Apr 232014

There is nothing worse than trying to find your unpaid bills in a crumpled mass of paperwork or sorting through a year’s worth of receipts all at once. Us folks at Financial Help Edmonton want you to know that by following these 5 simple steps to better financial organization you are setting yourself up to be more financially healthy. Having your paperwork organized makes following a budget easier and doing your taxes a breeze, not to mention you’ll never lay awake at night wondering if you paid your last cable bill.

ID 100146586 300x300 5 Easy Steps to Better Financial Organization

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Easy Steps to Better Financial Organization

Step One: Decide on a method

Having bills, receipts and invoices scattered throughout the house is not entirely conducive to overall financial health. Paying your bills on time does require the ability to find them! So whether you have a home office or a nook in the kitchen for filing, decide on your ideal spot to keep all paperwork and devise a method of organization. How you choose to organize things is up to you, the crucial part is to stick to it! There is no point in purchasing fancy office organizers if you fail to put anything in them.

Step Two: How do you like to pay bills?

We all have different preferences when it comes to paying our bills, so how do you like to pay them? Online? As soon as you open the mail? Or do you wait until the last minute because you are still waiting for that pay check? Either way, take your bill payment style into consideration. If you schedule automatic payments online it won’t make sense for you to set up a bill filing system. However, if you do need to coordinate due dates with pay day we recommend setting up a filing system. The simplest way is to have two inboxes set up according to the dates you get paid, place the appropriate bills in each box and once they are paid file them away. How easy is that?

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Apr 212014

We always talk about all of the ways you can save when it comes to your taxes, but what happens once you get your tax refund? Well, many of us see it as extra income and go out and spend it on anything from a kitchen reno to a new spring wardrobe to a night on the town. This year, we are challenging our readers to turn your refund into tax savings!

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Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First and foremost, save it!

This seems like common sense, but with the average Canadian tax refund being around $1600, how many of us can actually say that we don’t need that money to plump up our savings account? Add it to your existing savings account or start an emergency savings account and start adding money to it regularly because you never know what the future will hold.

Invest it!

Many people choose to put their tax refund someone that is harder to access, like their investments. Whether you have a TFSA, RRSP or both, use this money to start maxing out your contributions, which in turn will help you out next tax season. A win-sin situation. Your financial advisor can help you make the best decision for your situation. Continue reading »

Apr 182014

Well Spring is upon us and with the snow melting away, and the rains coming in to wash the sand and salt from the streets an annual urge tends to stir in most folks – the urge to embark on Spring Cleaning.

spring cleanup Spring Cleaning
Spring Cleaning is a great time of the year; out with the old, unused, disliked, broken, grown out of, and unloved items and in with the renewed feeling of a lightened space. The act of decluttering has many initial and latent benefits for a person and household such as a relief of stress, a feeling of eased tension, clean & fresh areas, happier husbands and wives/ moms and dads as they’re not walking over other family members’’ “junk”, etc.  During this time a classic dilemma that people tend to go through is the “I paid money for this” syndrome. This syndrome is where a person convinces themselves that they should keep an item they barley use or liked just because they paid money for it. If a person can convince themselves that they really don’t want or need to hang onto the item then they think they should sell it; try to reclaim some of the value back.

Friday’s Freebie brings some food
for thought in the area of Spring Cleaning – which is more valuable to you: time or money?
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Apr 162014

Last week we brought you up to speed on the Heartbleed bug that has everyone up in arms about changing their passwords. So since you’ll have to change all of your passwords as soon as possible, we decided to focus on the power of a strong password.

What if I can’t remember more than one password?

ID 10046524 300x187 The Power of Passwords

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We understand how hard it is to have multiple passwords – you need one for basically everything – and we know that is just seems easier to have the same password for everything. However, you are just setting yourself up for hackers to gain access to your personal information. We love this site, How Secure is my Password?, which tells you how long it would take someone to hack into any of your accounts. We don’t recommend typing in your actual passwords, keeping in mind that you want to be careful where you type your personal passwords, but it can tell you if you are headed in the right direction.

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Apr 112014

What is better than giving back to your community or favorite cause and then getting extra tax credits for it! This weeks Friday Freebie is all about giving back and getting back; with the First Time Donor Super Credit! 

first time donor tax credit 300x168 First Time Donor Super Credit The government of Canada has made changes to the charitable tax credit program in order to encourage charitable donations which will help our communities while benefiting tax payers when filing their income tax. Any donation made after March 20, 2013 until 2017 by tax payers who have never claimed a charitable tax credit before are eligible for the First Time Donor Super Credit which stipulates that an extra 25% (non-refundable) tax credit, up to $1,000 worth of donations, will be given to the tax payer claiming. Click here for a great video explaining how the First Time Donor Super Credit works for both individuals and couples can maximize charitable tax donation credit.

To find out which charities and causes are highlighted in Canada click here for a full list of Canadian awareness months, weeks, and days or read on below for a preview.  Continue reading »

Apr 102014

Late getting organized for the upcoming tax deadline? You couldn’t have picked a better time to be unprepared.

The CRA pulled the plug on their online tax filing system over the weekend because of security concerns brought about by a dangerous internet bug, Heartbleed. No one seems to know exactly what risks Canadians are facing when it comes to their personal information, however, you will get a deadline extension if you typically file online.

ID 10071870 216x300 Online tax filing may be affected by Heartbleed bug

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This is the most recent update from the Canadian Revenue Agency:

CRA update regarding the Heartbleed Bug – Thursday, April 10, 3pm

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Apr 042014
tax return ideas 300x168 Tax Return Ideas

Image from www.wisebread.com

This week’s Friday Freebie covers 50 smart tax return ideas from www.wisebread.com

Tax season is upon us, and for those people who are getting a tax return this is the second happiest time of the year, next to Christmas. In order not to “blow” your return on things that won’t benefit you make sure you take a logical look at what needs to be improved or impacted in your life. It is always wise to pre-plan the use of a lump sum of money such as a gift, inheritance, company bonus, or tax return.

Below are just a few smart tax return ideas for you to spark your planning:

  • Start your emergency fund.
  • Make an extra payment to your debts (mortgage, car loan, credit card).
  • Make an extra contribution to your savings (trips, family planning, wedding).
  • Get proper coverage (life/critical illness/disability insurance, or will).
  • Invest in your health (gym membership, spa day, acupuncturist, nutritionist, chiropractor)

Make sure to include your family in the decision making on which tax return ideas to utilize. Contact your financial advisor if you need extra information on which idea will yield the most results.

Share your best tax return ideas below with us.

Apr 032014

March, or Fraud Prevention Month, has come to a close and we want to make sure that you have the education to properly protect your small business from fraud all year long. Typically, most small businesses do not have the processes in place to have a fraud prevention plan, making them likely targets for fraud either internally or externally. So here they are:

15 Steps for Preventing Small Business Fraud

First off, the most prevalent type of fraud is internal fraud. Which, yes, means your employees.

ID 100220734 300x192 15 Steps for Preventing Small Business Fraud

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Be aware of the risks. Find out where your business is most vulnerable, consult an expert and follow through by setting up a preventative plan. Risks will differ depending on the type of business you run. If your employees work mainly out of the office and have mobile information sharing this could pose a certain risk, which would be different from a business where your employees only have access to files on the office computers.

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Mar 312014

Wanna know a great financial trick that actually works? Spend less than you earn. Whoa! Now doesn’t that sound easy? Well, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean we don’t fall into this trap. We somehow start to believe that we need everything we’ve ever wanted – right now. Then sooner or later we wake up and realize that we have $2000 on our credit card and no extra money to pay it off, and coincidently, not enough money to pay for stuff with cash so more purchases get tacked onto your card. Sound familiar?

ID 100125093 300x198 Monday Motivation: Spend Less Than You Earn

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We all fall into three categories: the people who spend more than we earn, the people who spend exactly what we earn and the few and far between who spend less than they earn. So how do you get into the last category? Simple: cut back on your spending and increase your earning potential.

We can help you spend less than you earn:

It’s been said again and again, but following a semi-strict budget will help and we’ve got some ideas on how to do that:http://www.randalclark.com/how-to-make-a-budget/.

Find a bank who respects you. We pay a whole lot of money to banks for ‘fees’. Get the scoop on what it really means for your bank account: http://www.randalclark.com/are-you-richer-than-you-think/.

We can show you new ways to save money everyday and plump up that wallet: http://www.randalclark.com/friday-freebie-budget-cuts/.

Is your daily routine costing too much? Find out here: http://www.randalclark.com/save-money-everyday/.

Still not sure how to spend less than you earn? Please ask us a question below or give us a call at 780.722.3000.

Mar 282014

On April 1, 2014 the Insolvency Act will reflect that RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) accounts are now listed as an exempt asset for people who are filing a Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy.

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Previous clients who have utilized the Insolvency Act and have been diligent in the RESP Planning set up for their children have had the hard realization that they are required to sacrifice their children’s education savings or pay out more to their Consumer Proposal or Bankruptcy.

Parents never want their children to pay for their mistakes, learn from them, but not pay for them; which is what the Insolvency Act has previously required children to do. This new change to the Insolvency Act is going to ensure that the education of our future generation is not compromised by the previous generation’s mistakes or hardships. This change encourages children to take hold of the opportunities they have ahead of them. Learn from their parent’s mistakes rather than just following in their footsteps.

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Having RESPs be exempt also improves the financial situation of students, and decreases the financial stress that they feel. When parents are able to assist their children financially with RESP planning that means their children have less student loans; less debt upon graduation, and more time to focus on being educated because they do not have to work a part-time job to subsidize their (lacking) student loan.

The true ripple of this change to RESP planning won’t be seen for 5-10 years to come but when they do the positive effects of having RESPs exempt under the Insolvency Act will be great.