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.

Continue reading “How to Maximize your Spending Plan (AKA Budget)”

Tell Your Money Where to Go

Most people avoid developing a spending plan. It’s just no fun hearing the same things over and over – “be frugal, be thrifty, save every penny you can for a rainy day.”

Unfortunately, failure to develop a spending plan usually results in our money waving goodbye every payday, and when bumps in the road occur and they will, (life being, well, life) you find yourself with very difficult financial challenges.

There’s got to be a happy medium – something between the regimented, enforced frugality that is so often presented as the solution to your life’s financial future and the carefree spending that’s going to land you in trouble. Taking control means that you take back full control and “tell your money where to go”!! No more letting it simply wave good-bye!

Save Money with a budget planEnter the Save-to-Spend concept, a system of budgeting that will have you future-proofing your money, while still allowing you to achieve the things you want, and even giving you some “mad money” for the things you didn’t know you wanted. It is really all about pre-planning by putting your short, medium and long term goals on paper. Once you have them, put down what the costs are for each of them. Then prioritize them and determine the length of time it will take you to save for each of them. A simple example is buying a new big screen television. If the cost is $1200 and you want to have it in one year, start putting $100 away each month for it. This is far different then the buy now pay later program where you forget to pay off the interest free loan and end up paying 30% interest back to the day it was delivered. This is an example of a change from that path of instant gratification to one of delayed gratification!

The concept goes one step further and includes the most important part of any plan and that is building your emergency savings account. These are just a few simple examples of a very old concept that we need to return to.

Of course, you can’t make money from nothing, so there are going to be some sacrifices. They will, however, seem unimportant as you quickly see your bank balances grow with all the individual financial goals you have set.

Just remember you need to keep happy while you work within your Save-to-Spend plan! Like dieting, if you tell yourself you can never enjoy one of the foods you love, you’ll likely cheat. If you allow yourself the occasional treat, you’ll be happier overall and are more likely to get the result you want. Save-to-Spend has been proven to be effective.

If you have questions about Save-to-Spend, budgeting, or any other topic related to debt or personal finance, contact Creditaid anytime online or by telephone at (204) 987-6890.

Online Survey Finds Half of Respondents are within $200 of Being Unable to Pay Bills

If you are struggling to make all of your payments or are already unable to make your required monthly payments, Creditaid can help. Whether you need to rebuild your credit, undergo credit counselling, tackle your credit card debt, reassess your finances following a divorce or a move, or any other challenge that life brings – we’ve seen it all and we have a program that will suit your needs.

Reposted from the Winnipeg Free Press online edition February 16, 2016.

CALGARY – A new poll suggests nearly half of Canadians surveyed last month are within $200 per month of being unable to pay for their bills and make their debt payments.

The Ipsos Reid survey also found about one-quarter of the 1,582 people who responded to the poll were already unable to cover their bills and debt payments.

The online poll was done between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 for MNP Debt, which provides licensed trustee services in six provinces, from Quebec to British Columbia.

MNP says the poll found that 31 per cent of respondents said any increase in interest rates could move them towards bankruptcy.

Ipsos Reid conducted the poll about a week after the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a report on Jan. 19 that said Canada has seen the largest increase in household debt relative to income of any G7 country since 2000.

The survey also followed Bank of Canada’s decision to keep a key lending rate at a historically low level of 0.5 per cent on Jan. 20, as the central bank lowered economic growth estimates for 2015 and 2016.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

Credit Score 101 – A Refresher Course

We all know that we need to be careful with credit – because it’s easy to borrow money, and wind up owing as much, or more than we can pay. We all know what it feels like when there’s “too much month left at the end of the money”.

And there’s this vague fear of a negative impact on our credit history that can affect us in the future. The more we know about credit reporting, the more we can work to improve the way potential lenders see us, and then we can leverage a good report to get favourable terms when we borrow money.

What is a Credit Score?
In Canada, a credit score is assigned by one of the two large credit reporting agencies – Equifax or TransUnion. The score is a number between 300 and 900 (900 being perfect) that represents Credit-Report-illustrationthe aggregate of all of the information that the bureau has on file about us. Most interactions that you have with lenders, either positive (payments made on time) or negative (late payments, collections, bankruptcy) will affect our score. Anyone who has ever accessed any form of credit has a file with the credit bureaus. Potential lenders use your credit score, with your permission, to determine whether or not you qualify for credit, and sometimes they use it to set the terms of borrowing (interest rates, etc.).

Who Can Access My Credit Report?
Any lender can provide information about your loan, payments, etc. to the credit bureaus. You give them permission to do so in the agreement you sign when you begin to access credit with them. Any potential lender with your permission (usually in the application) can access your report and score. You can (and should) access your own credit report with both bureaus. Make sure that all of the information that they have on file is accurate.

By knowing your own credit score, you can demonstrate to potential lenders that you are a responsible borrower. You may be able to negotiate more favourable terms as a result.

If you’ve got questions about credit, or have found yourself in some trouble, contact Creditaid anytime online or by telephone at (204) 987-6890 or (877) 900-2659. We can help you take those important first steps toward a debt free life.

Has Society Become Desensitized to Spending?

Desensitized-to-spending-Apr-15

Good question. Certainly, not everyone has, but spiraling levels of consumer debt have risen to record levels, indicating that Canadians are spending more money that they don’t have at an alarming rate.

Statistics Canada has released figures for the third quarter of 2014 indicating that Canadian household total credit-market debt, which consists of mortgages, consumer credit (mostly credit cards) and non-mortgage loans rose to 162.6 percent of disposable income. The Bank of Canada has stated that “high consumer debt loads and imbalances in the housing market” are a concern.

In short, people are using credit more today than ever before.

Two generations ago, very few people used credit. Society was based on a “cash on the barrelhead” philosophy that encouraged living within one’s means. This standpoint has been slowly eroded by rising home ownership costs (it is virtually impossible to purchase a home without a mortgage, and the length of time that the average family spends paying for their home gets steadily longer), the availability of consumer credit, and the replacement of “hard” currency with cheques, credit cards, and digital wallets.

It’s easier to access credit today than ever before, and advertising inundates us with constant messages promoting consumption of high-value items, usually on payments. It’s no wonder that people wind up in trouble with credit cards, loans, and lines of credit.

Creditaid exists to help people who have used credit improperly, or have been faced with unforeseen circumstances, and are having trouble dealing with their debt. We offer a free initial credit counselling review with professionals who can advise you on how to best manage and repay your debts. We’ll work with you in a judgment-free manner to develop solutions for your specific situation. We have a number of tools available to help you deal with your creditors, including debt consolidation and debt management solutions. If you’re feeling the pressure of collections, call Creditaid for help today.

2015 Marks a New Relationship with Smart Biz Winnipeg

Creditaid is very proud to have formed a relationship with Smart Biz Winnipeg for 2015.

Smart Biz Jan 2015 editionSmart Biz is a monthly publication that aims to connect people with information about different educational paths and career streams. Smart Biz works with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, the Assiniboia Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Winnipeg Biz, in order to present perspectives from within the workforce. Every issue also features lifestyle columns on health, money, gaming, personal life and fashion.

Brian Denysuik will be publishing articles to appear in Smart Biz throughout the coming year, offering advice on everything from the new rules of cohabitation to the basics of creating a budget.

You can access the January edition here or by clicking on the image in this post. Brian’s first article in the series appears on page 15.

Follow button from Smart Biz siteBe sure to visit the Smart Biz website and click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner to keep up with all of the updates!

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.

Consumer Obsession Leads Us to Over-spending

The desire to “keep up with the Jones’s” has become more than a social status issue for many people.  Also, it is very easy to get caught up in this during the holiday season. It has become a catalyst for overspending that has consumers running to banks and other lenders looking for ways to finance their purchases. This issue also has countless consumers loaded up with credit card debt so steep it may take them a lifetime to get out of it.

Give your financial literacy a good double-check, and if you are not already practicing the following financial practices, now is a great time to start today:

  • Pay bills on time and balance your check book each month. You can’t know how much you can afford to spend if you don’t know how much you currently have to spend.
  • Stop buying on impulse. If you want something, rather than charging it on your credit card and paying interest, save for the next few month and buy it when you have the money.
  • Always pay more than your minimum balance on credit cards: Get rid of them as soon as possible. You will save money on interest and have more to save for the future.
  • Vow to maintain only “good” debt. This is the type of debt that will increase your net worth: A mortgage on an affordable home, a car loan, or college debt. These will either increase your creditworthiness or make you more employable so you are able to earn more and keep debt to a minimum.
  • Always include some savings in your budget. Many short-sighted people are unable to see their needs after retirement and don’t save. This results in financial difficulty during their declining years.
  • Find out what you don’t know about finances—and learn it. Despite the flood of information on financial management, people don’t take the time to learn.

Finally, in order to put a stop to this financial madness keep in mind the media pull for spending and don’t be drawn into the hype. By being savvy shoppers and savers, the overspending and debt can stop.

Finance Minister kicks off Financial Literacy Week

Canada’s Finance Minister was in Toronto last week to kick off the Financial Literacy Week.  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.

Many Canadians have taken advantage of the low interest rates since the recession and the government warns of the dangers of piling on too much debt, and especially at this time.  With a clearer understanding of financial matters and stronger financial literacy, Canadians will have greater control over their own finances and collectively build a more stable economy.

Financial Literacy Week was started in 2009 with that aim in mind.  Many resources are now available online, and events are being held across the country.