Should You Pay Off Your Home Buyers Plan Early?

HomeBuyersSpring is upon us (though the weather sure doesn’t feel like it) and real estate is just about to boom. That means home sales and purchases will be on the rise.

In the mix will be a number of first-time home buyers. Buying a home for the first time is one of the most exciting and completely terrifying life moments. It’s thrilling to experience looking at homes, horrifying to see the inside of some homes and inspiring to see others. When you find the right home for you, you want to make sure you have everything in place to make it yours – and still do it right.

There have been recent changes to the down payment requirements in Canada and this can make it challenging. This is where the government actually offers some assistance in the form of the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). Using this plan, you can use up to $35,000 from your RRSP for purchase of your home. If you’re buying with a second first time buyer, they can also withdraw the same amount giving you up to $70,000. That can make for a pretty nice house!

Using the HBP may allow you to avoid paying CMHC fees. Mortgage default insurance is required for any home buyer who has a down payment equal to less than 20% of the purchase price. This is meant to protect the lender but it also opens up the purchasing option for those who don’t have the funds.

The Home Buyers’ Plan is a great program, especially if you understand the parameters. You have 15 years to pay the funds back into your RRSP and this is an important number as any amounts not paid back are considered income and taxable.

Now the question of paying it back should you come into some money. There are a couple of ways of looking at it. Say you’re required to pay back $500/year but you find yourself with $1000. You could put $1000 on your HBP and it will decrease the length of time for complete payback. This will improve your returns as you will start earning on those amounts. The other way to look at it is to take the $500 and put it towards your HBP and take the other $500 and claim it as a RRSP contribution which will benefit your tax return. Both are good options, it depends on your goals.

Sometimes it helps to discuss these options with an independent party to get a better understanding of what this all means. As a Financial Planner, we can help clarify the best way to approach this exhilarating moment in time. Not to mention we can also help with setting up your mortgage based on our years of experience and contacts.

School’s Out, Time to Pay

SchoolsOutGraduating school, whether it’s high school, College or University should be one of the most exciting times in your life. Post-secondary education is a milestone which should open doors to your new future. You spent years putting in hard work with late night study session, writing papers and finishing assignments and you should be proud.

Now, as you’re walking up to accept your diploma to the applause of your friends and family, instead of celebrating, all you can think about is the task of paying off your student loans. According to the National Student Loan Centre, it takes an average of nine years for Canadian students to pay off their student loans. With the average student debt around $25,000, it is becoming more important to create a plan for repayment.

It can be overwhelming to think about what you owe, to whom and how you’ll repay it while still having a life. We’ve put together some suggestions for your plan:

  1. Determine Who You Owe
    You may not even know what you owe and when it is due. The first step in the process is to determine who you owe money to.
  2. Read the Fine Print
    Some people are aware of the grace period when it comes to student loan repayment however the interest on the federal portion starts on day one of graduation.
  3. Compare Interest Rates and Rank Loans
    Each student loan has a different interest rate and payment schedule. Be sure to compare all the loans and the fine details to determine which loan to start with. Obviously start with the one with the highest interest rate.
  4. Create a Budget
    It’s easier than you think; it’s not as scary as it sounds. Go through all your accounts and look for regular expenses. Go six months back at a minimum to ensure you capture quarterly payments. From there you can map out monthly, quarterly and annual bills to give you a clear indication of what you have left to spend and what you can put towards your debts.
  5. Pay Yourself First
    Once you have secured employment, review your budget again and slide that debt payment up. Most students don’t make adjustments to their repayment plan in relation to their income. For bonuses and tax returns, as tempting as it is to spend it, you are better off making a lump sum repayment.

Long story short, repaying debt takes sacrifice and compromise. In order to retain your sanity and life quality, decide what you can and can’t live with and be reasonable with yourself. Chip away at it and celebrate your successes instead of wallowing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, from your family or reach out to us. We’d love to help.

Young Boomers Retirement More of a Jingle than a Jangle

Young Boomers-FBA recent article by Joel Schlesinger at the Winnipeg Free Press presented the challenges being faced by a generation known to dance to their own tune. According to the study, there may have been too much dancing and not enough planning highlighted by the stat of 1 in six indicating they will be working until they die.

Our own Doug Buss was showcased in the article and shared his experience that this is not a surprise for those involved in the financial discussions with this demographic. “Growing up in an era of affluence bred complacency among some boomers.” says Doug.

It’s a great article that shows foresight can prevent the chance of getting to your golden years without a parachute. Take a read here.

Calling All Millennial Women: Your Finances Need You

Calling All MillennialsIn our last blog we discussed the results from the USB survey indicating the deferral of financial planning by women to their partners. If you recall, the highest demographic for this was millennial women. Millennials are famous for being an easy target for mockery but perhaps it’s time for the prior generations to help them pull up their bootstraps when it comes to financial planning.

Millennials are the fastest growing group in the workforce and are dealing with the challenges of graduating during a recession and the continued wage gap. Combine these factors with the likelihood of taking time away to have children and a longer lifespan, it’s more important than ever to master finances and long-term planning.

Another layer of complexity is that most millennials are raised by parents who live with high debt-ratios. Baby-boomers were raised with a fear of owing money and made a concentrated effort to avoid it and to pay it back as quickly as possible. The next generations were handed credit like candy and indulged. Learning by example may not be the best course of action, so we’ve compiled some advice for the up-and-coming.

  1. Spend Carefully. Along the same lines as “think before you speak”, think before you buy. Evaluate what long-term benefit that item is going to bring to you. When it comes to the nickel and dime type expenses such as your daily dose of fancy coffee, invest in a fancy espresso machine at home.
  2. Build an Escape Plan. Life often throws challenges our way and true power comes from being able to choose your own path. Having some cash squirrelled away allows you to make the choices which are right for you and prevent you from returning back to what was keeping you in debt.
    1. Set up an automatic deposit from your paycheck to an account which you are not able to easily access. That way you never had the money, so you can’t miss it.
    2. Funnel your wins. Instead of “treating” yourself with your birthday gifts, tax return or bonus, treat your future self by putting it into your savings account.
    3. Manage Your Debt. You’ve grown up in an era of credit and debts from student loans to car loans to credit cards. Make a list of all you owe and the corresponding interest rates. This will enable you to prioritize which debts you want to pay off the quickest. High-interest debts should be the first target to stop the cycle of handing your money to an institution.
    4. Save for Your Future. It’s hard to look that far forward when you’re in your 20’s, but imagine the freedom of being able to live your life your way when you’re older. With a few sacrifices, you can save now and play later.

The millennial generation espouses the importance of equality, empowerment and independence. As a millennial, it is your responsibility to implement changes in your life which align with your values. If you want to be in control of your destiny, you need to control your money. Money brings freedom and freedom brings independence. If you’d like some help taking your first steps towards your financial future, we’d love to meet with you.

Empowerment and Equality and Your Finances

Financial SuperheroThe slogan “girl power” has been used for decades to encourage and celebrate female empowerment, independence, and confidence. The term used most often relates to sports and employment; however, new studies are showing that women need to exert their girl power when it comes to finances and financial planning.

A recent study released by UBS shows that 58% of women worldwide defer long-term financial decisions to their spouses. This study included nearly 3,700 high-net-worth married women, widows and divorcees in nine countries. The results of the study showed that 85% of women were responsible for the day-to-day finances; just not the long-term. Continue reading