Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Holiday Spending

680 CJOB, Winnipeg’s news talk radio, Hal Anderson recently invited Creditaid’s, Brian Denysuik to join him on air to help get people through the holiday spending season. Brian provides advice on how not to overspend including a few tips on how to create a “Save to Spend” holiday plan to help alleviate stress and avoid going into debt this holiday season.

Listen to the discussion below.

How Not to Overspend When Planning a Funeral

cemetery

We often offer advice about taxes here on our blog, but we seldom talk about life’s other certainty. Planning for the funeral of a loved one can be very stressful if you have to do it all while you’re in the process of grieving. There are many things to consider – type of internment, the casket, the service, and the reception. Because of our desire to “just get it done”, and to properly memorialize someone very close to us, we can often overspend when planning a funeral.

At Creditaid, we see the impact that high funeral costs can have. We can offer the following advice to someone who’s planning a funeral:

Take someone with you. Having a trusted friend or family member who isn’t as stricken with grief as you are to help with making the arrangements can assist in keeping a perspective on matters. While the professionals in the funeral industry aren’t trying to take advantage of you, bear in mind that it is a business. Having a “voice of reason” with you could prove to be handy.

Shop around. Funeral services differ in price. While we don’t advocate driving all over town, visit at least two funeral homes to see what options they offer you.

Look at economical alternatives. Instead of a full-blown funeral, you could opt for a “direct disposition”, where the internment is handled in the background, and instead hold a memorial service for friends and family. Cremation is a more economical option than traditional burial in a plot, and has gained popularity in recent decades. It’s now a standard method of burial.

Consider the real wishes of your loved one. Chances are, they wouldn’t want you to put yourself in a position of financial hardship for their funeral. While it’s only natural to want to memorialize someone “properly”, financial realities should always be considered. There are lots of ways to make a fitting memorial without exposing yourself to crushing debt.

Creditaid offers credit counselling and debt management solutions to Manitobans struggling with debt.

Hosting a BBQ on a Budget – How to Survive Summer Parties Without Breaking the Bank

party-table

Manitoba summers are notoriously short, so it’s understandable that we celebrate our respite from frigid temperatures with zeal. Unfortunately, for those of us on a tight budget, seasonal celebrations can prove to be a strain on the budget, especially because we tend to throw caution to the winds once the sunny weather comes. Here are some strategies to limit the pressure your budget:

Resist the Temptation to Pay for it All
Chances are your friends will understand your need for budgetary restraint. Most of them probably feel the same way. There’s no need for you to take on a huge expense in the name of entertainment for your friends. If they don’t understand you need for restraint, then perhaps they aren’t really your friends. Ask them to share the cost by bringing their own alcoholic beverages if they choose to drink, and consider asking them to bring a dish to accompany your barbecue as a potluck. It’s a good idea to co-ordinate the things guests bring so you won’t have too many macaroni salads!

Spend Your Money in the Right Places
barbeque-skewers-party-on-a-budgetIf you’re going to splurge, do it in a way that people will notice. Shrimp skewers for appetizers, or a really nice cheese plate become a focal point of your party. Don’t spread your money too far.

As for barbecue, there’s really no need to grill expensive cuts of meat. Hotdogs and hamburgers are traditional summer fare, and they’re reasonably economical. Consider making your own burgers rather than buying pre-made patties. It’s cheaper, and nearly always better.

Make Do With What You Have
Resist the urge to make big purchases in the name of entertainment. Summers here are short – don’t spend a lot of money on expensive outdoor furniture you can’t use most of the year. There’s no shame in asking your guests to bring their own lawn chairs to your party, and your buffet table doesn’t need to be a new shiny glass-top from the big box store – your old one, or even a door on a couple of sawhorses will look just as good with a table cloth on it.

Plan Ahead
Make sure you have enough propane or charcoal for the barbecue, and that there’s no need to purchase condiments or anything else from the convenience store at exorbitant prices.
Above all, remember that summer entertaining is about the people, not the party. There’s no need to expose yourself to financial risk in the name of entertainment. Go ahead and have fun, but exercise restraint.

Creditaid Offers credit counselling and debt management solutions for individuals in Winnipeg and across Manitoba, including areas such as Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Winkler, The Pas, Flin Flon, Thompson, and many others.

What to Do with the Wedding Ring after Your Divorce

When a relationship ends, the items that held special meaning before can become bearers of painful reminders. Engagement and wedding rings, wedding dresses and marriage certificates are items that many people wonder about after the end of their relationship.  What can you do with them?

Engagement rings and wedding rings often come with a big price tag and if the items lose their emotional value, there is the option to sell them.  Jewellers sometimes will buy their pieces back but at a significant discount.  On average, they will buy them back at only 35% of original value.

Many people in similar situations have opted to sell their rings online through websites such as “I Do… Now I Don’t”.  The founder, Joshua Opperman, was left with a ring after his engagement ended prematurely which prompted him to found the jewellery auction site to help others in similar situations part with their rings.  He has since been featured on Rachael Ray, CNN, and Whoopi Goldberg.

One important factor when selling your high valued item online is to minimize risk of scam.  On “I Do…Now I Don’t”, sellers can list their rings for free.  Once the item is purchased, the money is held in escrow by the website.  The seller will send the ring in for authentication by GIA-trained gemologist.  Once the ring has been authenticated, the ring will be sent to the buyer via UPS with insurance included and a bank cheque will be mailed out to the seller.

Sellers will typically receive 40 – 60% of the retail price for their item, minus a 15% commission fee. If you are making payments on the ring, this return can help you substantially in reducing your debt.

Parting with your engagement or wedding ring might give you the emotional detachment you need to help you move forward past the relationship and onto something better! Visit https://www.idonowidont.com/ for more information.

Budgeting for a Mortgage

When you are buying a home, it is important to know that you will be able to manage the payments on the mortgage. You will also have to secure a down payment amount, which is usually paid out of your own pocket without the help of a loan. While your budget may cover the monthly repayments on your mortgage, you also have to allow for future outgoings for things like starting a family, purchasing a car, or home improvements.

Although a higher down payment means handing over a large amount of cash, it will also greatly reduce the interest and insurance that you pay on your mortgage loan. Any payment under 20% of the total mortgage loan amount requires that you purchase default insurance, which will add thousands of dollars to the loan.

There are two main types of mortgage – open or closed payment. An open mortgage allows you more freedom to pay off higher amounts on your loan, but usually come with a higher interest rate. Closed mortgages require that you pay a fixed amount each month; however, you may have an allowance for making over payments. In the case of over payment allowances on closed mortgages; make sure to check your limits with the lender, as they can charge you penalties – known as repayment charges – running into thousands of dollars.

Each lender has their own terms for issuing mortgage loans. It is up to you to shop around and get the best option for you. Before you do, make sure that your credit report is clean and free of errors. You can order a copy of your credit report from a credit agency before you speak to lenders, giving you time to correct any errors or making payments on defaulted debts.

If you have forecast your budget wisely, you will know which mortgage suits you best. A good rule of thumb is to opt for an open type loan if you expect to make large frequent payments to bring down your loan cost quickly. If, on the other hand, you have a tighter budget where you will only be able to pay a fixed amount each year – opt for a closed type loan.

Christmas Shopping – Tips for Parents for Shopping on a Budget

Christmas is coming around, which means that plenty of parents are scrambling, trying to snatch up those last minute deals. If you are one of the millions of parents whose budget is stretched, don’t panic just yet. There is still time to save Christmas and start budgeting the right way for the year.

Ebay Best Buys – Ebay is a great site to find all your gifts. If you haven’t used the site before, here are a few insider tips to live by. Don’t jump on the first listed item that you see – shop around to see if other sellers have also listed the same item.  Look for sellers who have received great feedback and have verified status so you can take advantage of the best prices for quality items.

Free Shipping Prices – Remember, during the Christmas season big order outlets have a lot of stock to shift. Those items need to sell before the season’s end, so retailers will often offer free shipping as an incentive. Not only that, but you can search for free shipping coupons online for each of your favorite stores. If there are no coupons available, simply try searching “free shipping” on the site, or look for a filter that has free shipping listed as an option.

Family Christmas – Make time this Christmas for fun and games with your family. Break out the board games, watch some Christmas movies, or play your favorite Christmas songs. Sitting around the table together, sharing those special moments is worth a thousand gifts, but it won’t cost you a penny.

Prepare for Next Year – Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Plan your budget at the start of the New Year, but be realistic. Avoid buying gifts in the early part of the year, if you can. Kids go through phases; so what he liked this year may see a dramatic change by next Christmas. Regardless, the money that you budget should be considered untouchable for other expenditures.

Most of all, remember what Christmas gifting is really about – sharing, loving and appreciating what you already have. If you live it, your children will, too.

Peg City Car Co-op. Fantastic Vehicle Alternative

Photo Credits: Peg City Co-Op

Do you wish you had access to a vehicle anytime you wanted but didn’t have to pay the monthly loan payment, insurance payment, gas and repairs? Imagine being able to drive a car anytime you needed one but also saving thousands a year on car costs? Peg City Car Co-op is here for you. This organization has 9 cars located in and around the downtown area waiting for you to pick and use anytime you need one. You pay a low hourly (plus kilometer) rate with no further charges- not even gas! They have 2 programs available for you to choose from depending on your expected car usage. One of these programs is accessible without a credit card. It’s perfect for anyone in a credit counseling program or someone without access to credit.

To learn more call 204-793-3912 or visit their website at www.pegcitycarcoop.ca.

Student Loans: Your Saving Grace or Debt Trap?

You are 18 and all your friends are going to university so you follow the pack and sign up for some courses too. You intend to work part time so you only borrow $8000 in provincial and federal government student loans for the first year to help pay for your expenses.

In September you move out and put a deposit on an apartment. But now you need furniture so you buy some. You dip into your student loan money for both. You reason that since that you have a roommate- you can afford it.

After going to Mexico for spring break, your money runs out in late February. But you still need to get through two months of school! You increase the number of hours you work but then your marks suffer. You don’t finish your first year with straight A’s like you imagined.

Year 2- You still want to go to school but are not sure what field you want to go into. You decide to take more general arts or science course. You don’t want to run out of money again so you borrow $12,000 in student loans this time.

Year 3- Because your marks aren’t high enough to be accepted into law school, you decide to stay in university and declare history as your major and psychology as your minor. Or you dream of being a doctor and continue with your general science courses. You borrow another $12,000 in student loans.

Year 4- Ditto, and another $12,000 borrowed.

At the end of four years did you get into medical school? Or law school? Or another high paid profession?

If not, you could be in serious financial trouble. Even if you graduate with a B.A. or B.Sc., where are you going to find a job paying you enough money to be able to pay rent, your living expenses, make a car payment, PLUS your student loan re-payments. You now owe $44,000. The interest has been calculating since your last day of school and your payments are set at $444 per month. You are likely to have this payment for approximately 10 years. Unless you now have a high paying career as a result of your 4 years of education, you may struggle to pay your rent, car payment, and other living expenses for the next 15 years! What about being able to buy a house or starting a family?

Here are some tips to avoid the above scenario:

By all means choose a career that you think you will enjoy as you will be spending up to 1/3 of your life working at it. But be realistic. Ask yourself these questions:

1) Am I smart enough and do I have what it takes to successfully finish the schooling for this?
2) How much does this career pay? Some careers pay a higher salary in relation to others that required the same amount of education: 4 year Bachelor of Nursing degree, Pharmacy or Engineering degree vs. 4 year general arts or sciences degrees. If you graduate as a nurse, pharmacist or engineer your salary would likely be over $70,000 per year. With a general arts or science degree you might be lucky to find a job paying $35,000.
3) What are the job prospects in the province I want to live in? If you want to become a marine biologist but continue to live in Manitoba, find out what the job prospects truly are. In order to find work, maybe you need to become an aquatic biologist instead.
4) Choose a career where you are actually trained for a career that is in demand. Don’t study arts or science courses unless you intend to go into education or graduate with a master’s degree in that field of study.
5) Consider alternatives to university or college. You could join the military (Department of Defence). Because they require all sorts of professionals such as dentists, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, lawyers, etc., you may qualify for a program in which they pay for your schooling.
6) Reduce your expectations. If you had your heart set on becoming a doctor but your marks are not high enough, consider another medical related career such as a cardiology technician, sonographer or respiratory therapist. Or if you want to become a lawyer but your LSAT mark is too low, consider alternative career choices as a parole officer, government policy analyst or a career in human resources which deals with employment law.
7) HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t make the mistake of overlooking a career as a tradesperson. It has been estimated that by the year 2020, Canada will have 1,000,000 vacant positions. The apprenticeship system usually involves six months of schooling followed by six months of practical paid work (for a four year period) which can drastically reduce the need for student loans. There are many trades that pay six figure incomes. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a university education will pay you more as this is simply not true.

Here are some general tips to avoid the student loan trap:

1) Buy everything USED. Second hand school books, clothing, furniture, equipment (including refurbished phones and computers) can save you thousands of dollars during your school years.
2) Make a monthly budget and keep track of your expenses. Be disciplined. If you struggle, instead of telling yourself ‘No’ and feeling sorry for yourself, tell yourself you can buy it once you are working full time.
3) Do not USE your student loan money to buy a car or go on a spring break trip. It should only be used for tuition and books. Do everything in your power to reduce your expenses while you are in school.
4) You are finally an adult and want to be on your own but it is in your best interest to live at home until you are finished school and working. Even if you have to pay ‘rent’ at home, it will likely be far less than if you move out. Then you’ll be paying rent, utilities, groceries, tenant insurance, cable and internet expenses, etc.
5) Do not ask (or let your parents) co-sign your student loans. As an adult you need to be
responsible for your own debt. Someday, if you are not able to repay your student loan
payments your parents will be forced to. If they are not able to make your payments their credit rating could be affected. It is also possible that their wages could be garnished.
6) If you move- always update the student loans departments with your new address. Don’t make the mistake of thinking ‘If the government can’t find me, they can’t make me pay’. If you do, two things will happen. The first is that your wages will be garnished. (They can track you through your social insurance number). You will lose up to 1/3 of your pay cheque until the debt is paid in full. The second is- you will now have a negative rating on your credit report. You may not be able to purchase a house or a car because of this. In order to rebuild your credit you will have to repay the entire student loan debt, plus the accumulated interest. It could take many years to rebuild your credit so that you qualify to buy a house or car. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can outrun your student loan debt no matter how many years have gone by.

Written by Creditaid Credit Counsellor, Laurie Boudreau.  Whether you’re a current student dealing with student loans or a recent graduate trying to make ends meet, speak to one of our counsellors today.  We have many tips to help you manage your debt.

Money Savvy Teens – Share A Book To Help Them Learn The Basics


Learning how to manage money is part of growing up and a real skill that a teenager needs as they transition into adulthood. Unfortunately there are many bad influences out there, maybe even within your own extended family, which may be giving them the wrong messages. Teenagers often do not listen as well as they should to their parents on certain subjects, and it can be helpful to have an outside resource to reinforce good money management principles.

Money and Teens
The book Money and Teens by Wes Karchut and Darby Karchut is a great way to give your teenagers some useful financial wisdom without it coming across as a lecture from their parents. The book is written to include everything from opening bank accounts to how credit works and is a great reference, even for those who are well past the teenage years. Some money tips that are covered in the book include:

– How to check and read your credit report
– How missing a payment affects your credit
– Checking accounts and writing checks
– Protecting your financial security, i.e. PINs and login information
– How grocery and retail stores use tactics to get you to spend more
– A self-quiz to take when deciding whether you should buy something

The book is a basic guide to everything that you need to know about saving and spending money wisely. Many people in their twenties, thirties and, even, beyond may learn something they did not know from this book.

As parents, it is your job to try and give your children the skills they need to succeed. A big part of being an independent adult is learning to handle money wisely. Sharing a book like Money and Teens is a good way to solidify the lessons that you have been teaching them all along. It can be a useful guide for them to turn to as they begin to face financial challenges on their own.

Couponing – You Don’t Need To Be Extreme to Save Money



There are many books, TV shows and online websites dedicated to showing how extreme coupon use can save hundreds and even thousands of dollars. As impressive as these savings may be, they do require an amount of time and dedication that many families cannot or are not willing to give. However, there are ways to make the most of coupon savings without making it a full-time project.

Smart Shopping
There is more to saving substantial money on groceries using coupons than just clipping out the ones that are for products that a family currently needs. The true trick to saving large amounts of money throughout the year is to change the way that a family shops, incorporating coupons into the strategy. By buying items when they are priced the lowest and adding coupons to make the price even lower instead of only buying those same items when they run out, can be a huge money saver.

Prices on all items go up and down, based on many uncontrollable factors, including seasonal changes and corporate buying patterns. Extreme coupon users know this and save their coupons to combine with low prices. By doing this on all items whenever possible, a family may get a years worth of cereal or shampoo at a fraction of the cost of buying it only as they need it.

Look at the Big Picture
To make this possible, instead of only buying what is needed for the next week or two, the bigger picture needs to be looked at. Grocery lists need to be built around savings, stock piling on good coupon deals and doing less impulse buying on wants versus needs. Although it can take a while to get a surplus of items on hand, once this becomes a habit, it can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.

The main idea is to use coupons to save money over the long run, not just on what a family needs today. Combining coupons with sales prices to stock up on everyday items is a way every family can save using coupons, even if they are not “extreme”.