Living as a Couple – Time for the Talk

Your relationship is going well, and you take the big step to move in together. However, reality soon comes crashing down. Before you know it, the honeymoon is over, and you’re disagreeing about every little aspect of your lives together.

One of the biggest sticking points for couples is finances. You may find that you each hold completely different views about the importance of budgeting, or when you do budget, you disagree on what is or is not a priority. These are the times that will try your relationship, but the good news is, you can get through it and reach an accord.

First of all, there is no way around it – you need to be honest with each other. Discuss all your assets and debts, so there are no unpleasant surprises. You then need to decide whether to share financial responsibilities and to what degree. One person may be bringing a lot more debt to the relationship, which is why it is important to have this conversation early in the relationship.

Make sure to discuss your individual credit history, too. Your ability to borrow as a couple will be greatly impacted by your past spending. Don’t panic if your partner has taken out a lot of credit in the past; this is your opportunity as a couple to explore options for getting to a place of financial stability. Talk about setting a budget and goals for clearing debt, and decide on a ratio of responsibility for that debt.

While it is important that both of you contribute financially to your budget and the paying off of debts, you should also play to your strengths. The person who is better at managing monthly bills should take care of that side of your finances; however, it is important that both people in the relationship share the overall responsibility of maintaining the budget.

Compromise and communication are key to a strong financial relationship so make sure you discuss and come to an agreement on where your money is going and when. A relationship takes work, but by having this honest conversation early on and staying on track with budgeting and spending, you may find that your relationship is stronger for it.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Budget

A New Year’s resolution is often about learning from the mistakes you made in the previous year. This is especially true when it comes to budgeting. You can really get ahead of the game; setting yourself up for a debt free year. For a long-term budget, we have some great tips to include in your New Year’s resolution.

Planning Ahead
Don’t get taken by surprise when it comes to your finances. Remember last year when your car broke down, and you had to break into your budget to pay for the emergency repair? Well, to truth is, this coming year isn’t going to be any kinder to you. There will always be some emergency to deal with, so having a safety net is important. Saving a little extra for a rainy day will help you avoid having to pay for emergencies with your credit card!

Think About Your Small Purchases Too
Everyone has their little pleasures in life, but indulging in them doesn’t have to break your budget. If want to splurge on treats, make sure to keep the costs reasonable. If you like to drink coffee in cafés, try finding one that offers a loyalty card or rates. Most businesses today offer discounts, so try to reserve your splurges for occasions when you can get a deal.

Set Goals
Give yourself something to look forward to by setting budgeting or having saving goals. Don’t set your sights unrealistically high; instead take one goal that is achievable within a fixed time scale, and then focus on that. You can save for a car, new furniture, a clear credit card bill, or anything else that will give you a sense of achievement. When you reach your goal, remember to give yourself a pat on the back!

Credit Card Debt Weighing You Down?

Are you afraid to check the mail for fear of seeing your credit card bills? Especially during this time of the year, we understand how credit card balances can be overwhelming. Give us a call and we will help you, every step of the way to becoming debt free.

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada

Did you know that the month of November is Financial Literacy Month?

This initiative is a nationwide campaign aimed at helping Canadians increase their financial knowledge so that they can make more informed decisions when it comes to their personal finances. Understanding basic financial principles and practices is an essential ingredient to every household’s financial stability.

At Creditaid, one of our highest priorities is helping families understand how the credit system works and how to manage their finances wisely. Many people fall into financial crisis without being fully aware of how they got there in the first place. We believe a clear understanding of the credit system and available financial tools can help people turn their situations around before they find themselves too far in debt. Financial management is key and we are happy to provide you with the tools and information you need to get there.

Creditaid is committed to helping Canadians and we’re here to help. With the Creditaid Budget Bootcamp, we have taken this commitment one step further. Our Budget Bootcamp will take you step by step through a comprehensive budgeting plan, aided by many of the tools we use to help our clients on a daily basis.

Helping Canadians Get Out of Debt

How well do you know the credit counselling agents that you deal with? Are you looking for a more personal experience with a high level of discretion? At Creditaid, we offer you a different kind of experience. Personal finances can get very complicated. Budgets and bills are not just numbers on a piece of paper – they have real life
implications.

How well do you know the credit counselling agents that you deal with? Are you looking for a more personal experience with a high level of discretion? At Creditaid, we offer you a different kind of experience. Personal finances can get very complicated. Budgets and bills are not just numbers on a piece of paper – they have real lifeimplications.

Student Loans – Coping with Student Loan Debt

If there is one thing that a student doesn’t need it is the worry of a huge debt hanging over them after graduation. A lot of you are probably thinking, hey, I have a grace period. While it is true that you usually have a grace period of six months after you graduate, on federal and provincial student loans, you are not out of the woods yet. You still have to pay eventually, and your federal loan accrues interest during the grace period.

As difficult as it may seem, you need to get used to making payments on your student loan, right from the offset. Don’t let it stress you too much though; there are ways to ensure you don’t carry that debt for a lifetime. The first thing you need to do, before you can even begin to pay off your debt, is to find a source of disposable income.

Some of you will find yourself employed and in a position to make your student loan payments immediately. For those less fortunate, here are some ideas to help you out.

1. Lower Living Expenses: Remember that time you flew the nest and set out on your own? Well, this may break your heart, but moving back to your parents for a while could help you save the extra cash needed towards paying your loan payments.
2. Revision of Terms: You can ask for a revision of terms; which means you can extend the loan period in order to reduce the monthly payments. Just make sure you keep up with these new lower payments, and as soon as possible, begin paying extra towards the principle.
3. Waiver Period: If you find yourself out of a job, don’t despair. You may be entitled to an interest relief period. During this period the government will pay your interest and you won’t have to make any loan repayments.

Don’t let student debt creep up on you, budget your payments today.

Control Spending Habits

Controlling your spending doesn’t always mean reducing it; however, more often than not it is the end result. Tracking your spending is the best way to manage your finances, and there are a number of ways to do it. Credit cards and other forms of electronic payment come with the benefit of easy tracking. All your transactions are available on your monthly statement or online. However, a typical credit card purchase, on average, will cost 112% more than if you had used cash.


So is cash better than credit? Well, in a lot of instances it is. Credit cards give you the convenience of on the spot purchases that you can worry about later. With cash, you can only spend what you have. The problem with cash is though, how do you track it? There are plenty of programs out there that are great for tracking your finances; Quicken and MS Money are two that come to mind right away. But do you really have the time or inclination to keep every receipt and meticulously enter them into a tracker?


The good news is you don’t have to track every purchase; you just need to control how much you spend each month. To do this you first need to identify the areas where your spending is not controlled. Usually suspects include groceries, clothing, personal spending and general luxuries. Once you have identified these areas it is time to take control. Withdraw the amount of cash that you think you will need for these purchases and put it in an envelope. Make sure to record the date and amount on the envelope too.


Don’t panic if you find that you run out of money, this exercise is about control, and it takes a few months to show positive results. You will notice that you are becoming conscious of every purchase that you make. Every price tag will represent a percentage of what you have committed to spend, and you will think twice about impulse purchases. Ultimately, you will be surprised by how easy it is to control and reduce your spending when you are parting with real hard cash.

Saving Commitment – Change Your Habit, Pay Yourself First

Whether you are saving for one big purchase or simply as a means of combating debt, you deserve a reward for your efforts. If you have ever played games on social media sites, where you effectively click buttons for six hours, you will appreciate this article. The developers of those games use psychology to keep you hooked. They are based on an effort and reward system, which keeps the player motivated to continue in order to receive their reward.


Saving is just like those games, except for most of us, it is often a long time before we see a reward. So why not have a little fun with your saving, by setting yourself challenges? It is difficult to appreciate the results of your hard work when the goal is in the distant future. By setting incremental goals, with a reward at the end, you will feel that your efforts are worth it and you will also notice an increase in your motivation.


So, let’s say that you set a target of $5,000 dollars and you reach it within your estimated time frame. Now you can reward yourself. Here’s a tip: create two dates; one is your reward date and the other is your ultimate deadline. If you reach your target by the reward date, you can treat yourself to a night out or a similar luxury. Obviously the reward should reflect the target amount, so if you are aiming to save $100 dollars, don’t splash out on a foreign holiday as your reward or anything else that will eat up a large chunk of the money saved.


This simple idea will make saving fun, rewarding and worth the effort. Get as creative with it as you like, as long as the end results are the same.

Pay Down Credit Card Debt

It may surprise you to find, that in an article about reducing credit card debt, we are not going to tell you to stop using your credit cards. Responsible spending, using credit, will actually help you keep a healthy credit score. This will make all the difference in the future if you need to take out a large loan for a new home or car. However, you do need to keep your credit card debt down, and to do that you have to keep up with your payments.

Whatever you pay, you need to be realistic about it, so create a budget to track your outgoings. Try to avoid paying the minimum on your credit cards at all costs. It may seem like you are chipping away at your debt, but really, all you are doing is paying interest. The next step is to compare the interest rates on all your credit cards. You want to allocate the highest payment to the cards with the highest rates. You may not have it within your budget to pay more than the minimum on all your cards; however, you can pay off the larger ones while maintaining minimum payments on the others.

A low-rate balance transfer is another option for reducing your debt. You can consolidate all your credit card debt into one easy to manage, lower rate payment. Be careful when choosing this option, and make sure to check the rates and how long they last.

Results are In for Top 5 – Winnipeg 2012 Debt Resolution

We recently asked you, our Manitoba readers, to share your debt resolution for 2012 for a chance to win an Apple iPad.  Our iPad winner is Janice Margelino! We were very happy to meet and present the prize to Janice. We were extremely impressed by her dedication to good saving practices and determination to pay off her student loans!

Also, here are the Top 5 Resolutions we would like to share, as chosen by the contest participants. The choices are listed in descending order from lowest to highest votes.

Number 5. Commitment to save – By creating a budget and cutting your costs you will put yourself in the best position to save in 2012. You can use those savings in the future so that you don’t find yourself in debt again.

Number 4. Follow your budget – A budget is absolutely essential, if you really want to reduce your debt. The key to success is to make sure that the budget is realistic and to stick to it. If your budget comes in over your monthly income, it is time to start looking at where you can cut costs.

Number 3. Pay off student loans – Those students loans are not going to go away on their own. Commit to making regular payments on student loans as part of your overall budget. If you are struggling to meet your payments, speak to your lender to discuss your options.

Number 2. Pay down credit card debt – Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for the things you want. However, they are also a sure way to increase your debt and put a huge dent in your monthly budget. Pay off your highest card balances first and work your way down.

NUMBER ONE. Cut frivolous spending – The top choice for debt resolution, and rightly so, is to cut frivolous spending. This does not necessarily mean going without. Look for cheaper alternatives to your favorites treats. For instance, retro clothing is fashionable at the moment, so why not check out your local thrift stores?