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  Weekly Feature: January 4, 2004
 

 

How to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues
L's Weekly Feature

 

 

If you are like 99.9 % of Canadians, you will have over-eaten and/or over-spent the past couple of weeks. Now, it’s pay-back time. How do we shed the extra inches off our waist-line and get rid of the extra red ink on our credit card bills?

With the extra inches, it’s probably going to take a lot of determination to eat less and exercise more. January isn’t the greatest time to step up your exercise regimen. The snow and ice on the ground doesn’t really encourage you to be out exercising unless you are heading out into the mountains for some skiing or snowboarding—sans the après ski. Also, check out the local mountains for snow-shoeing and the various lesson packages they offer.

Hiking is still possible on many trails. You will be pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the winter landscape. Just make sure you have good shoes and layer your clothes to keep your body at the right temperature. If you don’t feel like going outdoors, the local community centres offer lots of programs to help you shed those pounds and inches.

The red ink? Actually, it isn’t red anymore; but, that doesn’t let you off the hook. If you are carrying a balance on your credit card, it’s bad news. The average interest rate for most credit cards is close to 20 % per year—with store cards charging even more. When you consider that the bank gives you 0 % to 2% interest on your deposits, you have to realise that something is wrong with this picture. Shop around for a low interest credit card – if you can get one at below 10%, you are doing well.

It is still probably a good idea to use whatever other money sources you may have available to you to pay off your credit card balance in full to avoid paying credit card interest. This might include borrowing money against your home—just make sure you have a good repayment plan and that you stick to it. In most cases, you could save around 15% between the credit card rate and the mortgage loan rate.

Keep paying the same amount you would have had to pay under the credit card rates and use the savings to repay down your loans more quickly. (If you pay only the minimum, don’t count on paying off the balance anytime soon. At 18% per annum, it will take 16 years to pay off a credit card balance of $1,000—even if you cut up that card and never use it to buy anything again.)

Links for local hills and recreation centres:

Lower Mainland Ski Hills Information

Hiking in the Vancouver Area

Vancouver City Community Centres

Burnaby City Fitness Class Schedules

New Westminster Community Information

Links for financial information and services:

Credit Card and Debt Management (Book at Amazon.com)

ABC.com Advice for Getting Financially Fit

Check with your local bank to find out your options.

 

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