Friday, November 28, 2008

Ways to welcome winter

As Canadians, we tend to think of winter as something
we need to endure, rather than something we can actually
enjoy. In this, we tend to differ from other northerly cultures, like Scandinavia,
where both rural and urban citizens are more likely to celebrate the cold winter season as part of
the natural heritage. They’re a hardy lot. Us, we prefer to shiver our way from one warm place
to another… and preferably quickly.
But instead of cursing the cold this winter, try finding some ways to celebrate winter – whether
you’re inside or out:
1. Try a new outdoor winter sport. Take a
snowboard lesson if you haven’t tried this
great sport yet. If you haven’t been snowshoeing
since childhood, you’ll be surprised to find
new light-weight, comfortable and almost elegant
snowshoes out there on the market. It’s a
completely different sport than the one you
may remember. Try something new.
2. Rediscover your childhood. Nothing beats a
hill, a toboggan and a group of family or
friends. Age doesn’t matter either – so long as
the tobogganers are fit enough for the tough
part: slogging back up the hill with toboggan
in tow. This sport is just as much fun as you
remember. And the hot chocolate at the end of
the day tastes just as good as ever.
3. Go for walks in the sunshine. There’s less
sun in the winter months – much less in some
areas of the country. So if you get a sunny winter
day, bundle up and head out to enjoy the
winter. Be sure to dress for the weather… and
don’t forget your sunglasses.
4. Be a winter animal detective. Look for animal
tracks in the snow and try to figure out
what kind of animal made them and what they
were doing.
5. Find a starry window. On a clear winter
night, wrap yourself in a warm blanket, turn
the lights off, and curl up to look at the stars.
Find the Big and Little Dippers, and then try to
identify all the constellations you can. If you’re
very lucky, you may even spot the Northern
6. Have a skating party. If you don’t have a little
ice pad of your own, you may be able to
rent a school or public rink. Cook a big pot of
chili and have lots of mugs and spoons so
everyone can refuel quickly.
7. Host a games night. Put a fire in the fireplace,
set out some snacks and dig out all
your old board games. Risk, Monopoly, or
Scrabble … it’s a great way to spend a winter
evening with friends.
8. Make ice lanterns! Fill a bucket with water,
and then float a smaller container (like a topless
juice can) in the centre. You can use tape
to hold the juice can down, or set a heavy
object like a stone tile on top. Set outside in
freezing weather, or use your chest freezer. To
unmold, pour some lukewarm water into the
juice can to loosen it, and then set the bucket
into a bath of lukewarm water to release your
ice lantern. Set a votive candle in your ice
lantern by your front door. Lots of time or lots
of buckets? Make a row leading to the house!
9. Catch up on reading! Get out a stack of
books, find a warm chair and catch up on
those novels you’ve been meaning to read. It’s
a perfect way to spend a quiet winter afternoon
or evening.
10. Perfect your homemade hot chocolate.
This recipe couldn’t be simpler: chop up 6 oz.
of your favourite semisweet chocolate, and
put into a heat-proof pitcher along with a few
cinnamon sticks. Heat 4 cups of milk to almost
scalding, then pour into pitcher and stir until
chocolate is melted.
Whatever you do, take pictures, so you can remember your winter fun!
Courtesy Mortgage Intelligence
HO Address: 2900-3300 Bloor Street West, 9th Floor Centre Tower Etobicoke ON M8X 2X9

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Take Control of Your Home
The equity you’ve built up in your home can be a powerful financial planning tool. Through mortgage refinancing, you can access that equity to pay for home improvements, consolidate debt,purchase a vacation property or invest in your future.
The term ‘refinance’ means to pay in full and discharge a pre-existing mortgage with the proceeds of a new mortgage. When a borrower secures a new mortgage that is larger than the pre-existing mortgage, it is called an ‘equity take-out’.
In some instances, rising levels of consumer debt – often financed by high-interest credit cards – and relatively low mortgage rates prompt homeowners to look more closely at how their homes can help them increase liquidity and improve their overall financial situation.
In other cases, homeowners leverage mortgage refinancing for renovations that, in turn, boost the values of their homes.
If you are considering mortgage refinancing, you will need to first thoroughly review your existing financial situation and mortgage commitments with your financial advisors. Potential short-term gains, such as lower monthly payments, should align with your long-term planning goals. As with so many financial planning exercises, one size does not fit all.

Why Refinance?
There are many reasons to use your home equity to secure additional credit at competitive interest rates.
• Debt consolidation – since mortgage rates are generally lower than other forms of borrowing, you can use the equity in your home to pay in full high interest/high payment debts such as credit cards.
• Home renovations - the equity in your home can be used to finance home improvements, which can potentially increase your home’s value.
• Second property - by leveraging your home equity, you could purchase an investment property or vacation property.
• Investments - the equity in your home can be reinvested in other investments, such as mutual funds or stocks. In fact depending on your investments and your circumstances, a portion of the interest you pay on your mortgage may be tax deductible.
• Education - you can refinance your home to fund education costs for your children, or for yourself, as an alternative to liquidating other investments or RRSPs.
• Retirement planning – your home equity can also be used to make RRSP contributions. In many cases, the compounding benefits of long-term investments and tax deferrals could outweigh the penalty costs of a discharging an existing mortgage.
Calculating the Benefits
Depending on your situation, you might consider one of the following approaches when refinancing your home:
• breaking your existing mortgage and applying for a new one,
• increasing your existing mortgage with your existing lender,
• taking a second mortgage,
• applying for a home equity secured line of credit.
Speak with a Mortgage Intelligence independent consultant to assess the potential benefits and compare your current debt payment schedule against one that takes advantage of a refinanced mortgage. E-mail Larry Broadley today.

Before making any decisions about your mortgage, it is a good idea to complete a review of your current financial situation. Below are some key items to document as you get started.

Your Home’s MarketValue: $
What do you estimate is the current market value of your home?
Your CurrentMortgage: $
What was the principal balance of your mortgage at start of term?
What will the principal balance of your mortgage balance be at end of your term?
What is the original start date of your mortgage term?
When does your mortgage mature/renew?
What is the amortization period of your mortgage?
Who is your current lender?
What interest rate are you paying now?
What is your payment frequency (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly)?
How much are your regular payments?
PrepaymentPenalties for Your Existing Mortgage: $
You will likely be required to pay a prepayment penalty if your mortgage is discharged mid-term. Lender prepayment policies should be detailed in your mortgage documentation.
Total monthlypayments on existing obligations $
Includes automobile loans, student loans, credit cards, alimony, etc.
Gross annual income $
our family’s total income from all regular sources

This is YourMortgage Profile

Once you have defined your mortgage profile, work with Larry Broadley a mortgage professional to review all of your options.

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