Remapping your mortgage finances

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Plan your mortgage shopping ahead It is important to plan ahead regarding your mortgage. A mortgage specialist can help you review your needs looking at developing your most advantageous financial strategies. Over the course of a year, you may have increased your credit card balances or taken on a car loan and find the increased payments difficult. A mortgage specialist can help you consolidate debt and it may save you thousands.

Watch for your renewal date When you get a letter indicating it is time for renewing your mortgage, call us for advice. This is your opportunity to have us negotiate your best possible rate.

Work the math We will work the numbers for you to guide you how to get more from your repayment process so you can build your home equity faster. Instead of paying your mortgage monthly, pay weekly or bi-weekly. A small change can save you thousands over time.

Are you looking for a bigger home? You may want to renovate or relocate. It is often less expensive to renovate than to relocate. Financing options are available to renovate a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom — whatever dream you may have in mind for your current home.

Consolidate wisely When considering consolidating, good credit behaviours are important. This helps you qualify for the best mortgage rate. Don’t let your credit accounts exceed 30% of the credit available and pay your bills on time.

Significant goal planning If you have significant current needs such as funding education, a large purchase, investments, renovations, or paying down debt, your mortgage might be your most cost-effective financing option.

Don’t leave money on the table if you bought last year. If you bought your first home in 2014, you may be able to take advantage of the $5,000 non-refundable Home Buyer Tax Credit amount, which provides up to $750 in federal tax relief. See more Information.

Source: Canada’s Economic Action Plan

A financial strategy is essential for a secure future

shutterstock_55172209_2 PRESS MED SIZEWhen making a plan for anything in life, choosing a career, getting married, buying a car, we must spend hours going over lists as we determine priority and timing. We must have clarity as we develop our essential plan. In his famous book, Essentialism, Ewen McKeown suggests that while sorting out priorities, we must decide what not to do while we are working on what we must do, and that  “When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success”. (Ewen has the third highest following on LinkedIn so he knows something about priorities)

A good financial strategy is multi-faceted. That is why it needs to be developed and governed by a credentialed financial advisor. In his latest best-seller, “The Total Money Makeover”, Dave Ramsey notes: “Build wealth. Invest and enjoy counsel from advisers with a proven track record. ‘Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto'”.

Here are some priorities to achieve financial security – priorities that one must organize well:

  1. Have emergency funds on hand Save at least $1,000 cash and aim to build this up to $5,000. This can come in handy for any emergency that comes as a surprise.
  2. Eliminate all your bad debts List your credit cards, smallest to the largest balances–then pay off these debts, from the smallest to the largest, regardless of interest or amounts, one at a time. Make minimum payments on the rest. This will encourage you as you see each card being paid off.
  3. Save for a home downpayment Save for a down payment or cash purchase of a home. If you have a home, aim to pay down the mortgage, especially now when interest rates are low.
  4. Pay yourself first Invest 15-20 percent of your before-tax income in retirement. Ramsey from his book The Total Money Makeover, notes “Only people who like dog food don’t save for retirement”.
  5. Save for your children’s college education. Your child can’t get much of a job these days without an education though it is not necessary if he or she creates a great business. However, not everyone is Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

Source: The Total Money Makeover. Dave Ramsey | Essentialism, Ewen McKeown

Living Will: Advanced Medical Directive

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The Living Will (or Advance Medical Directive) is a document in which you state your wishes regarding the continuance or refusal of extreme medical care, or just how much life support intervention you want prior to death as you age or if you become seriously ill. It comes into play only if and when you cannot make those decisions yourself. If you become incapacitated, with no possibility of recovery from mental or physical disability, would you prefer to live or die? This hard question, once answered, will determine the directives you set forth in your Living Will.

How to talk about dying An article in the New York Times by Ellen Goodman, How to Talk About Dying, looked at this question in retrospect from a child’s perspective recalling her own mother’s health decline:

Yes, my mother and I talked about everything — but we didn’t talk about how she wanted to live toward the end. The closest we ever came to discussing her wishes was when she would see someone in dire straits and say, “If I’m ever like that, pull the plug.” … Gradually and painfully, my mother lost what the doctors call “executive function,”… Eventually, she couldn’t decide what she wanted for lunch, let alone for medical care.

The same person that you are today, or you know today such as a parent, may not be able to make both financial and health care-related decisions due to a decline in health. You can decide in advance what medical treatments and care are acceptable and for how long. For example:

• If you heart stops or you stop breathing do you want to be resuscitated?
• If terminally ill, do you prefer to stay at home or be hospitalized?
• Is special care or medicine for a rare disease affordable?
• Is owning Long-Term Care (LTC) or Critical Illness insurance important to your future well-being as you age or if you become critically ill?

Everyone over age 18 should have a Living Will

Many government jurisdictions are writing new laws recognizing Living Wills. Even if not yet legally binding, a Living Will allows you to indicate your wishes providing guidelines for your family physician, family members and friends—those who would be asked to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Formulate your Living Will with a lawyer (or on your own) and discuss it with your potential decision-makers. Give each of them a copy, updated when necessary, for reference. Have at least two of them witness each copy.

The Living Will alleviates the heavy burden of a son or daughter or sibling, deciding to allow a loved one to die. By setting forth your request in advance with a clear mind, you intentionally share in that great responsibility, thus lessening any feelings of fear, guilt or indecision that these people may have to face. In the same article mentioned above, Ellen Goodman reflected on her mother’s situation in light of historic health decisions and recalled her earlier statement about what she didn’t want to endure:

In some recess of my mind, I still assumed that death came in the way we used to think of as natural. I thought that doctors were the ones who would tell us what needed to be done. I was strangely unprepared, blindsided by the cascading number of decisions that fell to me in her last years….I had to say no to one procedure and yes to another, no to the bone marrow test, yes and yes again to antibiotics. How often I wished I could hear her voice in my ear telling me what she wanted. And what she didn’t want.

Ellen’s reflections may help us think about our own reality, our own health care directives which in most cases can’t be thought out if someone is mentally incapacitated, or if an emergency health crisis ensues – then it may be too late – when the burden falls on our loved ones.

My own sister, a nurse, felt she had to make the right decisions to keep my own beloved mother alive. More than once she was faced with the frightful case of dialoguing with doctors about reviving my 81-year-old mother, who had taken a serious fall causing internal bleeding of the brain. Mother went through three years of being in several hospitals, then and Long Term Care homes. I vividly recall mom saying of a woman who sat muttering incoherently in her LTC home, in her own humorous words: “if I get like that, let me go”. I agree with Ellen Goodman’s statement:

When my mother died from heart failure and dementia, I began to talk with others. It was extraordinary. Everyone seemed to have a piercing memory of a good death or a hard death. Some of these stories had been kept below the surface for decades, and yet were as deep and vivid as if they’d just happened…Too many people we love had not died in the way they would choose. Too many survivors were left feeling depressed, guilty, uncertain whether they’d done the right thing…The difference between a good death and a hard death often seemed to hinge essentially on whether someone’s wishes were expressed and respected. Whether they’d had a conversation about how they wanted to live toward the end.

Talk to your life insurance advisor about Long Term Care, which is appropriate for your advanced medical directives. Also, talk to your lawyer about creating a Living Will to develop advanced medical directives while you are coherent and able to do so. Then let your loved ones know your wishes and give them a copy.

by Glen Jackman, Editor of Adviceon Media, copyright of Adviceon

To every life season plan for change

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We will help you plan your financial needs over the course of your lifetime. Your most valuable asset is your healthy ability to earn an income. By helping you select the right combination of life and disability insurance protection and wise investments, we can you achieve financial success. When you have a mortgage or other large loan, term life insurance or critical illness insurance offers cost-effective ways to cover your outstanding debt if you die or suffer critical illness.

Family Stage

• With children, your needs change –and it’s wise to review your financial security plan. RESPs offer a good vehicle to plan for your children’s educative future, and a low-cost life insurance policy can build cash for school.

Empty-Nest Stage

• When your children go to school or move out on their own, it may be time to travel and enjoy your marriage. Perhaps you have wanted to visit Rome or take a university course. We will help you achieve these mid-life goals.

Retirement Stage

•When you’re aged 50 plus, you may want to partially or fully retire. We will help you assess your options.

Should every adult have a Living Will?

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The Living Will (or Advance Medical Directive) is a document in which you state your wishes regarding the continuance or refusal of extreme medical care. It comes into play only if and when you cannot make those decisions yourself. If you become incapacitated, with no possibility of recovery from mental or physical disability, would you prefer to live or die? This hard question, once answered, will determine the directives you set forth in your Living Will.

Consider the following:

  • The same person may not be able to make both financial and health care-related decisions.
  • Decide what medical treatments and care are acceptable and for how long.
  • If you heart stops or you stop breathing do you want to be resuscitated?
  • If terminally ill, do you prefer to stay at home or be hospitalized?
  • Is special care affordable? Do you own Long-Term Care (LTC) or Critical Illness insurance?

Many government jurisdictions are writing new laws recognizing Living Wills. Even if not yet legally binding, a Living Will allows you to indicate your wishes providing guidelines for your family physician, family members and friends—those who would be asked to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Formulate your Living Will with a lawyer (or on your own) and discuss it with your potential decision-makers. Give each of them a copy, updated when necessary, for reference. Have at least two of them witness each copy.

The Living Will alleviates the heavy burden of deciding to allow a loved one to die. By setting forth your request in advance with a clear mind, you intentionally share in that great responsibility, thus lessening any feelings of fear, guilt or indecision that these people may have to face.