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Budgeting and Cash Flow

Budgeting and Cash Flow

By: Joe Barbieri (Joe the Investor) Summary This series has described budgeting in 2 main parts. The first part is building your budget accounting for the income sources and expense sources which can be fixed or variable in nature. The budget is broken down into 

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Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance

What Is Disability Insurance? When it comes to insurance, Canadians simply do not have a good enough understanding of what their needs and options are. Insurance can be both confusing and boring, meaning that you likely have not invested the time to research what coverage 

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Personal Bankruptcy

Personal Bankruptcy

Series by Victor Fong

Introduction: Finding Debt Relief and Rehabilitation

Bankruptcy is a scary word. It conjures up images of losing your home, destroying your credit, and other unpleasant thoughts. But it can provide relief from a crushing debt burden, so for some people it can be the right move.

Do you remember going to see the doctor when you were a child? You dreaded getting jabbed with a needle for a blood sample or having to take some awful-tasting medicine, but before you knew it, it was done and over with and the sting went away. One can think of the personal bankruptcy process in the same way – you dread filing for bankruptcy and expect it to be painful, but before you know it your debts are gone and you’ve moved on with your life.

You should be aware that the bankruptcy system exists to work for you as well as your creditors. The personal bankruptcy process has the objective of rehabilitating the debtor, so that they can become a productive member of society without the burden of crushing debt. The bankruptcy system also ensures that all creditors are treated fairly and get an appropriate share of any assets from the debtor.

If you find yourself struggling to stay on top of your debts, you may be able to solve the problem without needing a break from your creditors. For example, a money coach might help you budget better, or a counsellor may help you with underlying issues such as problem gambling. But when your debt situation is overwhelming, it may be time to speak to a licensed insolvency trustee to evaluate your financial situation and determine if it’s time to ask your creditors for relief.

There are several ways to seek relief from your debts, and we will discuss each in more detail in subsequent articles. These options are governed by the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act.

consumer proposal is a formal repayment plan that can be tailored to your ability to pay, and minimizes the impact on your credit rating. Creditors may also receive more money than in a bankruptcy. Consumer proposals are for debts that do not exceed $250,000 (excluding mortgage debt on your home).

Personal bankruptcy is where you legally assign your assets to a trustee who will liquidate them and remit the proceeds to your creditors. You can retain some personal assets, such as necessary clothing, and specified amounts of household furnishings, tools, etc. Bankruptcy will stop wage garnishments and legal proceedings, but will have the most severe impact on your credit rating.

Division 1 Proposal is like a consumer proposal, a legal process available under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act that allows you to settle with your creditors and avoid bankruptcy, used when your liabilities exceed $250,000.

Settling tax debt can lead to particular considerations and ways of dealing with the Canada Revenue Agency worthy of its own article, though the proposals use the same framework as a consumer proposal or division 1 proposal.

Starting Over – Rebuilding your Credit

One concern for many individuals contemplating a consumer proposal or bankruptcy is the effect on their credit rating. Your credit rating for a particular loan account will range from R1 – a revolving account in good standing, to R9 – a revolving account in very poor standing.

Bankruptcy will bring a person’s credit rating for each loan account included in her bankruptcy proceedings to an R9 with the credit bureau. It will remain so for 6 years after a discharge from bankruptcy, after which it will be deleted from the debtor’s credit file. For a consumer proposal, A debtor’s credit rating will be downgraded to an “R9” rating with the credit bureau during the performance of the consumer proposal. Once the consumer proposal is completed, the credit rating will be upgraded to “R7”, and will so remain for 3 years. After 3 years, the R7 is deleted from the debtor’s credit file.

Moreover, your credit score will be impacted. This is a number out of 900 which represents an overall assessment of your credit worthiness. This is called a FICO score and is calculated based on the following factors:

  • Your payment history comprises 35% of your FICO score. It includes which of your accounts were paid on time, the amounts owed and the length of any delinquencies. Also included are any adverse public records such as bankruptcies, judgments or liens.
  • Data about your debts comprises 30% of your FICO score. This data includes the number of accounts you owe money on, the type of debt and its total amount. Also included is your credit utilization rate.
  • The length of your credit history comprises 15% of your FICO score. This factor includes the length of time your accounts have been open and how long it’s been since they’ve been active.
  • The types of credit used comprise another 10% of your FICO score. Having a greater variety of differing types of accounts such as credit cards, mortgage payments and retail accounts is more beneficial than holding fewer.
  • The last 10% of your FICO score is made up of data related to new credit applications such as the number of recent credit inquiries, and how many new accounts have been opened. Opening up too many accounts in too short of a time period is interpreted as a sign of risk and will lower your score.

Does this necessarily mean that you won’t be able to get credit during this period? No, it does not.

Your credit history and credit score are certainly important factors in determining your credit worthiness. However, lenders will look at other factors such as your income and your ability to get a guarantor or co-borrower. There are also other devices through which you can rebuild your credit:

  • Secured credit cards – Certain financial institutions issue secured credit cards. By providing a bank or trust company with cash as security against any purchases, such as by providing a money order along with the credit card application, you’ll be issued a credit card with a maximum credit limit equal to the money provided. For example, you submit a $1,000 money order along with the application form, and you are issued a credit card with a limit of $1,000. The bank has your $1,000 as security to ensure you pay your credit card balance.
  • Mortgage brokers – If you are in the market for a home and need financing, a mortgage broker will shop around for the best mortgage rate available to you given your bankruptcy. However, due to your bankruptcy, the rate offered to you will usually be above current market rates. In many cases these higher rates may make renting a better financial choice, though the rent-vs-buy consideration is dependent on many factors, and a credit check may also be part of a landlord’s screening process.

Conclusion

If your debts are overwhelming and you don’t see a way to get out from under them, an insolvency trustee may be able to help you understand your options.

Insolvency trustees are also in a position to help you rebuild your credit, and can refer you to organizations that can assist in financing a vehicle, making a real estate purchase, or securing a credit card account notwithstanding your bankruptcy.

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Index Investing

Index Investing

Written by John Robertson Part 1: What is a Stock Saving for the future is very important, but savings alone can make reaching your financial goals very hard. If every dollar you want to spend in the future – say, for retirement – you have 

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Understanding Critical Illness Insurance

Understanding Critical Illness Insurance

Understanding Critical Illness Insurance By Glenn Cooke Introduction Critical Illness insurance seems pretty straightforward – if you get a critical illness, you get paid a flat benefit. Unfortunately when it comes time to claim, consumers often find that they weren’t covered for what they though 

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Life Insurance as an Investment

Life Insurance as an Investment

Introduction

The financial triangle has a variety of stages – cash flow, insurance, retirement savings, estate and tax planning, and speculative investing. Using life insurance as an investment falls squarely in the upper estate and tax planning level. That means that you should only start looking at using life insurance as an investment AFTER you have cash flow, insurance, and retirement savings all looked after. At that time, life insurance is a very useful (i.e. financially astute) estate and tax planning tool. Prior to that time it’s a poor investment choice.

Life Insurance As an Investment – Pros

Life insurance policies have a number of strong benefits that center around taxes and estate planning. They are:

  • Investments inside a life insurance policy grow on a tax sheltered basis (similiar to an RRSP or TFSA).
  • Death benefits are paid tax free (so if you’re comparing death benefit funds, compare them to other investment choices after tax), including any investments and growth inside the policy.
  • Life insurance policies will accumulate premiums to a larger death benefit upon your passing faster than investing the premiums in a comparable investment choice.
  • In some policies, death benefits and investment amounts can be guaranteed.

The insurance industry generates specific strategies that combine and take advantage of these attributes of life insurance policies to generate tax efficient outcomes. We’ll go through three common investment strategies in this ebook. Each of the strategies will combine the above benefits in some fashion.

Life Insurance As An Investment – Cons

There are a number of drawbacks to using life insurance as an investment, they are:

  • The policy, and in general the investments, are illiquid. They are not suitable if you ever need fast cash from the policy. Compare this to an RRSP or TFSA where if you had an emergency you could access the funds fairly quickly.
  • Being a life insurance policy, there is an insurance cost. This can act as a drag on returns, particularly if using a strategy that is primarily dependent on the investments and not the death benefit.
  • RRSP’s, TFSA’s, RESP’s and other tax sheltering choices will generally perform better than a comparable life insurance investment policy.

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Understanding Life Insurance

Understanding Life Insurance

Introduction Life insurance is confusing to many consumers. What product is best? Should I get cash values? Is life insurance a good investment? It’s overwhelming and difficult to know even where to start. In this e-book we’re going to clear up that confusion. We’re going 

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It’s RRSP Season in Canada, here’s why you need to start saving now.

It’s RRSP Season in Canada, here’s why you need to start saving now.

It’s RRSP Season, and here’s why you should contribute NOW. It’s February in Canada, which means it’s RRSP season once again. Every year we can save money in RRSP’s, and receive a tax deduction for our contributions. The tax deduction alone makes this a great 

Archiving Old Posts

Archiving Old Posts

We’re looking to restart the CFP blog with new, refreshed and revitalized content. Since the blog’s been around since 2011 there’s a lot of really old, probably not relevant any more, content. Rather than leaving them incorporated into the main content section of the site, I’ve decided to archive them into their own seperate category labelled as ‘Pre-2014’.

There’s 75-100 articles in that archive written before we took over writing for the site so please treat any of those posts as non-authoritative. They may be great, they may not be, we haven’t looked at them indepth ourselves so you’re own your own. We did want to keep the content preserved for archival purposes though.

Why Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is a scam

Why Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is a scam

Crypto Technology The technology behind cryptocurrency (bitcoin being one flavour of cryptocurrency) is actually very sound. It’s based on technology called blockchain which is basically a distributed ledger. Recordkeeping and transactions are kept all over the place and it’s virtually impossible to hack or corrupt.