car insurance

The Facts Behind Rental Car Insurance

If you’ve ever rented a car before, you may have thought that getting rental car insurance was a superfluous step — something that you could avoid with little to no consequence. Ask anyone with a deep understanding of how insurance and compensation for car accidents works, though, and you’ll quickly learn that this isn’t always the case. As it turns out, there may be a few situations in which you’d benefit from the extra coverage. Let’s take a look at some of those variables so that you can be better informed when you make your decision.

Your Existing Insurance May Or May Not Be Enough

There’s a chance that you might already be covered for a rental car with your existing insurance, but you’ll need to check the fine print to be certain. Many car insurance policies, for instance, include liability coverage that covers medical costs and property damage when you’re at fault for an accident. 

Typically, The Simple Dollar notes, liability insurance “carries over when you’re driving a rental car.” If you’re comfortable with what your current insurance covers, then, you can generally skip the supplemental liability that rental car insurance would offer. Savvy readers will note, however, that liability insurance isn’t the only type of insurance that exists for cars, and you’ll also have to take factors like comprehensive and collision coverage into account.

Comprehensive coverage insures vehicles from “non-driving related calamities,” such as the vehicle being stolen or damaged in a flood. Collision coverage aids in paying for damages that occur when you hit another car (or if another car hits you). If you don’t have these on your own vehicle, you might be on the hook in these situations with a rental vehicle, in which case passing up on rental car insurance might not be your best option.

Now, there are other kinds of insurance and benefits that might come into play as well. Some health insurance policies, for instance, might cover medical costs from a rental car accident. Travel insurance, in some cases, might have rental collision coverage, and if you’re paying for your rental with a credit card, your credit card company might offer some benefits that will help pay for certain liabilities. 

Again, though, you’ll need to read up on the fine print for all these potential sources to make sure you have the coverage you need before declining rental car insurance.

A Final Note

It all depends on your individual circumstances, so be sure you know where you stand before you make a decision on rental car insurance, and remember that, while costly, the fees associated with rental car insurance are small compared to what you might have to pay from a potential car accident or lawsuit.

Making Financial Transactions Through Apps: How to Protect Yourself

From IPads to smartphones, there are now an endless number of apps that can be used to transfer funds, whether you’re sending or receiving money on Paypal or using your personal banking app to access your account.

Online shopping and other ecommerce apps also require you to input some of your financial details. In fact, any app that is used to process payments can expose you up to security risks.

Here are some ways to protect yourself when making financial transactions using apps.

Make sure the app is secure

It’s not always easy to know whether a hacker created an app to deliberately steal your personal information or take over your bank account. To ensure you are using a legitimate app, only download from a trusted website or from a well-known company. Most major apps from legitimate providers are safe. Oftentimes, banking, money management and e-commerce companies invest heavily in making sure that their sites are secure, and that your information is protected.

Be alert

Although it’s convenient to jump on someone else’s WiFi or do your banking at the local coffee shop, it’s not always safe. Make sure you are accessing your financial apps from a secure web browser with protected connection; mainly your home WiFi that has been protected with a password and two-step identification.

Don’t overshare your information

Be very careful of apps that ask you to share more information than seems necessary for them to work. When you are sharing your credit card information or bank details with a third-party app, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft and other fraud. One way to prevent a security breach is by looking into the encryption methods used by the app and how it secures your data. Rest assured that most large providers take data security extremely seriously.

Only log on to apps using secure passwords

When it comes to transferring money on a dedicated financial app, be sure to use a dedicated email address and password to sign up, ideally one that you don’t use for anything else. Your login information should be anonymous and not contain pertinent information like your name or or birthdate.

Most financial apps are secure providing they come from a trusted source, but others may not be up to par. With a bit of due diligence and a little research, you can stay safe online. Just make sure you know exactly what app you’re using before sharing any private information.

How to Buy a Home in Toronto This Year

We’re still in the first month of the new year, and prognosticators are saying that 2020 will continue to be a hot market for real estate in the region. People are moving here and looking to buy. Prices are high and they’re likely to stay that way for some time. That said, here are some tips to help you get into your new home.

Save as much as possible for your down payment.

This is the most expensive part of buying a new home, but it’s the necessary first step. Many Canadians put between five and 20 percent down. If you’ve looked around the market, you know the price range of homes in the various Toronto neighborhoods and the type of down payment you’ll need, and it goes without saying that the more you pay upfront, the less your mortgage payments will be.

If you’ve been saving for a down payment, explore options for growing your money. Look around to learn what options might exist for growing your savings, like an account that pays higher interest than what you’re currently earning. Continue to save. Every little bit helps.

Prepare for the other costs associated with new home buying.

There are a number of expenses you’ll need to consider; for example, closing costs, which can encompass several different fees. The land transfer tax depends on where you buy, but it represents a percentage of the overall cost of your home. Here in Toronto, if you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be eligible for a rebate.

Then, there’s Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) insurance. If your down payment is less than 20% of the home sales price, you’re going to need mortgage loan insurance in the event you can’t make your payments, and this insurance is taxable at the time of purchase. The good thing is that CMHC insurance allows you to get a mortgage for up to 95 percent of the purchase price of a home, while also ensuring that you get a reasonable interest rate. While we’re on the subject of costs, don’t forget about home inspection costs and any legal fees you might need to incur.

Check your credit score.

This number will determine how much your bank or other financial institution will be willing to lend you. It’s easy to check, and worth knowing — even for those not planning to buy a house soon. Your past financial and credit history, along with payments you’ve made and other factors combine to determine this score.

Take a good look at the Toronto area.

While you’re preparing your finances, look around Toronto and the surrounding areas to learn what’s available, and for how much. If you’re not independently wealthy, you might not be able to afford a luxury home in the city — but you might find something in another part of the region that’s just perfect for you and your family. Explore all the options to see how much house you can get for the amount of money you’re willing to spend. Consider the pluses and minuses.

For most people, a home is the largest financial commitment you’ll make, so it’s worth evaluating what makes the most sense in the long-term. As you’re getting to know various neighborhoods, ask friends or family members who live in those places for their opinions. It’s not unusual for some people to start out with one goal in mind, then change course along the way.

Online Security: How to Shop Safely This Holiday Season

Chances are, if you haven’t started, you’re busy making a holiday gift list and getting ready to make your online purchases. The spike in holiday shopping this time of year is inevitable, but it can also make you more vulnerable to a myriad of online threats.

In fact, any computer or device visible on the internet becomes a target for hackers, who try to send it connection requests and expose its weaknesses. Fortunately, you can shop safely by implementing some of these proven safety strategies.

Shop from secure sites: Now is not the time to use new sites for your online purchases. Your best bet is to shop from trusted, well-known sites that you’re familiar with. A rule of thumb: check for the ‘https’ in the web address. This usually indicates a “safe” site.

Install updated antivirus software: Installing updated antivirus software is a good start to keeping your devices secure. Oftentimes, companies will send periodic software updates to cover the latest malware attacks, so make sure to install them.

Don’t shop using public wi-fi. Transmitting credit or debit card information over a public Wi-Fi connection leaves you more vulnerable to cyber attacks. It is best to shop online from home using a protected and secure Wi-Fi password. Even better, using a virtual private network (VPN) provides you with greater security online because it encrypts all data traffic.

Use a credit rather than debit card: In the event that your credit card information is stolen, there are laws in place that will limit your amount of liability. You may not have the same protection with a debit card.

Log out of each website: Leaving a website open or neglecting to log out will leave you more vulnerable to an attack, especially if you entered your personal information and a form of payment.

Don’t allow websites to store your financial information: It can be convenient to store your address and payment information so that the next time you visit the website, it’ll already be entered. In reality, it leaves that information vulnerable to hackers.

Remember, with holiday shopping in full force, it is best to remain vigilant in order to prevent your private information from falling into the wrong hands.

Improving Credit 101: Some Good Money Management Tips

With your credit score down in the dumps, it may seem like the only way is up from here. But raising through the ratings doesn’t come automatically. It’s the result of hard work and patience.

You’ll have to climb out of bad credit by making deliberate financial choices to impact your history positively.

If your score isn’t where you want it to be, check out the advice below. Here are good money management tips that may impact your history.

Check Your Score

First things first, it’s helpful to know where you stand. Take advantage of your free checks with the government to find out what three-digit number you have.

Checking this file will help you understand the type of information that impacts your score. Once you identify the negative entries you don’t want to repeat, you can figure out your weak spots.

It also gives you a chance to spot any inaccuracies that may be bringing down your score unfairly. Simple errors or instances of identity theft may be the reason why your score is low.

If you see errors, file a dispute right away. The faster you start this process, the sooner you’ll have these mistakes removed.

Pay Your Bills on Time

When a financial institution checks your score, they’re assessing your creditworthiness, as advised by My Wealth Solutions.

In other words, they’re weighing the likelihood you’ll pay back their loan or line of credit.

A record that shows you pay your bills on time, every time, is a good start to impressing your financial institution. This habit will lay down a positive payment history.

Keep a Low Utilization Rate

Another important metric that some financial institutions check is your utilization rate. This number shows how much of your line of credit limit you use from month to month.

A high utilization rate suggests you’re relying on revolving accounts often, and you’re carrying over balances regularly.

Generally, a low utilization rate means you have a good handle on your finances. It indicates you’re balancing your budget, so you don’t have to tap into your line of credit often.

One way to achieve this is by paying off your balance in full on time every month. Another way is by reducing your reliance on these revolving accounts altogether.

Financial Institutions like CreditFresh recommend only using a line of credit for emergencies. They suggest keeping your account in standby for unexpected emergency expenses, so you don’t use up your limit on everyday expenses.

This way, you’ll keep a low utilization rate and have more of your limit available if a financial emergency strikes.

How Long Does it Take to Improve Your History?

How long does it take to complete a 10,000 piece puzzle over the winter holidays? It depends on your patience and commitment to putting every piece together.

The same goes for your score.

It too relies on several puzzle pieces that, once put together, provide a snapshot of your borrowing behavior. You need to spend time with each factor to make sure you have a balanced approach to your finances.

It could take you months, or it could take years. It depends on how low your score is, and how committed you are to making a change.

Are you ready to start the journey towards a better score? Good luck!


Tom Terzis Details Some of the Top Personal Financial Concerns

Many people worry about properly managing their finances. Making informed decisions about investments, savings, budgeting, and insurance can be challenging. Many people share the same concerns when it comes to financial management. Tom Terzis, a Wealth Specialist based in Toronto, ON, shares the top concerns about money and explains how they can be managed for better financial health.

Many people find that they have difficulty putting any money away. 28 percent of adults have no emergency savings at all. High-interest credit card debt, student loans, and everyday expenses have a way of eating into people’s savings. The most important aspect of saving is to make it a weekly habit. Have your savings automatically withdrawn from your checking account each pay period. This will keep the money out of sight and out of mind.

Ideally, people should have a fund with three months’ living expenses, in case of job loss or other adverse event. People with high-interest debt should consider paying this debt down at the same time as putting some money into savings.

Credit Cards
High-interest debt is a serious concern shared by many Canadians. When people carry too much debt, their credit scores can be negatively impacted. Most banks are looking for a favorable debt-to-income ratio. If this ratio exceeds 43 percent, mortgage lenders and other creditors will be reluctant to lend you any more money since you may have trouble making regular payments.

People should look for credit cards with the lowest possible interest rates, and should consolidate high-rate cards using balance transfers. Above all, people should not use credit cards to pay their monthly expenses. Ideally, people should pay off their credit card balances each month.

If it is not possible to pay off the balance each month, make sure that you are paying more than the minimum. If you only pay the minimum payment on a credit card, it could take you more than twice as long to pay it off compared to paying double the minimum payment. You will also be paying hundreds of dollars each month in unnecessary interest payments.

Student Loans
Many people who have graduated from college carry student loans. In Canada, the average student loan balance for a four-year university is over $16,000. Similar to credit cards, it is best to pay more than the minimum payment each month. If the interest rate is lower than that incurred on your credit card accounts, it is okay to put more of your money into credit card payments than student loans.

In order to minimize the amount of borrowing that you will need in order to graduate, it is smart to compare the prices of getting your desired degree across a number of universities. A flagship university may be the most prestigious, but you will probably be able to get an equivalent education if you attend a less expensive school.

In addition, it is smart to look for as many scholarships as possible. Scholarships and grants can significantly reduce the amount of money that you need to borrow to stay in school.

Tom Terzis believes that everyone should consider putting money into investment accounts, but many people are intimidated by investing. It is possible to invest money in small amounts, buying shares of index funds or other stocks. As with savings, it is best to deduct money from your checking account each month to support the habit of investing.

People need to be smart with their money when it comes to investing, claims Tom Terzis. It is important to learn how to balance risk with reward.

Above all, the key principle of investing is to stay in it for the long haul. Short-term investments, particularly in the stock market, are subject to greater volatility. Generally, the longer you have in the market, the more risk you can assume.

Retirement Savings
One of the leading concerns shared by most Canadians is having enough savings for retirement. As people live longer, they will need more retirement savings. Many people underestimate the number of years they will live past retirement. Relying on government programs is not enough to provide a comfortable standard of living.

Beginning at a relatively young age, people should begin investing in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan or RRSP. With an RRSP, money going in is not taxable, but withdrawals at the end of the term are taxed. As with other types of investments, the power of compound returns means that a longer-term investment will pay the most rewards. As people move toward retirement, they should invest in less risky securities and focus on preserving their capital.

Many people overlook the importance of insurance when it comes to financial planning, according to Wealth Specialist Tom Terzis. It is necessary for most people to carry life insurance, especially if they have children at home or others who depend on their income. Life insurance can help to pay off a person’s debts while setting up family members for their future.

Life insurance is available in term life and whole life products. Term life policies pay only when the holder is deceased. Whole life insurance provides a balance that can be borrowed against during the holder’s lifetime. People should consult with a Wealth Specialist like Tom Terzis to find out which product is best for them.

Taking Care of Your Money
When people follow sensible financial steps, they will be better able to meet the challenges of financial success. Paying attention to savings, credit cards, student loans, retirement accounts, and insurance can help to create a brighter financial future. Independent Wealth Specialists like Tom Terzis are able to help people make lists of their priorities and decide how they can meet the challenges in good financial health.

Personal Finance 101: Budgeting Your Finances

Budgeting is key for financial success, yet only 32% of people budget and over 50% of adults are living paycheck-to-paycheck. If you want to stop the paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle, you need to start budgeting properly to fully understand your expenditures every month.

When budgeting, the average person will spend the following percentage of their income on the following:

  • 9% on housing
  • 17% on transportation
  • 5% on food
  • 3% on personal insurance
  • 8% on healthcare
  • 1% on entertainment
  • 5% on miscellaneous
  • 3% on apparel
  • 2% on cash contributions
  • 3% on education

Utilize this breakdown to be able to account for your entire budget each month. If you don’t know where to start, try tracking all of your expenditures this month and use this as a guideline on how much you spend.

Ideally, you’ll have the exact expenditures listed and projected expenditures.

If you have $600 allotted for food, this doesn’t mean that you’ll want to spend every last dime that you have on food. In the ideal situation, you’ll spend less than your forecasted amount on non-fixed expenditures.

Gone are the days when a person used a notebook to track their expenses, and Excel is slowly becoming an obsolete option.

“Not long ago, it was a norm to keep track of all your financial dealings in a big old register. As technology improved, registers gave way to computers and Excel files. Anyone wanting to deal with their financial matters would sit in front of a huge file painstakingly reviewing every single financial transaction they had completed,” says Scott Langdon from Money Task Force.

Apps are the new way to start budgeting. Find an app that you like and stick to it.

Once you have all of your projected expenses listed, it’s time to start considering your future and debt.

Savings and Emergency Funds

Experts recommend that you put 20% of your income towards savings, but this is a hard number to reach. A lot of people have no money left at the end of the week, and 20% of your income is a lot to ask.

When this number is suggested, this means:

  • Personal savings
  • Retirement

You should have both, and personal savings can also include an emergency fund. A lot of financial advisors recommend that you build up an emergency fund, and this is a fund that you do not touch unless an emergency occurs.

These emergencies may include:

  • Veterinarian bills
  • Engine repairs
  • Hot water heater replacement

An emergency fund is a one-off expenditure until the fund needs to be filled up again. Financial experts recommend that you save three months of expenses in your fund. This means that if you need $4,000 a month to live, you’ll want to save $12,000.

Try and max out your 401(k) and retirement accounts, too.

If you can’t afford the 20% contribution, use any leftover money at the end of the month and put it towards your savings and retirement.

Finally, if you have debt, try and pay off your highest, non-mortgage debt as quickly as possible. Start by paying the highest debt and then use the money saved after paying the debt off to pay off additional debt. Over time, you’ll be debt-free and have greater financial freedom to save for retirement, an exotic trip or any other expenditure you wish.

7 Things That Could Reduce Your Car Insurance Premium

Are you thinking about purchasing a new car or need a new insurance policy? When it comes to insurance, car insurance is the most expensive to purchase.  Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to reduce your premiums. Here are 10 ways to reduce your car insurance costs while still getting the coverage you need.

  1. Owning your car

When you lease a car, it’s likely that you’ll be paying a higher price for your car insurance. Remember, you don’t need to spend a lot of money purchasing a brand new car. Many used vehicles work just as well as new models, and may make owning a vehicle easier.


  1. Having a dashboard camera

Having a dashboard camera won’t reduce your car insurance specifically, but it will give you record of any collision that you get into, and that means that it will be easier to make a claim and will protect you from unfair premium increases.


  1. Paying as you drive

If you have a car but find that you don’t drive much, pay as you go insurance is a great option. According to The Toronto Star, “Pay as you go insurance uses a device plugged into a vehicle that connects to a mobile app or web portal used to track data on kilometres driven, time and distance of the trip.”


  1. Having winter tires

You can reduce your insurance premiums by installing winter tires on your car. Winter tires lower your risk of getting into an accident, and insurers reward that accordingly.


  1. Choose a low-risk model

All car models are not insured equally. Vehicles that have a higher propensity for reckless driving are much more expensive to insure. When purchasing your vehicle, check out typical insurance rates to make sure that the cost of driving makes sense for your budget.


  1. An anti-theft system

Installing an anti-theft mechanism in your car makes it less likely to get stolen, and therefore lowers your insurance premiums.


  1.  Hybrid vehicles

Not every insurance company gives you a discount for driving a hybrid vehicle, but some do. Compare insurance policies if your planning on purchasing a hybrid car, and find out which provider will give you a reduced rate.


  1. Low repair costs

Even if a vehicle is cheap to purchase, the parts for repairs may be extremely expensive. For example, purchasing a luxury vehicle used may cost you less than a brand new car that’s less expensive, but your car may still cost more to repair, and insurance companies factor this in to your premium.


  1. Paying per year instead of per month

Insurance companies love when you pay upfront, and they reward you for it. If it’s an option for you, pay upfront instead of per month to save on your premium.


  1. CAA membership

Check with your insurance provider if you’re eligible for a discount on your premium if you have a CAA membership.

You’re all set! All that’s left to do is pick the plan that’s right for you and hit the road

Reaching Your Ultimate Goal: Retiring Early In A Comfortable Fashion

For many professionals there is a countdown in their minds to when they will be finally calling it quits. Even those people that love their jobs at times can be tired of answering to a boss or traveling constantly for business. Retirement will take financial knowledge as well as a knack for saving if you want to do this early. Many people do not realize the small things that they can be doing now to help them retire years early due to adding up over the course of a few decades. The best thing that a person can do is to create a retirement strategy with details of how much money you want to save or earn in a given period. The following are tips to help a person retire early through saving and earning to the best of their ability.

Investing Is Important

Retirement investments change over the course of a person’s lifetime. Investments should become more conservative at you approach closer to your retirement date. A risky investment strategy at this point can push back or completely eliminate retirement for an individual. Taking a look at the different options for investing can help clarify which option works for you. Financial planners can be immensely helpful with this as they understand the need to move up your retirement date!

Side Gig Income Can Be Directly Invested/Saved

The ability to earn extra income can cut years off of the time that you have to work overall. The other positive aspect of this is in today’s world most people can earn from home by doing some kind of freelance work. Being able to work 10 hours on a weekend and earn money can make a huge difference annually. There are those people that simply work a few hours per day on their side gig and earn a healthy stream of supplemental income. This income can be saved and invested immediately if you have your current budget under control with just your full-time job.

Buying A New Car Every Few Years Can Be A Financial Killer

Buying a car every few years that is new is a waste of money as the car’s value plummets after leaving the lot. People do not look at a car like an investment in many cases as losing an average of $1,000 a month on a new car while paying premium insurance can be immensely stressful on a person’s financial health. These are depreciating

Downsizing After Your Children Move Out Is Extremely Wise

Most people that stay in their homes that they raised their children in after they are adults are hemorrhaging money monthly. The excess space only costs more for electric as well as water. Downsizing can offer a much better quality of life especially if opting for a condo with a large number of amenities. The money can be put into mutual funds or other safe investments to allow it to grow. Cutting living costs monthly will add up over the years so examine where this can be done without impacting your quality of life negatively.

Take the time to cover the above bases when possible as they can make a huge different. Being able to retire a decade earlier due to a long-term side gig can allow you to truly enjoy retirement at a younger age!

What are Emergency Loans and How Can You Get One?

What are Emergency Loans and How Can You Get One?

At one time or another, everyone experiences the need for some fast cash. Perhaps you need to make a trip due to a loved one taking ill. Maybe the car breaks down and you need money to cover the repairs right this minute. The good news is that there are lenders who offer emergency loans on short notice. Here are some basics you should know about this option and how to be approved.

A Working Definition of an Emergency Loan

Emergency loans are financing options designed to expedite the application process and have the funds in your hands within a single business day or less. While considered a short term lending arrangement, they generally have more liberal terms and conditions that a payday loan. Like more conventional loans, you can expect emergency personal loans to come with repayment terms and include a schedule of payments, a fixed rate of interest, and the ability to pay off the loan early without incurring any type of penalty.

Who Offers These Loans?

You may be surprised at what type of institutions offer emergency loan options. There are traditional lenders who have this product among their financial offerings. You will also find lenders who specialize it this kind of personal loan. The nice thing is that there are no restrictions on how you use the funds from an emergency loan. That makes it ideal when you need to take care of a pressing debt of any kind. Unlike payday loans, you will find that a wide range of lenders will be willing to work with you and provide competitive terms.

Can People With Less Than Perfect Credit Apply for Emergency Loan?

Good credit does allow you the opportunity to work with a wider variety of lenders. Even so, you will find lending institutions that are happy to work with applicants who currently have bad credit. With the latter, more emphasis is placed on your income level, the stability of your monthly revenue, and how well you are managing any current debts. Assuming that you meet the lender’s basic requirements, there’s a good chance of being offered a quick personal loan complete with an installment plan.

How Long Does It Take to Receive the Funding?

One of the major perks of this type of lending arrangement is that you can have a response to your application quickly. Even compared to options like a cash advance, the lender is likely to review the application and provide an answer either the same day or at least by the following day. Some lenders guarantee responses within five minutes. Assuming you’re approved, the process of depositing the cash into your bank account will begin as soon as you sign and return all the necessary documents.

Remember that your bank’s posting procedures will influence how quickly you have access to the cash. For example, your bank may credit all deposits received prior to 2:00 p.m. each business day. Any deposits received after that time are posted and available the following business day.

How Long Do I Have to Repay the Loan?

Emergency funding of this type typically includes quick money that’s repaid in a series of installment payments. Those payments may be on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, depending on the terms provided by the lender. Some lenders offer as much as 60 months to repay this type of loan.

Rather than repaying the full balance out of your next payday, the longer term provides greater flexibility. This allows you to manage the debt in a way that does not create additional stress on your household budget. What it does accomplish is allowing you to take care of a pressing need.

Would this type of loan help you out of a tight spot? Talk with an emergency loan lender today and find out what’s required. If the lender supplies an infographic that helps you understand the application process or how the funds are to be repaid, check every detail closely. You may find that after this one incident, there will never be any doubt about where to turn the next time some emergency cash is needed.