We continue our interview series with our friend Stephen Weyman from How to Save Money. I hope that people will benefit from all the tips on how to save money that you share on your site. I personally learned a lot myself!
What inspired you to start How to Save Money?
When I was a poor university student, I developed a passion for saving money on nearly everything so my money would go further. I researched every purchase to death and was an active participant on deal forums. That lead me to discovering credit card rewards as a means of seeing the world for next to nothing.
After discovering a literal goldmine through my research and forum reading, I realized how much valuable money saving information was out there on the internet but buried deep in forum threads where most people would never bother to read it.
I checked around to see if anyone in Canada had started a website that talked about this sort of thing, and no one had. There was a massive site in the UK called Money Saving Expert, but nothing in Canada. So, I decided to start HowToSaveMoney.ca myself on the side of my day job as a software developer.
What makes your website different from others out there?
There are a lot of personal finance blogs and websites in Canada, but mine is the only one that exclusively focuses on saving money. We’ve branched out a bit to cover more aspects of personal finance, but saving money is still our core. Another differentiator is that I’ve always produced longer well-researched content from the beginning before that was popular. More sites are doing it now, but back in 2010 it was pretty uncommon.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting your website? What has kept you going?
The main challenge is the sheer numbers of things you need to be proficient at to do it well. It’s a lot like trying to run a successful magazine all by yourself. You end up doing the job of 20 people and that makes it extremely difficult to stay focused and make progress.
What can we look forward to with How to Save Money?
We’ve got a brand new project launching very soon called creditcardGenius and then after that we have lots of plans to modernize HowToSaveMoney.ca and to integrate a lot more tools and services into the site to make it an even better place to go to save money.
What is the favourite place that you have travelled to so far?
I’d have to say Vienna left a really big impression on me. The city was incredibly clean that it just sticks out in my mind. Everything seemed new and spotless, even the older architecture and monuments. I’ve never experienced anything quite like that again.
If you can go anywhere in the world (that you have no been to yet), where would it be and what will you be doing?
Right now I’ve been working so hard, that all I want is a beach vacation down south. I haven’t been down south since my honeymoon. It’s hard to get away with kids but they’re starting to get to the age where it might be possible to slip away for a week alone with my wife sometime soon. Really looking forward to doing that and just 100% relaxing! Other than that, I’d like to explore many more countries in Europe.
What is a fun fact about yourself?
I’m a gamer – I guess that’s a fun fact. I enjoy playing competitive video games and tend to stick to the same game for up 5 or more years at a time. Most gamers don’t do that. Right now I’m playing Heroes of the Storm a few hours a week when I have the chance. I’ve also spent plenty of time playing Warcraft 2, Starcraft, and Starcraft 2.
Can you share a tip or trick that you’ve use for travel?
I love asking for free upgrades when I check in to a hotel. You can either put on your winning smile and ask if they have an upgraded room on a higher floor with a view available or try the $20 trick where you slip them a $20 and ask them if they can find you a nice upgrade. At first I used to doubt if I really was getting much of an upgrade, but I could clearly see the difference in room size and quality after staying at the same hotel multiple times when I didn’t ask for an upgrade.
What advice would you give travellers and “Pointshoggers” out there?
As I say in my beginner’s guide to travel hacking, don’t take the travel hacking game too seriously. It can quickly take over your life if you’re trying to maximize every points offer, chase down every travel deal, and try to get everything for free. It’s OK to get the second best deal or to pay the regular price sometimes. Give yourself a break and keep it lighthearted and fun so you don’t burn out. The only thing more valuable than money, is time.
Any final thoughts?
You guys are doing an amazing job here at Pointshogger to further the knowledge of Canadians about points, miles, and travel. Keep up the good work!