Pay Yourself First

Resolve today that you are going to save an invest at least 10 percent of your income throughout your working life. Take 10 percent of your income off the top of your paycheck each time you receive one and put it into a special account for financial accumulation.

Save Throughout Your Career
The fact is that if you save just $100 a month throughout your working lifetime and you invest money in an average mutual fund that grows at 10 percent per annum, you will be worth more than one million dollars by the time you retire. This means that anyone, even a person earning minimum wage, if he or she starts early enough and saves long enough, can become a millionaire over the course of his or her working lifetime.

Lifelong Habits
Developing the lifelong habit of saving and investing your money is not easy. It requires tremendous determination and willpower. You have to set it as a goal, write it down, make a plan, and work on it all the time. But once this practice locks in and becomes automatic, your financial success is virtually assured.

Practice Frugality
Practice frugality, frugality, frugality in all things. Be very careful with every penny. Question every expenditure. Delay or defer important buying decisions for at least a week, if not a month. The longer you put off making a buying decision, the better your decision will be and the better price you will get at that time.

Parkinson’s Law
A major reason that people retire poor is because of impulsive buying. They see something they like they buy it with very little thought. They become victims of what is called “Parkinson’s Law,” which says that “expenses rise to meet income.” This means that no matter how much you earn, you tend to spend that much and a little bit more besides. You never get ahead and you never get out of debt.

Don’t be a Victim
You don’t have to be a victim of Parkinson’s Law. If you cannot save 10 percent of your income, start today by saving 1 percent of your income in a special savings and investment account. Put it away at the beginning of each month, even before you begin paying down your debts. Live on the other 99 percent of your income. As you become comfortable living on 99 percent, raise your savings level to 2 percent of your income, then 3 percent and 4 percent, and so on.

Grow Your Savings and Investments
Within one year, you will be saving 10 percent and maybe even 15 or 20 percent of your income and living comfortably off the balance. At the same time, your savings and investment account will start to grow. You will become more careful about your expenditures, and your debts will begin to be paid off.

Change Your Financial Outlook in a Year
Within a year or two, your entire financial life will be under your control and you will be on your way to becoming a self-made millionaire. This process has worked for everyone who has ever tried it. Try and see for yourself.

Open a special account for financial accumulation today. Make a deposit in this account, no matter how small. Then, look for every opportunity to add to this account. Begin to study money so that you understand how to make it grow. Read books and magazines by experts on the subject. Never stop saving, learning, and growing until you become financially independent.

By Brian Tracy

Spring Gardening: Top Tips For Container Gardens

For many of us, spring makes us eager to get outside and enjoy the warm sunshine, fresh air and chirping birds by digging in our gardens. Container gardening is a great way to capture the joys of spring planting in a compact space. Even the smallest patio, terrace or yard can be brightened up with an oasis of greenery and brilliant flowers growing in pots, tubs and other containers. Here’s how:

Drain, drain go away
Good drainage is essential for healthy plant growth. If your container doesn’t already have drainage holes, drill some and cover with a layer of stones in the container bottom.

Raise them up
Avoid standing containers directly on grass or soil. Use a drip tray, or raise containers on bricks and upside down pots. It looks dramatic, aids drainage, improves air circulation and discourages pests from entering the soil.

Mulch matters
Use a good potting mixture with added peat to retain moisture. A layer of decorative mulch on the top of the soil adds a finishing touch and cuts down on water evaporation.

Keep plants mobile
Put your plants on wheels by mounting castors to pieces of wood and setting the containers on top. Now even the heaviest containers can be easily moved around to rearrange your garden.

Water regularly
Don’t forget to water regularly so your pots don’t dry out. Also, feed plants during the growing season with a good plant food.

Make it look lush
Pack your plants in closely together so your containers look gorgeous right from the start.

Don’t forget foliage
As pretty as flowers are, make them look even better by balancing them with at least one-third greenery and foliage plants in your container.

Handy herb garden
Keep fresh herbs within easy reach by planting them in pots near your kitchen door or out on a condo balcony.

Trail off in the back
For a softer, more natural look, plant some trailing plants midway back of your planter instead of all along the edge.

Gardening in Canada
Here are some helpful websites that provide relevant content for Canadian gardeners:

Fraser Valley: Home Sales Take a Summer Dip; Prices Remain Stable

(Surrey, BC) – The Fraser Valley Real Estate Board processed 1,322 sales on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in July, an increase of 20 per cent compared to the 1,101 sales during the same month last year, however 17 per cent fewer than the 1,588 sales in June.

While sales decreased month-over-month, listings went up. The board posted 2,931 new properties on its MLS® in July – 6 per cent more than received in June and 24.5 per cent more than in July 2010 – pushing overall inventory to 10,073 active listings, the highest level in the Fraser Valley since last summer.

Sukh Sidhu, president of the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board, says, “Last month, we were busier listing rather than selling properties, which is good news for prospective buyers. A buyers’ market means REALTORS® will have more homes to show their clients and increased negotiating power on their behalf.

“For sellers in this market, expert guidance to determine your home’s list price is essential. Overall, we’re seeing home prices remain strong compared to a year ago, but not for every property type or every community. We’re still seeing tremendous regional variation in prices – some areas showing increases; others decreases – as well as local differences in the average number of days on the market.”

For example, in July, it took on average 18 days to sell a townhome in North Delta; 45 days on average to sell a single family home in White Rock/South Surrey; and, 65 days on average to sell an apartment in Abbotsford.

The benchmark price of a single family detached house in the Fraser Valley in July was $534,042, an increase of 4.6 per cent compared to $510,470 in July 2010.

For townhouses, the benchmark price in July was $328,318, an increase of 0.8 per cent compared to $325,856 during the same month last year. The benchmark price of apartments in Fraser Valley in July was $248,043, an increase of 1.5 per cent compared to $244,368 in July 2010.


Home Sales to Rise 5 Per Cent This Year

BCREA 2011 Second Quarter Housing Forecast

Vancouver, BC – June 30, 2011. The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) released its 2011 Second Quarter Housing Forecast today.
BC Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) residential sales are forecast to increase 5 per cent from 74,640 units in 2010 to 78,200 units this year, before increasing a further 3.1 per cent to 80,700 units in 2012.

“Home sales will post some modest gains over the next two years,” said Cameron Muir, BCREA Chief Economist. “However, positive housing fundamentals like job growth, rising wages and an expanding population base will be somewhat offset by higher borrowing costs over the next eighteen months.”

“Following a decade where unit sales broke all records, consumer demand over the next few years will be relatively moderate,” added Muir. The ten-year BC MLS® residential sales average is 87,000 units. A record 106,300 MLS® residential sales were recorded in 2005.

Download the full BCREA Housing Forecast at:

CMHC’s 2011 Mortgage Consumer Survey

Canadian homebuyers are showing “a high level of financial literacy,” according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC’s)  2011 Mortgage Consumer Survey that found both high levels of research and a determination to pay off mortgages quickly.

The survey said 75% of respondents felt it “very important” to pay off their mortgages as soon as possible and that 39% had set payments higher than the required minimum.

As well, 20% had made at least one lump-sum payment since obtaining their mortgage and 39% planned to reduce their amortization periods at their next renewal.

Meanwhile, the survey found 80% of respondents had researched mortgage terms and conditions, 88% had a good understanding of how big a mortgage they could afford and 81% have some form of savings.

Professional assistance key
After deciding to look for information about mortgage options, half (51%) of recent mortgage consumers started with a mortgage or financial professional. The remaining half of respondents reported having started with family or friends, the Internet or a real estate agent.

But, throughout the process of obtaining a mortgage, 81% of recent buyers, at some point, relied on a mortgage professional (either a mortgage broker or lender) for advice and consultation.

More than three-quarters of recent buyers noted they received advice on mortgage terms and conditions, as well as whether to take a variable or fixed interest rate. More than 40% also received a recommendation to accelerate their mortgage payments in order to pay off their mortgages sooner.

Advice is not limited to just details about the mortgage. Recent buyers are also receiving recommendations to use specific professionals involved in the housing market such as home inspectors, lawyers and real estate agents.

Most recent buyers feel their mortgage professionals are listening to them throughout the process. Eighty-two per cent of recent buyers indicated that their particular mortgage professional – either a mortgage broker or lender – took the time to fully understand their financial situation and mortgage needs.

But, more interestingly, brokers and lenders who follow up with their clients after the mortgage deal are more likely to benefit by maintaining and increasing their business. More than two-thirds of mortgage consumers, who had been contacted by their broker or lender since their most recent mortgage transaction, completely agreed that they would contact the same lender or broker for advice on future mortgage needs compared to less than 50% of those who had not been contacted. Similar proportions exist for the likelihood to use the broker or lender for their next mortgage, and for the likelihood to recommend the broker or lender to a family member or friend.

Long-term investment
With the Canadian economy continuing to emerge from the economic downturn throughout 2010, mortgage consumer attitudes towards homeownership continue to be strong. A large majority of recent homebuyers (86%) agree that homeownership is a good long-term investment and this sentiment was generally shared by respondents in all regions of Canada.
The investment in homeownership is not entered into quickly. On average nationally, homebuyers took 11 months to plan their purchase. Those in British Columbia took nine months, while homebuyers in other regions noted planning their purchase ranged from 10 to 12 months.

As always, if you have any questions about the best mortgage product and rate options for you, or about your mortgage in general, I’m here to help!

Maureen Young
Accredited Mortgage and Lease Professional

Dominion Lending Downtown Financial

Phone: 604-805-588
Fax: 604-904-8608