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Dealing with debt during the holidays

The holidays are about to begin and your mailbox will start to fill up – with holiday bills. Pile them on top of all your regular payments for your mortgage, car loan and other credit card balances and you begin to wonder how you can stretch your pay cheque to cover it all. And that’s saying nothing about how you will ever begin securing your financial future.

You know you need to pay your bills, and somehow find money for the investments that are important to achieving your life goals – but how will you do all that? One method is debt consolidation. Here’s how it can work for you:

Consolidate high-interest, high-cost loans: Consolidate medical bills, car payments, education loans, lines of credit and other high-interest debts like credit card payments into one, lower-interest loan. You’ll have a single, more affordable monthly payment than the many monthly payments you were making previously, your cash management will be easier, and you’ll generate new savings that can ramp up your repayment plan and get you out of debt faster.

Tap home equity: Consider consolidating your debt through a home equity loan with a much lower interest rate than your credit cards (which typically range from 19% up to 28% for a retail card). When you keep the same amortization period, your overall lower interest rate will create additional cash flow to help you meet other financial goals.

Once you’ve got your debt under control, it’s time to look at how you can make the best use of your new-found investment dollars. In other words, it’s time to start a Pre-authorized Contribution (PAC) program which delivers benefits like these:

  • Invest automatically via a monthly amount you choose to have debited from your bank account and invested for you.
  • Eliminate the annual scramble to find money for your contributions into investments held in an RRSP. Use your PAC to make regular contributions to your investments held in an RRSP and get your money working for you all year round.
  • Get the full value of dollar-cost averaging. When you invest regularly, you are able to acquire a larger number of securities, such as mutual fund units, when the price is lower and fewer when it’s higher. Over the longer term, your average cost per unit will likely be lower than if you had made lump sum payments, and your overall returns could be higher.

Deal with your debt now through debt consolidation, get PAC-ing to solidify your financial future, and wrap all your financial and retirement hopes and dreams into a comprehensive financial plan. The best place to start? Talk to your professional advisor today.

October 20, 2015

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.