How to Manage your Money in Alberta

Useful Resources

1) Budgeting Resources: Understand where you are spending

a. “50/30/20” Budgeting Rule through ATB Financial:

b. Budget Planners and Worksheets

i. Financial Consumer Agency of Canada:

ii. ATB Financial:

iii. Intuit Mint:

c. Online Budget Calculators

i. Royal Bank of Canada:

ii. Sunlife:

iii. My Money Coach:

2) Day to Day cost of living in Alberta

a. The cost of living in Alberta varies across the province. The numbers in the list below are based on figures obtained in February 2020.

Cost of Living in Alberta (Feb 2020) PDF

b. For the most updated cost of living in Alberta, please visit these links below:

i. Average Rental Rates in Alberta (as of February 2020):

ii. Alberta Retail Food Prices: Selected Communities:

iii. Alberta Transit Passes:
– Calgary:
– Edmonton:
– Fort McMurray:
– Grande Prairie:
– Lethbridge:
– Red Deer:

3) Financial Institutions in Alberta

There are three main types of financial institutions in Alberta: Traditional Banks, Credit Unions, and Online Banks:

a. Traditional Banks – There are 6 big commercial banks in Canada:

i. Bank of Montreal (BMO):

ii. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC):

iii. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC):

iv. Scotiabank:

v. TD Canada Trust:

vi. National Bank of Canada (NBC):

b. Credit Unions – Community-based financial institutions owned by their own members:

i. ATB Financial:

ii. First Calgary:

iii. Servus:

c. Online Banks – Usually have no physical branches, main service delivery model over the internet:

i. EQ Bank:

ii. Simplii Financial:

iii. Tangerine:

4) Basic Investment Accounts

a. Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

i. A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is supported by the government to help you save money for funding your child’s (or any child’s) post-secondary education.

ii. You can open up RESP accounts with most banks and financial institutions, but make sure to shop around and compare the service fees.

iii. Read more about RESP:

b. Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)

i. When you save your money in a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), you do not need to pay any tax for the interest you earn from this account, even when you withdraw money from it.

ii. Read more about TFSA:

c. Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

i. A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a retirement savings plan in which contributions are tax deductible and income earned is exempt from taxes, as long as funds remain in the plan.  You can convert your RRSP to get regular payments when you retire.

ii. Read more about RRSP:

5) Credit Score and Report
It is recommended that both partners in a married or common law relationship build up their own credit score. Having a good credit in their own name can provide a peace of mind and help reduce stress in the event there are problems with a partners credit or accounts.

Financial institutions will decide whether to lend you money after they review your credit report and credit score.

a. Learn basics about Credit Report and Credit Score:

b. Learn to improve your credit score:

c. 7 tips to build good credit, from ATB Financial:

d. Request a free copy of your credit report online, through Equifax and TransUnion:

i. Equifax:

ii. TransUnion:

6) Financial Supports and Resources in Alberta

To qualify and receive many government benefits, you must file tax each year, even if you do not have any income. Use this online benefit navigator to find out what government benefits you may be eligible for:

a. Low-Interest Loan Programs help immigrants & refugees obtain the financial support needed to find work, or return to their chosen careers

i. Windmill Microlending:

ii. Career Loans:

iii. Job Boost (under Momentum):

b. Government Supports

i. Alberta Income Support helps individuals and families pay for basic expenses (food, clothes, place to live, etc.):

ii. Canada Child Benefit tax-free payment helps eligible families with the expenses of raising children under 18:

iii. Alberta Child Benefit helps lower-income families residing in Alberta to raise their children under 18:

iv. Alberta Child Care Subsidies help lower-income families in Alberta to offset the cost of child care:

v. Alberta Seniors Benefit: helps low-income seniors residing in Alberta with their monthly living expenses:

vi. GST/HST credit is a tax-free payment offered every three months to low-income individuals/families:

c. Affordable/Subsidized Housing and Shelters:

i. Alberta Affordable Housing Programs:

ii. Shelters in Alberta:

iii. Calgary Housing Company (CHC):

iv. Aspen: Home Stay Prevention Program:

d. Free or Low-Cost Food:

i. Food Banks in Alberta – Food Banks offer free food hampers. Depending on where you are in Alberta, you will be able to book food hampers either online or by phone. The number of hampers allowed per year is different from place to place.

– Calgary Food Bank:

– Edmonton Food Bank

– Lethbridge Food Bank

– Red Deer Food Bank

– St. Albert Food Bank

– Wood Buffalo (Fort McMurray):

For a complete list of Food Banks in other cities and towns in Alberta, please visit this link:

ii. Good Food Box (Alberta Health Services):

e. Free or Low-Cost Clothing and Furniture

i. Clothes and Household – Free or Discounted in Alberta:

ii. Calgary Inter-Faith Furniture Society

iii. Dress for Success (professional wears for women):

iv. Making Changes Associations:

v. Women’s Centre Resource List:

vi. Women in Need Society (WINS):

Vocabulary List

Affordable – not expensive, with a reasonable price.

Banking Habits – a regular routine of spending money, such as where and how often you spend, number of transactions you make, etc.

Budget – a plan for the amount of money you need for expenses over a period of time (for example, one month).

Chequing Account – often used for day to day banking; cheques can be written from this account.

Credit –having credit means you, as a customer, can get goods/services before you pay, based on the trust that you will repay in the future.

Credit Card – a card issued to you by a financial institution. Credit cards allow you to get goods/services on credit.

Credit Limit – the maximum amount of credit that a financial institution lends to you.

Credit Score – a number assigned to you that shows financial institutions how capable you are to repay a loan. Usually the higher the score, the higher the credit limit.

Credit Union – a nonprofit financial cooperative owned and controlled by its members who can borrow money at low interest rates.

Eligible – meeting required conditions for something.

Equifax – the name of one of two credit-reporting agencies in Canada.

Financial Advisor – a professional who offers suggestions and financial services based on your situation and needs.

Financial Institutions – companies dealing with financial transactions, for example, traditional banks, online banks, credit unions, etc.

Financial Transaction – the movement of money in and out of an account.

Interest – money you pay for taking out a loan, or you gain from investments.

Online Bank – an electronic system that allows you to do financial transactions on the Internet.

Qualify – become eligible for benefits by meeting certain conditions.

Savings Account – often used for saving money; offers higher interest rates with a limited number of free transactions.

Secured Credit Card – a type of credit card for people with limited credit. It requires you to put in a refundable deposit.

Social Insurance Number – a 9-digit number that you need to have to work in Canada or access government programs and benefits.

Subsidies – money given by the government to assist in the cost of products/services.

TransUnion – the name of one of two credit-reporting agencies in Canada.

Thrift Store – a shop that sells used goods at affordable prices.

Knowledge Check


#1. According to the “50/30/20″ budgeting rule, what should you do with 20% of your income?

#2. What is a good way to save money when shopping for clothes?

#3. When can someone start building their credit score?

#4. The National Bank of Canada (NBC) is an example of what type of financial institution?

#5. What will happen to your credit score if you always pay off your credit card on time?


Acknowledgements and References

Acknowledgements of Actors: Annabel W., Aurelie C., Ruth B., Kanako H.E.

Special thanks to National Bank of Canada and Making Changes Association for assistance in content development and providing filming venues.