Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Bonus

Christmas comes twice a year for some Canadians - or so they think.
The three-paycheque month is viewed across this country as some type of well-earned bonus that comes through the sleight of hand of being paid every two weeks as opposed to twice a month.
Instead of 24 paycheques a year, you get 26. When you get that "lucky" month depends on when your two-week pay period is calculated. For whatever reason, perhaps because people budget on a monthly basis, those two extra paycheques are considered gravy by many workers.
Most people budget on a monthly basis. We know people have their monthly mortgage payments and certainly other expenses are probably monthly too but in most cases your paycheque is coming on a biweekly basis
Approximately 59% of Canadians get paid on a biweekly basis, opening up the possibility of the three-paycheque month.  The good news is that 89% of people go for direct deposit - something that probably goes a long way to eliminating that feeling of money burning a whole in your pocket.
The problem with being paid on a biweekly basis is that many people feel they have extra money to burn.  After all  you had already allocated your regular two paycheques towards your mortgage and other bills. So, bonus – right?
If your thinking is that you've got some sort of free month, then it likely means you are not doing a good job of coordinating your income with your bills.  The problem is that this is a major mistake, and at the end of the day that third paycheque should probably be thought of more as an opportunity.
 The other time people think money is free is RRSP time when they get their taxes [or refund] back from the government.
If you're complaining about not having enough money, use these opportunities to liberate what is yours. These are the times you should be dealing with your debt, if you are like many Canadians, topping up your savings or some combination of the two.
When you think about all the unpaid credit-card balances, leftover RRSP room, unopened registered education savings plans and underfunded tax-free savings accounts, there are plenty of places to put those extra paycheques.
In some ways, that extra paycheque is almost a bit of forced savings. It's yours. Do what you want with it, but why not make it go a lot further by investing it?
Of course, it is December. So if this is your three-paycheque month, Merry Christmas.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Can I stay home with the kids?

One of the big questions many new parents are faced with has to do with deciding whether or not one of the parents should stay home with the child. Obviously, if you’re accustomed to living on dual incomes, the thought of giving up an income may sound like a daunting task. Even so, if you sit down and crunch the numbers, you may find that it might be more doable than you thought.
The True Cost of Working
When you think about it, your job not only provides income, but it likely creates some expenses as well. If you were to decide to continue working with the child, you’ll probably create additional expenses in caring for the child. On the other hand, if you were to stay home, you would also eliminate many work-related expenses. Some of the expenses you may have if you decided to continue working with a child:
·                        Child care: Depending on the level of care you require, you’re looking at anywhere between $400 and $700 per month per child. It isn’t uncommon to spend upwards of $8,000 -$10,000 each year on full child care during the child’s early years.
·                        Food and Beverage: While you can save money by taking your own lunch and drinks to work, most people end up grabbing a coffee or a lunch on the go while working. Even just $5 a day on lunch adds up to about $1,300 each year.
·                        Transportation: This varies greatly depending on how far you have to commute and whether or not you have public transportation, but even if you spend just $25 each week for transportation costs (gasoline, bus, subway, etc) you might be spending another $1,300 each year just to get to and from your job.
·                        Odds and Ends: If you’re in a profession that requires certain attire, you may need to spend money on clothes or dry cleaning. This can add another few hundred dollars a year. Your job may also require certain licenses, professional fees, or continuing education courses that could tack on additional expenses annually.
As you can see, there is more to that second income than meets the eye. Most people will think of the paycheque that comes with the job and assume that’s the bottom line, but there are many other factors to consider. While giving up that job may result in a loss of income, if you consider the expenses you will also give up, the end result may not be as painful as you had suspected.
The Non-Monetary Benefits
While all of this discussion about money is good, you have to think about the other benefits tied to staying home with your child. Money can’t replace the time spent with your children, and if the bonding aspect of parenting is important to you, this can factor in greatly when determining whether or not you can give up an income. Everyone is different and your priorities may lead towards one direction over the other, but don’t overlook the non-monetary issues when making this important decision.
The Bottom Line
There’s no right or wrong answer, and as you can see, it isn’t as straightforward as deciding whether or not you can live with one less paycheque in your pocket. Depending on the type of job you have, how many hours worked, and how much money you make, you may reach the conclusion that it’s impossible to be able to provide for your family if you give up this income. On the other hand, you may find that after factoring in the expenses related to working and the other benefits of staying home, you’re giving up a lot less than initially thought.
So, take your time and go over your options carefully. The decisions you make will significantly impact your family, so it’s important to take everything into consideration. And if you do find that you can afford to stay at home, you can find plenty of assistance at Stay-at-Home Parents site.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Investing begins with Savings

How do you start investing money?  The key to investing is savings. An effective savings strategy coupled with a smart investing strategy will help you to meet your financial goals.

Every dollar saved now helps you to control your current consumption by which the size of the income that you think will be required for retirement is lowered. Also, through the power of annual compounding, it increases the size of the nest egg youll have for retirement.



To achieve any goal in life, one needs to be disciplined. Similarly, saving and investing too requires discipline. A disciplined approach helps you to remain focused on your financial goals. Formulate a plan and review it periodically to ensure that you are on the right track.
The 10% rule

Your goal should be to save at least 10% of your total before tax earnings. This should be the minimum. Most millionaires live far below their means as they are disciplined and highly focused on their financial goals from the beginning. They are millionaires because they have decided to be so.

 Review your current consumption patterns

Conduct a careful study of your consumption patterns. Identify items of expenditures that you can do without or explore opportunities to reduce your costs without unduly sacrificing the item. Review such items as your cable bill, telephone bill, entertainment expenditure, insurance, brokerage services, utilities, cars. Divert these cash savings automatically to an investment account.

Budgeting Plan

Budgeting is vital to any savings strategy. It helps you to identify where your money is going. Wasteful consumption patterns can be controlled through successful budgeting. Often a simple spreadsheet in Excel would suffice. In fact, you can use the budget template that is already available when you buy the Home edition of Windows XP.

Plan to make saving automatic

Find out from your employer whether you can direct your paycheque to different accounts. If you don't have such a service, you can set up an account that will take the money automatically out of your chequing account each month. Let the amount be directed to an investment account. This is re-enforced savings which implies you save first and spend the rest from your paycheque.