Spring is not just the time of the year to spruce up the home and organize closets, it's a great time to tidy up cluttered financial matters. To help us get started, we asked six expert financial advisers for tips on how you can get your financial house in order.
Jennifer Tweddle, Wealth Adviser, CIBC Edmonton
1 Obviously you want to start by paying off credit cards but, even if you can't, consider talking to your bank about a line of credit or a low-interest rate loan in order to consolidate and reduce debt.
2 Budgeting is a great way to manage spending, but it's hard to be disciplined or sometimes even take the first step. Start by tracking spending for a month or two and then reviewing, that way you can make informed choices about where your money is going. You might decide $70 a month on coffee is too much or not, but at least you'll know the score. Free budgeting tools are online aplenty. Use them.
3 If you have more than one child and you want to help them save for their education, create a family RESP rather than individual ones for each child. You're allowed to contribute $50,000 per child, but any or one of them can utilize any or all of the savings. In other words, if only one child needs it, they can have it all!
4 Open a Tax Free Savings Account. TFSAs are one of the great underutilized savings vehicles in Canada. If you don't have one, the contribution limit is $41,000 through the end of 2015, with annual limits of $5,500 per year thereafter, i.e. you could put in $46,500 tomorrow. Any and all profits on investments in TFSAs is non-taxable, and you can take the money out at any time to pay for whatever and put back in, or not, at a later date.
5 Still paying the mortgage monthly? Stop that. Switching to biweekly or even weekly payments can shave years off amortization. While you're at it, you know that Christmas bonus or gift of cash you got from a favourite relative? There's a Harry Potterish way to astronomically increase its value: put it on the mortgage.
Next: Mark Berry, Senior Wealth Adviser, BMO Nesbitt Burns
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