Low Fees, No Fees Makes More Cents

Jul 31 2014 - Saving

A Businessman Putting A Coin Into A Pink Piggy Bank Isolated On Grey Background

When I was little, at the end of a visit with my Grandmother, she would call me over and hand me a $2 or $5 bill. It was a small gesture of her love (her biggest being food of course), but to me that was a huge amount of money. I would use the car ride home to daydream about all the things I could spend it on (usually candy) and never once thought about putting it away for a rain day..

Nowadays, although I’m pretty thrifty, $5 bills and other small transactions still seem to float in and out my hands without a second thought. I use a spending journal or various handy mobile apps like Mint to keep track of these tiny financial indiscretions, but I recently discovered another way to save a few dollars (or more!) every month.

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For 75 years, We’ve Been Banking on Local

Jul 10 2014 - Saving


In the summertime, I can’t help but be amazed at all the local produce our region grows. Around here, who hasn’t gone for a drive just outside city limits to see what’s available on farm stands or enjoyed an amazing sundae during the Winona Peach Festival? Everyone seems to be heading out to the farmer’s market this time of year to grab the best from close by and almost every day I hear of a new independent shop to explore. Where we live it’s so easy to eat and shop local, but what about banking local?

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My Momma Told Me I Better (Mortgage) Shop Around

Jul 2 2014 - Credit, Loans


You’ve probably been told to always shop around for the best deal. For every major purchase I’ve made in the past ten years, from a laptop for school, to my first car I’ve pounded the pavement comparing features and price. So why would it be any different when it came time to buy my first house and get my first mortgage?

I was surprised to learn of a recent report by the Canadian Associated of Accredited Mortgage Professionals, which discovered that four of five recent homebuyers didn’t consult with a credit union when getting a mortgage. As I do all of my banking at a credit union, it was obvious for me to check them out first, but if you do your banking elsewhere, it may surprise you how many competitive options are out there.

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Should you have the talk before you tie the knot?

Jun 24 2014 - Credit, Saving


You’ve probably heard the saying – love conquers all, but when it comes to money that’s not quite true. For most Canadians, money is the leading cause of relationship trouble. Some researchers speculate that couples who make less cash are more likely to separate not because of their low-income, but because of all of the stress and skirmishes over money – or lack thereof. Having an open and honest money chat with your other half early on is key to establishing a deeper level of trust in your relationship – especially before you think of walking down the aisle.

I get it – regardless if you’re a new couple or have been committed for years it can be hard to open up your financial life to each other, but it’s an important talk for both your personal and financial futures. Most Canadians actually say they regret not discussing their financial situation with their partner before their marriage. So to avoid future fights, consider discussing the following financial matters before you take the leap:

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Life Insurance Is Not Just For Seniors

Jun 9 2014 - Loans, Saving

UmbrellaPolicyLife Insurance is for “old people” – at least that is what I used to think. In a recent study, “Gen Y consumers are the least likely to own life insurance. But four in ten Gen Y households say they would have immediate trouble covering everyday living expenses if a primary wage earner were to die.” Well it’s no wonder us young folk haven’t have a clue about life insurance. We’re young, healthy and most of the time let’s be honest; we think we’re the untouchable Superman. I never thought I’d find the time to blog about such a topic, but having just recently bought my first life insurance policy myself I had to have a little chat with you all about my eye opening experience.

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Navigating Your First Lease Agreement

May 29 2014 - School, Your rights


A brave new year of college and university starts in September, and that means many of you will get to live in a house of your own for the first time. If you’re renting an apartment, you’ve probably already started looking online for options. Once you find that perfect fit, all that will stand between you and your very own pad will be rent cheques and a lease agreement. But wait, what’s a lease agreement? Great question – let’s cover that.

A lease agreement is simple: it’s a contract outlining your living situation and expenses paid to your landlord for a specified period of time – usually a year. Everything from your monthly rent, utilities, apartment upgrades and pet specifications will be outlined in your lease agreement. If you want a pleasant living situation, you can’t control your landlord, but you can control what you agree to, and expect, from your lease.

For first time renters, the excitement that comes with moving out of home can sometimes mean that important details are often overlooked. Never seen a lease agreement?  Here are some examples, and here are some leasing tips to get you started.

Common terms you’ll be agreeing to include:

  • The length of your tenancy (typically year-to-year)
  • Rent and amenities
  • Subletting restrictions
  • The terms of rent increases, according to government guidelines
  • Restrictions on your living situation, such as pets, parties, etc.
  • What will happen if things go wrong (e.g., you miss a monthly payment, lease termination, eviction!)
  • Payment options

Here are a few guidelines to prepare you to sign that lease with confidence.

Know your rights and stay organized

  • The rules outlined in landlord and tenant acts differ by province. Become familiar with yours here.
  • There are many helpful online legal resources and guides for renters. Check out Community Legal Education Ontario. The CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation) also offers this helpful guide for newcomers to Canada.
  • Make sure everything that needs to be addressed is included in your lease agreement.
  • Look into your landlord’s history, and ask for references from former renters.
  • Remember that negotiations are two-sided.
  • Keep records of your agreements, cheques, letters, and all contact between you and your landlord. In the case a dispute needs to be settled, you’ll have proof.

Respect your agreement and communicate often

  • Contracts are legal, but landlords are human: they may forget to honour part of your lease agreement, or problems may occur in their lives. That’s why it’s important to communicate with your landlord on a semi-regular basis. If they don’t live in the building, make sure you have their contact information and availability on file.
  • Your landlord is responsible for general apartment upkeep, like heating and (sometimes) snow removal. Be clear about heating/air conditioning, supplies and waste removal options early on. You shouldn’t have to wait until July to get that air conditioning unit humming.

If things go wrong….

  • If things aren’t working out, clearly outline your problem with proof and in writing, and if your landlord is being non-compliant with agreed terms, contact your province’s Landlord and Tenant Board, or seek legal aid. If the situation is irreparable, give notice and move out.
  • Let others know about your situation. It’s always great to get a second opinion.

Now that you’re educated about lease agreements, you’re well on your way to becoming a responsible tenant. Remember, this may also be a great first step to show you what it might be like owning your own home some day. In the meantime, enjoy your newfound freedom! Just don’t forget to call mom and dad.


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