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Financial Tips

Be proactive

Be proactive! If you know you will be late on a payment or you are having a difficult time managing your accounts, make a call. Talk to your bankers and assure them that you will meet your obligations. Failure to communicate your current situation may expose you to needless harassment. Vigilance will often keep you from arrears and penalties. If the unforeseen occurs, talk to your banker about your current situation. Your banker will, I am sure, be happy to help you reschedule or refinance your loan to help you service it with greater ease. Review your budget and make the necessary adjustments you need to make to catch up. Take action as quickly as possible to get back on track.

Having a cash cushion

You need to have adequate cash reserves which you can tap into quickly and easily to get you through a difficult period or any emergency that may arise. For example, job loss or medical emergencies. You need an “emergency fund” which should be adequate to cover about three to six months of expenses so that you won’t have to tap into long term investments to meet short‐term cash needs. Today, ask yourself this question, “am I financially prepared in the event of an emergency?”. If the answer is no, start saving today for that purpose. Make small automatic contributions to an interest earning account and be at peace with yourself.

Back to School

For parents, the Back to School season is one of the biggest events of the year but it could also be very stressful. Look for deals on school supplies but be sure that advertised prices are truly marked down. Beware of prices in big print; it doesn't mean that the item is on sale or being sold at a reduced price. When you do find a good deal on supplies, stock up while the price is low. Don’t wait until two weeks or so before school to start planning. Set aside some money every week to prepare for the additional back to school expenses you may incur. If the season has arrived and you need some extra cash, other options for financing your back to school expenses include equity financing or a small personal loan from FICS.



Too good to be true investments

Don’t make investments that you do not understand or that you are not comfortable with. Learn all you can about the various types of investments and their related benefits. Ignore investments that sound too good to be true. Get rich quick schemes are a sure way to lose your money. While quick return investments may seem attractive, stick to known investments with proven track records. Remember that diversification is the key to a balanced investment portfolio. Contact FICS if you need advice.


Update your beneficiaries

Have you checked the named beneficiaries on your investments lately? If not, you may find that your designated beneficiary may not be whom you think it should be, especially if you have recently divorced, remarried or had children since your plan was established. Call your financial institution today to ensure that your beneficiary list is up to date.


Additional Income

While an extra job may be too much to handle for a long period of time, you may wish to take an extra job temporarily until you pay off a few of your bills or reduce your debt commitments. Good choices for part time jobs include working at local restaurants or retail stores, buying and selling choice products, or even perhaps putting that baking talent of yours to productive use. This should help you achieve your financial goal faster in the future.


Make family a part of your financial planning

Parents and grandparents should actively share their new money-management practices with their families, engaging each family member, in open discussions of family values and financial priorities. Such discussions will educate all family members about the choices that are necessary when spending, saving and investing. For example, holding a monthly family-finance meeting – on a Sunday afternoon where the family discusses special goals, such as saving for educational purposes, choice consumer items or a family vacation can help the family create a spending plan to meet those needs.



Patience is one of the most important values when it comes to saving money. This means waiting until the first wave of product hype has passed, keeping a car for an extra few years before getting another one and waiting until something you need fits into your budget instead of obtaining it on credit. Patience is often the difference between having savings and being in debt. Having the patience to wait until you find a good deal is a cornerstone of good financial practice.


Record and File Keeping

A sound financial life depends on good record keeping. The number of financial records you should keep is actually more limited than you might think. Here is a list of 5 records you should keep and 2 you may discard. Records you should keep include Tax Assessment documents, consumer and utility bills and paid receipts for at least 6 months, loan and mortgage payment stubs until they are paid off and cancelled cheques or cheque stubs for at least 7 years. Shred monthly and quarterly statements as you receive new ones. Hold on to important annual statements. Records you can discard include credit card statements that are more than three years old and past insurance statements. Using these guidelines should help you keep your records simple, free, uncluttered and easy to monitor.

Staying On Track (Financial Fitness Programme)

It is always good to assess periodically how far you have reached your financial goals. Consider a monthly review. What have you accomplished since you began your financial fitness program? Were you able to save the monthly amount you expected? If no, then why? Don’t beat yourself up if you get off track temporarily. Identify errors you need to correct, forgive yourself and pursue your goals. Get back on track with your financial fitness program. Sometimes you need to seek assistance to stay on track. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone who is financially fit. Call or come to FICS today for a free consultation.

Organize your Life

Creating wealth and staying out of excessive debt rarely come about without a lot of hard work. Being organized can make you more productive and ensure that all the many financial issues you face are being addressed. It means avoiding late fees, or buying what you do not really need. Knowing deadlines that can affect your finances and getting more done in less time. All these can help to meet your financial goals.


Identity theft

Criminals commit identity theft by stealing your personal information. This is often done by acquiring documents you have disposed of. If your identity is stolen, you may have difficulty getting any credit facility until the matter is resolved. The following tips will help you safeguard your identity against fraud in the future. When giving your credit card details or personal information over the phone, Internet or in a store, make sure other people cannot hear or see your personal information. Do not throw away entire bills, receipts, bank slips, bank statements or even unwanted postal information in your name. Destroy unwanted documents by using a shredder, if available. Do not use the same password for more than one account and never use banking passwords for any other website. Using different passwords increases security and makes it less likely that someone could access any of your accounts.


Grocery Shopping the Smart Way

For most people, groceries are the biggest monthly expense. The best way to keep your grocery bill in check is to plan ahead. That means making a list and sticking to it. Impulsive shopping won’t lead to money savings. Use coupons and store specials to double or triple your savings. And remember you can score big by buying in bulk, especially on basic items such as rice and flour. Follow these tips and you might save $50 or more each month.

Self Employed? Know Your Retirement Options

If you're self-employed, you may have contributed a significant amount towards your NIC plan over the years but you may be wondering whether it is likely to be enough or will it be available when you need it most. The good news is that you can set up your own tax-advantage retirement program and put aside some funds yearly towards supplementing your retirement income. Business owners can also take advantage of the tax deductions of up to $8000 from contributing to a registered pension plan. The FICS Supplementary Pension Plan has a minimum contribution of as low as $100. Contributions are made on a monthly basis. For self-employed persons who have fluctuating income monthly you may consider the prepayments option to ensure that your plan is always up to date. Before starting your pension plan see a financial advisor at FICS. You might discover other retirement and investment options that may fit your retirement goals.


Strategies for Pumping Up Your Savings

The key to growing your savings is to set up a separate savings account. If you mingle your day-to-day funds with your savings, it's likely that you will use some or all of your savings, and you may never maintain a healthy savings account. Use additional income such as bonuses, overtime pay or tax refunds to pump up your savings instead of spending them. This should help you reach your goals without requiring additional spending cutbacks. If you feel forced to dip into your savings in an emergency, consider it a loan. If you can't pay it all back at once, set up a repayment plan and pay yourself as though it were a regular bill. Otherwise you may never attain your financial goal.


Do you know your net worth?

Your net worth is a snapshot of your financial health at one moment in time, a single number representing your net value. It gives you the true picture of what you are actually worth. Calculating your net worth is fairly simple. It is the sum of all your assets less all your liabilities. Some of your assets may include a house, land, retirement plans and savings accounts. Your liabilities include credit card debt, student loan, car loan, your mortgage etc. Most persons begin their professional lives with a negative Net Worth. The goal, however, should be to get out of debt as quickly as possible and begin building a positive Net Worth.


Saving for a rainy day

Having money saved for emergencies gives you the peace of mind of knowing you are prepared for the unexpected. A rule of thumb is that your emergency fund should be between 3 to 6 months of your expenses. An emergency savings fund can help you support yourself and your family while looking for a new job or provide a reassuring safety net in the case of illness. When building your emergency fund start small and use automatic savings such as salary deductions to ensure you meet your goal.


Healthy Savings

Make an effort to improve your financial health. One of the biggest expenses individuals face is medical care. It’s important to invest in your personal health and wellness to prevent excessive medical expenses. Simple, inexpensive lifestyle changes can make a big difference in improving your health. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine through walking or free community physical fitness activities; eliminate costly and unhealthy snacks and beverages from your grocery list. Include more fruits and veggies in your diet, and make sure to get 6-8 hours of rest each night. Keeping physically fit and healthy will go a long way in helping you save for the future.


Debt Consolidation

When you're struggling with lots of debt, debt consolidation may be an attractive solution. This term refers to combining your debts into one, and making one monthly payment to one creditor instead of making multiple payments to many creditors. Your consolidated debt often reduces your monthly payment helping you to meet your commitments easier and save money along the way. Debt consolidation comes in several forms, including obtaining a loan from one financial institution to pay off other loans. So review your options carefully before making a decision. Come to FICS and let one of our debt specialists review your current debt obligations and help you get on the right track to becoming debt free.


Financial Check-up

You may have had your annual physical exam and taken your car in for scheduled service this year, but what about your annual financial checkup? It's an opportunity to review how you've done financially over the past twelve months and make sure you're still headed in the right direction. The first step in your financial checkup is evaluating your financial goals. Have you made progress on them this year? If not, where have you fallen short? If so, revise and write them down. How are you doing controlling and reducing your debt burden? If not so good, it's time to figure out where the leaks are taking place and try to stop them. If your financial health is in good shape, congratulations! If it can use a little added effort, at least you know where you need to concentrate.

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