Young And Thrifty https://youngandthrifty.ca Saving Generation Y Wed, 28 Jun 2017 17:05:32 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 Oversimplification: An RRSP is basically a cardboard box https://youngandthrifty.ca/rrsp-infographic/ https://youngandthrifty.ca/rrsp-infographic/#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 01:00:31 +0000 https://youngandthrifty.ca/?p=17687 Oversimplification: An RRSP is basically a cardboard box first appeared on Young And Thrifty

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You know what people in the finance world love to joke about?

How no one understands what an RRSP is.

Oh, how they laugh.

They laugh like it’s ‘so simple’.

And then when they try to explain it, they bog it down with so much bullshit, that even I get confused – and I’m pretty sure I know how RRSPs work! (If you want to know how they compare to TFSAs check out our TFSA vs RRSP showdown.)

So I decided to make an RRSP infographic (hold the applause please) that ignores a lot of the little rules that you really don’t need to know about right now and boils RRSPs down to a few fundamental things.

If you don’t know what an RRSP is, here’s a place to start….

What is an RRSP? It’s basically just a cardboard box…

RRSP Infographic

If you feel like you’ve got a ton more questions… good.

There’s always more to know, but sometimes it’s good to start with an oversimplication.

Once you know what an RRSP or a TFSA (really just a slightly different type of cardboard box) is, then the rest of this investing stuff slides into place.  Opening up a Questrade account and buying and selling your own investments *within the “cardboard box” of an RRSP* begins to seem like a much more manageable process right?  Or perhaps a “set it and forget it” solution such as a robo advisor is more to your taste?  At least if you know that you aren’t “buying RRSPs” then you can get a much better understanding of where your money is actually invested – making it much more likely that you will stay the course

Even as something as benign as understanding that a high interest savings account (like the one we prefer from Tangerine) is not the same as a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) puts you ahead of most Canadians, and allows you to get a grasp on what the heck these “registered cardboard tax boxes” are, and how investments work while inside them.

And please share this one around… so we can end those “they don’t even know what an RRSP jokes” once and for all.

They’re really not that funny.

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How Much Can You (Responsibly) Spend On Fun? https://youngandthrifty.ca/much-can-responsibly-spend-fun/ https://youngandthrifty.ca/much-can-responsibly-spend-fun/#comments Mon, 19 Jun 2017 01:43:50 +0000 https://youngandthrifty.ca/?p=17449 The hottest personal finance trends these days are all about guilt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford to spend on fun things. Whenever you see a viral article about money, it’s probably because someone (cough, rich dude, cough) is telling you how they made their millions, and what you’re doing wrong with your spending. […]

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The hottest personal finance trends these days are all about guilt, but that doesn’t mean you can’t afford to spend on fun things.

Whenever you see a viral article about money, it’s probably because someone (cough, rich dude, cough) is telling you how they made their millions, and what you’re doing wrong with your spending.

But I’m here to tell you that you can be great with money and still spend money on fun.

Lots of the spending-guilt trend pieces (lattes! avocado toast!) focus on spending that comes out of what I call the fun budget.

Going into summer, you’re probably staring down a season of fun, and yes, a lot of it will cost money.

But how much can you reasonably spend on fun in a given month, while still being a responsible human who can laugh in the face of trend pieces?

Ten percent of your take-home pay.

Well, that was easy.

That number comes from a budget that looks at how much you “should” spend on each category in your budget based on percentages of your income, so before we go any further, let’s dive into that quickly.

Breaking Down the Percentage-Based Budget

A percentage-based budget is exactly what it sounds like: You apply a set of percentages to your total take-home income, and it gives you guidelines about what a reasonable amount would be to spend on each category of your budget.

You’ve heard of this if you’ve ever heard someone recommend that you spend 30% or less of your income on housing. This is that!

So to dive in, how are we ending up at that 10% recommendation for your fun budget? Here’s the full breakdown of the expert-recommended budget that comes from.

  • Housing – 30%
  • Transportation – 15%
  • Food – 10%
  • Fun + Life – 10%
  • Savings – 20%
  • Debt – 15%

So all you have to do to figure out what the real, actual numbers are for your life is to multiply your take-home monthly income by each one.

For example, if you make $3000 a month after taxes, your fun budget would be $3000 X 0.1 = $300.

Easy, right?spend on fun

A Note of Caution

There are times when this budget framework breaks down.

If you make very little, or you make a ton of money, these numbers might break down and not fit with how much you need to spend (or want to spend) on certain categories. That’s OK – they’re just guidelines, and they work best if you have an average income.

But if that is you? Here’s your next step.

Implementing It For Your Fun Budget

Before you run away into the sunset with your fun budget based on the recommended percentages, you should check on some key things.

First of all, do your other expenses line up with the recommended totals? If you’re spending more than half of your income on rent and utilities, your other categories of spending are going to have to scale back to accommodate your higher housing spend. So go take a quick look and compare your known expenses, to see if they fit into your percentage-based budget.

If all systems are a go, and you can rock a 10% fun budget? Amazeballs.

If not, and you need to scale down, do a few quick calculations and find a percentage to spend on fun that won’t leave you without the money you need to cover rent.

Keeping Tabs On It

So you’ve got a number in mind, and visions of lavish fun spending dancing in your head. (Gimme that avocado toast, am I right?) Let’s keep going with our previous numerical example, and say you’ve got $300 allocated to fun spending for the month.

Now, you need to track your fun spending.

This is a non-negotiable too, so do not pass go, do not collect your fun budget, you have to do this part. Tracking your spending sounds like a hassle, but it’s the only way to know when your spending on fun stuff hits the critical point where one more latte will put you into over-budget territory.

You’ve got two main options: Use an app or DIY.

If you want to use an app to track your spending, you’ve got a lot of options out there. You can use You Need a Budget (YNAB) for a $5USD monthly fee, connect your accounts to Mint for free, or use something like Koho to automatically keep track of your spending.

Related: You Need A Budget vs Mint

If you’re going with an app-based approach, the most important thing to look for is notifications. Specifically, you’ll want the app to send you an email or a push notification on your phone when your spending is creeping up on your total budgeted amount – and again when you officially hit that number.

If you’re tracking manually, I salute you, because it’s the hands-down most powerful way to manage your money. All you need in this case is a spreadsheet, a file or a notebook, and a commitment to write down and add up all of your spending as it happens.

You’ll quickly start to see patterns in your spending and be able to identify the exact moment where your fun spending tips over into omg-I’m-over-budget territory.

Then, Plan For Hitting Your Budget

If the moment you hit your budgeted number is the most important one for your money, the second most important moment happens right afterwards: What will you do for the rest of the month now that you’re out of fun money?

Making a plan for that very, very likely situation is something you really need to do ahead of time, so you’re not left scrambling to figure out what to do when it’s only the 13th and you still have dinner plans next week – but no “fun money” to cover them.

You’ve got a few options, including…

  • The hardcore, cold-turkey approach. When you hit your budgeted fun number, you cancel and hold off on all fun spending for the rest of the month. (This is by far the most extreme and the hardest approach, FYI.)
  • The cutting-back-in-other-areas approach. If you’ve got non-negotiable fun expenses coming up, and you have a good sense of the rest of your budget, you could always move money around from other spending plans to cover the fun-budget shortfall. The prerequisite for this approach is, obviously, being able to control and change your spending in other areas.
  • The cover-the-shortfall and then adjust approach. This isn’t a long-term solution, but if you have savings earmarked for things like vacation or gifts, you could dip into them to cover this month’s fun budget shortfall. If you do take this route, just know that it’s a pretty big red flag – you need to figure out a more long-term solution, and seriously look at your spending.

Forecast Your Spending

Ok, this sounds super complex, like I’m asking you to do financial projections, but it’s actually super simple, and well within your skill level. Trust me.

At the start of the month, take a look at a monthly calendar – ideally, the one you use to plan your time anyways. Maybe it’s a paper planner, maybe it’s Google Calendar, but whatever it is, use it to answer the following questions.

  • How many weekends are there this month?
  • How much do I spend on an average weekend on fun? (Lattes, brunch, etc.)
  • How many commitments do I already have this month? (Dinners out, birthdays, etc.)
  • Approximately how much will each one cost?

This should give you a rough idea of how much of your fun budget is already accounted for this month. That information will be hugely helpful when it comes to saying yes to additional plans, and keeping yourself on track to avoid overspending.

And hey, if you need to say no to some plans to make the numbers work? That’s totally fine. Here’s exactly how to do it gracefully.

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BMO Investorline Review https://youngandthrifty.ca/bmo-investorline-review-2/ https://youngandthrifty.ca/bmo-investorline-review-2/#comments Fri, 16 Jun 2017 15:29:13 +0000 https://youngandthrifty.ca/?p=17525 BMO InvestorLine wants to be your online investing destination and has clearly heard that Canadian investors don’t all have the same wants and needs. (A basic vanilla indexer like myself is going to require a very minimalist platform, whereas a day-trader is going to want to fill all those fancy monitors with up-to-minute charts and […]

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BMO InvestorLine wants to be your online investing destination and has clearly heard that Canadian investors don’t all have the same wants and needs. (A basic vanilla indexer like myself is going to require a very minimalist platform, whereas a day-trader is going to want to fill all those fancy monitors with up-to-minute charts and data.)  The Canadian banking titan offers two distinct online investment paths.  First and foremost you have their traditional BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct discount brokerage account aimed at self-directed investors.  Then you have a relatively new offering named adviceDirect for folks that want to venture into handling their own investments in an online setting.

BMO InvestorLine is so confident in their platform that they are willing to throw $1,200 at you just to try it out.  Until August 7th, when you invest $200,000 into a new account you’ll receive:

  • $1,200 Cash Back
  • 60-Day Access to Leading-Edge Tools and Research
  • Up to $200 Transfer Fee Rebate

Use our promo code YTCASH to get this promo here

Save Big On Investment Costs

If you want to cut your investing fees to the bone and take control of your portfolio, the most efficient way is to use an online discount brokerage that allows you to embrace self-directed investing.  If you’re not familiar with exactly what a discount brokerage is, it is essentially an online platform that allows you to buy and sell stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments on your own (instead of getting a financial professional to handle the trades for you).

BMO InvestorLine is primarily aimed at investors who are confident in making their own decisions and do not feel the need to rely on a financial advisor to make investment selections on their behalf.  DIY investors can range from folks who make a few trades per quarter in order to rebalance their simple couch potato portfolio, to active traders who make several dozen trades per day.  No matter the frequency of your trading, InvestorLine has an option to fit your strategy. You can also be comfortable knowing that BMO InvestorLine is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

Initial Thoughts

InvestorLine is a solid, user-friendly platform that is easy to navigate, and provides an incredible array of analysis options.  Its drop-down menus and toolbars are very straightforward and easy to understand.  It’s an intuitive process to check out how your investments have done over the years, compare your holdings to their benchmarks, or see your portfolio in various types of graph forms.  BMO InvestorLine sacrifices a small amount of flashy graphic design and “clean simplicity” in order to immediately provide a ton of relevant information, in a format that will be immediately familiar to anyone who has used online banking options in the past.  You definitely do not need to be an investing guru in order to make full use of BMO InvestorLine’s roster of online investing tools.

The tools and education section is chalk full of useful insights including a great guide on how to get started with the platform.  BMO InvestorLine has many of your everyday questions answered in their “TFSA and RRSP Corners”, as well as their specific sections on taxes and retirement.

BMO Investorline Review 1

BMO InvestorLine Costs and Fee Schedule

The value proposition offered by InvestorLine is quite competitive.  While the basic trading fees are not quite as cheap as the low-cost leaders in the discount brokerage field, given the range of features that InvestorLine offers, as well as their award-winning customer service record, you are paying for a more substantial package than low-cost leaders offer.

The most important number to most DIY investors is the per-trade fee.  InvestorLine customers pay a flat online trading fee of $9.95 per trade – and this includes those pesky ECN fees that are charged separately by several competitors.

While there is a minimum of only $5,000 to open a BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct account, there are additional annual fees of $100 for registered accounts with a balance of under $25,000 ($50 for RESPs under $25,000).  Registered accounts include RRSPs, LIRAs, RESPs, TFSAs, as well as less well-known options such as LRSPs, RIFs, LRIFs, RLSPs, LIFs, and RLIFs.  Once you get over the $25,000 mark these administrative fees are waived.

For non-registered accounts with a balance of less than $15,000, a quarterly administration fee of $25 is applied.  This fee is waived if your balance is above $15,000, if you have a registered account with BMO InvestorLine, or if you make two or more trades within a 6-month period – thus covering almost everyone who would be using a non-registered account.

You can check out the rest of InvestorLine’s fee schedule here.

BMO InvestorLine Highlights

My favourite aspects of BMO InvestorLine include:

  • Absolutely excellent 3rd-party research on a wide variety of stocks, bonds, REITs, mutual funds, and ETFs.
  • Ability to hold equities in USD in my RRSP and TFSA accounts (no paying to constantly exchange currency back and forth).
  • Very strong client support and education tools.
  • Efficient communication via the MyLink messaging service.

BMO Investorline highlights

5-Star and MarketPro Features

As you can tell from the chart below, BMO InvestorLine’s 5 Star Program offers elite value for active and/or high net worth customers.  With three tiers to choose from, it’s clear that BMO is ready to really roll out the red carpet for investors who have already accumulated a bit of nest egg and are interested in aggressively pursuing a trading strategy

When combined with InvestorLine’s MarketPro research, the 5-Star program can be the solution to your unique needs as an active or high networth investor.

BMO Investorline Features

adviceDirect: Advice and Recommendations

If buying and selling your own investments online is still a bit intimidating to you, BMO InvestorLine offers a handy service alongside their main Self-Direct platform known as adviceDirect.  This service provides investors with advice and investing recommendations based on their investment profile.  In order to benefit from this level of personalized advice, you will have to pay a bit more than the fees associated with the low-cost InvestorLine packages.

Final Thoughts

BMO InvestorLine is a very solid online investing brokerage that offers a little something for everyone.  If you’re just getting your feet wet when it comes to handling your own investments, the educational resources and third-party research might really tip the scales in BMO’s favour.  If you consider yourself to have graduated from DIY Investing 101 and are ready to pursue more advanced trading strategies, you’ll be interested in the 5-Star Program and unique BMO MarketPro tools which really set BMO InvestorLine apart from their competitors.

Personally, while BMO InvestorLine doesn’t have a required minimum to begin investing, I’d recommend trying to get close to the $25,000 plateau in order to avoid paying the fees on basic registered accounts such as your TFSA and RRSP.  At that point, the value offered by InvestorLine really starts to take off.

InvestorLine has won numerous awards over the years when it comes to customer service and providing investors with top-notch research and advice.  If these areas are important to you then you need to give InvestorLine a serious look when choosing a DIY online investing platform – and with BMO InvestorLine offering to send you $1,200 (plus pay up to $200 in transfer fees) what better time to see what InvestorLine has to offer?!

Remember to use our promo code YTCASH to get this promo here

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How to Gracefully Say No to Expensive Plans https://youngandthrifty.ca/gracefully-say-no-expensive-plans/ https://youngandthrifty.ca/gracefully-say-no-expensive-plans/#respond Mon, 12 Jun 2017 01:49:56 +0000 https://youngandthrifty.ca/?p=17453 Summer is the season of sun, fun, and expensive plans with friends. But what if you need to say no to expensive plans, for reasons from affordability to straight-up not wanting to attend? Between festivals, patio drinks, brunches, camping trips, vacations and more, it’s understandable that your budget might be feeling a little bit stretched […]

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Summer is the season of sun, fun, and expensive plans with friends. But what if you need to say no to expensive plans, for reasons from affordability to straight-up not wanting to attend?

Between festivals, patio drinks, brunches, camping trips, vacations and more, it’s understandable that your budget might be feeling a little bit stretched – especially if you’ve never figured out how to say no to the deluge of invites that accompanies the season.

But just because someone pops up in your text messages with an invite to another Saturday afternoon drink on another patio doesn’t mean you need to mentally account for a $50 budget line item if you’d rather spend that $50 on a class pass at your fave yoga studio.

You know that pit of your stomach feeling, where you know you’d rather not – or straight up can’t afford to – attend an event, but you don’t know how to get out of it? That doesn’t have to be the defining feature of receiving invites you can’t afford this summer.

Here’s a clear, easy, three-step process to stop committing to fun plans you can’t afford, and refocus your fun spending on things you want to do, without losing out on the actual fun parts of plans with friends.

Plus, handy scripts to use that are short enough to send in a text!

Step One: Do You Even Want to Go?

This seems obvious, but it’s a step most of us skip right over when an invite pops up in our inbox, our messages or in a disappearing video on all of the different platforms that offer that these days.

How to gracefully say no to plansDo you even want to do the thing these people are inviting you to do?

Sometimes, there will be factors that trump how much you want to go, like who the invite is coming from. Mom invites you to help move something giant from one spot in the basement to the other? You kind of have to go to that. But if it’s an invite from friends to get yet another round of drinks on a patio, your first step should be to check in with yourself.

A knee-jerk yes is too easy as a stock response, so before replying to an invite, ask yourself these questions if you’re on the fence about it.

  • Do I genuinely enjoy this activity?
  • Am I really excited to spend more time with these people?
  • Is this in line with my goals?
  • Will accepting the invite mean I can’t do something else? And will I be sad about missing that other thing?

I know, it seems basic, but when checking out that fancy new $10-ice-cream-cone place isn’t in line with your fitness goals, and it’s an hour out of your way by bus, somehow it’s still too easy to say yes by default.

If you’re facing an invite that you’ve realized you want to decline, here’s your easy out:

“Thanks for the invite, but I won’t make it this time!”

Literally that’s it.

You don’t need to offer elaborate excuses or justifications – you just won’t make it this time.

Step Two: Have Multiple Backup Plans

If you do wish you could participate in plans, but you know your budget just can’t handle it (you responsible money-haver, you!) you’ve still got options.

Actually, you’ve got a lot of options, because for every expensive dinner out and music festival, there are cheap-but-great brunches and having friends over to your place to listen to records.

To figure out a backup plan that you’ll be more than happy with, think about why you want to go to the expensive option in the first place.

Are you a total foodie and wish you had the funds to try out that fancy new restaurant? Hit up the library, check out a cookbook and buy the ingredients to make something fancy for your friends instead – it’ll be cheaper, and hit your “eat great food” criteria. (Well, I mean, probably. Are you a good cook? Whatever, you can learn.)

Do you love the conversations that happen on a lazy Saturday over patio beers with friends? You can recreate that on your balcony / porch / backyard / fire escape with a tiny bit of effort. A few snacks, some beers and you’re ready to rock – and you won’t need to tip 15-20% on the total bill.

Generate a list of the invites you typically get, and what you like about them. Then, brainstorm alternatives that will save you money, but still give you the parts you love about the experience.

Now, all that’s left to do is enlist your friends (who will secretly love that you’re saving them money at the same time, I guarantee you).

If this is you, here’s what to say:

“Would you be up for ________ instead?”

Or, if you want to be extra-clear that you’re not going to be up for the expensive version of the plans, try this one:

“I can’t do _______, but would you be up for ________?”

Step Three: Be Upfront

If you’ve decided you really want to go, and your friends aren’t taking no for an answer, it can put you in a bit of a tough place… But you haven’t broken out the big guns yet.

I’m talking about mentioning your budget.

Listen, these are friends of yours, right?

I know that most of us would rather do just about anything else than bring up money among friends, but if you need them to get it through their heads that no, you really are not going to buy a Coachella pass, or come to that yoga festival in Hawaii, being upfront about your money reasons can be a great way to shut down the peer pressure.

Plus, as a seasoned user of the I’m-on-a-budget excuse, let me reassure you: it is highly unlikely you’ll be met with anything other than understanding and kindness. These people are your friends for a reason, and I’ve only ever had one person react with anything less than total graciousness.

Which, by the way, is a great way to prune your friends list. I’m just saying.

If you’re ready to bring up your budget, here’s what to say:

“It’s just not in my budget this month – but I’d love to ________ instead!”

Or, if it’s a bigger expense and that phrasing isn’t in line with your reasoning – or if you really do just need to prioritize other things – try this.

“I’m focused on saving up for _______ right now, so I’ll have to pass – but it’d be great to ________ instead!”

The real trick here is that you’re not just dropping the I-can’t-afford-it bomb and running away – you’re giving your friends an easy, graceful out at the same time. Pick one of the other, cheaper activities you identified in step two, and end with an invite to do that.

You’re basically handing them a polite response on a silver platter, as opposed to leaving them open to try to hassle you into going over budget.

Which, again for emphasis, no one ever does!

Would you try to convince someone who just admitted they didn’t have room in their budget for an expensive plan? Of course not. You’d accept the invite to backyard beers with a smile, and so would any reasonable person.

If they’re that unreasonable, do you really want to go to Coachella with them in the first place? Exactly.

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Questrade vs Qtrade https://youngandthrifty.ca/questrade-vs-qtrade/ https://youngandthrifty.ca/questrade-vs-qtrade/#respond Fri, 09 Jun 2017 13:14:00 +0000 https://youngandthrifty.ca/?p=17465 As two of Canada’s best discount brokerage the Questrade vs Qtrade debate has had DIY investors arguing for years.  We’ll do our best to break it down and find the best fit for you. Before diving in and splitting hairs, I should point that both platforms are excellent options and share many common traits such […]

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As two of Canada’s best discount brokerage the Questrade vs Qtrade debate has had DIY investors arguing for years.  We’ll do our best to break it down and find the best fit for you.

Before diving in and splitting hairs, I should point that both platforms are excellent options and share many common traits such as being CIPF-insured, having substantial help libraries available, slick practice accounts to get your feet wet, USD-registered accounts, and are just generally seen as being very user-friendly

Related: Questrade Detailed Review

Easy Questrade vs Qtrade Comparison

Questrade Advantages:
No Fee ETF Purchases
$50 In Free Trades
Quick and easy paperless account setup
Excellent value at $4.95 per trade (non-ETF purchases)  
Qtrade Advantages:
Elite Customer Service
Good for mutual fund purchases
Cool initial updates upon account creation
While Qtrade is a worthy competitor and a good option for mutual fund investors, (not our style) Questrade takes our #1 spots based on no-fee ETF purchases and $4.95 trades.

Try Questrade today using our free promotion – Simply click the link below (no promo code required)

Advantages of Questrade over Qtrade

1) No fees on ETF purchases.  This simple feature has saved me hundreds of dollars in commissions over the years.

2) An excellent Questrade promo offer code of $50 in free trades when you sign up.

3) A quick and easy paperless account set up.

4) $4.95 Baseline trading fees simply can’t be beat (Qtrade = $8.75)

Questrade vs Qtrade

Advantages of Qtrade over Questrade

1) Excellent customer service that is raved about consistently in online forums.

2) Slick initial updates when you login to your account.

3) No fees or commissions on buying mutual funds.  I generally find mutual funds to be a terrible investment option, but if they are your preferred investing method, then this is obviously a key feature.

Who Should Choose Qtrade

You should go with Qtrade in the Questrade vs Qtrade battle if you:

  • Are interested in mutual funds.  (Again, not something I recommend.)
  • Don’t mind paying a little more for elite customer service.
  • Actively trade more than 200x per month.

Who Should Choose Questrade

Questrade should come out on top in the Questrade vs Qtrade competition if you:

  • Are a basic couch potato investor (aka index investor) who will be purchasing a lot of ETFs.  (Qtrade does have a limited menu of ETFs you can purchase for free, but my favourite options are not on the list.)
  • You want to cut costs to the absolute bone.
  • You don’t need a lot of hand-holding when it comes to maintaining your portfolio, and you aren’t trying to make a lot of exotic trades every month.
  • Our Questrade promo offer code (click here or use the code a1b9d1d9) gives you an automatic $50 in free trades no matter your portfolio size.

Why Questrade Wins our Qtrade vs Questrade Debate

While Qtrade is a very good discount brokerage option, Questrade is still the Canadian Champion.

When you combine the no-fee ETF purchases with our $50 Off Questrade promo offer code, you can effectively set up and maintain a couch potato portfolio for years before ever owing any fees!  

If I was into owning mutual funds, or was an extremely active investor that needed customer service to help with exotic trades of various kinds, then I might look harder at Qtrade.  But for the vast majority of Canadian investors who just want to keep as much of their money working for them as possible, a basic index ETF portfolio is still their best bet, and that’s why Questrade comes out on top in Questrade vs Qtrade comparison.

 

Simply click below to snag $50 in free trades from Questrade – no promo code is required!

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