Offering helpful financial and lifestyle advice for everyday Canadians

Archive for January, 2014

5 Great Blogs That Will Help You Save Money

Our blog is great. We know that and you know that! But thanks to Canadian Living for finding 5 other awesome blogs that want to help you save money!

Pinching pennies is easy with great advice from these top Canadian money-saving blogs.

Bored with the celebrity blogs I normally read, one morning I had an idea that put dollar signs in my eyes. I would wean myself from these online temples of celebrity worship, and use the time to read money-saving blogs instead. One week later, I didn’t get rich, but I had a few hot leads on the best sales in my city, and some ideas under my hat that will help me cut expenses down the road. Cha-ching!

So what makes for a good money-saving blog? I asked the creator of one of my favourites, Bargainista, for her take on what makes her blog so popular. “My blog is about smart shopping and value,” says Toronto-based Eden Spodek. “Readers trust what my guest bloggers and I have to say,” she adds.

As someone who loves to read blogs, I’ll venture that regular, preferably daily posts and an entertaining or authoritative voice help make for a successful one, also. Without further delay, here are some great Canadian blogs to help you save money.

5 great money-saving blogs
Blog:
Smartcanucks.ca
Save on: Electronics, clothes, DVDs, groceries and sales tax. Plus you’ll find links to coupons, freebies and online bargains.
Bookmark it: This comprehensive blog features flyers from across Canada highlighting the biggest steals, not to mention myriad posts on in-store and online sales. In between these posts you’ll find funny asides, like Dear manufacturers of the world – Quit using these stupid paper stickers! – a pointed jab at the impossible-to-get-off stickers plastered over new goods like appliances. Other money-minded bloggers love this site, “I read this one regularly to find good deals,” says Spodek, who links to it on her blog.

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Should You Skip the RRSP Contribution and Pay Off Your Mortgage First?

There are more than a few ways to get yourself to retirement. RRSP’s are a great investment, but so is clearing your debt before you stop earning a regular income. So what should you focus on? Thankfully The Globe and Mail has a great article to help you decide.

The big push is on to convince Canadians to load their extra cash into registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) investments before the Mar. 3 deadline. But though it may seem as though contributing is the only option when it comes time to decide what to do with the money, it’s not.

Many financial planners, accountants and other experts suggest there’s an even better way to work toward a well-heeled retirement down the road: Pay off the mortgage first. And do it as fast as you comfortably can.

That’s exactly what Rock Lefebvre, vice-president of research and standards for the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada, in Ottawa, did when he was younger. Rather than invest in stocks, bonds or mutual funds, he developed a financial strategy that meant paying off his mortgage early. To this day he still advises that most people eliminate consumer debt and then go on to tackle mortgage debt before investing.

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Improving Your Credit Score – Government Advice

The government is looking out for you. If you have a poor credit score then there is help but you have to be careful. This article from the Government of Canada has some very helpful advice.

If your credit score is not as high as you think it should be, make sure that the information in your credit report is correct. If it is correct, read your report carefully to find out which factors are most likely having a negative influence on your score, and then work to improve them.

Here are some tips, from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), on how to improve your credit score:

  • Always pay your bills on time. Although the payment of your utility bills, such as phone, cable and electricity, is not recorded in your credit report, some cell phone companies may report late payments to the credit-reporting agencies, which could affect your score.
  • Try to pay your bills in full by the due date. If you aren’t able to do this, pay at least the required minimum amount shown on your monthly credit card statement.
  • Try to pay your debts as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t go over the credit limit on your credit card. Try to keep your balance well below the limit. The higher your balance, the more impact it has on your credit score.
  • Reduce the number of credit applications you make. If too many potential lenders ask about your credit in a short period of time, this may have a negative effect on your score. However, your score does not change when you ask for information about your own credit report.
  • Make sure you have a credit history. You may have a low score because you do not have a record of owing money and paying it back. You can build a credit history by using a credit card.

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How to Live on a Fixed Income Budget

Here is a great article by Francine Richards of Demand Media with 7 helpful steps to living on a fixed income budget from TheNest.com.

Step 1

Sit down with your spouse, make a list of each of your expenses, and set them against your income. Work together to set a spending budget, and to see where you can cut your expenses. For example, examine whether you really need all the premium cable channels, and if you can take your lunch to work instead of going out. Rent movies instead of seeing them in the theater. Unplug appliances when not in use, such as your cell phone chargers and your microwave. You may be surprised at how much you can save by taking small steps to cut expenses.

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