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Should you rent or buy your home?

Cityline | posted Wednesday, Jul 20th, 2016

Buying a home is a dream for many, but it might not always be the most realistic choice. Personal finance expert Bruce Sellery explains the pros and cons of buying or renting a home in today’s housing market.

Financial factors to consider when buying include:

  • The price of the house
  • Amortization in years
  • Condo fees
  • Property taxes
  • Utilities
  • Maintenance – paint, roof, appliances, etc.
  • Renovations
  • Price appreciation – how much will the price increase?
  • Duration: how long will you live there? Real estate commission: five per cent of the sale price ($600,000 house is $30,000 thousand).

Other important factors to consider when thinking about buying a home:

  • It is a trade-off. For example, if you want a walk-in closet, is it worth sacrificing a vacation in the sun?
  • The bank will calculate what you can afford based on whether you will default on the loan – they do not consider any other investments such as retirement savings, kids’ education or any personal luxuries.

Financial factors to consider when renting include:

  • Price of rent
  • Investment return – you have to invest that money, how much will it earn?

The advantages of owning a home include:

  • Forced savings: you might not pay your credit cards or your car loan, but you will pay your mortgage.
  • Nesting: some people just want to own and fix their place up just the way they want it.

The advantages of renting include:

  • It is cheaper – it can cost less, depending on where you live.
  • It is worry-free – if you have a good landlord, you can call them when the roof leaks.
  • It is flexible – you’re 27 years old, you can accept a job and move across the country at a moment’s notice.  It is way harder to do it if you own.
  • It can free up capital – a senior without a pension.  If all your money is in your house, how are you going to pay for groceries?

Courtesy of Cityline

How to simplify your holiday wrapping

Cityline | posted Thursday, Nov 26th, 2015

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Love holiday shopping but dread the wrapping part? Chatelaine‘s design expert Samantha Pynn helps us make gift wrapping easy!

Before you get started, Samantha says you need to have 5 key things to make a simple yet elegant wrapped gift:

  1. Neutral wrapping paper
  2. Ribbon
  3. Tags
  4. Stamp
  5. Accessories

Got your essentials? Now watch Samantha’s video below for all of her wrapping tips!

How to boost your immune system naturally

Cityline | posted Thursday, Nov 5th, 2015

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With cold and flu season around the corner, it is important to keep your immune system strong and your body in tiptop shape. By doing so, you will have a far better chance of fighting off any nasty bugs that you may be exposed to over the next fall and winter months.

What is the immune system?
In short, the immune system is a combination of cells and organs that work together to help you avoid sickness and disease, which can lead to coughs, colds and flus. The immune system can be likened to a powerful army that has various weapons such as anti-bodies and white blood cells. When an invader “attacks” in the form of a bacteria, virus or allergenic food, a response is issued by the immune system to protect your body. Conditions such as sleep deprivation, stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and an excess intake of alcohol can weaken the immune system response and leave you susceptible to getting sick.

Can I improve my immune system?
Yes! Absolutely – your immune system can be strengthened (or weakened) by various food and lifestyle approaches. To keep your immune system function strong, simply implement a few of the steps below:

Go for garlic: Garlic is an immune boosting superstar. Eaten in raw form or in capsule form, research has shown garlic to be a very powerful preventative agent against coughs, colds and chest infections during the winter months. Odorless garlic capsules are available at your local health food store.

Get your zzzz’s: Sleep is the time where your body repairs and re-builds. If you are sleep deprived or suffer from interrupted sleep, the immune system can become depressed and an increase of inflammatory chemicals can occur. In order to get some sound sleep, opt for lavender on your pillow, sleep in a room that is completely dark, and avoid watching TV before bed.

Supplement with vitamin D: Canadians who live in colder climates typically have limited sunny months and can become deficient in the immune-boosting vitamin D. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, people with low levels of vitamin D are more susceptible to catching colds. For supplementation reasons, most experts suggest supplementing with a minimum of 1000 IU per day.

Avoid white sugar: Eating too much white sugar can cause fatigue, weight gain and can suppress immune system function. An excess amount of white sugar found in pop, candy and other refined food dampens your white blood cell response, referred to as your leucocytic index response. White blood cells are part of the “army” that the immune system uses to ensure harmful microbes such as bacteria or viruses do not grab hold. Instead of eating white sugar, turn to natural sweet foods such as berries, mangos, apples, apple sauce and naturally dried fruit for a healthier type of snack.

Additional immune boosting tips include:

  • Hydrate with a minimum of 2 liters of water per day.
  • Add probiotics (“good bacteria”) into your daily diet such as those found in yogurt or in capsule form.
  • Be with your friends! Research show those who socialize and spend time with loved ones enjoy better health and longevity.
  • Lighten up your eating. When you are under the weather, your body does not actually have to eat a lot of food. If you do fall ill this winter, drink warm liquids and eat organic chicken soup until you feel stronger.
  • Remember to wash your hands! Infections can be transmitted via contact such as sneezing, coughing or touching surfaces that have been sneezed or coughed on.
  • Boost your vitamin C intake by eating citrus fruits and broccoli, as well as in supplement form.
  • Sweat it out: Engage in physical activity on a regular basis to reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone that when over secreted by the adrenal glands, can cause your immune system to weaken.

Thinking about getting the flu vaccine this year? Cityline guest expert Dr. Joelene Huber recently talked about the vaccine on Breakfast Television Toronto — watch the video below to learn more.

Courtesy Dr. Joey Shulman
drjoey.com

Quick tips to simplify your routine and stay healthy for fall

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Sep 22nd, 2015

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Trying to get back on track with your health for fall? Follow Dr. Joey Shulman‘s quick tips for you and your family to stay healthy all year long!

Tip #1: Eat healthy snacks
Having healthy snacks on hand are great for keeping you and your family on a healthy track. Make sure you always have healthy options whether you’re on-the-go or at home, such as nuts, fruit, or healthy bars. Also check out some nut-free snacks to pack for school lunches.

Tip #2: Get organized
Being organized is vital when you’re planning to stay on track. Plan out lunches and dinners ahead of time with your children (or just for you!) to make grocery shopping a lot easier. Planning ahead can also help your kids get excited for meals.

Tip #3: Stay hydrated
Buying a water bottle that you like will make you more likely to drink more water throughout the day. Always keep an empty one in your bag, in the car, or at the office.

Tip #4: Wash your hands
As back-to-school time approaches, so does flu season. Make sure you and your kids are staying healthy by washing your hands before and after meals. Try to also have hand sanitizer at your disposal in case you don’t have access to a sink.

For Joey’s 7 healthy fall recipes, click here.

20 easy nut-free snack recipes your kids will love

Cityline | posted Thursday, Sep 3rd, 2015

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Need some new snack ideas for the school year? We’ve rounded up our favourite recipes that fit perfectly into lunch boxes, and best of all, they’re all school-safe and nut-free!

Pina-Colada-MuffinsMuffins and banana bread are a perfect afternoon snack, or an on-the-go breakfast! We love these tropical pina colada muffins, these hearty raspberry oat bran muffins, and these yummy blueberry-lemon streusel crunch muffins which are a delicious twist on a classic. If you’re a banana bread fan, try this super healthy (and easy!) spelt and chocolate banana bread.

Want to sneak a few more fruits & veggies into your kids’ lunch? We love these risotto, spinach and kale cakes and these three fresh fruit salsas.

Granola bars are easy to pick up at the grocery store, but if you make them at home they’ll be cheaper, healthier, and even more delicious! You can also personalize the ingredients to match your child’s favourite flavours. For a sweet and salty mix, try these chocolate-pretzel granola bars! For something more traditional, we love these cranberry granola balls. And if you need a boost of energy, these power crisp treats will do the trick.

mar4-chickpeasLooking for a bit of crunch, without all the fat and salt of potato chips? Try these sweet and spicy maple-cinnamon roasted chickpeas or apple chips!

Cookies are always a popular snack choice for kids of any age (and adults, too)! If you don’t have any dietary concerns to consider, try our ultimate chocolate chip cookie or our classic oatmeal raisin cookie. Can’t eat gluten? Try our gluten-free crispy and chewy chocolate chip cookies!

Dips are a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies! Cut up their favourite crudités (or try our easy buttery edamame!) and pair them with our creamy roasted sweet potato & white bean dip, our Mexican-inspired black bean and sweet corn guacamole dip, or our homemade hummus with roasted red peppers.

What’s your go-to school snack? Let us know if you whip up one of our recipes by posting a photo on your social media accounts with the hashtag #mycityline!

How to budget for post-secondary school

Cityline | posted Tuesday, Sep 1st, 2015

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Do you know someone who is heading off to post-secondary for the first time? Or maybe they’ve gone before and just need a little help with their spending. Either way, finance expert Bruce Sellery has some great tips that will help students keep on track as they enter the next chapter of their lives! Check out the video below for more tips from Bruce.

Make a budget
Start by making a budget that is tangible by writing it out on paper or on your computer. Next, show it to an adult! This will help you to get feedback, to become accountable for it, and if you need to ask for some financial help at a later date, it’ll prove you’re being responsible by having a plan. Your budget should be broken down like so:

  • Expenses: this includes school costs (tuition, books, transportation, rent) and life costs (smartphone, meals)
  • Revenue: this can include RESP, scholarships, student loans, summer job savings, and/or money from mom and dad

Make sure you pay attention to what costs are monthly vs. a one-time annual cost (textbooks) and only include guaranteed revenue, as opposed to money that you hope might come in.

Address the gap
It isn’t likely that your budget will balance out the first time, and that’s okay. To address the gap between expenses and revenue, look at your budget early on and figure out a solution that works for you whether it be buying used textbooks, taking out a loan, or checking out the financial aid department to see if there are grants available.

Be wary of marketers
As a student, you’re an easy target for marketers on campus. Whether they’re tying to sell you a credit card or school spirit wear, just be smart with your spending and look at what you do and don’t need.

Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses
Post-secondary schools have a wide variety of students that come from different backgrounds with different budgets. Make sure you are prioritizing your needs with your budget rather than trying to keep up with your peers.

Backpack hacks: your list of essentials

Cityline | posted Thursday, Aug 27th, 2015

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Apart from the notebooks and binders, what else does your child need to have packed when walking through the classroom door? These backpack essentials are items you might not think of at first, but can be incredibly useful for your child throughout the year. Keep in mind that you don’t want to overload the backpack to the point where it gets too heavy! Look for the following items in travel-sized packages, and bring your kids with you when you shop so they can pick out their favourite colours.

Tissues: Not only are tissues great for cold season, they can also be used for cleaning up spills or when your child’s allergies act up. Look for travel packs at your local drugstore or grocery store.

Hand sanitizer: Everyone knows that germs spread quick, especially at school. Apart from making sure your kids are washing their hands, give them a travel-sized hand sanitizer for the bus or for field trips.

Pencil case: This one is inevitable for school! Make sure you aren’t forgetting a pencil sharpener or extra lead if need be.

Emergency change: It might be a good idea to pack an emergency change pouch, in case your child runs out of bus tickets or forgets their lunch at home.

Hair elastics: Extra hair elastics are useful for pulling your hair back for gym class, keeping together loose Tupperware, or as a makeshift key chain in case your child’s breaks.

EpiPen: If your children have allergies, make sure they have an EpiPen on hand, or any other medications they may need to take at school.

Water bottle: Drinking water is important for your daily health! Pack a water bottle for your child to help promote drinking water regularly (plus, a reusable bottle is the best choice for the environment!).

Do you have a backpack essential not listed here? Post it in the comments below!

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