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Everyone knows, the cost of living has increased. Going to the grocery store, the gas pump, or a trip or to the movies all costs more. While there isn’t much that can be done about that in the short term, what is in everyone’s control? Budgeting. Work with what you have to help make your finances align with your goals. You do not have to break the bank this Christmas. Read through some of our budget tips on how to live within your means.
Why is it important to set a budget? Spending can get out of control to the point where you may not even know where your money is going. You may not have any savings plan in place. Do you want to start saving for a down payment on a house, or to complete some renovations? Maybe you’re noticing your credit card bills getting out of hand. The Christmas season puts added pressure on bank accounts, but it doesn’t have to. Now is the time to pay more attention to your bank account and spending habits.
By creating a budget you can save money, pay down debts, reduce your stress, have more control and have money to do the things that are truly important to you. Who doesn’t want to live within their means?
Create a Budget
The sooner you create a budget the sooner you can start improving your finances. Look at your net monthly income, account for expenses are mandatory, and identify any leaks where money seems to be slipping away.
Christmas spending limit
Do not go overboard with gift buying this year. Get together with family to change how you do things, have a draw for family or friends so you only have to buy for one person. Rather than an expensive gift exchange, make homemade gifts or do a whacky $10 gift exchange. Don’t give into pressures of the season, it’s more important to be true to your values than to get the biggest best gift. Remember what’s truly important to you when it comes to the holidays and focus on that.
Have multiple bank accounts-ensuring that you have a designated spending account will act as your allowance for any discretionary items. Allocating another account where payments come out on a regular basis means you can set it and forget it. Once you’ve determined how much is going out of that account each month, you know how much to put in and subsequently you can alleviate stress. It goes without saying, one of these accounts needs to be for Christmas if you intend to spend money around the holidays.
Set an amount that will transfer to your savings each payday. This can be as low as $25 to get you started and in the habit of saving. If you have a goal you are saving towards, work backwards. Figure out when you need the money, divide it by how many pay cheques you have until then, and set up your transfer for that amount. Then when that trip to Mexico comes up, or your hot water tank goes, you’ll have the funds on hand. This will once again reduce stress.
It’s said to have at least 3-6 months worth of expenses in a savings account. For those who aren’t already savers by nature, that can be a daunting number. Especially when the cost of living has risen so significantly, and ‘extra’ money may seem like a pipe dream. Start by saving $500 to $1000 as quickly as you can. This can sit in a savings account that is accessible, and can assist in a true emergency should it arise. This could help reduce anxiety if something comes up, and mean you won’t have to rely on credit as heavily.
Give yourself an allowance-really! Once you have all your monthly expenses set, you know what you’ll be able to put into savings. Provide yourself an amount that can be used for your discretionary spending, could be going to the movies, dinner’s out, or grabbing a fancy coffee. Don’t make your budget so strict that there isn’t any fun.
Creating a budget is a really great starting point– but getting the help of a professional is a good idea. A mortgage professional can review your mortgage and other expenses to see if they can help you save money. Don’t have a mortgage? They can also help get you on the path to home ownership by helping to determine what steps you need to take.
Free Monthly Budget Tool
Coming from a traditional lending background, I’ve often thought of mortgage lending as a puzzle. In order to help the client, every single piece is necessary to get them what they need. Credit has to be solid, the income both consistent and sufficient, the security (house) had to be in a good location in a decent condition. All this is required. Without every piece in place, the puzzle just wont work! The thing is–people’s lives can be complicated, messy even. Puzzle pieces go missing, and some don’t QUITE fit.
Lets explain; Banks, Credit Union’s, and Monoline Lenders (companies regulated by the bank act who offer single products, in this case mortgages) all have to adhere to specific rules set by the Government. Within those rules, the companies themselves can work with their board, risk management and shareholders to ensure that their best practices are within those rules. They may decide to assume more risk in one area but less in another. Offering products or programs that target specific audiences. Acting within the letter of the law and their internal policies and practices. For the most part, doing the same puzzle, with the same pieces.
Subprime, or “B” Lenders, do not have to adhere to the same rules as big banks. Privately owned, operated and regulated they offer their own unique pieces to the puzzle. These lenders offer assistance to borrowers who aren’t a fit for the major lenders, so credit issues, self-employment or lack of sufficient income fits for them. They have more flexibility in how they lend and who they lend to.
Of course, guidelines are still in place, they merely have more of a landing pad for the “unbankable”. Anytime a lender is taking on higher risk mortgages, there is a premium for that, and with subprime lenders it translates to higher interest rates than other lenders, and sometimes lender fees. It would be easy for a person to sit back and form opinions based on the idea that they are charging what they are. Some might say that the people seeking money from these companies “shouldn’t even be borrowing”.
For our self-employed clients, the general rule of thumb is that lenders want to see the last two year’s income tax returns (T1 Generals). For a self-employed individual, this may not be the most current and accurate version of their finances. Subprime lenders offer Business for Self programs such as stated income that require the last 6 months of business bank statements to support the cash flowing into the company.
If you go bankrupt or file a consumer proposal you’ll generally be waiting 2 years from your date of discharge in order to be a candidate for a mortgage at a bank or Credit Union. With subprime lenders, they consider you right away. Their minimum credit requirements are significantly lower. Many people may think that once their mortgage is placed with a Subprime lender that they’re going to be with them forever. This is not true. Often clients will work with their Mortgage Broker to make a plan to make their way back to an A lender. This could mean a variety of things. A hyper focus on paying bills on time, to earning additional income. Whatever it may be, you won’t be alone, our Brokers will work with you to set a plan and will continue to check in to help keep you on track.
There tends to be a real stigma out there about the Subprime lending world. In a situation where you may lose the house because of lack of income, an illness, a bad relationship or business venture that left you in a tough spot–There are options for you. Of course the ideal lending situation is to be able to have a mortgage through a major bank, or monoline company. The interest rates will be less and there will be less fees. No one is disputing that.
However, in my decade and a half in the finance world to confidently say that there are many of us who “do not make the mark” set by banks. I feel fortunate to be able to offer people solutions that fit their situation, to meet them where they are. In many cases the solutions will help them maintain or improve their housing situation, and help their financial situation.
Being a mortgage underwriter at a traditional financial institution for many years, my experience with lending was limited to our own products and services. Helping people to have access to the Subprime lenders gives me the ability to help people work with what they have. Putting their puzzles together in a way that works for them!
I am grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to offer mortgage and financing solutions for our clients. Interested in learning more, or have questions about your own ability to qualify for a mortgage please call or email us. If you’re buying, renewing, refinancing we would be more than happy to help work with you to figure out your options.