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UPDATED: What Emergency Funding is Available for Businesses & Ag Producers

The COVID-19 pandemic is making a significant impact on the Canadian economy, especially with small and medium sized businesses. The federal and provincial governments have announced different support efforts to relieve businesses and agricultural producers during these anxious times. Let’s help you break down these different measures so that you can brave this storm and best protect your business’ financial well-being.

UPDATED: March 30, 2020


Due to the nature of COVID-19, how it spreads, and how self isolation is the best way to fight against it, businesses across Canada are facing difficult decisions. Over the last week, many provinces and municipalities have announced measures to stop the spread of the virus that resulted in business closures and massive layoffs. The Government of Canada has also announced multiple initiatives to support businesses to provide economic stability during this time. Agricultural producers are also feeling the weight of the pandemic as they approach the beginning of spring seeding and how to get their goods from a difficult 2019 growing year to market. Most of the information below and how to apply for benefits from the Government of Canada can be found here.

Supports for Businesses

Temporary Wage Subsidy

Canadian businesses, including non-profit organizations and charities, whose revenue has decreased by at least 30% due to COVID-19 and facing employee layoffs can access a temporary wage subsidy for 3 months. Business owners can receive 75% of wages per employee to a maximum of $58,700 during the 3-month period, to a maximum of $847/week per employee. These payments will be back dated to March 15, 2020. Businesses can begin accessing this support by reducing your remittances of income tax that they withhold on employee pay.

To create some balance between employers and employees, the Government of Saskatchewan will allow businesses to not have to provide notice or pay in lieu in the event of a public emergency when the layoff is 12 weeks or less during a 16-week period. Additionally, if an employee is laid off for more than 12 weeks in a 16-week period, they will be considered terminated and entitled to access federal employment insurance programs.

Businesses also qualify for payment deferrals on loans, skip-a-payment, and interest only payment plans. You are encouraged to reach out to your financial institution to determine what supports are available to you and what makes the most sense with your financial situation.

Business Tax Filing

Like the measures taken for filing personal income taxes, businesses will be able to defer the payment of income tax until September 1, 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts owing. The Canada Revenue Agency will also pause most of its audit interactions for businesses for the next 4 weeks. For businesses requiring assistance understanding your tax obligations, help will be administered over the phone or through webinar.

Businesses and self-employed individuals can defer payments of the Goods and Services (GST)/ Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) until June 30, 2020. Businesses will also be able to defer customs duties owing on imports until June 30, 2020. Details about remittance schedules and how they qualify can be found here.

The Saskatchewan Government is also providing relief for you if you own a business and are unable to submit your Provincial Sales Tax (PST) remittance over the next three-months. You can submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges here. Like the federal government, they are also pausing audit and compliance programs for businesses.

Credit Services

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

On March 27, the federal government announced the Canada Emergency Business Account. This emergency loan program will allow businesses to access interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to cover operating costs while revenue is down due to COVID-19. If the loan is paid in full by December 2022, 25% of the loan will be forgiven, to a maximum of $10,000. Contact your business advisor or financial institution to learn more about the CEBA and what it means for your business. Please keep in mind that your financial institution will have received this news at the same time it was announced and it will likely take a few weeks for them to put their measures in place to support you.

To ensure Canada’s businesses have access to credit services during this time, the Government of Canada is relaxing its parameters for certain funding:

  • The Canada Account ensures Canadian Exporters have access to loans, guarantees, and insurance policies during this time.
  • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is allowing the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada to support small and medium businesses with an additional $10 billion. In addition, BCAP and BDC will work with private sector lenders to ensure credit solutions are offered for individual businesses, specifically businesses that operate in the oil and gas, air transportation, and tourism sectors.
  • Canada’s individual banks will be able to access $300 billion for the economy by lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer of risk-weighted assets by 1.25%. This is in addition to the Bank of Canada reducing its interest rate to 0.75% to support the economy. Further reductions to the interest rate are expected, but not known at this time.

More details on market support measures taken by the Government of Canada can be found here.

Supports for Agricultural Producers

Farmers and the agri-food sector will be supported by Farm Credit Canada and an additional $5 billion dollars provided by the Government of Canada. You are encouraged to contact Farm Credit Canada to discuss the supports available to you.

Eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advanced Payments Program (APP) loan that comes due on or before April 30 will receive an automatic stay of default, giving farmers an additional 6 months to repay the loan. Those farmers with outstanding interest free loans, under the $1 million cap, can also apply for an additional $100,000 interest free portion for the 2020-21 year.

Producers may also qualify for payment deferrals on loans, skip-a-payment, and interest only payment plans. You are encouraged to reach out to your financial institution to determine what supports are available to you and what makes the most sense with your financial situation.

Breaking Down the Emergency Funds for COVID-19: Individuals & Families

The COVID-19 crisis has produced a lot of federal and provincial government action in order to support Canadians through these unsettling times. However, unless you are already familiar with these supports, a lot of the terms and relief options can sound intimidating and may go unused if you do not understand them. Let’s break down the different emergency fund options for individuals and families, the qualifications for each and how you can utilize them to protect your financial well-being.


Over the last week, there have been countless announcements about financial support for both families and businesses across Canada. The increase in information can be a lot to take in when you are worrying about your job, family, and finances. Most of the information below and how to apply for benefits from the Government of Canada can be found here. I’ve done my best to compile and simplify the essential information so you can understand how local governments in our province and the provincial and federal governments are stepping up to help Canadians.

GST Credit

If you are a low-income single adult or family, you will receive a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). This will double the maximum annual GST credit you will receive for the 2019-2020 benefit year. Payments will increase by almost $400 for single low-income adults, and almost $600 for couples. The one-time payment will arrive in early May 2020.

Canada Child Benefit

If you are entitled to the Canada Child Benefit, you will see payments increase for the 2019-20 year by $300 per child. On average, this will mean an additional $550 increase for families. This will be issued on the May 20, 2020 CCB payment.

Student Loans

Canada Student Loans payments will be deferred for a period of 6 months. Payments will be paused, and no interest will accrue on the amount owing. If you also have student loans with the Government of Saskatchewan, a 6-month loan payment deferral has also been implemented, mirroring the federal relief. Student loans from your financial institution may also qualify for a skip-a-payment plan, but you should contact your financial institution to find out the options available to you and what makes the most sense with your financial situation.

RRIF and RPP Withdrawals

Withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) are being reduced by 25% for the 2020 year. This also applies if you are receiving benefit payments from a defined Registered Pension Plan (RPP). You can view the minimum withdrawal percentage as of 2018 here.

Mortgages

The Canadian Government is providing $50 billion for the Ensured Mortgage Protection Program to support Canadians who are affected by COVID-19. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers are offering payment deferrals and special payment arrangements effective immediately on all CMHC insured mortgages.

In addition, many financial institutions in Canada are committed to working with customers to provide flexible solutions to your financial needs. This includes payment deferral on mortgages, auto loans, and personal loans for up to 6 months. You are encouraged to contact your financial institution to better understand your options during this time and what makes the most sense with your financial situation.

Utility Deferrals

Saskatchewan Crown Corporations that operate utilities in the province will offer a zero-interest deferral on all utility payments for a period of 6 months.

SaskTel – waiving data overage charges, offering news and family channels for free

SaskPower – stopped active collections and won’t be limiting power supply to customers

SaskEnergy – deferring payments and not limiting natural gas supply

City Supports

Specific measures for major municipalities in Saskatchewan can be found here:

Saskatoon     |     Regina      |      Prince Albert      |     Moose Jaw      |     Humboldt

Groceries

If you’ve visited a grocery store in the last two weeks, you’ll know that essentials like toilet paper, bleach, and disinfecting wipes are scarce. The major grocery stores in Canada have assured the public that the supply chain to keep stores stocked is strong. This has also been supported by the United States and Canadian governments’ commitment to keep the borders open to commercial traffic to ensure the flow of these goods.

In addition, major grocers have also committed to maintaining the price of goods instead of increasing prices as we usually see with an increase in demand. The President and CEO of Loblaws released this statement.

Childcare

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced that childcare facilities that are located within Saskatchewan’s schools will be re-purposed to assist with the childcare demands of health-care workers and essential services workers. This includes those employed in healthcare, child services, and emergency services. Read more here.

Personal Income Tax Filing

The date for filing personal income taxes for the 2019-20 year has been extended to June 1, 2020. However, to receive the new Canada Child Benefit payment and the GST one-time payment, you are encouraged to file your personal income taxes as soon as possible to ensure the amounts you will receive for the 2020-2021 year are correct. The Canada Child Benefit and GST payments are based off your 2019 taxes, and the amounts take effect in July 2020.

If you file your 2019 personal income tax, and owe money, you have until September 1, 2020 to make a payment on the taxes you owe. No interest will be accrued on any balances owing.

Where it applies, electronic signatures will be recognized instead of in-person signatures, to encourage social distancing. Measures will also be taken to encourage the public to file your income tax electronically and they have provided help with understanding your personal income tax over phone and webinar.

Trusts that operate on a December 31, 2019 taxation year, such as family trusts, have until May 30, 2020 to submit your 2019 trust income tax returns. This is extended from the March 30, 2020 deadline.

Employment Insurance

If you qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) Sick Leave Benefits, the requirements for EI are as follows:

Unemployed due to work closure?

REQUIREMENT TO QUALIFY: 700 hours worked in the last 52 weeks

  • Your employer will need to submit a Record of Employment to the Government of Canada.
  • The one week waiting period remains in effect.
Unemployed due to self-quarantine?

REQUIREMENT TO QUALIFY: 600 hours worked in the last 52 weeks

  • You do not need to provide a Record of Employment or doctor’s note.
  • The one week waiting period is waived

If you qualify for either of these situations, you can apply here. You can also call to apply, but wait times will be much higher than normal.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide up to $2,000 a month for the next four months if you don’t qualify for Employment Insurance. Administered through the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA), you may qualify if you are one of the following:

  • self-employed, quarantined, or sick with COVID-19
  • self-employed and caring for a family member who is sick with COVID-19
  • a parent of children and cannot work due to school or daycare closures, whether you qualify for Employment Insurance or not
If you are facing unemployment and don’t qualify for EI:

You will not need to provide a doctor’s note to access these benefits and are encouraged to sign up to receive the benefit through direct deposit. The application will be available in early April, and applicants will need to confirm they meet the requirements when they apply. You will also need to reconfirm your eligibility every two weeks. You can apply in one of 3 ways:

  • Applying through your My CRA account
  • Applying through your My Service Canada Account
  • Calling toll-free at 1-833-381-2725

When applying through My CRA or My Service Canada, you will need a secure PIN code. If you feel you qualify for this benefit and do not have access to either of these accounts, you can request your PIN here. It can take up to 10 business days before you receive it in the mail, so requesting it now ensures you’re ready to apply when the application opens.

EI Work Sharing Program

If you’ve agreed to reduce your normal working hours because of your employer’s efforts to curb the impact of COVID-19, you can also take advantage of the EI Work Sharing program. This provides Employment Insurance benefits to you if you’re still employed but working less than you normally would. In order to qualify for these benefits, you will have needed to work 76 weeks (an increase in the standard 52 weeks).

The Government of Saskatchewan also passed legislation ensuring that if you need time off work because you are sick with COVID-19 or are required to care for a family member who is sick, you will not experience job loss. Even if you have been working with your employer for less than 13 weeks, you qualify for job protection under this legislation.

Self-Isolation Support Program

If you have contracted COVID-19, have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, or recently returned from international travel, you are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days. In this instance, the Government of Saskatchewan has announced the Self-Isolation Support Program that provides you with $450 a week, for a maximum of two weeks as income support. To qualify, you must also meet the following criteria:

  • you are ineligible for compensation from your employer through sick or vacation leave
  • you do not have access to private insurance to cover labour disruptions
  • you are not covered by the other federal income support programs that have been announced

Stop Robbing Peter To Pay Paul

Many of us have been there – we really want something, but don’t have the cash to pay for it. So what’s the harm in putting it on our credit card? And maybe at the end of the month we may not have enough money to pay it off, but you tell yourself “that’s a future you problem”. Fast forward to the end of the month and it turns out you were right, you don’t have enough money in your account to pay your credit card bill. What do you do now? There are many different options that can make sure you can pay for it and you are avoiding the cycle of borrowing from one place to pay for another debt. 


Beware of Shark Infested Water

You’ve seen them popping up everywhere – on the corner, on your TV and in your mailbox: Payday Loan Companies are always there ready to “help” you out with that short term loan, but how much is that “helpful” loan costing you in the end? The answer is… a lot! The annual interest rate on a $300 14-day payday loan from Money Mart in SK is 443.21% at a rate of $17 per $100 borrowed. So that means that your $300 loan will actually cost you $51 and the total amount owed will be $351. For 7% of Canadians, this is an avenue they have gone down and it can be very difficult to get out of the cycle. The best advice? Avoid payday loans entirely.

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

A revolving line of credit, when used properly, can provide peace of mind as you are aware that you will have access to funds if you need them. They can definitely be beneficial, but the goal should not be to be use it every month and should never be included as available money in your budget. It should be used as a safety net and something you access as a last resort because you do pay interest on the amount that you use.

Have you ever been stuck in a revolving door?

Would you borrow from your grandma to pay your friend back? Then borrow from another friend to pay your grandma back… and then borrow from… I think you see where I’m going with this.

You’re literally borrowing from one person to pay the other and it has the potential to be a never-ending cycle. The same is true when you take a cash advance from your credit card to pay for something. You are being charged interest as soon as you borrow the money and are left trying to figure out how to pay it back when you didn’t have the money in the first place to buy what you wanted. You can check out Francis’ blog to learn more about Cash Advances.

I could have cruised to Australia for that amount.

If you can’t pay off your credit card every month, you should at least be making the minimum payment. That’s probably good enough, right? The credit card company must be trying to help you if they put a minimum payment on there, right? No, they’re not. While paying the minimum is important, it is the bare minimum you should be doing and doing that will not get you that far ahead.

Here’s an example to show why this is true:

You decide to go on a $2,500 vacation, but you’re going to put it on your credit card and pay the minimum balance. It shouldn’t take that long to pay it off and it won’t cost too much, right? Not quite. It will actually take 334 months to pay it off and the total cost of the trip will be $8,400! WHAT?! Yup, of the $50 minimum payment, only $12 goes to principle.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never taken a vacation that was worth triple for what I paid for it.

Using credit cards is very common for Canadians, with 92% saying they use their card every month, so it’s important to know as much as possible about them. Here are some stats about credit cards you may not be aware of:

  • One in seven Canadians use credit to buy daily essentials such as groceries because they are short on cash.
    • Nearly one in ten admit to being impulsive shoppers, which leads to buying things they cannot afford.
  • More than two in three Canadians don’t know that credit card interest is calculated daily on the balance and one in three Canadians admit they were somewhat unlikely or unlikely to make the minimum credit card payment
  • Transunion identifies the average credit card balance as $4,265 in Canada.

At the end of the day, or month, you want to make sure that you are borrowing wisely and making the best decision for you and your financial well-being. The best choice is always to have the cash to pay for something. There are benefits to using credit cards such as building your credit score and some cards have great perks. However, if you aren’t able to pay off your card in full each month, it negates the benefits you will have gained.

Some tips to break the borrowing cycle:

  • Shop around and understand the terms and conditions before you sign the loan contract. Specifically, look for interest rates and the repercussions of missing a payment.
  • Don’t use your credit card to spend more money than you have. It should be used as a tool to help you make purchases that are within your budget.
  • Save up for bigger purchases rather than purchasing on your credit card. Once you have enough cash, purchase it on your credit card to take advantage of points perks but make sure to pay that off immediately.
  • Pay your credit card balance every month in full. If this isn’t possible, shrink the amount of times you pull out your credit card and increase the amount you use your debit card.
  • Don’t use your credit card to take out cash. This is known as a cash advance and works differently than a purchase made on your credit card. The biggest difference is that interest is calculated the moment the money comes out of ATM until it’s paid back.
  • DO NOT use payday loans. Ever.

With the Holiday season coming, it’s really important to make sure you’re borrowing wisely, but also that you’re spending wisely too. Checking out Courtney’s blog about Christmas Budgeting will give you some great tips on how to stay within what you can afford this Christmas. And don’t forget that Giving the Gift of Time and DIY Gifts are two great options too! Have any advice of your own? List it below!

Top 5 Strategies to Pay Off Your Debt

Believe me, I know – if you’re in debt, whether it’s big or little, getting started on paying it off can be overwhelming. Here are my top five strategies to get you started and moving in the right direction and tackle that debt. Find a strategy that works for you and stick with it!


1. Pay off your most expensive debt first

If you have one particular debt with a super high interest rate, try making that debt your priority. You’ll need to maintain minimum payments on your other debts, but really putting everything you can into your most expensive debt will help to make your overall future debt less. The power of compound interest means that this debt has the possibility to grow the fastest, so eliminating it first is a solid step in the right direction.

2. Pay off your smallest debt first

This is a strategy for when you really need a win to get you motivated. By maintaining minimum payments on all of your debts and focusing on the one that will be the fastest to pay off, you’ll quickly get a little victory to keep you moving forward with the rest of your debt repayment plan.

3. The cash diet

Especially if you can get yourself into trouble with a credit or even debit card, the cash diet is a strategy where your budget becomes absolute law. You plan your budget (give our budget calculator a try), then take out cash to see you through a set amount of time like a week or the whole month. Once the cash is gone, that’s the end of your spending. It’s helpful to break up the cash into your individual budgets for things like groceries, gas, or pet expenses.

4. Use a tool to track your spending

If you’re struggling to find the money to pay off your debt, knowing exactly where all of your money goes is an important first step on finding room in your budget. Use our spending analysis tool or there are lots of great free apps that you can hook up to your bank account and credit cards that will track and categorize every transaction. Maybe you’ll realize you’re spending $30 a month on subscriptions you don’t even use, or that your grocery budget is way more than you thought it was. Knowledge is power, and with detailed knowledge of your spending, you can build better habits and cut out excess. For recommendations on how much of your income should go to which areas of your life, check out our how much money should I spend blog.

5. Ask for help

The burden of debt is worse if you’re suffering in silence. Talking to your friends, family, partner, or trusted mental health professional about how you want to start tackling your debt can help to make the stress more manageable. You can also talk to a financial expert, like one at Conexus, on your best path forward, and they can even help you refine your game plan. You can also talk to your creditors. It’s worth a phone call to see if any of your creditors are able to lower your interest rates, especially if you’ve been keeping up with minimum payments.

Debt is personal, so any strategy for tackling it that will work for you is the right strategy!

What debt strategy have you found success with? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

A woman is making an online purchase and is holding her credit card in her hand and entering her credit card number

The Real Cost of Carrying a Balance on a Credit Card

Do you know what it actually costs when you carry a balance on your credit card?
We’ve broken it down and even have a tool to figure out how long it might take you to pay off your balance.


Balance is a good thing… right?

Sometimes because of unexpected costs or not enough planning, you end up carrying a balance on your credit card. But what, exactly, does it cost when you don’t pay your credit cards in full each month?

Let’s start by defining a few important terms when it comes to credit:

Principal – The amount you originally borrowed. Yes, anything you spend on your credit card is borrowed money.

Interest – What your credit card charges you for the privilege of borrowing money. This is usually presented as an annual percentage rate.

Compound Interest – Interest that is added to your principal … which is then charged interest. Interest on your interest is how credit card debt can stack up so quickly.

Minimum Payment – The smallest amount of money you can pay in order to keep your credit card and not damage your credit score.

Credit Score – This is essentially a measure of how good you are at fulfilling your financial commitments. A good credit score can help you buy a house or a car, get a loan, start a business, or even get you better interest rates.

Interest grows your debt

Let’s use an example. Say you’ve got $1,000 on a credit card with a 19% interest rate. That’s not bad, right? $1,000 isn’t that much at all, and 19% is a pretty standard interest rate. So, let’s say you put $20 each month toward paying off that debt, which is an approximate minimum payment. Do you want to know how long it would take to pay that balance off? More than eight years! And what would it cost you? About $997, which is basically doubling your debt load! And that’s with only paying off your principal with no additional borrowing.

With compound interest, every dollar you leave on your credit card ends up costing you more and more. It’s a powerful thing that can be used to your advantage when it comes to saving, but that’s another blog post.

The example above is just that, an example, but you can use our repayment calculator to help you figure out exactly what your debt might cost you.

A credit card can be good

There’s an obvious solution here, right? Just don’t get a credit card!

Well … it’s not quite that simple. In order to build credit, you need to use credit. So, if you hope to own a home one day, or even get a car loan, you’ll have to work to build your credit. The best way to do this is to use your credit card and pay off the entire balance each month.

Some good tips on using credit with care are:

  • Keep your credit limit sensible
  • Use credit cards for recurring payments that are a regular part of your budget
  • Plan for larger purchases
  • Use credit cards to build good credit within your budget, not as a tool to spend more than you earn
  • If you can’t trust yourself with your cards, leave them at home

See how long it’ll take to pay off your credit card balance

Credit is an important part of your financial life, but carrying a balance, or not managing it well can lead to a struggle with debt. Try our repayment calculator and remember that debt is something that can happen to any of us, so never be embarrassed to talk about it.

Did you learn something about credit cards? Are there other questions you still have about them? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Couple reviewing how debt stacks up against other Canadians

How Does Your Debt Stack Up?

Let’s have a look at debt in Canada.
How much do people owe on average? How does it break down by age group?


Debt

Almost all of us have it, and most of us are worried about it. How does your debt compares with the rest of Canada and Saskatchewan?

What Canadians owe

Let’s start with the big picture. On average, Canadians carry about $22,000 in non-mortgage debt.

That’s everything like credit cards, lines of credit, loans, car payments, and student loans.  Now the bad news – that number spikes to nearly $24,500 in Saskatchewan. That’s like an entire part-time job’s yearly income worth of debt.

To put it another way, according to Statistics Canada, many Canadians owe $1.74 for every $1.00 of disposable income they have.

Canadians have a lot of debt.

Gen X are the most in debt

Good news for Millennials though, it’s Gen X that’s bearing the biggest debt load right now! People aged 35-54 on average have more than $10,000 of consumer debt alone, while those aged 18-34 have way less at about $5,600. People aged 55+ are sitting in the middle with an average consumer debt of around $9,000. And this is all just consumer debt, or the debt that comes from buying stuff, not investing in anything like a home or your education.

One of the major factors in Canadian’s debt is probably pretty familiar to you – income is staying the same or even going down, while costs of just about everything keep rising.

D*bt happens

Whether your debt is at, above, or even below some of these averages, the real takeaway here is that struggling to stay in the black is a Canadian experience. The first step in tackling your debt should be to talk about it. In fact, one of the main reasons that it’s believed Millennial consumer debt is as low as it is right now, is that that generation has been taught to be more debt averse than others to the point that many are delaying or even rejecting home ownership.

Keep an eye out for our upcoming blogs about the real cost of a credit card balance and our top tips for paying off debt.

So, how did you stack up? Does your debt load make you feel stressed, or are you feeling a little better knowing that so many other Canadians are struggling with debt too? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Girl holding a credit card

Building blocks of credit

Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and can be a tool that can help your future.


The word credit may be scary or viewed as something negative, but it can be the opposite. Credit isn’t a bad thing if used responsibly and is a tool that can positively help your future. Looking to get a mortgage? How about a loan for a new set of wheels? Building and having a good credit score is essential throughout your life and enables you to borrow money for these life events.

Importance of credit

Building credit is important as it identifies how you manage debt. By paying back the money you borrow with on-time payments, it shows you can responsibly manage debt and sets you up for the future.

A credit score will be given to you based on your credit behaviours. Credit scores range from 300 up to 900 points. When you’re first starting out, you’ll be at the lower end of the range. As you build your credit and display good credit behaviours, this score will increase. A score of 700 or above is considered good while a score of 800 or above is considered excellent. As good behaviours help improve your score, it’s important to note that bad credit behaviours can decrease this score. This score is with you forever, and it’s important you display positive credit behaviours.

You may think playing it safe by avoiding credit all together is the way to go, but in fact, it may be hindering you in the future. Without credit, you can’t show if you can manage debt responsibly which can impact your ability to get a loan, mortgage, etc.

Building credit

Start building credit as soon as possible. Start by applying for a low limit credit card after high school and paying the entire balance monthly. Credit cards are a great credit-building tool and can offer great additional features and benefits above and beyond just helping to build credit. Benefits from credit cards can range from insurance coverage to rewards points and even cash back to help pay your balance!

Good credit behaviours

Remember, good credit means you display positive credit behaviours showing you can responsibly manage debt. You can do this by:

  • Paying your monthly bills (utility, cell phone, etc.) on time each month. Consider setting up automatic payments.
  • Understand your spending and talk to a financial advisor to ensure the credit you have (credit cards, loans, etc.) is manageable and fits within your financial situation.
  • Pay your credit card balance in full each month. Remember your credit card statement ‘due date’ is the date the money is due on the account and payments typically take a few days to process. Make payments at least 2-3 days prior to your due date to account for processing times.
  • Do not apply for multiple loans or credit cards all within a short amount of time. Each time you apply for a loan, mortgage or credit card, the issuer does a hard credit inquiry or ‘a hit’ on your credit score showing that your credit has been checked. Excessive applications could affect your ability to be approved as it may look like you’re a riskier borrower or could be perceived as desperation.

Understanding your credit score and how your behaviours impact this score is important.  You can do a soft inquiry (an inquiry only visible to you and that doesn’t affect your credit score) by using www.transunion.ca. We also recommend speaking to your financial advisor. They’ll work with you to understand your credit and create a plan to help you reach your financial goals.

As you can see, credit doesn’t need to be a bad word. Building and developing good credit behaviours early on, help set you on the right track for life. Contact your financial advisor today to see how credit can be a positive for you.

What questions do you have about building your credit? Ask below and we’ll be sure to answer.

girl taking picture of food

Do you have the fear of missing out?

In a society of technology, we continually face the pressure of spending money – seeing what our friends are doing and purchasing and feeling like we have to keep up. This fear of missing out (FOMO) can have a big impact on our finances.


The fear of missing out (FOMO) is real. In a time where social media impacts spending habits, people are often urged to “keep up” and are constantly looking for the next big purchase, rather than save – because you can’t Instagram your savings account balance, but you can Facebook that vacation and Tweet that new pair of shoes. So, is the fear of missing out putting you into debt?

FOMO & debt

According to a recent study by public relations firm Citizen Relations, 56% of Canadian millennials (those aged 18 to 30) feel driven to live beyond their means because of social media. It’s the “fear of missing out” on trips, events, meals, shopping, sales – the list goes on.

Keeping up with your friends’ spending can be linked to social media as often when you make a big purchase you share it. If you miss that trip with your friends you are constantly reminded through social that you’re not there from their posts. Another study from Credit Karma found that nearly 40% of millennials have gone into debt to keep up with their peers. In an age of destination bachelor and bachelorette parties and destination weddings – how do you limit yourself to only spend what you have while still being able to afford the important life moments.

Say no to FOMO

  • Ask yourself “why”
    Before making a purchase ask yourself, “Am I making this purchase because I can afford it and it will make me happy?” or are you purchasing because your friends have it? Being able to identify a want vs. a need is an important question to ask yourself before you spend.
  • Limit yourself
    Figure out what works within your budget and set that as your limit. If you can afford to go out once a week for dinner and drinks with friends then stick to that. Find other solutions to going out, like inviting friends over and everyone brings a bottle of wine and appetizer.
  • Social media detox
    Limit your time on social media. Constantly keeping up with social media can directly relate to the feeling of keeping up.
  • Evaluate who you’re following
    Clean up the accounts you are following on social media by unfollowing stores and blogs. The less you see, the less temptation you will face to “swipe up” and swipe your credit card.
  • Buy for you – not your friends
    Recognize that everyone’s budget is different. We all have different incomes and expenses, so going on the expensive trip or upgrading your kitchen may have fit into your friends budget, but might not fit in yours and that’s OK.
  • Ignore the pressure
    Just like in high school, saying “no” to your friends might seem hard, but your friends should understand that sometimes you have other financial obligations. Finding an alternative hang out plan or trip that is affordable or further in the future that gives you time to save are great solutions to avoid the pressures of going out to spend.

Remember, FOMO is not an excuse to put you into debt. We’re not saying you should deny yourself of every experience, but instead when making purchases ensure 1) you can afford it and 2) it is making you happy – not your friends. Folding to the pressures of social media and your friends will not help your budget and will affect your finances later in life. It’s important to recognize the pressures of FOMO spending habits so you can spend responsibly.

income tax form

Smart ways to spend your income tax refund

It may be tempting to spend your income tax refund on a new pair of shoes or a fancy dinner, but that good feeling of splurging is only temporary. Consider spending your income tax refund using one of these options.


According to the Canada Revenue Agency, close to 90% of Canadians who have filed their 2017 income taxes received a refund, with the average refund being $1676. Do you anticipate receiving a refund this year? If so, how do you plan on spending it?

It may be tempting to use all of this money to splurge on yourself but that good feeling you get from splurging is only temporary. Here are a few smart ways to spend your income tax refund – helping you feel financially-well now and in the future.

Pay off debt

Have a balance on your credit card or line of credit? Working to pay off your student loan or car loan? Consider using your tax refund to reduce or eliminate this debt. Putting towards your debt will not only reduce the amount of debt you have but also decrease/eliminate the interest you’re paying on this debt.

Emergency savings fund

Are you prepared for an unexpected emergency such as job loss, injury or illness? If your car engine went on you tomorrow, do you have money set aside to have it fixed? An emergency savings fund ensures you’re prepared for life’s unexpected curveballs. Use your refund to start or contribute to an emergency savings fund. Unsure how much you may need? Check out our Importance of having an emergency savings fund blog to help you out.

Extra payment on your mortgage

Some mortgages have the option to make extra payments allowing you to pay down your mortgage faster – check your mortgage agreement to see what extra payment options you may have. Consider using your refund to make an extra payment on your mortgage, which will be applied directly to the principal amount. This will not only reduce this debt faster but also reduce the amount of time you’ll be paying off your mortgage.

Put into an RRSP

Retirement may seem far away, but it will be here before you know it. Help reach your retirement goals quicker by putting your refund into a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Check out our Retirement Planner Calculator to see if you’re on track for your retirement goals.

Put towards your child’s education

Post-secondary education costs for your child can add up quickly – will you be ready? Consider putting your refund into a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to help pay for the costs of this education. Our RESP Calculator can help you figure out the cost of your child’s post-secondary education and map out the savings required – through individual contributions and government grants.

Save the money in a Tax-Free Savings Account

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) allow you to save money in an investment tax-free, with a maximum yearly contribution limit of $5,500. These accounts are great tools for saving money for short and long-term goals and give you the flexibility to withdraw the money you save at any time. Saving for a family vacation or a new car – consider using a TFSA to get you started. Check out our TFSA Calculator to see your potential benefits to investing your tax refund into a TFSA.

However you choose to spend your tax refund, be sure to do so wisely. A new pair of shoes may be nice, but your return on investment would not compare to using one of the options above. We’d love to chat and see which option may be best for you. Contact us today!

bill that says past due

Kick-start your finances: eliminating debt

Debt can have a negative impact on your day-to-day life. Here are a few things to know to become and stay debt-free.


It’s no secret that money can be stressful and is one of the top stressors on individuals, relationships and our ability to give back to our communities. Debt can be one of the reasons for that stress and play a huge roll in your health (physical, mental and emotional) and in the way you interact socially.

Debt can also prevent us from getting ahead financially. Whether one larger debt or a combination of several small ones, it can be difficult to make payments to eliminate that debt while still saving money for your goals. What is the key to eliminating debt and having financial freedom to save more money for your goals?

Don Hendrickson, Conexus Member Experience Coach, says there are three things to know to help you succeed in eliminating your debt:

  1. Being aware;
  2. Creating a budget; and
  3. Setting up automatic transfers.

“It’s key to understand how much you owe and the interest rates on each area of debt so that you can create a realistic plan on how you’ll eliminate this debt,” said Hendrickson. “As part of this plan, you need to create a budget that sets out a schedule on how you’ll spend your monthly income which should include your debt repayment amounts. If you’re struggling to find money in your budget for your debt repayment, look to see if any of your want expenses such as entertainment can be reduced.”

Once you’ve created a plan, set up automatic money transfers to have your debt payments come directly from your account each payday. This helps reduce the temptation on spending elsewhere and keeps you on track to reaching your set goals.

When it comes to multiple debts, Hendrickson says tackling your highest interest debt first will save you the most money in the long run but you may also want to consider paying off a smaller balance first to help motivate you.

“There’s some research that shows paying off a smaller balance first gives you the feeling of success and will help motivate you to continue,” said Hendrickson. “For example, if you have a $1,500 line of credit balance and $10,000 in credit card debt, tackling the $1,500 will give you the feeling of success and may also provide a great learning experience that you can then apply to tackle your other debt.”

When it comes to avoiding debt, Hendrickson said there are many things you can do including:

  • Living below your means and not spending more than you earn.
  • Don’t feel the need to ‘keep up’ with those around you. Only do what you feel comfortable with and that your budget allows.
  • Pay yourself first by making a habit to take 10% or more of your income and put towards your goals including an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund will ensure you’re prepared for whatever curve life throws you.
  • Sit down with a financial advisor at least once a year to review your short-, medium- and long-term goals and make a plan, or re-evaluate your existing plan, to ensure you’re on your way to successfully reaching those goals.

Debt can be stressful and coming up with a plan will not only reduce this stress but also help you towards financial freedom. Be sure to contact your financial advisor for assistance. Not only will they be able to help you come up with a plan to eliminate your debt, but also work with you to set a plan for your future. There’s no better time than now to take control of your finances – get started and make tomorrow, today.