Managing your money

How to get into your 2021 mindset right now

7 min read

Ayaz Virani

Out of the endless mania we’ve endured the past year, we can all agree on one thing: 2020 was really, really tough. It took us on an emotional ride that felt excruciatingly long, and yet somehow, incredibly fast. Needless to say, curriculums are going to have a hard time deciding how to describe the past year succinctly, and to be honest, they may as well give 2020 its own textbook.

With the end of the year approaching, it’s time to say “goodbye” to 2020 and a hopeful “hello” to 2021. Vaccines are beginning to be distributed globally, companies have gotten through the growing pains of maintaining productivity while working from home, and most importantly, tough conversations that were historically ignored around race, equity, and mental health are now commonplace.

That being said, it’s time to lock in our New Year’s resolutions, and as always, the key is to focus on what we can control. It has always been our mission to restore financial balance, but 2021 is the year to achieve it. Here are 4 tips for getting into your 2021 mindset before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

Create a savings goal for something special

Did 2020 ruin your travel and adventure plans? Maybe you were looking to buy a car and the uncertainty of the past year made it seem unreasonable? Whatever plans you had that 2020 axed, it’s time to breathe new life into them, and start setting aside the necessary funds to achieve them. That way when the time comes, you can make a move without hesitation.

One way to action this tip on auto-pilot is to create a Goal in your KOHO app. It’s highly personalized so that you can set a savings goal, a by-when date, and the app will tell you how much you need to contribute daily in order to achieve it. That’s it!

To put your savings goal into overdrive, consider setting up RoundUps too. You can choose which dollar amount you want to round up each purchase to, and those funds get set aside within the app. Then you can simply cash out those funds to your goal, and voila, you’re a few steps ahead!

This final savings tip may seem counterintuitive, but just hear us out...get on KOHO Premium. It costs $9/month (or $84 if you pay the whole year up front) but most of our Premium users report saving way more in cash back as a result. That’s because Premium earns you 2% cash back on the three spending categories we all can’t seem to live without: eating and drinking, groceries, and transportation. If you spend more than $600 a month on those three categories, then Premium is definitely worth it.

It has been proven that the simple act of planning a getaway is good for our mental health. We extend that to looking forward to just about any tangible experience– planning a wedding, buying a home, etc. So give yourself something to be excited about and get saving for it!

"It has been proven that the simple act of planning a getaway is good for our mental health"

Focus on your mind

COVID-19 created the perfect landscape for widespread emotional distress and other mental health afflictions. Everyone’s day to day normalcy went out the door, and for some of us, that meant continuing to perform our jobs at optimal levels regardless of the endless barrage of changes coming from both within and outside our workplaces.  For others, normalcy and income vanished, and although the government did what they could to help with CERB & CRB, feeling lost or a little hopeless is completely and unquestionably valid.

Sometimes it may feel impossible to control our emotions, but what we can do our best to control is our response to them. Seeking help is the first and hardest step, but luckily, technology makes it easier to access mental health resources.

But remember, you have to be the one to own the journey. As Amy Winehouse so eloquently put it, “I can’t help you, if you don’t help yourself.”

Platforms like Better Help or, if you’re looking to support Canadian, Layla will match you with a therapist specific to your needs. Not sure what those needs are? Don’t worry, there’s an initial interview with a health professional to ensure you’re being matched to the right therapist, and ideally, your insurance will cover it.

Don’t have insurance or enough budget to see a therapist? There’s a number of reduced cost or free mental health options out there as well. In Toronto, there’s a little shop called Hard Feelings that provides short term, low cost therapy right in store. Chances are, wherever you are, there’s an accessible solution for you.

Invest in yourself through financial literacy

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to be on top of your financial literacy skills so you can apply them to your own financial journey. The news is always covering “the economy” and the “stock market” but in 2020, financial news was always at the forefront of headlines alongside COVID coverage. The reasons are pretty clear: many people lost work, businesses were failing during lockdowns, and interest rates dropped. But without some level of financial literacy, this could all sound like mumbo jumbo.

Some have described the past year as an economic crisis, and during an economic crisis, financial literacy matters, a lot. Whether we’re talking about building a simple budget to keep your spending on track, investing your money where it can grow, or understanding how interest rates work in Canada and how that affects you; there’s no better time than a new year to step up your financial literacy game.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be boring. For example, our blog is a great place to start. We have digestible and approachable blogs on a bunch of financial topics that are essentially the crash course in finance you never got in school.

Maybe reading is not how you learn? Well then head over to Youtube or TikTok, where there are a number of influencers in the financial space who help break down complex financial topics for all you visual learners. If you need a place to start, We’re fans of Money After Graduation and Mediocre Money on Youtube. From there, you can look at the recommended videos in Youtube’s sidebar to explore other online personalities that can help beef up your financial literacy skills.

Prefer listening over viewing? Well you guessed it, there are podcasts covering financial topics for that. We recommend Highley Invested, hosted by self-described “edutainer,” Jordan Highley.

Whatever you want to learn, and however you want to learn it, there’s accessible, informative material available for you.

"Now more than ever, it’s crucial to be on top of your financial literacy skills so you can apply them to your own financial journey."

Build your credit score

We know building your credit score isn’t the most thrilling resolution to discuss, but nevertheless, it’s crucial to your financial journey, and by association, your life goals.

Credit scores are so deeply rooted (and well hidden) in our society that it has the ability to make or break important opportunities. It can be the difference between getting the keys to your next apartment, being approved for financing on a vehicle or mortgage, and so much more.

If you are in the camp of Canadians with a poor credit score, don’t worry, they improve over time and there’s a number of ways you can help to build your credit score fast and securely.

First, ensure you’re paying all your bills on time. Rent, phone, hydro, electricity, car payments... all of it can count towards your credit score, so it’s important to stay on top of your bills. If you find yourself in a pinch for a bill, do yourself a favour and do not go to predatory payday lenders. Instead, check out our Early Payroll feature which allows you to access $100 of your next paycheque, for free, within 3 days of its next deposit.

Second, use your credit card wisely. As always, don’t rack up a bunch of charges you can’t pay off, but instead, consider using your credit card for necessity purchases you know you can pay off immediately. Consistent repayment and keeping your credit utilization ratio low (between 10-30% of your available credit) all looks fantastic to credit bureaus.

Lastly, we’re working on a feature to help our users build their credit scores seamlessly, for a low monthly cost. When we surveyed the landscape, we found that most credit repair products were too costly due to high initial deposits, high interest rates, or unnecessary fees. So we decided to build a product that will help our users build their credit for only $7 a month. Seriously, that’s it. Stay tuned for the launch in 2021!

Let hope lead

We know 2020, for lack of a better word, sucked. Remember when we thought the pandemic would only last 2 weeks? Well it’s time to breathe and let go, because a new dawn is approaching with a lot of hope for 2021.

The best way to cultivate that hope is from within. So with a few days until the new year, let’s kickstart your 2021 mindset and get organized for all the personal growth you’ll experience, especially towards your financial health.

Remember to be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and keep learning. Cheers to 2021!

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