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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How to Cut your Expenses to Stretch your Budget

Money may have become tighter for more and more families. Whether you’ve gone through your savings already or you’re worried about what is yet to come, it’s important to know where you can cut your expenses to save money right now.

While each family has different expenses and areas they can cut, we share some of our top tips to cut your expenses below.

Trim the Entertainment

Yes, we are all bored sitting at home, but there’s no reason to go overboard right now. Entertainment is probably one of the easiest areas to cut in your life. Consider cutting:

  • Subscriptions – How many subscriptions do you have? Do you use them, especially right now? Cutting your monthly subscriptions could save you significant money right now.
  • Movie streaming services – How many streaming services do you need? Can you cut it down to one main service that has most of what you need? 
  • Shopping – While we can’t go to many of our favorite stores, online shopping can be just as dangerous, if not worse. Shopping when you’re bored can lead to excessive and needless spending.

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How to Maximize your Spending Plan (AKA Budget)

Maximize Spending Plan

Get the Most for the Least by Shopping Carefully

Budgeting can be like strong tasting medicine – it’s one of the most challenging remedies to take, but its effectiveness cannot be denied.  Whether you’ve got money troubles or not, a budget will help your finances.  You don’t make a budget just to fix problems – you have to do it all the time.

A spending plan is more than just a list with numbers.  It’s a willingness to do things that may seem inconvenient at the time, but add up to a considerable advantage when you’re looking to cut costs, without sacrificing quality.

Here are some everyday actions you can take that will make your bottom line look better:

Check Prices
Ok, so you’ve decided to make a purchase, and you’ve budgeted for it.  Before you expend precious funds, make sure you’re getting the best value for your dollar.  Ask yourself the following:

“Can I save money by buying used?”  A lot of times, a used item will serve just as well as a new one.  Appliances, for instance, are often available used, many from dealers who will offer a warranty.  Clothing, too. Many discount stores offer name brand clothing, gently worn, at a fraction of the original cost.  If you’re ok with previously enjoyed clothes, you’ll find that you can start dressing really well for really cheap.

“Is another store having a sale on this item?”  Is the sale good enough to justify the extra travel time and expense?  Try to avoid paying more just for convenience.

“Is it less expensive online?”  Sometimes it’s worth having to wait a few extra days for delivery.

Prepare your Own Meals
We can’t stress enough just how much impact this one simple act can have on your bottom line.  Take out or delivery costs several times as much as preparing a similar item at home, and when you make it yourself, it’s how you like it.  Compare the savings to the time spend preparing meals, and it’s like you’ve got another job that pays really well.

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