Article content

How do I deal with credit card debt? What options do I have if I owe the Canadian Revenue Service money? How can I get my children to save money? These are the financial questions that Canadians struggle with every day. But there are answers that can help you.

Article content

In more than 30 years as president of the Credit Counselling Service, Scott Hannah helped Canadians tackle these difficult issues. Peta Wilson has since taken over his position. Over the years they have share their tried and true methods to wrestle debt, adapt to mortgage payments, manage bills and or even successfully save for a family vacation. Find out the answers to these and other personal finance questions here.

Article content

What to know about credit cards and how to pay them off:

how to pay off credit card debt

How to break the credit card cycle before you max out

Relying on debt can only last so long and will leave you in a dire financial position. Take immediate action to regain control of your income

Q: We fear we’ve gotten into a habit and that it might be too late to get out of it. My husband and I went through a bad time in the year before COVID and ended up in debt. Then all through the pandemic we were doing OK because we both work in health care and were able to work a lot of overtime. We got used to all the extra money and didn’t think about how that would change with mat leave and if I didn’t go back to work after mat leave ended. So here we are, relying on our credit cards to get by each month because we’re down one income, plus everything has gotten so expensive. Is there anything we can do so that we don’t end up in even more trouble when our credit cards get maxed out? ~Laura

Article content

A: There’s unfortunately no quick or easy way to turn your situation back around, but there are things you can do to make it easier as you work toward getting back on track. When you want to stop relying on credit to make ends meet, these tips will help. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

5 tips to paying off credit cards faster

To pay credit cards off fast, set a goal and stick with a debt reduction strategy. Use tips and tricks to make it work

Q: My son has been struggling to get his credit cards paid off so that he can afford to move out. He’s in his twenties and has a decent job, but life is expensive. I can’t afford to loan him any money to help him out, but living at home rent free and helping around the yard when he can works well for both of us. Despite this, he was frustrated the other night that it’s taking so long to get his credit cards paid off. I try not to use my cards, so I’m not really sure what to tell him. Are there any ways to pay credit cards off quickly? ~ Sven

Article content

A: Credit cards can be a flexible friend or frustrating foe, depending on where your balance stands. Like others, your son is feeling frustrated by how much longer it takes to pay off credit card debt, once interest and fees are added on to the balance owing. There are, however, effective strategies to get out from under the burden of credit card debt. Here are tips to deal with debts more quickly. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Credit card minimum payment myths and mistakes

Why debt is the gift that keeps on giving in all the wrong ways

Q: My boyfriend and I were doing OK getting our credit card debt under control. I was finishing school and my boyfriend had plenty of work in construction. Any extra money we had went towards paying down our cards. But he got hurt shortly after our daughter was born and with both of us on reduced income, we basically undid all the progress we had made. Thankfully we had our credit cards to fall back on, but we had no idea that even though we could keep up with the minimum payments, that wouldn’t actually keep us going very long. We thought we were doing the right thing by making the minimum payments each month. Are we missing something? ~Faith

Article content

A: Credit cards have their place, but without fully understanding how they work and how we can utilize them to our advantage, the lifeline they provide during difficult circumstances can quickly become a trap. Once we have a balance owing on our credit cards that we carry over from month to month, we quickly learn how debt can be the gift that just keeps on giving, in all the worst possible ways. However, regaining control is possible. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Why it’s really worth checking over your credit card statements

Review bills for accuracy and to spot potentially costly spending habits. Balance and payment info isn’t enough to keep debt under control

Q: I’m recently separated from my spouse of 32 years and we are working through separating our finances. We have a mostly amicable separation and as we figure out how to untangle everything, I’ve noticed that it’s been a long time since I’ve managed money on my own. Setting up a new, second home is also costing a lot more than I thought it would. Keeping track of my spending isn’t really the issue — it’s credit card bills. They seem to get out of hand so fast! It’s gotten to the point where I just pay them without even looking them over very carefully. What can I do to keep better track of my credit card bills? ~Lily

Article content

A: At some point, almost everyone who has a credit card has experienced “balance shock.” It’s the feeling we get when we look at our statement in disbelief, thinking how we could have spent as much as we did, or how all those small transactions could have added up to so much. To stay on top of your finances, it’s important to quickly inventory all of your bills, not just credit card statements, at least monthly. Then aim to do a more thorough review no later than every second or third month. Here’s why, and how it will help you manage money better. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Becoming financially literate about credit can avoid expensive mistakes

While borrowers have certain rights, so do lenders; and both parties have responsibilities toward each other as well

Article content

Q: I overheard my son and his friend, who are both 20 years old, talking and was surprised how frank his friend was about not being able to make her credit card payments. I know her hours at work got cut but she just figured she could pay whatever she could whenever she had the cash. I didn’t want to interfere in their conversation, but I talked to my son afterward. He hasn’t applied for a credit card yet and so he didn’t realize that what his friend was doing could get her into trouble with the lender. While neither of the kids came right out to say it, I got the sense that they believed that once they got the credit card, they could call the shots on paying it back. What can you suggest? ~Adrienne

A: Anyone who has applied for credit at least a few times knows credit is a privilege, not a right. While borrowers have certain rights, so do lenders; and both parties have responsibilities toward each other as well. While your son and his friend may not appreciate a financial lesson from you right now, giving them a heads-up as to what could happen if they choose to play it fast and loose with their credit cards might just save them from a lot of grief later on. Here are some other tips about what to share with them. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Article content

How to avoid the new credit card processing fees

If credit cards are your preferred payment type, new processing fees will sting. But use them as motivation to change spending habits and get out of debt

Q: I heard in the news that anyone who accepts credit cards as a form of payment could start charging extra fees. With the cost of living already being so high, I was hoping that wouldn’t happen. But I got a notice from my cellphone company that they would start charging me a small percentage when I pay with my Visa card. While the fee is less than $2 a month for me right now, if everyone charges me a bit, it will add up quickly. What can I do? ~Roger

A: Merchants are charged a fee when their customers pay by credit card. The amount of the fee also varies by the type of card you use; the more perks for the cardholder, the higher the fee for the merchant. In the past, retailers were forced to absorb these fees as a cost of doing business and they were prohibited from passing them along to their customers. A change was made to the agreements between retailers and Visa, Mastercard, and other credit card companies and businesses can now pass these fees along to their customers. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Article content

WATCH: The high cost of bad habits


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

What to know about debt and how to pay it off

how to pay off debt

How to get around these four debt repayment mistakes

Getting out of debt isn’t nearly as easy as getting into debt, so use this secret weapon. Here’s how, plus three more tips to avoid debt repayment pitfalls

Q: We’ve been struggling to pay off our debts for what seems like forever. We get one bill paid off and another seems to come up out of nowhere. It’s not like we don’t know about the bills; we do. But we’ve been married going on eight years and neither one of us remembers a time when we didn’t owe money to someone. What are we doing wrong? ~Trisha

A: Debt can be a tricky thing, and when we use credit, it unfortunately takes much less time to get into debt than out. Whether you’re debt dealing with, just when it feels like you’ve finally got the upper hand, life happens and the path to debt-freedom takes a detour. However, don’t let a detour derail you. Here are four insights into debt repayment pitfalls that you could be inadvertently making, and what to do instead. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Article content

How to break free from the spending spiral

Combat overspending by identifying your triggers and look for tips to shop without overspending. Try a buy list and realistic goals to stay focused

Q: As we did our taxes and got receipts together for our small home-based business, we realized that we’ve spent thousands of dollars this year already on stuff we hardly remember buying. No wonder our credit card balances never go down. We both work day jobs right now and are building our own business on the side so that I can stay home with the kids as they grow up. I’ll start on mat leave with number three this summer so our household income will go down, which is terrifying if we can’t stop spending so much. We both feel pretty guilty about our finances right now and realize we need to make serious changes. Where do we start? ~Deborah

Article content

A: Overspending has become an epidemic in our consumer-driven society, leaving many people drowning in debt. The first step toward positive change when you’re feeling stressed financially is to acknowledge the issue. However, smart money management is about more than the mathematical and getting back on track is better viewed as a marathon than a sprint. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Top 5 money tips that work for everyone

Taking steps to bring your spending in line with your current level of income and paying debt off, makes it easier to manage when income and expenses change

Q: Our youngest daughter and son-in-law recently confided in us that they were going to wait longer than planned to start a family because they don’t think they can afford it. With the high cost of living and locking their variable rate mortgage in at a much higher rate than they had been paying, they said their budget was beyond tight. They’ve got car loans, student loans, and we see lots of pictures from their various trips and activities. While we helped them out once before, my wife and I now need to look after ourselves. We plan to retire in two years and don’t want debt to hinder the lifestyle we’re looking forward to. We have no idea how the kids afford the lifestyle they are living and do worry about their future. Is there any advice we can give them? ~ Stephen

Article content

A: It is difficult to stand by and see adult children struggle with their choices, but it’s wise of you to look out for your own financial future so that you don’t become a burden to your family as you age. tt is also smart of your daughter and son-in-law to consider the financial aspects of starting a family. If they’re already struggling, adding little ones won’t make life any easier. With that in mind, there are a number of smart money tips that have stood the test of time. As I retire, after 43 years in the credit industry, these are the top tips I would give anyone who is looking to create a stable financial future. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

4 reasons why debt is so scary

One of the scariest things about debt is that it comes disguised as the convenience of credit and takes many forms

Article content

Q: With the cost of everything so high, my family and I are finding it harder to make ends meet. We have had to rely on our credit cards just to get by. Now, we’re in over our heads, all of those “small purchases” have been adding up and we have significantly increased our debt load. We’re in serious financial trouble, and we don’t even know how bad things are because we’re afraid to look at any of our statements or open any bills. Everything that we get that looks like a bill just goes into a box in the garage. I am terrified to know how serious the problem is. Why is debt so scary, and how can we deal with it? ~Eric

A: Debt has become such a normal part of most Canadians’ lives that we hardly give it a second thought. But it lurks in dark corners and during times of financial unrest, can jump out to scare us like a ghoul on fright night. One of the scariest things about debt is that it comes disguised as the convenience of credit and takes many forms. Then before we know it, we are living in a nightmare and getting back on track seems like an elusive dream. Here are four more reasons why debt is so scary and what you can do to avoid its spooky consequences. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Article content

What not to do when paying off your debts

Think more debt won’t hurt? A loan to pay off credit cards or DIY by cashing out savings? With debt, what you don’t do is just as important as what you do

Q: One of the ladies I work with confided in me the other day that she and her husband are struggling with their debts. I know they’ve had an expensive few years, bringing their extended family to Canada and supporting them while they get settled. But the last I heard was that the family members are now working and can take some of the pressure off my co-worker and her partner. This co-worker drives a new Tesla, wears expensive clothes, and goes out for lunch every day. I’m struggling with my debts, too, and would love a new car, name-brand clothes, and to not worry about meal planning that gives me leftovers for lunch. What am I doing wrong? ~Galit

Article content

A: When it comes to credit, things often aren’t what they seem. Credit allows someone to live a lifestyle that they can’t necessarily afford. Then, if they get in over their heads, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to deal with what is owed. When paying off your debt, what you don’t do is as important as what you do. With that in mind, here are three of the biggest don’ts and what to do instead. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

The lifelines that really work when you’re financially drowning

While you may not be able to see a way forward, you likely have more options to deal with your situation than you realize

Q: When our mortgage came up for renewal during the pandemic, we decided to renew with a variable rate rather than a fixed rate term. The variable interest rates were so low we figured we’d save the difference and pay off other debts. Our plan worked until interest rates started going up. We didn’t know that we could lock in, so did not do it. Now our mortgage payments are about $750 a month higher than they were when we renewed. There’s no savings left to put toward anything else and we’re struggling to get by week to week. We still owe on our other debts and don’t know how we can pay them without any money. We feel like we’re drowning, what can we do? ~Kelsey

Article content

A: The key advantage behind variable rate mortgages flew out the window when interest rates rose suddenly and sharply in 2022. Traditionally, variable rate mortgages outperformed fixed rate mortgages over a 25-year period, allowing homeowners to pay off their mortgages more quickly. That, however, isn’t comforting when you feel like you’re drowning in debt and trying to make ends meet. Things will turn around eventually, but you might feel you are not able to wait it out. While you may not be able to see a way forward, you likely have more options to deal with your situation than you realize. Some solutions will be harder to work through than others, but hopefully these tips will give you a starting point and help ease your worries. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Article content

These key mistakes about how you view credit can cost you

Is your available credit a safety net to use in an emergency or an extension of your paycheque for everyday expenses?

Q: I work for a large company and often don’t know my co-workers very well. I was having lunch the other day when I got to talking with someone who has worked for the company for about three years. They were thinking of quitting to find a job that pays more so that they can afford to make their student loan, credit card, and loan payments, without taking in a roommate. However, they had just finished bragging about all the credit they have, how the points add up to a lot of extra vacations, and then showed me their new gold card. I didn’t even know us twenty-somethings could have gold cards! My parents raised me to be careful with my money so I only use my credit card when I know I can pay it off. I’ve got other friends who treat credit the same way this co-worker does. Is it really that bad to use credit more than I do? ~Lora

Article content

A: There are several kinds of credit products and each serves a slightly different purpose. Those who have faced challenges with debt know how quickly the negative aspects of credit can spiral out of control and outweigh the positive. So as with any tool, it’s important to use it correctly, wisely and in moderation in the case of credit. With that in mind, here are four common mistakes people make when thinking about how to use credit, and what to do instead. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

One critical thing you can do to resolve financial problems

When struggling with financial troubles, look for ways to break old habits. Identify the cause to determine how best to resolve them

Q: My wife and I are at our whit’s ends about our finances and can’t seem to agree on anything these days. I run a business with a business partner and my wife has a great job in her field. We’ve never had trouble with money and earn enough that we should be able to afford anything we need or want, but we’re living paycheque to paycheque and stressing over how to get all of our bills paid each month. It’s affecting our health and relationships. I’ve had to take time off and my business partner is wondering what’s up. My wife’s relationship with her daughter is getting strained because we’re having trouble helping her while she’s away at university. I’m afraid things will turn into a big mess if we don’t do something quickly, but where do we start? ~Byron

Article content

A: While it may be of little comfort, surveys highlight that you are not alone. More Canadians are feeling overcome by their debt and financial problems than last year, including those earning higher incomes. You have, however, taken the first step to dealing with your situation, namely admitting that you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help with your money, which is unfortunately what prevents many people from getting the guidance and assistance they need. No one is born knowing how to manage their money, yet at the same time, we’re somehow expected to have it figured out by the time we’re adults; something we are not always prepared for, especially if our plans are disrupted by events beyond our control. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Article content

WATCH: The high cost of bad habits: 5 things to know


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

How to save money

how to save money

Hidden ways to save on household expenses without spending a dime

Develop cost-saving habits before spending on pricey appliances or renovations. Here’s how

Q: Our son and a roommate are living in the suite in our house, however, there is some sharing of common space. They are just a year out of high school so we’re helping them learn the ins and outs of living on their own. One thing we’re noticing is how they tend to leave the lights on or run the dishwasher more often than we did as a family of four. As a result, our electricity and gas bills have increased more than we expected when we set their rent fairly low to help them out. We can’t afford to keep subsidizing them to the degree that we are. Do you have any suggestions about how we can get our utility bills back under control without spending a ton of money on renovations? ~Leslie

Article content

A: Becoming responsible for your own affairs is a milestone step for young adults. Finding a way to bridge that leap with guidance and support helps set up kids for success. If you’re able to provide a separate living area within your home, that can be a great way to mimic moving out. However, even when young adults remain living in their childhood bedroom, it’s still possible to help them prepare for an independent future. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

The 5 best practical tips to beat inflation

Check your financial institution to earn more interest. Gain an appreciation for risk versus return and put even small balances to work

Q: My fiancé and I are getting married in the summer and we are worried for our future. He’s been out of school for a few years and has a good job. I recently finished school and am looking for work to start my career. We both have student loans to pay off and the payments are higher than we expected. We wanted a large wedding, but our parents gave us the choice of helping with the wedding or with a down payment on our first home. We chose the home, but now we’re not sure if we can ever afford to buy. Is there anything we can do to get ahead when life is so expensive? ~Kaleigh

Article content

A: The cost of living is higher than it has been for several decades and there’s unfortunately, no way to know for sure when that will change for the better. For the current cohort of young adults embarking on their futures means that many will face decisions they never anticipated having to make. While being flexible and creative will make it easier to find ways to achieve your goals, with living costs still high and inflation not yet taking a back seat to other financial challenges, it’s worth finding ways to beat inflation and make your money stretch as far as it can. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

If saving money seems unrealistic, here’s how to do it and why it still matters

If you allocate an amount to put into savings each time you get paid, you’ll create some breathing room

Article content

Q: My boyfriend of nearly five years and I have recently moved in together. It saves us money on rent and utilities, and we can share a car. We also plan on getting married in a few years when we’re both finished school. However, with the high cost of rent and life in general, we’ve both taken one or two fewer classes so that we have more time to work. It will delay starting our future careers, but we can’t see any other way to make it work right now. We are also rapidly depleting our savings and some of our extra expenses end up on our credit cards. We help each other out as best we can, but we don’t see how we can save and work toward our future when we’re living paycheque to paycheque. What can you suggest? ~Emily

A: The high cost of living is hitting many Canadians hard right now, and students are no exception. While things will eventually turn around, it can be hard to be patient and manage through the stress and worry. What you’ve done to continue working toward your goals while paying your own way is a great start. However, depleting your savings could inadvertently turn temporary financial difficulty into long-term money problems. Savings helps ensure your current and future financial well-being; without it, you’ll always be struggling. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Article content

How fostering an attitude of gratitude can save you money

Decide what’s best for your overall well-being and the legacy you want to leave, and remember to be grateful for those elements money can’t buy

Q: For many years my wife and I planned to renovate our kitchen. We tackled the project last year and did some of the work ourselves. This saved us a few thousand dollars, which we put toward higher end appliances. My wife chose the stainless steel appliances she wanted, however, within a few weeks of them being installed, she wasn’t happy with how dark they made it feel in the kitchen. We changed the lighting, but she still wasn’t satisfied. I reluctantly agreed that we’d swap out the appliances for white ones. We’ve got most of them changed and are trying to sell the stainless steel ones to recover some of the cost, but we’re losing a lot of money. My wife still isn’t entirely happy and now she wants some cupboards removed so that a window can be added. My wife and I have been arguing about this for a few weeks. How can I get my wife to see that we have a really nice kitchen and spending more isn’t affordable? ~Peter

Article content

A: It can be hard to picture the outcome of a renovation project, and each person involved in the project may have a different opinion once the end result is clear. Ideally, everyone is pleased and can enjoy the fruits of their labour. However, when things don’t turn out quite how someone pictured and after reasonable attempts to make changes have run their course, the time comes for bigger decisions. These might include starting a remedial renovation project to correct the “mistake,” selling your home and moving, delaying additional work after saving up the needed funds, or choosing to be satisfied with the outcome as it is. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Leap into the year with a focus on saving money

Contributing to your savings account every time you get paid gives you flexibility as you plan how to achieve your financial goals

Q: Toward the end of January I expect to receive my annual bonus from work. Like previous years, I plan to put it into my RRSP. Our budget is tight, especially with my wife still on maternity leave, but since the bonus money is never guaranteed, we figure we should save it before we spend it. However, when we were at the bank the other day, the adviser recommended contributing every time we get paid, rather than just once a year. Is that really a better idea? ~Carson

A: Setting money aside in savings, regardless of the frequency, is a habit that has fallen by the wayside for many Canadians during these years of high living costs. Even when working to pay down debt, it’s essential to save at least some money for emergencies to avoid going back into debt to cover the expenses when they occur. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to tame a wild gardening budget to grow your own food

Growing your own food saves money on groceries and provides exercise and time outside. Here are tips to get started

Q: Recently separated and with full-time custody of my three middle school-aged kids, I’m having a lot of trouble keeping up with our expenses. The groceries alone are killing my budget. My ex isn’t paying any child support so thankfully both sets of grandparents are helping with daycare. The kids know how expensive groceries have gotten because they help with the shopping. We live frugally so they’ve suggested we plant a garden this year. We have some space in our yard and it would be a fun project for the four of us. How do we get started without breaking the bank? ~Emily

A: Home-based gardening grew in popularity during the pandemic. Whether using a small portion of the yard, pots on the patio or balcony, or a plot secured in a community garden, this became one way in which many people chose to keep busy and get the fruit and vegetables they wanted when it wasn’t possible to get them elsewhere. For many, it was also a way to save money. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to make (and stick to) a budget:

how to make and stick to a budget

Cash stuffing: What is it and how does it work?

Cash stuffing a simple way to keep track of your money and how you’ve planned to spend it — but you need to keep your cash safe

Q: I was at my daughter’s condo last week and a small binder on her kitchen counter caught my eye. It was filled with brightly coloured plastic envelopes stuffed with various amounts of cash. I assumed it belonged to her roommate because I wouldn’t know where my daughter would get that much cash. She typically pays for everything with an app on her phone. She assured me that it was hers and that she had started using the cash stuffing method of budgeting to pay off her credit cards so that she could afford to go back to school. I’m proud of her for taking charge of her finances, but I couldn’t help but think that she really hasn’t discovered anything new. My great grandmother used to keep envelopes of cash in her bedroom drawer. Either way, my daughter figures that she should be back on track in about a year. Is cash stuffing really that effective? ~Colleen

A: Cash stuffing is simply a catchy new term for a tried-and-true budgeting strategy that we know works. It’s a simple way to keep track of how much money you have and how you’ve planned to spend it. Tech-obsessed consumers have popularized it through TikTok and share mounting successes on various social media platforms. Where previous generations kept envelopes of money safely tucked away in bedroom or kitchen drawers, many today proudly share their creative #cashstuffing systems on social media, spending extra money on colourful pens, binders, and stickies to do it. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

September reset for family finances: Don’t let bad habits derail your budget

Did the summer holidays turn into a free-for-all for your finances and family routine? Try these tips to ditch costly habits and get back on track

Q: Our family of five has had a busy summer. Our oldest worked two jobs saving up for a car and his education. Our younger two would have liked to work but are still too young. Between various day camps, spending time with friends, and going away to visit their cousins, their summer was full as well. While the busy summer led to a lot of fun in between everyone’s obligations, it also derailed our household schedule and routine. Staying up late, sleeping in, and being too lazy to cook much at home — how do we rein in our lives to get back on track, especially with our finances? ~Jen

A: With the high cost of living, many Canadian families feel like they’ve fallen a long way off track, with little hope of freeing up enough breathing room in their monthly budget to make a difference. If your goal is to save money while reinvigorating your family’s routine, here are tips to consider. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Turn around financial stress on Blue Monday — and beyond

Identify the areas of your finances that you can control, then outline what you can do to improve them. A big piece of making lasting changes will be your budget

Q: I’m 24 years old and was fortunate to buy a small condo with my savings and help from my grandma a few years ago. My girlfriend moved in with me soon after and things went well for a while. After a few months, she lost her job and hasn’t been able to find another one yet. We took her car off the road to save money, but it isn’t enough. The situation has really gotten her down, which is hard on both of us, and she finally let her sister take her to the doctor to get some help. Now our strata fees have increased, I was on EI for a few months too, and the bills have been adding up. We argue a lot about money and can’t afford to go out very often. I’m worried all the time about what would happen if I lost my job too. What can we do? ~Curtis

A: According to mental health experts, January brings some of the bleakest and most depressing days of the year. When trying to cope with sadness or depression, experts recommend self-care and support. For Blue Monday and beyond, if financial problems are contributing to those feelings, here are steps to help you take back control of your finances. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Mid-year financial review: Is it time for a new plan?

Reviewing how you’ve managed money for the past six months can do wonders for staying on track with goals. Here are tips for an effective financial checkup

Q: When my girlfriend and I got our tax refunds, we put them in savings because one of our goals this year was to find the money to take our first post-COVID trip. However, another one of our goals was to pay down our credit cards, so that we could start saving for our wedding. Needless to say, with the high cost of living, we haven’t made a huge dent in our credit-card balances. That’s super frustrating because now we’re halfway through the year and no better off than when it started. What can we do? ~Todd

A: Many who made New Year’s resolutions have likely revised them several times or abandoned them altogether. However, in the words of William Arthur Ward, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”  July is a great time to perform a mid-year financial review and adjust any sails that need adjusting. It’s an opportunity to review where you stand in relation to your goals and make a plan for the next six months. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What you should know about mortgages and home equity lines of credit:

what you should know about mortgages

How to prepare for that fixed-rate mortgage payment increase

A blended approach to managing your finances over the next few years will likely be the easiest way to prepare yourself for higher payments

Q: We bought our first home a little over a year ago. We thankfully took a five-year fixed rate mortgage with a low interest rate and don’t have to worry quite yet, but we’ve seen reports that we could be in for much higher payments when we renew. My wife will finish school in about a year and we should have two incomes by then, except that we’ll also have student loan payments when she starts working. Our plan is to wait a bit longer to start a family, but a maternity leave might need to be part of our financial plan before the five years is up. Is there anything we can do to get ready for higher payments? We just feel so helpless and at the mercy of factors beyond our control. ~Ethan

A: There have been a number of recent reports that highlight the need for homeowners to prepare themselves for higher mortgage payments. The Bank of Canada even went so far as to say that for all those who have a mortgage, they will face higher interest rates within three or four years. This is extremely worrisome news for Canadians with already tight household budgets.  However, there are options, and the best way to ease your worries is to act now; get on track with all of your debts. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Why a lot of home equity won’t guarantee refinancing your mortgage

Before you make any financial decisions about the equity in your home, understand the purpose of the annual assessment notices and the lending process

Q: I went through a nasty divorce about 10 years ago and ended up having to borrow some money from my family for the down payment on a townhouse for my kids and myself. I’m on a fixed income and try to be very careful with money so that we have what we need. Support payments from my ex help, when I get them, and I can work a few hours each week, too. The plan is to pay my family back when I can, but when I got my assessment notice, I thought maybe that time is now. The value of my place has gone up over $400,000 since I bought it and my mortgage amount is quite low. However, when I talked to my bank, they said I didn’t qualify. I was surprised because my credit rating is also good. What can I do? ~Danni

A: If the value of your home has gone up significantly in the time that you’ve owned it, receiving this year’s assessment notice could have instantly made you feel very wealthy. Unfortunately, if the value of your home went down, it could cause you reason for concern. However, what the assessment notice says and what a home would actually sell for can be quite different. Before you make any financial decisions about the equity in your home, understand the purpose of the annual assessment notices and the lending process. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

That home equity line of credit is not as cheap and easy as you think

The impact of the Bank of Canada interest rate hikes on your monthly HELOC payments will depend on how much you owe and how tight your household budget is

Q: We got very used to relying on our home equity line of credit (HELOC) to get us through the pandemic when we both lost our jobs. Thankfully our mortgage lender set it up for us a few years ago when we upsized our home. However, while we do our best to stay on top of payments, we are very worried about what will happen if interest rates go up again because we do owe a sizable sum. What can we do? ~Andira

A: Canadians love their home equity lines of credit. Homeowners with access to a HELOC use them for everything from self-guided debt consolidation, home renovations, emergency financing, helping family, and high-interest credit card payments where lucrative loyalty points encourage consistent spending. Our use and dependence on them has grown exponentially during the last few decades of low variable interest rates, increasing property values, and new mortgage products. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Don’t get caught short with tighter regulations for home-equity line of credit

Don’t let a lower limit leave you short. Speak to your lender about options and plan ahead

Q: When we bought our home about five years ago, we applied for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) at the same time. It’s an older home in need of renovations so we planned to use the line of credit to finance the renos. Because we haven’t used it much since we took out the mortgage, I contacted our bank and spoke with our lender to make sure we’ve got the money available that we anticipate needing. Good thing I asked. It turns out the rules are changing, and we have less money available than we thought we did. We don’t quite understand what’s going on, but we don’t want to leave ourselves short. What can you suggest? ~Lily

A: The rules in Canada around how much a homeowner can borrow against the equity in their home are in the process of changing for some types of loans. As of the end of this year, all federally regulated financial institutions will need to adhere to a maximum real estate loan of no more than 65 per cent of the declared value of a home when a conventional mortgage is paired with a secured line of credit. Previously, the limit was 80 per cent, so the biggest impact will be felt by those who have a combined loan product and owe more than 65 per cent of the value of their home, as declared when the mortgage was first advanced. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

5 ways to afford a first mortgage when interest rates are high

The pandemic spawned creative home ownership options, worth considering if shopping for a mortgage

Q: ​During COVID our young adult son moved home. His roommate situation dissolved and it just made sense for him to come back. It was a blessing in disguise, but it’s time he gets back out on his own. He was able to keep working throughout the pandemic, helped his dad with a renovation project, and we got to have some quality time with him before he embarks on the next stage of his life. He contributed toward groceries but we didn’t charge him rent, with the agreement that he use the opportunity to save toward long-term goals. His savings account is now in great shape and we’re helping him consider his options for buying a place of his own. We definitely don’t want him to get in over his head though. What can you suggest? ~Petra

A: Many parents appreciated the bonus time the pandemic gave them with their young adult children. Whether kids moved home when their post-secondary studies went online or because remote work arrangements allowed them to do so, it gave many families opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had. However, all good things must eventually come to an end so that each generation of your family can move on with their respective goals. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

The best strategies when the high cost of living affects your mortgage payments

When the cost of living affects your mortgage and HELOC payments, take steps to identify options and solutions

Q: We upsized our home during the pandemic, taking advantage of the low interest rates. While we didn’t max out our mortgage, when we did some renovations and built a suite above the garage, we did max out our home equity line of credit. Thankfully we took out a five-year fixed rate mortgage, so we don’t need to worry about our mortgage payment increasing for another few years. But the high cost of living is making it a struggle to make our line of credit payments and afford all of our other bills. What can we do? ~Tanya

A: Many Canadians took advantage of the low interest rates during the pandemic. Some took on new mortgages at near-historically low interest rates for both fixed and variable rate loans. Home equity line of credit (HELOC) applications and usage hit record numbers, and while credit card use declined at the start of the pandemic, by the end of 2021 it was higher than ever. Needless to say, our altered financial habits, along with factors beyond our control, can make managing our money challenging right now.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Is using a credit line to buy a car better than dealer financing?

How you pay for the vehicle should be as comfortable and affordable as sitting in the driver’s seat

Q: My truck is currently in the shop for repairs but they’ve told me it’s not worth fixing. I’ve got some money for a down payment on a used one but instead of going through the whole application process for dealer financing, I’m thinking I could just use my line of credit to pay for it. My brother hesitated when I asked him if that was a good idea or not. What do you think? ~Aaron

A: Purchasing a vehicle is usually the second-biggest spending decision most of us make; the biggest being our home. However, a good many people spend more time planning their next vacation than the purchase of a new set of wheels. When it comes to paying for a vehicle, new or used, it ultimately comes down to ensuring that how you pay for the car or truck is as comfortable and affordable as sitting in the driver’s seat. Here are some things to consider. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

What to know about consolidation and payday loans:

what you should know about debt consolidation loans

Beware hidden dangers with a debt consolidation loan — and how to overcome them

There are pros and cons with every debt relief option. Ensure that the option you choose keeps you out of debt in the future

Q: The first time I had to bail my son out financially was when he tried to start a business, but he had a falling out with his business partner. Then there was the time he wanted to impress his girlfriend. Let’s just say that my back and wallet would hurt a lot less if I had left him to renovate my basement on his own dime. There was also one-time when he gambled away most of his inheritance from his grandmother after he’d already racked up his credit cards. Fortunately, he’s been on the straight and narrow for close to 10 years now, but there’s some debt holding him back. I can’t afford to help him again because I’ll be retiring soon, so I suggested he talk to my banker. It sounds like a consolidation loan might be an option, but I know my son — borrowing more money is a slippery slope for him. The lower interest rate and one payment could really work for him though, so what’s the catch? ~Barry

A: No one is born knowing how to manage their money and it can take some people a while to figure out a system that works for them. If it’s our kids struggling to get on top of their finances, it can be hard to stand by without lending a hand. However, there comes a time when bailing out our adult children can do more harm than good. It could set them up to fail or jeopardize our own financial well-being. During these times, one of the best ways to support them is as an objective sounding board as they explore options to get them out of their bind. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to regain control when trapped by payday loan debt

High borrowing costs of payday loans can lead to a cycle of debt and financial ruin. Best to avoid them, but get help if you’re trapped

Q: About seven or eight months ago I was short on rent money again. I got a payday loan so that the kids and I didn’t get evicted. I managed to pay it back but then had to get another one. This started a cycle of getting more and more loans, but when my car broke down that was the final straw. My credit cards have been maxed out for months and the payday loan places have cut me off unless I start paying back what I owe. But all of my paycheques are going to bills. I go to the food bank as often as I can, my kids get some of their lunches at school, and it killed me to stop their after-school activities. Despite these cost-cutting measures I don’t know how much longer before we get evicted. What can I do? ~Tyler

A: Getting trapped into a payday loan cycle happens innocently enough for most borrowers. Most people step into the web when they are short on one bill or payment and figure that getting a short-term loan or advance against their next paycheque will be manageable. The first loan might be manageable if repaid in full and on time. The problem arises when this no longer happens. After all, payday loans are among the most expensive forms of credit available to consumers in Canada. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

3 tips to make a debt consolidation loan work for you

A consolidation loan isn’t a magic fix for debt. Explore all of your debt relief options first and make an informed decision that benefits you in the long run

Q: We’ve been struggling with our debt for a long time. For a while things get better, then something happens, and we get behind again. The last time we maxed out our credit cards was for car repairs and with the cost of living so high right now, we can barely make the minimum payments. One of the credit card companies contacted me the other day and suggested we get a consolidation loan to pay off what we owe. I talked to my bank, and it seems like a loan would solve our money problem. Is it too good to be true? ~Brad

A: Debt has a funny way of piling up over the years. For a while, we can sweep it under the rug and not worry about it too much. But there comes a time when it spills out and we’re forced to deal with it. Debt unfortunately won’t take care of itself, and it doesn’t go away on its own.  There are many different ways to deal with debt and there are even different types of debt consolidation. The options depend on your overall situation and if you can afford to make payments or not. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to do when you’ve consolidated credit and it didn’t work

When you’ve consolidated credit in an effort to get out of debt, only to end up deep in debt again, it can be frustrating

Q: About a year ago, when I was having trouble making my loan and credit card payments, my bank suggested I get a consolidation loan. I took the loan because the interest rate was lower than what I was paying, so overall, my payments went down. I was doing OK and getting myself back on track financially, but I’m back in debt again and this time, I’ve still got the consolidation loan to pay too. I feel worse off than before I consolidated my credit, what should I do? ~Sean

A: A debt consolidation loan is typically one of the first options many people use when they want to get their finances back on track. However, consolidation loans have two key pitfalls that need to be addressed before your loan can help you achieve your goals. If you don’t deal with the underlying cause of your debt problem first, and then establish and live according to a realistic budget, your loan will almost certainly fail. But all hope is not lost if this is what happened to you.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to pay your bills if your income drops:

how to pay your bills if your income drops

How to avoid financial failure if your income decreases

As tempting as it is to use credit to supplement a cash crunch, avoid it unless there is absolutely no other alternative

Q: I’ve worked in the tech industry for almost all of the past decade since I graduated from college. While I love my job and the people I work with, we’re all a bit nervous that job cuts could impact us sooner than later. I live paycheque to paycheque and am using my savings to top up what I need to pay for essentials. I don’t know what I’ll do when I run out of savings though. Hopefully I’ll still have my job because as a single person, I don’t have anyone else who can help me. What can you suggest? ~Eli

A: Since the pandemic started, Canadians have said they are feeling increasingly stressed about their finances. However, when we surveyed Canadians, we found the reasons as to why they are struggling have changed. Understanding these differences can help shed light on what you can do personally to get by during this difficult time. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to cut essential expenses if you’re on strike

It can be tough to know how to reduce expenses when your income is suddenly reduced or eliminated. Here are tips to get through a strike

Q: My wife and I are very worried about how we’ll manage if I go on strike. Her income isn’t enough to support our family. Her parents live with us and our kids are both active in after-school sports and music programs. We unfortunately refinanced our mortgage to consolidate debt during the pandemic, so while our bills are probably normal, our mortgage payments are about as high as they can be. What can you suggest to help us? — Phillip

A: Whether our income is jeopardized due to a strike, unplanned time off to care for a loved one or an injury, the result is the same: Uncertainty and worry about how we’ll provide for our family and afford our essentials. Given the ever-increasing cost of living over the past year, having to live on strike pay for the foreseeable future is that much more daunting for those currently walking the picket line. As hard as it is to live on drastically reduced income, there are some things you can do to make it easier.   READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to manage through a no-income crisis

When you’re injured and your income and savings slip away faster than you’re recovering, take steps to protect yourself from even more serious money worries

Q: I got hurt working odd jobs a few months ago and it’s taking a long time to get better. I was working for cash and kind of for myself, so I don’t have any income replacement through insurance. I do have a regular part-time job, but I don’t have extended benefits and can’t do that work right now either. I’ve run out of savings and have no family members who can help me. I’ve applied for medical EI, but even if I get it, it won’t be much because that’s from my part-time job. My credit cards thankfully haven’t been cut off yet and I should be able to do a cash advance for one or two more months of rent. Other bills I just can’t pay right now. What can I do? ~Landon

A: After the last few years and the current high cost of living, you are in a very tough position. Losing your income is bad enough but trying to heal from your injuries at the same time makes it that much worse. When you’re in a really tough spot financially, it’s important to focus on what will help you meet your basic needs first. This will keep you as healthy and safe as possible so that you have the energy to get through your rehabilitation and back on track.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to protect your well-being and your finances when disaster strikes

There are steps that can mitigate financial crisis and assist everyone in recovery

Q: We are fortunate to be able to host our extended family who had to flee the wildfires up North. It’s the least we can do to help them get through this crisis. They know their home has been damaged but are not sure yet if it’s a total loss. We are helping them look for temporary shelter options back home, although it’s all a bit overwhelming because they’re not sure what work will look like when they go back. Is there anything you can suggest to help them financially? ~Clayton

A: Take care of your own and your family’s immediate needs first. Follow provincial and local instructions about evacuating to a place of safety because even a small place to call home temporarily will provide you with a degree of security to weather the coming days and weeks. Register with the emergency support services program and apply for any assistance you’re eligible for. There may also be services in your community, such as the Red Cross, government and local relief efforts to help with finding shelter, buying groceries, and replacing household items for those who have lost everything. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to prevent a banking crisis from collapsing your personal finances

Here are three things to think about as you consider your financial situation in light of the current banking collapse in the U.S.

Q: My mortgage is up for renewal later this year. I talked to the bank about it, and they told me that I should expect my payments to increase a lot if interest rates are as high in the fall as they are now. I’m stressed about that because I’m just getting by as it is. Now I’m worried about what the American banking crisis means for Canada and if that will make my situation even worse. I don’t really understand what is happening with the collapse of the banks, but I read in the news that people won’t be getting paid right now because the government took control of their money. I know I couldn’t afford to miss a paycheque, I can’t imagine what they’ll do. Is there really any way to prepare for something like that? ~Troy

A: Emergencies come in many forms and while large-scale events are out of our control, how we prepare for emergencies and react when they do occur is within our control. Consider what happened during the financial crisis of 2008 and more recently, the economic uncertainty created by COVID-19. Whether or not you were prepared to weather those storms will give you an idea about the strength of your financial emergency preparedness now. Given that the unprecedented level of government support available to Canadians during the pandemic likely won’t be offered again, here are three things to think about as you consider your financial situation in light of the current banking collapse in the U.S. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to build good credit rating — and how to deal with a bad credit rating:

how to fix your credit rating

If you’re going to use credit — and everyone does — read this first

Credit can feel like that elusive financial secret you can’t quite grasp. Check out these tips and do it right

Q: I’m 23 years old and got my first credit card and car loan a few years ago. But I wish I had learned more about credit and how it works before I got into debt. During COVID my credit card became my lifeline. Rather than go out, I shopped for everything I needed online, usually paying a surcharge for delivery on top of whatever I bought. I also spent plenty on things I wanted because it felt like free money. What I want now, though, is for my bad credit rating to go away quickly. I had no idea how big an impact ignoring payments would have. I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions around credit that we should know more about. ~Denise

A: Credit cards don’t come with the kinds of instructions that explain how to avoid getting into trouble with what feels like a pot of someone else’s cash. Car loans, overdraft, lines of credit, and other types of personal loans all function a bit differently, but the premise is the same; they enable you to obtain something now with a promise to pay for it in the future. Beyond the different types of credit products, however, is the credit reporting system. It pays to gain some understanding about how it works to shed light on the misconceptions people have about credit. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Newcomers to Canada: This is how to safely build credit

Use credit wisely, manage money carefully and become familiar with the financial system in Canada

Q: We have been hosting a Ukrainian family in our rental suite for about two years and they have become like family to us. Recently, they decided to stay in Canada permanently. Until now, credit hasn’t been an issue, but now we are helping them establish themselves and put down roots financially. We thought that changing one of the utility bills into their name would be a good start, even if we help them pay for it. But then a friend said that utility bills don’t count toward a credit rating. It’s been a long time since we started using credit so we don’t want to give them wrong advice. What should we be aware of? — Valerie

A: Whether you’re a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or recent immigrant building credit takes time, patience, and consistent effort. Even for those emigrating from countries with a credit reporting system similar to Canada’s, establishing a Canadian credit rating means starting fresh because credit ratings don’t follow someone from one country to the next. With that in mind, here are steps a newcomer to Canada can take to help establish themselves financially and build a strong credit rating. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to forge a financial future when your partner’s credit is poor

A financial future with a new partner can be challenging — communicate to build strong money skills and a stable future together

Q: Before the pandemic I had a good job and stable financial situation. But a difficult divorce, which forced me to sell my house for less than I owed, and then a business that failed due to the lockdowns, put me tens of thousands of dollars in debt. I’m in my mid-40s and have recently met a new partner. We are planning to move in together and eventually start a business. My credit is still bad and I owe a fair bit, but hers is good. As we figure out how to manage money together, what can I do to make sure that my credit problems don’t impact her? ~Phil

A: Financial compatibility is essential for a healthy relationship. While differing credit ratings can pose challenges, one person’s low rating doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Open communication, trust, and joint efforts to re-establish that person’s credit can lead to a solid financial foundation for your future together. However, as you navigate the day-to-day routine of jointly managing money for your household, there are some things to be aware of to protect each other’s finances. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How that late cellphone bill payment will affect your credit score

Cellphone contracts are a quick way to build a credit rating, and the fastest way to ruin it if not paid in full and on time

Q: After my divorce about five years ago, I vowed that I’d protect my credit rating as I got back on my feet. It wasn’t easy as a single mom, but thankfully I had stable income and found a place to live where the rent was reasonable. Fast forward a few years and I’m with a new guy and we’re looking for a place to rent that’s closer to his work. We’ve filled out a few applications for places we really like, but each time we get declined. My partner doesn’t want to say too much, but where he usually pays his car loan and credit card on time, it’s been about three months since he made a full cellphone payment. The rental placement guy we’ve been working with figures that it must be his really low credit score that’s getting in the way of finding a place, but a few overdue cellphone bills can’t be that bad. What are we missing? ~Sharon

A: Starting over after the end of a relationship is never easy, and protecting your credit rating while you do, is something to be proud of. The skills you learned along the way will help you move forward in the next stage of your life. However, it is easier to plan the next steps with a new partner if you know at least some of the details about their situation. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

The impact of late payments on your credit when money is tight

When debt payments get behind, your credit score goes down and catching up gets hard. Here’s why and what to do

Q: It seems like everyone we talk to is having a hard time keeping up with bills and expenses. My partner and I have three older teenagers between us and thankfully they work and cover their own spending. But food, man has that gotten expensive for us. It’s at the point where we’re buying groceries but for the first time in our lives, our bills sometimes get paid late. We worry about what that can do to our credit but we aren’t looking to borrow any money right now. So we’re wondering, will the late payments affect us anyways? ~Paul

A: During these challenging economic times, many Canadians have had trouble keeping up with their various financial obligations. In fact, globally speaking, as many as 40 per cent of people surveyed in 28 countries expect to have a falling amount of disposable income available over the next year. As groceries and fuel eat up larger portions of our income, and living costs keep going up in almost every way, to take care of the basics, many people have started skipping or making partial payments to their obligations.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Keeping score can help fix your credit rating

When you think you’re using credit in a way that protects your credit rating, being declined for a loan due to a low credit score can be surprising. Here’s why

Q: During the pandemic, we used our credit cards to get by. We knew we’d get back to work eventually so that we could pay them off but it’s taking us longer to do that with the high cost of living. Recently, we applied to refinance our mortgage to pay them off but our lender told us that we don’t qualify because our credit score isn’t high enough. Even when it was a struggle, we made our minimum payments. We thought that would keep our credit rating good. What are we missing? ~Keisha

A: You definitely weren’t the only ones who relied on their credit cards to get by during the pandemic. For many Canadians, it was their only option, and many are continuing to do that now with the high cost of living. However, as you discovered, while your credit cards can get you through a tough time, the fallout of relying on them as your emergency fund can last much longer than you anticipated.   READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Why you should check if your child has a credit report

Those credit card offers we all get in the mail, has one ever come addressed to your child? They might be a victim of identity theft

Q: My husband and I planned a mini family vacation, which took us all away for a much needed two-week break. Our seven- and 10-year-old boys had a great time reconnecting with cousins and playing on their farm. When we got home and I started going through the mail, one particular piece of junk mail caught my attention. It was a credit card offer for our younger son. We have no idea where they got his name because it’s an unusual name here in Canada. But now we’re worried that someone may have stolen his identity. What can we do? ~Jenn

A: Coming home from a relaxing holiday to upsetting information is unsettling. As parents, we do all we can to protect our children and, in this day and age, that unfortunately also includes their online persona. While there might be a simple explanation for how they got your son’s name and address, there’s no way to track how it might have happened. There is even the chance that an entity who had your child’s information was the subject of a security breach and your child’s details were compromised through a third party. There are, however, steps you can take to protect your children from the potential consequences of financial fraud. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day and Christmas shopping tips:

christmas shopping budget tips

How to plan now for holiday spending

Plan early and get ahead of holiday stress and prepare financially. Make meaningful memories, not mountains of bills

Q: I know it’s not nearly Christmas time yet, but with seasonal items in the stores I’m starting to worry. I have no idea how we’re going to manage to put anything our kids want under the tree this year. We alternate spending the holidays at home or with my parents back east. Since the pandemic, life has gotten so expensive that we’ve had to cancel our plans to see them this year. That in itself is stressful because they’re getting older, and I don’t know how much longer their health will allow us to have meaningful visits with them. What can we do? ~Shelley

A: A good holiday plan starts with a look at your finances. If you’re someone who usually waits until December to start planning, consider starting now so you have an extra four weeks — and two paycheques — to work with. This could be enough to help you avoid financing Christmas with your credit cards and snowing yourself under with bills in January.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to get Black Friday and holiday shopping deals you can afford

Get the best out of Black Friday deals. Sign in to shopping apps and use wish lists to compare prices. Use savvy strategies to save and beat marketing tricks

Q: I heard that Black Friday deals might be better this year than we’ve seen in the last few years. My husband and I don’t usually shop for Christmas all that early but we’re hoping to save some money on gifts for the kids, family, and each other by shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We’ve been watching prices and know that not everything is a good deal, but are there other ways to save too? ~Fiona

A: For retailers and shoppers alike, Black Friday has been adopted as the official start of the holiday shopping season. It takes place about a month before Christmas and the shopping hype associated with it began migrating north from the States in the early 2000s after the Canadian dollar achieved parity with the American dollar. In an effort to keep shoppers in Canada, many local and national retailers chose to launch their own Black Friday sales to compete. Cyber Monday initiatives then gained prominence, extending the shopping weekend by another day. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Tempted by all the deals? How to plan holiday spending when money is tight

Planning a meaningful holiday can be done, even when money is tight. Outline a plan and be creative with gift giving

Q: For the first time in many years, my husband and I didn’t buy much on Black Friday. Money has gotten so tight for us, so we only picked up the electronics on our kids’ wish lists. While the deals were good and we could have kept shopping, we have no idea how we’ll pay for what we’ve already bought, let alone more. Christmas is a few weeks away, and we can’t imagine not having what tour kids really want under the tree. What can we do? ~Gillian

A: A holiday plan needs to include your budget, but if starting with your budget is too stressful, start with what will influence your budget. Think about events you’ll be attending and what you need, such as outfits, transportation, or a babysitter. Food and drinks for the holidays can add up, whether you host the main meal, bake treats, prepare appetizers, or attend potlucks. Make a list of who you need to buy gifts for and an approximate amount you want to spend on each gift.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Deal or no deal: Shopping tips and tricks for Amazon Prime Day

Persuasive marketing and promotional tactics can cause overspending when you think a deal can be had

Q: My husband and I just moved into our new home and need to buy electronics, home furnishings, and several small appliances. We started shopping around causally about a month ago but decided that we’re going to wait for the discounts we hope to see with Amazon Prime Day next week. We each booked a day off work so that we can be online and not worry about missing a deal. When I mentioned this to a friend, they warned me about scammers who take advantage of people while they shop during these events. I guess it could be an easy day to trick people out of their personal information, but when it comes to shopping, what do we need to watch out for? ~Emmie

A: To take advantage of consumer enthusiasm for online shopping, large retailers have earmarked special days throughout the year when they offer deeper discounts than usual. But buying during hyped-up shopping events invented by retailers can cause you to spend more than you planned. Here are tips and tricks to keep your clicks in check and your cart reserved for what you can afford.  READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Four last-minute money tips to get you through the holidays

If you want to minimize financial stress both now and in January, don’t ignore some of the simple things you can do the rest of the year

Q: Every year it feels like Christmas is a mad dash to the finish line and despite being better organized, the same thing is happening this year for us again. We still have plenty of gifts and food to buy and I already know my husband and I will be up until 2 a.m. on Christmas Eve, wrapping gifts and getting the house ready. Boxing Day should be fun, family time but we’ll be totally exhausted. The kids always have a great time and extended family love coming over to our place, but the bills and everything are becoming more stressful each year. How can we manage better? ~Dianna

A: It can be tempting to chase deals from store to store, but that could mean missing out on cash back or loyalty points that can be redeemed for cash or discounts come January when money is extra tight. It’s not worth using points or rewards to justify your spending, but if Store A and Store B sell similarly priced items — such as toiletries to stuff stockings for teenagers — shop at the store that will earn you the most rewards or cash back. Ten cents off at the pump, points that can be redeemed for grocery discounts, or cash back to apply against a bill during the year can provide a little relief for the high cost of living. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to keep financial stress under control the week before Christmas

Talk to your kids and brainstorm which traditions you’ll keep, and which new ones you’d like. A short plan is better than no plan, and when it comes to Christmas

Q: I’m a last-minute shopper when it comes to Christmas. Every year I try to start earlier but it just seems like I keep waiting and hoping that I can afford what I want to buy. This year, the kids will be out of school the last week before Christmas and will want to come shopping, too. While they’re old enough that we can separate for a little while at the mall, dragging them around to different stores is stressful. They don’t like to stand in line and then we end up buying whatever will get us back home as quickly as possible. Is there anything I can do to make this last week before Christmas less stressful? ~Pat

A: The hustle and bustle the week before Christmas can be stressful. On top of last-minute holiday preparations, you need to ensure out-of-school care for your children, manage work demands, and possibly deal with year-end obligations. Those who still have shopping to do might be tempted to pay for the gifts, groceries, and other expenses with credit. While initially this allows you to purchase what you need and want, it might just shift your stress to January.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Is having a shopping plan still worth it close to Christmas?

With only two weeks to go until the big day, a short plan is better than no plan

Q: We inadvertently started a tradition when the kids were infants and we didn’t want to leave them with a sitter. We do all of our Christmas shopping together as a family, enjoying the season as we go. It’s great that the kids are a bit older now and can help. They point out things they like, and we sneak around the following day to pick up what we need. We normally wait until school is done to do our shopping, but this year that would mean shopping the last weekend before Christmas. We’re all for doing things last minute, but that’s cutting it close even for us, especially because money is tight this year. None of us are really good at planning, but we started jotting things down the other day that we don’t want to forget. Do you have any other suggestions for last minute shoppers? ~Ashley

A: When it comes to holiday shopping, everyone has a different style. Some people like to shop throughout the year and take advantage of deals as they see them. Others save their shopping for the holiday season, starting early with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Then there are those who save their shopping to the last minute. While each style has its pros and cons, the uniting factor for shoppers of any style is that everyone can benefit from a plan. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Financially healthy holidays start now if you have a plan

The most expensive time of the year is here. Start planning alternatives now to keep out of debt and enjoy cherished holiday traditions or make new ones

Q: My wife and I have just been managing to get by, but now with Christmas coming, we don’t know what to do. Our kids are in grades one and three and they started talking about Santa before Halloween was even over. With extended family not living close by, we normally need to travel to see them, often meeting in the middle at one of several snowy recreation destinations. To pay for any trip and holiday shopping this year, we will have to use our credit cards, which we’ll have to pay off with our line of credit. We both work full time and I have a side hustle. We balance our shifts so that we can manage without out-of-school child care costs. It’s a sacrifice, but it helped us pay our credit cards and line of credit down. What can we do to still afford the holidays? ~Tyler

A: Now that Halloween feels like a distant memory, retailers are in full swing preparing for the holiday shopping season. However, while merchants are getting ready for shoppers to swipe, click, and tap them into the black, many Canadians are still feeling the pinch from the high cost of living, continued higher interest rates, and even past holiday bills. Credit card debt is at record highs and line of credit and personal loan payments are weighing equally heavily on strained household budgets. It’s hard to find any household in Canada that hasn’t had to find ways to manage differently during these challenging financial times. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

If your New Year’s resolution is to pay off debt, read this

Overspending during the holidays is a common problem. Instead of dwelling on the past, focus on moving forward and creating a plan to get your finances back on track

Q: We are dreading our holiday bills because we already know we overspent. We wanted our first Christmas as a married couple to be extra special, so we splurged on almost everything. Then we had friends unexpectedly come into town for a few days, so that added a lot more food and entertainment costs to our already big credit card bills. We are afraid to make New Year’s resolutions because we almost always fail, and we don’t need to feel worse than we already do. So, what can you suggest to help us get on top of our debt in 2024? ~Shelley

A: Overspending during the holidays is the norm for countless Canadians, so try not to beat yourselves up about it. It’s wise that you recognized that you’ve got big bills coming, but to change your worries into results, New Year’s resolutions might not be your best strategy. Resolutions come loaded with expectations and guilt, and without enough preparation, most people set themselves up to fail. That could be why you’ve never seen much success with your previous resolutions. When it comes to our finances, we are creatures of habit. To change our spending habits so that we can pay off our debts, we need to determine what we will do differently. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

WATCH: Travel fraud: 5 tips to avoid vacation scams


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

How to budget and save money for a holiday, wedding or other life event:

how to save up for a holiday

Should you stay or go? How to budget for a holiday this summer

Travelling this summer might be tempting, but hard on your bank account. Plan your budget before you go and make memories, not mountains of bills

Q: We’ve been talking to our teens about what they’d like to do for our family holidays this summer. My husband is a teacher and I’m self-employed, so we’ve got most of the summer off. Our original plan was to drive across Canada, but with gas prices and our SUV, that is not a realistic option anymore. We are considering a shorter trip somewhere by plane, but our vacation budget would only last us a week. What can you suggest? ~Vanessa

A: Many Canadians are looking to make up for lost travel time this summer, as much of the world reopens after the pandemic. However, where travelling last year was restricted due to health measures, this year soaring inflation and living costs are imposing unplanned restrictions. As such, considering your summer travel plans well ahead of time will be the best strategy to stretch your vacation budget. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Navigate wedding costs with savings and style

Start your married life off on the right financial foot so that wedding debt doesn’t impact choices for the next decade. Here are tips to come in on budget

Q: I have a special Valentine’s Day planned for my girlfriend and plan to pop the question. We’ve been talking about getting married but the cost of a wedding has been the problem. She’s got a big family and wants to invite all of them. Her grandma has told us that she’d help pay for most of our wedding expenses with no strings attached. We’d like to take her up on her offer sooner than later because she’s getting on in years. Even though she’s covering costs, it’s not a blank cheque. What can we do to keep our wedding expenses reasonable? — Marty

A: A wedding is a beautiful celebration of love, but tying the knot doesn’t automatically have to come with a hefty price tag. It pays to strike a balance between creating magical memories and managing your budget so that your wedding is wallet-friendly. Start planning early and look for creative ideas to make your day memorable for all the right reasons. Whether you’re dreaming of an intimate backyard gathering or a chic city affair, here are tips that will help.READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to effectively budget for a new pet

Pets are as much a financial investment as an emotional one. To keep costs affordable, choose wisely, focus on their health, budget costs monthly, and enjoy

Q: I was looking after a friend’s little dog while they went away for three weeks. I don’t have any pets myself and thought it would be fun to give it a try. Her little dog is old, needs a special diet, but is friendly and likes to cuddle. I really enjoyed having him around and it has me thinking about adopting a dog, too. I kind of wish I had had a pet to keep me company when I was laid off during the pandemic, but I don’t think I could have afforded it. Beyond the adoption fee and food, what else should I budget for to determine if I can afford to have a pet of my own? ~Katie

A: Adding a pet to your household can mean taking on a years-long commitment both in terms of time, as you care for and enjoy your pet, as well as money. From cute and cuddly to fine feathered friends, and even slippery or scaly, there’s a pet for everyone. The right pet can be the perfect companion or addition to your family. However, beyond the kind of animal, its colour, breed, specific needs and temperament, are a lot of financial choices. The key to anticipating the types of expenses you need to budget for is choosing the pet that best complements your lifestyle and financial capabilities. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Holiday season travel: It’s never too late to save money

The most important thing to pack during holiday travel is your patience. Airports are crowded and everyone wants to make the most of their vacation time

Q: While our family was camping this summer, we met a family from Spain. Parents and teens — we all hit it off and had such a great time that we decided to stay in touch. When they invited us to come visit over the Christmas holidays, we jumped at the chance to try something different. As it turns out, we leave late on Christmas Day and get back a few days before school starts again in January. We aren’t experienced world travellers, and this will be our kids’ first time on a plane. What can we do to keep costs reasonable? ~Vanessa

A: The best deals on flights for the winter holidays were several months ago, and due to demand at the busiest time of year, there are no last-minute deals. However, if your destination and desired activities are flexible, travel by train or car could still make for a great trip. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Realistic cost-cutting tips for a fun and affordable Halloween

Halloween can be as costly or budget conscious as you make it. Don’t be scared to scale back spooky spending to avoid frightening credit card bills

Q: I’ve got three kids in school and I know that with Thanksgiving now behind us, they’ll start wanting to decorate for Halloween. While they’re pretty good at making homemade decorations for inside the house, they want to shop for everything else. I really can’t afford to spend anything on Halloween this year, but I know I’ll have to do something with the kids. How can I make it affordable? ~Tina

A: Second only to Christmas for retailers, Halloween has become the next biggest “holiday” spending time of the year. From decorations to costumes, candy, yard displays, school events and parties, it can all add up much too quickly. There are, however, ways to scare up savings, and with a few weeks to go, there’s still plenty of time to make Halloween memorable for the kids and cost-effective for you. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

WATCH: Holiday spending: 5 tips to save money


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

How to work out money issues with a partner, family or friend:

couple money problems

Top 3 money problems for couples — and how to fix them

If one of you prefers to live on a champagne budget and the other prefers a good beer, set aside the ideals of social media and figure out how you can work together

Q: My partner and I have been together for almost four years. Neither of us still has kids living at home so we’re thinking of downsizing into a place for just the two of us. We would have moved in together sooner but when it comes to money, it brings out the worst in us. Our only agreements about money are that it’s something to argue about when everything else is going just fine. He accuses me of saving too much, I think he spends too much. Neither of us has a reliable budget, but the bills get paid and our credit cards don’t get declined. We’ve tried having money dates to talk about setting some goals and trying to combine our finances. Our discussions usually start out OK, but we never end up agreeing on anything. What can we do? ~Laura

A: Disagreements about money are not unusual between couples. Whether it’s about saving, spending, or wanting to avoid talking about money altogether, the thought of discussing our finances can be nothing but stress-inducing, especially at a time of high living costs and rising interest rates.   While there are many reasons why it might be hard to talk about money with your partner, the expectations we hold could be partly to blame as well. With that in mind, here are three expectations many people have of how money should work in their relationship. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Tips to deal with debt when you and your spouse can’t agree

Work together to compromise on a realistic budget and here are some pointers to help

Q: My wife and I are at odds about what we need to do about our debts. Sometimes we seem to be getting ahead and then something happens and we’re struggling again. We owe about $16,200 on a pile of random bills that have accumulated. Only about half of that amount is credit card bills. The rest is utility bills, some payday loans taken out during the pandemic, we owe our landlord a bit of money, and thankfully the dentist is taking payments for an emergency when our son was injured riding his bike. We both work full time and can generally stay on top of things. Have you got any suggestions? ~Trevor

A: When it feels like we take one step back for every two steps forward with our finances, it can be hard to sort things out to get back on track. If our debt is due to a one-time bill from an emergency it’s easy to understand where it came from, but when it’s accumulated over time, it can be harder to pinpoint the cause. To make matters worse, when it comes to determining our best course of action, what we do and what we think we need to do often don’t align.   Here are tips to help you get the most out of your efforts and bring your debt under control. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How can you stop an overspending spouse?

Restricting a partner’s access to cash or credit is only possible with consent, but there are solutions for couples committed to financial stability

Q: My partner and I are both in our late 20s and have three kids. I work full-time and she works part-time around the kids’ schedules. Life in almost every way is good for us, except that I can’t convince my partner to stop spending so much money. When we first got together in college, she had student and credit card debt that her parents paid off. About three years later, her credit cards were maxed again. I know she likes nice things and her parents are generous, but we are on our own now. I cashed out some of my savings from before we got together and paid off what she owed. When her credit cards were maxed again, she said it was things for the kids and with some help from her parents, I paid off her bills again. Each time she promised that she’d stick to the budget we created together, but her cards are getting close to the limit again. Paying off her debts is putting me into the poorhouse! How can I get her to control her spending? ~Sheldon

A: Everyone has their own way of handling money, and it’s common for partners to have different approaches. Even for couples who have great communication, the money talk before getting married or moving in together is often overlooked. This means that differences in spending habits might not come to light until you’re already sharing a day-to-day routine.READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

The best ways to find out about partner’s finances without sneaking around

The best way to find out about someone else’s financial situation is to ask them

Q: My partner and I have been together for almost a year, and while we can see our future together, I’m holding back because I think he has a problem with money. He often pays with cash, doesn’t carry a credit card in his wallet, and isn’t willing to talk about the financial aspects of a future together. This worries me because I grew up with parents who made me save for what I wanted. I remember getting my allowance and only being allowed to spend part of it. The rest I had to put into my savings account. This drove me nuts as a kid and I gave my parents a lot of grief, but what a difference now compared with my friends who depend on their credit cards. I know I should probably ask him about his finances, but is there any other way, maybe without him knowing, to find out what’s going on with his money? ~Emilie

A: When you realize the benefits of sound saving and spending in your life, it’s reasonable to want to discuss finances with someone who may become a lifelong partner. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most people are not comfortable discussing their finances. In addition, everyone manages money differently, so there could be valid reasons behind your partner’s habits that he simply hasn’t shared. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to break up with your spending habits

When it comes to spending less, the key is to work together to figure out why the spending is taking place. Once the spender knows their triggers, they can implement ways to keep money safe from themselves

Q: My partner and I have been together for over a decade and have a great relationship in almost every way. The one thing that really bothers me is their spending. We both earn steady incomes and don’t feel like we have money problems. But each month when their credit card bill comes in, I’m always having to figure out where to take the money from to pay it. It’s not that I don’t spend any money either, but for some reason my partner’s bill is always bigger. And there’s hardly anything to show for all the spending. My partner realizes that there’s a problem with their spending because we talk about it. Have you got any suggestions that can help us? ~Jamie

A: When it comes to spending less, the key is to work together to figure out why the spending is taking place. Once the spender knows their triggers, they can implement ways to keep money safe from themselves. Here are tips to get you started. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Strategies to merge your money when getting married again

When creating a union with a second partner, how much do you merge financially and what stays separate? Open dialogue and a strategy that works for you

Q: I got divorced about 10 years ago and had all but given up getting married again until about two years ago when I met my current girlfriend. Now that her youngest is graduating high school and we’re almost empty nesters, we’re talking about what our future will look like. One thing we need to work out is how we’ll manage our finances if we move in together. She’s self employed and seems financially stable but I really don’t know for sure. I’m not floating in extra cash but manage to get by. I own my home and have some savings for retirement. If something happened to me I want my kids to decide what to do with the house. Have you got any suggestions about how we should merge our money? ~Andy

A: It can be hard to talk about money with a romantic partner. For some, they are recovering from divorce debt or costly credit decisions. Others are worried about being judged for what they have or don’t have. There are also those who have habits that leave little room for a partner in their finances.  However, regardless of how each person’s previous experience has shaped their money management style, it’s important that when we plan to build a future with someone, that we find a way to manage our money in a way that supports our combined future goals. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

The price of financial success: Avoid the pitfalls of being the personal family bank

Never jeopardize your financial stability or goals to help others. Reflect on how best to give financially

Q: I’m in my 40s, I enjoy my career and have chosen satisfying work over a relationship and kids. It has paid off for me and I live a comfortable lifestyle, being able to travel and buy things I wouldn’t be able to afford if I had a family. However, whenever I get together with my siblings who all have busy families and related commitments, the comments about my financial situation, how I should help them more, how I should pay for family gatherings or buy my nieces and nephews bigger gifts never stops. It’s got to the point where I don’t even want to get together with them. I’ve helped out each of my siblings in the past, and every month help our parents pay for their private nursing home so that they can live together, rather than separately in a public home. I will always keep helping my parents, that doesn’t bother me. But how do I deal with the expectations from siblings that I’m their personal bank? ~Dale

A: Many people feel a sense of obligation or generosity toward their family members, especially when it comes to money. They may want to help their relatives who are struggling financially, or they may feel pressured to share their resources. Relatives who expect to share financially in a loved one’s success only intensify the pressure to be generous. However, being the family bank can have serious consequences for both the lender and the borrower. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Debt after a windfall? What to do when your spouse secretly spends

Securing our money by making payments toward our debts, paying a lump sum against our mortgage, or locking it away in savings help us achieve our goals

Q: My husband inherited about $625,000 and we thought we had won the lottery. Before going to the bank we talked about some ways we might want to use the money. A few renos at home, buying a second car, setting aside enough for our kids to finish their post-secondary education, and paying off our credit cards and line of credit were all on the list. We ended up paying a lump sum to our mortgage, paying off our debts and line of credit, opening tax-free savings accounts for both of us and maxing out our contribution room, and keeping some cash to use for some of our other ideas. The money allowed my husband to take a much-needed break from work, too. That break, however, became stressful when I noticed large payments to his credit cards from our savings account. He admitted that he had tried online gambling. Now our finances are a mess again and he’s depressed and I’m disappointed. Where do we go from here? ~Nadine

A: Whether winning the lottery or inheriting a large amount of money, receiving a windfall can be life changing. Depending on the amount, it can mean paying off your debts or making a big dent in what you owe. It might mean topping up your savings or creating a nest egg that ensures a stable financial future for you and your family. The best part about a lump sum of unexpected cash is gaining some breathing room financially, and the ability to consider your overall goals.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Financial tips to consider before starting a family

Kids are only as expensive as you make them. Budget and save up what you can, then apply for benefits once they arrive

Q: My wife and I got married about two years ago and while we’re both more set on finishing our education right now, we have started talking about when we should start trying to have kids. She’s concerned that if we wait until I’m finished grad school, we might miss our chance. I’m looking at the cost of everything and don’t think we can ever afford to have a family because even our current financial situation has required the help of our parents. We expect to both have good jobs and would like to have kids, but financially speaking, it just doesn’t seem realistic. What can you suggest? ~Landon

A: Statistics Canada now estimates that parents can expect to spend over $293,000 when raising a child from birth to age 17, a number which increases by 29 per cent if you help your child through post-secondary education until they’re 22 years old. These are not small numbers. In fact, the financial reality of raising kids is such that the birthrate in Canada has been steadily decreasing for many years. Thankfully, however, all of the money to raise kids isn’t needed up front and regardless of the statistics, there’s room to decrease or increase what you spend based on what you can afford. With that in mind, here are five things to consider when planning financially for a baby. READ PET’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Separate from debt along with the relationship — or old joint obligations can haunt you

Resist remaining financially entangled with a former spouse. Separate debts when the relationship ends, or you’ll have to pay if they can’t

Q: A longtime friend and I moved in together a few years ago to co-parent our kids. We each share custody with our exes but have the kids with us most of the time. It makes for a busy house, but they all get along most of the time and we’re our own little Brady Bunch. Eventually our platonic relationship of convenience became romantic. We’ve now decided that we want to make it official and while all the kids support that, my fiancé’s ex-wife does not. She stopped making payments on her car loan and now my fiancé was told he has to pay. It’s her car, they are divorced; I don’t understand. ~Brittney

A: Blending families is never easy. It comes with balancing school and custody schedules, combining finances, establishing a household routine for cooking, cleaning, and laundry, carving out meaningful time with the kids, and protecting the precious time available for romance — it’s a lot for two people to manage successfully. Kudos to you for creating a happy, busy home; the last thing you need is financial interference from a former spouse. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to financially help out a friend — without going broke

Start with info about options. For solutions, stand by your friend when things get rough; help in non-financial ways

Q: I met with a friend the other day and we hadn’t seen each other since well before the pandemic. As we always do, we picked up where we left off talking about our kids, families, work, and summer plans. However, as we chatted it became clear to me that she was really struggling. I know she was hoping to sell her house to a developer but that has now fallen through because a neighbour isn’t ready to move. That has unfortunately left my friend in a tight spot with her finances. She explained a little about what she’s thinking about doing and I couldn’t help but think about how I can help. I don’t have a lot of extra money to bail her out, but we’ve known each other since junior high and I hate to see her struggling. What can you suggest? ~Vivian

A: It’s only natural to want to help a friend or family member when we know they’re in trouble, even if we can’t swoop in and save the day. When it comes to financial problems, there’s a fine line between a hand up and a handout. Whether it’s paying a bill for them, sharing some groceries, helping them find the information they need, lending them money, or asking if they even want any help — know where to draw the line to ensure that your help really is helpful and encourages your loved one to regain control of their situation. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to know about filing income taxes in Canada:

what to know about canadian income taxes

Eight tips to get maximum value from your tax refund

A tax refund can feel like an unexpected windfall, but it’s not free money. You worked hard for it so plan how best to use it to achieve your goals

Q: Last year I was fortunate to work pretty much the whole year. I graduated from university at the start of the pandemic and I never thought I’d find a great job as soon as I did. After seeing a few online ads for getting your taxes done, I thought I’d see if I could do them on my own. Up until the end of school I lived at home and my parents usually just did them for me. I figured I’d get at least some money back, but I didn’t want to believe I’d done them right until I saw the money in my bank account. Now I’m trying to decide what I should do with my $1,800 refund. I owe some money on my credit cards, and I just started saving for a trip. Any suggestions? ~Jennifer

A: Tax season is a time of year many people loathe. While some Canadians have a bill to pay when filing their income tax return, most years about 60 per cent of Canadians actually receive a refund. For those who have a straightforward tax return to file, doing it on your own can save you a little money. It could also motivate you to organize your financial affairs a bit better so that filing next year is that much easier.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

5 tips on what to do when you can’t pay your income tax bill

There are payment options that can fit your needs

Q: I switched employers last year and when I filed my taxes in April using free tax software, it told me that I owe about $450. I must have made a mistake because when I got my notice of assessment, it showed that I owe closer to $700. I’ve paid about $150 so far but I really can’t afford to pay any more. I work construction, so I make pretty good money, but between child support, rent, gas for the truck I need for my tools, and my credit card payment, I hardly have much left over. What can I do? ~Jordan

A: Finding out that you owe money on your income taxes is never a welcome surprise, but to find out that you owe even more, can be extremely stressful. Given that 23 per cent of those who filed their income taxes this year are dealing with income tax debt, while still facing the high cost of living, knowing how to handle an unaffordable tax bill is a top concern. Here are tips to help you figure out what to do if you face a balance owing on your income taxes this year. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

How filing your income taxes benefits your finances

Tax season is upon us and while most Canadians would prefer to avoid the chore, there’s a lot you can miss out on if you don’t file your income taxes

Q: Our son is in his twenties and I overheard him chatting with two of his good friends as they were working on his car in our garage. They’re a pretty smart bunch of guys all having landed decent jobs after completing their trades apprenticeships, but I was a little surprised by their lack of knowledge around filing their taxes. One of them had gone to a tax preparation service and taken his refund up front, our son wasn’t sure if he’d bother filing, and his other friend figured he’d get around to it eventually. I’m no financial expert, but because we usually get a refund, we try to file our taxes by the deadline. Is there anything I can suggest to my son to encourage him to do the same? ~Eric

A: There’s a lot for young people to learn about personal finances when they enter the workforce, but credit and spending topics trump saving and tax topics for the vast majority of them. It likely comes as no surprise that there aren’t many people who will admit that they truly enjoy filing their income taxes. Assembling electronic slips, collecting receipts, deciding whether to do it yourself or get help, or figuring out which software to use; it can feel like a chore best put off as long as possible. But filing our taxes is an important part of managing our money. It helps us stay on track with our everyday spending as well as prepare for the future.


Why it’s worth filing your taxes, even if you’re afraid you’ll owe

It can be tempting not to file your taxes — but most people get a refund and there’s so much you’ll miss out on if you don’t file

Q: For the last few years I’ve owed a bit when I’ve filed my taxes. In addition to my main full-time work, I usually work a few seasonal jobs throughout the year and don’t always have enough tax deducted. Last year I lost one of my second jobs when the company had to close and it’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve been able to find a job to replace it. That put me behind with my bills, and if I get a tax bill now, I’ll really be in trouble. Is it still worth filing my taxes if I think I might owe? ~Ben

A: There’s a lot at stake if we don’t file our taxes. Filing our income tax return each year is a requirement under Canadian law, whether you end up owing, have a nil return, or are entitled to a refund. It is essential that all eligible Canadians not only fulfil this legal requirement, but it’s also a way to access income-tested provincial, regional, and federal benefits and credits. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to save money to buy a home — and deal with sudden home-related expenses:

how to save up for a house

Dreaming of home ownership? There are several options that can make it work for you

While home buying has changed significantly, there are still options to turn the dream of home ownership into reality

Q: We are rapidly outgrowing the condo we’ve been renting for about seven years and need help considering our options. Our son is three and our second child is due early next year. Along with our pup and both of us with hybrid jobs where we alternate days working from home, we simply need more space. Rentals in our town are hard to come by since the pandemic so we are thinking about moving out of the area. My husband received a small inheritance about two years ago when his grandfather died. We saved it and have been able to add to it, but with mortgage rates so high, buying our own home seems like an unrealistic dream now. What can we do? ~Hillary

A: The extremely quick increase in mortgage interest rates over the past 18 months caught homeowners and the real estate market by surprise. The lingering high rates are now a steady reminder that the cheap credit era is, for the foreseeable future, behind us. While home buying has changed significantly, there are still options to turn the dream of home ownership into reality. Here are things to consider that could help you narrow your choices. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to do when home ownership seems out of reach

Buying a home is a big commitment. It affects your budget, lifestyle and future. Use this time of high inflation to plan ahead and become financially stable

Q: My husband and I met at university and have been together close to 10 years. Before starting a family, we made it official and got married just before the pandemic. We were careful with our wedding costs so that we could still afford the down payment on our first home. But the real estate market got crazy during the pandemic so we decided to wait. With baby No. 2 coming early next year and how things have changed financially with the cost of living and higher mortgage rates, it feels like our dreams of home ownership will never happen. Is there anything we can do? ~Violet

A: A lot has changed in the last three years and recent university grads and young adults embarking on independent futures face decisions other generations could hardly imagine. Choices around career paths aren’t as straightforward as they used to be. The definition of what denotes a family unit has changed. And the all-important choice of where to live long term has become extremely challenging. But challenging is not the same as impossible, and with today’s challenges come more options than ever before. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Strata living: What to do when facing a special levy you can’t afford

If there is a seniors’ housing agency in your province, contact them to find out if they know of any options that could help you

Q: I’m a widowed senior who lives on a fixed income. After living in my apartment for about five years as a renter, I was able to buy the place three years ago. I have some health issues that make it hard to move so I was thankful to become an owner. But now I’m faced with losing my place because I can’t afford the special levy that is being proposed. If I had known that such a big bill was coming, I would never have bought. I have some savings to help cover my medical costs, but not nearly enough for a levy. I can’t sleep and I’m worried all the time. My health issues are worse because of the stress. What can I do? ~Margaret

A: Whether you own a home in a strata property or a detached house, facing a large, unexpected bill is never easy, especially when you have few options for coming up with the money you need to pay for it. Strata corporations face challenges similar to individual homeowners in that they also have limited options for raising the money needed for large projects. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to avoid buying recreational property that turns into a vacation nightmare

Buying a vacation home can be an exciting investment or expensive regret. More than a few have made the decision while sipping a glass of something cold, reclined in the sunshine and looking out at the view

Q: Every summer we spend time visiting an area with amazing scenery and a slower pace of life. We just love it there and could see ourselves retiring to one of the small homes in the community, so in 2019 we decided to buy ourselves a second home. Short-term rentals provided enough of an income stream to break even, with some people staying for two months at a time. We weren’t planning to live there full time for at least another 15 years, however our plans fell apart during the pandemic. Prices for everything went way up, the municipality tacked on extra fees and rules for vacation properties, then last year we faced a huge property-tax increase as well. We were very fortunate to be able to sell to a neighbour, but our dream almost turned into a nightmare. We still want to own a vacation home; what should we consider? ~Roger

A: Buying a vacation home can be an exciting investment or expensive regret. Whether it’s a boat, cabin, trailer or bare land, buying recreational property or vehicle as a second home is one of those decisions best made with the clearest of minds. Even then, as you’ve unfortunately discovered, there are significant variables beyond your control that can shatter your best-laid plans. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

A developer’s offer to buy family property is tempting: What to consider before you agree

A financial adviser who specializes in estate planning, an estate lawyer, and an estate or tax accountant can be very helpful

Q: A few years ago we got a mortgage to build a second home on my parents’ property. It turned into an ideal living situation because my kids could see their grandparents every day and my wife and I could raise our family on a large property that we wouldn’t have been able to afford any other way. We have a legal agreement around maintenance and taxes and keep the lines of communication open so that everyone can be separate yet together. I’m an only child so helping my parents age in place is comforting as well. However, a developer has approached us with a generous proposal that my parents think we should accept. My wife and I agree that it’s a great offer but we are hesitant because we had never planned on moving, let alone on the short timeline the developer needs to make their project work. Is there anything you can suggest to help us decide what to do? ~Cameron

A: As parents, we take pride in seeing our children succeed and it’s only natural to want to help in any way we can. During these times of exceptionally high living costs, for many parents it’s difficult to help financially without jeopardizing our own financial futures. Your parents may also consider the offer from the developer as an additional way to help the entire family while dramatically increasing their retirement savings. Despite the work and inconvenience that finding a new living situation for all of you would cause, this could be a win-win for you and your parents. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to teach your kids about money:

how to teach kids about money

How to use back-to-school shopping as a way to teach kids money skills

The most wonderful time of the year? Not necessarily for parents on a back to school budget. But you can use this to teach kids about comparison shopping and needs vs. wants

Q: The kids have been looking forward to shopping for their back-to-school clothes and supplies for several weeks now, but I’m dreading it because it’s just another expense. Summer is an expensive time for our family. Both my partner and I work in industries where we can’t take too much time off in the summer. Our middle school-aged kids need out-of-school care for almost the whole summer and we don’t have much family around to help. That means signing them up for camps and activities, which were all more costly this year than in the past. Back-to-school shopping is the last thing I want to be spending money on. Do you have any suggestions for how to shop on a budget? ~Heather

A: Back-to-school shopping has become an annual rite of passage that many kids look forward to, but which often fills their parents with dread. This year, the task might feel more daunting because of the high cost of living and already stretched family finances. However, this also presents a great opportunity for children and teens to practise budgeting, comparison shopping, balancing needs versus wants, and ultimately making financial choices that will better prepare them for effectively managing their own money someday.


Use spring break planning to equip kids with money skills

Planning how to spend spring break can be a great way for kids to gain money skills

Q: Spring break is right around the corner and we’re struggling to figure out what to do with our kids. We try to go away each year, even for a short trip, but really couldn’t find anything this time that fit the budget. Our kids are in middle school, so not quite old enough to work and turn lose on their own despite their desire to have us go away so that they can stay home on their own for a few days. We still enjoy having vacation time together as a family. Is there anything you can suggest? ~Kelly

A: Planning spring break with kids can be both exciting and challenging as you look for ways to plan something for everyone, while keeping within you can afford. As children mature into tweens and teens, their interests may change, and they often want more control over how they spend their time and the activities they choose. If your kids have busy schedules during the school year, they may relish free time during their holidays to recharge their batteries or catch up on homework. Vacations can also be a great time to sign up for lessons to improve your skills or to take a class and learn something new. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Dating on a budget: How to help your teens fall in love with finances

Whether for casual dating or long term, our partners have an affect our finances. For teens with savings goals, dating needs to be with a budget and plan

Q: This is the first summer our teenage son will be working full time to earn money for university. During this past school year, he just worked part time to earn some spending money. He did OK with his budgeting and started saving for the guitar he wants, but all of that changed when he got his first girlfriend. She has worked for her parents’ business for the last five or six years and seems to have quite a lot of spending money saved up. When they plan their dates, my son sometimes struggles because it seems that no matter where they go, there’s always a cost. How can we help him manage his money more effectively? ~Carla

A: The teenage years are a time of learning, and watching our kids grow into young adults can be as exciting as it is nerve wracking. Part of the ups and downs of teenage life is helping them navigate all that comes with preparing to live independently. Fundamental to that independence are the skills needed to manage money successfully.


Summer jobs can spark financial skills, entrepreneurial spirit for teens

Teens who learn to manage their spending wisely tend to develop habits of setting goals, saving toward those goals, and avoiding high interest debt

Q: Our teens are looking toward the summer and because we’ll be sticking around home more than usual this year, both of them want to work. They’re saving toward some goals but allowance doesn’t pay enough. Both have sent out a few applications and they’re also talking about starting a business together. While I can help with proofreading their resume, I don’t know anything about starting a business. Earning some spending money is their biggest goal, and their dad and I would also like them to gain some money skills. What is better for them, a steady paycheque or starting a business? ~Roberta

A: The money skills we develop in our teens will typically shape the rest of our financial lives. Teens who learn to manage their spending wisely tend to develop habits of setting goals, saving toward those goals, and avoiding high interest debt as they move beyond high school. Those who struggle with money and making wise choices may continue with those habits into their young adult years, taking longer to develop sound skills to manage money effectively. As such, using summertime employment to help your kids learn about money is an extremely valuable opportunity. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to handle backing out of a financial commitment you made to your teens

While talking about money with kids or teens might be the last thing you want to do, share relatable info when debt or problems get in the way of a promise

Q: My wife and I feel terrible. We promised our teens some things this summer, to make up for bearing with us during the last two COVID summers and helping with the renos we undertook while being stuck at home. But now with the higher cost of living and interest rates that just keep going up, we don’t think we can afford to follow through. How do we break it to our kids that our plans need to change? ~Edwardo

A: We tend to be hard on ourselves as parents, especially if we feel like we’re shortchanging our children in some way. When your financial circumstances change and your family’s lifestyle choices are impacted, it’s important to explain the challenges and changes to your kids in age-appropriate ways.  READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Is your child wishing for their first cellphone for Christmas?

Determine why exactly they need a phone. Involve them in the discussion so they begin to learn how to make practical choices

Q: I’m a single dad with full-time custody of my two kids. They don’t get to see their mom very much, which has prompted her to push for the kids to get their own cellphones. My seven-year-old doesn’t need one. But my 11-year-old is starting to spend time with friends and go out on her own. She really wants a phone, so I’ve been thinking about surprising her with one for Christmas. With no help to pay for it from my ex, my hesitation has honestly always been the cost. I figure that once I say yes, there’s no turning back. Is there any way to get an affordable phone for my daughter? ~Sean

A: Getting your child their first cellphone can be a daunting task. Online safety experts explain that certain phones are better suited to younger kids because they allow for additional parental controls designed with online and digital safety in mind. However, what kids really want are the trendy phones they see in all the ads. With parental guidance and involvement there are ways to keep kids safe with the most popular phones, so as a parent, it comes down to ensuring that your child has an affordable device that meets their needs as well as yours. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to do if your adult children are in debt

how to help adult children in debt

How can I stop my adult kid from drowning in debt?

Money management isn’t a spectator sport. It can take time, practice, and natural consequence for an adult child to learn the savvy money skills they need

Q: My 25-year-old daughter spends money like it’s water. She lived with a friend at their parent’s place for four years, didn’t have to pay rent, and assumed that would also be the case when she moved home again. We don’t ask our adult kids to pay rent at home, but we do expect them to work, save, and chip in around the house. Her siblings get it, but for the 10 months she’s been home again, she has spent every cent she’s earned. Her credit cards are maxed and I took my name off of them for fear of it ruining my credit. I hope she’s been making her payments, but I can’t be sure, especially because she was declined last week for another credit card. When I ask her about her debts and money, she gets defensive. ~Kathleen

A: When it comes to financial decisions, it is difficult to learn vicariously through the wisdom of others. Money management is a participation sport. We need to roll up our sleeves, give it a try, celebrate successes and work through the bumps and bruises along the way. While others can share with us what they learned from their experiences, until we’re faced with a similar situation, we often aren’t ready, willing or able to be receptive of the information. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to do when your adult child’s spending causes you debt

Helping a young adult child get organized with their finances shouldn’t put a parent’s financial future in jeopardy. Here’s how to help them get on track

Q: Our young adult son is on his third relationship in about as many years. But his search for love is putting us into debt. He lives in our basement suite because he’s still a student and is supposed to pay rent and part of the utilities, but every time he’s got a new “match,” he goes overboard to impress her. The newest lady isn’t local so now there are travel expenses involved, too. All told, he owes us close to $6,500. He doesn’t think it’s a big deal and says he’ll catch up in the summer when he picks up a second job. By then he’ll owe us even more, and who knows how much he’s racked up on his credit cards with flights, hotels, accommodation, and who-knows-what to impress his ladies. How do we help him see that his spending is unsustainable? ~Angie

A: Managing life and all of its various demands can be a lot for young adults. Those who are in school juggle course expectations on top of the regular work and personal life demands that come with living on your own. From groceries, to rent and utilities, transportation, and other household and lifestyle needs, life is expensive! That said, it’s pricey for everyone, not just young adults. Allowing your child to run up a bill with you won’t just amount to an expense you don’t need, it may also create resentment and family strife. Furthermore, it might actually prevent your child from becoming independent and financially stable as habits start to form around the non-repayment of other debts.  READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Still paying for your adult children who live at home? There are solutions for this

If your kids have grown up depending on you to finance their lifestyle, you could be doing them more harm than good. Start small and work together to change

Q: My wife and I am at odds about whether or not we should keep supporting our young adult kids as much as we are. One is 18 and works full time. The other is 19 and works full time when not at college, then only part time. My wife thinks it’s our job to pay all their bills. Our older one even has a monthly car loan payment of $340 that we pay. Car insurance, cellphone bills, etc.; they pay zero. I think they should each pay $450 for rent and then we’ll keep paying for everything as it is now. That’s less than half of what it would cost if they were to go out and rent a one-bedroom apartment. My wife disagrees with charging them rent. Am I really the bad guy here? ~Matt

A: There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to older teens and young adults living at home. Due to soaring living costs and concerns around housing affordability, as they take steps to embark on the rest of their lives many young people are staying at home longer than ever before. This can, however, be at the detriment of their parents’ futures. For the older generation, allowing adult children who are working to remain at home could impact retirement timelines, activities, and savings. With that in mind, here are some things to consider as you and your family decide how best to move forward. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

What to know about money and post-secondary school:

money and university

Your post-secondary child is still living at home: Should you ask them to pay rent?

A lot comes down to the financial situation of the parents and what your goals are, both for yourselves as well as you children

Q: My ex-husband co-signed a car loan for our 18-year-old son who just graduated high school in June. The plan was to buy an older used car, but my son came home with a three-year-old truck and loan payments that will be hard to keep up with if his hours at work change or he goes back to school.

A: Navigating the ins and outs of co-parenting is hard enough when everyone lives under the same roof. Dealing with a former spouse and then a child on the cusp of legal adulthood is that much more challenging. The saving grace in your situation is that you have open lines of communication with your former spouse and son. It will make the transition easier for all of you as you establish your family’s rules and expectations in this new normal. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

University comes with necessary financial education: How to do it right

Post-secondary students face endless demands on time and energy. Manage money effectively to reduce financial stress, making it easier to focus on school

Q: Our kids worked part time throughout the last years of high school and chose to put some of what they earned away toward their future education costs. The rest of their spending went toward what they wanted, as long as they gave us what they owed toward their monthly cellphone bills. Our oldest was especially good with his money and was able to move out and also buy a car, but our other son and daughter tended to spend their money on clothes and electronics as fast as they earned it. Our younger two are now starting their post-secondary education. We’re helping to pay for school, but there’s a lot they still need to cover. What can we do to help them start off right and not feel so overwhelmed? ~Andy

A: As parents, we’re familiar with juggling competing financial priorities that impact our family’s lifestyle. We have to decide if we should take the family camping or pay the mortgage. Attend a concert or pay the rent? Pay for soccer or piano lessons or use the money toward groceries? Back-to-school shopping or money for all the bills we already have?  Many post-secondary students don’t have experience making these types of money decisions. Once they realize that these choices are now in their hands, it can lead to a lot of stress. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Tips to help post-secondary students avoid common financial pitfalls

If you can’t afford to fully subsidize their living costs, work out how much they’d need to contribute toward the household bills

Q: Our oldest is starting college this fall and her mom and I struggled financially as post-secondary students. We’d like our kids’ experiences to be different than ours, so we have money saved to help them with their education. But post-secondary programs are so much more expensive than we ever imagined. The savings we have won’t carry all three kids through until the end of their education, so we’ll have to figure it out somehow. Are there any tips to make it easier for all of us? ~Marcus

A: Embarking on post-secondary education is a big step, not just for the student, but for the whole family as well. With tuition costs for college, university, trades and technical programs at an all-time high, finding savings and additional cash to fund the program without incurring major debt, has become as much a priority as achieving good grades. To help your son or daughter find their way financially, here are practical tips that will help any student avoid the financial pitfalls. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

5 best tips for financial success after university graduation

Outline a budget that allows you to live below your means and stay in control of your finances

Q: My son is graduating from university in a few weeks and I’m worried about how he’ll manage financially. We supported him during his studies by allowing him to live rent free at home, but we don’t have the money to help him move out closer to where he’s found a job. Life has gotten so expensive and we need to be careful, too. He doesn’t share too much about his finances, but we know he’s got some student loans, a car loan that we co-signed, and likely some credit card debt too. Have you got any money tips for recent grads? ~Samuel

A: Graduating from post-secondary, moving out of home, and starting a career are big milestones in someone’s life. As a parent, it’s always exciting to see where life takes our children. But when their choices come with prices tags, we can’t help but wonder how prepared they are to make decisions that ensure a financially stable future. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

How to prepare financially for early retirement:

how to save for early retirement

Key considerations when contemplating early retirement

Whether early retirement is right for you is only something you can determine. If you aren’t sure, reflect carefully about what kind of lifestyle you envision

Q: The company my partner works for has been sold and the new owners have offered him a generous package to retire early. We have been considering our options for a few weeks and would like to seize the opportunity to retire about 12 years earlier than we had planned. We figure that as long as interest rates come down in a year or two, we should be OK with our savings and his pension. The high cost of living will make it hard for now, but if push comes to shove, we could downsize our home. What else do we need to consider before finalizing our decision? ~Miriam

A: Even if you love what you do, dreaming of the day you no longer need to work is only natural. Some people dream of having more time to spend on hobbies and travelling. Others seek out new activities, expand their friendship circle, or spend extra time with loved ones. Retiring means saying goodbye to office politics, colleagues pressing you with deadlines, and tedious commutes. However, the reality of early retirement can be much different than the fantasy. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Keys to figuring out the finances when you want to retire early

Take the time to put a price tag on your retirement adventures and look for alternative ways to afford what might be out of reach

Q: I’ve spent my entire career working for the same company, which was sold during the pandemic. We were told that we’d all be keeping our jobs, which was a relief, but the shift to new management was really disruptive. The culture changed and I don’t agree with the direction of the new leadership. The changes they’re making, in my opinion, aren’t wise for our customers and could affect the health and safety of employees. Rather than working in an environment that makes me uncomfortable, I’m thinking about taking early retirement. My wife is supportive, but I don’t want to mess up our finances. What do I need to consider? ~Paul

A: Changes in company leadership can be challenging, and if the new environment at work no longer aligns with your goals or convictions, a move can work out for everyone’s benefit. Finding a similar job elsewhere would be a good option for some. Others might seize on this opportunity to go back to school and retrain for a different career or start a business of their own. Employees approaching the end of their working life might find that early retirement is a realistic choice. However, whether or not to take early retirement during changing economic times should not be a decision you make lightly. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Five steps to take in the 10 years before retirement

The time to consider your retirement finances is at least a decade before you actually get there

Q: My husband and I really don’t follow our finances all that well. Our budget works and we don’t have much debt, basically just our mortgage, and some money owing on our line of credit from helping our youngest buy her condo. We pay off our credit cards every month. Our kids stayed living at home during their university years and so it’s just recently that we became true empty nesters. With just the two of us at home we’ve noticed some changes with our spending, which got us thinking more about our money. We have an investment adviser at the bank, and we tend to trust her suggestions about how to manage our savings so that we can retire on time. But lately we’ve thought that we should probably take more interest in our money. Where do we start? ~Roxanna

A: Your approach to managing your money is not all that unique and it has thankfully served you well over the years. For many Canadians, as long as they earn enough to cover their various priorities and see their nest egg growing, they assume that everything is just fine. While everything might be going according to plan and setting them up for a stable financial future, it’s important that we take an active interest in our money. And it’s never too late to start. Here are five things to do in the 10 to 15 years before retirement. READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE.

How to avoid fraud and financial scams:

how to avoid financial scams

Beware: Spring is the target season for home renovation scams

Fraudsters can arrive in any form; at your door, on the phone, or via email, online ad or even text message

Q: My wife and I bought our first house last year. It needs some fixing up but the price was right and we’re pretty handy and can do a lot of the work ourselves. But there seem to be a lot of companies coming around our neighbourhood offering their services. The latest was lawn care and aeration, and while we could probably use them, we are still busy with the inside of the house. I don’t know how all of the companies know that we’re new homeowners, but we’ve had offers to do the roof, check our furnace, and replace our windows. We have been tempted a few times to sign up for whatever they’re offering, especially the window company because they said there’s a rebate we would qualify for. We ended up not doing it because it was still very expensive, but how do we know who to go with when a salesperson comes to our door? ~Stephen

A: The nicer weather and longer days don’t just signal the start of spring, but a renewed interest in home renovation scams as well. From painting to landscaping, updating a kitchen, servicing gas appliances, or replacing a fence, it all takes time, money, and skills that many homeowners don’t have. Scam artists know this and use it to their advantage, offering enticing deals at a time when many Canadians are watching spending carefully. It’s often later, when someone realizes they’ve been duped, that they recognize the deal was too good to be true.   READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Avoid fraud and scams with help from your bank’s new protection services

Protect yourself financially when reviewing electronic communication. Learn what to watch out for and how to use Bank Act changes to your advantage

Q: I’ve been getting more emails than usual from my bank and I’m not sure if the messages are legitimate. I don’t remember signing up for the alerts. A few years ago I unknowingly clicked on a fraudulent ad and my credit card was compromised, so now I try to be extra careful. It scares me a bit that I’m getting these emails about my bank accounts versus my credit cards. If my income suddenly disappeared I couldn’t pay my rent. What can you suggest? ~Maureen

A: Fraudsters have become more sophisticated and it has taken its toll on consumers. Canadians lost more than $375 million to scams in 2021 alone. And that number is only for the losses that were reported. Many of those duped out of their hard-earned cash are too embarrassed to admit it.   READ SCOTT’S FULL ANSWER HERE

WATCH: The con game: How to avoid getting scammed


We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

What to know about making more money:

how to make more money

Tackling the 5 common money myths that could be holding you back

Online investing and trading can be exhilarating and risky. Just like gambling, some individuals achieve remarkable success, while others face significant losses

Q: Our son has been getting into online investing and he and his friends try to outdo each other by seeing who can make the most money in a week. However, they’re walking dangerously close to the edge of making poor decisions in an effort to increase their gains. I overheard his friend mentioning that he needed to earn enough to pay his rent. We’ve always been conservative in our approach to managing our money, but our son isn’t interested in hearing our ideas and concerns. He’s admittedly doing well for himself right now, a feeling only enhanced by the fact that he has few financial obligations. Are there any big money myths we can share with him that will hopefully jolt him into thinking twice about the choices he’s making with his money? ~Kristina

A: Online investing and trading can be exhilarating and risky, akin to a high-stakes game. Just like gambling, some individuals achieve remarkable success, while others face significant losses. Add in a little competition between friends and the incentive to take bigger risks only drives the stakes higher. There comes a point when gaming turns to gambling, and whether navigating the stock market or playing cards, it’s essential to predetermine your budget so that you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Tips to shed light on the dark side of side gigs

There is a lot about side gigs that no one tells you. Do online research and build offline connections to gain insights

Q: My husband started a side gig with his brother during the pandemic when we were all laid off from our regular jobs. It was a lot of fun to get it up and running and the kids were able to help as well. The guys scaled back the side project when we all went back to work and school, but lately my husband has been talking about breathing new life into his side gig with a few of his buddies.

A: Many people used the extra time they had during the pandemic to start a side gig. Their motivation may have been to increase their income or replace a lost source of income. However, focusing on the benefits and excitement of a side gig can blind an entrepreneur to the dark side. There’s a lot about side gigs that no one tells you before you start, so here are tips to shed light on the darker side of gigs. READ PETA’S FULL ANSWER HERE

Recommended from Editorial

Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add and to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.

You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.

Source link