By Gregory Karp Of Nerdwallet
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lots of people have more time than money nowadays. If you’re one _ maybe you’re taking a staycation or you freed up commuting hours by working from home _ optimize that extra time by making smart financial moves that won’t cost a dime.
“If you have time but no money, it’s time to become the best version of yourself,” says Ryan J. Marshall, a financial adviser in Wyckoff, New Jersey. “What separates successful people from people who struggle financially is often how they spend the time they are given each day.”
From the quick-and-simple to the more-involved, here are ideas to create your personalized money to-do list when you have more available hours than dollars.
This is the obligatory recommendation to develop a household budget, perhaps using the 50/30/20 method to divvy up needs, wants, and savings or debt repayment. But creating a budget should be about liberation, not deprivation _ about finding money to spend on things you care about and cutting ruthlessly on things you don’t.
_ More free money moves: Calculate your current net worth (all you own minus all you owe); calculate a nest egg amount for retirement.
Recurring expenses are the black hole of regretful spending. Examine your credit and debit card statements to identify subscriptions and re-justify them. When a recurring expense makes the cut, try to get a better price _ we’re looking at you, cable, internet and cellphone bills.
One big potential payoff? Compare auto insurance premiums by yourself or with help. “It can be a pretty painless process, by just forwarding your current insurance to a broker and having them shop it with multiple carriers,” says Autumn K. Campbell, a certified financial planner in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some brokers work on commission only and don’t charge a fee.
_ More free money moves: Plan a “spending fast” (no spending for a number of days); learn about online cash-back shopping portals; decide on an allowance for children (you don’t have to begin until you have the cash).
PLAN DEBT PAYMENT
Develop a plan for paying down debt. Two popular strategies: Pay extra toward debt with the highest interest rate (debt avalanche) or pay extra toward the smallest debts to wipe them out quickly and get a sense of accomplishment (debt snowball).
_ More free money moves: Refinance your mortgage; refinance your student loan; transfer debt to a lower rate.
DEEPEN MONEY SMARTS
Money knowledge is the gift that gushes benefits over your lifetime.
Money advice online is abundant, but don’t forget about at-home digital access at your unsung public library. Beginners can check out the book “Personal Finance for Dummies.” Or you can consult Consumer Reports to get better products for the money you spend.
And while not everyone enjoys investing topics, you should have a basic understanding. “There are countless wonderful free resources such as Morningstar’s free investment classroom and Vanguard’s free articles hosted on their website,” says Avani Ramnani, a financial adviser in New York City.
_ More free money moves: Spend one hour every Sunday night researching an unfamiliar money topic.
Your creditworthiness matters to your financial life, far beyond qualifying for a new loan. People with better credit live easier and less expensively. At minimum, learn about the main factors that affect your credit: payment history, credit utilization, credit history length and credit mix.
_ More free money moves: Check your credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com; check your credit scores (numbers that summarize your credit reports, available many places online); initiate a credit freeze if you’re worried about credit identity theft.
RECONSIDER HOUSING AND CARS
Where you live and what you drive steer your money life more than most money decisions. Think critically about how your mortgage or rent, along with the cost of your vehicles, fit your financial life.
New cars lose value like they drove off a cliff, while used ones can be bargains. That’s why you can buy a 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan for the same price as a new Kia Forte. If your mortgage or rent is more than 28% of your gross monthly income, it’s time to ask hard questions about where you choose to live.
_ More free money moves: Renegotiate rent; create a next-car account and plan to fund it; consider moving/downsizing.
After you make a good money decision, put it on autopilot. That way, you won’t forget to stash away money or pay bills. And ultimately, you’ll have more time and money.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Gregory Karp is a writer at NerdWallet.
NerdWallet: What factors affect your credit scores? https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-credit-scores
TORONTO _ Sagicor Financial Co. Ltd. says it will not go ahead with its acquisition of ScotiaLife Trinidad and Tobago Ltd.
The company made the decision after it and Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago Ltd. agreed not to proceed with a 20-year distribution agreement for insurance products in Trinidad and Tobago.
Sagicor provides financial services in the Caribbean as well as life insurance in the United States.
The announcement follows a decision last year by Sagicor to call off its deal to buy Scotia Jamaica Life Insurance Co. Ltd. following a similar decision regarding a distribution agreement.
Sagicor had announced its plan to buy both operations in November 2018.
Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed at the time, but Scotiabank said that the transactions were not financially material.
TORONTO, June 29, 2020 /CNW/ – COVID-19’s impact on the economy is causing many Canadians to worry about the future: 79 per cent of respondents in CIBC’s Financial Priorities Poll say they are concerned about continued recessionary times next year, compared to 55 per cent who said they feared an economic downturn in a December 2019 survey.
Economic worries may be a factor in why many Canadians are adjusting their financial habits.
Many respondents (63 per cent) say they have significantly cut down on discretionary spending and more than half (55 per cent) agree they need to get a better handle on their finances this year.
“It’s understandable that Canadians are worried about the economy and are feeling uncertain about the impact on their ambitions, but this is a time when good financial advice conversations are most valuable, including assessing your overall situation, looking at opportunities to improve cash flow, and adjusting your financial plan if necessary,” said Laura Dottori-Attanasio, Group Head, Retail and Business Banking, CIBC. “It’s a positive sign that many Canadians are taking a responsible approach to the situation by making changes to their spending and working to limit unnecessary debt. Good cash flow management now can help you through the current situation, and over the longer term free up funds to divert towards savings or other goals.”
The survey also found that 46 per cent of Canadians say the economic impact of the pandemic has adversely affected their finances and a similar number (47 per cent) feel it will take more than a year to get their personal finances back on track. Canadians are prioritizing building an emergency fund in 2020, citing this as a top goal for the remainder of the year, followed by steering clear of adding on debt. Of the 22 per cent of respondents who’ve had to borrow more in the past 12 months, the number one reason was for day-to-day items (38 per cent) followed by a loss of income (28 per cent).
“The impact of the pandemic will be felt by Canadians for some time. While we have a long way to go to get back to a normal economy, taking charge of your finances now with a savings and debt management plan is an important step towards putting your personal finances back on track,” added Ms. Dottori-Attanasio.
The survey also found:
- Top financial goals for the remainder of 2020 are: generally saving as much as possible (37 per cent), and avoiding taking on more debt (36 per cent)
- Close to three-fourths of Canadians (74 per cent) say the uncertainty of the current environment makes it difficult to plan ahead, and over half (54 per cent) are generally worried about their financial future
- The number of people who say they’ve taken on more debt is lower (22 per cent) than in December 2019 (28 per cent). Among those who have taken on more debt, 38 per cent say they did so to cover day-to-day expenses or due to loss of income (28 per cent) and job loss (18 per cent, +9 per cent from December 2019)
- Regionally, the poll found differences in how Canadians are tightening their wallets. Residents in the Prairies say they are cutting discretionary spending the most, led by 76 per cent of those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and 69 per cent of Albertans, compared to the national average of 63 per cent
- At 58 per cent, taking on more debt to pay for day-to-day items was the highest in British Columbia, 20 per cent higher than the national average of 38 per cent
From June 8th to June 9th 2020 an online survey of 1,517 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with 10 million personal banking, business, public sector and institutional clients. Across Personal and Business Banking, Commercial Banking and Wealth Management, and Capital Markets businesses, CIBC offers a full range of advice, solutions and services through its leading digital banking network, and locations across Canada, in the United States and around the world. Ongoing news releases and more information about CIBC can be found at www.cibc.com/en/about-cibc/media-centre.html.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, June 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company (Wawanesa) today announced its Caring Together initiative, which features $1.8 million in new financial support for communities in need arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight to end systemic racism.
These funds are in addition to the $3.5 million Wawanesa previously committed in donations to hundreds of community organizations in Canada and the United States this year.
“As a mutual insurer, Wawanesa is guided by values that focus on being a positive force in our communities,” said Wawanesa President and CEO, Jeff Goy. “The health and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the growing outrage against systemic racism, are powerful forces affecting our communities. Given these unprecedented times, companies like ours have a responsibility to step up and do more.”
Caring Together has three areas of focus where funds will be allocated.
COVID-19 support – providing funding to Indigenous and remote Northern communities, United Way centres, hospital foundations, and food banks in Canada and the United States.
Civil rights – providing funding to civil rights and social justice organizations in the United States and Canada focused on supporting Black communities.
Employee and broker partner donation matching – a dollar-for-dollar donation matching program open to Wawanesa employees and the company’s insurance broker partners.
“These funds will allow True North Aid to support many Indigenous Peoples and their families as we continue providing practical humanitarian assistance during this difficult time,” said Kenneth Smid, Executive Director of True North Aid. “To support Indigenous self-determination, we work directly with members of the communities to develop plans and make sure that together we are meeting their needs – work that has taken on even more urgency during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We’ve seen many changes in our community since the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” said United Way Winnipeg President and CEO, Connie Walker. “More people are living with uncertainty. We know stress is high and more people are living in or on the edge of poverty. There has been a toll on our mental health, our relationships and our financial security. United Way Winnipeg is very grateful to Wawanesa in helping to address urgent needs for our most vulnerable in these challenging times, helping to ensure no one is left behind.”
The details of Wawanesa’s Caring Together commitments are:
- $500,000 will go to United Way’s COVID-19 Response to increase its support for local community partners in Canada and U.S, providing people and families with food, shelter, and mental health support in disadvantaged and marginalized communities.
- $400,000 will go to Indigenous and remote northern communities, supporting needs identified by the communities themselves. To help identify those needs and distribute funds, Wawanesa has teamed up with the Canadian Red Cross and True North Aid.
- $400,000 will go to civil rights and social justice organizations supporting Black communities in the U.S. and Canada, specifically the National Urban League, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Black Health Alliance and the Black Business and Professional Association.
- $250,000 will go to hospitals in Canada and the U.S. to support frontline healthcare workers and COVID-19 research.
- $250,000 will support a dollar-for-dollar donation matching program, open to all employees and our brokers.
The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company, founded in 1896, is the largest Canadian Property and Casualty Mutual insurer with $3.9 billion in annual revenue and assets of $10.5 billion. Wawanesa Mutual, with executive offices in Winnipeg, is the parent company of Wawanesa General, which offers property and casualty insurance in California and Oregon; Wawanesa Life, which provides life insurance products and services throughout Canada; and Western Financial Group, which distributes personal and business insurance across Western Canada. With more than 5,700 employees, Wawanesa proudly serves more than two million policyholders in Canada and the United States. Wawanesa actively gives back to organizations that strengthen communities where it operates, donating well above internationally recognized benchmarks for excellence in corporate philanthropy. Learn more at wawanesa.com
Tips from Coast Capital Savings
Cars are expensive—sometimes really expensive. And it’s rare to have cash ready to go in the bank when your old car dies or you need an upgrade. That’s was auto loans are for. But while they’re one of the easier kinds of credit to be approved for, qualification isn’t 100 percent guaranteed.
However, there are simple steps you can take to help level-up your application to be a better shoo-in for approval even if you’ve been rejected in the past. Here are a few things you can do to yourself the best chance of success.
Why applications are denied
It’s possible, although rare, for applicants to be denied an auto loan. When it does happen it’s most often for one of two reasons:
- The applicant doesn’t have enough credit history to base a decision on
- The applicant’s monthly debt obligations, including requested loan payment exceed the maximum allowable percentage of monthly income
If you’re worried that either of these may apply to you, there are several credit-boosting tips you can use to help you qualify more easily for an auto loan.
4 credit-boosting tips
1. Make sure you have good credit
By law, you can check the details held on your files with the major credit reference agencies Equifax and TransUnion. Use this ability to see exactly how your credit rating stands.
If your credit is good, you know you can probably apply successfully. But if it’s less than perfect, it’s not the end of the world.
2. Work on your credit before applying
If your credit rating is a little below its best, do what you can to clean it up before you apply. For example:
- Check your file for any mistakes, such as debts listed which you’ve previously paid off and write to the agencies asking for any errors to be corrected, no matter how small.
- Look for any old, small debts you can clear without too much trouble
- Make sure any regular credit repayments you’ve been making are shown in your report so that your score will get the benefit
Working on your credit is worthwhile even if it’s already good, as even small improvements in your score could mean you’re offered a better rate on your loan.
3. Have a solid source of income
Your income level is key to qualification for any kind of credit. You may not be able to do much about the money you have coming in, but it’s essential to have a reliable main source of income. It’s also beneficial to gather solid documentation showing proof of all the income you receive in case they are requested. Tax documents and current paystubs are some examples
4. Consider a pre-approval
Lastly, if you’re worried about your chances of qualifying, testing the water with a pre-approval is a sensible step to take. It will let you see how much you could borrow and under what terms, and will let you look for your next car with full confidence you can finance it.
Talk to us today
Taking these steps before applying will give you the best chance of qualifying but if you’re ready to apply or have questions, talk to us today. We can arrange auto financing for people with a wide range of circumstances.
Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union
By Courtney Jespersen Of Nerdwallet
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
You’re not the only one with a tight budget. Millions of Americans are currently struggling with unemployment, lost hours and lowered wages.
There’s little comfort in knowing that others are feeling strapped. But you may be relieved to hear there are ways to make things easier even if you’re out of work or can’t make more money
We talked to financial experts for advice about getting more mileage out of the money you have available right now. Here are their tips for finding extra money in your monthly budget.
GO LINE BY LINE
Depending on where you live, you’re probably spending a lot of time at home these days. Devote at least some of the free time to analyzing your finances.
Go over every single transaction in your checking account, savings account, credit card bills and so forth, says Robinson Crawford, certified financial planner and founder of the adviser firm Montebello Avenue in Phoenix.
Crawford says you can use a budgeting system to make this step easier. Try an app, Excel file or some other tool.
Once you see all of the dollars going in and out, you’ll be able to identify areas for savings. And you’ll be ready to start making some (or all) of the changes outlined below.
PICK UP THE PHONE
As you look at your line items, focus on the largest bills first, suggests Cady North, CFP, founder of North Financial Advisors LLC, with offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C.
Lowering substantial, recurring payments has the potential to reap the biggest savings. For example, even if you already received an automatic rebate from your auto insurance company, it doesn’t hurt to call up and see if you can negotiate additional savings. That’s particularly applicable if you’re not driving right now.
Another option? If you have student loans, your federal student loan payment has likely already been suspended, but you’ll want to take the extra step to ensure you’ve stopped your automatic payments. That is, if you don’t want to continue making payments right now.
If you choose to contact companies and service providers you do business with, be honest about how COVID-19 has affected you. Crawford recommends telling them about your situation and why you’re asking for help, especially if you’ve been laid off. They’re likely to empathize.
“Part of the reasoning should be, `Listen I’m trying to do everything to keep all of my bills paid. I want your service. I want to keep you. I want to stay as a customer.”’
UNPLUG AND UNSUBSCRIBE
After the big expenses, seal smaller holes in your spending. Try looking around your house, recommends Shehara L. Wooten, CFP, founder of investment advisor Your Story Financial LLC.
Unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Stop buying disposable paper towels and paper plates _ switch to reusable towels and plates instead. Monitor the thermostat and lights as you spend increased amounts of time at home.
You can also pull the plug on unnecessary subscriptions. Crawford says now might be the right time to cancel those streaming services and online shopping memberships, especially ones you haven’t found use for even while you’ve been cooped up at home.
“If you’re not watching one of your streaming subscriptions during COVID, news flash: You’re never going to watch it.”
If you still like (and use) your subscriptions and aren’t willing to give them up completely, cut them out temporarily. Some companies allow you to go online and pause your account for a period of time.
“That’s a way to get $15, $20 here and there extra in your budget,” North says.
GET MONEY BACK
Finally, while you may not be able to find a new job right now, there could still be methods to expand your budget that you hadn’t considered.
One way is to sign up for cash-back shopping sites or apps to earn money back when you purchase groceries and other essentials, Wooten points out. With some apps, you scan your receipt after a transaction for post-purchase savings.
As you free up money, make sure you’re devoting those newfound funds to absolute necessities first, like food and shelter.
Every change you can make _ no matter how major or minor _ can make a difference.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.