology for selling items
- Budgeting and tracking expenses with MINT
- Increasing your credit score with a credit establishment program
Licensed Insolvency Trustees are federally regulated and approved by the Canadian government. With their extensive knowledge of financial services, they will give you honest information.
Read the Transcript
Wayne Kay 0:04
Welcome to the Debt Matters podcast where we help Canadians find solutions to their debt with Licensed Insolvency Trustees from across Canada. I’m Wayne Kay and in today’s show, we’re going to be talking about technology and money.
My guest today is Mary-Ann Marriot from Allan Marshall & Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee with offices in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and a new office in Alberta. Mary-Ann thanks very much for being on the show.
Mary-Ann Marriott 0:32
It’s my pleasure, Wayne, I’m very excited to be here.
Wayne Kay 0:35
Great to have you back. We had a wonderful discussion last time you’re on and now technology and money. I’m looking forward to learning here when it comes to that when you’re talking about technology. Are we just talking about online banking?
Mary-Ann Marriott 0:48
No, so much more than that. Online banking is one of the ways, but there’s just so many. There’s so many apps, and there’s so many programs, and there’s so many things that you can utilize these days to simplify your systems and enhance your systems. It definitely goes way beyond just banking.
Wayne Kay 1:07
Oh, okay. Well, I’m looking forward to learning about some of these ways that we can use technology to save money in our everyday tasks. Where would you like to start with that?
Mary-Ann Marriott 1:17
Well, I think I’d start by taking us on a little trip into the past when we used to clip coupons. And, maybe that extreme couponing show that some of us used to watch in the US. People would come out with carts full of stuff and not pay a cent. And we tried to figure out how we could do that. Does that take you back?
So the good news is that you don’t really need to clip coupons these days, although they are still available, but everything is available online. There’s so many different ways from online coupons to cashback programs with credit cards, apps that you can use. You can upload receipts and get money back. So that’s kind of reverse couponing. And then of course, online banking, no fee banking. I know, I just threw a whole bunch out there. So you let me know where you want me to go with this?
Wayne Kay 2:14
Well, I have my cards for the odd time – if and when I go to the grocery store. I’ll use the little card that my wife tells me I have to use because she gets points.
Mary-Ann Marriott 2:25
I hope my husband’s listen to this because he refuses to do that.
Wayne Kay 2:29
I didn’t think that was even an option – I always do.
Mary-Ann Marriott 2:33
Well, he won’t use a points card. So if I combine it with the credit card, I can get him to do it that way. But he’s not holding people up to use a points card. That is what I was told.
Wayne Kay 2:43
Oh, okay, I get it. That makes sense. I don’t think – maybe it’s a man thing. We don’t like holding people up. So when I get it, what is it? We’re supposed to use them?
Mary-Ann Marriott 2:52
Yes, so let’s talk a little bit about that. There was kind of a lot there to unpack. Let’s talk about points. Because I think that’s a real common one that most people understand and do and have some kind of points card.
So stacking points is a great way that you can save money. What I mean by that, I’ll use my own example. So I collect PC points for free goat groceries. And I have that link to my MasterCard when I get gas. So now I get PC points with MasterCard for gas. And because I’m using the proper credit card, I also get more points, because I’m using that branded card. So that’s just an example of how you would just take one thing like PC points, and you would layer it in a few different ways. So you get more, pun intended, bang for your buck.
Wayne Kay 3:46
Okay, I like this. So in your eyes, then it’s a good idea to actually have the credit card because I’ve noticed that you get maybe 3.5 cents, or maybe it’s 2.5 cents, if you just use the card. But if you use their credit card, you get way more points.
Mary-Ann Marriott 4:01
Yes, now I’m going to add – and this is my phrase, this is what I use all the time. So there is a thin line between financial strategy and financial disaster. So if you know that you are not a good credit card user and you are going to use it and you’re going to run up a balance then you have defeated the purpose, because now you are paying for those points. So yes, I do recommend it if you know that you are going to use it and pay it off in full every month. But the minute you start carrying balances, you’re basically depleting the benefit.
Wayne Kay 4:31
Okay, so you have to be very aware of that, but I think there’s some stores where you can even put it on your credit card and then walk over to customer service and pay for it.
Mary-Ann Marriott 4:39
Yes, absolutely. And that’s a great way to do it. Again, if you’re looking to pay your card off in full it’s absolutely a great way – put a purchase on it. In fact, that’s what I do. I have a kind of a grocery fund but I use my credit card for points. And then basically when I get home or wherever, I just transfer over the payment on the credit card right away.
Wayne Kay 5:00
Now, is there a danger of spending more in a grocery store by using the points? Because you’re thinking, Well, I’m gonna get more points, but I’m spending more money?
Mary-Ann Marriott 5:08
Yes, there is. I’m glad you mentioned that. Because again, that kind of goes to psychology and absolutely. One of the other things that I had mentioned was cashback apps and you can upload receipts. There’s different ways that you can do that as well. What they do is they post on these apps, specials of the week. So if you buy this, and this and this, and you can get 25 cents back or 10 cents back. But if it’s not something you buy and use anyway, you’re really not getting any value. So you really want to ensure that you’re buying stuff you would buy anyway, and not things that are out of the ordinary, just so you can get cash back.
Wayne Kay 5:46
So these cashback apps, how do they work?
Mary-Ann Marriott 5:51
There’s a few different ways that you can do that. Some of the apps I use I’ll share, and there’s various ones, but FLIPP is an app. I use FLIPP. It’s more of a shop around app. It has all the flyers in it.
For example, if I’m going to buy butter, I put butter in and it will bring up where butter is on sale at all of the stores and the price in all the stores. I can figure out where it’s on sale. And I can decide that that’s where I’m going to shop. Now, to that point, don’t go driving around to seven different stores, not with the price of gas today. Because again, you’re not going to save money. So you have to be smart about this.
Wayne Kay 6:28
I had no idea. I thought I was doing really well, because I actually have a little shopping list thing now on my phone. I was excited with that saying, but at least I can say butter into my phone, instead of having them a little sticky notes on my phone.
Mary-Ann Marriott 6:43
I have that too. But I do use apps as well. And you know, another one is Checkout 51 and Caddle are a couple that I have on my phone, I just brought my phone up as we’re chatting. What they allow me to do is go in and upload my receipt for certain things that I buy, and they put cash into the app, which then I can cash out.
So that’s another example of a way that you can do that. Receipt Hog is another one. There’s so many you can kind of get lost in it. But what I usually recommend is to just find one play with it, see how it works for you. I’ve cashed out, $20 bucks here, $30 bucks there. I think my PC points equates to somewhere around $200 a year in free groceries. I usually bank them and use them at Christmas time.
Wayne Kay 7:31
Is this my wife on the other line? That’s exactly what she does. That is what she saved up for – Christmas time.
Mary-Ann Marriott 7:40
Yes, I do our big seafood chowder. Pretty much we get to do it for free every Christmas.
Wayne Kay 7:45
Okay, so that’s another great one. So you’re a big fan of using these technologies. I love this. Are there ways to increase your earnings using this technology? Like you mentioning that one app and using the points. Are there other things you can do?
Mary-Ann Marriott 7:59
Yes, I’m actually a big fan of that as well. So absolutely – the one with receipts because you get the money back and it kind of banks it for you. It’s not really increasing your earnings per se, but it kind of feels like it is because you’re getting that money banked and it’s in there. There’s some that you can use. And cashback, again, it’s money back on what you’re spending, but it feels like earnings.
So I’ll just say that mystery shops – there’s a way that you can use technology to increase your earnings. There’s various mystery shops online, you can sign up for them. You go out and buy something, you submit an evaluation and you get paid to do that, plus you get free product.
And let’s not forget selling online. You can sell anything anywhere pretty much now. So that’s a great way to bring in extra cash flow using today’s technology through Kijiji, Facebook marketplace or whatever the local provincial place might be.
Wayne Kay 8:57
It’s unbelievable stuff people sell.
Mary-Ann Marriott 9:01
Yes, and buy. And it’s crazy. I almost go there before I go anywhere else now just to see if I can get it. I’m amazed at how often I can and then you’re saving money and saving money. I’m a big fan of saving money.
Wayne Kay 9:15
And last time you were on we were talking about spending plans instead of budgeting and it was just so much more powerful – when it comes to these technologies and these apps. Is there something that kind of fits into that spending plan as well so that you’re keeping track of – okay, I’ve spent this bunch of gas or spent this much on groceries.
Mary-Ann Marriott 9:34
Oh, yes. I’m so glad you mentioned – how did I not mention that? I’m like the poster child for tracking expenses. So yes, absolutely. Again, lots of apps out there. I’m a huge fan of tracking expenses. Information is power.
And so really, if you’re wanting to change your financial situation, you need to know what you’re dealing with. And in order to know what you’re dealing with, you need to track where your money goes so you can make good conscious decisions about changing it.
Mint is the program that I’ve used for many years. I use that one because you link all your accounts to it. So if you’re someone with multiple bank accounts, credit card, lines of credit, they all go to one place. Whereas if you deal with one specific bank, typically you can use their tracking program and do it that way. But yes, nowadays, you don’t have to keep receipts and add them up. There’s so many ways that you can do that online and the information is at your fingertips.
Wayne Kay 10:34
I think my wife is going to love this. I can’t wait to share this with her. I think it’s a great tip, because it’s not something that we typically did. We did it the old fashioned way. Years ago, when we wanted to find out exactly what was coming in and what was going out – we did it the old-fashioned way, just write it down on paper how much money was spent. And I got to tell you, we were shocked at how much money we’re spending on lunches every month.
Mary-Ann Marriott 10:57
Yeah, it’s an eye opener. And, I’ll tell you that the app is great for couples as well, especially if they don’t combine their banking, because you can set both the accounts for both people up to this one account. And then each person can log in, you can do it on the computer, you can do it on your app, they are very convenient for multi people using it together.
Wayne Kay 11:18
Okay. I think I’ve got another topic for you regarding fees. We pay subscription fees for this and for that, and everything. We’re being $6 to death, I say. Do you have some advice on that?
Mary-Ann Marriott 11:32
Yes, stop doing it. No, I’m just kidding. Yes there’s one that we forget what we have. So I think this goes back to tracking and being aware. And so certainly make a list of all of the subscriptions you have.
If you were doing a spending plan, one of the items might be subscriptions, and then you would actually list them out with the amounts you pay, and when they come due. And the reason that I wanted to mention that is because a lot of times we will take advantage of the free offer. And then a month later, two months or three months later, it comes up – we don’t pay attention, we forget. And all of a sudden we get billed again.
So setting reminders so that you can cancel after the free offer if that’s your intention, and just looking for ways to streamline it. I’m thinking of Netflix and Crave and Amazon Prime and all the different places that we can watch TV. Disney, do you really need all of them? So maybe sign up for one, do that one for a year, then sign up for the other one, do that one for a year. So it’s not like you’re missing out, you’re just delaying what you’re watching by a few months.
Wayne Kay 12:43
That’s great advice. I do that with Apple. I’ll wait until I know there’s a bunch of shows that I want to see. And then I’ll sign up and watch it for two months and then cancel it.
Mary-Ann Marriott 12:53
Yes, because we’re too complacent, right? We just do it, it’s there. And it seems like too much work. But when you have a spending plan, you’re really looking at where your money goes, and you’re setting your priorities. All those 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 – well, $20 now, because they’re all going up – those $10 or $20 a month, they add up and they take money away from something that’s probably way more important.
Wayne Kay 13:14
When we look at the finances of Canadians and how much people are spending now that we didn’t have to spend, I’m going to make myself sound old here – but pre cell phones, pre 2000s, 2005. Before that time, we didn’t have to spend $100 on a cell phone per person in the house. Let’s say you got mom, dad and two teenagers, that could easily be close to $300 a month. No exaggeration, right? Then all of a sudden, you’ve got internet fees, which oftentimes can be at $90 a month, you add that on top and all of a sudden, just like that, and let’s throw in some Netflix, Crave and Apple were at $450 a month of fees that didn’t exist in 2000.
Mary-Ann Marriott 14:05
Yes, I’m wanting to cry right now. Thanks for that. No, I mean, I’m so with you on that. I’ve been in this industry a long time. I remember going through budgets with people because I called them back then. So I remember going through their budgets and saying, What do you spend on this and that. The phone would be $35 a month and then, let’s flash forward. If it’s under $200 It’s a shocker. It’s just crazy.
So, if those things are important to you, then absolutely, you’re going to want to find ways to counteract the cost of them. Simple things like, calling around price comparison,switching providers and just the stuff we said. You don’t have to have everything all at once. Stagger it out so that you still have variety, but you’re not paying $60 – $70 a month for three, four subscriptions that you’ve got going on constantly.
Wayne Kay 14:59
I think the reason I bring that up is because sometimes we wonder why is it so much more difficult now? And that’s the way. I mean, you can’t really live without a cell phone.
Mary-Ann Marriott 15:10
Yes and internet, same thing. We just don’t, it just doesn’t work without it. So there, you have to make room for those in your plan.
Wayne Kay 15:17
Yes. Okay. What’s your final words of advice regarding this? Because you’ve had some wonderful tips for us.
Mary-Ann Marriott 15:24
And just before I give you that, maybe this is my final advice. I’m not sure. But I just wanted to talk about, no fee banking. I just want to throw that out there.
Wayne Kay 15:32
When you talk about no fee banking – because I think for my bank, I have to have like, $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 – I don’t know what it is. And then I think I don’t get charged fees at that point. So good luck with that, right? Which ones are you talking about?
Mary-Ann Marriott 15:52
Well, that’s one way to do it – if you do carry a certain amount, absolutely. And some people don’t even know that. So check with your bank and see what it is, it could be an incentive to have those savings. A lot of people don’t know that if you have various products with a bank, they will give you a break on your bank fee, but not necessarily unless you ask. So you know, ask and see.
Then I’m talking about the online, virtual no fee bank. So Simply PC financial. Tangerine, those are some of the ones here in Canada with no bank fees. In the previous podcast we did, we talked about simplifying your banking system and having three different bank accounts. Your spending account, a no fee bank account is a really great option for that. So you can just transfer your spending. I call it your virtual wallet, that’s what you spend out of. You don’t have to keep an eye on the other accounts. And there’s no fee. So typically, you can reduce your bank fees at your main bank, because you only have so many transactions coming out of that account. Now you’re not spending out of it. So just one of the overlooked areas that I wanted to highlight.
Wayne Kay 17:00
So as my son is now moving out, going into his whole world, he does not have his student bank account anymore. Now all of a sudden, he’s going to have to start paying fees. This is the advice – you can still have the main account, but then have one of these virtual online banks.
Mary-Ann Marriott 17:17
Yes, and you know why? Kids don’t need brick and mortar. So my son’s in the same position. He’s 20, and he opened a KOHO account. And there’s a couple things I really like about that. It’s easy, it’s online, they get cashback, but more recently, he and I have been looking at his credit rating, and credit score. I want him to have one and a good one, so that he doesn’t have to rely on mom when the time comes.
KOHO has a really cool program, a credit establishment program. It’s $7 a month for six months, and it helps them get on the map with their credit score. So that is another really cool way that you can leverage technology. It’s one of these accounts that can really position yourself financially when you start to step out in the world.
Wayne Kay 18:03
Oh, my goodness, we could just keep talking for like another hour. We’ve got so much to dive into. I hope you’ll come back again.
Mary-Ann Marriott 18:10
I will. We have to talk about credit bureaus of credit ratings now because I broached the topic. I think my last words are – don’t get complacent. I think that’s really key is we get complacent. We have these bank fees, we have these subscription fees, we pay prices, and we don’t necessarily get cashback. Or when I click coupons, online coupons just take some time. It doesn’t have to be a big onerous task, but just look at what’s happening and get creative and find some solutions. And even if you save $1 here and $2 there and $3 there and $5 there – $10, $20, $30 a month adds up.
Wayne Kay 18:48
You know, I have got to tell you this. One of my co workers came to work, he stopped buying coffee every morning. And he walked in the other day, and he put his hands in his air and he said, I’ve saved. I think it was like $60. I bought three records. Right? Love it, right? He didn’t spend it on that he was able to buy something now that he can use and enjoy. And it’s I think that’s fitting to end off this podcast right along with what you’re saying.
Absolutely. I love that.
Mary-Ann, thanks very much again for being on the show. My guest today, Mary-Ann Marriot from Allan Marshall and Associates Licensed Insolvency Trustee. If you want to learn more, maybe you want to schedule a free consultation with Allan Marshall and Associates you can head over to their website at wecanhelp.ca
And that is it for another edition of Debt Matters podcast. Just make sure you subscribe wherever you get your favorite podcasts from and of course, for more information, you can always check out our site debtmatters.ca Thanks so much for listening.
About Mary-Ann Marriot
Mary-Ann Marriot has been working in the insolvency field for over 25 years. She received her Chartered Insolvency & Restructuring Professional designation in 2005 and her Licensed Insolvency Trustee license in 2014.
Mary-Ann is passionate about helping people become financially literate. She feels honoured to be able to help individuals discover solutions to overwhelming situations and find peace-of-mind in their lives.