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Oil & You: Is the Price of Oil Affecting Your Financial Future?

The Problem
The price of crude has fallen to $47.93 a barrel in recent weeks; the last time sub-$50 oil was witnessed was mid-2009, a time infamous for wide-spread economic turmoil around the globe. Today, it’s not uncommon to see gas prices at the pump hover around $1.00 or less a litre as you’re headed to work early in the morning. In a world of $1.35 per litre, Canadian’s have responded well to such advantageous conditions.

Great for the consumer? Perhaps; in the short term, commuters will see a clear benefit with a lower spend on gas and more money in their pockets, as a result. However, this boon will likely be short lived with economists warning that a downturn in the economy, further aspirated by cuts and declines in the energy sector, could be eminent. Despite rising US demand for petroleum and petroleum-based products, the outlook for oil sands jobs is looking dire. Suncor, one of Canada’s energy giants, has already cut 1,000 jobs in January while trimming spending by $1 billion due to the poor performance of oil.

Alberta’s growth has been unprecedented, but with such a high reliance on oil and energy production, it comes to no surprise Albertans have been hit the hardest financially. As a result, one in five energy companies are looking to cut jobs as part of their yearly performance forecasts. It’s a number one can only expect to rise at the cusp of a potential economic downturn; even

if much of the energy sector’s workforce finds the motivation to return to their provinces and industries, Brad Smith, executive director of Mainland Nova Scotia Building Trades, fears many will not find solace – or jobs – when they return.

If this story sounds familiar, hits close to home and you’re in search of answers with piling financial burdens, you’re not alone. Your career outlook may be in question, but your financials don’t need to be.


Your Solution

So, what does this mean for you? If you’re working in the oil sands, or looking to return when the career outlook improves, it means the world to you and your family. Worrying about your current or future job security isn’t the best use of your time; it’s up to you to take action, especially if you’re in debt and in need of a partner that knows just how difficult emotionally and financially the entire experience can be.

No matter what lifestyle you might have or had, these unexpected situations can test our relationships as well as our wallets. If you’re behind in bill payments, borrowing from multiple, high-interest lenders, or making advance pay-day loans, you don’t need a debt consolidator or financial advisor: you need a friend. You need someone who doesn’t only know the landscape with experience on their side; you need someone who can listen and understand exactly where you’re coming from.

New Beginnings Resource Center can help, no matter the situation. If you’re on the brink, getting calls from creditors and collectors, we know how to help you achieve peace of mind while delivering concrete results that will help you – and your family – resolve your financial burdens.

Be sure to visit our contact page to sign up for a complimentary, 1-hour consultation where we can assess any of your concerns and set you on the right path. Feel free to email us with any questions or concerns and it would be a pleasure to assist you at this difficult time.

Shedding Light: The Truth About Your Credit Score

The Credit Score


In the late 1980’s, the FICO Score (you can accredit it for the analytics company of the same name) was designed to calculate how trustworthy a borrower was, keeping financial institutions in the know. Today, companies like Equifax  and Transunion help sort through massive piles of payment information and generate reports that speak to your trustworthiness in that all-important three-digit number: the credit score.

With time, you’d expect things to have changed drastically in how these scores are generated. But despite decades of evolving consumer trends pivots, the credit score remains, more or less, the same. It takes into consideration your debt history, your current debt level, recent debt, the type of debt you’ve accumulated and how long you’ve been stuck at a level of debt.

So what are the lesser known facts and truths about credit scores and reports? Why do these little truths matter in the long run? If you’re searching for that next solution to help boost your rating, every bit of actionable financial management information helps. Be sure to absorb these truths about credit scores and reports and you’ll see improvement sooner than you think.

1. It’s a pretty common misconception, but checking your score won’t actually affect your credit rating.This myth has seen a large amount of traction, but its largely unfounded in reality. When creditors request a credit check to ensure you’re trustworthy within their degrees of acceptability, your score may be slightly affected, however paying one of the credit score companies to see your own score won’t be detrimental to your score in any way.

2. Your score, even after insolvency, foreclosure or bankruptcy, can be improved. There’s hope, even after demoralizing financial loss. Your numbers aren’t set in stone, and although they may make obtaining a low-interest loans or a particular living arrangement difficult, your score will improve as you continue to practice healthy, credit-building habits, such as paying bills on time, keeping credit card debt low, keeping your financials in check in case something unexpected arises and more.

3. Your credit score, and report, may not be completely accurate. Although it doesn’t happen particularly often, creditors can make mistakes when it comes to your past payment history. If you notice anything on your credit report that doesn’t quite make sense, be sure to send an inquiry immediately. Many believe that what creditor reports are without error and beyond their comprehension. It might surprise you, but you have the power to dispute claims, and, with evidence, you can remove these inaccurate fragments in your credit history. Noticing any payments marked as late or unpaid and cross referencing with you own data and history might just give you the score you deserve.

4. You have access to a free report, no matter what you’ve heard. It’s always nice to have information on-demand, which is why credit report companies charge you for a digital copy of your report. That $20-$40 charge can be circumvented if you fill out a form, attach two pieces of government issued ID and wait for your report to come to you. With you’re hoping to track your report over a shorter period of time, this method is likely the most optimal, although there are many plans that allow for unlimited access to your credit report and score (for a monthly fee, of course).

5. Reaching your credit card’s limit canimpact your credit score. It might not come as a surprise to some, but maxing out your credit cards (and carrying large amounts of debt for long periods), can impact your credit score. Exceeding your limit and carrying multiple cards can cause damage to your score, but this unpopular fact often catches people by surprise. In a recent report, a maximum drop of 45 points could be expected from reaching your limit on cards over longer periods of time.

6. Your credit score doesn’t define you as a person. It’s hard to be labeled as a number, especially if you’ve struggled in the past to escaper insolvency or bankruptcy. Creditors can see improvements in your history as you begin a new leaf, however these things take time to boost your report past sub-prime levels. Don’t let a low credit score discourage you; just like all financial decisions, looking to the future and enduring the present as best you can with mindfulness will lead to security later on. Don’t let a number define you; improve your score for yourself and your family as something you owe to yourself and those closest to you.

The Credit Score

9 Apps to Help You Take Control of Your Financials (Part 1)

The personal finance landscape can be treacherous, but you don’t have to go it alone. A wide selection of resources are available to help keep you organized so you can avoid those pitfalls that might leave you scrambling to pay your bills, mortgages and loans on time. Because your smartphone and computer travel with you everywhere, we’ve collected a number of effective apps and web services that aren’t only free: they provide critical insights on your personal spending habits, expense patterns, trends, upcoming bills and more when they matter most.

At New Beginnings, we believe strongly in actionable information that empowers individuals and clients looking to control their spending habits, improve their credit rating and securing a future by acting now. These 4 apps, part of our 2-part article, might just give you the insight you need to further augment your financial goals.

Wally
If you’re having difficulties sticking to a budget and want to ‘gamify’ your spending (who doesn’t want to make budgeting more fun?), Wally might just be the app for you. Available on both iOS and Android, Wally allows you to turn your everyday spending, from your morning coffee to your next stop for gas, into a more wholesome, enjoyable experience. Wally lets you not only put in the time of transactions you’ve recently made, but also tracks their location, too; using this information, you can remind yourself that over the span of a given month, you’re more likely to spend money in selection locations buying specific items. If you’re not comfortable giving your information away to vendors, Wally can act as a secure tool that moves where you do, so your expenses can always be tracked.
epost Bill management can be overwhelming. Paying your bills on time won’t only make your more creditable to a variety of vendors, it’ll also become a habit you’ll keep with you your entire life, further discouraging you from pushing these important dates off. epost, from Canada Post, can assist with your multiple bills by allowing you to more easily act on what bills need to be paid at what time through a basic, easy-to-understand interface. Bills that are epost compatible will also save you money, as you can choose to receive them instead of paper statements, which aren’t as ecologically sustainable as e-bills and can often get lost in the clutter. Check your online banking interface for access to epost, as it should be available to most major financial institutions.

Mint
The proper management of your financials comes down to information and insight on your money, loans and spending habits. Mint is all about communication, letting you know where your money went each money, divided by gas, restaurants, electronics, investments and many other custom tags. It connects directly to your bank accounts and credit cards (while remaining completely secure), keeping you accountable for every single one of your expenses, loans and even mortgages. Mint doesn’t let you slip through the cracks very easily, and for good reason: one of the leading contributors to debt or financial difficulties is lack of actionable information, which Mint does well. You can download Mint for multiple mobile  platforms, like Android and iOS, in addition to using the web version at www.Mint.com.

Mint Bills
If you’ve already immersed yourself in the Intuit ecosystem, looking into Mint Bills might be a no-brainer for those looking to stay up-to-date on their bills. Unlike epost, Mint Bills doesn’t give you a detailed rundown of your statement, however it does give you fair warning for when you should expect your bills and even allows you to pay directly from the app to a connected bank account or credit card. It has push notifications to Android Wear smartwatches, so be sure to pick this app up if you’ve bought into the Android ecosystem.

9 Apps to Help You Take Control of Your Financials (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of our previous post on some great financial apps that will save you time, keep you on schedule and help you keep track of your money and financials.

SavedPlus
One of the most important lessons parents instill in their children continues to be to save for the future. It can be difficult to trim even a few percentage points each month to keep in an account, but it is extremely likely you’ll be able to part with a few dollars each month to invest in a more secure future. SavedPlus helps get you started by trimming a percent of your deposits or purchases, subtracting it from your account and moving it into your savings account automatically. It’s available on iOS and Android, but hasn’t quite made the leap to all banking institutions in Canada.

StockTouch
Smart investments are ever crucial, and despite the financial struggles within the last decade, historical data has proven useful in numerous projections and provide insight on similar cases. Robust apps like StockTouch for iOS allow you access to historical data grouped by industry, giving you a wealth of information that may not be directly actionable, but will change the way you trade in the future with powerful visuals and representations. Whole sectors of information are available at a single touch, helping you gain a better grasp of companies, industry and the market.

BillGuard
Fraud is still a widespread problem in 2015; even if you’ve never had a single hint of fraud through your family or friends, you should still investigate your options and become proactive. An early warning system such as BillGuard can ensure you catch unauthorized charges to your account before they become a larger problem if, they are in fact, cases of fraud. Available on most mobile platforms, you can track your expenses like other personal finance tracking apps, however it does run through a third-party vendor. Push alerts let you know if you’ve had any unusual charges to your credit card or bank accounts, rounding out your suite of financial app toolkit.

FlexScore
FlexScore can assign you a score based on how much debt you’ve acquired, what your spending habits have been over the last month in addition to your contributions for the future. You can even match this with your friends (if you choose) and see who’s in a better state of health. The big takeaway from FlexScore is that it gives you advice on what might be best to do in the immediate future, such as paying off a specific type of debt or saving for the future instead of spend what’s left at the end of the month. Although the data from the app is extremely insightful, it isn’t available in a mobile app for those always on the run. You can find it on the web at www.Flexscore.com.

RetailMeNot
Much of your personal, everyday expenses amount to a sizeable amount portion of your income. It could be those new jeans you bought on impulse or that new phone you’ve been saving up for over the last few months; regardless of the expense, you’re likely to find better deals on sites and app services like RetailMeNot. RetailMeNot gives you access to a massive amount of sales on a wide variety of items from clothes to wine. It makes it easy to find a deal and guides you to an online store where you can see exactly how much you’ll be saving. Online shopping is often much cheaper than traditional retail locations, so RetailMeNot helps shave off even more from your impulse purchases. Again, it’s about saving money and having actionable insights to improve your financial outlook, so every bit counts.

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