Dec 172014

What would you do if you had to leave a bad situation and start over? What if you had six children to bring with you? Many of us wouldn’t know where to start.

However, Miracle* made sure she didn’t let fear of the unknown prevent her from taking care of herself and her children, nor did she let her situation break her spirit. Miracle took her children away from an abusive, domestic relationship and moved from the United States to Canada. This is her turnaround story.

The Situation

Once Miracle left her abusive husband and moved to Edmonton with her six children, she began to accumulate debt. The normal way. Kids have needs that can’t wait for a paycheque, especially for one parent’s paycheque with no child support coming in. Miracle made sure her children got what they needed, but that meant carrying high-interest credit card debt. Miracle is the type of person who did not want to receive handouts, so she didn’t look into any social assistance programs that could help bridge the gap.

It wasn’t until she became injured and unable to continue working at the daunting pace that she had been, that things started to pile up. Her mortgage payments fell behind. Her bills fell behind. Even though she was injured, Miracle did not want to receive disability. She feared the stereotype of a single mother with six children receiving ‘free’ money. That was when she was referred to Parley Consulting.

The Numbers

Miracle had $20,000 in debt to clear up and ended up paying $6,000 with a consumer proposal. There is a ‘sweet spot’ for being in debt, the minimum being $10,000 for a proposal, and she did not have enough debt for a bankruptcy trustee to even bother with her case. In this instance, Miracle could have used the equity in her home to relieve her debt, but it would have meant selling her home. That was something she absolutely did not want, as it would probably mean that her children would need to go to foster homes. Unfortunately, being in her own home meant she couldn’t receive government assistance either. With no home, it would be impossible to raise six children. However, Miracle wanted more than anything to get out from under her debt, control costs with a budget, and move forward. In the end, Miracle decided that a consumer proposal was the right move for her.

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Dec 152014

With less than 10 days left until Christmas, that means you probably have presents to wrap (maybe to buy, if you’re a last minute shopper), cards to send, turkeys to defrost, and people to see. It can be easy to fill up all of your days and nights with holiday chores galore, but overextending yourself, especially at the end of the year, can wreak havoc on your life and cause burnout or exhaustion.

Holiday burnout can be a huge downer during a season that’s meant for relaxation, renewal and reconnecting. Carve out some time for yourself amongst all of the family gatherings, holiday shopping, and dinner parties with friends.

How to Avoid Holiday Burnout in 5 Easy Ways

Identify your stressors

A lot of times our biggest stresses and worries literally come from fear of the unexpected, rather than the actual present moment. To keep your holiday anxiety at bay, write it all out. Make 3 separate lists: one for work, one for the holidays, and a personal list. Then write out every single task that is nagging at you. Chances are it won’t even be as bad as you think, and having everything in one place will feel less chaotic then trying to remember it all.

Complete and cross off 3 or 4 simple tasks from each list right away. That could be making that doctor’s appointment for the new year, buying your new day planner, or a trip to the post office. Completing those tasks right away will give you a sense of accomplishment and make your lists seems less daunting.

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Dec 102014

If you’re anything like me, most of your holiday shopping is really just one big unexpected expense. You have a bit of a list in mind, but then you find the perfect item for that special someone and just have to get it for them. However, that extra $50 here, and $100 there, can add up big time.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Everything will be fine. It’s only once a year, I will just make an extra credit card payment in January to recover.” That’s all fine and dandy until *gasp* something unforeseen happens, like you have to replace your winter tires or your laptop goes berserk. All of a sudden, you have to shell out for yet another big expense that you didn’t see coming. Either you are forced to dip into your savings, slap down your credit card once again, or now you’re falling behind on your regular expenses.

ID 10060525 300x199 5 Tips for Preparing and Planning for Unexpected Expenses

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We really don’t want anyone to fall into this trap, so we’ve prepared 5 Tips for Preparing and Planning for Unexpected Expenses.

Identify possible expenses

We know this is an article about ‘unexpected’ expenses, and while we don’t think that you have a crystal ball at home, it can help to try to think into the future and consider possible expenses that could blindside you.

Some areas to consider are:

  • Medical, dental, and vision expenses
  • Home expenses: property taxes, unforeseen damage, etc
  • Vehicle expenses: collisions, winterization, etc

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Dec 082014

December is here in full swing and that means Christmas parties, get-togethers, and impromptu wine nights to celebrate the wonderful holiday season. However, it also the time of year when our wallets start to feel particularly empty. Don’t let feeling broke stop you from enjoying time with your family, friends or coworkers.

Here are our Top 5 Tips for Holiday Entertaining on a Budget

Be specific about timing

Typically when we invite people over, we tend to set a start date but no end date. Setting a specific time, such as Wine & Cheese from 2 pm to 5 pm, will keep your guests from staying too long. Or in most cases, encourage them to stop by because they won’t feel pressured to stay the whole night. Also, planning your get-together for the afternoon rather than an evening can help if you have a tight budget. Guests eat and drink less in the afternoon than later on in the evening.

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Go meatless

Keep up the ‘Meatless Monday’ trend and whip up some meat-free appetizers. Not only will you please your vegetarian pals, you will save a ton of money by utilizing fresh veggies rather than meat. We do suggest focusing on the preparation of said veggies. A unique and thoughtful presentation will set you apart from everyone else who just bought a tray with carrot sticks and broccoli. Think: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Quinoa Bowls, Salad Wraps, or the ever-famous Pinterest creation, Miniature Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese. Check out these other 20 Mouthwatering Miniature Food Ideas for more inspiration.

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Dec 012014

Today’s Monday Motivation post is all about this interesting infographic entitled Habits of the World’s Wealthiest People. In it, the habits of the wealthy versus the poor are compared side by side.

Now we don’t really believe that the world should be divided up into rich or poor, however, it is interesting that even though many wealthy people are from very different backgrounds, they all have certain habits in common.

The parameters of their study set these designations: the wealthy were defined as earning $160,000 annually and holding at least $3.2 million in assets, and the poor were defined as earning $30,000 or less a year and holding less than $5,000 in assets.

1389897325 habits worlds wealthiest people infographic 293x1024 Monday Motivation: Habits of the Wealthy

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Nov 192014

At the beginning of the week, we wrote a post about how success should not be defined solely on how much money you have. However, we do realize that discovering financial success is an integral part of living a great life.

To us, being financially successful means that you have the power to spend your money the way you want, your debts aren’t causing you strain or sleepless nights, and you have the know-how to start saving for a happy retirement.

Our motto has always been that even the smallest actions can lead to big changes. We want to give you the knowledge you need to become financially successful.

The best way to achieve financial success involves only 3 tiny steps:

Every day – Read something about money.

Whether you quickly skim over a money-related magazine article or catch up on a financial blog you like (hint, hint), the more you read up on the subject, the more you will know. Eventually, the money strategies you read about will start to sneak into your everyday life. Easy peasy.

Every week – Talk about money

Aim to have a financially driven conversation with someone once a week. Vary it up, talk to your financial advisor, your investment broker, your mortgage broker, your financially successful friends, etc. You can never soak in too much information about how to achieve financial success. Ask them how they did it. Where do they look for information? Who do they go to for advice? Don’t live in secrecy and silence if you feel stuck. Everyone does at some point and asking for advice can help you through it.

Every month – Save your money.

Make saving automatic and spread it out if you can. A great piece of advice: It’s far easier to find 500 ways to save $1 rather than trying to find a way to save $500. Small increments always add up fast. By the end of each month, you should feel proud that you’ve put away money. Soon, you can start adding more and more as the easier saving becomes.

We want to know…

Have you attained financial success? How did you do it? We’d love to hear your success stories! Remember, the definition of financial success will be different for everyone. Share your victories with us, big or small.

Nov 172014

Naturally, we talk a lot about money on our blog. We live and breathe money, but not in the way you’d think. We live and breathe money in the sense that we are constantly trying to change how people use it.

Money is a fairly accessible vehicle for attaining the things we want in life. A new car, a new house, and new shiny things to go along with it. Many of us think of this as success. This common misconception leads us to believe that if we don’t have money to spend on high-end items, we aren’t successful and vice versa – very successful people don’t always have the most expensive toys.

Being financially secure is one thing, but we’d rather pursue a higher endeavour for our lives and leave materialism in the rearview. A great article from Huffington Post called 18 Ways to Live a Successful Life (That Have Nothing to Do With Money) inspired this week’s Monday Motivation post.

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The author, Alexa Cortese, very aptly describes our fascination with success and materialism as well as the components (unrelated to your finances) that make for a successful life. We’d like to share our favourites with you!

Top 5 Components of a Successful Life

  • You know exactly who you are.
  • You have a ‘tribe’ or a small group of people who know exactly who you are and aren’t afraid to celebrate it with you.
  • You have a passion that not only makes your heart sing, but you make a decent living at it.
  • You are grateful for what you’ve got.
  • You are always learning from new experiences.

This is just a small sampling of the non-monetary ways to be successful. We feel that leading a fulfilling life is much more satisfying than fitting into any stereotypical box of what success is. Figuring out your definition of success is step one on your journey to financial freedom.

To read all 18 points, check out the original article by Alexa here.

We want to know…

How do you feel about money and success? Do you feel like they are related? Share your stories and experiences below. We’d love to hear from you!

Nov 092014

Did you know that more and more Canadians outspend their income by $1.63 to every $1 earned? A new high in household debt according to a 2013 Statistics Canada finding.

Many of us fall into this unfortunate trap without even realizing. You buy a house, buy a car, have a couple kids and before you know it, you’re lugging around $50,000 in debt. The most prevalent form of debt in this case is consumer debt. This typically refers to high interest credit cards, credit lines, or payday loans used to pay for stuff. While this is not the only way to find yourself in debt, it is the case in this study.

ID 10065625 204x300 Case Study: From Consumer Debt to a Consumer Proposal

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The Situation

Meet the Johnson’s, a well-meaning couple with two young children who came to us when they were unable to pay their bills. To the outside world, they were a successful couple and a happy family. Both partners were pulling in good salaries, they started to invest in RRSPs, and they were aware that they needed to plan for their retirement. To their dismay, they had a significant debts holding them back.

Due to their over dependance on credit cards, they accumulated a large amount of consumer debt. Even though they both had great full-time jobs and were bringing in good money every month, roughly $7,500, it still seemed hard for them to make ends meet.

The Numbers

With $60,000 in high-interest debt, the Johnson’s could have spent the next five years slowly paying off their debt themselves. With their best interests in mind, we helped them decide that filing a consumer proposal would help to speed up the repayment process.. The final deal allowed them to pay $350 month for the next 60 months, saving them upwards of $40,000, not including interest, of course. This allowed them to finally move forward, and since they already owned their home and vehicles, no major lifestyle changes had to be made.

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Nov 032014

Happy Monday everyone! If you are anything like myself, the Monday after the time change falls back is pretty much the most productive day ever. You finally feel like you’ve caught up on your sleep, it’s not pitch black when you leave the house, and everyone around you is in a contagiously good mood.

While at this moment, you may be in super productive mode, this great feeling does unfortunately wear off the colder and darker winter becomes. Fret not because I recently stumbled upon an article that describes three easy ways to boost your productivity without having to buy a fancy app or completely reroute your daily habits.

3 Easy Ways to Boost Productivity

Great idea #1 – Create ‘on’ and ‘off’ weeks for meetings

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I know that many seasoned business men and women are shaking their heads right now, thinking “There is absolutely no way I could have a week off from meetings.”

However, from personal experience, it can be almost impossible to squeeze in a full ‘work’ day in between client meetings, brunches and lunches, and everything else we get invited to. This leads us to feeling completely overwhelmed at times because no one can possibly do it all, all the time. Tapping in to this realization will allow you to say ‘no’ to this or that meeting, guilt-free, so that you can concentrate on completing your tasks.

The author, Kate Swoboda, suggests booking all of your meetings into one solid week and then spending the next week completing tasks. She even advises booking these weeks into your calendar ahead of time so you aren’t even tempted.

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Oct 202014

Have you ever thought about changing your spending habits, but grew too overwhelmed at the thought and simply continued maintaining the status quo? You aren’t the only one. Many times we can’t bear to dwell on our money problems, so we push away any thoughts of following a budget or making accelerated payments because it seems too hard.

The downfall of doing this is that when we feel shameful about our money, we actually use it less wisely. Weird, right? The key is to reset your money mind or, in simpler terms, redirect your spending towards what is most important to you.

A big influencer of our improper spending is consumerism. Every day we see ads, commercials, magazines, even blogs, that tell us what we should be spending our money on, whether it is aligned with our goals or not. This leads to feeling farther and farther away from our financial and life goals. Consequently, the farther you feel away from your goals, the farther you actually are.

ID 100291027 300x251 Monday Motivation: Reset Your Money Mindset

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We want to help you reset your money mindset so that you can reach your goals when it comes to your finances and your whole life.

Reset Your Money Mindset in 3 Easy Steps

1. Identify your ‘wants’ in life.

Whether you want to buy your dream home, travel the world or settle down with kids, you must first identify your top three wants in life. What are your priorities? What kind of life do you envision yourself living? Once you’ve figured out what is most important to you, the next step is to look at how your financial goals measure up.

2. Look at your daily spending.

Does your day-to-day spending align with reaching your goals? Like say, instead of buying a $4 latte, you put $5 away into your savings account. Or are you spending too much money here and there to make any headway? We suggest breaking your costs down into two categories: fixed costs and discretionary spending. In the fixed costs column, you will list all of the non-negotiable costs you have such as insurance, rent or mortgage, groceries, etc. In the other, you will categorize the other items you buy like gadgets, clothing, and entertainment.

3. Adjust accordingly.

Once you have established your current spending habits, we suggest following this rule of thumb when it comes to your future spending. Allocate 50% of your income to fixed costs, 30% to achieving your goals (like retirement or home ownership) and no more than 20% on discretionary spending. Make sure you stack up!

The main point is that ignoring a money problem, whether it is a tiny one or an enormous one, will never make it go away. It will just fester. Don’t let any more time pass before you switch gears and start spending your money in the right way.

We want to know…

How do you feel about reseting your money mindset? Will you give it a try? Let us know by commenting in the box below or you can always send us a Tweet @ParleyFinancial!