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Money

How to Get Money Back From the Bank
Life
How to Get Money Back From the Bank
February 2, 2015 at 9:30 am 0

If you're paying big monthly fees, credit card interest, or annual credit card fees, there's a good chance you can get your money back. Here's how!

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How to Get Out Of Debt Fast in 7 Easy Steps(And Still Have a Life): The 2015 Edition
Life
Want to know how to pay off a student loan or pay off osap asap? Need to save for a down payment? Follow these 7 easy tips, and you'll be debt free fast!
January 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm 0

Whether you just graduated from university with a big student debt, are many years into a good paying career (with a side of expensive shopping as a hobby), or are a stay at home mom, getting out of debt quickly can be fun. 

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Life
New! Cashmere Clutch Women In Business Networking Group
August 4, 2010 at 8:57 am 0
cashemere_clutch_successful_women Cashmere Clutch Women In Business Network is a meeting place for positive, motivated and "take life by the horns" type women that have carved out their own concept of success. Featuring everything from interviews with successful female entrepreneurs to investment advice, to fitness challenges, to fashion and travel, Cashmere Clutch Women In Business Network is the network for fulfilled and fabulous women looking to connect with like minded ladies. Make sure you join us here
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Life
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Real Estate Investment
June 29, 2010 at 11:28 am 1
oz_house_streetlevel Today's post is from guest editor, Julia Stepanova, a local real estate expert who has done some great investments herself, and is on board to help guide us in our wealth building activities. --- In Toronto the real estate market has not been as affected as it is in the USA. In fact we've had a hot market for the past few months. Our 2010 Forecast called for a strong first half in sales and a slower second half due to three factors. Factor One - the introduction of the HST (which will NOT impact prices in the resale market but will increase the cost of services and new properties over $400,000). Factor Two - we are expecting a bump in Bank of Canada interest rates in the second half of the year, which will make it harder for some people to afford (and therefore fewer people will buy). Factor Three - more listings are coming to the market (particularly in the condo segment). Right now the market is still hot but will be softening towards the end of June/2010. And if you like to take your time looking for a place and multiple offers is not your thing this means it is your time to shine. If you are looking to get into the real estate market it's a great time. But how do you get the most out of it? First, make sure you're taking the right steps. 1. Get yourself preapproved by going to your local bank. 2. Decide on the area. 3. Write your wish list. 4. Find an agent specializing in your preferred area. 5. Do not forget to allocate 1.5% of the purchase price towards the closing cost. If you want a steady return on your money, houses can be a sure bet and it have two strong things going for them as an investment. First, any capital gains on your principal residence are tax-free. If your house appreciates by 6 per cent, you get to keep every cent of your gains. Now 6 per cent may not sound like much, but in terms of how much you end up with, you'd have to earn as much as 12 per cent on a fixed-income investment such as a GIC to match that return, after tax. Second, you don't have to come up with the full purchase price, meaning you're able to harness leverage. The conventional mortgages require a down payment of 25 per cent of a house's appraised value. Where as the High Ratio Mortgage, requires only 5% down payment. For example, if you buy a $200,000 home, you need to come up with around $50,000 for a conventional mortgage. If the home's value rises to $220,000, that's an increase of 10 per cent. But what's really happened is you've put up $50,000, and made $20,000. Your real gross return on your invested funds is around 40 per cent. But notice the word “gross”. Don't forget that your real return will be less. Buying a home and having a mortgage is also a tremendously powerful forced savings program. You need to pay for housing, whether you are renting, leasing, or paying your mortgage. So why not put your money towards a mortgage, and if you invest wisely when you sell you will get it all back. If you rent, you never get anythign back. ---- Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.
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Life
What To Do When Your House Won’t Sell
May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am 0
This month we’re thrilled to have Julia Stepanova, a local real estate expert who has done some great investments herself, and is on board to help guide us in our wealth building activities. Here’s Julia! ---- A few months ago I had a 2 bedroom condo, in a brand new building in downtown Toronto, for sale. A very pretty unit in itself, but even after two price reductions and many showings it just WOULDN’T SELL. Whoever entered would say: “Wow nice view, big rooms, good floors, great bathroom and kitchen”. Yes I know, want it? … No. It was as if it was cursed. So, sitting at my usual spot, a large green tea in my hand, an idea occurred to me. I called my clients and suggested to stage the unit. In a matter of two days, with the help of professional stagers the unit was transformed, the new design complementing the units’ qualities. The next day I had multiple offers and it was sold for $12,000 over the asking price. Most surprising was the fact that the couple who had bought it had been there a while ago and at the time paid no special attention to the unit. Now, they couldn’t believe that they have already seen it before.
Before Staging

a nice condo, but just wouldn't sell

a nice condo, but just wouldn't sell




After Staging

bright, sunny and sold over asking after staging

bright, sunny and sold over asking after staging


Creating an unforgettable image of your unit is necessary thus, staging is very important (it changes the entire atmosphere of a place). Some companies allow you to pick and choose furniture to fit your budget without using a stager. There are also some great books; the recently published “Staging for Dummies” by Christine Rae and Jan Saunders Maresh has a whole chapter dedicated to colour choice and offers advice on combining colors effectively, explaining the rules of a 60/30/10 ratio: 60 for walls,“Wall color is the most dominant space in the room and claims 60 percent of the color in the room. Remember the ceiling and floors are walls, too! You use the secondary color on the larger pieces of furniture and window treatments[30%] . Use the color on throw pillows, florals, art, and accessories [10%]”. Now I must admit that the apartment wasn’t cursed, it just wasn’t memorable enough. But staging did the trick. And luckily I had my green tea, which always does the trick too. --- For more posts on women and real estate investing check out: Condo Sale Pays Big. Women and Real Estate Investing Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.</a
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Life
What’s Better: Happiness VS. Contentment?
May 25, 2010 at 11:04 am 0
Happiness vs. Contentment
Today is a guest post from Lily, our recent divorcee who is learning hapiness post divorce. ----- Why is it so hard for us to jump in with both feet? When given the opportunity to start over so many of us end up back in the same path they were before. Recently divorced and laid off, the world is my oyster; or at least it should be. I spent the first 30 years of my life with a very specific path, so much so that I stuck on my blinders whenever something popped up that could derail me (like marrying the wrong person). I had a plan, and come hell or high water I was going to execute that plan; only it was a bad plan, an un-executable plan, a plan that never no matter what I did would come to fruition. So now I am at a crossroad, left or right? Get back onto the path I had before and just try again, or realize that things need to change, that I need to take some risks, try something new? Sounds like an easy choice to an outsider; “get out there” people are saying to me “take some risks! Try something new! You’re being given a second chance at life!” but to me one road is paved with a guarantee of something, not necessarily happiness but contentment and the other is sheer uncertainty. So ladies I ask you, when your life has been turned upside down, and all your plans thrown out the window, is that the time to go down the same, solid, well known path of safety or is it time to throw caution to the wind and step into the unknown for a chance at a whole new life? --- Get to know Lily better: Read her hit article that was posted earlier on Men Vs. Women: Who Brings Condoms
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Life
Women And Real Estate Investing
May 13, 2010 at 9:19 am 3
oz_house_streetlevel For many women the dream of owning their own home, having a successful career, and some solid investments is very appealling. Recently we've been receiving loads of questions on investing, women and money, and how to build a solid little nest into a big bag of cash! This month we're thrilled to have Julia Stepanova, a local real estate expert who has done some great investments herself, and is on board to help guide us in our wealth building activities. Here's Julia! --- When I was a money struggling student in England, my dream was to finally finish studying and to get a nice job. That day arrived: the end of university, but most importantly a job that provided me with a paycheck once a month. Like any other woman I spent it all on clothing and shoes! The next paycheck was used for new clothes and new shoes (a temptation impossible to resist). I soon enough realized that I was turning into a Carry Bradshaw; I mean how many shoes can I have? What happened to my dream of owning a home? I wanted to get married and have children, of course, but first on my list was building my own personal success and aquiring some solid investments including real estate. It’s an essential part of your life and makes you feel an accomplished woman. Since those struggling years 10 years ago, I got married, I had a child and guess what? I own a unit that has tripled in price since I bought it! Talk about an investment! I rent it out and it provides me with an income that I spend on… yes, shoes, clothes, and spa treatments. The thing is: real estate investing is easier than you would think, and can often reap some hefty rewards. If you're not convinced check out this story here. It's true that there is some risk associated, and there are no guarantees, but like any risk the reward can be huge, and all indicators are saying that things are a-ok in the real estate market here in Toronto. Right now, Toronto real estate continues to move towards balance and for someone looking to buy that's great news. There are lots of listings (i.e. choice for you) and now over 1,100 downtown condos for sale. The sale-to-list ratio (sales to active listings in a month) that was at one time over 80% is now down to 50% and will soon approach the 25-35% range of a balanced market. If you have already been thinking of buying, go while the interest rates are still low and the market is turning into the Buyers market. Don't be afraid, owning a home is one of the most liberating things a woman can do for herself. --- Julia is a real estate agent with Re/Max Condos Plus and you can find her here.</a
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Life
7 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married
November 10, 2009 at 12:03 pm 1
For most people getting married is a huge step. And not just a step into a loving future, but also a step into uncertainty. No matter how much time you spend with your man, how well do you really know him? Do you know what he wants/desires/dislikes and how this fits in with your life? For some religions couples counselling is required prior to getting married. It’s a way to make sure you want the same things and share similar values. But what about everyone else? To make sure you’re on the same page it’s a good idea to have a heart to heart with your mate. And it doesn’t need to be big and heavy, so go ahead, open the wine, light the candles and share, share sugarbear. Listen with open ears and speak with no consequences. It’s a great way to get to know where your mates heads at, and see how his answers work with yours. 1. Do you want to have children? How many? Who will take care of them? How will you afford them? For many couples this is a hugely important issue. Make sure you share values and get a chance to see how each of you feel about your roles/responsibilities. Does he want you to stay at home? Are you okay with that? Does he want one and you want six? 2. Can you talk about money? Do you agree on spending/saving habits? How much money do you need to have a good life? Is that realistic? Who is/are the breadwinners? These are all really important questions to clear up and put out on the table. Make sure you share money values – this is one of the major reasons couples fight and/or split up. If your answers are not 100% the same that may not be a deal breaker, but if you can’t agree on anything take it as a red flag. 3. Can you talk about sex? Do you have the same sex drive? Can you talk openly about what you like/don’t like? Sex is another couple breaker upper, and taps into some of our deepest worries/fears/concerns so have a good chat about it. It’s better to find out that he wants an open marriage and you only want vanilla sex sooner rather than later. 4. What’s your dream life? This one is so open ended, and can be tricky...but that’s why it’s also great. Find out what your mate really wants, and make sure this works for you. Does he have an idea of what he wants, or a plan on how to get there? Some girls are willing to just wing it, while others need to know what’s in store. But best be careful here, and make sure your ship is sailing in the same direction, even if you have slightly different paths make sure you have the same general goals. 5. How are your parent’s relationships? Many couples fall into the same patterns as their parents. If you want to make some changes how are you going to do this? Could you benefit from talking to a professional? These are pretty tough questions to answer, and many people resist doing anything other than talking about what kind of people they don’t want to become. If you want to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes as your parents you may benefit from some help. 6. What are you willing to do if things get really rough? In this day of a 50% divorce rate it’s really important to figure out how you, and your partner, view commitment and what you would be willing to do if things got really rough. Would you be willing to give up your career aspirations and stay at home, or move to a small town to simplify life if finances got really tight? Ask yourself some tough questions to figure out where your priorities are, and what that means for your relationship. If one of you is willing to change everything and the other can only handle minor sacrifices you may have big value differences that are better to figure out before you get married. 7. How involved will your families be in your life? What about friends? Family involvement and social time can be a big issue for some couples. If you want to cocoon with your own family but your husband wants a big fat Greek family dinner five nights a week it’s something you should know about. If your honey places hockey nights with his buddies over spending time with your sisters and best friends that’s something you should also pay attention to. Things won’t change that much when you get married, so take a clue from how you live now, and figure out if you still want to live that way five years down the road.
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Life
Save Like Squirrels!
September 17, 2009 at 12:49 pm 2
It's official...the weather is getting cooler, the evenings are shorter, and it is time to start saving. After having fun all summer long and living a carefree existence it is time to buckle down and save up. First step - set up an appointment with a banker and come up with a plan for RRSP savings. Having been a student for so long I have always been able to use my tuition to provide me with a substantial tax return. Now, the tuition credits have all been used up and I need alternative ways to getting a good tax return and saving my money. I love saving money and watching it grow. I find it so rewarding and I feel like I'm making some very good choices in my life. Onwards and upwards!
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Life
Seven Ways to Have Free Summer Fun
August 5, 2009 at 6:00 pm 0
Summer is here and it’s time to get active and enjoy the good life – but with this still slow economy some of us are not feeling like celebrating the change of seasons. Turn that frown upside down, there are several ways to enjoy summer fun for free this year.

1. Go to local festivals and street parades. In almost all towns and cities there are several free events around town that are fun to watch and cost nothing. My favourites are the jazz festivals, sandcastle contests and street parades. Instead of saying “oh I’d like to do XXXX this summer” or “we should go to XXXX this summer” put it on a list and get ‘er done! You’ll have summer memories that will last a lifetime. 2. Make outdoor picnics. You have to eat meals anyways, so make them into events and have them in local parks or at the beach. It will be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and you can also invite friends and family to join for extra fun. 3. Take regular after dinner walks in different neighbourhoods. I love the routine of tidying up quickly after dinner and just taking a nice stroll in a new area. It helps me clear the day out of my head and learn about a new neighbourhood. 4. Volunteer at a local charities special event this summer. You will be helping out the community, feeling good about yourself and maybe making some new friends. Success!

5. Become an outdoor photographer. Most of us have cameras and all the tools we need to discover a new hobby like photography so use it! Learn on the internet (free!) how to take great photos and use your newly acquired talents. When it’s chilly in the winter you can spend your time indoors organizing your photos into albums. 6. Visit all the local art galleries in your area. Free and oh so cultured! 7. Learn about astronomy and study the night sky. I love the idea of sitting outside, watching the stars, and dreaming of far off places – can it get more tempting?
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Life
Seven Ways I Survived the Economic Crisis
July 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm 0
Recently I had a chance to reflect on life over the past year. It has been a great year for me in my personal life (just a hint, but I met someone lovely), and it's also been a good year for me financially. I was able to get a better job and weather the economic crisis with a good chunk of savings. Here are some of the things that I did that made a difference to my bottom line. 1. I bought a condo that was affordable. Instead of being tempted to buy a larger 1bdrm apt that was over my budget I settled on my bachelor apt. Yes, it`s small, but so are my mortgage payments. Besides, I know I won`t be here forever, and I`ve been able to save a lot living in this very affordable space. 2. I switched to a cash budget. Every month I watched my money very carefully and made sure I never over-extended myself. With cash it is so much easier because you never get a surprise credit card bill in the mail. 3. I paid off my debt and saved like crazy. I needed to have a large safety savings account so that I could feel comfortable everyday, in case something bad happened. Now I know that if I lose my job I will be okay for a few months. 4. I socialized differently. I love going out to fancy restaurants and very much enjoy great wine, but I don`t need to indulge all the time. This past year I`ve had friends over for dinner more than ever, and I drink my fancy wine at home, too. If I do go out it`s for a special occasion, or I meet my friends for drinks after dinner. 5. I shopped for less expensive clothing alternatives. Instead of going for the pricey brand names I`d opt for the less expensive clothing lines. The funny thing is, people often ask me if I got my dresses at designer stores. I was at a wedding in Montreal and a girl at my table asked me if I got my dress at BCBG, but really I got it at Bedo. As long as you stick with decent quality you`ll be fine. 6. I second guessed purchases. When tempted by a purchase I`d step back and figure out if I really needed it. If the answer was maybe, or no, I just moved on. 7. I didn`t go into stores if I wasn`t looking for something specific. I avoided the temptation. If I didn`t need to go shopping I`d do something else that made me happy, like read a book in a coffee shop, or go for a walk outside. That way I didn`t feel like I was denying myself.
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Life
I Have a Confession
July 3, 2009 at 10:56 am 0
I have a confession. I have this slightly obsessive habit. It’s not bad for me, actually it makes me feel quite happy, but it’s still a little obsessive. I check my bank balance online everyday. Not that it’s that exciting – trust me, I’d notice if I found an extra $10 in my account, but it just makes me happy. I feel like life is trucking along like it’s supposed to, and I’m always upward bound. It’s just a simple thing that makes me smile.
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Life
Down to Zero
June 25, 2009 at 9:34 am 0
Last year I had some major changes in my life. One of the most important was getting out of debt. I remember when I received my tax return...... and lo and behold I took all of it and put it onto my line of credit, which suddenly was down to ZERO! It had taken me one year to turn this $-9,000 animal into a ZERO, but it finally happened. I was so thrilled with myself. I kept on checking my online balance and seeing it at ZERO. I couldn't wait to call my friend and tell her that finally, I was down to ZERO!
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