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September 22, 2005

Investments - September 2005, Issue 42

How to pay your bills and invest, too!

Jeff Colbourne

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There’s no doubt about it, making ends meet is tough. And getting ahead? Well, for many Canadians, that’s a desperate dream for tomorrow when every day brings the reality of mortgage payments, car loans, lease payments, large credit card balances, and other demands on your hard won earnings.

Sure, you’d like to start an investment program or add to the small investments you’ve already made, but there just never seems to be anything left over once you’ve taken care of the essentials. And in a world that runs on credit, it’s too easy to carry too much debt in too many places.

If you’re staying awake at nights trying to map a way out of the dreaded debt spiral, to say nothing of stretching your income to cover an investment program that could help you realize your dreams for future, debt consolidation may be just the ticket.

Debt consolidation can increase your ability to invest
Debt consolidation simply means paying off a number of higher interest rate loans or other high-cost debt by taking out a single loan for a consolidated overall lower monthly payment. You can choose to consolidate such unsecured debts as medical bills, car payments, education loans, credit card payments or lines of credit - and the benefit is a single, more affordable monthly payment, due to only one creditor, that is usually much lower than the many monthly payments you were making previously. It’s an effective way to regain control of your finances, ease your cash management, generate savings and reduce stress - as well as establishing a repayment plan that will move you beyond simply servicing your balances to actually eliminating them.

If you own a home, you can consider consolidating your debt using a home equity loan. Your loan is secured by your home and there’s no doubt you’ll be paying a much lower interest rate than you do on your credit cards which can range from 19 per cent to over 28 per cent for a retail card. By keeping your amortization period the same, but with a lower interest rate, you’ve created additional cash flow that can be used towards other financial goals.

An easy investment strategy that works
Once you’ve got your debt under control, it’s time to bring discipline and consistency to your investment life. An easy way to do that - and enjoy significant long-term returns - is through dollar cost averaging. This simply means making regularly scheduled investments for a set amount of dollars. It’s a trouble-free investment plan that delivers some powerful benefits:
•     Your investments are automatic - you choose an amount that is debited from your bank account and invested on your behalf on a regular basis, such as each month.
•    You are free from scrambling to buy lump sum investments at irregular intervals in an attempt to ‘buy low and sell high’, your automated investments take place on a regular basis.
•    What this means is you are able to acquire a greater number of securities - say, mutual fund units - when the price is lower and a lesser number of securities when the price is higher.
•    Over the longer term, your average cost of per unit should be lower and your overall returns will usually be higher.

Dollar cost averaging is a great way to ramp up your RRSP nest egg - and, along with debt consolidation, is one of the many personal financial solutions that can make your dreams for tomorrow realistically achievable through the actions you’re taking today. Your financial advisor can help you gain control of your financial life and improve your prospects for the future.

This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc., is presented as a general source of information only and is not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell investments, nor is it intended to provide professional advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax advice. For more information on this topic or on any other investment or financial matters, please contact Jeff Colbourne, Investors Group Consultant at 403 220-9654. Insurance products and services distributed through I.G. Insurance Services Inc. Insurance license sponsored by The Great West Life Assurance Company.

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