Spring Financial Thaw

Spring forward
Trapped under winters grip for months on end, it’s understandable that Canadians as a whole miss summer. This is why once winters grip releases its hold, we spring into action. Our blog this week will be focused on the dos and don’ts of renovating. Our main focus will be to give you what you’ll need in order to succeed in your desired renovations, without having to worry that your credit will need its own set of reparations afterwards. Before renovating, ask yourself these three questions. A) Do I have enough money? B) Will this improve the look/quality of my home? C) Will this increase the resale value of my home?
When making your budget, remember these tips:
• Leave room for unforeseen expenses
• Be ready for damages & repairs
• Leave room for overages
• Minimal changes once your project is in progress
• Stick to your limit

So maybe planning your own DIY project isn’t as easy as it seems, but it doesn’t have to be mission impossible. Before you go ripping into your toolbox, remember the golden rule: Measure twice, cut once. Your budget is a key piece to your renovating puzzle, in turn deciding the success of your entire project.
Another key element dictating the success of your project is knowing what is best to do yourself (DIY), and what to leave for the professionals. Examples of this include electrical and most plumbing work. When deciding whether or not to hire a professional, remember to do your research beforehand. Visit sites like Angeslist.com to ensure you’re getting a reliable contractor.
Keep in mind, these are just a few tips, but it doesn’t stop here! Keep looking around for more great tips to help ensure your renovations last time test of time.

How to travel on a budget

When push comes to shove, we all need a break once in awhile. Most of us are consumed by our repetitive schedule consisting of work, work, and you guessed it, more work. Our dreams of traveling are stronger than ever, fueled by more and more tourist attractions becoming available to us each year.

Destinations like Europe are more beautiful than ever, no matter the time of year. Tickets are cheap during off season (October – April), and sights like Paris and London are one of a kind, year round. When you do finally get your dream destination, avoid making common tourist mistakes that will end up costing you a fortune. Things like car rentals and touristy restaurants will strip you of any real/authentic local culture.

Instead consider taking public transit, or simply walking to really get a feel for the local culture you traveled so far to experience. Local restaurants with small menus written in local language will usually give you the most value for your money. Beware of high end hotels when it comes time to hit they hay, consider staying in a local hostel (hopefully not like the movie) as they are usually $10-50 per night instead of the average $100+.

If you’re itching to see local attractions, a guide book can usually be found locally for half the price you would find one in your home country. Aside from attractions, shop-a-hollics need their daily dose of bargains and sales. The best place to start is usually a local flea market where prices are soft, and often negotiable. These flea markets are great and cost effective when it comes to bringing home souvenirs and cool trinkets to share with your friends and co-workers. By taking some of these cost effective ways of traveling into consideration, you are almost guaranteed to save on most major expenses attached to traveling.

So that warm distant beach you’ve been dreaming of is really only three months of savings away rather than six. Always remember that the more planning you do before you leave will help in making the actual trip that much better. When you have more money to do things, you end up expanding on the experiences you have during your holiday.

Changing the way we spend money thru history

Throughout history, money has taken on many different forms. People used things like fish, fur and any other commodities in order to trade. As bargaining / trading became more modernized, the need for expansion was realized.

Even to this day we continue to expand. We now have the technology that allows us to take a picture of a cheque as a way of depositing it into our bank accounts. Instead of fur, and gold, we now use bank cards, credit cards, cash, coins, email money transfers, cheques and the list goes on and on. As more and more ways of representing currency are created, keeping track of everything can definitely get overwhelming. Money is no longer as simple as it used to be.

The average person has their money dispersed widely through various places. When it comes to deciding which card to use, or which bill to break, take into consideration that different payment methods have different pros/cons associated with them. With things like debt and bankruptcy spreading like the common cold, it is becoming more apparent that people aren’t asking the right questions (or any questions at all).  Remember that it is not only banks that offer financial advice. There are many resources available to get you back on track, or at least heading in the right direction. If overspending is a problem, consider asking friends or loved ones how they’ve managed in a similar situation. Cash can be a great tool for managing day-to-day spending. Since over spending isn’t possible, keeping count of cash is simple, and following a budget strictly on cash is just plain easy. On the other hand, keeping a track record of your purchases can prove to be tricky when spending solely with cash.

This is where bank cards come in handy. A bank statement is a great tool that everyone with a bank account has access to. These will allow you to determine your spending habits to help you create a better budget. If you’ve already tried these methods, and developed a bad track record with being punctual with your credit payments, consider taking out a ‘short term loan’ as they can help you get back into the groove of paying your bills on the day that they are due. If you have any questions, or comments, visit Accessible cash.ca or Facebook and write us in the comment box!

Our obsession with coffee

 

Our obsession with coffee

Its official, our great nation is addicted to coffee.  Over half of the adult population the U.S have admitted to consuming it each and every morning, making it one of the most consumed drinks on the planet, right behind water and pop.  Statistics show that 52% of people would rather go without a shower in the morning than give up coffee (gross!!).  This is probably because we’ve been drinking it for so long that our bodies now require it to properly wake up in the morning.  With coffee being this popular, it’s no wonder coffee shops are popping up on every street corner across both Canada and the U.S.  We’ve constructed a graph to show you just how expensive or inexpensive coffee can be based on your preference.

 

This graph represents coffee prices and consumption on a 30 day basis.  This price includes the cost of sugar and coffee whitener. Deduct 12$ from your total cost if you are a dark coffee drinker.

 

Type                   Total Cost                    Price per cup

 

Homemade     ——        $21.06 / Month               Price per cup = $0.32

Keurig (fancy)     —–    $57.21 / month             Price per cup = $1.87

Tim Hortons – —–        $48.00 / month               Price per cup = $1.60

Starbucks –       —–        $105.00 / month            Price per cup = $3.50

Starbucks Specialty —$150.00 / month         Price per cup = $5.00

McDonalds –       —–     $45.00 / month             Price per cup = $1.50

Mcdonald’s Specialty – $90.00 / month         Price per cup = $3.00

As you can see, depending on how much disposable income you have, you can find ways to keep more money in your pocket.  So if you’re limited to a tight budget and love your coffee, start making it at home.  Just changing from Starbucks regular coffee to homemade coffee can be a savings of $84.00 monthly. Over a year, you would have $1008.00 in savings.  That alone could pay for your vacation.  Stay tuned to our blog for more great ways to save your money and keep it in your piggy bank instead of someone else’s.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/29/americas-coffee-obsession_n_987885.html

Surviving on of minimum wage

In life, nothing is certain but death, and taxes. For most of us, minimum wage will also be a reality of life as we know it. This means most of us will experience the feeling of being “broke”.

Although this is a sad reality, it is something we must learn to cope and deal with. The fact that people aren’t willing to change their spending habits according to their wage is why minimum wage is seen as “not enough.” As a minimum wage employee, finding financial happiness is bound to be a maze (a very large one). This means that finding your happy place is going to require you to do one of two things or both. Your first option is to find a source of extra income through either a hobby, or a second job. Your second option would be to make the most out of the income that you are already making. This means price matching (take a look at our previous blog for a complete guide) and other ‘life hacks’ (look it up on Google) that can eventually save you a fortune in the grand scheme of things.

If you’re considering taking the second job approach, take a look at a field that is low-stress and is in high demand (i.e. fast food, retail). This means that the likelihood of you getting the job is high, while your chances of becoming over worked are low. If you’re really looking to get out of earning the bare minimums, consider working two full-time jobs for a limited amount of time. By doing this, you are able to bank a large amount of money in short amount of time.You can then quit your second job once you have reached the goal you set as the reason for getting the additional income you needed. This will aid you in your survival, and save you from stressing while working for minimum wage.

Remember, when people say minimum wage is going up… prices on almost everything are going up as well, cancelling out any additional income you will be making. So no matter what solutions society is putting in place to help you save money, remember it all starts with you.

GROCERIES ON A BUDGET – PART 2

Like most of you, I find grocery shopping a bore and cumbersome. It only gets worse if you’re over paying while doing so. If you follow this short guide, you won’t need to be superman to save at the super market.

The grocery store tends to be a very expensive place if you’re not careful, and with the rising cost of inflation, it’s not getting any cheaper. Food prices have doubled while wages have… well let’s just say they haven’t doubled. So first things first, when flyers are delivered to you, what do you do? If the words ‘price’ and ‘matching’ come to mind, (ding ding) you are a winner. The first thing I suggest would be to separate food flyers from the other random flyers (home depot, Rona etc…) This is to avoid looking at expensive toys and things that have nothing to do with groceries that can lead to temptation.

Once everything has been sorted, begin making your list by planning out meals, lunches, and snacks for the week. It’s always a better bet to plan this way since you will then be able to hunt down specific ingredients which could save you up to 41%, experts say. As you begin price matching, beware of certain brands as they might not be available at your price matching store. For example, if milk goes on sale at Shoppers Drug Mart, you might not be able to find the same brand at Wal-Mart. So once you’ve compiled your grocery list, you’ll need to gather a couple of things from home before heading out. You’ll need things like a calculator (most phones will have one), reusable shopping bags, and of course, your grocery list! Once you’ve gotten everything, head to your local grocer, but make sure they offer price matching (see bottom for complete list of retailers that offer it).

Once you’ve started shopping, make your way past the bakery, and the ready-to-eat section of the store. It’s important to remember that anything made by the bakery or the ready-to-eat section can also be made at home for a fraction of the cost. Also, consider buying generic brands instead of name brands as they sell for 25-50% less! I recently looked into a study that proved 9/10 people couldn’t tell the difference (see the link at bottom for the study). As you continue shopping, remember that buying pre-packaged foods will cost you more money. For example, buying pancake batter as opposed to already made pancakes will save you almost double.

Now, instead of me listing 100 other small things that you’ll need to remember at the grocery store, start integrating things you have already learned into your weekly habits. Stay tuned for our expansion on this grocery blog next week to continue saving money.

PS. Here are a few extra tips to remember

  1. Do not bring your credit card to do groceries (you will spend more)
  2. Go shopping ALONE!
  3. Bring re-usable bags

 

 

http://www.savinginottawa.com/p/local-store-flyers-policies.html

http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/2289-top-20-ways-to-save-money-at-the-grocery-store

http://www.grocerybudget101.com/content.php/97-Name-Brands-vs-Store-Brands

Managing Single Parenthood on a Budget

Are you a single parent finding it difficult to manage your money, in debt or constantly behind on bills? You are not alone. As a single parent in college there are many challenges. On top of the many stresses single parents go through on a daily basis, finances must be one of the hardest struggles of being a single parent on a single income. Currently hydro and natural gas rates are increasing. No one ever seems to realise the impact it has on single parents who are struggling enough to get by as it is. Dealing with these changes can take weeks or months to get back on track.

Working part time, you can take a student loan to make sure all your bills are covered for the next 6 months of living expenses. Using a student loan to pay for living expenses relieves the stress of making sure that the bills were paid while in school. Use the work income for day to day expenses. With the spike in hydro my bill went from $64 to $449 in the span of 3 months, and this came out of nowhere because they insisted on taking me off equal billing every month as they felt they would owe me a large credit at the end of the year. With the threat of disconnection I didn’t know who to turn to. Of course there are many community resources or social assistance programs to turn to, but most of the time they don’t consider you “low income”, but try to judge your situation like they have lived it. Yes when you live in social housing it is usually geared to your income, but your bills aren’t and some months are more expensive than renting a regular priced establishment.

Finding myself with very minimal income left over, I had to find a short term solution to help me bridge the gap. So I decided to go to Accessible Cash to take out a payday loan which I felt was the best thing to do.  Accessible Cash has been a life changing experience in a sense I didn’t just walk out of there with a payday loan, but walked out of there with a new perspective on my current financial situation. Accessible Cash is a short term lender that assists their clients with a great budgeting plan. They sat me down and showed me new ways I can keep money in my pocket. So even though they lent me money, they were also trying to show how I don’t have to get stuck in the cycle of payday loans just because I needed a quick solution to my problem.

Accessible Cash is a different short term lender. They can help you but only if you want to help yourself. Everyone’s financial situation is different, but if you ever take a loan with Accessible Cash, they will teach you pay back your loan in a responsible way without you having a life time of debt with payday loan lenders. Accessible Cash has proven that taking a short term loan responsibly has no negative impact on your credit.

How to use a payday loan to your advantage

I once had to take out a loan because my paycheck had been short due to a few sick days I had taken. I needed $400 to pay rent, and I needed it now (my landlord sucked and wouldn’t give me an extension). So I decided to try out a payday loan since my credit card was pretty much maxed at that time. I wasn’t entirely sure how it worked, so I called ahead of time, gathered up all of my papers, and brought them to the payday loan place up the street. I went in knowing exactly what I wanted, but the girl at the desk seemed to think I needed double that amount. Long story short, I ended up leaving the place because they were trying to push more money than I could actually afford to payback. The second place I went tried to sign me up for some sort of debit card that they would then load the money onto. This didn’t actually sound that bad; in fact I thought it was convenient at the time since they hadn’t yet told me about the fee attached to the card. After almost taking out the loan, she explained that there was not only a monthly fee (something like 5$) but that there was also a transaction fee every time I used the card, not to mention the dozen other hidden fees. That meant that on top of 21%, I was to pay monthly and transaction fees with my loan. I laughed and walked away. At this point I was running low on options, and that’s when I saw Accessible Cash Payday Loans. I looked it up and found a bunch of great reviews, but I figured that it wasn’t likely that any payday loan company would actually try and help me. I went in and spoke with the girl at the desk (not talking through bullet proof glass was nice). I applied, and asked for a $400 loan. The weirdest thing happened; I got exactly what I asked for… No hidden fees or stupid cards. So I took the loan, paid my rent, and then paid the loan back the following week when I got my paycheck. Just like that, I found somewhere that was actually willing to help me without sticking their hand too deep in my pocket; AND I wasn’t forced to re-borrow since my paycheck wasn’t completely devoured by the loan payback. In fact, from time to time I still use Accessible Cash to help me pay for unexpected expenses. They say that the third time’s the charm; Accessible Cash was that charm.