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Consolidate debt pay less interest

Want to pay off debt? Pay less interest!

Consolidate debt pay less interest

It’s not a new concept but it is one that is worth remembering and so I will repeat it. If you want to pay off debt, start by paying less interest.

January is usually a tough financial month for most of us.  Holiday bill payments, rrsp contributions, property tax bills and if you are self-employed, you probably have to make some sort of business tax or corporate tax payment.  If December is the Holiday Season, then January feels like a hangover!

Banks and Credit Card companies love this time of year because this is when we will normally carry a balance and have to pay those crazy interest rates that range from 9% to 25%.  Wait, before you get too depressed, there could be a better option.  There’s a less expensive way to manage your debt. Continue reading “Want to pay off debt? Pay less interest!”

Good debt and Bad debt - Credit Debt Loan Mortgage

Good debt and Bad debt…. do we Canadians recognize the difference?

Good debt and Bad debt - Credit Debt Loan Mortgage

I saw this article from earlier this year about Good debt and Bad debt.  Canadian Personal debt levels have now surpassed $2.21 trillion.  That’s a big number, should we be concerned?  I started to wonder how much of this is Bad debt?  Let’s take a closer look at these stats. Continue reading “Good debt and Bad debt…. do we Canadians recognize the difference?”

Debt Consolidation Tip: Pay less interest!

Collateral ChargeThe beginning of the year is typically tough financially for most of us. Holiday bill payments, RRSP contributions, property tax bills, etc. And, if you’re self-employed, you probably have to make some sort of business tax or corporate tax payment. If December is the Holiday Season, then January and February feel like a hangover!

Banks and credit card companies love this time of year because this is when we’re most likely to carry a balance, forcing us to pay those crazy interest rates that range from 9% to 24%.

But, wait! Before you get too depressed, there may be a better option. There’s a less expensive way to manage your debt.

Continue reading “Debt Consolidation Tip: Pay less interest!”

Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy… Which option is most favourable?

Debt Image, March 2018

A couple in their 30s contacts me for a mortgage. They want to buy a new home. She’s a high school teacher and he’s a computer firm manager. Incomes are good. I check their credit.

Let’s stop here for a minute… If they have good credit, an approval is simple and we can provide the clients with several mortgage options.

But let’s assume that this couple ran into some debt and credit issues three years ago… and they made three different choices about how to resolve those credit problems: 1) Credit Counselling; 2) Consumer Proposal; or 3) Bankruptcy. I want to take you through each scenario and show you how long each of these three options affects your ability to finance a home. I bet the results will surprise you! Continue reading “Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy… Which option is most favourable?”

World Debt clock comparison… How’s Canada doing compared with the world?

Debt.  It’s a popular topic.  Personal debt. Govt debt. Corporate debt.  Back in 2013, I published an article comparing Canada’s debt with the rest of the world.  Back then, like today, there was so much negative news being written about our so-called high personal debt level.   I thought I’d turn the tables on the govt and see how they were doing.

Here we are, 2018 and  five years later.  We’re supposedly experiencing fantastic economic times.  Lowest unemployment in 40 years according to the Dec 2017 job report.  Things are so good that we can increase minimum wage by over 30% in Ontario and other Provinces.  We must really be doing great, right? Scorecard time…

The logical conclusion, or the simple math equation is with GOOD TIMES OR A STRONG PROSPEROUS ECONOMY = LOWER NATIONAL DEBT…. Consumers are expected to lower their personal debt levels.  Isn’t the govt supposed to lower or work on eliminating our national debt?  One would think so. Let’s find out… Continue reading “World Debt clock comparison… How’s Canada doing compared with the world?”

Debt diversification vs Debt consolidation…who wins?

debt

ONLY IN CANADA

Attention:  Bankers, close your ears.. we don’t want you to hear this.  Credit card balances, lines of credit, car loan, student loan, home reno loan, personal loan..   If you have one or more of these and you own a home, you’re probably losing money by paying a higher interest rate.  In many cases, $thousands are lost and overpaid each year.   And your Banker is laughing and recording Record profits!!

It’s surprising how many of us have some, or all of these debts… and ALSO a house with lots of equity.  Yet, as Canadians, we somehow think it’s better to separate our mortgage from other debts.  We somehow think it’s good to pay down our mortgage but then rack up other debts.  This attitude has puzzled me for years.

check out this chart for one client.. tell me if this looks familiar: Continue reading “Debt diversification vs Debt consolidation…who wins?”

Credit Card hangover? Make 2016 a painless year….

debt animationWe’re well into January… and right about now, some of us are avoiding the mail for fear of seeing those holiday bills!  Ok, so besides avoiding the mail, what’s the best way to tackle those debts?

Here’s some helpful ‘did you know’ questions…  Enjoy! Continue reading “Credit Card hangover? Make 2016 a painless year….”

Personal debt level concerns are overblown…!

record low ratesThere’s a lot of talk in the media about Canadians carrying too much debt.   We’re getting hammered with messages of ‘record high personal debt levels’.   It’s true.  Our mortgage balances are higher, car loans are higher, student loans are higher, personal loans and lines of credit balances are higher.

Is this a problem?  Are Canadians in trouble?  Is this a reason to panic?  Let’s try to answer…

Well, here’s one very interesting stat that might crush that statement once and for all.   Canadians, on average, spend 14% of after-tax income on personal debt. 

Did I surprise you?   I’ll bet most people thought that number would be way higher given all the negative reports in the media.  Continue reading “Personal debt level concerns are overblown…!”

News stats..Higher debt, but lower defaults

debt aminationSaw this article today about higher consumer debt levels BUT lower defaults.   Equifax Canada is quoted as saying that consumer debt rose by 7.2% in  the second quarter 2014 to $1.45 trillion ,compared with $1.35 trillion from a year ago. This includes credit cards, loans, lines of credits and mortgages.

The average Canadian now has $20,759 in personal debt, excluding mortgages.   That’s a 1.5% increase since last year.   So that means mortgage debt has risen by around 7%.    Here’s a heads up… you will see and hear articles sounding the panic alarm… again.

Well, before we hit that panic button, there was one more stat that we should pay attention to.   DEFAULTS.   Defaults are at their lowest level since 2008.  If higher consumer debt levels and lower defaults sound strange to you, it shouldn’t.    I’ll explain… Continue reading “News stats..Higher debt, but lower defaults”

Debt consolidation tip… just pay less interest!

Good debt Bad debtJanuary is usually a tough financial month for most of us.  Holiday bill payments, rrsp contributions, property tax bills and if you are self-employed, you probably have to make some sort of business tax or corporate tax payment.  If December is the Holiday Season, then January feels like a hangover!

BANKS and Credit Card companies love this time of year because this is when we will normally carry a balance and have to pay those crazy interest rates that range from 9% to 24%.  Wait, before you get too depressed, there could be a better option.  There’s a less expensive way to manage your debt. Continue reading “Debt consolidation tip… just pay less interest!”

How to get rid of Holiday bills and start building wealth.

debt amination Most Canadians suffer with their highest personal debt load in January, when the “holiday hit” arrives and your credit card statements let you know just how much you spent on the festive season. It’s especially hard if you already had a burgeoning debt load before the holidays.

This year, make the best New Year’s resolution ever: resolve to clear that debt, and start building wealth. Continue reading “How to get rid of Holiday bills and start building wealth.”

Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy? I only like one of these options.

debt aminationA couple, in their 30’s, contacts me for a mortgage.  They want to buy a new home.  She is a teacher, he is a Manager at a computer firm.  Incomes are good.  I check their credit.  Let’s stop here for a minute..   If they had good credit, an approval is simple and we would provide the clients with several mortgage options.

But let’s assume that this couple ran into some debt and credit issues 3 years ago… and they made 3 different choices about how to resolve those credit problems.  Credit counselling, Consumer Proposal and Bankruptcy.  And I’ll bet the results will surprise you…I want to take you through each scenario and show you how long each of these 3 options affect your ability to finance a home.. Continue reading “Credit counselling, Consumer proposal or Bankruptcy? I only like one of these options.”

Canada vs the world…debt level comparison study.

debt Hey, here’s an interesting stat that should make us Canadians feel good…. Our Federal govt keeps telling us to slow our personal debt levels… maybe they should start balancing their own books…  I remember when, in 1997, the Feds actually balanced the budget and even made a surplus.   Remember that?    In fact, from 1997 to 2008, the Feds reduced our national debt from $563billion to $458billion.  We seemed to be heading in the right direction.

Then the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis hit and the Feds starting spending in an attempt to avoid a major recession.   So far, it’s worked.  Our economy has performed pretty well when compared with most other countries.   But our National Debt level has now surpassed the $600billion mark for the first time ever.   How concerned should we really be?   Is our national debt level really that high?    I decided to compare out debt with a handful of other countries to see how we stacked up….

NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS

Continue reading “Canada vs the world…debt level comparison study.”

CMHC under OSFI control…. another kick in the rear to Canadians.

CMHC’s MOVE TO OSFI CONTROL WILL BE A KICK IN THE BUTT TO ALL CANADIAN HOMEOWNERS.

Is this what CMHC staff and Canadian homeowners are thinking?….   That’s right, it could be OSFI head, Julie Dickson on one end, and that’s you and I on the receiving end!

You’ve seen the headlines lately….  “OSFI proposes radical changes under Draft Bill B-20” which was up for discussion until May 1st.    But weeks earlier, Julie Dickson, the head of OSFI made a surprise remark at speech in Toronto’s Board of Trade…(some were calling it an ‘oops’, or a ‘slip-up’ ) where she stated that the proposed HELOC changes were a done deal…  this was on April 7th… well before the May 1st discussion deadline…

And more recently, we saw more questionable remarks from OSFI…. this time from Vlasios Melassanakis, Manager of Policy Development.   “Are the banks equipped to handle a 40% drop (what occurred in Toronto market in early 1990’s)? Need to stress test to find out.”    Is Melassanakis for real?   40% drop??  where is he getting that number from??    Absurd..! and unsubstantiated!   That’s my response.

What’s going on here, you might ask??

Mortgage arrears are low, affordability is high, property values have declined or remained flat across the country except a few pockets including GTA…   So why all these drastic changes?

I was contacted for my opinion by some business writers from our national media.   We were trying to read the fine print… to understand what it all this meant…. and why it had to be done so quickly…  Why do we have move CMHC, a Crown corporation that’s been around for over 50 yrs and making $billion profits for Canada…why do we need to move them under OSFI control?

The dust hasn’t settled yet, but here are some of the changes and my thoughts on what seems to be happening.

  • introduce a limit on secured lines of credit to 65% of the value of your home… down from 80%… this move makes no sense…  this will limit your ability to draw on the equity in your home to invest, access cheap money to run a business (the self-employed are an understated segment of the population that will really suffer), pay for your kids education, or just access funds for personal use…   the govt wants to mandate this product for the first time in history…  and by the way, it’s always been harder to qualify for these products than a regular mortgage.
  • re-underwrite your mortgage at renewal... they propose to reapprove your income, credit, get a new property appraisal at time of renewal… regardless if you made all your payments on time…  where’s the logic?  what’s the point?  Would any lender really tell someone their mortgage won’t be renewed even though they paid fine?  Will they ask you to pay down your mortgage if a new appraisal says your house is worth less?
  • they have even suggested they want to change our long running standard underwriting debt servicing ratios… these have been around for over 30 yrs and have served us well… why the change?
  • OSFI is a regulatory body that provides regulation and supervision to 152 Banks, Trust companies and other Lenders.   They are auditors….  Where is their motive to provide access to mortgage money for prospective homeowner?   This move to push CMHC under OSFI is the biggest change in decades and it’s very risky given that Canada is looked upon as a stable country with a stable banking system…  why would the govt make all these changes?  and why now?
  • let’s not forget some of the comments from Minister of Finance Flaherty.. he suggested CMHC may not even be necessary in the future…  a bold statement.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF THESE CHANGES

It’s clear these changes will effect us all….. here are some of the early results of the changes:

  • we have already been informed that CMHC has tightened their lending policies… there was an official communique released last month that stated, more applications will get referred to underwriters for full review….
  • several banks have amended or cut their business for self mortgage programs… end result is higher cost to obtain funding… guess that’s good for who?? not the consumer…
  • less access to the equity in your homes will mean less money towards investments… we have  huge segment of our population that borrows to invest in stocks, properties, etc..  they will have less to access now….  resulting in less money in the economy.
  • we may achieve  a lower personal debt level… but will that help the economy?…
  • less money flowing into the economy can’t be a good thing…  if we wanted to slow things, the Bank of Canada would have raised their Target Rate long ago…. instead, it has remained unchanged since Sept 2010.
  • there will be more..

We’ve heard that a review of CMHC by OSFI will be  completed by June… but the results won’t be published… so we can only guess and speculate as to what changes these auditors at OSFI will be proposing….  We’ll be watching and reporting…..Let’s hope they don’t fix something that isn’t broken.

As always, if there is something you need help with, let me know… I’m happy to help.!


Good debt and Bad debt…. maybe we Canadians have more good debt?

I saw this recent article about Good debt and Bad debt…  Canadian Personal debt levels have now surpassed $1.5 trillion.  That’s a big number… should we be concerned?  I started to wonder how much of this is Bad debt?  Let’s take a closer look at these stats.

First, let’s define Good debt.. I agree with the article….to me, it’s debt that is used to accumulate an investment or asset….  and if it’s an investment then you may be able to deduct the interest costs from your income, making it tax-deductible…..  investments like a rental property, stocks, bonds, etc would qualify…Borrowing to invest in a rental property is good debt and you can deduct the mortgage interest and other property related costs from the rental income.

Bad debt is any expense where the interest is not tax-deductible and is used to purchase consumer goods… things like borrowing for a vacation, a 60″ TV, that new computer, or leather sofa..etc…  Hey, we all spend some money on these items, the key is to have some discipline.  Borrowing to buy a TV, computer, take a vacation, etc is generally a bad idea… save up for these purchases and then pay in cash.

Now the stats say that $1.5trillion makes up all personal debt including mortgages….  Hey, wait a minute… outstanding mortgage balances recently topped $1trillion in Canada…. If mortgages are classified as Good debt, then let’s subtract this from the total personal debt total of $1.5trillion…

We now have $500billion in potentially bad debt…  So let’s amend the household average debt to $58,000 per family of 4.   Is that really a high number?  And let’s look at our asset base… Guess what?  Our personal asset base is appreciating in value…Here’s a previous article that shows Canadians are borrowing wisely and we just taking advantage of theses record low interest rates to enhance our net worth…  And here’s a more recent article from CBC.ca stating our household credit is growing at it’s slowest pace since 2002.  Good to see some positive news put out by the media.

Remember, Good debt can help you grow your net worth… Bad debt is for personal lifestyle and usually decreases your net worth… We all have some bad debt, we just need to minimize it as best we can.

Listen to the Professor about how to save money.

Professor Moshe Milevsky is regarded as one of Canada’s leading Financial Experts… He’s written several books on building and preserving your wealth.  He’s also done several studies on debt and mortgages.   (make sure to visit his site here)

One of my favorites, and one of his best case studies, called “Why these eggs belong in one basket”, was about a strange phenomenon that seemed unique to Canadians.   We seem to take the rule of diversification and apply it to our debts.   We would rather have a mortgage, a credit card, a car loan, a line of credit, etc…when we should really be looking at consolidating these debts into the lowest possible interest rate.

He concluded that a typical family with $95,000 in total debts, with $2,700 in the bank, is losing about $1,000 per year by diversifying their debts instead of consolidating.   Now apply that to your own situation…. maybe your debts total $300,000 or more, how much are you losing per year?  $3,000, $4,000 per year or more?

I have my own opinion on why, we Canadians, do this… it must have something to do with our being so conservative….  Our parents taught us to pay off our mortgage first… get rid of that mortgage…. This is good advice… but somehow we thought it was okay to buy that car with a loan or a lease.. after all, everyone finances their car, right?   And then there’s the Home Shows on TV… ah yes… We must have the latest in home decor…etc.. you get the picture…Symptoms of the ‘must have now’ generation (a subject for another day).

The Federal Govt thinks Personal Debt levels will go down if we change Mortgage Rules….  By making it harder to get a mortgage, we will slow personal spending habits… My advice is to listen to the Professor…  Take your debt, roll it into your mortgage, pay less interest and save money… It’s really that simple…

Should we encourage home ownership or renting?

I found this article about the effects of making it harder to buy a house….. Here’s one of the statements that got me thinking..  “Rather than buy a home for half a million, many are moving out of the community to rent, or living rent free with their parents and buying all this junk.” I wonder how true this is.   I must admit, I know several people that are living at home in their 30’s, 40’s and even longer…. They don’t seem motivated to buy a house.

Final message is that Debt Consolidation is not a dirty word.   It’s good money management.

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