6 MONTHS TO A BETTER BUDGET
One of the challenges with proper budgeting is that it has to become habitual in order to be effective. You can survive without knowing how to budget if you manage to keep more money coming in rather than going out or have credit cards to cover the gap, but this won't last forever. Emergency Fund The crux of this six-month plan is the emergency fund. Ideally, everyone should have at least one or two months' wages sitting in a money market account for any unpleasant surprises. This emergency fund acts as a buffer as the rest of the budget is put in place, and should replace the use of credit cards for emergency situations. You will want to build your emergency fund as quickly as possible. The key is to build the fund at regular intervals, consistently devoting a certain percentage of each paycheck toward it and, if possible, putting in whatever you can spare on top. What's an Emergency? You should only use the emergency money for true emergencies: like when you drive to work but your muffler stays at home. Covering regular purchases like clothes and food do not count, even if you used your credit card to buy them. Downsize and Substitute Now that you have a buffer between you and more high-interest debt, it is time to start the process of downsizing. It’s odd that the natural solution to not enough money seems to be increasing income rather than decreasing spending, but this backwards approach is very familiar to debt counselors. The more space you can create between your expenses and your income, the more income you will have to pay down debt and invest. This can be a process of substitution as much as elimination. For example, if you buy coffee from a fancy coffee shop every morning, you could just as easily purchase a coffee maker with a grinder and make your own, saving more money over the long term. Focus on Rewards Another trick that will help your budget come together faster is to focus on the rewards. A mixture of long- and short-term goals will help keep you motivated. This can be as simple as saving for a small luxury, or even something bigger like buying a car with cash. Watching these goals slowly but surely become a reality can be very satisfying and provide further motivation to work harder at your budget. Find New Sources of Income Why isn't this the first step? If you simply increase your income without a budget to handle the extra cash properly, the gains tend to slip through the cracks and vanish. Once you have your budget in place and have more money coming in than going out, you can start investing to create more income. Now, it is possible that it will take you more than six months to get your budget balanced out as it all depends on your situation, including how much or what kind of debt you have. But, even if it does take you longer than six months to get your budget turned around, it is time well spent. (Source: Investopedia.com)
The Teranet-National Bank House Price Index ticked down 0.1% in February
In February the TeranetNational Bank National Composite House Price Index(tm) retreated 0.1% from the previous month, following December and January rises that had interrupted a downtrend. It was the first February decline since 2013. The index was up in only three of the 11 metropolitan markets surveyed, the fewest since October 2014: Vancouver (+0.4%), Hamilton (+0.2%) and Halifax (+0.8%). The index for Victoria was flat on the month and the other seven component indexes were down: Toronto 0.1%, Montreal 0.3%, Ottawa-Gatineau 0.7%, Edmonton 0.8%, Calgary 0.8%, Winnipeg 1.0%, Quebec City 1.5%.
For Vancouver it was the 12th rise in 14 months, taking its index to a new record. However, this markets raw (unsmoothed) index* was down 1.3% on the month, a retreat coinciding with a cooling of home sales as reported by the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. The raw index for Toronto declined after three consecutive rises. In previous months observers had noted a certain haste on the part of buyers to beat the entry into effect of tougher conditions for obtaining an uninsured mortgage. The advance of the Hamilton index interrupted a run of five declines. The retreat of the Montreal index was the first in 14 months. This is not a concern, since the Greater Montral Real Estate Board reported the strongest sales in six years for the first two months of a year.
Canadian Income Survey, 2016
Canadian families and unattached individuals had a median after-tax income of $57,000 in 2016. Median after-tax income increased from 2011 to 2014, but held steady in 2015 and 2016. The slower growth in 2015 and 2016 was associated with the resource price slowdown, which began in the second half of 2014.
After-tax income is comprised of income from market sources and government transfers. Market income includes employment income, retirement income and income from investments, while government transfers include benefits to seniors, child benefits,
Employment Insurance benefits, social assistance and other benefits. While growth in overall median after-tax income slowed in 2015 and 2016, there was also a significant increase in government transfer income. Median income from government transfers rose from $5,800 in 2014 to $7,400 in 2016. About half of this rise was due to increased child benefits, which became a larger source of income for families with children.
In 2014, the median child benefit received by couple families with children were $2,500. This rose to $3,400 in 2015, and to $4,000 in 2016. For a lone-parent family, the median benefits rose from $5,100 in 2014 to $5,800 in 2015, and then to $6,400 in 2016.