Tips on Creating a Budget

Don’t be scared off by the “B” word. It is really just a way to organize your finances. All you need is a very simple basic budget! There is no reason to make it complicated. Your budget should be flexible and change according to your current needs.

In order to create a realistic budget, you must get an overall picture of where your money is coming from, when it comes in and what you are spending it on.

Getting Started

When starting your budget either write it on a sheet of paper or create a spreadsheet on your computer.

Get clear on your Income

First, you must make a list of your monthly income. How much money do you have to work with?

This would be your take home pay (after deductions and taxes).  Remember to include all income which can be from many sources such as – tips, child support, interest, pension etc.  If your income is irregular, you will need to average what you earn to get a monthly amount.

Keep Track of your Expenses

Next, every day for at least two or three months, you must keep track of what you buy. This will include everything from groceries, your daily coffee, to the parking meter. Write it down in a notebook or keep all of the receipts. Doing this will help you understand your spending habits and will allow you to make a budget.

Creating your Personal Budget

Based on tracking your expenses, you should establish a target for both your your fixed and variable expenses – they should total less than your income.  Fixed expenses tend to stay the same each month or pay period, such as rent, mortgage or utilities.  Variable expenses vary each pay period, such as entertainement or dining out. 

Be sure to include savings (as an expense) for an emergency fund. Set up a separate account to prepare for the unexpected such as car repairs, illness or loss of employment, unforeseen bills etc.

You should be able to set aside 10 percent of your net income for savings on a monthly basis.

Re-evaluate on a Regular Basis

Look at the different categories and decide if you are happy with how you are spending your money. Adjust expenses that you are not happy with and create a new plan. Your expenses and income will change and so should your budget.

Remember that following a budget does not mean that you have to torture yourself, you just have to be more selective your choices.  If you budget doesn’t work out exactly right the first time, don’t be discouraged.  A budget is a guide.  Always remember to review and revise your budget.  You’re on the way to a Fresh Start.

Avoid Bankruptcy – A Consumer Proposal is the way to a Fresh Start

Do you find yourself in a situation where you are having trouble paying all your bills even though you have a good job?  Have you thought of filing for bankruptcy but really don’t want to due to fear?  If you answered yes to either of those questions, maybe it’s time for you to consider a Consumer Proposal.

What is a Consumer Proposal?  It is a legal procedure to those who are having financial difficulties, but can still afford to pay a portion of their debt.  At our firm, we would put together a payment plan that works for both you and the creditors.  We would then present that plan to the creditors.  If and when your plan is accepted, it becomes a legal binding settlement for your debts.

Why would your creditors accept a Consumer Proposal and only get a portion of the full amount they are owed?  A Proposal is a better option for them because even though they may not get the full amount owing, they would still receive more with this option then if you were to file for bankruptcy.

Here are a few advantages of a Consumer Proposal:

  • You have the ability to negotiate to repay a portion of the full debt owing.
  • Interest stops accumulation effective the date you file for a Consumer Proposal.
  • The maximum repayment period is 5 years.
  • You can include debts owing to Canada Revenue for unpaid income taxes/HST.
  • You will be protected from your creditors as it is creditor and court approved.
  • The effect on your credit rating is less harsh than a bankruptcy.
  • You would not lose your home or any of your assets.

When you are looking at all your options, ensure you are making the most educated decision possible.  If your best option is a Consumer Proposal, let our team provide you the Fresh Start that you need and allow you to work toward the financial future you always wanted.

Rebuild your Credit with a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires you to pay the issuer a security deposit.  You’ll need to put a security deposit down which will be held in a special savings account.  Depending on the credit limit you request, the required security deposit can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.  Thus if you put down $500, you will likely be given credit of $500. You might consider applying for a secured credit if you:

  • had filed a consumer proposal or bankruptcy in the past,
  • had credit problems in the past and want to rebuild your credit score,
  • had no credit history.

You are still expected to make regular payments, as you would with a regular credit card, but should you default on a payment, the card issuer has the option of recovering the cost from your security deposit and cancelling your credit card.

The advantage of the secured card for an individual with negative or no credit history is that most companies report regularly to the major credit bureaus. Making all your credit card payments on time will help you build a positive credit history or rebuild a poor credit score.  Once your credit score is considered satisfactory, you may be eligible for an unsecured credit card.  At that time, the security deposit may be returned to you if you decide to close your credit card account after paying off the entire balance.

 

 

Life After Bankruptcy/Consumer proposal

One of the most common reasons that stops a person from contacting a trustee in bankruptcy is the fear of the unknown.  Hopefully our new blog will help reduce those fears and enable you to make informed decisions on what is best for you and your creditors.  

Life after a proposal or a bankruptcy will not be the same as before.  There will be changes that you will need to control.  In order makes some changes to recover financially and emotionally, you must ask yourself, “How did I get here?” and “What could I have done differently?”  The answers to these questions will help you reflect and regroup to create a better chance at financial success in the future. 

In most cases, one of the biggest changes you find once you have completed a proposal or a bankruptcy is that you are debt free. This change will give you less financial pressure and more disposable income with which to plan.  One of the best approaches for financial recovery is to become a saver.  This is the time to get serious about creating a realistic budget and sticking to it.  In addition, you must make a plan for the future to deal with unexpected events.  Doing so will keep you from falling into debt should the unexpected occur.  Building savings will give you peace of mind and confidence because you are prepared for your financial future. Further, when considering large purchases, remember “money talks”.  For example, you may be able to negotiate lower prices if you use cash instead of credit.

A comment often heard during consultations at our office is that you will not be able to obtain a credit card for 7 years after a bankruptcy or proposal.  This is simply a myth. Once you are discharged from your debts you will be able to obtain a secured credit card.  During a proposal, you may also obtain a secured credit card.  With a secured card, you usually deposit a specific amount, such at $1,000 into an interest bearing account, and that $1,000 becomes a credit limit.  This will enable you to begin to rebuild your credit rating immediately. Your credit rating will be affected for 6 years from your bankruptcy discharge and 3 years for a proposal from the date of completion.  During that time we recommend that you be proactive in re-establishing your credit. 

In conclusion, when you are exploring your financial options whether it is a consumer proposal or bankruptcy make sure that you separate fact from fiction and make the right choice for a fresh start.

Rebuilding your credit rating

It is important to have good credit in our society as it is required for most things, such as booking a hotel room or an airplane ticket.  As well, most people can only finance big items (ie: home, car, etc) with the assistance of credit.  The following are easy tips for anyone seeking to improve their credit:

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report.  You can obtain a free report from Equifax.  Ensure that the information on your report is accurate and fix any errors that appear.  You can correct the errors by contacting the creditor directly and/or contacting the credit-reporting agency to have them investigate and fix the error.
  • Ensure that you pay your bills in full by the due date. If you aren’t able to do this, pay at least the required minimum amount when it is due to maintain your credit rating. If you miss the due day, this will have a negative impact on your credit rating. 
  • Maintain your outstanding balances at a minimum level.  Try to keep your balance below the limit. Higher levels of debt, will impact your credit rating.
  • Don’t apply for to many credit cards/loans in a short period of time.  If too many potential lenders inquire about your credit over a short period of time, this will have a negative effect on your credit rating.  
  • It is important to build a credit history; as such, it is smart to keep older credit. If you want to payout your loans or cancel your credit cards, it is best to keep one to provide a history to future lenders.
  • One great way to re-establish your credit history is by using a secured credit card. Ensure that you make the monthly payments on the due date.   A prepaid credit card is not a secured credit card as it does not report to the credit bureau.

On an on-going basis, it is always a good thing to obtain a copy of your credit report, every few years, to ensure that the information on your report is correct.

We have recently moved our office to 104 – 732 Cormorant Street, Victoria

With a New Year quickly approaching, it’s always great to start the New Year with a fresh Start.

We have recently moved our office to 104 – 732 Cormorant Street, Victoria, BC to better service our customers.

If you are looking at ways to manage your debt load, give us a call for a free confidential consultation. We will explore all financial options available, and tailor one that best suits your needs.