January 21, 2014
Plan, don't panic, for life's unexpected events
(NC)-One thing in life is certain – and it is that there will always be unexpected things that pop up. They can be positive (marriage, new child, promotion, inheritance from a long-lost relative) or negative (job loss, death, divorce) and often have significant financial implications. Women are often the most impacted by life's unexpected events. According to research conducted for TD's Women Investor Strategy, nine out of 10 Canadian women will be the sole decision-maker concerning their finances at some point in their lives.
Although such life events may be unavoidable, there are steps women can take so they're prepared financially and more equipped to manage any surprises.
"While you can't predict the future, and the unexpected is – unexpected – being proactive can help you prepare yourself financially for unforeseen events," says Sandy Cimoroni, President, TD Mutual Funds and head of TD's Women Investor Strategy. "The best way to be prepared is to have a written, comprehensive financial plan that includes an emergency savings fund."
According to a recent poll by TD Waterhouse, more than half (53%) of Canadian women agree that there are differences in the way women and men approach investing and working with an advisor. Cimoroni provides tips for some things for women to keep in mind when thinking about their financial plan:
• Understand your family finances – it's essential for women, whether married, single, a parent, grandparent or otherwise, to understand their family finances (bank accounts and approximate balances, investments, financial strategy, etc.) so that if necessary, they can continue to manage, or take control, of their family's finances.
• Plan for the unexpected – ensure that if something happens, such as an unexpected expense (car repair, home renovation), significant illness or job loss, you have an emergency savings fund to cover your expenses (a general rule is to have the value of three to six months' of regular expenses set aside).
• Work with an advisor – compared to men, women often seek more education and market information when making financial decisions. Pros can help you better navigate your life and financial goals, and they should also be committed to investing time to educate you about the options available.
"What's most important is feeling confident that your future is financially secure," Cimoroni adds.
Courtesy of Newscanada
January 14, 2014
Okotoks and Calgary Realty Roland J. Darel. Top winterizing tasks for your home
(BPT) - If you shudder at the thought of shivering through another frigid winter, building industry experts say now is the time to consider winterizing your home. Several simple and cost-effective measures can yield both immediate and long-term benefits.
While instinct may prod you to increase the heat during winter and keep your home toasty all day long, that's not always cost-effective. Investing in a programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the temperature remotely, lowering the setting when the house is empty, and save money in the process. Modern thermostats let you monitor the indoor temperature of your home remotely via your smartphone or online. By keeping the temperature low when no one is home and programming the thermostat to increase the temperature when everyone arrives home, you could notice a 10 percent drop in your heating costs.
Fall is also an ideal time to ensure your furnace is functioning optimally. Schedule an appointment for a professional to inspect and clean your furnace once a year. By doing so, you'll help your furnace function more effectively and last longer.
If ice damming on the roof is an annual problem, consider taking measures to completely stop dams from forming. Major damage can result from ice damming, so it's never too early to start thinking about a long-term solution. Ice damming occurs when warm, indoor air escaping through the roof melts snow on the shingles. The water then refreezes as it runs off the roof, creating a barrier of ice at the edge. Shovelling snow or chipping ice away can threaten life, limb and roof, so it's best to consider more permanent solutions.
While caulking or weather-stripping can help address the gaps allowing the air to escape, the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Saver website says that proper air sealing, insulation and attic venting are the best methods to stop ice damming from occurring. Spray foam insulation is one modern material that both insulates and seals to stop ice damming. Installed by professionals, spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, works well in all climates to completely seal the building, filling every gap to stop air leakage and stop ice dams from forming.
As a long-term solution, spray foam insulation helps maintain a comfortable temperature year round while helping to control monthly heating and cooling expenses. Thanks to spray foam insulation's air-sealing qualities, homeowners can reduce the size of their heating and cooling equipment since less effort is required to heat or cool the home, according to InsulationSmart.com.
While air leakage can cause energy bills to sky-rocket and ice damming to occur, a well-insulated home and economical winterizing can help you get through the cold winter months. Learn the five easy steps to choosing the right insulation by visiting icynene.com.
Courtesy of BPT
January 14, 2014
Okotoks and Calgary Realty Roland J. Darel. How to refresh home decor and be a budget-savvy trendsetter
Many people use just one word to describe lavish, luxurious homes filled with the latest interior design trends: unattainable.
These dream homes that appear on television programs and grace the pages of magazines are seen as projects that can only be executed by affluent homeowners who chase trends and change decor with every season. But, according to television design star Lisa LaPorta, with a practical approach, it's easy to stay at the forefront of hot home design trends on any budget.
"Designer homes should be sources of inspiration and motivation," LaPorta says. "When you're researching home renovation and style, you should absolutely look to the most stylish and opulent examples. Then, once you know what you want, execute those ideas on a budget that works for you." According to LaPorta, the best way to keep your home up to date with current trends is to change elements that have high impact, and are cost-effective.
"It might seem obvious, but painting can truly transform a home from being 20 years outdated, to one on the cusp of modern decor," she says. "Keep abreast of the design trends, but don't forget to include your own personality."
LaPorta advises homeowners to be introspective and look to their own personal sense of style to identify paint colors. Your wardrobe says a lot about you and can help guide color selection for your home, she states. Be confident in your choices and run with them. But, she cautions people to never choose a final color while at the paint or hardware store.
"Too often I see people choose colors on the spot at a paint store, only to go home and realize it looks completely different on the wall," LaPorta says. "There's a reason you're allowed to take color chips home with you. You need to test them!"
She goes on to say that many people think color selection is the most important part of painting. Once they know what colors they want to use, it's as simple as grabbing a paint brush and covering the wall, right? Wrong. In reality, choosing an inferior brush can have an enormous negative impact on the final result. LaPorta recommends using high-quality painting tools such as Purdy brushes and rollers for a flawless finish.
The appearance of a finished painting project is very much dependent on the quality of the applicators used. "When you're painting, the brush really does matter. A Purdy brush holds more paint, provides smooth, even coverage and vastly reduces brush marks on the wall."
Once you have the perfect, trendy colors on the walls, it's time to accessorize. LaPorta notes that many people have a tendency to overpopulate their rooms with too much furniture. Not only does this clutter the space, but it's quite costly, as well. Instead, she recommends putting larger furniture pieces in a rotation to cut down on clutter.
"Design is cyclical," LaPorta points out. "Eventually, the couch you bought in the '70s will be popular again. But, that doesn't mean it should be on display until that happens. Focus on a few pieces of large furniture and then chase the trends by purchasing smaller, less costly items such as throw pillows, rugs or inexpensive art and paintings. Then, as trends change and evolve, rotate the larger pieces into your decor. You'll save money, but still feel like your home is on-trend.
A fresh coat of paint and some new accessories can create dramatic change, but LaPorta also points out that simply changing the layout of a room can also make a big difference.
"Homeowners sometimes forget that rearranging furniture can completely change the appeal and feel of a space," she says. "Step outside of the boundaries of your normal decorating style and see how you feel. Instead of having the television as the focal point of a living room, make the coffee table or fireplace the center. The best part is, it's free. And if you don't like how it looks, you can always change it back."
These few simple design tips can help transform your home into a chic, trendy space that's the envy of the neighborhood, all at a price tag you can afford.
January 7, 2014
Okotoks and Calgary Realty Roland J. Darel. Ready to buy a home?
(NC) Buying your first house can be exciting and nerve-wracking, especially with so many factors to consider. Even now in this low-interest rate climate, going out and buying the first place you see is very tempting. But will you end up living beyond your means? What if interest rates go up? Are you really ready to make this huge financial commitment for the next 12 to 15 years, or longer? Before you sign the dotted line, the financial experts from Desjardins Group have some tips to help get you started.
A huge life decision
- Purchasing a home is very attractive if you've grown weary of renting. But when you own property, there's more to worry about than just the mortgage. For example, there's property tax, utilities, maintenance and insurance. Sometimes buying a place isn't a good idea if you like to live independently with lots of traveling and entertainment. Maybe you're actually ready to settle down. If so, have you made a budget to see if you can manage your new home? Your financial advisor will likely suggest that you borrowing less to give yourself a financial buffer. Also make sure that you speak to your financial advisor about the relationship between interest rates and current economic conditions. Repaying a mortgage loan can take 25 years or more, which is a long time during which many things can happen. So it's important to understand these financial cycles and how they could affect your cash flow.
Securing a down payment for your mortgage
- Experts advise that prospective home owners should have a down payment of up to 20 per cent of the house's value. One option is to borrow against your RRSP. The allowable amount is $25,000 per person or $50,000 per couple. If you haven't enough in your account, it's possible to take a top-up RRSP loan to reach the right amount. After the purchase, you'll have 15 years to repay the amount to your RRSP. Another option is to put down 10 per cent and to accept a higher mortgage loan insurance payment. Next question: is it better to choose a fixed or variable rate? A fixed interest rate offers stability and predictability, but you lose out on lower interest rates should they become available. The payments with variable interest rates also remain constant but there is the risk that interest rates may go up. This means more goes to your interest payment and less to your principal.
For more information about buying your first home, speak to your financial advisor. Or for immediate answers and mortgage calculators, visit Desjardins Group at www.desjardins.com/co-opme.
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