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Posted by on Jun 24, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

5 Signs That It’s Time To Look Into Debt Solutions

Whether you’re interested in working with a debt consolidation company or a bankruptcy lawyer, you might be looking for some relief if you’re in a bad financial situation. Although a lot of people put off seeking help, these five signs can show you that now is the time to look for debt solutions.

1. Your Bills Are Higher Than Your Monthly Income

If your monthly bills add up to more than you make, you’re in big trouble. Although you might be able to juggle your bills for a little while, doing so will eventually catch up with you. In this situation, you might be able to get things back under control by consolidating your debts and making your monthly payments a bit lower.

2. You’re Unable to Work

If you are ill, injured or otherwise unable to work, you could be wondering how you will ever pay all of your bills and household expenses. Not only should you look for help from a disability attorney, but you might also need debt-related help to get you by in the meantime. By negotiating with your creditors, you can bring things down to a more manageable level until you’re able to work or receive a check again.

3. You Get Constant Collection Calls

Debt collectors can be very troubling. They can call you at home, at your job and on your cell phone, and they might even call your references to try to get in contact with you. You deserve to lead a life without debt collector calls, and bankruptcy or other arrangements can help.

4. You’re Worried About Losing Your Home

Although you might be able to live without a flashy vehicle or a credit card that allows you to buy name brand clothing, you probably can’t make it without your home. If you’re concerned that you’re going to lose your house, you shouldn’t wait until it’s too late — instead, you should find out more about getting your debts under control first.

5. You Feel As If There is No End in Sight

It’s easy for bills to spiral out of control, and credit cards and late fees can add up really quickly. If you feel like you’re drowning and that you will never get out of debt, you should seek help. Once you get things under control, you can learn how to live again.

There is no reason to struggle with finances when there are bankruptcy lawyers, debt consolidation companies and others that will offer you debt help. If you’re dealing with any of these situations, now is the time to look for assistance.

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Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

A First-Timer’s Guide To Refinancing

If you are a first-time homeowner who is currently paying on a mortgage, you might believe that if your family gets in a bind for cash that you can refinance. It’s a beautiful notion, but it doesn’t always work. Before you sit down with a mortgage broker, check out this guide so that you will know ahead of time whether refinancing is an option.

What Refinancing Means

Refinancing is replacing an old loan with a new one. These new loans can start over at the amount you originally purchased your home for, or you can refinance your current mortgage balance for a lower interest rate, or for a shorter or longer term.

Additionally, if your home is worth more than when you initially purchased it, you can cash out that money as well. For example, if you owe $100,000 and your home is worth $140,000 you can refinance the whole amount and use the additional $40,000 (minus closing costs) for whatever your needs are.

Keep in mind that if your home is worth less than the purchase price, then your refinance option is limited to that amount. Most financing institutions will not allow this without a down payment to make up the difference.

When to Consider Refinancing

There are many reasons people choose to refinance. Because it is a quick procedure, you may consider it if you are faced with any of these situations:

  • Your children need college tuition
  • The government lowers interest rates
  • Your home needs major improvements or repairs
  • A family member needs medical care
  • You need a lower payment
  • One of your children is getting married

Keep in mind that if you have been paying your mortgage for many years, you will lose all that ground you made if you apply for a 30-year mortgage. You are basically starting the loan over, unless you opt for a shorter repayment period.

When You Can’t Refinance or It’s a Bad Idea

Those who refinance have typically been paying on their loan for several years and wish to tap into the equity that is in their home. Unfortunately, it is not always possible. Here are some of the reasons why you may not be able to refinance or it might not be in your best interest:

  • The home is worth less than you owe.
  • The closing costs will make the new amount owed more than what is currently owed.
  • Your credit is not as good as it was during the original mortgage.
  • You are so close to retirement that you won’t be able to pay the loan off.

The trick to determine whether you will be able to refinance is to keep track of what your home is worth, and have a good understanding of what your overall-financial picture looks like.

Refinancing is not for everyone. Check with your mortgage broker or people at places like Mortgage Architects before you begin making plans. They will be able to tell you whether a refinance is an option, and how it can help you reach your specific goals.

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Posted by on Jun 4, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

Do You Need Comprehensive & Collision Coverage?

While surely nobody enjoys paying for auto insurance coverage, it’s something that all drivers in Canada are required to have by law. In general, there are several different components that can make up a car insurance policy. These include:

  • bodily injury coverage
  • property damage protection
  • under-insured/uninsured motorist protection
  • comprehensive coverage
  • collision coverage

While all Canadian drivers are required to carry at least minimum bodily injury and property damage protection, under-insured motorist protection, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage are good things to have. In some cases, these types of coverage may also be a requirement. Read on to find out whether you need comprehensive and collision coverage.

What Are Comprehensive and Collision Coverage?

First, it’s a good idea to understand what these different coverage types entail. Essentially, collision coverage is meant to protect you from damages done to your vehicle by vandalism or even Mother Nature. For example, if your car is keyed or your windshield is shattered by falling hail, a comprehensive coverage policy will kick in and help you pay for the necessary repairs or replacement. 

Collision coverage, on the other hand, is meant to help pay for damages your vehicle sustains in an accident. For instance, if you’re rear-ended by another vehicle, your collision policy can help pay for the necessary body work needed to repair the damage. In severe cases where it’d be cheaper to replace your car altogether than to repair it, your collision policy could even pay for your replacement vehicle.

When Do You Need this Coverage?

In general, if you’re the total owner of your car (that is, there aren’t any other lien holders on the title), you can decline comprehensive and collision coverage if you wish; all you’ll need to do is carry the required insurance minimums of bodily injury and property damage protection. However, if your car has any substantial value, it’s in your best interest to pay a little extra for the peace of mind that comes with this type of coverage.

Furthermore, if your vehicle is leased or financed (not entirely paid off), then you may be required to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage. Check with your lender to find out whether this is the case.

Nobody hopes that they’ll ever have to use their car insurance policies, but with as unpredictable as life can be, it’s never a bad idea to carry as much coverage as you can comfortably afford. If you don’t have comprehensive and collision coverage already, now may be a good time to at least request a quote from your car insurance company.

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Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

Reasons To Hire A Professional CPA When It’s Time To Pay The Tax Man

It’s often said that there are two certainties in life: everyone will die someday and everyone must pay their taxes. If you’re dreading filling out your tax forms this year, you’re not alone. Plenty of people turn to certified professional accountants every year for tax assistance. But there are other good reasons to consider getting tax help from a CPA besides just avoiding the paperwork.

Find Every Loophole

Reading through official tax code is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Thankfully, professional CPAs like those at Donnelly & Co LLP already know all of the ins and outs of these documents so you don’t have to. If you’re just used to following standard procedure when filing your taxes, you might be missing out on opportunities to save yourself some money. A professional CPA can take a look at your finances and find every legal loophole available to keep your hard-earned money out of the government’s hands.

Protection From Audits

In both Canada and the United States, the government occasionally conducts audits on random tax filings in order to ensure that people are filing correctly. If you get a CPA to do your taxes for you, you can claim that a mistake on your tax return is not directly your fault. Some CPAs even guarantee their work and will stand behind you if your tax forms are selected for audit. There may even be scenarios where the government makes a mistake while conducting an audit. If you have a CPA on your side, you’ll be able to hold the government accountable.

Protect Your Business

If you own a business, you may stand to benefit from hiring a CPA even more than a non-business owner. Business tax codes can be even more complex but can also offer additional opportunities for tax breaks if you know where to look. Sometimes a business that makes a mistake can be an even bigger target for an audit than an individual citizen. Protect your business and its assets by getting a CPA to go over your numbers on a regular basis and especially at tax time.

Hiring a professional CPA for tax help can sometimes be expensive but chances are you might come out in better financial shape than if you try to do your taxes alone. CPAs can find every available loophole in the tax code to save you money and can also assist you or your business if you get in trouble with auditors.

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Posted by on Jun 1, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

Declaring Bankruptcy In Canada

Economic hardship is a very common problem in today’s world. Since the early 2000s, many people have experienced job loss, foreclosure of their homes, and a number of other financial strains that have put them in a position to file bankruptcy.

Financial challenges have hit every corner of the globe, and Canada is no exception.

Reasons for Bankruptcy

Each year 100,000 Canadians file for bankruptcy and there are three primary reasons for declaring bankruptcy in Canada:

  • Divorce. When a couple divorces and the family is forced to live in two different homes, the costs double while the income stays the same. This makes it more difficult to meet financial obligations.
  • Job Loss. Without an income, bills become impossible to pay. It is important to save money and trim expenditures wherever possible, but when the job market is highly competitive it can take longer to find work and even trimming the fat cannot resolve the problem.
  • Medical Problems. Citizens of Canada have few out of pocket expenses for medical care, but when health issues cause an individual to miss work for long periods of time the loss of income creates problems in paying bills.

How to File for Bankruptcy

Declaring bankruptcy in Canada begins with engaging a financial trustee licensed by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). The trustee will act as your personal financial advisor and determine what steps you need to take to regain control of your finances.

The next step is to file an assignment in bankruptcy, which means that you are assigning all your assets to the care of the trustee. The trustee will then file your bankruptcy paperwork.

What Happens After Declaring Bankruptcy

Once the court receives your bankruptcy paperwork, it will issue at “stay of proceedings.” Creditors are no longer able to attempt to collect your debts or even contact you for information.

Five days after claiming bankruptcy, creditors will receive bankruptcy paperwork from your trustee that will allow them to file their own claims. You will be required to submit monthly income statements and attend credit counseling with your trustee.

Within approximately 9 months, your bankruptcy will be discharged and your debts will be cancelled. The bankruptcy will remain on your credit record for a minimum of 6 years from the date of discharge.

When your debts have all been cancelled, you have attended credit counseling, and your trustee has advised you about your finances, you can begin to rebuild your credit and master healthy spending habits.

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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Blog, Finance & Money | 0 comments

The Cheapest Vehicles To Insure

While you would never choose to purchase a car based only on its insurance cost, that particular factor might be more important than others when you are narrowing down your choices. Certain categories of cars are cheaper to insure than others, and certain brands are more reasonable than others within the category. So it makes sense to understand these differences if you’re in the new-car market.

Cheapest Category to Insure

Small SUVs and minivans are the least expensive category of vehicles when it comes to insurance rates. This is because the category offers the best blend of repair costs (which affects the collision part of your premium), lower probability of being stolen (which affects the comprehensive part), driver and passenger safety (which affects the medical coverage part) and damage to other vehicles (which affects the liability part.)

Small SUVs and minivans are also likely to be driven by parents who are transporting children, and thus statistically less likely to speed, crash or file an insurance claim. In this way you benefit from the driving records of other people – when those owners file fewer claims, it carries over to lower the insurance rates of everyone who owns that vehicle.

Within the small SUV and minivan categories, Jeep is the number one manufacturer, with vehicles in 7 of the top 20 positions. These include the Wrangler, the Patriot, the Compass and the Grand Cherokee. Despite the commercials showing Jeeps in dramatic adventure shots, Jeep owners tend to be women under age 45 who are careful drivers.

Other vehicles on the list include the Honda Odyssey and CR-V, the Chrysler Town & Country, and the Subaru Outback.

Not as Cheap as You Might Imagine

Surprisingly, sedans are not as inexpensive to insure as you would expect. There are several reasons for this.

  • Cars tend to fare poorly in a collision with a non-car. Many vehicles on the road these days are SUVs or light trucks, which all ride higher than a car. In a crash, the higher vehicle will “ride up” on the car and cause immense damage to the car, while perhaps suffering very little damage itself.

  • Small inexpensive cars, in particular, are not cheap to insure. They tend to be owned by young people (less driving experience, higher chance of accidents) and they do not have as many safety features as more expensive cars (higher probability of driver and passenger injury.)

If you are making the decision for a family vehicle that has been narrowed down to a 4-door sedan or an SUV, you should examine in the annual insurance costs in addition to the other factors you are considering. Consult your insurance agent at a place like May-McConville Insurance Brokers Ltd for an idea of how much you would pay annually each vehicle, and let that help you decide which to buy.

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