Monthly Archives: March 2016

Discover How You Can Budget On A Low Income

Savings in action

Even if your income isn’t where you expect it to be, you can still manage a practical budget with the right mindset. Lower income isn’t the end of the world, and you can advance from your current financial position too, just as you can in your career.  It can be a strain to try and manipulate your funds to get through the month when you’re living on very little disposable income, but it is possible.  The goal is to find the money leaks and seal those up, or at the very least, monitor the flow of them.  Once you can pinpoint your budget’s weak spots, no matter your income, you can become pro-active and plan more strategically!

We understand that living on a tight income can be extremely stressful as well.  Canadians across British Columbia who are finding themselves on a tighter budget can definitely do much better when they learn new ways to work around this.  Take weekly groceries for an example.  If you begin to keep up with weekly sales and start using coupons you might begin to save $30 and $40 at a time.  Below we are going to share some other ways Canadians can budget and manage a low income.

Tips To Manage Living On A Lower Income

A woman's hand dropping a penny into a half filled piggy bank.

A woman’s hand dropping a penny into a half filled piggy bank.

Of course, the first strategy toward saving money on a limited income should be accountability.  You need to keep perfect track of every penny spent.  This can seem almost impossible, but it is doable.  We recommend carrying a notepad with you so you can document transactions you might ordinarily forget about.  Further, you need to make debt-free living a priority.  There can be no living by a credit card, or having loans for cars.  You have to decide what is most important.  And yes, even the internet and cable are luxuries if you’re barely scraping by.  Let’s look at some other things you can do to save when you’re on a limited income.

  1.  Make the best out of extra cash you might acquire, in fact, be smart and use extra earned income to build up your savings.
  2. Yes, save your pennies!  You shouldn’t feel bad about it either, as every penny does count.  Have a jar for all of your loose change.  If you develop a plan that has you put loose change in the jar every time you make a purchase, you’ll build up your savings faster. 
  3. Sell what you don’t need!  And, thankfully, there are some great ways to do this all online.  Think of all the savings you can bring in when you sale what you know you’ll never use again!
  4. Give up processed food!  That’s right, you need to eat whole, organic, healthy foods.  Pass on all those sweet treats, fast food options and get rid of the sugary drinks!  Taking a healthier approach can save you on medical bills too!
  5. Live frugally–and we understand how tough this can be.  If you’re willing to make sacrifices to start getting ahead financially, pay attention to what you buy.  Stop shopping frivolously and look for bargains when it comes to purchasing necessities. 

Just taking these small steps can help you begin to save money on the most modest of incomes.  As always, when it comes to saving money, you have to have the will-power for the long term benefits.  If you’re hoping to save for short-term goals, then just take the time to check out some savings apps online. Every little thing does count!

college savings

5 Ways You’re Spending Too Much On Food

groceries-fruits-vegetable-inflation-retail

You hear it everywhere you go, “groceries are so expensive,” but have you considered the problem might lie within your own spending habits?  Just what are you spending your money on? How many times have you arrived home, putting groceries away, only to then look at your cupboards and refrigerator and silently wonder where it all went? Do you think there are ways you could cut back and save?  Are there savings you’re simply not taking advantage of?  Now, it’s important to keep in mind that a grocery budget is directly affected by the individual themselves.  How much time and willingness a person plans on putting in to this matters.

For example, saving and budgeting on groceries starts with planning in general.  Meal planning is critical to your success. How willing are you to plan and cook your meals versus spending excess money getting already prepared food?  Another area to consider is how much excess are you wasting?  In other words, are you making too much food when you do cook? Obviously even scaling back on the grocery budget takes some thought, but you’d be amazed at how much you can save once you have a system in place.

Let’s take a moment now to look at the best way to estimate your budget for groceries.

Estimating Your Grocery Budget For Great Savings

food and grocery

There are clear steps to establishing your grocery budget to stay on track and get ahead financially.  Just to start, look at the three points we have listed for you below:

  • You need to begin by asking yourself what you can afford and staying in that limit.
  • Make sure you shop for your fridge and that so critical pantry first.
  • Shop smart and choose healthy food sources that will give your body what it needs. 

You don’t want to over budget either.  Your goal should be to have just the right amount of food and other necessities to meet your needs in between pay periods.  If you’re wasting a lot of food then you’re over budgeting.  Being wasteful is not saving! If you’re throwing away a lot of food, or it’s spoiling before you can use it, you’re going over–time to reevaluate!

So, how do you decide what the most appropriate amount to budget is?  It depends on your individual, or family  needs! 

Start with a benchmark strategy!  If you find you need to adjust various areas of your food budget, you should be able to do so after giving one method at least 30 days.  Eventually you’ll find a proper method that works for you.  Now, we would like to point out that if you’re single in Canada, the right shopping methods will allow you to eat well for $50.00 a week.  This means meeting dietary requirements for optimal health, but not splurging on junk food!

When you’re trying to feed a family, these figures change.  You might want to try a monthly food budget, versus a weekly one. The goal is to keep it around 10% of your income, and if you can trim it down a little more, that would be great.  The main end game is to adjust your habits accordingly, which can take some time.  Take this in baby steps so you’ll be able to stick to the goal for the long-term!  Remember, the better you manage your money for this particular budget, the better you can manage other financial aspects in your life!

Fresh produce Walmart 2075 Chomedy boulevard, Laval (CNW Group/Walmart Canada)

 

Tax Rules Are Changing In 2016: Are You Ready?

preparing for tax season

There is no doubt about it, tax rules are definitely mixing things up for Canadians all across the board.  If you aren’t familiar with what some of these changes are, and what you can expect, then this blog just might help you relax a bit, as long as you’re not an Albertan making over $300,000 a year!  That’s right, for those in this income bracket, you’ll be paying much more in taxes, clearly more than anyone else.  Most Albertans will be paying right at 7.75 percent more in taxes than they have in years past.  Furthermore, for those Canadians who are making $200,000, the newest rate of 33% will be applied to this income.

It would appear that those who fall under $46,000 are the Canadians who will be reaping some of the more appealing benefits.  For families with children, these families will begin to see some relief in taxes and an increase on their paycheques beginning July 1 of 2016.  These additional benefits “Canada Child Benefit payments” are meant to decrease the financial burden so many Canadian families are facing across British Columbia and beyond.  Let’s take a closer look at how some of these is going to be applied by the Federal government and how it really is going to play out for the long-term.

Understanding The New Middle Class Tax Cut

image for taxes

This new tax cut is definitely meant to help those in the median income brackets find some balance.  So, for those families with an income of $45,280 up to $90, 550–these are the ones who could gain the borderline benefits.  However, for those who exceed $90,550 and get upwards of $200,000, this bracket appears to be the one that is going to gain the maximum benefits from this new tax cut.  In fact, they could see their taxes go down by $700.  This cut, is of course, more appealing when you look at it annually, but biweekly, this puts about $28.00 back into Canadians paycheques.  There are drawbacks on this new plan though, and this is where the disfavor comes in at.

While the benefit works for the short-term, the long-term impact falls on Canadian pensions.  Some within the latter income bracket mentioned will actually max out their pension plan following this new tax plan, which might hinder retirement savings.  The contributions won’t even be seen in the latter part of 2015, something that might actually hurt income for many Canadians across British Columbia.  Unfortunately, January any gains and benefits actually begin to disappear, so there is no real long-term benefit at all.

When Canadians go to file their taxes for 2015, the Canadian Tax Revenue service has made the process much simpler by offering an automation service that fills in part of the tax return for Canadians.  This saves time and eases some stress, despite the new regulations and various changes.  Remember, the earlier you file your taxes, the sooner you can get on with the year!  Don’t let tax fear control you, you might be pleasantly surprised this tax season.

Canadian 2012 T1 Tax Form