Happy Home Hunting Tips for Canadians

Home hunting tips

Finding the right home for you and your loved ones really comes down to three chief factors:

  1. Affordability: Does the home fit into your budget? Have you determined the financing you can qualify for through a mortgage pre-approval? Have you factored in mortgage insurance, utilities and heating expenses, association fees and taxes?
  2. Lifestyle: Is the home located in an area within the proximity of the amenities you and your family require? Is the lot large enough for your pet(s)? Will owning this home impede you from doing the things you love doing? Are you close enough to work, family and friends?
  3. Future Needs: Are kids a possibility in the future? Is the home large enough for a family? Is the basement developed? Are there schools nearby? Or, if you are close to retirement, is the home too large? Are there too many stairs and floors in the home to negotiate?

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Why wait until New Year’s Day? Start thinking about financial strategy now

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The most popular New Year's resolutions are often the hardest to keep, especially when it comes to counting calories, quitting vices, losing weight and, of course, saving money. Most Canadians' intentions are good enough – save up for a house/renovation/emergency fund/college education/pile of debt – but motivation drops off and people wait until the start of the next year to once again try to get their act together.

But who says people have to wait until New Year's Day to put their good habits into motion? Can't financial stability start sooner – like today? Better yet, how about putting the ball into motion right now?

Top 10 money-saving tips
There are plenty of top-tip lists floating around the internet, all of which are helpful when making or upholding financial goals or resolutions. Although they vary slightly depending on who you talk to and who the tips are aimed toward, go-to tips generally include the following: Continue reading

Now is the time to budget for holiday shopping

Just before the 2011 holiday season – already one year ago, if you can believe it or not – retail sales started creeping up in September, increasing $38.2 billion in one month. Statistics Canada reported that increase as the largest increase since November of the previous years, but it meant one thing for most Canadians: Holiday season was back, and it was time to do some shopping.

Alas, residents across the country made lists, bought gifts for upcoming holidays and generally did not follow their budgets. According to the 2012 Royal Bank of Canada Post-Holiday Spending Poll, one-third of Canadians spent more than they budgeted for. The good news was that the number was down 2 percentage points from the 2011 RBC poll, but most of the people overspending were parents. After all, it's harder not spend oodles of money on children around the holidays than it is to abide by some silly budget, isn't it?

Except that budget isn't really so silly, especially because Canadians are facing the largest amount of credit debt ever and the stability of the economy actually relies on people better managing their money. This definitely includes staying on track budget-wise this upcoming holiday season. Continue reading

Report: Canadian debt increases in Q4 2011

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A recent report from TransUnion shows the total debt in Canada increased to close out 2011, with holiday shopping likely responsible for the rise in credit spending.

The fourth quarter of 2011 in Canada saw total debt, excluding mortgage, rise to $25,960. The nation is still experiencing decelerating annual growth below 1 percent for the first time since TransUnion started analyzing credit trends eight years ago.

"The fourth quarter increase in average consumer debt is in line with seasonal patterns as consumer debt levels generally rise during the holiday shopping season," said Thomas Higgins, TransUnion's vice president of analytics and decision services. "The continued deceleration in the annual growth of total debt is the bigger story." Continue reading

Study: Only 38 percent of Canadians have a financial plan

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Global economic uncertainty and unstable stock markets have many Canadians concerned about their financial future, and a recent study revealed very few citizens have clear pictures of their retirement.

According to TD Canada Trust, only 38 percent of Canadians have a financial plan, while just 16 percent say they have a clear picture of retirement. More baby boomers have a financial strategy compared to the average Canadian, as 43 percent reported having a plan.

The report said younger investors are the most likely age group to contribute the maximum amount to their Registered Retirement Savings Plan, as 21 percent of respondents in their 30s committed such a amount. Furthermore, the report said Canadians should consider meeting with a financial advisor to discuss a personal retirement plan. Continue reading

Canadians should begin retirement saving early, experts say

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Canadians are constantly attempting to save as much as possible for retirement, and the earlier someone starts saving the more likely they'll have sufficient retirement funds, financial experts say.

According to a Postmedia News report, building a retirement portfolio should be the top concern for Canadians in their 50s, while the goal for investors should be creating an asset base six to 15 times their household income.

"We've had circumstances where people have come in at age 62 and say, 'I want to retire at age 65,' and they've saved either nothing or next to nothing,'' said John Clark, president of Pacific Spirit Investment Management, as reported by the news source. "At that point, there's very little a planner or adviser can do other than damage control." Continue reading

Many Canadians could improve financial knowledge

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Global economic uncertainty is dominating headlines and impacting household finances, but many Canadians still have limited economic knowledge.

According to a recent study by Investors Group, Canadians give themselves a B grade in financial literacy, while only 27 percent call themselves well-informed. Forty-four percent of respondents said they find economic topics confusing.

"The truth is that all of us learn as we go to some extent," said Debbie Ammeter, vice president at Investors Group. "Every important life stage and milestone requires a different investment and personal finance strategy to help you achieve your goals. Learning how to budget, save and invest at an early age lays the foundation that is vital for the rest of your life." Continue reading

Retiring correctly as important as amount of savings

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An increased number of Canadians will reach retirement during the next few years, but while saving as much as possible is important, how a retirement fund is fulfilled may be equally or more vital.

According to a recent Certified General Accountants Association of Canada report, saving for retirement the correct way is just as crucial as saving in general.

"Saving regularly for your retirement is commendable," said Rock Lefebvre, CGA-Canada's vice president of research and standards. "But without considering the best blend of alternatives, you could be overlooking some important strategies for building retirement capital." Continue reading

Investment Strategies for Young People

Helping Your Kids Get into Investing Early

In this Internet-dominated, economy-fearing age it may be possible that your kids will out-know you in terms of stocks and trading before they finish grade school. American author Katherine R. Bateman suggests in her book, The Young Investor: Projects and Activities for Making Your Money Grow that no age is too young to get kids making sense of their dollars.

She suggests that even in delivery babies are buying currency – that is, the effort they exert coming into the world is generally awarded with monetary gifts. Bateman says that rather than encouraging your children to begin saving in piggy banks, go one step further and have them deposit into real bank accounts as soon as they can, or open an account for them as soon as they are born. Continue reading

More Canadians see debt as obstacle to financial goals

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According to a recent poll conducted by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, a rising number of Canadians have made progress on reducing their debt. However, a significant number of Canadians view their debt as an obstacle to achieving their future financial goals.

Of those responding to the company's poll, 72 percent claimed to have some form of debt. From this percentage, 61 percent relayed they have made good progress on paying down their debt thus far in 2011. Continue reading