Stretching Your Gas Dollars

As the average gas price across the provinces hovers around $1.20/ litre, the importance of making the most of your trips to the gas station is greater than it’s been since the crunch of ’08. So it’s a good time to take a look at some ways to ease the pain at the pumps.

1. Combine Trips – Try to coordinate errands and appointments in order to reduce the number and/or distance of your trips.

2. Adjust Your Work Schedule – Consult with your employer about the possibility of working four 10-hour days to save a day’s commute, or working a flexible schedule to avoid traffic delays.

3. Lighten the Load – Every little bit helps – or hurts – your fuel economy. Inspect your trunk or cargo area for any unnecessary weight, and leave it at home.

4. Check Tire Pressure – Under-inflated tires can add undue friction to your car’s ride, thus reducing fuel economy. Make sure they’re at the prescribed air pressure when gassing up.

5. Carpool – If changing your work schedule isn’t an option, see if you can share the commute with co-workers instead. It not only saves on fuel costs, but overall car maintenance.

It may even be a good time to keep that New Year’s resolution – to lose some of that winter bulk (and put some back into your wallet) – by leaving the car at home and dusting off that bicycle in the garage.

Spring is Here … Time for a Financial Tune-up

The warm weather is finally here. Your thoughts turn to spring cleaning and outdoor living. So have you given any thought to tidying up your finances along with your patio?

Here are a few ideas for putting a spring in your finances:

Double Up on Payments- If you’re like a lot of people, the holiday season has you off to an already sluggish start financially. Why not consider using that tax return to make an extra car or house payment? It’s an ideal opportunity to give yourself some breathing room early on in your fiscal year.

Shop for Deals – Take a look at what you’re paying each month for phone/internet/TV services, insurance, etc. Contact providers about getting a better deal. Are you watching all of those channels in your cable package? Have you used all of those features/minutes in your wireless plan? Check for better rates on home and car insurance.

Cash in on Spring Cleaning – You’ve probably got money laying around the house that you didn’t even know about. Books, clothing, tools, and assorted goods are just taking up space. Instead of paying to store it all, make some extra room in your garage and your budget with a yard sale.

Check Your Credit Score – Make sure all of your accounts are up to date with all three major reporting agencies, and look for any erroneous entries.

An honest assessment of your finances along with a little creativity can go a long way toward a fresh financial start this spring.

How to politely say “No Thank You”

Are you finding yourself on the right track of saving money?  Do you find that it is sometimes derailed by the good intentions of family and friends with their invitations for dining out, at home selling parties and fundraising events?

Here is an article that we found online that provides 7 Ways to Politely Say No.
1.      That won’t work for me but I could do this instead.
2.      I’m on a strict budget right now.
3.      Sorry, I can’t make it to that event.
4.      It’s tough finding people to pay for these things, isn’t it?
5.      I already ate but I could come just to hang out with you.
6.      Why do you want me to spend on this item?
7.      I would prefer not to.

Click here to read the article in its entirety7 Ways to Say No by Kathryn Vercillo.

Holiday Spending Hangover

You did what you said you wouldn’t do over the holidays and that was over spending. Unfortunately, what’s done is done, you beat yourself up over it, and now you just need to move forward to fix it.

First thing to do is to assess the situation. See how much you have spent over the holidays and how much damage was done to those debit and credit cards. Then figure out a payment plan. Determine which debts to pay off first and prioritize when you will pay them off. While doing this, take a look at how much you will be bringing in over the next couple of months and if you have money left over after paying off your fixed debts, put that money towards your extra debt you accumulated over the holidays. Also, stop all unnecessary spending habits such as shopping, dining out, movies and entertainment, and vacations. It may be painful to give up some of your luxuries for a while, but it will be worth it once you have paid off your debt.

Additionally, to find extra income during this financially trying time, try getting your taxes done early and you never know, you might receive a significant amount on your tax return that you can put towards your debt.

The final tip is to learn from this preventable mistake. Plan ahead for the next holiday season and you are sure to make all the right choices next year.

Canadian Government Tightens Mortgage Rules to Stem Consumer Debt

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced new mortgage changes this morning to combat the rising household debt levels of Canadians.

Three main changes are:
· The maximum number of years the government will back a mortgage was lowered from 35 to 30.
· The upper limit that Canadians can borrow against their home equity was lowered from 90 per cent to 85 per cent.
· Government insurance backing on home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs, has been removed.

The home equity change is the result of the Government’s concern that homeowners are rolling too many consumers purchases into their insured mortgages. “These loans are not used to create housing. They’re used to buy boats, and cars and big screen-televisions,” Flaherty said. “That’s not the business that home insurance was designed for.”

December Poll reveals Canadians are concerned!

Knowledge Bureau shared the results of their online poll – “Are families in your community more worried about their financial affairs this Christmas shopping season compared to a year ago?” 78% said yes. Some comments were:

– “They have to curtail their shopping, as they are worried about the financial situation their families are in.”

– “I think everyone is worried about their financial affairs”.

Read more of the results here

Canadians Borrowing Cheap in Recession

Mark Carney, Bank of Canada governor issued a warning to Canadians on borrowing low interest rate loans. Our household debt-to-income ratio’s are extremely high which makes Canadians vulnerable.

Meanwhile Stats Canada revealed the ratio of debt to disposable income rose to 148.1 per cent. Canadians now owe $1.48 for every dollar of disposable income.

Low interest rates today does not mean low rates tomorrow. Canadian need to keep in mind that interest rates are likely to go up in the future and they should plan for it accordingly.


Canadians Act on their 2011 Resolutions Early

TD Canada Trust has just released the results of their Holiday Survey.

Here is a glimpse of the resolutions Canadians are doing today.

  • Spend less and avoid buying things I don’t need (53%)
  • Look for better deals (38%)
  • Build up savings to cover at least two months of living expenses (30%)