'Modern Money' with Alana Marks of Reimagine Work
Today we sit down with Alana Marks, HR Consultant at Reimagine Work, a Victoria-based firm that provides human capital consulting for organizations that are willing to examine their existing systems, question the status-quo and rethink how they lead their talent. Alana chats with us about the importance of experiences, saving for the future and the Instagram accounts that have helped shape her financial journey.
What is your most used credit card?
The Desjardins Modulo Visa that I got through Coast Capital. It had the lowest annual fee and best rewards but that’s as far as my research went. It was mainly the convenience factor since it was through my bank.
Up until 18 months ago, I was a debit only girl but now I only use my Visa. Once I paid off all my debt, I switched to credit so that I could start collecting points.
Do you pay your credit card balance off in full every month?
Do you carry cash?
Never! Although recently I got into VarageSale so if someone buys an item I sell, they’ll pay me in cash, but I always forget that I have it in my wallet because I never think to pay for anything in cash!
What banks are you an account holder at?
I recently closed my account with Coast Capital because I wasn’t using it enough, but I kept my credit card with Desjardins. Now, I do everything through Van City, including my mortgage.
Have you always been financially minded?
No, I got into finance during the pandemic because I thought, ‘to hell with the patriarchy, I’m going to own my things and I want to know what I’m talking about.’ There are two accounts on Instagram that have really helped me in my financial education journey - @money.scoop and @moneywithkatie
In what ways have they helped?
Well, @moneywithkatie created a Wealth Planner excel document and you can track your income, spending, debt, investments and much more. It’s really helped me see my full financial profile in one place. It’s all manual entry though so it can be time consuming.
This is one of the gaps Billi hopes to fill. We want to automate a lot of the tasks people are doing manually right now, giving you more time back in the day.
I know. Please give me beta access already!
I’ll see what I can do! Do you have an emergency fund?
Yes. I got an unexpected inheritance recently and paid off my remaining debt with it, and then created an emergency fund. Right now, I’m covered for about seven months, if I continue living my current lifestyle.
I want to see if I can get it to a year. I put half of the fund into a low-risk investment, so it's appreciating in value, while still holding onto a six-month amount that allows me to be comfortable. This really appealed to me because I just started getting into investments and now understand how compound interest works. It felt weird to have my emergency fund all in cash, earning virtually no interest.
Are you a spender or a saver?
As a kid, saving came very naturally. As an adult, it comes naturally when I hit a critical mass. It was very easy for me to spend when I had debt, because I always saw the negatives. Once I became debt-free, it was much easier to adopt a savings attitude.
When I was saving for my condo, I had to divert money into an account that I set up with my friend at Van City, and she didn’t let me touch the account until I had enough for a down payment.
It pays to have friends that work at banks! What was the last big item that you purchased?
Two years ago, when my condo flooded, I had to renovate my kitchen, but that purchase wasn’t by choice.
The last big intentional purchase was a good pair of Sony headphones.
Would you rather spend money on experience or things?
Experiences, 100%. Travel and live music are the two things that I will never be upset about spending money on. When I was 27, I had a ‘Yes Year’, where I fully lived it up. I travelled to England, Greece, Mexico, Las Vegas, and went to four or five music festivals.
Who were your favourite performers?
Donovan Woods and Noah Kahan.
I love them both! Noah Kahan was the soundtrack to my travels through Asia in my twenties.
Did your family talk about money growing up?
We talked about it in the sense that saving is important. We had an allowance of a Loonie a week. I remember my dad introduced the idea of bonds with my paper route money and I had $500 in bonds. He had convinced me that I was going to be a millionaire with these bonds. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
If someone gave you $1M today, what would you do with it?
Renovations on my parents' house that they’ve been dreaming about. Pay off my condo. Buy a house and rent out my condo. Then I would quit my job and travel for a long time. Croatia is my first stop.
What gap do you hope Billi will fill in managing your finances?
A consolidation hub would be the dream. Freedom to categorize my transactions in a way that’s meaningful to me. I’d like to connect my checking and visa and see the spending together. Mainly, I want Billi to provide insights that show me how I can retire at fifty.