Finances

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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How to Set - and Stick to - Your FUN Budget

howtosetandsticktoyourfunbudget.jpgWhen people hear the word budget, they don’t hear “fun.”

Instead, they tend to hear one of two things.

“Booooooring.”

Or the ever-popular,

“So I have to stop going to the pub so much, right?”

But here’s the great thing about budgeting:

It can actually help you spend guilt-free on the things you really love.

And I speak from personal experience on this.

My Budgeting Journey

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The War on Debt: Notes from the Front Line

thewarondebt.jpgWe have carried him, in one form or another for at least twenty years--while he steadily grows.

I would like to destroy him, but up until now, I have not been willing to face him. I have to look him in the eye. I have to accept how big he really is. Until now, I have not been willing to do that.

For at least the last ten years, I have not even opened a bill.

Instead, I’ve abandoned my share of the marital financial responsibilities, forcing my husband to shoulder it all.

The Colossus

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5 Ways Families Can Get a Tax Break

5waysfamiliescangetataxbreak.jpgIt goes without saying that having and raising a family IS expensive.

So taking full advantage of all tax breaks whenever possible is a MUST.

Now that the short-lived “family tax cut” has been eliminated by the Justin Trudeau government - easy income splitting is off the table again for Canadian families.

The credit allowed families to transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income from one spouse (higher earning) to the other spouse (lower earning) with a limit of $2,000 in order to save on their taxes.

But, even though it won’t be available for 2016, there are still other ways families can save on their taxes.

Basic Tax Tips for Families

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The Year You Start Investing

theyearyoustartinvesting.jpgEvery year, we start with the best intentions to improve our lives.

Including our finances…

But does it seem like the time just passes by and nothing ever gets done?

With investing, there is just too much information out there. Maybe you even decided to be proactive: You sat down at your computer one day and googled investing, and BAM!

354,000,000 results were returned. Crap.

Diary of an Investing Procrastinator

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How To Find an Apartment that Fits Your Life...and Your Budget

howtofindanapartmentthatfitsyourlife.andyourbudget.jpgI was a newly-minted university graduate…

Ready to take on the world and get a place of my own.

I had high hopes of finding somewhere that hit ALL of my criteria for a place to live, including the following:

  • Walking distance to my new job in a central, trendy neighbourhood
  • Within a five minute walk of groceries, Starbucks, restaurants and a major transit station
  • Close enough to everything that I wouldn’t need a car
  • Big enough to fit my queen-sized bed, dresser and a desk

Seems reasonable, right?

Here’s the kicker: my budget was $500. Tops.

So I set out to Kijiji with my must-haves in hand. Apartment hunting can seem like the world is your oyster… until you skim past the price on that dream listing a block away from work with the granite countertops.

Hello dreams, prepared for a crushing trip back to reality.

Against all odds - seriously, all of them - I found an apartment that fit all of my criteria, gave me the lifestyle I had been hoping for, and helped me stick to my new grad budget. So I know what I’m talking about when I say it’s possible to find a rental that fits both your lifestyle and your budget.

To get the same results, you’ll need to look at 3 main factors before you sign on the dotted line.

  1. Location
  2. Amenities
  3. Budget

Each one will have a few different factors that will influence your dream-apartment wishlist, so let’s get started! Keep reading » about How To Find an Apartment that Fits Your Life...and Your Budget

Are Robo Advisors Right For Your Retirement Savings?

areroboadvisorsrightforyourretirementsavings.jpgThis article was sponsored by ModernAdvisor.

Canadians don’t save enough money to comfortably retire on.

More and more Canadians are choosing to work into their golden years with most claiming they want to stay active. While I’m sure that is true for many, there are definitely others that simply can’t afford to retire in comfort.

Generation X and Millennials can no longer rely on holding down lifetime jobs with full pensions. Honestly, even counting on a decent retirement savings matching program from their employer is often too much to hope for.

Like it or not, we’re being forced into competently managing our own retirement savings without much help. Even people with an aptitude for money like myself are prone to making costly investment mistakes.

Going for generic advice from your bank can be even worse, often locking you into funds with enormous fees that erode your retirement savings right under your nose. Bank needs to “make bank” after all - have you seen their profits?

Robo Advisors, like ModernAdvisor - the lowest cost Canadian online advisor, provide another option that could be the right one to help make your ideal retirement a reality.

Robo Advisors vs. Mutual Funds

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Dear Renters: Home Ownership Costs Plenty

dearrentershomeownershipcostsplenty.jpgMany people assume renters are only renting until they can save up enough money to buy a house.

Isn’t that the ultimate plan: to save up, put a down payment on a house, buy and eventually own the home over the next 10, 15 or 20-plus years?

It doesn’t have to be. Home ownership is not everyone’s dream. Far from it…

It’s not always the best financial decision either. Like any investment you should do the math.

You also need to consider if putting all your money into one asset (your home) is really a smart thing to do. Finally, you need to assess your lifestyle. Putting all these factors together, renting isn’t throwing money away. Renting might be the best thing for you or your family.

Let’s break it down using my lessons learned.

We Started Out Renting

Many years ago before my wife and I moved into our condo together, before we got married, we rented separate places. I never considered renting throwing my money away at the time because paying rent did one thing very well – it put a roof over my head. I was trading money for something I needed - shelter.

How much you pay in rent will depend heavily on where you want to live. Real estate pundits don’t chant location, location, location for no reason. My rent was modest in the city before the recent real estate boom in Ottawa. Renting in the city was also a lifestyle choice. Amenities were a short walk away. Renting offered freedom many years ago – freedom from any major house maintenance or repairs - more on that shortly.

What We Learned From Buying A Condo

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