Canada Student Loan Bankruptcy Legislation

General Mark Goode 21 Mar

Hardship Provisions and Student Loans in Consumer Proposals

I have written extensively on the hardship provisions in the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Act, including What Constitutes Hardship with a Student Loan after Bankruptcy in Canada? and Good Faith, Hardship and Student Loan Discharges in Bankruptcy.  In summary, under section 178(1.1) of the Act:

(1.1) At any time after five years after a bankrupt who has a debt referred to in paragraph (1)(g) ceases to be a full- or part-time student, as the case may be, under the applicable Act or enactment, the court may, on application, order that subsection (1) does not apply to the debt if the court is satisfied that

  • () the bankrupt has acted in good faith in connection with the bankrupt’s liabilities under the debt; anda
  • (b) the bankrupt has and will continue to experience financial difficulty to such an extent that the bankrupt will be unable to pay the debt.

In simple English: a student loan is automatically discharged in a bankruptcy if, at the date of bankruptcy, more than seven years has elapsed since the bankruptcy ceased to be a student.  Under the hardship provision, after five years you can apply to court to have the student loan discharged, provided you can demonstrate hardship (see the articles referenced above for more details).

What happens if you file a consumer proposal instead of a bankruptcy and you have student loans?  The same seven year rule applies, so a student loan is automatically discharged if you have been out of school for seven years when you file your proposal, and you complete your proposal.

But what about the hardship provision? Can you ask for forgiveness under the hardship rule after five years if you file a consumer proposal?  Up until this month, the answer was “no”.

In October 2012 a Toronto bankruptcy court judge ruled (and I’m simplifying here) that since the Act refers to a bankruptcy, it does not apply to someone who files a consumer proposal.  That is certainly the plain meaning of the Act, and presumably if Parliament had wanted the section to apply in both bankruptcies and proposals, that’s what they would have said.

However, in the case of Re Cardwell, 2006 SKQB 164, Registrar Herauf stated that, logically, the sections should apply in both bankruptcies and proposals, since not allowing this section to apply to proposals discourages people from filing consumer proposals.

So, on appeal, Mr. Justice H. J. Wilton-Siegel of the Superior Court of Justice – Ontario ruled on March 15, 2013 that the hardship provisions apply in a consumer proposal and in a bankruptcy (the case citation is Eric Joseph Sitler (Re): 2013 ONSC 1576.

What does this mean, in plain English?  Simply put, if you file a consumer proposal when you have ceased to be a student for more than five years but less than seven years, although the student loans are not automatically discharged, you can apply to court to get relief from your student loans, just as if you had filed bankruptcy.

Sound complicated?  It is, so contact a consumer proposal administrator to request a no charge initial consultation to review your options and determine which option is best for dealing with your student loans.


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Dragons’ Den Hosts Fight over Deal that Could Be Most Lucrative in Show History

General Mark Goode 19 Feb

Dragons’ Den Hosts Fight over Deal that Could Be Most Lucrative in Show History

enRICHed Academy

It doesn’t happen often, but tonight on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, all five venture capitalists were fighting over one product that has a market potential of 50 million people in North America and projected revenues of $150 million. The product: enRICHed Academy, which teaches young adults how to earn, save and invest their money.

“We should have known a product involving money would interest Kevin O’Leary,” said Kevin Cochran, co-founder of the enRICHed Academy, who faced the Dragons’ in tonight’s episode. “While our eventual goal is to increase sales in the Canadian and US market, the real reason we created the program was to stop young people from making financial mistakes, like the ones I made.”

Drawing from their own financial experience, Cochran and co-founder Jay Seabrook created enRICHed Academy, a DVD-based program teaching young adults how to get rich and avoid debt.

On tonight’s episode of Dragons’ Den, Kevin O’Leary offered Cochran and Seabrook an intriguing package, consisting of his endorsement and a 10 per cent share in the company. With Lavalife co-founder Bruce Croxon also interested, it was eventually a joint venture involving Wealthy Barber David Chilton, Boston Pizza’s Jim Treliving and marketing guru Arlene Dickenson that appealed to the enRICHed Academy founders.

All five Dragons’ were interested in the enRICHed Academy program because the education and training industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America. The earning power of P90X, Tony Robbins and other now infamous training programs have paved the way for the Dragons’ to realize this has the potential to be a huge moneymaker.


Mark Goode AMP is bringing enRICHed Academy to Orillia!

Keep your eyes on our facebook for updates on how you can be part of this great financial revolution!


For more on CBC’S Dragons’ Den click here. Potential Revenue Could Exceed $150-Million  TORONTO, ONTARIO–(Marketwire – Feb. 17, 2013) – *Editors: great speaker (available for interviews and call-in shows)

Original Post and all pertinant credits.

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Policing Banks… the world of Mortgages

General Mark Goode 13 Feb

Banks operate under the scrutiny of government watchdogs. But when it comes to mortgages, those watchdogs don’t watch everything they could.

“Individual (bank) mortgage reps operate outside of regulatory boundaries which commonly govern licensed professionals,” says Samantha Gale, a former mortgage regulator with B.C.’s Financial Institutions Commission and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Brokers Association of British Columbia. Rules pertaining to mortgage rep competency, the suitability of mortgage recommendations and compensation disclosure are largely left to the banks themselves.

That raises certain questions, like the procedure banks use when sending a mortgage applicant to another lender.

At Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), for example, mortgage reps route applicants that don’t meet normal guidelines to their Alternate Mortgage Solutions (AMS) team. RBC’s AMS employees then farm those customers out to other lenders and the bank’s mortgage rep gets paid when the mortgages close.

Some might easily mistake this practice for “dealing in mortgages,” an activity that normally requires a brokering license. But, because bank employees are the ones recommending the alternative lenders, and because banks are federally regulated, they aren’t bound by tough provincial rules that make it an offence to broker without a licence.

Consumer protections differ in bank and broker circles. In Ontario, for example, provincial penalties apply whenever a broker:

  • – Ontario requires brokers to “take reasonable steps” to ensure that any mortgage presented to a borrower is . Not only must the borrower be properly qualified, but recommendations should attempt to minimize the borrower’s current and future borrowing costs and provide the right mortgage flexibility given the customer’s needs. By contrast, while bank regulations encourage banks to “Know Your Client,” they don’t contain specific guidelines on ensuring suitability – apart from confirming the borrower is properly qualified.Suggests an unsuitable lender or mortgagesuitable
  • Sells a higher mortgage rate to get paid more – Brokers must disclose this conflict of interest. Federal disclosure rules don’t hold banks to the same standard, even though many bank reps – like many brokers – get paid sales incentives and earn more for selling a higher interest rate.

Policing these things falls in the lap of provincial regulators. Provinces draft specific broker conduct rules, pro-actively monitor and audit brokers and sanction individual brokers publicly when they’re caught violating regulations.

With bank mortgage reps, there is no independent government watchdog that directly sets specific suitability and compensation disclosure rules, audits and monitors individual reps, and publicizes it when a bank rep breaks the rules. The banks themselves are responsible for “developing the policies and procedures to be followed” by their mortgage reps, says Rachel Swiednicki of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA).

Many assume the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI), the primary bank regulator, supervises bank rep conduct. In fact, OSFI’s main role is to “monitor and examine institutions for solvency, liquidity, safety and soundness,” says a spokesperson. “OSFI does not have the authority to intervene in the day-to-day operations of the institutions it regulates for individual consumer-protection purposes.”

That’s actually the job of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC). It is tasked with ensuring that bankers comply with federal consumer protection rules.

FCAC is a fantastic mortgage educator and regulator when it comes to high-profile problems like mortgage penalty disclosure or failure to provide cost of credit disclosure. But “FCAC appears to regulate systemic institutional compliance problems only,” says Ms. Gale.

Julie Hauser, FCAC’s spokesperson, explains that “FCAC supervises federally regulated financial institutions, not individual employees.” Unlike provincial broker regulators, FCAC generally does not:

· Have its own set of rules, prohibitions and competency requirements to promote suitable mortgage recommendations (e.g., federal rules don’t deal with specifics about what constitutes a suitable alternative lender for a declined borrower, or when a secured line of credit, 1-year term or fully-closed mortgage are appropriate for a borrower)

· Impose specific educational standards and licensing for bank reps

· Pro-actively audit or monitor individual bank mortgage rep conduct

· Post online when a bank rep wrongs a mortgage customer (like this.)

That means it’s up to a bank to set and enforce its own specific competency, suitability and market conduct policies within general federal guidelines. In many ways, this makes banks their own overseer.

So, why aren’t the feds watching mortgage rep activity more closely? Apparently it’s a low priority issue for Ottawa. “We need the political will of regulators to get together and sort this problem out,” Ms. Gale adds. “There is real risk here for consumers.”

Ms. Gale says that mortgage brokers have a fiduciary-like relationship with customers – to recommend a suitable lender with suitable terms. But with banks, a similar fiduciary relationship doesn’t exist because they primarily push their own brand.

“Banks are kind of like a mortgage shop,” she says. “And when they pass you off to another lender, and you don’t know who you’re dealing with and why, that’s a consumer risk.” (Banks always get a customer’s consent to work with another lender, but a bank’s true reasons for choosing another lender are not always disclosed.)

Some banks refer customers that they can’t service to lenders or brokerages that the bank has a monetary interest with. “They’re not necessarily working for you to get you the best deal,” Ms. Gale says.

Rodney Mendes, a broker and former TD Canada Trust mortgage specialist of 15 years, says banks’ internal guidelines are “just as stringent” as provincial broker regulators.’ RBC, for example, states it has a “strict code of conduct,” “comprehensive training” and “pro-active monitoring and auditing practices for its entire mortgage business.”

That’s all good, but bank mortgage reps “don’t report to any governmental authority unless there is a complaint,” Mr. Mendes says. “Bank mortgage specialists report to their own internal compliance department” so it’s often up to management to discipline a mortgage rep. And, in a small number of cases, it’s possible that management “may not want to lose volume on their books” by coming down too hard on a big producer.

Banks have a “strong culture of compliance,” counters the CBA’s Maura Drew-Lytle. Banks make mortgage specialists attest to their compliance obligations and subject them to annual training and testing. Mortgage reps can also be fired, which is less of a threat for mortgage brokers. Ms. Drew-Lytle also notes that banks address most consumer complaints internally, using well-established complaint processes with a third-party ombudsman as an arbiter.

All of that is true. But when it comes specifically to suitability and compensation conflicts, the goal should be to fully disclose and avoid them, not address them when there’s a complaint.

As a side note, not all mortgage brokers have clean hands just because they’re monitored more directly by provincial regulators. Like the large majority of bankers, most brokers are honourable professionals who care about their clients. Yet, as a broker, I regularly witness biases, conflicts and competency issues in our industry. I’ll reveal examples in my next column.

That said, the takeaway here is that Canadians are forced to rely heavily on banks to police their own mortgage sales forces. There is no impartial government watchdog pro-actively targeting bank reps who make unsuitable mortgage recommendations or fail to disclose compensation-related conflicts. With more direction and better funding, the FCAC could assume that role.


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Robert McLister *This has been reposted from Original Post   

The Rates are Way Back Down….

General Mark Goode 22 Jan

Well that was an attempt to play on ‘the boys are back in town’
my whistful wish for summer days.
Though the heat in here is all because of these HOT HOT rates on offer.

I’ve put Mark’s rate sheet up here for you all to check out!
Remember that we can hold rates for up to 120 days.
Feel free to give us a call or come on in and we can go over what would work best for you

Great rates are something but the term that dictate them are another thing to consider when seeking financing for

your home…



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Canadian seniors with massive personal debt a trend that will continue

General Mark Goode 15 Jan

Daniel and Sarah of Abbotsford reached the end of their financial rope in 2011 when Canada Revenue Agency abruptly froze their accounts for unpaid taxes.

Their personal debt had climbed to about $50,000. Daniel had suffered reversals in his small construction service business and the couple continued to spend more than they had.

Creditors were eager to continue extending them credit, assuring them finances would improve for them next year. They didn’t.

The couple — whose names have been changed for privacy — were deeply ashamed.

“You feel guilt and wonder ‘How did I let things get to this point?’” says Daniel, 61. “Eleven years ago, we were debt free.”

In desperation, they went to see a bankruptcy trustee. After considering the options, they decided to file for bankruptcy.

Daniel had just joined the ranks of B.C.’s grandpa debtors.

People over the age of 55 are the most rapidly growing group of debtors in B.C., according to bankruptcy trustee Sands & Associates.

And New Year, when bills for Christmas spending come due, is when their ranks grow the fastest.

“From mid to late January we’ll start to see a big ramp-up of people getting their bills and not knowing what to do,” Sands senior vice-president Blair Mantin says.

“You almost know based when the credit card bills have arrived after Christmas based on the call volumes we see.”

The number of seniors coming through the doors of Sands’ Lower Mainland offices has soared in recent years.

The number of debtors aged 65 and older whom Sands has helped file bankruptcy or make consumer proposals jumped 217 per cent from 2009 to 2011. These numbers rose 193 per cent for those age 60 and up, and 166 per cent for people 50 and over.

Mantin predicts the numbers of grandpa debtors will continue to climb as seniors struggle with misfortune or spend their way into debt in retirement.

“There is nothing I’ve seen that would give me an idea this trend is going to stop,” he says.

“It was pretty rare for me to see people aged 75-plus but in the last month, there have been five in that demographic.”

Some seniors go bust from helping children who have remained dependent long into adulthood, Mantin says.

Others are forced to declare bankruptcy after unnecessarily paying off the debts of family members who die, Mantin says.

Seniors, unlike other age groups, don’t try to “game the system” or commit fraud when they come to see Sands, he says.

They may also suffer the most from physical effects of financial stress.

“If you’re already weakened because of some of the medical conditions associated with growing older — strokes or heart disease or hyper-tension — money stress may be something your health can’t withstand.”


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You can BUY A HOUSE without saving your pennies ?

General Mark Goode 15 Jan

It would seem that regulators want to dissuade Canadians from buying homes with nothing down. Yet despite all of the recent changes, buyers can still get into the real estate market with little cash on hand.

Ottawa did away with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp .-insured 100 per cent financing back in 2008. Home buyers with few savings searching for an alternative were left with cash-back down payment mortgages. (That’s where a lender gives you your 5 per cent required down payment, in exchange for a higher rate.) But those didn’t last long because in 2012, regulators barred banks from offering cash back for down payments.

Purchasing a home without your own down payment is often risky. One exception is when a borrower is well-qualified (apart from the down payment), has enough potential resources to withstand a loss of income and falling home prices, and is better off owning than renting. But exceptions are just that, and not the rule.

Young people use alternative down payment sources more often than most. Why? The main reason is a lack of savings. At a time when the average national home price has jumped to $356,687, the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals finds that more than one in four renters have less than $5,000 saved for a down payment. Yet, many of these folks are dead set on owning a home, so they end up using one of the down payment methods listed below.

Borrowing from other credit sources
When buying a home, you generally need at least 5 per cent of the purchase price as a down payment. Ottawa prohibits you from borrowing that 5 per cent from your mortgage lender if that lender is a bank or federal trust company.

Meanwhile, you’re free to borrow your down payment from a line of credit, personal loan or even a credit card. That’s right, if you’re creditworthy you can throw your down payment on a VISA at 20 per cent interest. Mind you, not all lenders allow this and the ones that do check that you can afford the extra debt payment.

One obvious problem with borrowing your down payment is the higher interest cost. Even if you use a line of credit, the interest rate on your down payment loan can be much higher than a regular mortgage, or have a riskier variable rate.

“Borrowing a down payment from less suitable sources is a potential issue,” acknowledges Gord McCallum, broker and president of First Foundation Inc. “Often times, with new mortgage regulations there can be unintended consequences that are worse than the problem they’re purported to solve, and this may be one of them.”

Getting a cash-back down payment mortgage
In many provinces, lenders that aren’t federally regulated (like credit unions) can still offer cash-back down payment mortgages. The few that actually do will give you 5 per cent cash to use for your down payment. You then need to cough up only your closing costs, which include legal and inspection fees, the land transfer tax and so on.

Not surprisingly, the interest rate on cash-back mortgages is well above a normal mortgage. But when you factor in the “free” cash, the overall borrowing cost isn’t that horrible. The main downside of a cash-back mortgage is that you have little equity cushion if home prices fall and you need to sell. And if you break the mortgage early, your lender can take back much or all of the cash it gave you.

Going forward, the days of cash-back down payment mortgages may be numbered. There is speculation that they’ll be eliminated in 2013–by either mortgage insurers, provincial regulators or both. For now, however, a handful of credit unions still offer them to people with strong credit, with Ontario-based Meridian Credit Union being the biggest such lender.

Using a gifted down payment
If you’re a young home buyer with a generous relative, you may be lucky enough to get your down payment as a gift. Most lenders will consider a gifted down payment if the donor is a parent, grandparent or sibling.

Unfortunately, while not an epidemic problem, it’s no secret that a small number of borrowers fraudulently claim their down payments as “gifts,” even though they fully intend to repay the money. That raises the risk level for lenders because the borrower’s debt obligations increase. Of course, both the borrower and giftor must attest in writing to gifted funds being non-repayable, but that is hard to police after closing.

RRSP Home Buyers Plan (HBP)
First-time buyers can borrow up to $25,000 from their RRSP as a down payment. But this is a very different kind of loan, for three reasons:

1. You’re borrowing from your own retirement savings, as opposed to a third party.

2. You don’t have to start repaying the loan until the second year after the year you make your withdrawal.

3. Even though Revenue Canada wants the funds paid back in 15 annual instalments, lenders don’t include those repayments in a borrower’s debt calculations. As a result, some people get approved for a mortgage only to find themselves caught in an annual cash crunch because they didn’t budget for their HBP payment.

The RRSP HBP comes with other perils. By draining your retirement savings, you risk losing years of tax-deferred investment gains. That’s a decision that some will later regret.

Moreover, any instalments that aren’t paid back on time are taxed as income in that year. And as many as one-quarter of HBP participants have missed or underpaid their instalments in the past.

Special lender and government programs
Various provinces and municipalities provide down payment assistance grants. These programs are typically for people with low or moderate income. Despite these borrowers being higher risk, in some cases, they’re permitted to buy a home with nothing down.

There are also specialized programs at individual lenders. For example, Canada’s biggest credit union, Vancity, currently finances an affordable condo project in Vancouver whereby it lends 90 per cent of the purchase price while the developer provides a 10 per cent second mortgage with no interest and no payments.

All of these down payment alternatives have one thing in common. They all come with some degree of added risk. It’s curious how Ottawa encourages people to have their own skin in the game, yet sanctions various substitutes to the traditional 5 per cent down payment.

If you do use one of these down payment alternatives, remember these two things: Buying a home without your own cash is not a decision to take lightly. And qualifying for a mortgage doesn’t mean can successfully carry one.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Robert McLister is the editor of and a mortgage planner at VERICO intelliMortgage. You can also follow him on twitter at @CdnMortgageNews

A very VERY cool walk through the mortgage process

General Mark Goode 8 Jan


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Ontario Protecting Consumers Seeking Financial Help

General Mark Goode 8 Jan

“There is evidence of harmful practices used by some debt settlement companies and that is why our government is taking steps to protect consumers. We want to put a stop to abusive practices in the marketplace. Consumers should know their rights before they sign contracts and they should not make any payments until they get results.”

Margarett Best
Minister of Consumer Services


Government Taking Steps to Regulate Debt Settlement Companies
 January 4, 2013 5:30 am

Ontario intends to regulate debt settlement companies to protect consumers from exaggerated claims and abusive practices.

Through new regulations, the government will:

         Ban debt settlement companies from charging up-front fees 

         Limit the amount of fees consumers are charged 

         Require clear, transparent contracts 

         Implement a 10-day cooling-off period.

The government has posted this regulatory proposals for your public comment.


Taking strong action to protect Ontario consumers to educate and protect Ontario families by ensuring a fair, safe and informed marketplace.

 Quick Facts

         Ontario is joining other provinces like Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia,
            which have introduced regulations to crack down on debt settlement companies.

         There are over 20 debt settlement companies operating in Ontario

         The Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services receives over 100 complaints
            about debt settlement companies a month.

         Average consumer debt in Ontario is up to $25,447 in the second quarter of 2012,
          compared to $24,721 in the second quarter of 2011.

         For every dollar Canadians earn, they have $1.64 in unsecured debt: Statistics Canada.


Speak to an unbiased financial expert when considering your financial future. Financial Services Commission of Ontario


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YOUTH FINANCE : 10 mistakes & solutions

General Mark Goode 2 Jan

Whether you’re a young person who recently graduated, just getting your career started or finally moving out on your own, it can be hard to keep track of your personal finances. Some of the biggest mistakes are also the most common and can seriously cost you in the long term. Here are the top ten, along with some tips on how to avoid them.

1. Misunderstanding credit cards

Services like Paypass are making them even easier to use. But credit cards are often misunderstood by young people, with small purchasing decisions often leading to long-term problems. Whether it’s cash advances, large balances, only making minimum payments, paying late or not paying at all, the small piece of plastic can be much more trouble than you realized. There’s also signing up for too many, unnecessarily increasing your limit and wrecking your credit rating.

“Credit card debt is spending your future income before you’ve earned it, and not magic money,” said Lisa Yanaky, a young woman from Toronto.


<< Check out the DLC VISA Cards with the benefits of low interest rate, Cell replacement & an optional consultation to explain the details. | 705 326 8523 |

2. Not utilizing discounts

Banks, car dealerships, even theatre tickets, travel and cultural attractions. There’s a world of special prices for students and young people out there, but you can’t get to them if you don’t ask or research them beforehand. Some of the options include the International Students Identity Card, or the Canadian Opera Company’s program for patrons under 30.

3. Signing up for a rental/mortgage that’s too much of a burden

If you choose a place that leaves you with only a little bit of money to do anything else, you’ll be stuck spending most of your time at home. You’re also more at risk of accumulating credit card debt for making up the difference in your lifestyle or paying for unexpected costs, like maintenance.
Apply online here and we can see what you can sustain! 

4. Not having a budget

If you don’t sit down to look at what’s left after your wages and fixed expenses, it’s hard to determine how much you can afford to spend on things like food, nights out, or an upgrade to your cell phone plan. Not knowing how much you have can easily lead to spending more than you can afford. A budget can help you determine what you need to do to pay for your next vacation or make you realize you need to start packing lunch more than once a week.

5. Not having a “rainy-day” fund

Setting aside money for emergencies gives you a cushion for unexpected events and helps you avoid adding to your credit card balance. You never know when your car needs repairs, you crack a tooth on a fall or your bike gets stolen and needs to be replaced. This needs to be a key part of your budget, even if you start with a small amount every month. Eventually, the money will add up. You’ll also know the next time something arises, you’ll be prepared.

6. Failing to realize how “little things” add up

Darren Calabrese/National Post

Darren Calabrese/National PostUour daily trip to Starbucks can all add up to to thousands of dollars a year.

You can call it “the latte factor,” but your daily trip to Starbucks, half-pack of cigarettes a day or $100 a week at your favourite local bar or restaurant can all add up to to thousands of dollars a year. A small modification in this kind of spending can help you put aside more for money for savings, retirement or paying down your debt.

7. ATM fees

The bar only accepts cash (of course) and you have no idea where the nearest bank machine is. So you use the conveniently-located ATM there for $20. Trouble is that transaction cost you an extra $3 and you do it four more times during the rest of the month. All those fees quickly added up to the cost of a lunch.


Try hiding an extra $40 in your wallet for emergencies and stick to withdrawals from machines that belong to your bank.

8. Falling into the trap of automatic pre-payments

You linked your gym to your bank account figuring you’d never have to worry about having to pay a bill. That is, until you forgot it hadn’t come out yet and took out $40 for drinks with friends and left barely anything left. If the bank goes to get the monthly amount and finds nothing there, you’ll be hit with a giant insufficient-funds fee.

You can easily track this by setting up email reminders or calendar alerts, so you’ll know when you need to keep a little extra in your account.

9. Opening an account with a significant other

You’re in love. What could show your commitment more than moving in, opening an account and sharing all your financial responsibilities? Doing so too early or without a clear plan for who pays what (and exactly how much) could be one of the most expensive financial mistakes you ever make. Even with a steady job, your personal and financial situation can rapidly change, along with the status of your relationship. If trust issues occur, problems can quickly develop and lead to one person shouldering a majority of the financial burden.

10. Not regularly planning for the future

Have plans to eventually own your own place, go to graduate school or travel the world? You may think planning for the future is only for people thinking about retirement, but everyone can benefit from financial advice. Speaking to a financial advisor or financial services manager can help you figure out what you need to do to afford your dreams. Also, don’t forget to check in when major life changes occur, as your financial priorities will probably shift too.


Let us know if this helped or how we might help you better!

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Corin Payie MMDLC

Resolve to start Clean in 2013….

General Mark Goode 2 Jan

 Make resolutions if you must: When you vow to track every dollar and never waste money again, you feel all clean and shiny for at least a few hours into the new year.

But that doesn’t usually last. Resolutions get broken because they are too lofty and too ill-defined. It is better to break your resolutions down into a specific to do list: here are the money moves to make now and in the coming weeks that will insure you’re in a better financial place before 2013 ends.

  •  Analyze your entertainment budget. Television service used to be free, except for the electricity to run it. Now you have to choose cable versus satellite dish and then add on movies from a host of services (like Amazon, Hulu and Netflix) via a host of devices (like Roku, Apple TV and internet-enabled Blu-ray players). Monthly budgets for a family run well over $100, just for television, so it’s worth figuring out what you watch and how you watch it and comparison shop for the cheapest way to do that. Often, cable and satellite providers will cut you a better deal if you say you’re ready to quit their service. In today’s fast-shifting environment, re-do this analysis once a year at contract renewal time.
  • Put one savings on auto-pilot. There is nothing new or revolutionary about this particular exercise, but it works. Choose a low-cost stock mutual fund from a direct-seller like Vanguard, Fidelity Investments or T. Rowe Price. Authorize the fund to sweep a set amount out of your chequing account every month. Even $100 will make a difference over time. Just ignore this fund, except to watch it build over time.
  • Max out your credit cards — not with borrowing, but with rewards. After five years of tight credit, card issuers are coming back at consumers with a new waves of rewards. Look at all of the cards you already have — if you haven’t paid them off, send all of your available money to the highest rate card until you kill the balances, one at a time, as quickly as possible. Then compare the rewards they pay for travel, groceries, gas and any other categories that are important to you. Check the best offers out there now at Nerd Wallet ().
  •  Refinance your mortgage. Make your move now if you expect to be in your home for at least five years. Rates hover near historic lows, and bankers are still willing to lend money for 30 years at 3.25% and for 15 years at 2.5%. Nobody can predict when rates will rise, but they aren’t likely to go down. At some point over the next 10 years, those rates are likely to look excellent. Furthermore, many people who were unable to refinance before because they didn’t have enough equity in their homes may get relief from recent increases in home prices. To shop for a good rate, check the listings at and, and compare with a couple of local mortgage lenders and your own credit union.
  • Buy life insurance. If you have a family that depends on you, and you don’t already have six times your income in term coverage, it’s time to buy. Rates have been falling for more than a decade, but now that’s over and some are heading back up, says Byron Udell of Furthermore, some life insurance companies are giving up on some product lines that they believe are unprofitable in today’s low interest rate environment.
  • Adjust your pension plan settings. If you just let your company auto-enroll you in the program, there’s a good chance you aren’t saving enough. Bump up your regular contributions at least to the level your company will match, and higher if you can afford it. Authorize the company that manages your pension fund to rebalance your assets once a year, to keep your mix of stocks and bonds where you want it to be. That will automatically have you buying lower and selling higher.
  • Update your resume. Many workers have been stalled at work for five years or more. But the economy is improving, so it’s a good time to brush up on needed skills, rewrite your resume and start networking via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and your own personal connections. Even if you want to stay where you are, it’s a good career move to stay abreast of what’s going on all around.
  • Organize your info and look at your money. All good financial planning starts here. If you have balances on your credit cards, make a list of all of your cards, with their effective interest rates and balances. Your debt-payoff strategy will become clear. If you don’t know how you spend your money, embrace a program like Quicken or an online aggregator like Mvelopes or Mint. Investing for retirement or otherwise? Find a program or system that allows you to track your investment mix and your returns on a quarterly basis. Set it up now, and your investment decisions will be made easier all year long.

© Thomson Reuters 2012 


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