Category Archives: Budget

Tips for millennials to stay out of debt

While many young people may be concerned about their financial future, this could be put on hold due to mounting debt issues. It is important to stay on top of debt, as it can become dangerous if they let it go too long.

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 There are many aspects of debt that can end up hurting young people. According to NerdWallet.com, one of the major issues is dealing with interest payments. When using credit cards, this can become a significant problem, as it will be harder to pay these bills back, and they will not be able to use these funds to save.

Many young people worry about debt

Debt dangers can be a big issue, as there are many who are already struggling. According to Wells Fargo, 40 percent of those polled noted that their debt levels were overwhelming. Just 23 percent of baby boomers said the same.

“The silver lining of the recession that started over five years ago is that a majority of millennials get that saving is a necessity and even equate it with ‘surviving’ tough times,” said Karen Wimbish, director of retail retirement at Wells Fargo. “But millennial women are starting out their working lives making far less than men and, as a consequence, are saving less and feeling less contentment at the start of their working lives.”

Some solutions available

It is important to keep in mind that those who are taking advantage of options that will cut their debt may be in the best position to not only keep their personal finance plan in good shape now, but also come closer to securing a financial future.

 It can be important to create a financial strategy, as it will help determine how the money an individual earns is being used to take care of necessary expenses, NerdWallet.com noted. It is also crucial to consider paying more than just a minimum payment each month. Doing this will help cut down the level, even if the increase is not that much more significant. It also may not be easy, but looking for a job that pays more can also make a difference.

 Being patient and seeking out a number of ways to cut debt – while preventing significant additions of other debt – may be a good strategy going forward. There isn’t usually a quick fix, so staying mindful of the importance of discipline may be best.

Tips on setting up your life insurance without being duped

Protecting singles and their survivors’ interests upon their departure from Earth means factoring in financial planning, costs of burials and even unpaid bills one may possibly leave behind. While humans certainly cannot predict tomorrow, they can definitely have sufficient life insurance in place to cover the unknown. Receiving the most comprehensive policy, however, isn’t always easy – especially with the very real possibility an underwriter or agent may dupe buyers.

life-insurance

Here’s some interesting telltale signs buyers are being ripped off or being forced to ‘sign their life away’ when, in essence, they’re simply trying to protect it.

“Guaranteed acceptance”

When consumers read the words ‘guaranteed’, they should run like the wind. Fly-by-night companies offer no medical exam, guaranteed acceptance life insurance – many without proper licensure. They’ll smell the fraudulence from miles away upon paying the first month’s fee; unfortunately for some, they’ll find out the hardest way possible – when staking claim to survivor or burial payments.

Check to make sure provincial or national licensure has been secured by the insurance company. Don’t be afraid of these company’s most hated scenario – asking too many questions. Finally, remember that the only guaranteed statements written about life protection come from companies that are reputable.

“The fine print”

Existing within all forms of life insurance are underlying ulterior motives behind their notorious pitches – yes, even the more widely renowned ones. Whether it’s forcing consumers to sign a long-term agreement spanning 30 years, making singles purchase something they don’t need (waivers, etc.) or misinforming the general public of what’s actually covered, life insurance agents live by a common modus operandi: earn massive commissions. It’s unfortunate, but that’s how life insurance works in this generation.

To assuage buying unnecessary coverage, consumers must read the bottom line of every life insurance policy that is written down to the letter. Also, buyers must continually drill their assigned agent to make sure they’re getting every qualified discount specific to their situation and the lowest possible deductible allowed by local, provincial or national law.

Scores of hard-working Canadians are misled by life insurance companies every day and, with the plethora of informative writings provided by experienced insurance agencies, buyers can surely save considerable amount of time, expound fewer resources and get miles ahead of life insurance enterprises so when their time to life insurance shop has come, they’ll get what coverage is deserved without breaking their bank account or being stuck in someone’s duplicitous game.

Food for thought

Ultimately, your immediate goal should be to spot and stop life insurance scams before they ruin your financial security. Quite frankly, as many shall soon see, today’s buffet of life insurance companies wish to only pander their coverage to Canadian citizens while banking their commission to spoil themselves on BMW’s, caviar and Gucci suits.

With a small dose of common knowledge of how to spot fraudulence or over-coverage, time otherwise spent reversing your signature can be spent living, working and having fun throughout life. Read the various review sites in existence to see how others dealt with underwriter irrationalities, and avoided overindulgence in life insurance. Should your personal financial situation unexpectedly turn south, consumers shouldn’t have to throw away their policies because the premiums are ridiculously high.

Five Best Ways To Get Extra Mileage Out Of Your Car Lease

For a growing number of drivers, leasing a vehicle is becoming a more popular choice than car ownership thanks to the affordable rates and low up-front costs.

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Getting more for your monthly payment is a huge benefit of a lease, although it doesn’t provide the growing equity that owning your own automobile does. Despite being left with little to show for your lease after it is over, the total cost savings is enough to sway many shoppers. If you’re opting for a lease, here are five tips that can stretch your money even further and get you driving the car you want for a price that’s within your budget:

1. Negotiate The Vehicle’s Price, Not Just Monthly Rate – When leasing a car, most consumers underestimate the importance of the vehicle’s total price. Just as when making a purchase, the overall value of the vehicle is what determines your monthly payment. Negotiating solely based on your monthly budget will leave you at a price disadvantage to others savvy enough to bring down the price on both fronts.

2. Pay Attention To Manufacturer Deals – Vehicle manufacturers are always running promotions. On some automobiles, during certain parts of the year, these promotions can mean significant savings that are passed on to you from the dealer. If you’re planning to lease a vehicle, keeping up with the car companies’ deals can help narrow down the best-valued vehicle, as well as the best time to make a move and sign a lease.

3. Plan For Your Mileage Needs – One of the most costly expenses for drivers leasing their vehicles are mileage overages, especially with luxury cars. Dealerships and vehicle leasing companies routinely charge $0.10 to $0.25 per mile over their specified annual limits, which are commonly 10,000 or 15,000 miles. Determine how much you’ll likely be driving before signing your lease and be sure to choose a mileage plan that won’t leave you paying an arm and a leg when it’s time to turn the car in.

4. Consider Vehicles With High Residual Values – Since we’ve already established that lease prices are based on a car’s total value, it makes sense that the amount the vehicle is worth after your lease is up come into play when determining price. Industry sites like fincar.com.au can help you track the best vehicle options when leasing. Choosing a vehicle with a high residual value will help lower your monthly costs by minimizing the amount the car depreciates while you have it.

5. Treat Your Car Like Royalty – Gone are the days when leasing a car meant extending the same amount of care you would give to a rental vehicle. Under modern automotive leases, you are likely going to be responsible for any small damages outside of the scope of normal wear and tear. In order to avoid potentially sizeable fees when your lease period is up, be mindful of the car’s interior care and be sure to keep up with any regularly scheduled maintenance.

Finding great deals on lease vehicles isn’t difficult in today’s automobile market. Many car companies are offering great specials to drivers interested in leasing, and being up-to-date and knowledgeable on industry trends is sure to help you save even more. With research, due diligence and a readiness to jump on the best deals when they arise, stretching your funds with a vehicle lease can be a piece of cake.

David Lye is a finance expert who also happens to be passionate about cars. Thanks to his interests, he founded fincar.com.au. David enjoys helping others find a vehicle they love at a cost they

Top Factors That Affect the Cost of Automobile Insurance

There’s no way around it — owning an automobile means carrying automobile insurance, unless you want to bear the full financial responsibility for any losses due to theft or accidents. That said, you have a certain amount of control over how much you have to pay for that auto insurance. Let’s examine some of these variables:
Theft incidence – Some cars, trucks or other vehicles cost more to insure because of their attractiveness to thieves. These vehicles do not necessarily sit on the high range of the MSRP scale, either; in fact, many less expensive cars fall prey to theft because they lack remote keyless entry systems of other sophisticated electronics found in pricier models. Popular foreign cars such as the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima are popular with thieves because their parts can command healthy prices at "chop shops." Conversely, decidedly non-flashy cars or models with problematic reliability histories often make the "least stolen" lists. I
. Insurance companies pay close attention to these lists — which means you should too.
Retail price – Insurance companies actually base much of a premium estimate on the vehicle’s MSRP. Don’t be surprised if your gorgeous Jaguar, Porsche or Mercedes-Benz costs an arm and a leg to insure, even at minimal levels. That’s because high-performance cars tend to inspire high-performance maneuvers from their drivers, and this makes them more likely to turn up in accident and injury reports. That "sensible" subcompact may not get your blood pumping, but the money you save on insurance can keep your bank account from bleeding money.
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High-performance luxury cars can mean higher insurance rates.
Anti-theft devices – Auto insurance companies respond favorably to these smart accessories options when figuring your premiums. Ask your insurer how adding an electronic alarm or remote keyless entry system could lower your rate. Not every system will automatically qualify, so make sure you have this conversation before you run out and buy that new theft deterrent system.
Safety features – Extra safety features on a car can result in a lower risk of death or injury in an accident, a fact taken into consideration when auto insurance companies estimate your coverage costs. Keep in mind, however, that the same airbag systems responsible for lowering your injury risk may also attract would-be thieves. Could this have an undesirable effect on your premium? Maybe, but in this case life and health matter more. Get the safety features.
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Safety features can save both your money and your life.
Demographics – Sometimes it pays to drive into work from that sleep town next door; residents of big, densely-populated cities can expect to pay more for auto insurance. If you are insuring a car driven by a minor, ask about possible rate discounts based on your child’s academic performance, or for the child’s participation in a teen driving awareness program.
Of course some items, such as spotty accident history or previous DWIs, may affect your eligibility for affordable auto insurance beyond your control. But grasp the options available to you, and start enjoying more affordable auto coverage!

William Reynolds has worked as a freelance copywriter since 1997. William has helped many a business market its wares and manage its online reputation through professional website content, ghost-blogging, print marketing content and audio/video scripts.
(Images courtesy of digidreamgrafix and Naypong /FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Make it cheaper by comparing and saving

My goal is to is to cut back on all my utilities and save money on bills. After all who wants to spend their hard earned money on electricity and gas bills. This is certainly not a new concept to me or anyone looking to cut their budget. It would be nice if someone could actually do the work for me, shop around and find better rates.

make it cheaperMake It Cheaper is a website dedicated to helping Australian business and household save money on their their electricity and gas bills. It is Australia’s leading energy comparison website, committed to finding you the most competitive electricity and gas deal possible. They even guarantee you’ll save you money when you switch with Make It Cheaper. Do you know where this can be done with cell phones in Canada?

They’ll compare your current energy rates with their network of energy suppliers to help find a better deal.

They offer FREE quotes and no hidden costs. It takes only minutes to find the best deal.They do this by negotiating competitive deals with a network of retailers to ensure customers can access competitive deals. It’s a service that offers a saving solution for a business or consumers electricity, gas, fixed line, broadband and mobile phone bills.

Their goal is to empower Australians to make better decisions about their bills, helping both businesses and households secure the best deal that fits their needs.

So why is Make It Cheaper different and do they stand out?

Because Make It Cheaper offers  guarantee of savings as well as a Market Monitoring service. This is a service that allows customers save money when they switch over to Make It Cheaper they also will not get rolled onto uncompetitive rates at the end of their contract term.

My questions is why isn’t anyone doing this in Canada? This would certainly be a great service! Gotta love those Ozzies, they know more than just about rugby after all.

Are Fixed Rate Mortgages the Best Mortgages

Are Fixed Rate Mortgages the Best Mortgages?

Are Fixed Rate Mortgages the Best Mortgages?

Are Fixed Rate Mortgages the Best Mortgages

Many people attempting to navigate the mortgage maze are faced with the dilemma of whether to opt for a fixed rate or a variable rate mortgage product. Essentially, a fixed rate mortgage has constant monthly repayments at a pre-determined rate of interest. In contrast, a variable rate mortgage has an interest level which normally tracks the Bank of England Base Rate. The Base Rate changes periodically depending on economic macro factors, which in turn results in variable rate products which track the Base Rate attracting a changing rate of interest. Detailed below are some factors to consider when deciding which type of financial product might meet your needs.

Duration is Key

One of the main advantages of fixed rate mortgages is that for the duration of the fixed rate term, the amount of money which needs to be repaid each month is pre-determined. This makes budgeting much easier and can provide a level of financial certainty which many people find reassuring. In contrast, a variable rate mortgage can experience dips and rises in its interest rate, meaning monthly payments can vary considerably, sometimes experiencing several changes in a short twelve-month period. As the Base Rate can fall as well as rise (PDF), variable rate mortgage holders can enjoy lower rates of interest than their fixed rate mortgage counterparts, but conversely must also deal with enhanced monthly repayments when the Base Rate increases. For the sake of comparison, Clydesdale Bank currently offer 2 years fixed at 2.49% versus 2.59% tracking the Base Rate for 3 years.

Trackers Have Benefits Too

Normally a fixed rate mortgage product has duration of only a few years, which gives mortgage holders the opportunity to then switch products if they decide the outlook for the Base Rate makes a variable rate mortgage more financially advantageous. Variable rate products are often of a longer duration, typically for the life of the mortgage, but if an attractive fixed rate product is found then switching can be an option. Regardless of the product, it is important to take note of any arrangement fees or penalty fees for switching or termination, as these costs can outweigh the benefits of change.

But Don’t Be Complacent

Whilst the current low Base Rate means that at the moment many people are benefiting from attractive interest rates incurred by their variable rate mortgage, this situation will not continue forever. There are some indications that the Base Rate is set to rise over the next few years, meaning that for many people now is a good time to consider an appropriate fixed rate product.

The importance of building a credit history and credit score

A credit score represents a person’s creditworthiness. A person’s credit score is computed based on information on a credit report or credit history that typically comes from credit bureaus.

This credit score is used by lenders such as banks and credit card companies for determining the risk posed by a loan applicant. Lenders adjust the interest rate of the loans they give out according to the risk that they might not be paid back.

In the U.S., a person’s credit score is usually based on the credit report generated by the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. FICO score (based on the Fair Isaac Corp. that invented it) is the most known credit score in the U.S. Aside from the FICO score, the credit bureaus provide their own scores as well. Equifax has the Equifax Credit Score while Experian has the PLUS score. New credit scores have also been developed that provide an alternative to the better known credit scores for determining a person’s creditworthiness. Consumers are allowed to get one free copy of their credit report a year in the U.S.

In Canada, Equifax and TransUnion provide credit reports and scores. The system is similar to the one found in the U.S. One major difference though is that Canadians can request a free copy of their credit report any time.

Financial Impact of a Good Credit Score

Getting a good credit score is important because the score can have a huge impact on a person’s monthly loan payments. For example, a person who takes out a mortgage with a high credit score can get a much lower interest rate of around 5.5% and pay around $850 in monthly payments. A person with a very low credit score will be assessed a much higher interest rate above 9% and they will have to pay over $1,200 in monthly payments for the same loan amount. As you can see, hundreds of dollars are at stake when a credit score is not maintained.

Establishing Good Credit History

If you want to get a high credit score and gain the benefits along with having one, you should consider building your credit history. If you have the option of getting a credit card, then this is one of the best options for building a credit history. You can get a credit card from a bank where you already have a relationship with because they should have your financial history to base your credit card application on. Store credit cards have low credit limits but they also have a higher chance of getting one because they have more lenient requirements.

If you have acquired a credit card, from either your bank or a store credit card, then the next step to take is to pay your bills diligently. You’re trying to build a credit history so you have to establish a reputation for paying your bills on time. Doing these steps will help you build a credit history. With a good credit history and report, you can obtain a higher credit score that will help lenders decide to give you a lower interest rate on loans.

This article is written by CompareHero.my, the most comprehensive financial comparison service in Malaysia.  Compare credit cards, broadband plan, and others at a competitive price.

where is your money going

Where is your money going

In a direct analogy, a household is like a business with assets and liabilities and managing the household means managing the revenue and all the discretionary costs.
where is your money going

Well, like most businesses that have quarterly reports, this also happens in our household. We see where we are compared to where we estimated we would be and suggest adjustments (changing vacation plans, investing in a stock for an opportunity, reducing some line items from the budget). We look closely at all non-discretionary expenses and cut waste (like a business). Example, after seeing how much we spent enjoying our local cafes instead of scraping our Starbucks weekend treats, we learned how to make most of the signature drinks at home or using online programs such as swagbucks that enables us to enjoy these treats at no extra costs.

We evaluate what we don’t use and sell it or looking at ways to add value with what we have.  An example would be our rental property, renting it furnished catered to students that attract higher monthly rents.  Parking spaces that can be rented because we own a condo in the downtown core of Victoria, BC and there are always people looking to rent parking spaces.

We try to run our household as organized as possible. We automatically pay all credit card invoices, utilities, Internet, mortgages so we don’t need to worry about lost payments or missing a deadline. Making sure we are always making profits at the end of the month and ways to cut out unnecessary expenses. Cutting down food waste and use what’s in the pantry. Example would be to switch from branded boxed cereal to bulk size steel cut oats from Costco. It goes a lot further and is much more healthier too.

Since I love going to the gym, I began training to instruct classes. I love it, its a passion and now I’m teaching classes that I love with the advantage of getting paid for teaching and the perks like free memberships for my husband. Gym memberships are costly and we’ve managed to attain them an no extra cost plus we stay fit. I’ve turned a hobby into a job.

With all well run business we use a software give you an up-to-date balance sheet of asset and liabilities in our household and it shows our Net Worth at the current date accounting for every penny.

Using technology allows you to set up categories you want to track (Gas, Clothing, Entertainment, Food). I give the analogy to a mirror, it helps shed light on areas where you may waste money an allows you to tweak your spending.

Another great feature is that you can link your trading accounts and see how your investments are doing.  This ensures we account for all costs and are able to analyze our household budget.

A pastry with an organic food label (Bio

The Case Against Organic Food

There seems to be an organic revolution occurring in the U.S., Canada, and western European countries these days, but despite mainstream raving about organic benefits, the question remains: is organic really the best way to go? Even with the obvious cost factor aside, the answer is “maybe not.” If you’re currently paying exorbitant prices for organic food—because it’s supposedly healthier or less saturated with pesticides, or whatever your reason may be—you may want to carefully reconsider your grocery list:

Stanford Study

In September 2012, Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy conducted extensive research on the nutritional benefits of both organic and conventional food. By the end of the study—which consisted of analyses on existing studies—the scientists concluded that there was no significant difference in the health or nutritional benefits between conventional and organic foods. While the pesticide content was generally lower in organic foods (yes, lower, not nonexistent), the overall difference between the two types is so minimal that it seems hardly worth paying higher prices for over-hyped organic foodstuff.

Cheaper Alternatives

The biggest drawback to organic produce, meat, eggs, etc. is the cost! Some organic food costs as much as 2-3 times its nonorganic counterparts, and for many families, paying for the basic necessity of food is difficult enough without the added cost associated with lessened pesticide use. Going to a farmer’s market is a viable option for someone looking for organic (or mostly organic) food without a massive price tag. You can also check out local savings in your area—nonorganic foods are on sale more often than organic foods, and finding deals or coupons on sites like SumoCoupon can help you scale back your grocery expenses. Unless you prioritize the ‘organically grown’ aspect over the cost of food, ditching organic is the way to go (until organic prices level out in the distant future).

Pesticide Content

According to the Scientific American on July 18, 2011, “Organic farming, just like other forms of agriculture, still uses pesticides and fungicides to prevent critters from destroying their crops.” Although the pesticide content is less than conventionally-grown crops, the fact remains that there are, in fact, pesticides in organic produce.

The article went on to say that even though organic farms use “natural pesticides” and fungicides such as copper and sulfur, these chemicals still pose potentially serious health risks and conclusions on their impact on the environment are conflicting, at best. The Scientific American even pointed out that Canadian scientists compared “reduced risk” pesticides with synthetic pesticides used on conventional farms and discovered that the synthetic pesticides were “more effective” and less “ecologically damaging” than their “organic” counterparts.

Taste

A pastry with an organic food label (Bio

A pastry with an organic food label (Bio) is on  display

Last but not least, some people claim that organic food simply tastes better, which serves as their justification for paying higher prices to get “better” food. However, in a Cornell study cited by a 2011 Time Magazine article on whether organic food tastes better, it was found that, in a taste test between what participants were told “conventional” and “organic” foods (everything was actually organic), participants stated that the foods labeled “organic” tasted better and had lower levels of fat. Although this is just one study, it shows that, perceptually, organic food may seem better, but in reality, many of us cannot differentiate between what’s organic and what’s not.

lowestrates.ca

Money Saving Guide for University Students

When I hear people say, “I’m still paying off my student loan,” years after they graduate and well into their 30’s I suddenly feel lucky to know that I didn’t take the route. Finances are hard as it is when you’re a young family the last thing I would want is student debt accumulated from years ago that still hasn’t been paid off.

Repercussions are generally felt years after, once you graduate and when you most need money  – starting out and as a young family.

lowestrates.ca

Reading Money Saving Guide for University Students will educate you on some of the unexpected costs of those fiscally challenging years while you study. Lowestrates.ca offers a guide to help pinch your pennies and plan ahead.

So what do they cover?

  • Housing: with suggestions on how to lower those nasty costs that tend to be the highest expenses.
  •  Tracking Expenses: spreadsheets and apps that can easily be used to help you budget your finances.
  • Building Credit: with offers and deals on various ways to help you mange your money.
  • Spreadsheets: that will help you compare apples to apples when looking for services that you just can’t live without liked cell phones and transportation.
  • Saving Tips on how to save on textbooks and tuition costs. Along with ways to save money on groceries.

A few of my favourite examples:

  • At LowestRates.ca compared the cost of driving vs taking public transit in several major cities across Canada. Surprising you with the numbers.
  • Saving tips on education by transferring credits and prerequisites.
  • Take time to think about how much you will use the phone and comping up with a good comparison of how to pick the right plan suited to your needs.
  • Student cards that we recommend and where you can apply for them.
  • Where to save on textbooks such as used book stores on campus. Used books in the marketplace online  and places like Facebook, Kijiji and Craigslist.

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With a little planning and careful budgeting you will not find the cost of going to University overwhelming. Your debt will be minimized substantially leaving you with a lot less debt load once those years are over.

Money Savings Guide for University Students is a quick easy read for anyone going back to school.

As a person well into my 30’s and having graduated University without any debt I can honestly see the advantages I have over many of my colleagues that are still struggling to pay off debt even in their 40’s. It sounds scary having  student debt at 40 but it’s true and you would be surprised how easily it can happen without proper planning.