It’s Your Money, Plain And Simple

Tangerine Money-Back

Being married to a personal finance blogger can’t be easy. My better half must feel like every spending decision will be scrutinized and every transaction put under the microscope. Adding to her money anxiety is the fact that, as a stay-at-home partner, she doesn’t have her own income to spend on whatever she wants.

Even though we treat our household income as “our money” my wife still has spending needs that shouldn’t require an explanation or justification to her Mr. Multi-Category Budgeting Spreadsheet husband.

Fair enough. To get around this complicated issue my wife has her own credit card – not a joint credit card, but one in her name alone – along with her own chequing account and savings account. She chose Tangerine because, No Fees, obviously.

At the beginning of each month, when we’re moving money around to various accounts to meet our money goals, we also transfer $500 over to my wife’s chequing account, which we call the No Questions Asked spending account.

To the best of my knowledge that money gets spent on health and beauty products, home décor, coconut milk lattes, and Lululemon. She calls it self-care, which sounds good to me. Again, no questions asked.

About a year ago she applied for and started using the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. She liked that she could earn 2% Money-Back on some of the categories in which she regularly spends anyway.

Tangerine Moneyback Card

The card gives you 2% Money-Back on purchases in two categories of your choice, such as groceries, restaurants, drug stores, and entertainment. When she told me she deposited her Money-Back Rewards into her Tangerine Savings Account to earn a third 2% Money-Back category, it was like we fell in love all over again.

My wife knows she won’t get rich earning rewards on $500 per month in spending. At most she’ll get $5 or $10 automatically deposited back into her savings account each month. It can add up, though. She’s already saved an extra $50 just through regular spending.

Tangerine Moneyback earnings

She’s smart with her spending, too; stocking up on beauty products when they’re on sale, personalizing her 2% Money-Back categories to the match her shopping habits, and even adjusting her preferences to a new category whenever a large purchase comes up so she can save 2% on it.

Money-Back categories include:

  • Grocery (most popular)
  • Restaurants
  • Gas
  • Recurring Bill Payments
  • Drug Store
  • Entertainment
  • Furniture
  • Hotel-Motel
  • Home Improvement
  • Public Transport and Parking

Tangerine 2% Money-back Credit Card Categories

My wife uses the Tangerine trifecta – a no-fee daily chequing account paired with a high interest savings account, and Money-Back credit card – to spend and save her money in her own way.

By using this approach we have less overall money anxiety around our household budget, my wife establishes her own credit rating and builds a higher credit score, and she earns money-back on her everyday spending.

Time for a Giveaway! <— Win $250 from Tangerine!

What challenges have you faced with your household budget and everyday spending? Did you find a solution? Share them with me for the chance to win $250* courtesy of Tangerine!

There’s two ways to enter the contest:

Option #1

Leave a comment below sharing your own budgeting successes and/or difficulties, as well as your favourite Money-Back Credit Card category

Option #2

Retweet this tweet with a comment about your favourite Money-Back category and use the hashtag #TangerineMoneyBack. Be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Contest Rules:

Open to Canadian residents only. One entry per person. The winner will receive a $250 gift card to a retailer in their favourite spending category. Don’t have the Tangerine Money-Back card yet? You can sign up here.

Contest closes on July 27, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. EST and I will announce the winner on Twitter, plus here on the next edition of weekend reading, on July 28, 2018.

Good luck to all!

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  1. Nicole on July 24, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Definitely groceries! My biggest expense after the house. Travel would be a close second tho and I use a westjet master card from RBC for most of my day to day purchases.
    Budget issues – I do well. Then lose focus. Repeat

  2. Brad S on July 24, 2018 at 5:23 am

    Close to first highest category is recurring bills. I’ve moved whatever bill payments I can onto the card. As for groceries, I love that Walmart is considered groceries as well as my vitamin and supplement trips to Community Natural foods. My biggest budget challenge is impulse purchases for electronic items. I’ve been trying to manage this better with a dedicated and explicitly budgeted category for it and trying to stay within budget.

  3. Leo on July 24, 2018 at 5:53 am

    Travel is our favourite reward, we use a joint account for all our spending with ample room for personal purchases.

  4. Murray on July 24, 2018 at 6:22 am

    Groceries is most useful money back. Online impulse <$20 is my biggest challenge.

  5. Lauren sergy on July 24, 2018 at 6:48 am

    My favourite budgeting tool is having multiple high interest e-savings accounts where I can dump monthly contributions towards things like gifts, home improvement, an eventual car upgrade, etc. We should get a stronger grip on our groceries budget, though. We dive fallen off the meal planning bandwagon, which has resulted in a lot of food waste.

  6. Sky on July 24, 2018 at 7:36 am

    After the mortgage and daycare, groceries are definitely the next biggest expense category, so I’d choose that one. We use the PC MasterCard and the PC Plus to double up on our points at SuperStore. It’s not cash-back, but we find for our purposes this card gives the greatest value.

  7. Ryan on July 24, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Budgeting for the unexpected – as soon as we started an emergency fund, all the stress was gone. Favourite cash-back card…. probably the Tangerine Money Back card.

  8. Kevin on July 24, 2018 at 8:00 am

    Best credit card I found through Rate is Scotia Momentum Visa. 4% for groceries and gas cash back and 2% for reccuring bills and drug store purchases and 1% for everything else you buy. Not to mention the $100.00 incentive to apply for the card through On average we receive about six to seven hundred in cash back each year. First year fees are waived at $99.00 per year it’s still worth it. Tangerine as you said the credit card is used for what they offer in cash back as well, as mentioned in your article. Use them both. It’s about time banks started paying people back. I have never paid a cent in interest charges.
    I like reading your articles –keep up the good work.

  9. Jan on July 24, 2018 at 8:20 am

    I have a Tangerine chequing account, savings account and their Mastercard. I use the mastercard for most purchases and subscriptions. With the cash back, I use those funds to supplement my travel budget. My number 1 category is groceries. I have opened accounts for my mom too, giving her my orange # for free funds. Would love to win the contest.

  10. John Davies on July 24, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I use the restaurant feature the most as I eat on the run, and even a quick cup of coffee earns a Tangerine reward. Easier than all the extra coffee shop cards. I use the savings, chequing and investment options to keep my money in one place and can balance the accounts for planning and spending needs.

  11. Bernz JP on July 24, 2018 at 8:50 am

    With two kids, definitely, groceries are our biggest family expenses. We’ve also cut down big time on eating out to save money. Have never heard of Tangerine credit card before but based on your article, looks like this may be a good credit card for us to use for our grocery shopping needs. I’ve gone to their website, and also do like what I saw.

  12. Malcolm Palmer on July 24, 2018 at 8:55 am

    We use Quicken to manage our income and expenses, with RBC Westjet Mastercard, plus we maintain an annual cashflow which we update weekly to make sure we have sufficient cash for upcoming major expenses, such as family (10 people) cruise and trip to Walt Disney World. Also, use a high payout mutual fund instead of a savings account for our major purchases.

  13. Ben on July 24, 2018 at 9:05 am

    We had the exact same problem with wanting a little privacy and also being fair with discretionary spending. We each set up Tangerine chequing and saving accounts with automatic contributions each week, and so far it has solved the privacy issue and helps us stick to budget! I would definitely sign up for the credit card if there was a fishing gear category

  14. Braden Bulmer on July 24, 2018 at 9:47 am

    Groceries is our favourite category. I still like the idea of giving my wife cash for her no questions asked money. There is something less abstract with cash that makes people think deep about their purchases 🙂

  15. Laura on July 24, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Favourite money back category is groceries/food, which also happens to be my biggest difficulty. Hard to balance the ease of fast food at a higher cost vs putting in more effort but saving more money by grocery shopping.

  16. JP on July 24, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Every woman should have her own credit card and bank account that is not joint with her spouse or in her spouse’s name. It helps to have some cash in that account or an RRSP or TFSA earmarked for emergencies too, especially if the woman has no income of her own. If the marriage breaks down, vindictive spouses can slam the accounts shut and cut up the credit card. It can take a year or more before the courts enforce child support or separation agreements.

  17. Craig on July 24, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Groceries are my favourite category, mostly due to the amount we spend on them. Biggest budgeting success is managing our spending to live on one income while still paying down a mortgage, saving for retirement, raising children, saving for their eventual education, and still managing to fit some fun and vacations.

  18. Jen on July 24, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    I have trouble keeping track of how much I spend on groceries so started putting all my receipts in an envelope. Then I discovered the Tangerine credit card and since all the grocery shops are clearly listed on my statement I no longer have to keep track of every separate receipt. Added bonus is getting 2% back on my spending!

  19. Adam on July 24, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Groceries is my biggest category so my favorite. I put everything possible on my card to earn rewards, even if it is only 2 bucks. Of course I remember to pay the bill in full every two weeks on payday.

    This has earned hundreds of dollars in cash rewards that ever month or two I transfer into my TFSA with Tangerine. I make tax free money off of my free money, not a bad deal.

  20. Harry on July 24, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    My wife is a coupon user, so typically she will watch for items we use that go on sale, that we have a coupon for, it helps to stretch our grocery bill. If we eat out, we usually have a coupon or special offer for the restaurant.

  21. Bill on July 24, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    We had issues setting up our first joint budget as well until we nailed down the need for the “no-questions-asked” individual spending accounts.

    We are now working together as a team on our household finances, and in fact have two Tangerine credit cards between us, allowing us to take advantage of 6 categories! Our top categories are groceries and restaurants as enjoying good food is one of our shared values.

  22. Sherry K on July 24, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Groceries are a big expense so I make sure to take advantage of all the coupons and specials I can and have started to use my Tangerine card to get cash back even on groceries.

  23. Julie on July 24, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    I like the Tangerine credit card for my recurrent expenses. I put them all on that card and I know each month around how much I’m expecting. So when I see a deviation from the usual, I check to make sure something wring didn’t happen. I put my other irregular expenses that doesn’t fall into any of my 3 Tangerine categories on another credit card that give me a bit more cash back (Tangerine gives only 0.5% on those). Quite happy with the set up 🙂

  24. Amanda on July 24, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    My husband and I do the exact same thing! As a stay-at-home spouse with a small-but-growing consultancy it’s nice to have the freedom to buy a new book every now and then without having to justify it. And I use the Tangerine card + savings just like your wife does. Our favorite category is grocery, though, since that’s where most of our money goes.

  25. Mario R on July 24, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    My own budgeting success is saving 10% of my earnings every year which I place in a tangerine saving account. When this account reach a few thousand dollars I transfer that amount to my investment advisor so it can be invested wisely. This has profited nicely over the past 25 years. My favourite Money-Back Credit Card categories are gas and grocery.

  26. Hetty on July 24, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Tangerine is NOT the best credit card anymore. If they didn’t give 2% on groceries and recurrent bills I would have cancelled it when they started to change their money back %. So now we only use it for gas, groceries and recurrent bills.

  27. Jason on July 24, 2018 at 4:57 pm

    The biggest budgeting difficulty was trying to find fun/blow money when everything else was tied to paying off debt. We solved it by including a “Fun Money” category in our 0 based budget. I think getting money back on gas is my favorite money-back CC category as I travel for work a lot.

  28. Cindy on July 24, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    A person in my house purchases crazy priced food when they grocery shop and they splurge on fancy cheese which is pricey! At least they use my points card when they shop?

  29. Suzanne D on July 24, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    My biggest expense mistake seems to be “spontaneous”, which is a category for my unexplained purchases that occur on a spur of the moment basis.. The only thing I can do is budget in a category called “random”, put in a very limited amount every pay day, and force myself to stay within it. So far, I’ve been good.

  30. Mary Beth Gauthier on July 24, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    I have had a cash back Card in the past but haven’t used them as strategically as mentioned here and in the comments but I’m intrigued so will look into this more. Thinking of our monthly budget I would say groceries would be the biggest category for our family. Love this blog been reading it for a while — thanks for all the great info!

  31. Sandra on July 24, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Biggest budgeting difficulty is overbuying for sales of daily essentials. Still have laundry detergent, toothpaste, shampoos and creams from a long while ago! Solution is to keep track how long it takes to use items and buy only enough for a reasonable period.

    Favourite cash back category is recurring bills.

  32. Ashley Collinge on July 24, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    Groceries with a young family of 5 is our biggest expense. I use the PC financial mastercard and find it provides good value for the points program. I also have a Tangerine savings and chequing account and like their “no fees” accounts versus the big banks fees. Biggest budgeting challenge is being self employed and not having a reliable pay cheque each month. I have found that looking ahead at the year and what expenses are coming up allows me to better plan, having multiple accounts through Tangerine to save up for each big expense . Enjoy your articles and personal insights!

  33. Gin on July 24, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Our best budgeting success was a combination of weekly meal planning and a grocery list. Putting the meal plan and grocery list together took a bit more effort upfront but it made meals for the week coming up a breeze and we saved in $ at the store, time and food wasted. Typically late on a Sunday afternoon I would set aside about 1/2 hour to prepare and did my shopping straight after when it was less crowded. Groceries and recipes for the week coming up was good to go. I started enjoying looking up recipe’s for items on sale and ended up with lots of new ideas for mealtimes. It was a ‘win’ all around. My favourite cash back category is groceries.

  34. Angela Grandbois on July 24, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    I recently came from being wild and free to being a wife with a new born…. So I made alot of big changes,like buying meat for the freezer, growing a garden and freezing everything in the freezer or cold storage. I used to do alot of online shopping because I was bored, but now I live in a small town so I have to order everything online! I’m not working so when I do receive money its for the budget… I honestly wish I had someone to teach me the basics when I was younger but my mother died when I was 17 and never had a father. Man, for anyone with these luxuries I’m happy for you. I’m in a great relationship now, so I hope I can pass on anything Im learning from now and the future for my baby to be a good budgeter and spender. Recently joined tangerine because it was ING… And when I was young and very poor, I never thought I would have the chance to have an account with this institution.

  35. James W on July 24, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    Keeping a handle on my eating out has been my biggest budgeting challenge. I really like eating in restaurants, but it adds up so quickly. It’s something I’m working on and getting better at thankfully. Recurring bill payments are definitely my favourite cash back category!

  36. Andrea on July 24, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    Groceries and extra-carricular activities for my daughter are for sure the biggest expenses I have after my regular financial commitments, as a single parent with just my income the groceries cash back would be a huge benefit.

  37. Jasmine on July 25, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Groceries is our biggest struggle. My parents live with us and we have food allergies. To cut back on costs we make a lot of our food and shop at the farmers market close to end of day for the best deals.

  38. Linlin on July 25, 2018 at 7:09 am

    Restaurants for sure!

  39. Heather on July 25, 2018 at 7:25 am

    My husband has begun a new career at the beginning of this year -self employment. In order to keep the business expenditures separate, he uses one specific credit card, and puts all his business expenditures on that. I have a PC Mastercard which I use for grocery/personal care purchases. I had saved enough points to pay for the flowers for our wedding, which I had purchased from a floral shop inside the Loblaws chain. Bonus!!

  40. Gert on July 25, 2018 at 8:49 am

    After deciding I would be a stay at home (semi retired) dad while my wife’s career took front seat, I assumed the household. Not as easy as my job was. Budgeting is a challenge as we simply put everything on the card and pay it at the end of the month. I make it a habit to only buy when things are on sale. Not having my own income becomes a challenge as guilt rides along side of me but I compensate by assuming the cleaning, cooking, laundry etc. All of this is very hard work and I appreciate my wife all the more and all women who do the same. Expenses are budgeted tightly because of the kids and school as well so they have adjusted to a sales only shopping attitude. So over all we have come closer together as a family with less income but a better understanding.

  41. Jan on July 25, 2018 at 9:05 am

    My biggest success has been creating and diligently committing to following an excel-type budget in order to prepare for retirement. It has greatly reduced the money stress as I know now exactly where I need to cut back or can spend a little more. We use the Tangerine cash-back credit card with our 2% categories being groceries and gas. It works well for us.

  42. Zahar on July 25, 2018 at 9:52 am

    I’m only at the very beginning of making my financial skills. As only working person in our family, I have all banking stuff linked to my name. Next step – open tangerine CHQ, SAV, CC accounts for my wife and make regular contributions. As I understood, you need to make transfers to CHQ only (not to SAV or TFSA), otherwise Tax Collectors will have questions to ask.

  43. Bruce Callan on July 25, 2018 at 9:58 am

    We have every Tangerine product (RRSP, TFSA, savings, checking, GIC’s) except for mortgage and credit card. We received a letter from Tangerine recently offering us a 6 month 0% interest for 6 months on transfers from other cards. Our focus has been to pay down a specific credit card and have considered getting a Tangerine CC but were hesitant. Now you have explained it better, we will go ahead and apply. I would use your link but have been preapproved directly by Tangerine so think we are better to respond to their direct offer. Thank you so much for the information and giving us the confidence to proceed!

  44. Jess on July 25, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    My own budgeting success would be keeping my money in my savings account and watching it grow slowly! It all adds up in the end! I like money back on gas!

  45. Jenna Staats on July 25, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    Tangerine helps me with my spending because it categorizes my purchases (spa/clothing/etc). And there’s a pie chart too, so I found that to be helpful where my money is spent towards. I don’t have a money-back credit card because of my low income, but I would like to earn some money back, that’s always nice.

  46. Deborah on July 25, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Our biggest budget successes are automating our savings and payments. We use several accounts at Tangerine to save for our retirement, emergency fund and various goals (vacations, cars etc.). Basically, we set savings goals, then spend the rest. It may seem strange to some, but it works for us.
    We also find that automating payments using our credit card or bank account just helps to simplify life.
    We don’t currently have a cash back credit card as we use the RBC Avion for the travel insurance and flexibility with booking reward travel. That being said, your article is making me think that we should give Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card some serious consideration.

  47. Sarah on July 25, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    Hello I’m 27 years old and have always been very successful with my savings. I’ve been able to purchase a car and home because of my frugality! My budgeting success is due to not eating out and bringing my own tea to work. My favourite cash back category is gas. “Gas? Is it gas?! It’s gas isn’t it?!”-Homer J. Simpson. Thanks for the chance to win!

  48. Kevin on July 26, 2018 at 12:01 am

    I do things a little different, but my goal is to maximize rewards and limit fees. I use a portfolio of credit cards according to which one gives me the best value.

    I use the PC world elite MasterCard as my default for most of my shopping (I don’t actually spend much on groceries at grocery-category stories, I tend to spend more at Costco and superstore). It gives the equivalent of a 1% back in Points (or 3% at Superstore plus accelerated returns with pc optimum offers). I like though that I can choose when I want to get those rewards.

    I use use Costco capital one card only at restaurants and gas stations to maximize the 2&3% return.

    And I use the home trust visa for anything in other currencies to avoid the 2.5% foreign currency conversion fees

  49. wsiemens on July 26, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I usually stick pretty well to my budget, although I don’t run a very strict budget. I always compare categories year over year and decide which ones I”m ok with expanding and which ones I think need to shrink. My focus is on the annual spending rather than each category though. Recently moved, so some of the home furnishings and improvements categories are going to take a big hit this year. Thanks for running this contest, that $250 will help in the home reno’s budget! 😉

  50. Jennifer Clarkson on July 26, 2018 at 11:59 am

    For me, the hardest part of budgeting was the rare expenses that don’t recur frequently. I ended up having an “extras” line item where any carry-over floated from month to month. It could cover anything from an expensive hair cut to grass seed to expensive medical stuff.

  51. Syed on July 26, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    GROCERIES for sure. I use Microsoft Excel and Mint to meet all my budgeting needs. It is a Godsend!

  52. Brenda on July 26, 2018 at 6:36 pm

    I’ve tracked our finances to the nth for the past 39 years of marriage. Paying as little as possible in banking fees, paying off credit card balances every month and letting the credit card companies float me a short term ‘loan’ every month pays off in the long run.

  53. Sarah on July 31, 2018 at 8:46 am

    Dear Robb,

    My husband and I pay ourselves an allowance each month and can spend it how we want. If we’re making a personal purchase over $20, we charge it to our joint points based credit card and then put the cash in the money jar (we need to have cash on hand for some things).

    We have a PC Mastercard (earning PC Optimum points) and a Canadian Tire Mastercard (earning Canadian Tire Money). We shop at and own shares in both stores (George Weston but close enough). I had a Visa Cashback card but found that it took too long to redeem the minimum amount ($25) and I prefer getting my money back in food than in money. Weird but true. I’m sure someone has done a study about that.

    Enjoy your blog, especially the roundup posts.

    Besos Sarah.

    • Gert on July 31, 2018 at 10:33 am

      Hi Sarah,

      Sounds like a good way of working things, especially if you’re both working. Robb’s way is a great way as well for a one income family. Good to read both sides!

      Points for food is likely a money saver at the rate of price increases and even better when shopping specials.

      My wife and I are grateful to have been able to have paid off all debt. We now concentrate on the kids and their education. Both of us having always been frugal when it comes to spending, we have alway discuss any punches based on the following 3 rules;
      1. Mostly we justify any purchases and if they don’t make 100% sense we simply don’t buy.
      2. We don’t ever “keep up with the Jones’s” of the world.
      3. If we can’t pay cash we can’t afford it (in other words if the purchase prevents us from paying the credit card at the end of the month, don’t buy applies. We are extremely fortunate and grateful to have never paid interest on credit cards).

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