Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What’s YOUR score?

It’s something no one talks about but something people need to be better educated on. I am talking about one of your most valuable assets, your credit score. Most people walk around thinking they have amazing credit because they don’t charge purchases or they walk around not even really knowing what a credit score is. What people don’t realize is that your credit score is actually pivotal when it comes to taking one of life’s biggest steps, buying a house. Your credit history can make or break what kind of mortgage or loan you qualify for as well as what kind of lending institution you can go with. Most importantly it affects what kind of interest rate you can get. Your credit score is important when looking to obtain any type of financing whether it is for a house, a car or any other major purchase. If you are interested in learning a few basic things about your credit and how to nurture it than read on!

Christy Watt
A credit bureau is an institution that collects and keeps information on you. No matter what you do they are keeping track! Well, financially speaking that is! So if you missed your credit card payments for a month or two because you were backpacking through Europe, your credit report will show that and your choices are reflected in your score. You are responsible for your own credit history. A credit bureau keeps track of all of your monthly financial obligations and whether they are current or past due. It also looks at how much debt you have outstanding as well as your credit limits. Your report will also show any bankruptcies, or judgments that have been placed against you. The most common example of this would be an unpaid cell phone bill. Some people decide to fight their bill with their cell phone company on principle and what they don’t realize is that that company is more than happy to just place a judgment on your record which will eat away at your score and quickly bring your number down. The credit bureau compiles all this information and translates it into a number which is referred to as your score and that number is used as a numeric assessment of your risk level at any given moment. This number aids lenders in determining how dependable you might be when it comes to repaying your debts.

One of the biggest myths people fall into believing is that having no credit facilities (i.e. credit card, line of credit, and/or loan) is actually better than having some.  You can not build a credit history if you do not use credit.  So the key is using your credit facilities responsibly. A standard requirement that most lending institutions look for when looking at your credit report is that you have two active credit facilities reporting on your credit report. They believe that if you can keep a clean repayment history on two different items for more than two years that you are aware of the importance of your financial obligations and are (hopefully) not a risk to lend to. The best thing to do is to make sure you have two forms of credit at all times. You do not need to be using them constantly but as long as you use them periodically throughout the year, and pay them on time then you should be able to build a great score.

It is important to understand what affects your credit score. As mentioned before any judgments placed against you will lower your score. It is not a one time deduction either. It will continue to lower your score as long as it sits there. This is where it is very important to know what is on your credit report. It is often where people realize they have fallen victim to identity theft. Having your credit score checked repeatedly can also lower your score. Many people do not realize that every time they are looking to get a new credit card or are shopping for mortgage rates and filling out numerous applications that their credit is likely being checked each time. The more times it is checked the lower your score gets. Last but not least paying your monthly obligations late will also affect your score. Your credit report will show how many times you have been over 30 days late on a bill. The more late payments you have the lower your score gets which as a result makes you considered a higher risk.

Another important thing to know is that it is not impossible to rebuild your credit after going through a rough patch in life. If you have fallen behind on your credit facilities or find out you have some judgments placed against you, the most important thing to do is to correct them and work at rebuilding your credit history. One thing to consider is doing a debt consolidation loan or refinancing your mortgage if you already have one. The best thing to do is to consolidate everything into one monthly obligation so that you will find it easier to keep up with. Another reason that debt consolidation is an important step is that you are generally going to have a lower interest rate on your new mortgage or loan overall than you would if you were carrying those balances on your credit cards which often have interest rates that sit in the double digits. Once you consolidate your debts you can work on reestablishing your credit history by making sure you have two credit facilities reporting on your credit bureau and making sure you pay them each month.

There are many resources online that allow you to find out what your credit score is and give you the opportunity of looking at your credit report. You can contact one of Canada’s credit bureaus to receive a copy of your credit report by mail for free. If you want to look at it online you can do so if you are willing to pay for the service.
For more information you can contact one of the credit bureaus directly at:

·         TransUnion Canada: 1-800-663-9980
·         Equifax Canada: 1-800-465-7166

An important thing to note is that most mortgages do not report on your credit report so this will not help in rebuilding your credit. With mortgage rates as low as they are today it is often the best step for you when looking to consolidate your debt, however, this might not be an option for everyone.

Christy Watt is a mortgage lender with Dominion Lending Centres and she is also a member of Entrepreneurial Moms of Toronto. She is always happy to answer any questions about whether or not this is a smart financial choice for you. Additionally she is available to talk about credit report and ways to improve it as well as help figure out what her clients qualify for ahead of time. To find out more about Christy Watt fell free to check out her website at or she can be reached anytime at 647 781 2474.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Smart Business Practices

Spring is here! Yes, it is a sign of relief to know that we do not have to put our kid's big and heavy jackets on when they go to school or daycare. This time of the year is also a time when everyone is doing Spring cleaning and trying to get rid of their stuff by having a yard sale.

Today I decided to check one of them out. It was on my way home when I spotted a yard sale so I thought I would be a good neighbor and support young entrepreneurship by making a purchase. There was a young lady and her mom that was holding this sale. I was quite impressed by their determination to sell everything they had by the end of the day and make some quick cash on a sunny Spring day. I have found a few books which I thought it will be a great gift for my daughter as she loves books more than she loves food. I asked how much the books cost. 5 books for $2.50 was a bargain in my opinion. I took out a $20 bill from my wallet. That was all I had on me. The woman that was holding the sale told me that she cannot break the $20 therefore she cannot sell me the books. Although there was a store around the corner where she could've changed the big bills, her solution to this was not to make the sale. There is a lot to learn from this incident when it comes to business.

  • Be prepared before you set up a business. In this case have enough change from the night before when the banks are open so that you will not turn business away.
  • Make it easier for the customer/client and eliminate negative responses from your business vocabulary. In this case make the sale and go get change after for future customers.
  • Provide good customer service. In this case the example above also applies.
  • Ensure you will teach the younger generation of what good business is. In this case when you turn customers away you will not reach your goal of selling all items on your list.
These examples exist in other businesses as well and therefore we, the consumer feel frustrated. But in the end is the business that will suffer because we will not normally support them and turn to another business that will meet our needs and serve us with integrity. In this case the yard sale is not a sustainable business but how about a business that is? Have you ever been served poorly while trying to make a purchase? What was your reaction? Please share...

Doina Oncel is a Social Media strategist and the founder of Doina's Infinite Solutions and she is also one of the leaders of Entrepreneurial Moms of Toronto.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why Weight? Diets Don’t Work

Getting my weight under control has come from a process of treating myself as well as I treat others in every way. -Oprah Winfrey


Why Weight? Diets Don’t Work

You can’t turn on the TV, drive down the road or go to a party without being confronted with America’s hottest obsession: weight. Diets are a billion-dollar industry; companies spend millions and millions luring you to try the latest diet (low carb, high protein, low fat, no fat, you name it) with promises that this will (finally!) be the solution—your shortcut to a thinner body. Advertising efforts also deeply affect our children, who develop distorted body images and are often on diets as early as nine or 10 years of age. 

Our culture touts diet pills, celebrity workouts, convenience foods and trendy diets to help us achieve our desired weight, but these quick-fix solutions have backfired. America’s populace has reached its highest weight in history. About half of Americans are overweight; one-third are obese. Diets steer us away from our common sense and dip deeply into our pocketbooks while eliciting few, if any, lasting results. Why?

  • Diets don’t work because each person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, ancestry and lifestyle; how could one diet be right for everyone?
  • Diets don’t work because they are extreme solutions. As in physics, if a pendulum swings to one extreme, it has to swing equally to the other. A diet might work for a short amount of time, but research shows that almost all diets result in a 10-pound gain once off the diet.
  • Diets don’t work because they are too restrictive. People who fail on diet plans are not flawed or weak. Diets by nature require discipline and restriction at levels that are unsustainable by a healthy human body.
  • Most people are disconnected from why they gain weight and see diet as the only culprit. For example, ignoring or discounting emotions is often the first thing to cause weight imbalances.

In our fast-paced world, we have lost sight of many aspects of life that truly nourish and balance our bodies, such as slowing down, eating a home-cooked meal and spending quality time with loving people. Eating consciously and making simple lifestyle changes will create positive results and release you from the endless cycle of dieting.

Given half a chance, your body will balance out by itself, but this is only possible by getting out of the diet mentality and listening to what you truly need. Imagine taking all of the outward energy you expend on diets, fads and gimmicks and turning it inward, so that you can listen to your heart and inner wisdom. There is no such thing as a quick fix; you already have everything you need within you. With careful thought and loving reflection, you can feed yourself in a nourishing way. Working with your body rather than against it will bring you increased energy, stabilized weight and sustainable health.

Food Focus: Asparagus
Now that spring is finally here, it is a perfect time to add some asparagus to your diet!  Here are some wonderful ways in which asparagus can benefit you:

Detoxifies our bodies
Anti-aging functions
Cancer-fighting qualities
Reduces pain and inflammation
Can prevent osteoporosis
Reduces the risk of heart disease
Reduces the risk of birth defects

Recipe of the Month: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan       


2 bunches of asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
2 -3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Trim the tough ends off of the asparagus.

On a baking sheet, toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread the asparagus on the sheet, side by side.  Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.

Roast the asparagus until tender and the cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Milissa Harding is a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She works with busy women who struggle to maintain healthy energy levels.  Milissa creates personalized coaching programs integrating both a nutrition and lifestyle focus to enable busy women to:  increase energy levels, reduce stress, improve eating habits and prioritize self-care. Request your FREE 25-page copy of “Feeding the Busy Mom: Nourishing Yourself from the Inside Out” and schedule an Energy Strategy Session by visiting