Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A great reminder to all of us that what matters most in life is the people in it, not the “stuff” we accumulate over the years. This article may make you pause and think about all the “stuff” you work so hard to attain. Can you take it with you? Does it really contribute to your happiness as much as you think it does? Houses (and all the stuff in it), cars, clothes etc are nice but what will you be thinking of on your death bed? Probably not stuff!

People, not possessions, matter most
Saturday, Sep 04, 2010 06:00 am Dee-Ann Schwanke
St. Albert Gazette
It’s called “oniomania” and it’s a disorder that afflicts far more people than you might imagine. No it doesn’t refer to fanatics of Onoway, but rather the craving to acquire possessions. Together with the unhealthy habit of hoarding, these two disorders torment people into believing that they need stuff — lots of it.
My father-in-law was well known for repairing almost anything — telephones, radios, plumbing, hairdryers, vacuum cleaners, you name it. In fact he refused to throw something away if there was even the remote possibility of fixing it or finding a useful part from it in the future. His basement and garage became overrun with items needing repair and junk that just accumulated over the years. For decades, his wife and children pleaded with him to go through it, but to no avail. He held on to it until his death. His children cleaned out most of his stuff with the bulk of it ending up in the dump. Now, two years later, they still have a storage unit full of items. They know some of it would be of value to just the right person but everyone feels guilty because no one has the time needed to go through it all and find a home for each item.
Our culture is addicted to possessions. Thrift stores and dumps are overflowing. Traffic on sites like Craigslist and Kijiji helps move items from one household to another. We work hard to collect stuff and we use it to help define our self-worth. But using possessions to measure our worth is like performing heart surgery on the image we see in the mirror. It’s not real. Nonetheless, every day people make up new excuses to keep items they no longer use or buy things they don’t need.
Our addiction to possessions seems to stem from a search for happiness, but ironically every item we own begins to own us, sucking the joy out of our lives as we have to maintain it or keep moving it around. Then when we are utterly spent by it, we leave it behind to our children who must then fight over who owns it or who will dispose of it.
My parents nabbed my upright grand piano from a local church for $100 when I was nine. I’ve played it for thousands of hours. Although that piece of furniture has enormous value to me, my children will not see it the same way. They are less enamoured of the object and more with the person it represents and the memories of me playing it. If I were to leave it behind for them, they would inherit the burden of deciding what to do with it and the natural concern that disposal would be disrespectful to me. Why would I want to give them that as a parting gift?
People mistakenly assume their children will warmly welcome items of sentiment. There are items we keep because they remind us of those we love. But in many cases we hang on to things because we feel guilty about getting rid of them. Or we think that cleaning out our keepsakes somehow disconnects us from our past. People, not things, are what matter.
Studies indicate that once individuals acquire the basic necessities of life, their accumulation of wealth and property brings little satisfaction and minimal joy. In fact, excessive wealth is a Petri dish for entitlement. And much to the dismay of rich people, entitlement is not a value. It is a disease.
Even if the one who dies with the most toys wins, he’s still dead and as we can all remember from kindergarten, it’s never fun cleaning up someone else’s toys.
Dee-Ann Schwanke and her husband think taking junk to the dump is a fun date.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No downpayment? Here are 4 ways around it!

So, you have a great earn decent`re pretty stable...and, you want to quit paying rent and buy a place of your own. Between the car payment, rent and those nasty student loan payments you just can`t seem to scrape together the minimum 5% down payment. Don’t despair! Here are a few different options available to individuals that do not have a down payment.

1. Borrow your down payment. If you have room in your ratios (income vs. debts) you may be able to just borrow your downpayment from a credit card or a personal line of credit. One thing to keep in mind with this option is that along with your new mortgage payment you`ll also have another added monthly payment to pay off that loan.

2. 5% Cash Back mortgage. In this option, the bank will give you the 5% down payment. Great, right? The catch is that you`ll pay a significantly higher interest rate which means your monthly mortgage payment will be higher than if you had provided your own down payment. You`ll also have to qualify for your mortgage at the higher rate. If your ratios are tight you may not qualify. One more thing to keep in mind, your mortgage may also be subject to additional payout penalties should you pay the mortgage out before its expiry date.

3. RRSP Home Buyers Program. If you have an RRSP (some people even have employer contributed RRSP`s) you can use them for a downpayment! You must be considered a first time buyer and your RRSP`s must have been in an account for over 90 days. If you meet the requirements for the program, you`re able to withdraw up to $25,000 tax free! This is a fantastic program for first time buyers. Another great strategy is to take out an RRSP loan to purchase a set amount of RRSP`s. It will force you to save as you make your loan payment every month. Not only will you get a nice tax refund (which you can plunk down on your RRSP loan) but you`ll end up with a nice chunk of RRSP`s which you can withdraw to buy a place of your own. For more information on the program, please go to:

4. Ask for a gift! Do you have any parents or immediate family members that want to help you out with your down payment? Perhaps you are uncomfortable about bringing this up with your parents or grandparents. Money can be a tricky subject in families but you know, it never hurts to ask. Maybe you assumed your parents or grandparents weren`t willing to help. Whether they are or aren`t this might be a good opportunity to open up some dialogue on the subject.

*subject to change without notice. OAC.

For more information, please contact me!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living on the edge...

Many Canadians are living on the verge of economic disaster. The recent global economic slowdown coupled with an era of credit abundance and a general lack of credit education has created an overwhelming financial situation for some Canadians.
This was a story I heard the other morning in CBC's radio show The Current. It is an eye opening glimpse into the financial lives of some ordinary Canadians.
To listen to the episode please click on the link below:

Monday, September 13, 2010

A great home reno resource

There are a lot of things about home renovations that can be intimidating such as finding a reputable contractor, setting a realistic budget, even just finding a physical example of the idea that's that are in your head. can help with at least a few of those things. The Canadian, Rogers-owned site is designed for homeowners and contractors alike, to help them find information and resources for their next home project.

In addition to a useful blog, the site also has a vast array of helpful articles and "how-to" videos as well as a "tips from the pros" section, an inspiration section and an opportunity to share your renovation photos.

It's worth a look!

-article courtesay of Axiom Mortgage Partners

How TIME's have changed...

Here is a link to an interesting article showing two very different TIME magazine covers in regards to the US housing market.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

They've done it again!

They've done it again! The Bank of Canada announced yet another rate hike earlier this morning, raising their key lending rate to 1.00%. Most experts agree that this will likely be the last rate hike for some time as the economy is not yet running at full steam. This latest change to the key lending rate will affect borrowers holding variable rate mortgages as well as home equity lines of credit.
To read CBC's article on the rate increase click HERE.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Third Quarter 2010 CMHC Housing Market Outlook

CMHC has released its Housing Outlook for the thrid quarter of 2010.
The report includes a national outlook as well as individual provincial reports. They have also provided information on the market trends as well as a special renovation report.
To read the report, please click here