Jul 232014

Debt consolidation is just as it sounds. Instead of keeping track of every monthly payment you have to make, you combine all of your debt into a new, individual loan and make one payment instead. This option is perfect for anyone who feels as though they are drowning in debt and cannot keep track or make all of their payments.

ID 100263883 300x272 5 Reasons Debt Consolidation Works

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Consolidating your debt is a perfectly legal way of improving your financial situation and getting yourself back on track. There are various methods  for doing so, such as home equity loans, personal loans, balance transfers, etc. We recommend speaking with a trusted professional before you decide which method to go with. Each option comes with their own pros and cons. Your financial adviser, debt consultant or another professional of your choice can help you choose the best option for your financial situation.

Our Top 5 Reasons Why Debt Consolidation Works

  1. Lower monthly payments - When you consolidate all of your debt into one loan, you typically end up paying less than you would if you made payments for each individual loan or credit card. This could be due to getting a new, lower interest rate on your loan or because you end up paying more than just the minimum on your credit cards which saves you interest over time. The more money you save now, the more likely you are to put it towards paying off your debts completely.
  2. Eliminate high-interest credit card payments - If you are able to transfer the balance of your credit cards to a consolidated loan you will save yourself the hassle of paying off your high interest loans and credit cards every month, which doesn’t really get you anywhere. In some cases you can even take advantage of zero interest for period of 12 to 18 months if you agree to pay off all of your debts within that time.
  3. Simplify your debt - Now that you only have one payment to make, all you have to do it pay it on time! No longer do you have to track a hectic payment schedule that usually results in late payments. With a fixed monthly fee, reaching the end of the line actually seems attainable, rather than overwhelming, making you more likely to get out of debt faster!
  4. Improve your credit score - Debt consolidation allows you to improve your credit score in multiple ways. You are now making your payments on time. You are saving money by not having to deal with high interest rates so you can pay off other debts that could not be included in the consolidation loan. In the end, you will have a better handle on your finances and slowly, slowly you will be rebuilding your credit-worthiness.
  5. Get out of debt faster - An all-in-one monthly payment not only saves you money in the long run, that you can use to pay off all of your debt right away, but you can also begin saving for your future. Getting out of debt is a great feeling and you shouldn’t have to wait your whole life to feel that way. Debt consolidation can help get you there faster. Consult a financial professional today to get started!
ID 10096073 300x225 5 Reasons Debt Consolidation Works

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Have more questions about whether debt consolidation is right for you? Call us today 780.722.3000. We can help you get out of debt faster.

Want to share your personal experience with debt consolidation? We’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us a line below.

Jul 222014

Whoa! You may be asking if that it is even possible and we are here to tell you it is. We know what it’s like: you wake up, you have to get to work, you need coffee and a bagel, and you are already running through your ‘To Do’ list for the day. Not a terrible way to start the day, but we also know that if you practice being mindful in the morning, it can end up saving you big bucks before you even get to work.

A few simple changes here and there can pay off big time. Here are some examples of simple switches that add up to a whopping savings of $5000 every year.

Your Money-Saving Morning Routine

7:00 A.M. – Speedy showers

No more wasting time while the water is running! Limit your showers in the morning to 10 minutes or less by setting yourself a timer. Invest in a low-flow shower head also and you will save $120 a year.

7:15 A.M. – Makeup for less

Instead of heading to Sephora or the MAC store every time you need makeup, research the drugstore ‘dupes’ that are out there. Typically, you can find a very similar product for $10 or less rather than splurging for the brand names at $20 to $50. Now you’ve saved yourself another $100 a year. For the guys out there, you may not use makeup, but you probably have a few designer labels in your cabinet that could be switched for a drugstore brand.

ID 10055203 221x300 Tuesday Transformation: Our Money Saving Morning Routine could save you $5,000 a year

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

7:45 A.M. – Eat breakie at home

If you rush out the door every morning, stopping to buy a coffee and a breakfast sandwich, that adds up to about $1300 of money you could have saved by eating and brewing coffee at home. Not only is it better for your wallet, but passing on the processed breakfast foods is good for your health too! Can’t find the time? You can prepare overnight oats for a quick breakfast you can still grab and go.

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Jul 172014

A big part of dealing with outstanding debt and credit collectors is the damage it does to your credit rating. A less-than-stellar credit rating can hold you back financially and prevent you from seizing the opportunities, like buying a home, that come up in your life.

Most people have no idea how much their credit rating is actually costing them. A couple missed payments here, a forgotten bill there and all of a sudden collection agents are calling and your credit rating is down the tube.

ID 10056757 199x300 10 Steps to Credit Repair

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Your score is based on five core attributes that determine whether or not you can handle credit and debt.

5 Keys to Determining Your Credit Score

Your previous payment history

This accounts for a whopping 35% of your score. Your track record when it comes to paying your bills has the biggest affect on your rating. Late payments, collections, judgements, liens, foreclosures, bankruptcy and wage attachments are all seriously detrimental to your credit score.

Your current level of debt

Another 30% of your score, this attribute considers whether or not you are overextended when it comes to your finances. Having maxed out credit cards or other accounts near the maximum limit signals that you are mismanaging your credit and that you could have trouble making future payments.

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Jul 092014

No one plans to stop paying their bills. Life happens and sometimes a loss of income causes even the most diligent to fall behind on their payments. If this does happen to you and all of a sudden you have creditors or collection agencies breathing down your neck, just keep calm and follow our next steps.

6 Steps to Dealing With Collection Agencies

Step One: Find out who is calling.

Depending on what stage of delinquency you are in it could be a creditor calling, a collection agency or a debt repurchaser. This will influence how you will get them off of your back. If it is a creditor calling they want full repayment (obviously) but they do not receive a commission like a collection agency would. Collection agencies want to get the most from you right away and will use scary tactics to do it. If it is a creditor or debt repurchaser calling, you can typically negotiate smaller payments than with a collection agency.

ID 10054731 300x219 The Top 6 Things You Can Do Once Collection Agencies Start Calling

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Step Two: You can handle it.

Collection agencies can only start calling you if you have been notified in writing first. Understanding your rights is key to surviving what may seem like continual menacing phone calls. First and foremost it is not OK to be threatened in any way while speaking to an agent on the phone. Don’t be intimidated by scare tactics. We outline more on how to handle these phone calls in our article about Collection Agencies.

Step Three: Prioritize your debts.

Know how and when to negotiate. If you owe money to the government through taxes or student loans – good luck. The government does not want to cut a deal or give up. Same with most types of secured debt like your mortgage. The amount you owe on your home is generally not up for negotiation. However, your credit card debt or other forms of unsecured debt are open to negotiation. For more on striking up a deal, read our How-To article.

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Jul 072014

Just like with any other problem or addiction, there are initial warning signs that come with debt. The fact is that you either listen to them and correct the situation, or choose to ignore them before eventually hitting rock bottom. We don’t want anyone to feel as though they’ve run out of options or have hit rock bottom! That’s why we believe it is so crucial to learn the warning signs of a debt problem so you can seek out help before it gets worse.

Is your debt getting out of control? The Top 5 Signs of a Debt Problem are:

  1. Do you use your credit cards out of necessity rather than out of convenience or purpose (such as credit rebuilding or cash back)?
  2. Have you ever used credit or a cash advance for daily living expenses?
  3. Do you frequently miss due date or payments altogether?
  4. Are any of your credit cards close to becoming maxed out?
  5. Have you ever borrowed from one item of credit to pay for another?
ID 10097394 300x300 Monday Motivation   Know the warning signs of a debt problem

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’ve answered yes to two or more of these questions, you may have a problem with debt. Don’t stress out just yet. There are a bunch of things you can do to correct this situation, especially because you are self-aware enough to have come to terms with your debt problem already.

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Jul 032014

Just like physical fitness, financial fitness takes time, hard work and dedication. Nothing worthwhile comes for free so the worst expectation to have in regards to your financial situation is to think that everything will change instantly and without much effort.

That said, it isn’t going to be terribly excruciating to ensure that you are on the right track to becoming financially fit – you’ve just got to make smart money choices every day and stick to it! The following is a handy checklist that you can refer to when you aren’t sure if you doing the right things financially.

make a plan Are you financially fit?

Financial Fitness Checklist

On a daily basis

Do you track your expenses?

Have you sorted your receipts and cleared the clutter from your wallet or purse?

Are you comparing prices and looking for good deals?

On a weekly basis

Do you monitor your online banking accounts?

Are you sticking to your weekly budgets?

How many ATM cash withdrawals do you make in a week? Can you limit that to only once a week?

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Jun 302014

As you have probably already noticed, we love to keep you on the up-and-up when it comes to the best ways to save money. However, no one is perfect, and there are 5 major cash traps that we all fall into from time to time.

The Big 5 Cash Traps are:

Greeting Cards

Have you ever considered how much money every year we all spend on greeting cards? Well, at $5 a pop, give or take a couple bucks, you could be looking at $200 to $500 spent on cards every year. You can avoid falling into this cash trap by making homemade cards or simply incorporating a greeting into the gift. For example, if you bake someone cookies for their birthday, present them with a personalized container with a message. No card necessary!

ID 100147282 199x300 Monday Motivation   The Big 5 Cash Traps That We All Fall Into

Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bottled Water

Not only is buying bottled water terrible for the environment, it is terrible for your wallet. Simply buying a bottle here and there during the week could cost you over $500 a year. Say no to bottled drinks and bring a reusable water bottle with you. The same idea applies to coffee. Avoid the ‘latte effect’ by brewing your own coffee and toting it with you in a travel mug. Just doing that could save you anywhere from $600 to $1000 a year.

Front door cover

This one may not apply to everyone, but whenever most of us want to go out for a couple drinks on the weekend, there is usually a cover charge of at least $5. Spend $30 a week on cover charges and that can run you a tab of $1500 every year. If you do find yourself out on the town, pay only one cover charge by not bar hopping your way around the city.

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Jun 272014

Get your weekend going with this great article for our Friday Freebie coming from Houzz.com – 7 Day Plan: Get a Spotless, Beautiful, Organized Home Office. 

Getting work done in a messy office is like trying to make phone calls in an elementary gymnasium – useless. You might get through all the tasks but they’re not pretty and you sure as heck aren’t pretty afterwards.

Clutter is a massive stressor whether you want to admit it or not. It takes you longer to find what you’re looking for, it doesn’t make you feel organized which chips away at your confidence, it doesn’t represent you or your company well, and it affects the quality of work you produce. If you have a messy, unorganized, chaotic environment it makes sense that the lack of discipline on your desk would spill over into your calendar, your projects, the care you have for your clients and so on. So the big question is how to get organized?

how to get organized How To Get Organized

Image from Houzz.com

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Jun 262014

Do you feel as though there is never enough money leftover each month to start saving? Maybe you’ve been carrying too much debt around? You aren’t the only one. This infographic created by GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca says just that.

infographic 2012 Art of avoidance What is stopping you from saving money?

Source: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

Some of the numbers may surprise you. Especially the fact that those making $100,000 or more a year still felt as though they didn’t have enough leftover cash to start saving. We are here to remind you that no matter how insignificant the amount, you can start saving at any time. Here are some following reason why you shouldn’t wait any longer to start saving your money.

5 reasons to save from GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca

  1. Handle surprise bills and emergencies – What would you do if the car you drive to work breaks down? Or you get sick and have to take time off work? If you have savings, you can better deal with surprises like these without taking on debt.
  2. Have more choices – Have you ever considered starting your own business or moving to a new city? Having money set aside can make it easier to make major life changes.
  3. Reach short-term goals – Are you planning to buy a home or car? The more you save toward these goals, the less you’ll have to rely on loans.
  4. Reach long-term goals – Plan for a comfortable retirement.
  5. Help family and loved ones – Do you want to help pay for your kids’ education? Will an aging parent need to live with you one day? Having money saved may help you do these things.

Check out some of our previous articles to find new ways to save money today!

5 Financial Tips to Make Your Life Easier - Don’t stress about the big picture. The best way to ensure a better financial outlook is to make subtle changes everyday.

121 Things to do Instead of Spending Money - We get it. It feels like in order to save money you have to stay home. Here’s how to make the most out of your summer days without spending any money.

Get Financially Fit in Your 20′s - We say it time and time again, but it is never too little or too late to start saving. Even an extra $25 a week will start to make a difference.

10 Money-Saving Things You Should be Doing - We love the money-saving twist that can be applied to essential life lessons.Two birds, one stone.

Pay Yourself First, Pay Bills Second - We show you how taking 10% off of your pay check right away, makes saving a lot less painful. If you don’t see it, you don’t spend it and you get used to doing without.

Have questions or comment for us? We’d love to hear from you! Simply drop us a line below or give us a call 780.722.3000.

Jun 232014

Have you been thinking about your retirement plans lately? Maybe it’s become a heated topic of discussion in your household. Can your parents afford to retire? Are you taking the right steps to ensure you can retire?

These are just some of the worries that arise when the topic of retirement pops up. However, in an attempt to soothe some of these natural anxieties, MoneySense put together a great article about the real retirement questions you should be focusing on.

Here is a quick look at the Top 10 Retirement Questions you should be asking:

ID 10034040 199x300 Monday Motivation   Top 10 Retirement Questions

Image courtesy of photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1. Will a stock market crash wipe me out?

The best way to manage the risk is to maintain a proper asset allocation, particularly if you’re near retirement. You should keep a healthy allotment of your holdings in cash, bonds, real estate and other alternatives to stocks. And by diversifying your stocks across geographies and economic sectors, the risks of a possible market debacle are greatly reduced.”

2. Will my employer pension be there?

You can find out if you’re at risk by looking at your annual pension statement, which will show if there is a shortfall in the fund. If you have questions, just call up your plan administrator.”

3. Will I be able to stay in my home?

Actually, you’d better plan on it. A large, aging Boomer population means that “for the most part people are going to have to stay in their own homes,” says aging expert Lee Anne Davies. Traditional retirement residences are an expense many seniors simply can’t afford, Davies explains, a situation federal and provincial governments are fully aware of.”

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