Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Community News and Events
The seasonal blues often strike this time of year, as the cold weather and dark days combine to make us feel bored or depressed. Feeling better involves making time to exercise, adopting a more positive mindset, trying light therapy and taking supplements.
Another way to beat the winter blues is by taking a vacation somewhere warm. Research shows that the benefits of such a trip extend weeks or even months before, as you have something exciting to look forward to in the future.
For those suffering from sun deprivation, a great country to check out is Greece, filled with history, architecture and beaches. Here are a few tips to make your Greek island-hopping dreams come true:
Soak in the ancient vibes. Start your adventure in Athens and visit the Acropolis. This will open your heart and mind to Greek history and culture and set the stage for your island trek.
Keep things simple. A flights, hotels and activities package makes your trip smooth and stress-free. Plus, island transfers can be tricky and it’s best to book with a trustworthy source since ferries often change schedules and are weather permitting. Booking with Air Canada Vacations guarantees that you will be informed of any associated changes and rebooked to keep up with your itinerary.
Find the perfect mix. Each island offers something unique. You may want to mix a classic such as Santorini or Mykonos with an island that is less explored, like Paros or Crete. Another option is to go totally off the beaten path with Naxos, Folegandros or Milos.
Try a road trip. Driving in Greece could be described as hectic if you are not accustomed. But Crete on the other hand is another story. You can you drive around while discovering charming fishing villages, gaze at stunning mountain views, relax on the many beaches and enjoy delectable local food and wine.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
House and Home Real Estate Market
Today’s sky-high real estate market can make buying a first home seem like a distant dream. Don’t be discouraged. It might take a bit more planning, but you can do it. Good financial strategy and some real estate research can help you get into your first home sooner than you’d think.
Your first priority is to get your financial basics in order. Reach out to your bank or a financial planner to help you make a plan. A financial expert will be able to find a strategy that best suits your goals. You will also need to plan for your down payment. Many first-time buyers find this intimidating, but good old-fashioned saving is a great start.
Make sure your monthly budget allows you to put some money into savings, and work with your financial planner to help your savings grow as quickly as possible. Government programs are also available to help first-time buyers. You may be able to use savings from an RRSP or other resources — check with your bank for the programs and requirements in your region.
Reaching out to family can also be a win-win, but approach these arrangements with caution. Ensure any loan terms are realistic and clearly set out, and treat these arrangements with the same respect you would give a business agreement.
Once you have your finances in order, look for locations that will get you the best bang for your buck. Skip the high-priced, trendy spots where you’ll pay a premium without necessarily getting a better home. The best deals are often hiding under tacky décor: if you can look past the cosmetic hang-ups and make sure the house is structurally in good shape, you may have a great opportunity in the making.
The main thing is just getting started. Find a realistic strategy that will get you into a home, and then work your way up to that dream home. Think of real estate as a process. You may need to start small or look outside your ideal neighbourhood at first. But once you own a home, you’ll be building equity and value, which sets you on the path to your forever home. (NC)
Monday, January 20, 2020
House and Home
These days there seem to be appliances that can do it all. From self-cleaning fridges to washing machines with Wi-Fi capabilities, the options seem endless. But with so many models and features, how do you know which one is right for your home?
Measure: The first step is to measure the size of your space. Figure out how wide and deep each appliance needs to be, and don’t forget about depth. The height and width of an appliance are easy to remember, but countertops are not always the same depth, so you’ll need to make sure your new selection will slide in just right. Once you know what fits, you can start to narrow down some options.
Explore: Even if you’ve updated your appliances in the last five years, you’ll be surprised by just how much the products have advanced. Some appliances are quieter and more energy efficient, others are smart appliances that connect to your home’s Wi-Fi signal. Take your time to explore the different options available and go to see some in person. Visiting your local Best Buy can be a great resource for unbiased, knowledgeable advice.
Read reviews: Appliances are often big purchases. Read reviews before you make your decision. Small design details can make a big impact on your everyday life. Sometimes other reviewers will notice something about a product that isn’t apparent in a fact sheet or in the product specifications.
Get smart: Making the leap to connected appliances can seem intimidating, but it’s a great way for you to monitor your home utility usage and even gain control of your appliances directly from your smartphone. (NC)
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
A budget is the foundation of financial well-being. And with good reason. It’s a simple but highly effective way to make sure you live within your means, and it allows you to have control over your finances.
Research backs this up. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has found that when people start using a budget, they make better financial decisions and improve their financial well-being. They are better at keeping up with their financial commitments and reducing their spending when money is tight.
Today, only about half of Canadians report having some type of a budget. Some use traditional methods, such as handwritten lists, or even savings jars and cash envelopes. Others use digital tools such as spreadsheets, mobile apps or financial software.
Whichever method you use, a good budget must clearly show your sources of income and monthly expenses. This will help you achieve your financial goals, including finding ways to get rid of your debt and saving more money for things that are important to you, such as retirement or your kids’ education.
A budget is especially important if you have trouble paying your bills and do not know where your money is going every month.
If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of free online tools to help you get your finances under control, including a new budget planner from FCAC.
This interactive tool has many features to help you better identify your priorities, needs versus wants and how to save money. It also lets you compare your spending habits with other Canadians in similar life situations. You can save and update your budget online at anytime, or simply download an interactive spreadsheet.
Fair warning: this can be a sobering exercise, especially when you are face-to-face with how much you spend at the local coffee shop every week. But the time and effort that goes into making a budget is well worth it.
With a good budget in hand, you will not only find yourself doing a better job of taking charge of your finances, but you’ll also be closer to achieving your life goals and dreams. (NC)
Wednesday, January 8, 2020
Community News and Events
Inside my January newsletter you'll find events happening in Burlington and tips for homeowners, as well as a delicious recipe to help us start the new year off right!
Click here to view the full newsletter. It will open in a new window.