Have you been thinking about alternative options to your traditional bank? For one woman, the switch not only helped her get her finances in check but also made travelling so much easier — and affordable. Ahead, we spoke with Alix, a 29-year-old in Winnipeg, about how nontraditional banking helps her easily fund her frequent travel. As told to Melissa Kravitz.
Ready to give KOHO a try? Sign up now with code KOHOREFINERY29 and get double the cash back — that's 1% of what you spend — for the first three months.
As a pediatric ER nurse, I work 12-hour shifts three days a week. Right now, I'm on the night shift, which is 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m., and every six weeks I get a week off. On my time off, I love travelling out of Winnipeg, either alone to closer spots, like Toronto, or with my fiancé to places like Minneapolis.
I'll admit: I’m not great at budgeting. In the past, when I went on a trip, I didn't think super far ahead or save aggressively in any way. My old bank didn’t have an app that offered automatic saving, and I wasn’t able to set specific goals for the near future. So when I saw an ad for KOHO on social media earlier this year (resolutions season!), I decided to sign up and go beyond my regular bank account. KOHO advertised no banking fees, and I started to realize that I’d been paying fees to my bank that were totally unnecessary. I also really liked the PowerUps, which give you instant .5% cash back on all spending. And the RoundUps, which help me save more easily (KOHO rounds up to the nearest dollar on all transactions and puts the leftover amount into your savings account — I personally choose the closet dollar option).
I started my account primarily for travelling, so I could stop worrying about saving and gain some peace of mind about accruing money to travel. I’d wanted to go to California for a while, which I knew would be expensive, but I didn’t know exactly how much I’d need. So I opened a savings goal, which was really easy to use, since it was in the background. I didn’t need to do anything and KOHO would save less than $10 a day for me, so I barely paid attention to my finances.
If I could save more, that would be great, but I did really well with this first big trip, saving daily for six months. I didn’t focus on the numbers so much but just remembered when I cut back on little things, like not getting a coffee every day or parking on the street and walking a little further to save money, that unspent money could add up to something bigger. I didn’t feel like I was giving up so much, and when we finally got to California, we could splurge.
We treated friends who hosted us to meals, not only because we were saving on accommodation by staying with them but also because we had money to spend. When we went to a baseball game, we felt okay buying the surprisingly expensive drinks because we had a fund ready. Typically, we like spending our vacation money on food, trying things we can’t get in Winnipeg, like Korean barbecue and legit tacos. We’re more likely to splurge on a meal than tickets to an amusement park or something like that.
I think I did really well setting up my goal in advance and letting my travel money accrue daily. I don’t really budget with an itinerary but aim for about $100 a day in food and drinks, and it was easy to stay on track on my last trip. We ate at some restaurants we really wanted to go to, and with the PowerUps, we already started earning to save for our next trip: Halifax. It’s a less expensive destination, but if you have savings goals set up in advance, it’s so much easier to make a dream trip a reality.
Ready to give KOHO a try? Sign up now with code KOHOREFINERY29 and get double the cash back — that's 1% of what you spend — for the first three months. Talk about making your money go further.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.