Managing Your Summer Vacation and Debt

Summer is a time for fun and vacation, but bad habits can quickly put you into debt for temporary fun. If you’re trying to stay out of debt, there are plenty of ways to have summer fun while staying within your budget.

Have a Staycation

Becoming tourists in your hometown is one of the best ways to have the best of both worlds. You can have fun and save money. You don’t have to pay the high hotel costs or even need money to eat out. You have the comforts of your own home, yet can venture out and be ‘tourists’ in your area.

You can even keep it free by visiting national parks, hiking local trails, visiting museums on ‘free museum days,’ and using your library’s resources (many offer free passes to local attractions).

Stay with Friends

If you want to head out of town for a true vacation feel, travel to areas where you have friends and see if you can bunk at their place. If you don’t have friends who live out of town or at least where you want to visit, consider traveling with friends and splitting the cost of a rented house versus paying inflated hotel costs.

Look for Coupons before you Travel

You don’t have to be a resident to take advantage of local deals, and do your research before you go. Many tourist service centers have coupon books for travelers, but you can also look on Groupon or the area’s local chamber of commerce page.

Find out where the deals are, including Happy Hour, buy one get one free deals, or even free times to enter attractions (sometimes going to attractions a couple of hours before they close) are all great ways to save money.

Budget your Vacation

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Summertime Staycation Planning & Budgeting

Staycation Budgeting

Parents can’t wait until the days of no more alarms or harping on kids about homework, but then there’s all the free time summer creates. Without schedules and structure, it can feel overwhelming and if you aren’t careful, you may forget about budgeting and spend money just to keep your kids occupied.

Rather than throwing all caution to the wind this summer, plan a staycation. This way you’ll have fun planned for your family without the expenses of a vacation and the rest of the summer won’t feel as unstructured.

Before you plan a staycation, though, learn the top budgeting techniques to make it affordable.

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Preparing for Tax Season When you Don’t get a Refund

Tax time can be exciting or overwhelming, depending on whether or not you get a refund. If you get a refund, you feel like you’re on top of the world. If you owe money, it can send your budget into a tailspin.

Relying on a refund is not the right choice. Everyone should be prepared to NOT receive a refund, by planning and budgeting throughout the year.

At Creditaid, we want our clients to be prepared for the tax season financially, rather than letting it derail their finances and cause financial destruction. It’s not as hard as it seems. You just need to budget and plan long before tax season begins.

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Distinguish Between Needs vs. Wants

A proper budget makes room for needs and wants. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to differentiate between the two. It can be subjective, but certain things are clear-cut and easy to determine.

So how do you tell? Let’s look at the basic definition of each.

What are Needs?

Needs are items you must have to survive. Clothes, food, proper healthcare, and transportation – those are needs. You can’t live without them, and these apply to everyone.

Other needs may be more individualized. For example, one person may NEED dental insurance because they have extensive dental issues, while another person may only go to the dentist for routine cleanings twice a year and may not consider dental insurance a need.

Write down the things you NEED in your life. If you didn’t have one, it would make it hard to survive or cause financial destruction.

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Why you Need to Record your Spending

Does tracking your spending sound about as fun as going to the dentist? We get it. But just like the dentist is important for your oral health, tracking your spending is important for your financial health.

Obviously recording your spending identifies where you overspend, but there are plenty of other reasons too.

Creates Accountability

You can say you want to save for specific goals all you want, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never reach your goals.

Recording your spending provides visualization of where your money goes. You can see ‘gosh I spent $50 eating out and now I can’t save for my XYZ goal.’ That accountability is HUGE when you’re trying to meet financial goals.

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2020 Tax Season Tips

Goodbye, 2020! It was a strange and challenging year for many of us for several reasons. 
 
This 2020 tax year will be unlike any other, with many individuals collecting CERB without any tax withholdings. However, this income is taxable, which means that individuals receiving CERB will owe tax on the funds they received, which can seriously impact your 2020 tax return. Those who typically expect a refund might owe money for tax in the current year or significantly reduce their refund. 
 
At Creditaid we want to ensure our clients are prepared financially to assure continued success in our program and beyond. We have provided several tax tips below, some of which may apply to the current year. These are beneficial tax tips and suggestions that can benefit you and your family for years to come!
 
If you have any questions or wish to set up a tax planning session, please give us a call at 204 987 6890.

Working From Home Office Expenses
Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. The use of a shorter qualifying period will ensure that more employees can claim the deduction than would otherwise have been possible under longstanding practice.

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How to Prepare for the end of Debt Holiday

The pandemic made it tough for thousands of Canadians to keep up with their bills, especially the high-interest consumer debt. A debt holiday was put in place on consumer debt and mortgages helping Canadians handle the daily cost of living without worrying about excessive debts.

Now that the country and even the world are coming back together and things are opening up, the debt holiday is nearing its ends. This means many bills will be due again – but how do you prepare for such a change in your finances?

Check out the tips below.

Negotiate a Payment Plan

Before your deferment plans end, contact your creditors. Don’t wait until the plan expires and then try to work something out. At that point it’s too late, your payments will be due and if you don’t pay them, it will hurt your credit.

Call your creditors long before it ends and ask about your options. Let them know your financial situation, whether you’re furloughed, not working, or working but trying to catch up. Most creditors will work with you, helping you figure out an affordable plan. Creditors would rather make a plan and receive the full payment than put you at risk of defaulting altogether.

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How to Budget Single Family Income

Has the pandemic brought your family down to a single income? With more than a million jobs lost in Canada, many families are in the same boat. Whether you were laid off or were required to stay home with your children who couldn’t go to school or daycare, it’s important to know how to budget your single family income.
 
Even if you collect unemployment, for now, it may not last. Just in case, consider the following ways to budget your single family income.
 
Make Cuts
 
It’s not a pleasant thought, but you must cut expenses. Get creative here. For example, if you cut cable, can you afford to replace it with a streaming service? Netflix, for example, costs a fraction of standard cable services. See if you can work it into your budget so you don’t feel like you’re sacrificing too much.
 
Think of other places you can cut, such as:
 
·       Eating out
·       Entertainment
·       Grocery store (shop sales and clip coupons)
·       Household goods (shop sales or comparison shop online)
 
Redo your Budget
 
Take an honest look at your budget. Where do you spend? If you can’t cut in certain categories, where does that leave you each month?
 
Think about saving for an emergency fund and retirement. Both should remain line items on your budget even when you’ve gone down to one income.
 

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Stores are Open – Reign in your Spending

Life is trying to get back to normal. As the COVID-19 numbers drop, more retail stores are reopening, which is a great sign for our economy, but may not be as good for your pocketbook. Try to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of things getting back to ‘normal,’ and be mindful of your spending.

Before you shop, ask yourself the following questions.

Is this an Impulse Buy?

Are you shopping with a list? If you are, is the item you’re holding or that you ‘need to buy’ on your list? If not, it’s an impulse buy. Even if you don’t have a list, but you look at things you don’t need or didn’t intend to buy; it’s an impulse buy.

Rather than buying without thinking, give yourself 48 hours. Leave the store or close your web browser without buying the product. After 48 hours, if you’re still thinking about the item, maybe it’s something worth buying. Chances are though, if it was an impulse buy, you won’t even think about it again.

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