Debt & Frugality

As Didi says in the novel (Findependence Day), “There’s no point climbing the Tower of Wealth when you’re still mired in the basement of debt.” If you owe credit-card debt still charging an usurous 20% per annum, forget about building wealth: focus on eliminating that debt. And once done, focus on paying off your mortgage. As Theo says in the novel, “The foundation of financial independence is a paid-for house.”

25 factors that impact Life Insurance premiums

By Chantal Marr, LSM Insurance

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Life insurance protects your family financially, but it can also be huge strain on your budget. Over the years, even a small savings in your premium can really add up. The following factors are used to determine the rate you will pay. Not all of these factors are controllable; however, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to lower your premium.

1. Age at Time of Purchase

The younger you are at the time of purchase, the lower your rate will be. Insurance experts say the sooner you buy a policy, the better. Chris Huntley, life insurance agent at Huntley Wealth and Insurance explains, “Age is the most important contributor to both term and whole life insurance rates. If the insured outlives the initial term, the insurance carrier must adjust the premium to reflect their new age.”

2. Your Health History

Insurance providers need to know of any health problems you may have had in the past to determine your risk factor. Chronic illnesses could result in higher premiums. According to Canada Protection Plan, “Generally, insurance underwriters review an applicant’s medical history, and assign a rating based on the presence (or lack there of) of common medical conditions.”

3. Current Health

Most insurance providers require a medical exam to determine how healthy you are. The doctor will look for signs of high blood pressure and other conditions that may lead to future problems. If you are in good health, you will typically qualify for lower rates. “Your health is a key indicator of the risk you pose to an insurer and will directly impact not only your ability to get a policy but how much you’ll pay for the policy.” Richard Laycock, senior insurance writer.

4. Your Weight

Obesity can lead to all types of health problems. Being overweight or obese can put you in a higher risk category for insurance purposes. “Life insurance premiums are also based on your weight, or at least the proportion of your weight to your height. There are ranges and a theoretical norm at the center, that indicate a “normal” proportion. To the degree your own height-to-weight ratio varies from the ideal range, you will pay more in premiums,” says Neal Frankle, CFP.

5. Hazardous Occupations

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A Millennial’s Jump Start on Personal Finance

By Trevor McDonald

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Most millennials aren’t taught personal finance beyond the few who soaked up “lessons” from having an allowance or chores while growing up. Given the increasing use of digital currency, from tapping phones together to send money, depending on Venmo and utilizing bitcoins, ask a millennial how to write a check or balance a bank account and few can give a succinct answer: but does that even matter? Has personal finance changed so much in the past few decades that its definition is due for an overhaul?

Financial literacy and well-being is and always will be vital. How it’s defined and its best practices evolve as we do. Just like any type of “health,” financial health requires setting a strong foundation, teaching and practice. It’s strange that we have an entire generation in full-fledged adult categories without a clue of how to handle their finances.

Consider this the starter kit for millennials:

1.) Credit score management

 The importance of credit scores isn’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re more important than ever with some employers using credit scores to narrow down job candidates. Make sure to monitor your credit score, check your credit report regularly for errors, and make your payments on time. This will help ensure you maintain a healthy score. There are other ways improve your credit score that you might not know, too, such as snagging a tradeline where you’re added onto a person’s credit account who already has a solid score. A tradeline company can manage this, linking paying customers to a tradeline account so any messiness of blending finances with personal relationships is avoided.

2.) Buffering that nest egg

Having at least three months’ worth of living expenses in “liquid cash” that’s easily accessible is a reasonable starting point. Some financial experts recommend one year, but a year’s salary can sound very overwhelming. Start socking away funds in an emergency account by using an app that rounds up purchases and siphons funds to this account so you don’t even notice.

3.) If possible, entrepreneurs and business owners should seek out life in specific states or overseas

Millennials are the generation of entrepreneurs, and this makes personal finance even stickier. Where you live plays a huge role in your ability to build wealth. Obviously some regions have higher costs of living than others, but every state also has a different income tax. There are seven states, including highly desirable ones like Florida, that boast a zero per cent income tax rate. Moving abroad often allows for foreign earned income exemption in which you don’t pay any state income tax (of course) but also no federal taxes except social security and Medicare.

4.) Budget, budget, budget

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Mortgage Brokers vs. Banks: Which is better?

By Alyssa Furtado, RateHub.ca

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Shopping for a mortgage can be a challenging task. Much like when you buy a car, it can be hard to get clear information. Mortgage rate comparison websites like RateHub.ca can help you learn about your options in general terms. But when it actually comes time to apply, a mortgage agent can give you objective advice and get you the best mortgage rate.

Canadians have two main options when looking for a mortgage: banks and mortgage brokers. When you talk to a mortgage advisor at a bank, you have the ability to negotiate directly with someone at that financial institution. When you work with a mortgage broker, he or she will work with a number of different lenders and negotiate on your behalf.

These are two different approaches to the same thing. But which option is better?

Each has benefits and drawbacks

To answer this question, we need to dive in to the benefits and drawbacks of each. Let’s start at the bank.

When looking for a mortgage, you can expect the mortgage advisor to be quick and responsive. You’ll have the option of convenient face-to-face meetings, and many banks even have mobile salespeople who will come to your home to discuss your mortgage needs. Continue Reading…

6 ways to attract Millennial homebuyers

By Emma Bailey

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Millennials may eschew many traditional values, but members of this demographic remain committed to one primary tenet of the “American Dream” — homeownership.

While a large number of young people have put the brakes on buying a new home because of student-loan debt, mortgage restrictions and a sluggish job market, the largest bunch since the baby-boomer generation is beginning to enter the real estate market en force. The sheer size of this group and the fact they were born and came of age in an era of rapid technological innovation puts them in a position to transform both the real estate market and what is desirable in a home.

To keep pace, real estate agents and home sellers alike are having to alter the way they market and present homes in order to attract millennial homebuyers. Does your property have what it takes for millennials to take notice?

Walkability and Amenities

The millennial generation places a higher value on “experiences” than they do on material goods. In this demographic, a home is typically perceived as a base for the rest of one’s life, rather than the center of it. Instead of a classic house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, millennials are more likely to prefer property in an urban setting within walking distance of local attractions. There is also a larger interest in non-traditional and mixed-use properties, such as warehouses that have been converted into lofts.

Convenience

In an effort to save money and reduce their ecological impact, many millennials are forgoing cars in favor of alternative transportation. As a result, millennial buyers tend to prefer home shopping in locations that have easy access to public transportation and a minimal commute to work. If your property is close to a metro system or even a local bike-share hub, you can expect younger individuals to reach out with interest.

Connectivity

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3 common mistakes by first-time homebuyers & how to avoid them

By Sean Cooper

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

You’ve probably heard it plenty of times: buying a home is the single biggest financial transaction of your lifetime. But purchasing a home can also be a great long-term investment — when it’s done right.

Buying a home for the first time can either set you on the right financial path or be a drain on your finances. It completely depends on how you go about it, and is why time is well spent reading great resources, such as the LowestRates.ca first-time homebuyer’s guide.

I wrote about the most common mistakes first-time homebuyers make in my new book, Burn Your Mortgage. Here are some highlights:

1.) Buying “Too Much” House

The simplest way to eventually be mortgage-free is to not take on a massive mortgage. The lower your mortgage, the less time it takes to pay off.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage tells you how much home you can afford. But just because the bank says you can spend up to $800,000 on a home doesn’t mean you should. The word “can” is key here, and is what many homebuyers overlook. You don’t want to spend so much on a home that it’s a drag on your finances. Otherwise you could find yourself “house rich, cash poor,” with little money to save, let alone have fun with. Instead of your castle, your home could feel like a prison, with your mortgage a life sentence. By buying a home you can comfortably afford you maintain the financial wiggle room to deal with a financial emergency, such as losing your job or suffering severe damage to your home.

2.) Forgetting to Budget for Closing Costs

Closing costs are referred to as the transactional cost of real estate and are often overlooked by homebuyers. They’re anything but a drop in the bucket though, typically adding up to between 1.5% and 4% of a home’s purchase price. Common closing costs include home inspection, real estate lawyer fees, land transfer tax and appraisal fees.

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