The Bank of Canada’s latest rate increase has raised the cost of borrowing as well as the importance of paying off debts.Credit cards often carry interest rates in the double digits, some of the most crippling in the debt world, so anyone carrying a balance on one should make it their top priority to pay off — even if the big banks’ decision to raise their prime rates doesn’t directly impact credit card rates, said Credit Counselling Society president Scott Hannah.“If a person is regularly carrying a balance on their credit card, that’s a problem,” he said.What the Bank of Canada rate hike means for your mortgage and savings accountLate payments set to rise on Canadians’ $599-billion of credit card, non-mortgage debt, Equifax predictsCanadians are starting to ease up on their household debt bingeAbout 44 per cent of Canadians are $200 a month or less away from financial insolvency, according to accounting firm MNP.Credit agency TransUnion said earlier this month that average non-mortgage debt stood at $29,312 per person, including an average credit card balance of $4,154. But about half of Canadians pay off their credit cards each month, so the burden is actually much higher for those who don’t.Tackling debt can seem daunting, and many consumers choose to ignore the problem by paying only the monthly minimum, but an honest financial self-assessment and some planning will pay dividends in the long run, said Hannah.Credit cards often carry interest rates in the double digits, some of the most crippling in the debt world, so anyone carrying a balance on one should make it their top priority to pay off. Elise Amendola/AP/The Canadian Press files Too many people get a consolidated loan only to dip into credit cards before it’s paid off, due to an emergency or perceived need, so the track record is important, said Hannah.“It takes a while if you’ve never done it before, to use a budget. You’re going to make mistakes,” he added.Establishing a proven budget and payment plan could also make it easier to get that consolidated loan once the groundwork has been laid.Online loans from less established lenders may appear to offer a seemingly cheaper rate, but Hannah warns that consumers should carefully review the terms. Actual rates can be much higher than those advertised, and can carry hefty penalties for things like late payments, so borrowers should be extra wary of the terms.Transferring balances to a low-interest credit card can cut interest payments, but doing so often triggers a balance transfer charge. The approach also still relies on credit cards, which Hannah says people need to give up altogether until they get out of debt.Sticking to a budget also means checking in regularly on progress, seeing those balances clock down, and having patience with the process, said Hannah.“Along the way you’ll have a few setbacks, because life is just cruel, we all have setbacks, so you have to be able to manage through those pieces.” The first step in taking on messy finances is to draw up a workable budget, with reasonable spending cuts, that’s not too restrictive, he said.“If your morning latte is a must-have, keep it, and look for other areas in your budget to scale back on.”Long-term planning and patience is important so that you actually stick to a plan. That includes putting money aside for expenses such as car repairs so that they can be paid with cash, rather than using a credit card and restarting the debt cycle, he said.“It’s why so many people fail with their New Year’s resolution to get out of debt real fast. It doesn’t work.”Reducing credit card debt also requires a personal strategy regarding how they’re going to be paid off, especially since the average client has four or five credit cards, but Hannah thinks it’s important to pick the card with the smallest balance and pay that off first.“Getting that win under your belt is really motivating.”Consolidation loans are an option as they will provide a single lower rate of interest, but Hannah recommends waiting until you establish a track record of sticking with a budget, which could take months or years.If your morning latte is a must-have, keep it, and look for other areas in your budget to scale back onScott Hannah, Credit Counselling Society president
If you’ve ever wanted to know what stomping on a seemingly endless supply of Concord grapes with bare feet feels like, you’re in luck.Brock University’s annual Homecoming Grape Stomp takes places this Friday, Sept. 20 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Brock’s Jubilee Court.Teams of students will compete for prizes by dressing up in costumes and stomping on a metric tonne of Concord grapes, with children from the Rosalind Blauer Centre for Child Care getting their feet dirty first by stomping on their own sections of grapes at noon.Approximately 700 Brock students will have the opportunity to participate in the tradition, which has been ranked No. 2 out of the top Canadian university traditions by University Affairs Magazine.While it is highly recommended to avoid consuming the grapes, the event will feature a free barbecue as well as live music.The annual event kicks off Brock’s Homecoming Weekend, which includes a full slate of activities from Sept. 20 to 22. Also on the calendar:Alumni Recognition ReceptionSaturday, Sept. 21, 11:30 a.m.Taking place in Brock’s Lowenberger Dining Hall, alumni who graduated either 25 or 50 years ago will be recognized. The event will also celebrate Greg Craig (BBA ’91) as the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by the Brock University Alumni Association. Brock’s Faculties will also present the Distinguished Faculty Graduate Awards.Goodman School of Business tours and barbecueSaturday, Sept. 21, Noon to 2 p.m.Barbecue lunch for Goodman School of Business graduates and tours of the remodeled classrooms and new technology being used in the Goodman School.CCOVI Wine and Cheese Speaker Series — Educate your SensesSaturday, Sept. 21, 2 p.m. / 3 p.m. / 4 p.m.Join Britt Dixon, CCOVI Communications Specialist and wine enthusiast, as she hosts celebrated Niagara winemakers for an educational session in the Roy T. Adams Bandshell at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. Each session features two wines paired with cheeses from the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. The cost is two tokens per session. Brock alumni will receive a free wine glass with registration and half-price seminars. Many of the featured winemakers are also Brock alumni.Brock Night at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Saturday, Sept. 21, 5 to 7 p.m.Back again for 2019 is the Brock VIP experience at the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. Brock alumni who have pre-purchased tickets will experience local wine and food while enjoying a panoramic view of Montebello Park from the elevated and covered Harvest Lounge.ReunionsSaturday, Sept. 21Among the reunions being held throughout the weekend are: Classes of 1969, 1994, 2009, 2014 and 2018.Brock SportsSaturday, Sept. 21Brock’s Alumni Field will host a pair of homecoming rugby games. The men play against Laurier at 1 p.m. with the women to play against Queen’s at 4 p.m.Sunday, Sept. 22For the second year, Brock will host Hometown Baseball at George Taylor Field. The men’s baseball team will play the Ontario Blue Jays in a community-focused game at 1 p.m. Gates open at noon with free Badgers baseball hats for the first 100 kids. There will also be facepainting and a family zone.A full list of Homecoming weekend events can be found on the Brock University website.