Spring is the perfect time for a refresh. As the weather warms up and you swap winter boots for flip flops, there’s an opportunity to connect with your clients and encourage them to put their household finances on their spring cleaning list. Help clients review their financial history and habits, and create a plan for a brighter, healthier financial future.
1. Spruce up monthly budgets
Advise clients to revisit their budget and update it if necessary. If they don’t have a budget, you can add value by helping them create one. Either way, it’s a good time to closely review family income and expenses, and take a closer look at how much debt may be accumulating. When analyzing a budget, encourage clients to look at bills from the past couple months, consider any recent life changes, and note whether debts and spending are increasing or decreasing.
2. Sweep away unnecessary spending
Spring cleaning usually involves getting rid of items that are no longer needed. Remind clients to ditch bad spending habits as well. Help to identify patterns and encourage clients to minimize unnecessary purchases by targeting one or two habits to improve. And remember, moderation, not deprivation, is the name of the game. For example, if your client buys a donut each morning along with their coffee, suggest cutting that habit down to two days a week, or choose to ditch the donut instead.
3. Clean up bad credit
Holding on to debt for too long is like keeping an old pair of jeans that no longer fit; it takes up extra room, and adds to the pile of other unwanted items until it becomes overwhelming. The first step to cleaning up bad credit is understanding your credit. Remind clients that Equifax credit reports in Canada are free and can be requested quickly and simply here: Check Your Equifax Credit Score and Report. While younger Canadians are checking their credit reports more often, many are still unsure as to how they work, according to a recent Equifax survey. Clients can fix their bad credit by paying bills on time, budgeting, and learning to use credit appropriately. If clients have high-interest debt in multiple places, suggest consolidating that debt into a lower interest loan, like a private mortgage, to help get credit back on track.
4. Toss out excess credit cards
Limiting the number of personal credit cards will not only help clients keep track of purchases and balances owing, but will also help boost their credit score. Advise clients to cancel credit cards if they have multiple based on annual fees, interest rates for overdue payments, credit limits, benefits and rewards, such as travel miles or cash-back features. Encourage clients to be ruthless when it comes to shedding accounts and consolidating loans. Dump anything that no longer serves a purpose to optimize their finances and make things easier to track.
5. Organize financial documents
Remind clients to keep tax returns and other important documents for around seven years after they file a return. Encourage them to shred any outdated documents and have them consider creating an electronic filing system by scanning old paper documents and choosing electronic delivery for new bills and documents coming in for the future.
6. Commit to healthy habits
Out with the old and in with the new. Help clients adjust their budget and make a commitment to paying off credit cards and keeping up with loan payments. Once a debt is under control, encourage them to take some time to plan for their financial future. Suggest investing to help clients grow their money, in the same way they would plant seeds at the start of spring in hopes of seeing flowers bloom later on. You can also take this opportunity to discuss different investment options. CMI offers mortgage investment products through our whole mortgage investment program and our suite of Mortgage Investment Corporations (MIC) funds. You may also suggest setting up a regular investment plan (RIP) and have them consider automatic payments. Stress to clients that treating these monthly contributions like an automatic bill payment will help build up their savings quickly, without having to worry about setting aside the amount regularly. In fact, they may eventually forget about those amounts, while their money quietly accumulates.
These tips provide an avenue to reconnect with clients, add value beyond basic mortgage services, and discuss potential solutions. CMI offers a full suite of customizable and flexible private mortgage solutions that could be well-suited to clients that are looking to clean up their debt, and get back on track for a brighter financial future.
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