You're on your own, kid

...which means you gotta learn how to budget

Good morning. Fall is basically synonymous with PSLs and reruns of Gilmore Girls. Aside from going back and forth between Team Jess and Team Logan (...or Team Dean?), we can't help but wonder how Lorelai Gilmore could afford her pricey coffee and take-out habit, Jeep Wrangler and large Stars Hollow home on a single income.

And according to this breakdown, we're not alone in thinking this. Anyway, we'll heed Lorelai's advice ("Life's short, talk fast") and jump into this newsletter. Your reading time is ~6 minutes.

In this edition: 🐷 Piggyback rides🏦 Reining it in

Vindhya Kolluru, Editor

* Market data as of 9:00 pm ET Sunday, October 23.

* Market data as of 9:00 pm ET Sunday, October 23.


They hear your complaints about high cellphone bills...kinda

Canada's telecom watchdog brought us one teeny tiny step closer to cheaper phone bills.

Say what now? Last Wednesday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), revealed a long list of terms and conditions for the expansion of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the Canadian market. The detailed eligibility outlined by the CRTC follows an initial April 2021 model to allow smaller, regional providers to access larger networks as long as they have invested in network infrastructure. This decision is part of the Government of Canada’s push to lower the cost of cellular services in Canada.

Let's back up for a minute. What are MVNOs? Major wireless providers walked so that MVNOs could run. MVNOs are service providers that don’t own their own wireless networks. Instead, MVNOs offer cellular services to customers by negotiating with major providers (Bell, Rogers and Telus) to resell similar services as the big telecom companies. (They basically piggyback on major providers' networks.) Since they don’t have to pay as much for infrastructure and maintenance, MVNOs have lower overall costs that allow them to offer cheaper plans to consumers.

But there's a catch: Under the CRTC’s new regulations, regional carriers will be required to have a home network somewhere in Canada immediately and MVNOs will be required to build their own wireless infrastructure within seven years. After that, incumbents (i.e. the big providers), are no longer required to resell their services to new entrants.

  • This means that the decision on MVNOs is allowing existing, smaller providers to expand their services through the networks of larger providers in the medium term, but entirely new companies will still struggle to access the Canadian market.

What does the CRTC decision mean for your phone bill? Best case scenario, this decision will increase access to lower cellular services through MVNOs that expand nationally. After the seven-year grace period ends, the hope is that more providers will have their own wireless networks across the country and higher competition will push prices down in the long term.

  • On the other hand, critics of the new policy believe that the new rules aren’t going to solve the issue because of how limited the eligibility is for MVNOs and the potentially high costs of expansion for smaller companies.

The bottom line: With Canadians shelling out 20% more than Americans on cellphone bills, we're keeping our 🤞 fingers crossed 🤞 that this decision will make a difference.

— Sydney Piggott

On our radar

  • Taylor Swift's newly released album "Midnights" has broken several records, including possibly setting a new standard for China's digital music industry.

  • In the midst of an economic downturn that has hit the tech industry especially hard, Toronto-based fintech Clearco, co-founded by Michele Romanow and Andrew D’Souza, has raised US$17.1 million in fresh funding and hired a new Chief Financial Officer.

THE 411

How to create a budget you can actually stick to

Credit: Real Housewives of Atlanta / GIPHY

Credit: Real Housewives of Atlanta / GIPHY

The 411 dishes, well, the 411 on a personal finance topic you need to know by cutting through the jargon and empowering you to take control of your finances. Have a topic you want us to tackle? Let us know!

“I’m on a budget!” It feels like we’re hearing this more and more as prices continue to rise. Budgeting also has the image of being a scary, difficult plan involving multiple financial documents and confusing Excel spreadsheets. We’re here to tell you that you don't need to be an Excel pro or finance bro to create a budget that you can actually stick to.

What’s a budget? A budget is a plan for your money. It can help you tackle debt, set spending limits, reduce costs and most importantly, reduce stress caused by financial anxiety.

What to consider before starting:

  • Financial goals: We're talking both short and long-term. Examples of short-term goals include reducing your weekly expenses or starting an emergency fund. Long-term goals include saving for a car, home or retirement.

  • Wants vs. needs: Unless you're Drake, knowing the difference between wants and needs is essential. You'll want to jot down what you typically consider wants (e.g. travel) and needs (e.g. rent).

  • Track it: Figuring out how much of your money is coming in and going out (and where it's going to) will help you set a realistic budget. To get a general idea, you can do this by tracking your spending for 3-6 months.

Getting started: There are many ways to develop a budget, but the main process is generally the same. First, determine how much you bring in every month, then allocate a percentage of the total to categories (housing, food, transportation, saving, debt, fun, etc.).

Here are a few methods to making your budget, from beginner to advanced:

  • The 50-30-20 rule is a common tactic in which 50% of the income goes towards essentials (needs), 30% goes towards non-essentials (wants), and 20% towards savings (short or long-term). Of course, with the housing market in shambles, your needs portion might need more room.

  • There are also many free budgeting templates provided by almost every financial blog out there. Personal finance blog Half Banked created a free One Minute Budget (FYI: sign up is required for access) spreadsheet that helps you calculate how much you should spend on the major categories. The first sheet tracks your income. Then, the second sheet is programmed to divide up your income (by percentage) into the major categories we mentioned earlier. These percentages are a starting point and can be adjusted to your needs. If you don’t have debt then that 15% can be put into other categories. This is where you can budget for fun stuff like *gasp* avocado toasts and lattes. The third sheet is where you compare your real-life spending to the budget you set on the second sheet.

  • Want to take it up a notch? Money expert Jessica Moorhouse’s Free Resource Library (FYI: sign up is required for access) may be your next step. The budget spreadsheets for individuals follow the same general principle we mentioned earlier but with more detail. If the sheets look a bit intimidating, there are videos on the site to guide you.

Deck the halls: We know, we know, we're not even past Halloween. But the key to budgeting is planning well before you start shopping during the busy holiday season. Here are some tips:

  • Mixed Up Money recommends jotting down everything you plan to buy as gifts, decor, or party supplies (if you’re hosting) along with the approximate prices. If there are no set price limits for gifts, then you should set them yourself. Next, you can add this to your budget spreadsheet like any other category.

  • It can be easy to overspend with a credit cards, a good trick to stay within your budget is to use a cash-only system (for categories like purchasing gifts).

The bottom line: Budgeting doesn’t have to be a headache. It takes a little bit of experimenting to track your spending and most importantly, find a system that works for you.

— Harsimran Garcha

Tell us: Have you ever created a budget?

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Other things we read and we liked

🤐 Don't we all feel called out by this tweet? No? Just us?

🍟 People are selling limited-edition adult McDonald's Happy Meal toys for thousands of dollars.

🍎 A dive into how tech giant Apple's ad business is growing bigger and bigger as sales of its smartphones slow.

📺 Cozy up and add these big- and small-screen recs to your fall watchlist.

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