Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Protecting Your Identity This Holiday Season, Part One - AOL's WalletPop

By Kelley Keehn
Nov 30th 2010

With Black Friday behind us (even though it's a US shopping tradition, it still flows up the border), holiday shopping is officially upon us! And according to a survey released by TD Canada Trust on November 15th, 23% of us will be using our credit card to fund those gifts for under the tree.

During the shopping frenzy of whipping out that credit card more in the coming weeks than perhaps the entire year, coupled with the busyness of school plays and Christmas parties, what should you be doing to protect your precious financial identity?

Read the full article here:

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Kelley Keehn on Why Cash is Still King - AOL's WalletPop

Guest Blogger
Nov 26th 2010
Filed under: Banks, Credit Cards

WalletPop is pleased to feature the first column from financial expert Kelley Keehn, co-host of TV's Burn My Mortgage, which airs weekly on the W Network.

By Kelley Keehn

There's nothing that will spoil a shopping experience as much as hearing the dreaded words, "declined" when paying for a purchase after a long, gruelling work-day.

Recently, while using my debit card for a relatively small purchase, my card was declined. Shocked and dismayed as I mumbled to myself in disbelief while a long line of irritated customers sighed as I insisted the clerk retry my card, it failed me when I needed it. Annoyed with myself that I didn't have more than five dollars cash in my wallet; I defaulted to my credit card. Knowing there was a large amount of funds in the savings account I was trying to access; I tried again at another store and still heard the dreaded word, "declined" from the store clerk.

To read the full article - http://www.walletpop.ca/blog/2010/11/26/cash-is-still-king/

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Globe & Mail's Cash Clash - Should eco-conscious couple get a second car?

Conrad, 31, and Susan, 29, Waterloo, Ont.

They’re avid recyclers, nature enthusiasts and organic-veggie munchers. But with a growing toddler and a hectic schedule, the university professor and civil servant are contemplating a second car. Should convenience trump eco-consciousness?

Read the full article and my response here:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nine steps to a better credit score

Globe and Mail Update
Published Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

My husband and I are pretty competitive, always trying to one-up each other.

It was to my chagrin, therefore, when I learned that although my credit score is excellent, his is better. I have never missed a bill payment, never carried a balance, so what could be holding me back?

According to author and former financial adviser Kelley Keehn, there are lots of innocent things that can affect your score. For example, most people don’t realize there are two important dates when it comes to paying off certain credit cards: the due date and the statement date. The statement date is when the card issuer reports your balance to the credit bureau, not the due date. So even if you pay your balance in full and on time each month, your credit score may not reflect that.

“Let’s say my due date is Dec. 8 and I have a $10,000 limit. I pay it in full before the 8th and won’t be subject to any interest,” Ms. Keehn says. “But, let’s assume my statement date is Nov. 15 – that’s a very important date as it’s the date the credit card company reports to the credit bureau, not the due date. Let’s assume I make a big purchase on the 14th, say for a reno at my home, not thinking anything of it, and pay for some hardwood costing $9,000. The next day the credit card company would report that I’m 90 per cent extended on my credit card.”

If you’re not sure of your credit rating, you can get a free report from Equifax.ca or Transunion.ca that will include your credit history and current credit outstanding. For a small fee, they will include your credit score as well. A good score is 760 or higher, and anything less needs work to improve it, Ms. Keehn says.

To read the full Globe article and the 9 steps, visit:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Burn My Mortgage (or yours) tips

Burn My Mortgage, airing Tuesday's at 8pm E/P, 9pm MST on the W Network has been gaining popularity. If you've been tuning in and are looking for more ideas on how to burn your own mortgage, here's my top tips that you can take to the bank.

1. Negotiate – yes you can! The posted rates are rarely the actual rates you can get by simply asking. Consider that on a $250,000 mortgage, a 1% difference could save you $43,841.29 during the life of your mortgage*.

2. Google the basics. If you’re not a financial wiz, no worries. But learn terms such as an amortization, fixed and variable terms. Be sure to check out your bank’s website before your meeting. They likely have a list of definitions, useful articles and calculators.

3. Buy now or later? Remember all the costs involved in home ownership. You shouldn’t spend more than 32% of your gross income and don’t forget property taxes, insurance, closing costs, condo fees and more!

4. Hold the rate! If you’re not quite ready to buy, call your banker. They’ll often hold the current interest rate for 90-180 days.

5. Fixed vs. variable – who has a crystal ball.? Experts say that over the life of a mortgage, a variable rate will generally win. However, with rates at an all time low and ready to climb as early as this summer, you need to know your interest rate risk factor. If rates climbed even a couple of percentage points, your mortgage payment could nearly double. Could you handle an increase?

6. The best of both worlds. Many banks today offer a combination of a fixed rate mortgage with a portion set up as a line of credit that floats with prime.

7. RRSP vs. paying down the mortgage – what’s the best bet? What about doing both! If you’re a high income earner, an RRSP is hard to beat. But ensure you take the tax refund and apply it directly to your mortgage principal. Not only will you be saving for your retirement, taking advantage of a great tax break but you could save thousands of dollars on your mortgage and shave years off the length of it.

8. Buy now or wait? If you don’t have at least 20% for a down payment, you will have to purchase CMHC insurance. Depending on the size of your mortgage, this could cost you thousands of dollars. Do some calculations and ask your banker if it’s best to save up a little longer.

9. Do it more often. Paying bi-weekly or better yet, weekly, makes an extra payment a year that can add up to big bucks!

10. To insure or not to insure? Mortgage insurance is generally a pretty good idea and your bank may require it. The question is, should you purchase the insurance they offer or shop around for a private policy. The latter could be less costly and you have absolute control of who gets the amount at death.

* Based on a 5 year fixed, paid bi-weekly, a 25 year amortization and the
difference between a steady 5% vs. 4% interest rate.

For more information visit:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Globe & Mail's Cash Clash - He’d love a pug, she thinks costs outweigh cuteness

George, 64, and Hannah, 61, Montreal

These two filmmakers are thinking about getting a second pooch, and he’s got his heart set on a pug. But she’s not sold – yes, those smoosh-faced, snorting creatures are adorable, but they’ve got a reputation for costly health problems. Can we break up this dog fight before someone gets bitten?

Read the full article and my response here:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Globe & Mail's Cash Clash - He wants to finish the basement, she wants a hot tub

He wants to finish the basement, she wants a hot tub

Kim, 56, and Mike, 63, Montreal

They built a lakefront cottage from the ground up as their empty-nest project. After six years, it’s all done except for the basement. He wants to finish the job, but she wants a break – and a hot tub. Instant gratification or responsible home ownership?

Read the full article and my response here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/he-wants-to-finish-the-basement-she-wants-a-hot-tub/article1781978/