31 Jan

Improving Your Financial Direction


Posted by: Anastasia (Staci) James

Make 2022 the year of finance by improving your financial direction from the start! Even if you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, a few changes to the way you spend and look at money can make all the difference. It’s never too late to start again and reverse course! Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:

  • Create a Budget: In order to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck , you need to know where that paycheck is going. Creating a budget is simple with Google docs, or look into other online tools and sites to get started.

  • Pretend You Earn Less Than You Do: Give yourself a cut in pay. The goal is to put 10% in savings from each paycheck into your savings account. The easiest way is to do an automatic direct transfer from your chequing account to your savings every pay period.

  • Pay Down Debt: If you have a lot of credit card or unsecured debt, try paying the minimum on all but one of them and aggressively pay down that one card. Once it’s paid off, attack the next one. If you’re so deep in debt that you can’t fight your way out, consider consulting with myself or your local mortgage broker about your debt consolidation options and if your mortgage can be used to help you clean the state. They will be able to review your debt and possibly recommend a way to consolidate it into one simple payment with a single point of interest charges.

  • Build an Emergency Fund: Once you have your budget in place, review it and break it down into non-discretionary expenses (rent, groceries, utilities, etc.) and discretionary expenses (eating out, entertainment, clothes, etc.). See where you could cut down on discretionary spending and put that money towards your emergency fund. Even starting with just a little amount is great and helps you build the habit of saving.

  • Don’t Forget Your Future: Putting at least 3% of your paycheck into a retirement fund is a great idea, or maybe when you get your first raise instead of thinking of it as free money, simply put it into a fund and forget about it. You’ll be glad it’s there when you need it in the future.

  • Consider Downsizing: It may be time to consider a lifestyle change. Consider moving to a smaller place. Get rid of that cost of going to that expensive gym with a trip to the local park. Think about if you really need that brand new car or if a used one would work just as well.


Anastasia (Staci) James



1 Jan

New Year! Time for a Mortgage Check Up!


Posted by: Anastasia (Staci) James



There has never been a better time for your annual mortgage health check-up! By organizing a quick mortgage review each year, it may yield you some fruitful financial savings.



Your home loan review this year will examine the most common potential monthly savings opportunities, including high-interest credit card debt or fixed loan payments. Reviewing your mortgage terms and options annually could result in having more money left over at the end of each month – and who doesn’t want that?!

For instance, are you exercising your penalty free extra payment privileges? Do you have any? Prepayment privileges allow you the opportunity to pay up to 20% extra per month and a total of up to 20% lump sum per year – without penalty! This means that for a $300,000 mortgage on a 25-year amortization, a 20% monthly payment increase can generate $18,000 worth of savings AND help you to pay off your mortgage 5 years earlier! When you add-on the annual lump sum of $2,500, the savings are increased to just over $25,000 for the year and bumps you up to being mortgage-free 8 years earlier! You can also use the My Mortgage Toolbox app to calculate the potential savings from an extra payment.


When it comes to mortgage payments, another great question for your annual check-up is whether or not you are on the best payment frequency for your cash flow and to best optimize savings! Most lenders offer various payment frequency and an annual mortgage review can help identify the best frequency based on changing needs and cash flow situations. A monthly payment is simply a single large payment, paid once per month; this is the default that sets your amortization. A 25-year mortgage, paid monthly, will take 25 years to pay off but includes the added burden of one larger payment coming from one employment pay period. Alternatively, an accelerated bi-weekly payment pays your mortgage every two weeks. This frequency allows the mortgage payment to be split up into smaller payments vs a single, larger payment per month. This is especially ideal for households who get paid every two weeks as the reduction in cash flow is more on track with incoming income.

These accelerated bi-weekly payments also offer interest savings, as you are actually making an extra payment each calendar year. For instance, a $300,000 mortgage on an accelerated by-weekly payment schedule will pay off your mortgage two and a half years faster and generate approx. $8,000 in savings!

That’s like getting a $10,000 a year raise just by changing your payment frequency! You can use the My Mortgage Toolbox app to also calculate these payment differences.


Another area to look at during your mortgage check-up are your penalties. Breaking your mortgage term early, and before the scheduled contract maturity date, will almost always incur a penalty. The amount depends on various factors such as how far you are into the existing term, your current interest and rate type, your existing lender, etc. However, with today’s rates sitting at such a historical low, there can still be savings! Now, if you break your mortgage early and incur a penalty, you can still come out ahead. For instance, it is possible to save $20,000 with a new low rate and incur a $15,000 penalty, which still puts you $5,000 ahead! Having an annual mortgage review can look at these options and determine if it is a benefit for you to chase these historically low rates.

Beyond your current payments and interest rate, consumer debt outside of the mortgage is another important area for review. Did you know? The average Canadian has $30,000 of credit card debt, at approximately 20% interest?! Reviewing your home equity situation could yield $10,000 savings, per year, by rolling debts into your home equity loan. Contact me today to discuss this further and see if it is an option for you!


Pay more to save more, pursue lower rates even with a penalty, and debt consolidation are just three examples of the financial savings an annual mortgage check-up with your mortgage professional can do! With interest rates at historic lows, now is the time to investigate all your options and perhaps save yourself thousands of dollars per year, especially if your current interest rate is over 3%! Imagine what you could do with the savings – anything from renovating or investing to going on a much-needed vacation or putting money towards your children’s education.

Completing a straightforward annual review will keep your home financing as lean and trim as possible. In other words, you will have a clean bill of mortgage health, which is just what the doctor ordered! Contact me to set up a mortgage check-up today!