Ways to lose your debt – and keep it off! Expand/Collapse
- Have goals
Sit down and identify specific goals, then write them down and commit to them. When writing your goals look for your high interest debt first, such as credit cards, and commit to putting extra money on to pay off sooner; in the long run this will save you money. Wondering why setting goals is always the first thing we should do? Here are some great benefits for goal setting.
- Go on a cash diet
Go on a cash diet for at least 30 days. This means you will take out an agreed upon amount of cash each week (on the same day, no advances and no exceptions!) and use it for your controllable expenses, such as groceries, eating out, kids activities and entertainment. It’s easy to spend money without thinking about it when you use plastic. Seeing the money come out of your pocket, or account, can be a real wake-up call.
- Review your financial goals monthly
Review your financial goals once a month to see your progress. The benefits to reviewing your financial goals can be as simple as seeing that you've already accomplished a short term goal, which is a great incentive to stay committed to working on reducing your debt.
April 10 - Is Debt Tapping You on the Shoulder? Expand/Collapse
There's an old saying when debt starts to catch up to you, "We often rob Peter to pay Paul," in other words we try shuffling money around to make ends meet but we don't address the issue. We think if we don't talk about, it can't be true. Right? When it comes to debt, which we all know can be scary to think about, talking about it is actually the best thing you can do. Sometimes the reasons we are scared to talk about our debt could be as simple as your parents didn't know much about money and never talked about finances with you. But asking for help can be just a conversation, a place to get you started. The conversation could be chatting about giving yourself permission to change. You're probably thinking, "what does that even mean?" This could be deciding to change and focus on your needs versus your wants so instead of the full packed cable options you decide that you don't all of those channels right now. Small adjustments like these can help you get comfortable to talk about your larger debit issues.
If you're in debt, you're not alone. Research shows that Canadian household debt is increasing. A large percent of Canadian families are carrying some form of debt, that includes mortgages, vehicle loans, home renovations, sometimes needs and wants are hard to distinguish between.
Sadly debt can take a toll on us mentally, physically and emotionally and keeping your finances in the dark can have effects on your personal and work life. The constant worry over debt can wreak havoc on your mind making it impossible to concentrate on work and family. The more you worry, the more sleepless nights you have, which in turn contributes to your physical well-being and eventually can wear you down.
After a while, if it continues, everything starts to snowball and it becomes harder and harder to shuffle money around to meet your obligations, which can add stress and anxiety to your overall health. Being afraid to talk about debt is natural but not talking about debt can have lasting effects on you every day. Studies indicate that there is a link between wealth and health, meaning the stronger you are financially the greater your longevity and wellness will be.
Now is the time to become courageous and reach out to get a helping hand to make a plan to reduce your debt. Financial advisors, like those at Conexus, are in a perfect position to help. Let them help you to succeed in your goals on the road to becoming financially well.
March 27 - Sprucing up for Spring Expand/Collapse
As the weather starts to warm up, you work on changing out your winter wardrobe with your spring clothes. This is a great opportunity to evaluate what is going back into your closets and what needs to be replaced or updated. I know you’re probably thinking, "man I would love to switch out all my clothes for new ones", but reality is sometimes that's not always possible. Here are some ideas that can help you update your wardrobe without breaking the bank.
Since you are on a roll with sprucing stuff up, there are inexpensive ways you can add some fresh touches to your home that do not take a lot of time or cash. And the bonus is that everyone will think you've spent a lot of time on it!
Your clothes closets are spring ready, your home has a fresh new feel, it’s now time to survey the yard. The snow banks are gone and the tulips are trying to pop through the earth. Before you grab your shovel there, a few things you need to do as we head into warmer temperatures in your yard.
Now that you have taken care of your wardrobe, home, and yard it’s time to enjoy Spring!
March 20 - Spring has arrived! Expand/Collapse
There are a lot of things that are synonymous with spring like spring cleaning and getting active. We also think that spring is a great time to review your finances, if you haven’t already checked out our online Personal Financial Management tool, do it now!
But being financially well is only one part of it. The long, cold winter gets to all of us and getting active and moving will not only benefit your physical health but your mental health too. Take a look at these resources to see just how easy it is for anyone to get outside and get moving! Your body and mind will thank you!
March 13 - It’s an Emergency do you have a fund for that? Expand/Collapse
Your first step to consider when preparing your emergency fund is to be sure you have considered both fixed and variable expenses.
1. Here are some examples of fixed and variable expenses:
- Housing Expenses: rent or mortgage, utilities
- Insurance: life, renters or homeowners
- Taxes: income taxes, property or municipal taxes
- Debt Repayments: credit card debt, student loans, car loans
- Healthcare: health and dental insurance
- Childcare: if applicable, day care or babysitter expenses
- Personal Living Expenses: groceries, personal items
- Transportation: gas, taxi, or public transportation
2. Getting started
- If you don’t have an emergency fund set up yet, or you find it difficult to save money the key is to start small.
- Accumulating one month’s worth of expenses will take some time, but if you set your immediate goals to be small and manageable you will have a better chance to reach them.
- Open up a new savings account if you currently don’t have one and begin to save with this first
- The next step is to get into the habit of making regular deposits into this account
- Whether it is weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, create a schedule and stick to it
March 6 - Don't let fraud get you! Expand/Collapse
Fraudsters have become more creative through technology to try and lure you in, don’t be fooled! Identify Theft/Fraud and Text Fraud are a couple of ways that technology is being used.
So, what is Identify Theft and Text Fraud?
Identify Theft/Fraud - is acquiring and collecting someone else's personal information for criminal purposes. Identity theft techniques can range from dumpster diving and mail theft, to more elaborate schemes through technology.
Beware of some popular catch phrases used to lure information from you:
- E-mail Money Transfer Alert: Please verify this payment information below…
- It has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs to be updated as part of our continuous efforts to protect your account and reduce instances of fraud…
- Dear Online Account Holder, Access To Your Account Is Currently Unavailable…
- Important Service Announcement from…, You have 1 unread Security Message!
- We regret to inform you that we had to lock your bank account access. Call (telephone number) to restore your bank account.
Text Fraud - text message is intended to trigger a quick reaction from you. It can use upsetting or exciting information; demand an urgent response or a false pretense or statement. Phishing messages are normally not personalized.
- Typically, phishing messages will ask you to "update", "validate", or "confirm" your account information or face dire consequences. They might even ask you to make a phone call.
- Often, the message or website includes official-looking logos and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate websites. Government, financial institutions and online payment services are common targets of brand spoofing.
Tips to protect yourself
- Don’t be fooled by the promise of a valuable prize in return for a low-cost purchase.
- Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.
- Don’t disclose personal information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance and driver’s license numbers to any business that can’t prove it is legitimate.
- If a scam artist contacts you, or if you’ve been defrauded: Report it! Your reports are vital to the anti-fraud efforts of law enforcement agencies.
February 27 - Are you prepared for tax time? Expand/Collapse
1. Organize a space
- Designate a space in your home or office specifically for taxes
- You will need a desktop filing system, place it within reach of your work area
- If it’s out of site, your paper will surely pile up, so placement is key!
- You need to make this process functional and simple, so you can file a receipt or document in a jiffy!
- Label file folders with categories
- Create a tax binder as a backup in case your computer breaks down
4. Don’t forgot about claiming charitable tax credits/donations. This charitable giving not only helps to reduce your income taxes, but also makes our communities, country and world a better place.
5. Have a plan in place for your refund or if you owe taxes, how to pay them.
6. There are number of ways to file your taxes
- By Mail. You can fill out a paper return and mail it to your local tax services office.
- Online. Use NETFILE to file your return online.
- There are other online filing programs as well
February 21 - It's RRSP Time! Expand/Collapse
There are common mistakes to avoid when considering an RRSP or if you have existing RRSP's.
- Dipping into funds:
- Dipping into an RRSP for expenses other than retirement income
- Making random withdrawals from your RRSP can give you a unexpected tax bill in April
- Now there are two expectations to dip into your RRSP funds and they are for:
- First -time homebuyers plan
- Lifelong learning plan
Remember no tax is withheld from these withdrawals so you will need to repay the money over a period of time.
- Putting in too much money:
- There are limits to how much you can invest in an RRSP
- Make sure you know what your limit is- this can vary for people without or with a company pension plan
- Starting too late:
- The earlier you start sticking that money away the better
- It is understandable that it may be hard to begin when you may be working at part - time job - but it does not need to be large sums it can be as simple as tucking away$25 per month
- Not revisiting your plan:
- It’s not enough just to open an RRSP and make a yearly, lump sum contribution
- You need evaluate your retirement goals on a regular basis
February 13 - Breaking up with Winter! Expand/Collapse
First of all, by the time February rolls around many of us are ready for a break from winter.
Other reasons for its popularity:
- It's the shortest month in the year
- It has a mid-winter break from university and school classes
- There is a Family Day long weekend
- And of course, Valentine’s Day!
To help you get started with building a plan, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How can you get better financial understanding to achieve measurable financial goals that you set?
- How you can take a whole new approach to your budget and improving control over your financial lifestyle?
- Did you know that savings created from good planning can prove beneficial in difficult times?
No matter what your financial goals are putting a plan in place is essential for your financial well-being.
February 6 - To Save or Not to Save that is the Question Expand/Collapse
Wow did January just fly by or what! Don't let February do the same without taking advantage of a great way to save for retirement. Two popular ways to do this are either an RRSP or a TFSA. You're probably saying hang on a second – what’s the difference and how do I choose which is best for me?
- Contributions to your RRSP are tax deductible
- Pay no tax on interest or other monetary growth until the day your funds are withdrawn
- A variety of investment options depending on your personal preferences and needs
- Complete deposit insurance on term deposits
- Pre-authorized contribution programs make it easy to build a strong retirement fund
- No minimum contribution required
- Contribute up to $5,500 per year (as of 2016)
- Any investment income you earn is tax-free
- Withdraw money at any time with no tax penalty
- Unused contributions are carried forward to the next year
- Choose from a variety of investment options
So let's chat about the difference of each, first an RRSP is meant for your retirement savings and a TFSA can be used for any kind of savings goals.
Another variation is that RRSP deductions are tax deductible and TFSA's – not so much. You can deduct your RRSP contribution on the income you report on your tax return. A TFSA you can't, however withdrawals are free because you made the contribution with after tax money and RRSP you pay tax on your withdrawals since you made the contribution with pre tax dollars.
Another thing to consider is that when you turn 71, you need to move your money from your RRSP into another investment like an RRIF, with TFSA's on the other hand, there is no age limit.
Here is a Retirement Planner and a TFSA calculator to help you!
Now you have a start to see which works the best for your future financial saving goals!
January 23 - Where has all my money gone and it’s only Monday? Expand/Collapse
Imagine this, it's payday, one of the best days of the month! You've worked hard for your money and now it's sitting in your bank account. You check a couple weeks later and it's almost all gone, but you aren't really sure where it went. Sure you bought that new shirt, filled your car up with gas, got groceries and went to the movies, but you didn't spend that much. Then again, you also went out for lunch a few times and you did stop by the ATM once or twice and you… Sound familiar? It can be really easy to let our spending get away from us. But a little here and a little there can really add up in the end. Fortunately, our online banking PFM tool is here to help! With it, you can track exactly where your money goes each month and since you already have a budget in place, especially after last week's post, you can see which buckets you're spending a bit too much in.
Need help to understand what spending habits are ? Here's a great example: Every morning on your way to work you find yourself in the lineup or the drive thru at your favorite coffee shop buying your morning cup of java. That's a habit!
Where do these spending habits come from? Lots of places:
- We see how our parents or other important people in our lives spend their money
- Our own personalities and experiences
- The things we see on the internet, the TV or from the media
- We see how people we admire and want to be like spend their money
January 30 - Haven't taken charge of your money yet? Expand/Collapse
- You understand the importance of budgeting, and have one set-up. You watch your spending and have a pretty good awareness of where your money is going.
- You see your money come in and you see it go back out. You know you should have a budget and know more about your money, but right now it's not a priority.
- You fall somewhere in the middle.
Let's take a quick recap of information this week to help you start, modify or maintain your plan.
Are you ready to roll? Here we go!
- What is PFM- Personal Financial Management - an online banking tool to help you better understand your finances.
- How can it help – it can show you how to set up a budget and monitor your spending
Okay, now that you’ve got that, let's move on to the many great online apps that can help you like this app that sends you all the weekly flyers and can help with your weekly budget.
Remember you can always view your spending and budgets on our Mobile Web and Mobile App features to help you keep on track.
January 16 - What’s the best cure for a debt hangover? Nope, it’s not orange juice. Expand/Collapse
You’re not alone and you can turn this around; all you need is a plan – like a budget!
- Gives you control over your money
- Is a way of being intentional about the way you spend and save your money
- Keeps you focused on your money goals
- Helps you avoid spending unnecessarily on items and services that do not contribute to attaining your financial goals
- Can also keep you out of debt or help you work your way out of debt if you follow it.
- Assess your financial resources – how much money do you have coming in each month?
- Determine your expenses - how do you spend your money? Separate your fixed expenses that you must meet (mortgage, rent, car payments, insurance) from variable expenses (food, clothing, entertainment, charitable gifts). Once you see your spending patterns, you may be able to make adjustments to certain expenses.
- Set goals – what do you want to achieve with your money? Establish a list of the goals, either long-term like purchasing property or short-term like home improvements or car maintenance.
- Create a plan - Once you've figured out how much money is coming in and where it's going, you can put together a plan that matches your goals with your financial situation.
- Pay yourself first - When you pay yourself first you simply set aside a certain amount of money each month to go into an account that you will not touch. For those infrequent but anticipated expenses, such as property taxes, vacations, automobile insurance or car maintenance.
- Track your progress - At the end of each month, re-evaluate your budget. Compare your actual expenses and income to your budget. And remember, a budget is only a guideline.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, here’s 8 more tips to help improve your budget plan.
Remember, a budget is only a guideline and is great for a debt hangover; orange juice is for breakfast!
January 9 - PFM – Your Resolution Secret Sidekick Expand/Collapse
The hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, and those expenses are starting to arrive at your door. What a better time to check out our new exciting online banking Personal Financial Management tools.
What is Personal Financial Management (PFM)? It’s a set of financial management tools designed to help members better understand their finances and inform their overall financial decisions.
So what does it mean for you? With PFM you can:
- Track and categorize your spending
- Set up a budget based on actual transactions, allowing you to set realistic limits based on your current needs and future goals
- View your spending and budgets on our Mobile Web and Mobile App features
The best part? It’s absolutely free to members and is already completely integrated into the online banking that you all know and love!
You’re probably thinking “great idea” but where do I start? How about 5 easy steps to get control of your finances.
If budgeting and taking charge of your money was one of your New Year’s resolutions, or even if it wasn’t, our PFM tool can help get you started.
What a great way to start 2017!