Finances

The War On Debt: Save, Pay Down Debt, Or Both?

thewarondebtsavepaydowndebtorboth.jpgI read a quote recently that was attributed to Warren Buffett, which went something like, “Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.”

I suspect Warren wasn’t in debt when he said that.

The fact that we had no retirement fund was a niggling worry that we simply pushed away because other things were more immediate—until I watched my parents move into a special care home a year ago…

They had a decent pension. And a lump sum from the sale of their house. But without the provincial financial subsidy that helps pay for their 24-hour care, they would certainly outlive their money.

Since my husband and I have spent a good portion of our working lives as entrepreneurs, we have not paid into any pensions. Our house will be ours by the time we retire...

But if we don’t act now, it’s the only money we’ll have.

And given the uncertain condition of the provincial coffers, I am skeptical that any such government senior care subsidy will exist 30 years from now.

My Three Needs

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The War On Debt: Spending Blindly With Plastic

thewarondebtspendingblindlywithplastic.jpgWhen I was newly married in the nineties, we used a cash envelope system to control our weekly spending. We’d guess how much we needed for groceries, gas, entertainment, personal items, etc.

Each time we spent money, we replaced it with a receipt. And when the money was gone…

We had no more to spend until next pay.

Being a visual person, I liked this method. But as debit technology grew, my husband gravitated to it quickly. Because he thought cash was too easy to fritter away.

Little did we know how easy it is to fritter money away by debit, too.

Invisible Money

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Money-Saving Tips For Your Home Business

moneysavingtipsforyourhomebusiness.jpg You might think that starting your own home-based business is a guaranteed money-maker…

After all, you’re keeping your costs low, you’re making smart decisions, and you’re disciplined about tracking your time.

But here’s the reality:

Income is often irregular which means cash-flow can be tight.

Sometimes we get too busy keeping the business afloat to realize we’re missing opportunities to correct the bottom line. So yes, small-business owners often struggle with their finances.

The good news?

We can do something about it.

Be it a full-time gig or a side hustle, here are a few tips to help cut business costs when working from home.

Save on software

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How to Budget for Wedding Season...If You’re NOT Getting Married

howtobudgetforweddingseasonifyourenotgettingmarried.jpgThe snow has melted, the weather is getting warmer, and you know what that means.

Wedding season is coming.

You might have dodged the multiple-destination-weddings bullet this year, but even a few local weddings will represent a not-insignificant portion of your summer spending.

Luckily, if you’re in the thick of the attending-weddings season of your life, there are ways you can plan for wedding attendance to make sure it won’t ruin YOUR financial life.

Yup, I’m talking about building a wedding budget (which you probably thought you didn’t have to do until you were getting married yourself)...

Surprise!

How exactly are you going to handle those wedding-related expenses this year...and every year until your friends stop getting married all the time? Read on.

Plan Ahead

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How To Rebalance Your Investment Portfolio

howtorebalanceyourinvestmentportfolio.jpgRegardless of past or future performance...

There will be times when you need to rebalance your portfolio.

That means, putting it back to the asset allocation you intended.

But, what is an asset allocation anyway?

In layman’s terms, this is your strategy for balancing investment risk with potential reward so it aligns with your long term investing goals. (Not to be confused with asset “location” – where you can hold your assets – usually for certain tax advantages.)

First, let’s define these terms briefly.

More on asset allocation

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Basic Tax-Saving Tips for Investors

basictaxsavingtipsforinvestors.jpgI know there are civic minded citizens out there…

...who happily pay their taxes to pay for things like improved infrastructure, education and security.

But, what about the rest of us?

We grudgingly pay our taxes because we have to. BUT we’d rather keep our tax burden as low as possible. Fortunately, there are ways to do it.

Here are some basic investment vehicles that you can use to help save money on your taxes.

Non-Registered Savings Accounts

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The War On Debt: Reining In The Food Budget

thewarondebtreigninginthefoodbudget.jpgI must admit, I don’t even look at sales flyers.

The blue plastic bag is tossed on our driveway Thursday night. On Friday morning, I drop the whole thing straight into the recycle bin.

After talking with Katie Peterson, a registered dietitian, mother of five and meal planning expert, it looks like this is one more thing I need to change.

Katie’s blog is filled with tips on organization and time-savers, particularly for busy, young mothers. She also teaches how to eat on a budget (she calls it “Frugalicious” meal planning) via home parties and Facebook.

After speaking with her, I felt better about our $800 grocery bill in January, since she told me she aims for $780 per month for her family of seven.

“You have five adults,” she says. “Eight hundred is not too bad. I tried to cut back to $600 in January and found it quite challenging. But our grocery bill includes eating out, toiletries, laundry soap, coffee—everything.”

Of course, I didn’t admit that $800 was likely a cheap month. Sometimes we’ve spent upwards of $900. What usually blows it wide open is the purchase of convenience meals on a weeknight when we don’t feel like cooking, or eating out too often for the same reason.

This, Katie tells me, is the problem in most kitchens.

“If you want to stick to a budget, you need a plan. I’ve been doing it for 11 years, so now it only takes me about 30 to 40 minutes for the whole month.”

Frugalicious Meal Planning

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The War on Debt: Here, Have a Debt Sandwich

thewarondebtherehaveadebtsandwich.jpg

I hope at some point in the future I will feel empowered by this attempt at debt repayment…

But right now, I feel nothing but anxiety.

The process of poring over bank statements to fit our expenditures into categories—as I rack my brain to remember my purchases—is exhausting.

Remind me why I’m looking at these ugly, red numbers?

I know why.

I ached to go to Ireland this year. An esteemed friend and writing mentor of mine is conducting a ten-day writing workshop on the Fair Isle this spring. An expensive trip, but the trip of a lifetime, with an itinerary to make any lover of both travel and writing salivate.

I heard about it a year ago, but behind my polite smile, I knew there was no way I could afford to go, much less bring my husband, who needs a vacation as much as I do.

This is the power of money. It represents either freedom or bondage, and it appears I’m not the only one in chains.

In September 2016, Statistics Canada reported that Canadians owe $1.67 for every $1 of disposable income. And later on in December, Equifax announced that the average Canadian consumer debt load had grown to $22,081—which doesn’t include mortgages.

Three-Step Process

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14 Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance

14waystosavemoneyoncarinsurance.jpgWhen it comes to car insurance…

Are you paying more than you should?

Many people know the obvious ways to save, like shopping around for the best price or comparing quotes online. But...

Did you know you could save money by:

Want to trim your car insurance costs?

Here are 14 ideas to get you started:

1. Shorten Your Commute

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The Magical World of Compound Interest

themagicalworldofcompoundinterest.jpgOkay, so you have decided, that yes, this is the year you start investing

You’re pumped and ready to learn - and ready to get that money working for you.

But wait! The new Nintendo Switch just dropped last week. Oh, and spring is just around the corner, so you will need to sport a new outfit or two at work…And this winter has been extra miserable but a quick weekend trip to Vegas will rectify those winter blues.

It’s much more fun to spend money than to save and invest it. But while basking in that hot Vegas sun for the weekend may seem incredible at the time, you’re also giving up the most important power you have to grow your money:

The power of time.

The Compound Interest Power

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