How to overcome the post-holiday credit card blues

5 tips for putting credit cards on a leash

Starting with Black Friday in November and ending with Boxing Day in December, the holiday spending season is just about guaranteed to stretch the use of your credit cards. And come the end of January, you may be singing the credit card blues. You’re in a credit card crunch when you have multiple credit cards that you are unable to pay off in full and are having difficulty making minimum payments on some or all of them. You’re way past the “crunch” stage if creditors are sending past-due letters, calling you, or showing up at your door or place of work. Here are some tips on how to put a leash on your credit cards. READ MORE

The right financial advice doesn’t cost, it pays

Choosing the best financial advisory team

Once you’re established in your profession or career, and you’re accumulating a sizeable nest-egg, getting financial advice from your second cousin or the bank teller just won’t do. You need to get some professional money advice. But where to begin? There seem to be so many people offering advice, and you often read of people losing their investments through fraud or incompetence. Begin by asking yourself what you think you might need a financial advisor to do. Very likely, you’ll be running across some of these experts. Here’s a look at what they all do. READ MORE

Investing: How to deal with market risk

Can you really “live with the risk”?

In this day and age of “robo-advisors” and passive index investing, many investors seem to have forgotten the single immutable truth that equity markets are inherently risky. That’s simply because the share prices of stocks traded on markets are influenced mostly by expectations of future earnings growth. Many factors can come to bear on these expectations apart from a company’s competitive position, financial strength, and industry outlook. These include shorter-term geopolitical events (not as important) and longer-term economic and monetary policies (more important). Put it all together and it adds up to market-wide trends, oscillations, and fluctuations, which are often characterized by a wide amplitude from top to bottom. This is what’s broadly called “risk.” And it’s what most investors have trouble dealing with. READ MORE

Money Makeover: No plan and a high-risk portfolio threaten their retirement security

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Victor and Shelly, who hope to retire next year, but have a risky investment portfolio and no plan. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice on how this couple can use their substantial pension income along with a sizable inheritance to ensure a financially secure future.

Money Makeover: This affluent couple can easily regain their financial footing

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Janaya and Richard, an affluent couple with two young children. But they have a low-performance investment portfolio with a sizeable investment loan, and they are concerned about high daycare costs. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice on how this couple can regain their financial footing, provide for their kids’ education, and get on track for a financially secure retirement.

Stressed out over mortgages stress test?

Know the rules before you sign on the dotted line

If you’ve been shopping for a mortgage for your new home, you probably have run across something called a “stress test.” It raises the bar on your financial health a lot higher before you can qualify for a mortgage – even if you don’t have to be insured! This has been stressing us out many unprepared borrowers. But by understanding a few of the rules beforehand, you can smooth out the path to buying that home. READ MORE

How to take advantage of the Home Buyer’s Plan

A source of funds for first-time home buyers

Looking for a source of funds as a down payment on your first home? If you have a good chunk of money sitting in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you may be eligible to use some of it towards the purchase of a home under a federal government plan called the Home Buyer’s Plan (HPB). Naturally, there’s a long list of rules and regulations, but if you’re a young couple, it could mean as much as an extra $50,000 to tack on to a down payment. READ MORE

Beware the investment scam con game!

How to know if you’re the target of a fraud attempt

March is fraud prevention month, and it’s a great time to remind readers that the financial sea is full of sharks, circling the naïve and unprepared, and ready to take you for every cent you’ve got. The bad guys are sophisticated and clever in developing new ways to commit their crimes, now using digital tools and online access like never before. Luckily, there are experts who are even more sophisticated and a lot more clever than the bunko artists. Your financial advisor can spot a scam a mile away, so consult them before you give a stranger your money. Meanwhile, there are a number of warning signs that are typical of a financial scam in the making. READ MORE

How to bring order to your personal financial chaos

Decide what you really, really want

Around this time of year, many people are beset by doubts and anxieties about their financial situation – especially after the no-holds-barred holiday spending season. But don’t despair – there’s a way to bring order to your personal financial chaos that doesn’t involve tedious budget lists and penny-pinching. It starts with a look at your financial picture from the top down. READ MORE

Money Makeover: These teachers need a lesson in finance

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Angela and Roy, two primary school teachers who earn high incomes but are clueless about investments.

They need to save for their child’s education and should look for something more than a sales pitch for mutual funds from their local bank branch. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice and plan to ensure the couple can meet their retirement goals.

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