Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pre Paid Cards

These forms of plastic do serve a purpose as many banks will not issue debit cards to teenagers, so if junior is on a trip/school term etc. it is handy for the parent to upload a set amount per month. Personally i feel there is no better lesson in finances than your siblings having the physical cash on them and as kids will do...... spend it all (lol) and then have that down feeling when their pockets are empty. That is what i call  growing up pains and with the plastic card you simply don't have the same attachment. That being said, if you go the prepay route here are some rules to follow;  A) look for the non activation fees  B) what are the usage fees and shop around different financial institutions for quotes  C) how much for inactivity fees and again compare prices  D) avoid cards that allow you to spend over the limit and then charge for an overdraft fee  E)  look for the lowest fee for ATM's and monthly maintenance  F) finally!!! go over the statements together to teach your kids fiscal responsibility as they go down the road to adulthood.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Another "X" Factor...Credit Cards

Good Day everyone. Some of you folks are starting to look a little fresher, maybe some financial stress leaving you? Alright lets get the goods on that other piece of plastic in your cards. Like a runaway freight train if you don't control it, it will control you; till you have a wreck and ruin your credit rating, relationships, work environment and so on. Again these are huge companies who are out to make a profit, still that doesn't mean you cant use it for your advantage. So when shopping around for a card make it FIT YOUR BUDGET, and look for what fees are included or charged, some examples;  A) Application Fee; a charge to apply   B) Membership/Annual Fee; a charge once a year or broken up per month   C) Set up Fee; to open a new account   D) Cash Advance Fee; could be a flat charge or % of the money you asked for  E) Balance Transfer Fee; a charge to transfer a balance from one CC to another  F) Late Payment Fee; charge for after due account  G) Over the Limit Fee; charge for going over your credit limit. OMG!!  I'm tired of saying the "F" word, as in Fees hahaha. Now the last four of these charges on the list lets just use your common sense, as for the first three this is where you shop around play a little hard ball and get these waived. Credit Card Companies want you to have/use the card and besides what they make off you they also charge the merchant a fee, so its all about the volume principle for them....pennies = big dollars. Now as a card holder you do have some rights, these include;  A) Merchant ( the seller) agreements are such that they have to accept your card no matter what the price is,
no such thing as a minimum purchase required or a maximum allowed  B) Merchants can charge a "convenience fee" if providing a service to bypass long lineups and/or travel to buy the item, but no other surcharges  C) The only time the merchant can ask for identification if the card holder has forgotten to sign the back of the card or isn't ledgable..... if they keep insisting? go to another store. To summarize, you can use these cards to your ADVANTAGE as they are/can be a smart part of your financial planning.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"X" Factors

Good day my getting smarter/savvy bloggers.  Ah the X factor in finances, we either can use these vehicles to our advantage or we can spend extra....easy choice isn't?  One example of this is Bank Cards, we all have them and think it is our right to use them anytime/anywhere because its our money.  Well here's a news flash, banks are in the business to make a profit to appease their shareholders so make sure the type of chequing/savings accounts you have fits your activity as costs vary,  for example;  A) 65c for any debit purchase  B) $1.50 for cash withdraw from a competitors ATM's  C) $1.50 for money transfers through the bank machines   D) $2.25 for monthly statements   E) $1.25 for each bill payment.  So you say its only pennies, well people cents turn into dollars quickly!! ( i can think of a famous Canadian coffee company doing ok on the cents per purchase method lol)  Say you use the debit card 5 times a day, in a month that adds up to $97.50.....nice profit for them and that comes off your bottom line folks. Then add up all those other costs we talked about earlier, that could be your 10% pay to yourself that we wrote about in the last blog.  So a couple of options, ask your bank to set up an account that fits your profile for a monthly fee   (and knowing your usage and for a fraction of the cost  instead of you paying for each transaction) Or use your credit card for everything and be diligent and pay within the 21 day window and get it free. Now that's what i call creative financing baby, just another example of what they mean by taking care of the little things..... as we go down the road to independent wealth.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A List Saving/Tips # 2

Wow words out, i might have to look for a bigger
place...nothing quite like saving money to peak people's interests. A) Personal Taxes; we all hate to pay but guess what, this is what keeps our country going with our public education, quality health care, drivable highways, etc. Think of it this way,  we all have a friend who never wants to pay their share when out somewhere as a group and that really sounds fair....not!! Also the government is smart as

it gives its citizens opportunities to take care of themselves and o
ne of those vehicles is through tax free retirement plans....everyone wins, you lower your tax bill and the Feds don't have to take care of you. So look into either a company or self directed plans and do it monthly and again automatic withdraw to keep it out of sight out of mind. Another new program in Canada is the TFSA ( Tax Free Savings Account) well worth looking into at your favorite financial institution.   B) Loans/Credit Cards; ok you has fun accumulating the debt but now its time to pay back!!  Not a lot of love in the air right now is there? Try asking your bank for a debt consolidation loan to pay off all the bills and into one manageable lower interest payment, then do yourself a favor and act out Edward Sissorhands on all but one of those plastic credit cards and keep the spare on hand for emergencies, and no not the all inclusive resort that just went on sale but for the "A" list items if in between pays. ( usually 20+ days to pay the CC off without interest)   C) Life Insurance;
its depending on your circumstances, generally if single and have no obligations coverage is not needed....that's right, save your money and invest your windfall. Also any loans/mortgages you have insurance can be bought through the lender and if supporting family members your estate will cover. Now if in the other category, check into group rates through work or shop around as remember it is a business. Maybe ask your bank about a collective rate on your loan/mortgage and add life insurance to get savings in a nice bundle. D)  Health Insurance; again check with work to see what is offered/covered ( dental, eyes, prescriptions etc) or organize your own group of workers/relatives to get a packaged rate if your business does not have any plan. Finally check in with your corporate wellness program to see what is offered, maybe a percentage towards a gym membership, equipment for home, etc. it might surprise you what is offered...also check with your accountant or go on-line to see if you can write-off your kids recreation programs at tax time. Speaking of which, we are starting to trim off some weight on our monthly budget......nice!!.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

'A' List Savings/Tips

Our second lesson and the classroom filling up.....nice!   So we now know if we want to achieve goals in life we need to cut back on the "wants" list, but there also ways to trim the "needs" column so here we go.  A) Mortgage/
taking in roommates you can either apply your sub rent directly to the mortgage (it will come straight off the principle saving you thousands of dollars over the term in interest) or if renting you can invest monthly your borders money making you wealthy in time.  B) Groceries... we all need to eat but it doesn't have to cost as much by buying in the bulk sections so saving on volume and  not paying for the packing. Also whats with society eating all this prefab meals anyway, ever wonder how it keeps its shelf-life so long?  So never mind talking about the health issues with the "convenient" way to eat, save big dollars by doing the cooking yourself by picking a day and prep your meals for the week  with say a roast beef, turkey etc and be inventive to keep it  tasty.                         C) Clothing....there is such a mark up on clothes even when it is 50% off your still paying too much so look for those stores that mark down the designer brands and save the big $$$  and looking is half the fun is it not? Also learning to mix and match outfits which will reduce the need for more threads hanging in the closet (if you do not have an eye for it just ask a friend who does) and for under-garments and kids outfits any discount box store will do. Also ever notice how some people are styling no matter what they are wearing,  its because they are in shape so in other words spending a lot of money on a suit/shoes etc. is not going to change your look....take care of the body first!!    D)  Transportation....everyone circumstances are different here, without saying using the car less saves you coin and if living near work/school the use of public transport/car pool or walking is great. But if buying a car look for the lease buybacks...why?  it will have low mileage and warranty as the new car dealers take on the fleets from the rental car agencies to keep rotating their new products to them  Or go to any established used car dealer which offers the same and save big money,  i know buying new seems glamorous but there is such a depreciation loss once you drive it of the lot, so
just buy some nice air freshener and and think of all the coin you just saved (lol). E) Furniture.....another mark up king!! used pieces or mark downs due to scratches/nicks is just as good.  Personally i rummage through old antique stores and find some unique pieces at great value. So as you see its all how you look at things, as my best friend says....."look beyond the bumpers"

The Beginnings

Before we can start to save for that dream property,
vacation, car, etc. we need to get our financial "house" in order. To begin.... make a list of what comes in for income and what goes out for expenses (dates for both). Much like writing down what we would eat to make changes in our waistline, this we will call a financial diet and trim the fat from our expenses to fill that wallet of yours. Here is an example list;  A) Rent/Mortgage  B) Groceries  C) Credit Cards  D) Car/Transportation   E) Clothing   F) Personal Taxes  G) Health Care  H) Life Insurance  I) Furniture  J) Eating Out   K) Entertainment ( movies/bars etc)   L) Recreation. So like any business you need to have enough income coming in to pay the bills and so your not  running into the red.....are you that delusional, then you should run for political office (lol) as that is why most governments have a deficit!  Also living on credit does not work either as the interest will kill you and you are working for free, not much incentive to get up Monday morning is it?  Us humans are a funny breed, what we consider a must as part of our wants and needs in most cases has to change. There is an "A" list of bills;
having a place to live, to eat, clothing and transportation. Its the eating out, needing that $5 latte, meeting the boys for a weekend downtown (every weekend lol), extra pair of shoes to go with the 100 you have all ready, spa treatments, a gym membership that comes out each month that you never get what i am talking about. As North Americans we have grown use to being in debt, well if you want more out of life you need to change that mindset. So with just a few small changes in lifestyle you can achieve whatever your dream is by paying yourself first, say 10% of your monthly salary ( set it up with either work or your bank for automatic withdraw and you will not miss it) and put that on the "A" list and then start reducing some of those off your wants column . So if your goal is a home for example, a downpayment/closing costs is $10,000 or that holiday in the South Pacific at the same price, then by paying yourself $300 per month for 33 months......then get ready to turn the house key baby or book that flight to Australia. Just give up an extra few nights at the bar or brown bag it to work three times a week, make your fav coffee at home for pennies a cup, whatever as the above list will tell you what to cut back on. I am not saying to give up on everything as its a matter of perspective on what you really want in life, so look in the mirror and you decide.