Credit reporting has turned into a multi-billion-dollar business but getting your credit report doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, you can get a free credit report mailed to you once per year and all it takes is just 5-minutes.
A credit report represents all your recent credit history, mortgages, credit cards, vehicle loans, lines of credit, and even some bill payments. It’s often referred to as a “consumer disclosure” or “credit file disclosure” but most people call it a credit report.
Every piece of debt you’ve recently owned (even if paid off or closed) should be represented on your credit report. It will also capture your current and past addresses, phone numbers, even employers.
In today’s world your credit report is very important. It directly impacts your ability to qualify for new debt. Plus, it often gets pull as part of a thorough background check. It can also help identify fraud and identity theft early on, limiting the damage.
Your credit report is so important that it’s a good idea to check and review it on a regular basis.
The global pandemic has impacted all of us differently, our personal finances have gone through many changes and some have “weathered the storm” better than others.
FP Canada, the board that governs the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in Canada, recently came out with a survey called “The Tale Of Two Pandemics” and it highlights both the positive and the negative impact that the pandemic has had on our personal finances (more details on the survey results at the end of this post).
There are some troubling stats within the survey, for example 14% of those in Ontario have been forced out of the labor market, 21% have seen an increase in expenses, and 14% have seen a reduction in work hours/income.
But the survey also highlights the opposite side of the pandemic, many people have not experienced a job loss, or a reduction in income, or an increase in expenses over the course of the pandemic.
In fact, looking at the statistics, it looks like there is a large group of people that have not been affected by the pandemic at all, and another group of people who have actually benefited financially from the pandemic.
This is consistent with the conversations we’re having with clients.
For those who have been fortunate enough to remain gainfully employed, for those who own a home or recently purchased a home, for those with a mortgage or other debt like student loans or HELOCs, and for those who are investing on a regular basis, the pandemic has actually improved their personal finances in a number of ways.
The pandemic has impacted us all differently, but for many people there have been one, two, three or more positive changes that may have actually improved their personal finances. As it turns out, this is especially true for those who had a financial plan already in place.
Here are some ways that a person’s personal finances may have improved during the pandemic…
There’s a common misconception that financial planning isn’t necessary when you’re young. Young people are often told to go “read some books” about personal finance. Financial planning is traditionally thought of as something reserved for those with higher income, higher net worth, transitioning into retirement etc.
The fact is… this couldn’t be further from the truth.
One of the BEST times to build a financial plan is when you’re young, when you have lots of options, when you’re designing your life (both personally and financially), and when you’re making some BIG financial decisions that will impact you well into the future.
Some of the financial decisions you make while you’re young can haunt you for years or decades. Making the right decisions now can mean less stress and greater peace of mind in the future.
So why is there this misconception that financial planning isn’t for young people?
Most likely because financial planning in the past was focused on products, it was all about investments, insurance, new debt etc. Products that could be sold. Young people were often left out of the conversation because in general, young people don’t need products, they need advice.
Getting the right advice is so important when you’re young.
Even small decisions can have an enormous impact over time. It’s important to get the right advice early on, avoid common mistakes, and create the right systems and habits that will pay dividends for decades to come.
This advice should cover a few key areas that “traditional” financial advisors rarely cover.
It’s a challenging time for new graduates. The employment environment is difficult in many sectors/industries, plus the cost of rent and housing have outpaced inflation for years and years. It can feel very daunting to leave post-secondary when faced with mediocre job prospects and sky-high housing costs.
In some situations, the “bank of mom and dad” will step in and provide support. But, for the majority of families, that isn’t an option.
So how can parents help provide new grads a “leg up” in this challenging time?
More and more parents are inviting their adult children back home for 1-2 years after graduating to help them save money and pay off debt.
It may not be a cash gift, but it can provide nearly the same advantage.
Living at home to save money is a strategy that is on the rise. Parents are encouraging their children to take advantage of this opportunity and more and more adult children are doing it.
Living at home after graduation creates the opportunity to save $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000+ in one year, an opportunity that may never happen again.
Living at home for 1-2 years provides a huge head start for a new grad. This head start can be used to pay down student debt, build an emergency fund, start investing, buy a house etc. etc.
But it’s not all positive though. Living at home for a couple years also has risks. Without having a strategy in place it’s very easy to succumb to pitfalls like lifestyle inflation etc.
Here’s why parents should encourage their adult children to live at home for a couple years after graduation, and why new grads should seriously consider taking advantage.
Demographic trends can be extremely interesting. Demographic trends can influence a lot of things, they can impact voting and public policy, they can impact consumer trends, they can impact the consumption of goods and services.
The interesting thing about demographic trends is that they’re (somewhat) predictable. The way our population looks today will directly translate to how it looks in the future. Factors like immigration and advances in health care can change these trends slightly, but in general, the way people age is fairly predictable.
What is interesting about demographics is that as people age they do things differently, their behavior changes, their lifestyle changes, they consume different things.
Over the last 60+ years there have been two huge demographic waves, the first was the “baby boomers” and the second was their “echo”. These two groups are very noticeable when looking at population by age group. Demographic charts clearly show two huge population waves with troughs in-between.
Now, I’d like to preface this post with the fact that I hate predictions and forecasts. In my opinion, a good financial plan shouldn’t rely on predictions or forecasts to be successful. A good financial plan will prepare for various future events and still have a high chance of success. It’s important to anticipate possible risks and how they may impact a financial plan.
Typically, when we talk about risk we talk about investment risk and inflation rate risk. A good plan will still be successful even with changing investment returns and changing inflation rates. But what about real estate values? What about housing?
For two groups of people, the variability in real estate values should be a big concern when doing a financial plan. One group is real estate investors, people with rental properties that make up a large % of their assets. The second group is future downsizers, people who have made downsizing to a smaller home a key part of their future financial plan.
For these two groups of people it’s important to understand that real estate growth rates can vary and this creates risk. Simply assuming inflation, or inflation + xx%, is not a great strategy.
In this post we’ll look at how demographics may impact future housing demand and why a good financial plan should be prepared for different rates of real estate appreciation.
When planning to reach a financial goal, one very important aspect is the timeline. How much time do you have until you want to meet your goal? Is it 1-year, 3-years, 5-years, 10-years or maybe it’s a long-term goal like 25+ years.
Your timeline is a very important factor to consider. Your timeline is going to help inform decisions about how much risk you should be taking and the best way to invest.
One common mistake people make is that they make investment decisions without thinking about their timeline. They’re mostly focused on getting the highest return, making the most of their money, and not leaving anything on the table. But they don’t fully appreciate the short-term risk associated with a decision to “maximize returns”.
Over the long-term, taking on more risk can be a smart decision, but over the short-term that extra risk can cause some wild swings.
If you need access to money within a few years then you need to choose a good way to invest short-term.
Maybe it’s for a down payment, or maybe it’s to pay for post-secondary education, maybe it’s to pay for an expensive once-in-a-lifetime trip in retirement, or perhaps it’s a wedding gift for your daughter and soon to be son-in-law. Whatever the reason, if you need access to a large amount of cash within the next 3-5 years then you need a good short-term investment.