5 Dec

Holiday Party Tips


Posted by: Mike Hattim

With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are already starting to fill up our social calendars and think about the coming month.

To help make your holidays even more special, and ensure you have the best party on the block, I have some tips:

  1. Make a List: While you might not be hosting for 50 people this year, that doesn’t mean that preparations go out the window! The mark of a good holiday celebration is planning, planning, planning! Ideally, you will want to make a list of everything you need before you get started. From food to drinks to decor, having an idea of what you need in advance will make it much easier to get everything in one go.
  2. Manage the Mood: To help create a cozy, holiday mood you might consider turning off your overheads and using candles to give off a warm glow and cozy scent. Music is another important factor; try mixing traditional holiday tunes with modern favourites to create the perfect feel.
  3. Sweet and Simple Decor: When it comes to the holidays, there are endless options for decor. From traditional red and green to silver and gold or silver and blue, the best choice is one that fits your tastes. Even if you cannot host your entire neighbourhood, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy that holiday feeling! A few key pieces here and there, such as a large wreath and centerpiece for the table can go a long way.
  4. Prep Food in Advance: When it comes to food, simple is best and whatever you can prep in advance is better. With a smaller invitee list, you can easily get away with simple finger foods. From shrimp or tuna rolls to spinach dip and bread to veggie trays or cheese and crackers, the options are endless and there are many options that don’t require hours and hours of prep time.
  5. Send Out Invitations: If you are hosting a virtual gathering, make sure to send out invitations as soon as possible. This can be a simple e-mail to friends or family with a link to join in or a fun e-card!
5 Dec

2023 Financial Resolutions


Posted by: Mike Hattim

After the whirlwind economic year we have had, making your finances work for you is already top of mind for most Canadians as we head into 2023.

Here are some ideas to make your finances work for YOU in the New Year:

Purge Expenses: One of the best goals you can have for the New Year is cutting out all those things that didn’t work the previous year. While we are not referring to your water or electricity bills, there are still many ways you can cut down on costs. For instance, have you recently looked at your phone plan? Consider decreasing services or comparing costs to get a cheaper plan with the same functionality. Are you someone that buys coffee each morning or goes out for lunch once a week? Are you actually regularly watching all those streaming services? Consider where and how you spend your money to determine areas to reduce costs!

Make a List of Goals: Once you have made your budget and reviewed your existing expenses for any opportunities to reduce costs, the next step is to make a list of goals! For some people this will include paying off that credit card or loan, but for others it could be saving up for a family holiday you want to take in the next 5 years. Whatever your goals are, be clear about them and make a resolution to achieve them!

Consolidate Your Debt: Are you dealing with multiple debt sources? From a car loan to a credit card bill, having multiple payments each month can add up and quickly become more than you can manage. If you are struggling with lofty bills and hefty interest rates on your credit cards or other bills, consider consolidating your debt into your mortgage for a single, monthly payment – typically at a lower interest rate!

Pay Fast, Buy Slow: Some great advice when it comes to managing your finances is to pay fast and buy slow! If you pay your bills as soon as they come in, versus waiting, you will have a better idea of where you stand financially at any given moment. You will also avoid any late fees or compounding charges. In coordination with this, you will also want to start buying slower and working to reduce any impulse spending.

Increase Your Income: While it may not seem possible, it can’t hurt to look for ways to increase your income in the New Year. Look for promotion opportunities at work, discuss a potential raise or even consider a new job to ensure that you are financially covered!

5 Dec

Budgeting for the Year Ahead


Posted by: Mike Hattim

With the recent inflation and rising prices occurring across the country, it is time to take control of your finances. One of the quickest ways to understand where your money is going and where you can make changes, is to create a monthly budget.

This will help you get a snapshot of your income compared to your spending, and provides an avenue to review all of your outgoing costs and helps you make changes to increase your monthly cashflow – or just feel less stressed!

Step 1: Calculate Your Income
The very first step to creating any budget is determining your income – knowing exactly how much money you bring in is important to understanding what you have available to spend. Remember to focus on NET INCOME versus gross salary, as budgeting for more than you can afford will lead to overspending.

Step 2: Track Your Spending
Once you have determined your income, you will want to take a look at your spending. Reviewing and categorizing all your monthly bills can help you breakdown exactly where your money goes and make some priorities to mark where changes can be made. To start, first list out your fixed expenses – these are things like car payments, loans, rent or mortgage costs that do not change on a monthly basis. Next, you will want to take a look at your variable expenses – things like groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. and determine your average spend. This is typically the area where people are able to cut back.

Step 3: Set Realistic Goals
Realistic goals are vital for long-lasting financial health. It is important to determine what you cannot live without and where you can cut costs or scale back on spending. Ideally, when it comes to your monthly budget, you want to consider the 50/30/20 rule, which applies the following:

  • 50% of your spending is for NEEDS such as rent or mortgage payments, car payments, utilities and groceries
  • 30% of your income goes to WANTS such as shopping, vacations, streaming services, etc.
  • 20% of your income goes to SAVINGS OR DEBT such as emergency funds, retirement, child’s education and/or credit card payments

Step 4: Make a Plan
Once you have your goals set, you can now make a plan to tackle your financial position and ensure a healthy cashflow each month. For some, setting realistic spending limits for each category works well. For others, taking a look at the importance of their expenses and re-prioritizing can free up funds.

Step 5: Adjust Your Spending
Now that you have determined how much money you bring in per month and what you spend it on, you can take a look at adjusting your spending to ensure you remain on budget. Taking a realistic look at your wants is a great place to cut out frivolous spending beyond a reasonable amount. This is also a great time to review your fixed expenses. Perhaps you can save money by getting a better interest rate on your mortgage or changing the payment schedule for your loan. Be sure to connect with a me before making any changes to your mortgage!

Step 6: Stay on Track
Tracking your budget on a monthly basis is important to catch any changes in your spending habits. As well, it is a good idea to conduct an annual review and take into account any increase in expenses or wages that may require shifts in your overall plan.

The Government of Canada has an online budget planner tool available as well if you need further assistance! You can find it here.

Remember: A healthy budget is key to financial freedom and comfort.