Happy upcoming September ‘New Year’

For many of us, September feels more like the start of a New Year than January does. September marks the end of summer and brings a ‘back-to-school’ reality that we feel (whether or not we have school-aged children).

September is a time to re-focus, get back to work and also—back on budget!

If you have back-to-school-shopping to tackle, then budgeting is essential. Too often compelling advertising, apparent sales and our child’s idea of what they need, can cause us to spend more than we have . . . and more than we can afford. Buying clothing, back packs, lunch boxes, stationery supplies and electronics can be an expensive undertaking. If your child is off to college or university the costs can be even higher to set up dorm rooms and to purchase books, food plans and transit passes.

A good start to managing your budget is to involve your child in the planning. Refer to lists the school or post-secondary institution has provided. Remind your offspring of the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ (it will serve them well for their future money management too). Determine together what is essential for when school starts and what can wait to see if it is really required. Encourage your child to pay something towards some of the ‘needs’ from their savings; or at least to pay for their perceived must-have from the ‘wants’ list. There are many back-to-school budget planners online to help you track planned and actual expenditures. These can help you avoid impulse purchases and stay within budget.

Budgeting for upcoming expenses

Balancing the budget

 

But what if you don’t have back to school expenses…

September can also the ideal time to pause and refocus on your personal or family finances. It’s a good opportunity to revisit your near and long term goals.

In the near term you might be looking at how you’re going to plan and pay for the expenses associated with the upcoming holidays (both Thanksgiving and Christmas) or deal with the additional rising costs of heating and electricity. There is also thinking about getting yourself ready, do you have what you need for fall and winter (ie:a fall/winter coat and other clothing)?

If you are carry debt, resume your commitment to paying it off; remember to start first with high interest rate credit cards. It can be a time to check in again on your household budget and ways to trim expenses. And, it can be an opportunity to start saving for upcoming holiday spending. Even a little money put away each week starting now, can help toward the costs of future Christmas or Hanukah celebrations.

If you are facing financial struggles or would like some help with managing your debt—one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available to help and you may not need to go bankrupt. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free in at 310 8888.

 

 

Why a consumer proposal is (almost) beating out bankruptcy as the best way to deal with debt.

Across Canada individuals are increasingly using a consumer proposal to address (what has now become) their unmanageable debt. A proposal is based on what you are capable of paying . . . not what you owe – and it allows you a fresh start without going bankrupt.

Under a consumer proposal, with the guidance of a Trustee, you negotiate to pay creditors all or a portion of your debt over a specific time period, or to extend the time allowed to pay the entire debt. You just need the majority of creditors to agree to the proposal—then all unsecured creditors are bound by it.

After you make your proposal, most creditors can no longer ‘hound’ you for collection of their accounts and public utilities can’t discontinue their service. Also, a consumer proposal prevents your creditors from garnishing your wages.

In 2006 only 15 per cent of insolvent Canadians chose to make a consumer proposal. Now that number is at an all time high of 40 per cent. There are a number of reasons why.

Firstly, in 2008, changes to the Bankruptcy Insolvency Act (BIA) increased the limit of the size of non-mortgage debt for qualifying for a proposal from $75,000 to $250,000.

And too, economists suggest it’s a sign of improving times where consumers are more optimistic about the future and are keen to ‘clean-up’ their debt issues in ways that are manageable—and without going bankrupt. With a consumer proposal you keep control of your assets and it has shorter-term – and less significant – impact on your credit rating than bankruptcy.

For some it’s all about keeping their car, home or signed jersey by Jerome. A consumer proposal starts with the consumer – you propose a deal to your creditors to pay back the debt. If you want to sell your car to do it, that is your choice. Remember, whatever you negotiate with your creditors should be fair otherwise they may just ask for your prized collection.

Remember too, in a bankruptcy you are mandated to make some payments toward your debts—for example (depending on the debt) you might be required to pay $1,000 a month for 21 months. In contrast, with a proposal you might negotiate to pay $600 a month for 40 months. This can be a more manageable option.

And, sometimes avoiding bankruptcy is very important. Your profession or employer may require that you not be an undischarged bankrupt. You also can’t be a director of an incorporated company if you are an undischarged bankrupt.

Not to mention, sometimes it’s also a psychological thing—people in general don’t like the ‘b’ word (bankruptcy). A consumer proposal provides a solid solution to resolving debt issues without committing to bankruptcy.

To learn more about a consumer proposal and whether it is the best course of action to address your debt issues, visit our website at www.gt.alger.ca or contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation toll free from anywhere in Alberta 310 8888.

 

Why an ‘emergency fund’ can be the difference, but there is help available.

Floods, lay-offs, illness: Why an ‘emergency fund’ can be the difference between tough times and serious financial trouble.

We’ve all watched in disbelief as floods have ravaged areas of Calgary and Southern Alberta. Many families are affected. Some homes and businesses are lost completely. Others require extensive – and expensive – remediation and/or rebuilding. Times like these (among other crises) can stretch the limits of our emotions and finances.

This is where an individual or family’s emergency fund can be a lifesaver, or at the very least—an initial buffer against the financial impact of an unexpected occurrence or need.

The purpose of an emergency fund is to improve financial security by creating a safety net of funds that can be used to meet emergency expenses. It can also reduce the need to use high interest debt, such as credit cards, as a last resort.

If you are a renter with few financial obligations you will likely need less in an emergency fund than a family with a mortgage, car payments and other obligations.

Most financial planners suggest an emergency fund contain enough money to cover at least three months of living expenses. Banks and other financial institutions do not carry accounts labeled as emergency funds; it is up to you to set up this type of account that provides you quick and easy accessibility in times of crisis or unexpected expense.

If, due to the recent floods or another crisis, you are currently facing financial struggles and an unmanageable debt load—one of our professionals is available to discuss your situation. There are many options available to help and you may not need to go bankrupt. Contact us for a confidential, no-obligation, complimentary consultation. Call us toll free from anywhere in Alberta 310 8888.

You can also visit us at www.gt.alger.ca for more information