Tag Archives: Sands & Associates

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Subtle Signs of Money Troubles Ahead

Warning signs that financial difficulties are looming may not always be obvious.  In many instances where individuals are struggling with money there’s been an indirect slide into debt over time, or a few overlooked events have caused a manageable situation to get out of hand.  Maintain control over your debts and keep credit trouble from creeping in by checking for these five subtle signs:

1)  Ignoring your account balances.  Do you know how much is currently in your chequing account?  How about the balance on your VISA?  Not being aware of your bank and credit balances can easily result in everything from bounced cheques to being overcharged.  Lenders and vendors you deal with may not notice discrepancies so make a point of reviewing your balances after every few purchases and after each payment is made.

2)  Not having a budget.  Having a budget that functions is key to staying on top of your finances, meeting money goals AND getting out of debt.  Leaving your financial obligations to chance and haphazardly paying expenses that hopefully coincide with payday is a sure-fire way to run into roadblocks down the line.  A cycle of using payday loans or regularly relying on an overdraft to fill the gaps in cash-flow is hard to break once it’s been started; planning your income and expenses can help avoid this.

3)  Leaving it all to your spouse.  While it may seem like a great idea to delegate all the responsibilities of the household financial management to one spouse, the reality is that this can result in huge problems.  The managing spouse may feel stressed and eventually resentful about bearing the sole burden of juggling finances, and while the other spouse may be blissful in their ignorance, debts for which both are liable may be mounting.  Conversely, the hands-off spouse may feel worried, kept in the dark and be unaware of key money matters.  Have an open dialogue with your partner and make sure you both contribute to handling the family’s financial affairs.

4)  Forgetting about the future.  Like it or not, time flies and a healthy outlook on finances also includes looking to the future.  Whether it’s contributing regularly to savings for retirement, working towards  a financial goal, or avoiding the temptation of using credit you can’t repay immediately, it’s important to remember that ‘tomorrow’ will come sooner than you think.  Nothing can derail well-made plans like unmanageable debts – so carefully consider before committing to major purchases and curb any impulse spending you may find yourself indulging in.

5)  Misunderstanding how your credit works.  Do you know how compound interest accumulates?  Are you up-to-date on your account dues and late-penalty charges?  Have you signed up for credit with annual fees?  Always read the fine print before you sign and ask for clarification on any terms you may be uncertain of before agreeing to credit.  Lenders extend credit to make money so always be sure the terms are working in your favour and that you’re fully aware of your responsibilities under the contract.

Credit can be a great tool if used correctly and a huge frustration otherwise, so if you find yourself with any of these subtle signs, now is the time to take charge of your finances.

To speak with a local licensed trustee about your debt management options please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.

HoleInBudget

A Hole in your Budget?

As surprising as it may seem – a lot of people out there don’t have a budget.  If you’re someone that does – kudos to you!  Sometimes despite our best intentions, our budgets just don’t quite work.  If,  try as you might, there never seems to be quite enough money left at the end of the month and you’re always running a bit short, you might have a leak!  Take a look through our list of top 5 “budget leaks” to get back on track:

Paying for more than you need.  Double-check your cell phone and cable packages:  Are you actually using everything you’re paying for?  Data charges and channel/satellite package costs can run quite high but if you’re not even close to using what you’re dishing out for contact your providers and see about making some revisions.  It’s generally good to do this once a year or so, plans and offers change – make sure you’re getting good value!

Getting charged fee after fee…after fee.  Do you frequently forget to grab cash at your branch and resort to the $3 per withdrawal ATMs?  Make payments a few days after the deadline and wind up with late charges?  Pay for bank account feature you never access?  Those ‘convenience’ fees can accumulate to anything but convenience!  Grab your bank statements and try to plan ahead for cash withdrawals, look into alternate bank account options and mark payment due dates in your calendar.

Accumulating little costs.  OK, it’s unlikely that the occasional fancy coffee out will break your budget completely – but a few times a week is likely to siphon enough of your budget to be noticeable.  Same with things like parking (downtown Vancouver anyone?), your favourite weekly guilty-pleasure magazine, regular Friday happy-hour cocktails, and anything else you can think of!  You’re the boss of your budget and if you decide you want these things it’s fine – just make sure you actually budget for them.

Letting interest build up.  You know this one friends:  Using your credit card and not being able to pay the balance in full is going to cost you.  Unfortunately it will continue to cost more and more if you’re only paying the minimum.  Keep pesky interest charges off your back and don’t use your credit unless you know it’s to your advantage, and not to the bank’s.  If you want extra incentive, check out the portion of your statement that shows just how long it would take to pay off your card making only those minimum payments.

Forgetting to plan for the unexpected.  At some point in time, big or small, irregular expenses AND emergencies will occur – the best way to keep them from derailing your budget is to plan for them!  Whether it’s an annual insurance premium, an inconvenient trip to the dentist or unwelcome vehicle repair, regularly set funds aside to deal with those eventualities.  Allocating a small, consistent portion of your budget to an ‘unexpected’ fund can save you a huge headache later.

If it doesn’t seem like your budget is successful, always check for gaps and try again.  No matter what your income and expenses look like, a sound budget can save huge hassle and provide great piece of mind.

Is debt sinking your budget?  Find out how a trustee can help!  Contact us for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 11 lower mainland offices.

SA_Infographic_Halloween

Prepare for More Scare and Less Spend this Halloween!

(Click the above infographic to enlarge.)

(Click the above infographic to enlarge.)

Click here for a complete list of our lower mainland office locations and availabilities, or contact us to arrange a free, confidential assessment of your financial situation.

 

FallNewsletter

Sands & Associates Fall 2014 Newsletter

Catch up on the latest QuickSands Newsletter for current industry news, money-saving tips and more!

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Click the image above to read our latest newsletter!

To find out more about how a licensed trustee can help with debts, contact us for a free, confidential consultation in one of our 11 lower mainland offices.

ExtendedHours

Sands & Associates Offering Extended Hours

We are pleased to announce that Sands & Associates is now offering extended evening and weekend hours to individuals seeking debt solutions, in several of our lower mainland offices.

Why?  You asked and we listened!  We understand that it can be challenging to arrange for time off work and other commitments, particularly when you’re short on time and juggling debt.  We believe that offering extended hours to provide answers to your debt questions will help us to better meet the needs of those struggling to devote time to seeking professional financial assistance.

In additional to our standard availability, initial meetings with Sands & Associates are now accessible between:  7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. in our Burnaby office; 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. in our Langley office; 8:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. downtown Vancouver and on a drop-in basis Wednesday evenings between 5 and 7:30 p.m. in our Surrey office.

As always, our Surrey office is open Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Our new extended hours mean you can discuss your debt options with a government-licensed professional during a free, confidential consultation outside of “business hours” in our Burnaby, Langley, Surrey and downtown Vancouver offices.  Simply contact us to schedule your meeting or find out more!

Click here for a complete list of our lower mainland office locations and availabilities, or contact us to arrange a free, confidential assessment of your financial situation.

Assets-Protected

Keeping Your Assets Covered

Whether it’s your home, your car, your furniture or even your winning personality, we’ve all got assets.  Most of us also have some debts.  Quite often when people fall into financial trouble they first consider using what assets they have as a way to get out of debt.  Unfortunately this may not be the best solution – read on to find out why:

We made a good investment with our home, why not use the equity in it?  While using the equity you may have accumulated in your home to secure a loan to consolidate your debt may be an option for some, it should be done with caution.  You’ll want to make sure the repayment terms are affordable, and also that whatever circumstances caused the debt are resolved.  You’ll only have so much equity to borrow against before you’re just breaking even.  It’s also a good idea to bear in mind that if the housing market experiences a downturn, or interest rates increase, those payments can become unmanageable.

I’m not using my RRSPs for anything else, shouldn’t I pay my debt with them?  Habitually withdrawing from RRSPs to fill the income and expense gap is usually a sign of a larger issue.  If irregular income, or constantly being short for living costs is causing you to make withdrawals to meet debt obligations, seek help from a licensed debt restructuring professional.  RRSPs are meant to be funds strategically set aside for retirement.  If you withdraw large portions, or even just continually deplete them, while you may not miss them right now, come retirement you could be facing hardship.

Isn’t this what my emergency funds are for?  Just like with RRSPs, relying on savings to meet your day-to-day living expenses is a sign that something’s not working with your budget.  Sit down and look at the numbers:  Are you being realistic with your expense estimates?  Have you forgotten to account for irregular expenses?  Is your income fluctuating too much?  Unless it really is a one-time unplanned for emergency, it’s generally best to leave the money in the bank and work on re-balancing your ongoing costs.

I’m in good health so I don’t really need my life insurance policy, right?  Life insurance policies can be complicated things.  Depending on the type of policy you have, there may be options to borrow against the cash surrender value that accumulates on your policy, or you may be able to withdraw that value outright.  Be sure that you won’t inadvertently cancel the policy, leaving nothing for your loved ones, whom you probably got the policy for in the first place.

I think I’m headed towards bankruptcy, so I may as well… Think a bankruptcy or consumer proposal will mean giving up all your assets?  Think again!  Provincial exemptions allow people to retain the majority of their assets, if not all of them – even things like RRSPs and home equity.  If you do happen to have some assets above and beyond the exemptions it still doesn’t automatically equal a loss of those assets – there are options within a bankruptcy or consumer proposal that allow you to retain those assets.  We will assist you in explaining those processes in detail.

Before you rush off to your local realtor’s office or hurry to start redeeming your RRSPs make sure you’ve got all the facts at hand.  You’ve worked hard to earn your possessions and there are provisions in place to help you protect them.  Knowing is not owing!

To find out more about debt options available to you, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation.