April 20, 2016, 6:01 am

Using the Bucket System

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Personal Finance

 

Budgeting… wow, this is something I haven’t done for soooo long!

 

As you can see, I’m becoming a lot more conscious about my debt repayment plans this summer. Once my wife starts her daycare in September, I want to put a super solid plan in place where we will kill our consumer debts within two years. In order to ensure my goal is achieved and I actually put this plan to work, I’ll setup a “bucket system” where I will pay myself first into several accounts.

 

What’s a Bucket System?

 

A bucket system is definitely not a new approach to personal finance. Many of my good friends use it and it definitely works. However, it requires discipline and a strict budget (or a lot of money coming in, hahaha!).

 

The goal is to receive all your income into a single account which is already the case for my wife and I. Then, the money is distributed into several other accounts called “Buckets”. Each bucket has its own purpose. Depending on your goals, you may have 1, 2 or 10 buckets. It’s a very effective way to make sure the money you earn is used for what you really want.

 

It also minimizes surprises in your budget. For example, I pay my municipal taxes as required by my city. This means that I make about 9 payments throughout the year to pay them in full. So I have some months where my municipal taxes are “free” since I don’t have to make a payment and others when I have to find about $400 to pay my bill. This $400 is sometimes a “surprise” in my budget when it happens. With the bucket system, I could easily split my yearly tax amount to be paid into 26 bi-weekly payments where I could take money from my bank account and save it in a bucket. Each month I need money to pay my taxes, I simply have to withdraw it from the bucket and it doesn’t affect my regular bank account.

 

My Own Bucket System

 

Without knowing so, I’ve already started my bucket system with my RESP and TFSA systematic investments. I will now just create more buckets to make sure my budget is under full control and that I concentrate the bulk of my extra cash in paying down my debts.

Tfb1

I already have my RESP and TFSA setup this way as I mentioned before. This money is automatically invested in mutual funds as it is free of transaction fees therefore it helps me manage a small amount of money. Eventually, I’ll probably buy stocks with my RESP as it is growing rapidly.

 

The line of credit payment will be used to drop it and generate liquidity. Each time I have enough room on my line of credit to pay off another debt as my pool loan is at 6.45%, I will draw a check from my line of credit to pay it off completely. I will then apply the debt snowball method to increase my line of credit payment and clear the next debt. The goal with this strategy will be to decrease my monthly payments used to pay consumer debts. Then, I will convert a part of my home equity line of credit debt into a flexible variable rate home loan.

 

Then, I will create three more buckets where money will be systematically invested in money market funds. I will grow an emergency fund for both house and car maintenance. The “fun account” will be used for several purposes such as paying for gifts, clothing, vacations and sporting activities.

 

Buckets are Restrictive but Efficient

 

The reason why I’ve been avoiding buckets my whole life is due to their highly restrictive aspect. Since the money is leaving your bank account as soon as it is being deposited, you have no room for extra spending. This is why it’s important to have a well balanced (and positive!) budget before you start with a bucket approach. There is no point of saving your money into buckets if you are about to take that money out to finance your lifestyle all the time!

 

On the other hand, buckets are highly effective since they serve a single purpose: putting money aside! The good news is that if my car doesn’t require maintenance this year, I will have a lot of money saved for bigger repairs in the future; same thing with my “fun bucket”.

 

The bucket system will start for my family in October 2013. Since we have committed to several expenses for the daycare between June and August, I will need the $2,000 generated from the daycare to balance my extra spending from the summer. Then, in October, I should be ready to start a new life!

 

Readers, have you tried the bucket system to manage your personal finances? How did it go?

 

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April 19, 2016, 7:11 am

Protect your Hog: a Motorcycle Insurance Comparison Guide

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Insurance

One of the caveats of riding a motorcycle is that riders face a higher risk of getting into an accident when compared to drivers of standard cars. Yes, there is nothing that can compare to riding a motorcycle on an open road with the wind hitting your face, but you have to remember that you’re also subject to a greater amount of personal risk due to the lack of sufficient protection from external forces. Motorcycles are also harder to control when compared to a standard car, which is even more apparent during hazardous road conditions, such as when it rains or if there’s snow on the road. If you use a motorcycle on a daily basis, you need to know about the different types of insurance plans out there and which ones would be the most suitable for your needs.

 

Comprehensive Physical Damage Insurance (CPDI) for Motorcycles

While most states require a motorcycle rider to have some form of liability insurance, what happens when your bike gets damaged in a non-accident related event? Instances like this occur not as a result of the actions of the motor vehicle owner; rather, because of external events outside of their control. For example, hitting a deer is considered a frequent motorcycle accident in Georgia, especially during night biking. Theft and vandalism of particular motorcycle models is rampant in Los Angeles. Severe weather and hail are also other common external culprits behind why bikes get damaged. If you live in a state where these incidents occur, it is highly recommended that you acquire comprehensive physical damage insurance for your motorcycle since this can help immensely in paying for damages to your bike.

 

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance is another type of insurance that you should consider getting since it involves damage resulting from hitting another vehicle. This type of insurance will either help you pay your bike repairs or give you the equivalent cash value of your motorcycle in case it was damaged irreparably during the accident. Do note though that the cash value uses the current value of the bike based on usage. The present value is calculated using the number of years that the bike has been in use, divided by the estimated lifespan of the motorcycle. The percentile outcome of the calculation is the amount that the insurance covers.

 

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

This type of insurance covers the medical bills of the injured party during a motorcycle accident. For example, if you suddenly lost control of your vehicle and hit a pedestrian, their medical bills would be covered by your liability insurance. However, bodily injury liability insurance does not cover your medical expenses. If you also sustained injuries in the accident, you will need to rely on your personal health insurance coverage to pay for the treatment of your wounds.

 

Nearly all U.S. states require liability insurance for motorcyclists. Before you consider any other type of insurance package, you should have a good liability insurance plan in place. Without it, you’re likely to be sued by the person you accidentally hurt, and this can lead to a lengthy, expensive court case.

 

These are the top three types of insurance that all motorcycle riders should at least consider before using their hogs on the road. If you want a more extensive motorcycle insurance comparison, you can visit sites like CoverHound, which shed further details on other types of motorcycle insurance available. Medical payments insurance and uninsured motorist coverage for motorcyclists are some of the other insurance options that could be useful depending on your needs.

 

Should I get them all?

The best possible scenario for any motorcyclist is to have a comprehensive protection package that includes liability, replacement, accident and physical injury insurance. However, not everyone can pay for such a thorough policy. You should first get liability insurance, and then accident insurance, since this helps to cover the most common incidents that you’re likely to encounter. More extensive insurance plans can be added on an “as needed” basis depending on your perceived needs.

 

Just remember, while riding a motorcycle down an open country road is one of the best experiences imaginable, you should not be reckless in traveling without any form of insurance.

 

While some of these insurance plans are optional, hopefully this comparison guide has enlightened you to the different types of policies available. Remember, don’t be foolish and leave home without a proper insurance package. You may think that you’re an excellent rider, but accidents can happen to the best of us, no matter how careful we are.

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April 16, 2016, 8:39 am

How To Build A Solid Relationship With Your Banker

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Banks and You

During my last coaching session in Norway, I had discussed with my sales coach how being a financial planner was a great job:

#1 You enjoy a flexible schedule.

#2 You have the feeling of helping people with good financial advice.

#3 You get paid well ;-).

#4 And one of the most important things; you get to meet and know very interesting people.

One of the things I like the most about being a financial planner is the opportunity to develop great relationships. On the other hand, the thing I hate the most about my job is when people think I am there to take orders and that I can’t help them. Sorry… I don’t deliver pizza!

I truly believe that clients have all the reasons in the world to get to know your banker personally and work together for the long term. While he will be in a better position to explain things and provide you with solid financial advice, you will also be in a better position to understand what he is doing and getting a better grip over your personal finances.

Another advantage? Who do you think is gets better service? The guy calling for a rate and doesn’t want to hear about any strategies and doesn’t care about the relationship with the banker or the guy that makes an appointment and explains his whole situation to his banker? I’ll let you guess…

In order to develop a great relationship with your banker, I thought of providing a few good tips:

#1 Pick the right one

Dealing with money is dealing with a person first. So you need to find someone who understands you and that you feel comfortable with. Since he needs to be one of your closest confidents (financially 😉 ), I think it is only normal to meet with a few bankers before making your decision.

#2 Chose him for the right reasons

While personality is very important, you should also look for a banker with an impeccable sense of integrity and professionalism. You want someone who will take your calls and get back to you within the very same day. Drop anyone who can’t do that. Financial background or diplomas are important too. While they are not a guarantee of competency, it is still better than nothing ;-).

#3 Work with him

Some people go see their banker and think that hiding things is a good idea. They think that he won’t find out or that it will slow down their application. In fact, if you don’t work with your banker, you are just making his job harder… and getting something approved harder to get too!

#4 Talk numbers – learn his language

Bankers evolve in a world of numbers and ratios. While he must teach you how it works in a bank (how we calculate stuff, understand your investment statements, etc.), you should also answer his requests with your numbers. Bring statements with you, it will help to establish a greater strategy with real numbers.

#5 Meet him twice a year

You probably see your mechanic a few times per year for oil changes and car maintenance, you should see your doctor and dentist for an annual check-up. This is the same thing for your banker. Twice a year is just enough to keep track of your plan and financial goals. You can take the time to review your financial situation and if there are any better products to improve your balance sheet.

Developing a relationship with your banker is a really good financial move as you will now be part of his priority when there is important news that comes out.

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April 15, 2016, 3:45 pm

House Price in Sweden Skyrockets

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous

 

I’ve given lots of thoughts about travelling lately. In fact, I’m also looking at possibility of leaving the country to establish my family elsewhere. As we currently live in Canada, one of the best country in the world, I don’t necessarily want to downgrade our lifestyle either.

 

Among great countries to live in, I found Sweden being very high on my list…Sweden is a great country for those who appreciate nature and outdoor activities. This is one of the reason why this country is on my list. They benefit from an amazing landscape and have several national parks. Since our family love hiking and being outside, it seems this country is a perfect match for us.

 

Unfortunately, Sweden is not perfect… I recently checked how much it cost to live there. The country known for its hockey team and great companies such as Ikea is anything but cheap. For example, the housing market is very expensive. Over the past five years, housing price in Sweden has been skyrocketing:

sweden

Source: Ycharts.

As you can see on the chart above, their house index has taken a sharp uptrend since 2012. The housing market seems a little bit out of end at this point in time. I’m not so sure I could be able to buy a house there!

Why Sweden is so Expensive?

Year after year, Sweden ranks very well for to happiest countries in the world. This year, it ranks on the 10th place. I guess the fact the country is focusing on youth education helps the whole population finding good jobs and get a great lifestyle. When you have a good job, things are always easier!

Another factor explaining why Sweden is so expensive is the fact it is a very small country. Therefore, there aren’t much land to build houses. When land is limited, housing price tend to get more expensive too.

Finally, because Sweden as a neutral country did not actively participate in World War II, it did not have to rebuild its economic base, banking system, and country as a whole, as did many other European countries. Sweden has achieved a high standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits.

How Could I Possibly Move to Sweden?

With my financial background and my websites, I’m pretty sure I could get a job there and establish my family. However, getting credit might be a challenge for a while. For example, getting a mortgage when you are a foreigner in another country is quite complicated.

One possibility would be to get an loan from an intermediary loan firm. They usually charge higher interest rates, but they show more flexibility in their approval grid. While this could be a possibility, I’m not convinced I can move there. I’ll probably start by visiting this country first!

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April 8, 2016, 7:10 am

Forex Market Trends in 2016

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Investing Ideas

Although there is no doubt that capitalising on the short-term movements within the Forex markets can generate sizeable profits, appreciating the long-term outlook is just as important. This is now more critical than ever before due to the interconnectivity of the world that we live in. While there can always be surprises around the next financial corner, it is still wise to take a look at some of the most predominant trends to expect during the remainder of 2016.

 

The Anchor of the Asian Marketplace?

 

Once thought to be the powerhouse of the modern world, the Asian markets have had an influence upon Forex trading for well over a decade. However, their strength seems to be waning. Many analysts feel that 2016 will a trying year for this region of the world. As regional economies continue to display rather dismal production data, confidence in both the yen and the renminbi has likewise soured. This has led some to speculate if there could be a financial “bubble” around the corner. Pairing western currencies against the eastern markets may be an excellent way to capitalise on any such fiscal ripples.

 

The Looming Brexit Concern

 

The western world has been dominated by the possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. Currently, it seems is if there is a rather even split in regards to those who deem such a move a reality and those who continue to be sceptical of this shift. It could even be argued that a thinning of market volume will be observed as any type of definitive vote draws closer. However, it is pivotal to appreciate that money can be made within the currency sector during both good and bad times. Those with a keen eye on short-term profits are actually more likely to enter into positions during a greater amount of volatility and fear.

 

The Shift to the Mobile Trading Platform

 

We would be remiss to not mention the prevalence of mobile trading during the year ahead. Astute platforms such as CMC Markets have already embraced this eventuality. Offering streamlined trading systems alongside the same sense of reliability espoused by PC-based platforms, investors can now execute trades through smartphones and tablets. If anything, this pronounced trend is likely to gain pace as operating systems become even faster and more reliable. When we factor in 4G data transfer rates and other advancements, it is easy to appreciate why mobile trading will dominate many strategies within the very near future.

 

Of course, these trends have yet to be fully defined. Unexpected geopolitical events or sudden market movements could still dramatically change the landscape of the Forex marketplace. This is one of the main reasons why investors need to keep abreast of all of the latest news. It is only through this proactive approach that informed decisions can be made. CMC Markets is pleased to be able to offer numerous tools and instruments which will place anyone in the right position at the most opportune time.

 

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