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 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

After learning of the security vulnerability posed by the Heartbleed bug, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) took preventative measures and removed public access to its online services in order to protect the confidentiality of the taxpayer information it holds. Applications affected include online services like EFILE, NETFILE, My Account, My Business Account and Represent a Client.

The CRA continues to work on resolving the issue. In keeping with industry practice, we are currently implementing a solution, or “patch”, for the bug, and are vigorously testing all systems to ensure they will be safe and secure once the site is re-launched.

The Minister of National Revenue has also confirmed that interest and penalties will not be applied to individual taxpayers filing their 2013 tax returns after April 30, 2014 for a period equal to the length of this service interruption.

The Agency appreciates the cooperation and patience of the public and our business and taxpayer representative communities. We remain committed to maintaining the confidence of Canadians by taking all steps necessary to ensure the security of taxpayer information. We will continue to provide further information and daily updates at 3PM EDT on our home page.

What you need to do, right now:

Avoid logging onto websites that could be at risk

This Heartbleed bug is used to acquire and store your usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. It is recommended that you avoid logging in until these companies have created a ‘patch’ to protect your personal information. CNET has a live and running list of many popular websites that were at risk and are in the process of fixing the problem. Check which sites have been patched here.

Change your passwords

Once you check this list, it will tell you which sites have been patched, from there they will most likely prompt you to change your passwords. Please don’t hesitate to do this, just ensure that they have confirmed the fix first. Start with the most important sites: banking and email.

Watch your statements

Assume you have been compromised and keep watch for any funky activity. Pay close attention to your bank statements, credit card statements, email accounts or any other site that stores vital information.

We have provided a list of other sources to keep you updated on this problem. Have a question for us? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or give us a call 780.722.3000.

Sources: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/611676-heart-bleed-bug-what-you-need-to-know-including-for-yahoo-gmail-facebook/

http://business.financialpost.com/2014/04/09/cra-website-shutdown-security/?__lsa=9d2d-3406

http://www.cnet.com/news/how-to-protect-yourself-from-the-heartbleed-bug/

 

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

Image courtesy of hin255 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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.

RESP News 300x271 RESP Planning News

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.

RESP Planning 257x300 RESP Planning News

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.

Mar 242014
 

Cesar Chavez once said that, “if you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” So for today’s Monday Motivation we want you guys to invite your friends over to share food, drinks and laughs instead of going out (aka spending money). Grab a bottle of wine, get your friends to make their favourite dish and potluck it up!

ID 100209398 300x199 Monday Motivation   Potluck it up!

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Potluckin’ is easy

Don’t listen to the haters who say that potlucks are tacky. I don’t know anyone who loves to cook that much. This is a great time to showcase what you do best. Some of us can make a mean seafood dip, but suck at cooking. While others prefer dessert and so on.

Not only that but because you just have to provide the venue and a main dish, it is also really affordable for a big group of friends or coworkers to get together without the pricey restaurant tab. From my own personal experience, when you host a potluck, you typically end up with more food and beverages than when you started. How awesome is that?

Everyone should know the drill when it comes to a potluck, but keep track of who is bringing a salad versus dessert so that you have appropriate amounts of everything. Simply wait for everyone to arrive and BOOM dinner is served. You don’t have to be slaving away in the kitchen when your guests are all in another room.

ID 100190832 198x300 Monday Motivation   Potluck it up!

Image courtesy of KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”

Almost every activity you do at home is going to be significantly cheaper than going out, so if a potluck really isn’t your style, host a barbecue where everyone can hang out in the yard or just have friends over for a bottle of wine and appetizers. Not only do you get to spend more time face to face, but you get to save money! Think about the costs involved with going out: gas, parking, dinner, drinks, a tip and who knows what else. Staying home will help you avoid all of that!

Have another idea for saving money, but still having fun with your friends? We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 
Read more quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/c/cesar_chavez.html#HHEq7QXEksErjh6y.99

Mar 212014
 

This week’s Friday Freebie discusses the Faux Riche’s or HENRY’s. We’re talking about the people who are Hand-to-Mouth Wealthy – AKA the broke Jones’.

CNBC’s Robert Frank discussed a new group of people in the US (and I am sure in Canada as well) who look rich but are really living pay check to pay check. 70 million houses in the US are said to fall under the class of the Hand-to-Mouth Wealthy. They have expensive cars, boats, and houses that make them look wealthy, but upon closer scrutiny Robert Frank says you will find that they only have non-liquid assets – the opposite of a liquid asset. Meaning that all of their money is tied up. They have no cash in hand, no money in the bank, no cash flow, nothing that they can access quickly. They are just as broke as the next guy or gal living pay check to pay check.

Empty Wallet 300x241 Hand to Mouth Wealthy

Consider this for the days ahead – who is more wealthy: a man with no debts, but no money. Or a man with more money, but more debts.

Mar 192014
 

Last week, we talked all about Fraud Prevention Month and the overwhelming popularity of internet fraud and social media scams. We realize how difficult it is to see through some of these scams and through our research, we stumbled upon this amazing resource that has several tips for preventing fraud.

ID 10098497 300x225 Tips for Preventing Fraud

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Canadian Bankers Association has created an email subscription that sends readers different tips and resources throughout the year, so that your personal, banking and other important information stay safe. If you click on the link above, it will also take you to their library of previous posts, which features everything from holiday shopping scams to real estate fraud to travel issues.

To promote them, we’d like to share a sample of one of their tips from last year’s Fraud Prevention Month.

Fraud Prevention Month: Beware of Identity Thieves

March is Fraud Prevention Month and it’s an important time to remember that banks work hard to protect their customers from fraud. There are also many simple but important steps that you can take to protect yourself. As part of its Fraud Prevention Month efforts for this year, the Canadian Bankers Association is focusing on identity theft.

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Mar 142014
 
Budgeting How Small Cutbacks Lead to Great Savings 119x300 Friday Freebie   Savings In Your House

Click through for a larger image.

Tis the season for Spring Cleaning! That means top to bottom, every corner and crevasse. So while you’re inspecting and cleaning your house be on the look out for ways you can save a buck or two.

This week’s Friday Freebie – Savings In Your House is all about small changes that can lead to big savings. Check out the infographic provided by Infographic World. They’ve got suggestions from home improvements, lifestyle saving suggestions, and cool ideas to keep money in your pocket.

 Share below on your strategies to find savings in your house!