3 Tips for Balancing Your Savings and Paying Down Debt

Choosing whether to save or pay off debts can be a difficult decision. Saving money for a rainy day or retirement seems like a top priority, but will your debts linger on for years to come? 

Managing debt and maintaining savings is tailored to each individual, and different strategies can be implemented in helping to achieve your goals. Here are three tips on how to maintain a balance between paying down debt and saving.

Learn to Budget

The first step to managing your finances better is learning how to budget. Knowing your expenditure can seem like a scary thought at first, but creating a budget helps to prioritize financial obligations.

Start with your monthly income after tax, and then list your expenses. According to Certified Financial Planner, Jeff Rose, it’s best to separate your expenses into three categories.

  • Fixed: rent and debt repayments (these expenses are necessities).
  • Variable: groceries, travel expenses and utility bills (expenses that can be adjusted).
  • Optional: expenses that aren’t necessary, such as going to the movies, out to restaurants or on vacation (expenses that you can live without).

Breaking down expenses into categories helps identify optional expenses. By reducing them, you’re saving money.

Refinancing Debt

Gather information and find out the total amount owed, the interest charges, and the terms of the loans like how long you have to pay. 

Student loan refinancing can be one of the most effective ways to lower your monthly outgoings and help make your finances more manageable. Refinancing is essentially applying for a private loan at a much lower interest rate, and that could potentially save you thousands of dollars. Refinancing companies tend to be strict in terms of eligibility. Most lenders will want to see a steady stream of income, ability to manage finances, and good credit history.

Paying Down Debt First

Now that you have an idea of where you can free up some cash, it’s time to prioritize paying down larger debts first and paying the minimum towards debts with lower interest rates.

Donald Hammond, MBA, CFP, and executive vice president at Maritime Financial Group suggests:

“List your debt from the highest interest rate to the lowest. Pay off the highest-interest cards and loans first, paying more than the minimum each month. Continue to at least make minimum payments on the rest. Work your way down until everything is paid off.”

With this method, Hammond suggests to get more aggressive on larger debts with higher interest rates. For example, paying $400 towards a credit card with an interest rate of 17 percent is going to be more effective than paying down a credit card with an interest rate of 7 percent. 

You Can Do It

Saving for the future and paying down debt doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Establish a budget, and you’ll get a clear picture of which outgoings can be tweaked to save money. The methods listed above are a strategy to chip away at your debts, maintain savings, and bring you one step closer to becoming debt-free. 

Extra Income for Artistic Types

It’s the ever-present bane of someone in the arts: how to actually make an income. Very few actors, painters, writers, and musicians can actually make a full living simply doing their craft and nothing else. Rarely does anyone actually become wealthy by it. Most artists take on a second (or third, or fourth) job in order to make ends meet. Waiting tables may be the classic method to go about generating income, but there are other, less exhausting options as well that provide the flexibility to let you pursue your craft while you make some dough.

Freelancing

If you have a particularly sought-after skill, such as web design, copy editing, or blog writing, freelancing may be a great option for you. As a freelancer, you hire yourself out to clients to perform a task for them. For instance, a company may need someone to proofread their monthly newsletter, but they don’t want to hire someone permanently just for that task. They will turn to a freelancer to do it as a one-off project or even on an ongoing basis. As a freelancer, you pick what projects you want to do, and you essentially piece together your own schedule, leaving you the time to pursue your art. Lots of freelance jobs are also remote, which means that you may even be able to work while you travel.

Freelancing can be great for artistic types, because you can freelance as you do your craft. An actor may go into voice-over work. A pianist may hire him or herself out to play for weddings and parties.

The drawback with freelancing is that it can be a bit tough to get started. Freelance platform sites like Upwork and MediaBistro can be great, but the competition is fierce. You might start by marketing yourself via word-of-mouth to friends and colleagues.

You also need to know how to file taxes as a freelancer. You should fill out a W-9 for your clients, get a 1099 form from the client (if you earned more than $600), and fill out a 1040 form for the IRS. How much you earn will determine the other types of forms you use. Since you’re self-employed, you won’t have part of your income withheld, so you may face a large sum come tax time. In order to keep this large amount from catching you off-guard, either stash away a percentage of your income every month or file taxes quarterly. You’ll have a lot of stuff you can write off, however. Keep track of everything that might be a business expense, right down to your computer! A good accountant can also help you figure out what you can write off.

Day Trading

If you’ve got a knack for numbers and tend to obsess over things, you might look into part-time trading. It usually takes about one to three hours of your time each day (during the official opening and closing of the market), especially once you get into the flow of it.

Trading, whether full-time or part-time, takes strategy and know-how. For instance, you should know what the Relative Strength Index (RSI) is. (It measure the speed and change of stock prices in order to determine if stocks are being overbought or oversold.) Make sure you educate yourself on a solid RSI trading Strategy from a reputable source.

There are some essential tips you should keep in mind if you’re a first-time trader. For instance, rather than jumping around from strategy to strategy, pick one and stick with it. As you gather facts about trading, make sure you learn how to trade as well. You might start with this strategy developed by a veteran part-time trader to help simplify and streamline the process for beginners.

And you can’t slack on it! Trading, even part-time, means you have to monitor the market all the time and make carefully-planned decisions. You can’t just trade when you feel like it; you have to dedicate yourself to a daily regimen. There’s not a lot of room for error. In the early days, you should also have another job, because you probably will make a lot of mistakes. Over time, though, successful trading can give you the flexibility you need to travel and say, “Yes,” to projects that forward your artistic career.

Temping

Lots of artists turn to temping as a way to make money. Temp jobs can last for one day, or they can last for months. If you are good at data entry, handling phones, or even cleaning, a temp agency may be a good way to go.

A temp job could be anything from covering the front desk for a day, stepping into retail service during Christmas, or stepping into a personal assistant role for a few months while the permanent employee is on maternity leave. You may go into a temp job knowing the exact end date, or you may go into one that turns into a permanent position–temp-to-hire is a common route lots of companies and employees take. And it’s a good way to learn new skills and make connections–that way, if you’re in a car wreck, you can call up that personal injury lawyer Surrey you worked for for a summer and get some advice.

When you apply for a temp agency, they do the vetting and interview process, so companies looking for, say, a new receptionist already know they have good options. And you can always turn down a temp job. Granted, you may have a maximum number of jobs you can reject, but if you are getting called for work on a day-by-day basis, and you have a gig come up, you do have the opportunity to decline. Since you’re technically hired by the staffing agency, you may be eligible for employer insurance if you work enough hours. And if there aren’t jobs available, lots of temp agencies will let you work a half-day for them, so you’re at least getting some pay for the day.

Of course, temping also means changing jobs frequently and having to get used to a new workplace environment time and time again. But if you want to financially support a life in the arts, temping may be a good, well, temporary way to pay the bills while you get established as an artist.

Most Common Causes of Water Damage in Houses

“Insurance claims of homeowners for water damage have been growing faster than other insurance components,” according to the American Insurance Association. Billions of dollars are spent each year in restoring properties affected by water damage across the nation.

Water damage occurs when excess water pools in certain areas, due to various factors. Such damage can put a hole in a home-owner’s pocket. Water is capable of causing irreparable damage to floors, wood furniture, upholstery, household appliances, electronics, plumbing equipment and even property structure, which can cost thousands of dollars in repairs, says an expert at Disaster Restore 365, a reputed water damage restoration service in Houston.

Water damage also increases the risk of mold and other organisms breeding in the house and causing health issues like aggravating allergy and asthma symptoms, especially in children and people with a weak immune system. It also increases the risk for respiratory diseases and other health problems.

Water Damage Due to Leaking Pipes

Plumbing, faucets or pipes leaking are some of the most common causes of damage to the walls, ceilings or floors. Damage occurs when water seeps in from cracks in the foundation or at the exterior of the dwelling, allowing water to enter your home. Corrosion, excess water pressure, clogs, movement and degradation are the common causes of pipe leakage. In Houston, residents rely on water removal & extraction services to prevent water damage to their property.

Houses with Flat Roofs

In Houston, most homes have a flat roof that is slightly convex, which makes the water to run off into the gutters, to prevent any potential damage. Over time, leaves, branches and debris build up on the roof. The excess pressure applied causes the roof to slightly collapse inwards at the weakest point. This makes water to pool on the top of the roof, leading to water damage and formation of mold on the ceiling and roof, while creating cracks and leaks.  

Blocked Gutters

The gutter system is included in the house structure to redirect water away from the roof. It keeps the water away from the building by making it run off the edges. However, over time, gutters can get blocked with leaves and branches. When water can’t find passage, it starts to overflow, running down the sides of the building. This stains the walls with watermarks and damages the walls.

Malfunctioning Household Appliances

Washing machines, refrigerators, water heaters and dishwashers are some common appliances used in households. However, with time, the pipes in them start to rust and crack, which can cause water damage in homes. Washing machines and water tanks are the most common culprits of such scenarios.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis are no less than a nightmare. The amount of damage to human lives and property can go beyond imagination. When floods, storms and hurricanes occur, they trigger water build-up, which can cause irreparable damage to property. Homeowners need to contact an emergency service for flood damage, flood restoration and flood cleanup as soon as possible to prevent mold build-up.

Water damage can occur in so many other ways. It is always better to get the home inspected by an experienced water damage specialist in Houston to track down the problem in its initial stages.

4 Home Repairs that Can Bust the Family Budget

They say your home is your biggest investment, but it’s also one of the biggest expenses you’ll ever incur. A leaky roof here, a burst water pipe there. Before you know it, you’ve spent thousands of dollars on repairs and maintenance before you even celebrated your home’s 10-year anniversary.

Many repairs are minor and easy to tackle on your own, but some can really bust the family budget. Here are four home repairs that will cost you big time.

1. Pests

Pests, critters – call them what you will. No matter their name, they will cost you money to exterminate.

Your family home is a pretty cozy and comfortable place to live. Bugs and other critters don’t understand trespassing laws. They just see a safe, warm place to ride out the winter or build a nest.

From mice to termites, raccoons and everything in between, homes are an easy target for pests.

Depending on the type and severity of the infestation, extermination can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Repairing the damage can push the final bill even higher.

2. Tree Roots

That big, beautiful tree in your yard is the perfect place to hang a swing and catch some shade in the summer. But it can also cause you big problems in the future.

Eventually, the roots may grow into the drain line in your yard. Clogs and backups are common when roots invade sewer pipe lines.

A sewer camera inspection may be necessary if you’re dealing with clogs and backups.

According to Next Level Pipe Lining, sewer camera inspections provide “a clear picture of the state of your pipes, the nature of your damage, and where the problem is located. This is in contrast to traditional methods, which used an estimated guess to locate the source of your plumbing problem.”

Sewer repair is expensive and will require technicians to dig up your yard to access your pipes. Expect to spend even more money on repairing your yard after the work is complete.

3. Leaking Windows

If your windows are leaking, they may just need some new caulking. Or – they may need to be replaced entirely. On top of the leak issue, you also have to worry about water damage and mold growth.

Almost all windows will leak at some point. Finding the root cause of the leak can be a challenge.

Caulking is a simple, inexpensive fix, but window replacement can be very costly.

4. Roof Repairs

A home’s roof is vulnerable to rotting, leaks and other issues. Repairing a few shingles or fixing a few spot leaks will only cost you a few hundred dollars. However, when the damage is extensive, the entire roof may need to be replaced.

A complete roof replacement can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $12,000 or more, depending on the size of the roof and the material used.

As with most home issues, prevention can go a long way in helping avoid these costly repairs. Regular roof and sewer inspections can help prevent expensive replacement. Sealing holes and windows can prevent pest invasions and leaks.

 

RRSP's

RRSP.ORG Registered Retirement Savings Plan

Registered Retirement Savings Plan – RRSP.ORG the original website that best describes everything you wanted to know about Canadian registered plans and schemes has taken a turn for the best. The information and knowledge base on RRSP.ORG is more than ready for change and a complete overhaul.

MONEY.CA the leading Canadian money and personal finance website has acquired the aging website for all the right reasons. RRSP is just one of many keyword subject sites that most of Canada wants and needs. For over 20 years this small and meaningful site providing news and information in the world of Registered plans for Canadians has now been taken over by people who know and care dearly about the subject matter and the benefits and advantages it brings to Canadian’s, the government and the country as a whole.

Look forward to the changes and updates as Canadian financial consumers will learn how to make, save and preserve more of their hard earned wealth. The advisor channel is more than welcome to contribute news, information, stories and articles that make sense and pays dividends to the average Canadian.

How the Opioid Epidemic is Having a Devastating Impact on Our Economy

If you have been reading or listening to the news lately, you know that the opioid epidemic in America is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, there is a good chance that you have been personally addicted by this modern plight on our society. Even if you don’t know someone who has struggled with opioid addiction, this crisis is far-reaching and goes well beyond the nation’s emergency rooms. Opioid addiction is devastating the workforce and the economy, which means it could be impacting you in ways you don’t even realize.

A Smaller, Less Experienced Workforce

As of 2016, experts estimated that over 2.7 million people in the US are addicted to opioids. As a result, fewer citizens are able to participate in the labor force. While many are quick to assume that young people account for most of the addicted population, the majority of addicts are white men between the ages of 45-64. This means that some of the most experienced and knowledgeable resources within the workforce are being sidelined. While it is difficult to know the exact role that opioid addiction is playing in the steep decline in labor force participation that began in 1999, researchers estimate that 20% can be attributed to opioid addiction.

The Toll on Families

As more people succumb to opioid addiction, more babies are born already addicted. In fact, every 19 minutes an opioid addicted infant is born in the US and their only choice of treatment is to go cold turkey. This means constant monitoring by hospital staff as the baby experiences the painful effects of withdrawal. If symptoms persist, doctors will administer methadone or morphine to keep the baby alive. As these babies develop, they will continue to face challenges and usually suffer from learning disabilities and trouble with social engagement. This can often begin a cycle of problems that places a burden on community and government resources.

An Overwhelmed Foster Care System

Even before the opioid epidemic began to sweep the US, the foster care system often had trouble finding suitable homes for children who needed temporary or permanent housing. With more parents overdosing and ending up in legal trouble, there is a flood of new children entering the system. Again, this shifts the responsibility of childcare to the community and government agencies.

An Increase in Drug Related Arrests

As you might expect, along with more drug use comes more drug arrests as people are caught selling and distributing drugs and committing crimes to support their habit. Ultimately, this means an overtaxed legal system and crowded jails that are having trouble keeping up with the influx of new inmates.

With all these different costs, it is estimated that the opioid crisis costs Americans $78.5 billion every year. However, many experts argue that this number is low because it is based off of 2013 statistics and only includes addiction to prescription opioids and not the cheaper street versions of heroin and fentanyl. From an economic standpoint, we can begin to try and estimate numerical costs, but in reality, the cost to families and their communities is simply incalculable.

How to Use Cash Loans to Overcome Financial Burden

Cash loans are considered to be the best option when you run out of money and need immediate monetary help. The cash lender gives the money on an assurance that you will be paying the money back from your trusted source of income. In most cases, the cash advance loans or personal loans offered by various companies don’t ask for much detail like the traditional bank does. However, more important than getting the cash loan is to use it in a wise and precise manner so that it takes you out of the financial burden you are in. In this article, we will cover how to use a cash loan to overcome the financial burden.

1. Estimate how much cash loan you need

The first step to fight your financial burden is to get an estimate of the amount you need to come out of it. Always consider the amount you need to come out of the emergency situation. It is advisable not to go into a cash debt unless the need for a loan becomes indispensable. Calculate your expenses and money deficit. Based on the results of your calculation decide how much cash loan you need.

2. Search for the best cash loan option

When searching for a cash loan you should consider various factors in mind. Some of the factors include the interest rates, time for which you want the loan, the fee for the cash loan, the credibility of the creditor, penalties and the ease with which you can get the money. Knowing all such factors can ensure that you get the best deal and not fall prey to the panic situation. There will be various credit card companies and online or peer lenders who will provide you reasonable and promising deals. There are some companies that offer pretty low rates of interest as compared to giant credit card companies. However, going through all details and hidden clauses is very important. You can also search for the online reviews and borrower’s experiences for the given company at various forums. The presence of online and offline centers are important too. The agent or the executive in charge should be easily approachable and explain you all the details. Don’t rely purely on what he says. Ask for a written agreement in case you don’t want to get involved in any hassles at a later stage. Cash loans are provided by many companies and it’s up to you to decide and take a call on the loan that best fits your need.

3. Revise your expenses

Once you get the cash loan, you have to utilize the amount judiciously. If there are any expenses which can wait till you get money from your regular or actual source of income then you should not spend the amount on such item. In desperate times its worthwhile cutting down expenses on items which are not urgent. Prepare a list or a budget to define how you are using the money every day.

4. Don’t spend all of it

Once you have capital, you can pay the debt you are in, pay for the installment which could have cost you a penalty or pay for the emergency you are in. The key thing is not to spend all of your money if you manage to get past the financial burden without having to do so. Emergencies can come anytime and go empty in the pocket is never a good sign. Thus you should have some margin over all your expenditures from your loan amount.

Conclusion

In the end, cash loans are an easy and effective way to come out of the financial burden which sometimes comes in everyone’s life. Using the loan money effectively determines whether you go further into the vicious cycle of debt or come out of it stress-free.

Mattress Hacks for Students on a Budget

College students traditionally don’t get much sleep, but when they do sleep they want a good mattress that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Millions of college students over the years have had to put up with the lumpy and thin dormitory mattress — a thing of legend and hearty cursing — but today more and more students live off campus and shun dormitory living. Plus students in dorms often have the option of providing their own mattress, if the want. Naturally, they want a quality mattress to crash on when they can fit it into their hectic schedule, and for most it needs to me an inexpensive brand that won’t exhaust their current student loan.

There are a whole range of prices for the top mattresses. Here are a few that college students will find right for their sack time and for their wallet:

The Trizone Crazy Quilt Ultimate

This is one of the least expensive mattresses on the market today. It’s basically seven inches of foam wrapped in a cotton quilted sheath. The foam is in three layers — the top layer is memory foam to shape to your body; the middle layer is a firm blend of foam and latex to give the back the support it needs to stay aligned. And the bottom layer of foam is tubular, so the mattress can breathe, giving the sleeper a cool night’s rest.

Memory Foam brand

The Memory Foam Company makes a large variety of foam mattress pads in various sizes. Their warehouses ship everywhere in North America, so they can be ordered online for a very decent price. Total weight is just 63 pounds, so it can be moved from one place to another with very little hassle.

Contour Signature Sleep

This is a sprung mattress, so it costs a bit more. But many students find that the sensation of floating that a foam pad mattress provides is a bit disorienting at times. A firm spring mattress lets the sleeper know that they are on terra firma and not likely to waft away in a strong breeze. But be forewarned — the springs are stainless steel, and numerous, so this is a heavy mattress and not much fun to move around the room or up and down stairs. But it’s pretty much going to last the rest of your life.

Signature Sleep brand

This is a favorite with students on a strict budget. It’s a traditional spring mattress, with each coil individually cocooned in a cotton sock. Plus the top two inches are a pillow of memory foam — so the sleeper is getting the best of both worlds at a price that is not hard to swallow. The one drawback, of course, is that this is not a mattress that can be turned over for extended life. But then, tests show that most memory foam manufactured today will still be in good shape in twenty years.

Whatever type of mattress is decided upon, remember that nowadays a mattress can last much longer than a car. Students who invest wisely in their sleeping comfort may go through 2 or 3 vehicles while still snoozing on the same mattress. Those willing to spend for a top of the line brand will pretty much possess a mattress that they can depend on until they’re old and gray!

 

Tips for Rebuilding When You’ve Lost Everything

After the wildfires struck in California, community immediately started working together to bring positivity to a situation that was seen as hopeless. According to experts in the industry, thousands of homes in California that were lost due to wildfires could be built quickly and with the most efficiency when production-scale techniques are used. Throughout the state, many people lost their homes when they least expected it. In Sonoma County, about 5,000 homes were lost. In Santa Rosa, 3,000 homes were destroyed, with entire neighborhoods being wiped out, which is an astounding 5% of the housing stock for that area.

Some believe that rebuilding across California could be one of the most difficult things to do. In fact, they are saying that it could take a huge 3 to 5 years to complete all the rebuilding, and that there is toxic waste clean-up to be done at most of the burn sites. There is also a process of homeowners figuring out how much they will be able to receive from the insurance companies, and how much they will get in proceeds to rebuild after devastation.

Because of the unique circumstances of this wildfire and due to so many homes being lost, industry experts say that there will be a much slower re-building process in mind compared to one person losing a house to a fire in an area. In fact, the fires in October led to the damages of well over 21,000 homes and thousands of businesses as well. One of the reasons for the shortage is because there is a massive labor shortage, which means that it could take anywhere between 3-5 years to clean up the leftover mess, depending on the area and its needs.

Rebuilding

When you want to rebuild after devastation, there are some steps that will get you in the right emotional mindset so that you can work toward success and new ventures in your life.

Acceptance: One of the best ways to move forward is to realize that the event occurred and that you can’t change the past – so the best way is to move on and rebuild. If you keep thinking to yourself, “Maybe something could have been done to prevent the fire” you’ll find that it’s more difficult to move on. After a wildfire, you will have people on your side, and you will find that though it is a time-consuming process, there is still hope.

Support System: That brings us to our next point – having a great support system on your side can help significantly. You should have family, friends, builders, and the insurance company to lean on in your time of need. Different Perspective: Remember that you have made it through past challenges and that you must stay in the moment. Though it may be difficult at times, try to think about how you will move on in the future by speaking with your insurance company, hiring a builder to manage your new house, and more. For those who have not experienced the loss of loved ones, there could many aspects to look forward to.

The Mortgage Broker

The Mortgage Broker
The Mortgage Broker – Canadian Mortgage Broker – Mortgage Broker Canada

Make save and preserve more of your money with The Mortgage Broker. Home of the “Best Rate Around”. The independent mortgage broker in Canada is usually allies with a national brokerage to get better and lower rates by volume. Join your local mortgage broker to get the best rates. MONEY often refers Canadian financial consumers to licensed and reputable mortgage brokers and not to big banks directly in order to save you more and get better information, benefits and privileges. Learn more for a direct referral for your mortgage and real estate needs with professionals that know and understand that price and service rule the day. Call us toll free 1-800-789-1011 x101 to know more and get more value for service.