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It’s Debt season

Its debt season!  After a  fall and winter of indulgence many of us find ourselves  behind in our repayments of debt. Before you know it  the black hole of red ink is bigger and bigger and a financial crisis ensues. It may not even be over indulgence, an accident, illness, job strike or layoff are all set backs that can cause debt stress. Credit cards, line of credit or mortgage payments  it does not matter which , non payment is not healthy.

If you work with an advisor or live in a perfect world  you’ve got an emergency fund set aside, that  3 to 6 month cushion of funds you can live on or use to get back on track. Many of us in the real world however live pay check to paycheck or have only a small amount of savings  ( usually in the form of an RRSP) .  Knowing  how to budget   , which expenses to cut ,  how to access any other potential resources  and where to get help can make a real difference in your financial survival.

Budgeting only works if you keep it simple and short term. Too often good intentions are derailed by that over whelming long term look at where you want to be in 5 or 10 years . Here are five tips to help you start  your budget

Step 1  keep track of all your spending  for 2 weeks , especially  the non essential spending, the where how and why  will help you understand your spending habits

Step 2 Get your money’s worth  !  review expenses like  telephone, cable, bank fees  are you using all the features you pay for?  Can you do with less  or find it somewhere else for less?

Step 3 Prioritize    cover the essentials first   rent/mortgage, groceries, travel, saving fund ( yes savings   pay your self  the sooner you start  the better off you will be )

Step 4  Envelope/Jar     setting aside money for the week for groceries, gas and entertainment  will help you not to overspend    research shows  using  debit and credit cards  leads to overspending   its just too easy    bank once a week and use cash

Step 5  Proactive saving    you know when your taxes are due or when the car needs servicing  so set aside money on a monthly basis for these periodic expenses


Quite often those in financial stress find it difficult to ask for or find help. Its really important  to access the correct service to help you get a handle on your situation. That could be learning better money management skills or having someone help you develop and maintain a repayment plan for your debts. In some  cases it could even involve intervention with creditors  to reduce interest  and schedule repayment.  I recently attended a networking event  where I was introduced to a group who could help people do just that. We are fortunate in the Eastern Ontarios area to have a great credit counseling group but there are many such groups doing credit counseling across the country.

K3C Credit Counselling is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1967 dedicated to helping people achieve financial stability. Their mission is to provide credit counseling as a social service in the public interest  to the people of the communities they serve.  A Debt Management Program and educational Budgeting and Money Management program can help those on that slippery slope of debt.

They can’t perform miracles  but have the people to help clients make the most informed decisions about their finances.  Here are a few signs you may need their help

You have cash flow difficulties

You are using pay day lenders

You need to pay your Student loans

You are thinking about bankruptcy

You no longer answer the phone due to collection calls

You need help planning a big purchase or budgeting

You are combining incomes/debts  with a partner

You want an honest evaluation of your situation


Too often in my practice I hear about  people who have too much debt. I cannot help those people plan and save for retirement or even a rainy day until the debt is serviced !   If you find yourself nodding yes   to many of the above statements  maybe its time to find some credit counseling help.

Please note this is for informational purposes only, Heather Lang/CedarlaneFinancial Consulting/FundEX Investments Inc. have no referral arrangement with K3C  and are not responsible for any actions  beyond this information piece .

Visit for a free assessment of your financial picture


Its a LEAP year !!

RRSP deadline for contributions for 2011  is FEB 29 2012

Those that are making monthly contributions at the begining of the month will miss one. So contact your advisor now if you would like your full years contributions to be made !!

Heather’s picks really !!

Welcome to  2012 !


Well its that time again , the resolution time. How many of us will make and break the same old plans for the coming year ?    That’s  the trouble with the same old plans  we actually set our selves up for failure.  Lets try something different this year , lets think differently. Easier said than done right!

It all starts with education  or financial literacy as I call it.  I am a big fan of reading , anything  everything.

One of my latest is  The Wealthy Barber Returns. I actually liked this one better than the original Wealthy Barber.  The return is more like a conversation with David Chilton.  As the front of the book says  Significantly older, marginally wiser  Chilton’s  book covers his insights into saving, spending and borrowing as well as some of his personal reflections on personal finance.  The  dilemma  of  pay down mortgage , RRSP versus TFSA, leverage, estate planning  and the insurance explanation are all covered  from his unique perspective.  What I loved best of all were the life lessons contained in the text , yes life lessons.  Be greatfull, do not covent, start early ,save  and my favorite  beware the credit card .  For those of us struggling with personal finance ( or even those who don’t)  this is a hand book of what to do and why. 

Another highly recommended book for finance that more of us  will need in the future is  50 Biggest  Estate  Planning Mistakes and how to avoid them by Jean Blacklock and Sarah Kruger.  The demographics of today suggest  that in the future many of us will be dealing either with our parents  estates or  thinking about our own.  Who do you want your hard earned dollars to go to when you are done with them? 

I am a big fan also of David Bach. The Automatic Millionarie  and his  Finish Rich series are well written and easy read. Simple and doable  David’s program can put anyone  on the path to financial success.

Soon enough it will be tax time as well.  101 Tax Secrets for Canadians by tax expert Tim Cestnick is updated every two years and is actually a readable text on tax.   Your Family’s Money  by Jerry White and Tim Cestnick  provides advice on budgeting, investment , insurance and tax planning strategies.

One of the books that really changed my thinking on money was by millionaire Robert Kiyosaki. Rich Dad Poor Dad is the story of Robert’s financial upbringing by two very different mentors. His own educated but poor Dad and  the father of a friend  successful and rich.  Definitely  from an American  perspective  Robert’s insights into how money works are a game changer for those looking to control their financial future.  He as well is all about improving your financial intelligence as he calls it. His recommended reading list includes  The Warren Buffet Way by Robert Hagstrom,  Trump.The  Art of the Deal by Donald Trump  and Beating the Street by Peter Lynch


For more Canadian insights  check out these blogs ;,, ,


 Funny how leadership is more about changing  yourself than the people around you. To help with the thinking part  I also read a lot of personal development books . I recently finished Resolved, 13 resolutions for LIFE, by Orrin Woodward.  Orrin is one of the top 20 leadership gurus in the world and the author of many leadership  or personal development books. 

Thats my resolution for the new year   even more reading !

Happy Holidays

Will be back in the New Year with more posts and information

until then enjoy the blessings of the season   and wishing you good health, happy heart and fabulous friends and family to share it with .



Welcome to the new and improved Cedarlane Financial Consulting  web site!

I hope you find the updated version refreshing and easy to navigate. Life is a journey and depending on the roads we take along the way  it can be a highway ride  ,smooth and comfortable  or  a backwoods  gravel nightmare ! Its my hope that  the information you find here helps you stay  on the highway to success  whatever your definition of that is .


Identity Theft   a question of when not if ??


Identity theft is one of the fastest growing  crimes in North America . According to a study by the US Federal Trade Commission more that 10 million  people were victimized in 2003.   By 2009  1 in 4 of us in Canada have been affected. Almost 25% of victims of new account theft or fraud did not discover the misuse of information for at least 6 months after it started.  Criminals these days are using increasingly creative methods to gain access to our financial records and resources. Several forms of theft can leave a person’s ID  stripped and useless to them, devastate their credit  , mortgage  ID theft or  even  commit crimes in their name .  Victims of such a crime are often left with an emotional toll as well as a financial cost.  It only takes the criminal’s minutes to retrieve the information they need in some cases while it could take the victim  years to regain their identity or credit score. Most of the focus has been on the theft of credit cards or bank cards  but the are other types of ID theft from drivers license, medical information, social security number, character or criminal identity. How do they do it?  Ingenious thieves have many methods and are coming up with new ones every day  but here is a short list of a few of the common ones.

Dumpster diving  –   they simply sort thru a persons trash or recycling , most often retail businesses are prime targets  , pre approved credit offers, prescriptions, old checks, receipts, employee records 

The solution   Shred !


Mail theft –  its old fashioned  but it works , do not leave mail in your box for any length of time

Phishing and Pharming  – a more high tech version of the above , consumers are duped into revealing personal information such as passwords , pin numbers,  SIN or account numbers by a bogus email or web site

keep this information safe !  try not to keep it all in one place

Hackers or domain spoofers can steal information on the internet

remember data transferred across the internet can be intercepted  and the thieves often don’t need much information to complete their job

Skimming – credit cards run through a skimmer to read the information  and create clone cards to use

Sophisticated ones  use fake fronts over  ATM or bank  machines   , machines which just swipe cards are the most vunerable to this


Experts estimate the typical identity theft victim will spend on average $ 1500  and spend countless hours to replace stolen ID cards and the many other problems caused by this growing epidemic. Whether you are a victim today or in the future  you may  need: access to legal counsel,  investigators ,ongoing credit monitoring  and professional restoration.  There is no blue print for dealing with these crimes  but there are several companies  that specialize in protection ,prevention and remediation .

For more information on ID theft  and How to prevent it  contact

Sandra Valks    1 888 323 7272      svalks.ppl@gmail .com

check out this link   it has a great educational video


Everything You Wanted to Know About Insurance and Were Afraid to Ask

CONSUMER PROTECTION This booklet is published by the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA). The CLHIA is a national trade association that represents the collective interests of its member life and health insurers, which together account for 99 per cent of Canada’s life and health insurance business. © Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc., 2009 March 2009 Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. Association canadienne des compagnies d’assurances de personnes inc.

Click on link below to download the PDF booklet.$file/Brochure_Guide_To_Life_ENG.pdf



Mutual funds  provided through FundEX Investments Inc.


Are you Literate???

It appears many of us Canadians are not. Many of the experts in the field agree that the lack of financial literacy among most of us is contributing to broader economic issues, such as the current household-debt crisis in this country.

Finance Minister Flaherty in his recent budget apparently listened to the Feb. 9, 2011 Task Force on Financial Literacy presentation and is taking small  but forward steps to correct the issue.

The education system teaches little to nothing about practical personal finance. We are constantly faced with real-life decisions requiring at least some degree of financial know how. Sadly, not enough Canadians use professional financial advice to make sound financial decisions—a strategy which can greatly improve one’s overall situation now and in retirement.

We are all familiar with the basics of good physical health: eating right, regular exercise, not smoking, and a good night’s sleep, yet many have forgotten the basics of good financial health such as saving and living within your means. While not everyone is expected to know and understand the complex nature of some financial products like hedge funds, understanding a few key concepts can help one make better financial decisions.

Borrowing—Knowing the difference between good debt and bad

High-limit credit cards or pay-later schemes make it easy to fund those needs and wants, but does the purchase make sense for today and tomorrow—is it truly a need? Or a self-satisfying want that could be delayed or denied, there is a place and time for borrowing where is does make more sense, i.e., car, home education.

Budgeting—Personal finance

Living within a budget does not necessarily mean doing without or having no fun, it is making the most of what you have. A well-defined budget is little more than organizing where money goes to be spent, day-to-day expenses, short-term savings, repayment of debt, and retirement savings.

Retirement—Plan your own future

With more and more companies abandoning pension plans, and more self-employed people than ever, we can no longer rely on government, union or employers to provide for us when our working days are over.

Make your retirement plan automatic and start; start early, it’s amazing how fast a small steady contribution into a RRSP or TFSA can build up.

Investing—risk versus reward

Most real-life financial decisions require an understanding of this concept, many have only a vague notion of how this plays out in the various financial products presented to them.

What are the different financial products available to us? How do they work, what are the fees? What are the trade-offs or pros and cons for each age and stage for investors?

These are important questions that need to be asked so sometimes being literate is more about asking the right questions.

So where to go for good advice? Remember that many financial institutions such as banks or credit unions may have potential conflicts of interest but they are a good starting point for some basics. Most products and services are sold with disclosures but there is a limit to how much these actually help a consumer. Here are a few good resources to get you started down the path to financial literacy and freedom:

Task Force on Financial Literacy

Practical Money Skills Canada

Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy

Advocis  Financial Advisors Association of Canada

Investment Funds Institute of Canada          



10 Non-Financial Tips for Retirement

There seems to be plenty of advice for the financial aspects of retirement. Many of the investment companies have retirement calculators available on their websites to help you figure out how much and where to save money for the day you no longer have to or want to work.

But what about all those non-financial aspects—and just what is retirement these days? For many it’s not about stopping work but it’s changing it! From full time to part time, from salary to contract, from a life-long career to a passion with perks. More than 7 million Baby Boomers are headed towards retirement.

With that comes the questions not just about if they will have enough money to retire but what they want to do the rest of their lives, and that could be as much as thirty more years according to many of the statistics today.

Here are some tips and suggestions to ponder as you plan for your retirement years:

1 Life’s more than money. Start thinking seriously about what retirement really means to you at least ten years before the projected retirement date.

2 Make life plans. Its as important to plan the non-financial aspect of retirement by considering what will make you happy. Maybe it will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, cruising the Alaskan fjords or writing the next great novel, it could be going into business for yourself or expanding volunteer activities. Make a life plan and tick off your experiences as you move ahead.

3 Find a purpose. Find something on an ongoing basis that provides you with joy and structure to your life. As mentioned above, it could be travel, hobbies or even new career training and education.

4 Keep sharp. An active brain is a healthy brain. You may feel the need to replace the stimulation of work. Try learning a foreign language or musical instrument, go to a local college and take a night course on anything! Never had time for a pet? Now you do.

5 Volunteer. Getting involved in the community is a great way to give back, as well as a wonderful opportunity to interact and meet new people.

6 Develop new friendships. A measure of whether people have a successful retirement is the strength of their social network that includes family and friends.

7 Spousal input. Retirement often means a shared experience. Therefore make time to share your dreams with your spouse—you may be surprised to learn he/she wants to join you on Mount Kilimanjaro.

8 Remain healthy. There’s an old saying “a lean horse for a long race”. This means eating well, watching your weight, and remaining physically active.

9 Financial stability. If you can’t afford to retire yet, consider partial retirement which could include working part time at your current job or finding something new and exciting from which you can earn some money.

10 What’s next in your life ?  Go to one of many helpful web sites such as to locate non financial planning tools


Retirement and planning calculators for the financial aspects can be found on websites by

Mackenzie Investments

Franklin Templeton



On My Way!

I have passed the first hurdle in completing my Certified Financial Planners designation.

I am now considered a Registered Candidate for the CFP marks. All of us who wrote the first exam and passed will be lauded in an upcoming Globe and Mail article. The tough part yet to come. We must complete a capstone course and pass another final exam.  Looking forward to the challenge and the information. The materials covered in the previous four courses covered everything from tax and estate planning to family law. It was fabulous and I found it really useful in my own practice. So it’s on to the capstone course for me.

Almost there !

Roughly two weeks of study time left before the first big exam. The Financial Planning Standards Council has set the bar high. If (when) I pass this one, I have to take another cap stone course and challenge another exam in June 2011.

The web site has some good information for clients as well as planners and is worth a look. Besides a great explanation of the hows and whys of a CFP designation the site provides great tips on selecting an advisor  and how those who use advisors come out way ahead of those who do not.

Fall is that time to put the flower beds to rest and clean up the yard. On those days when it’s not so nice it’s also a super opportunity to clean up that desk, organize the files and catch up your books. It’s never too early to prepare for that April tax time.  A tax heads up can help you decide how much and if , contributions to RRSPs or TFSA s  are the way to go this year.

So check out