by Wendy Olson Brodeur, CFP, CFDS, CSC, Mediator


No matter who you talk to too, we all have regrets. Things we wished we would have done if only…


So out of the blue you find yourself or your family in a situation. A major health issue like cancer is definitely a life changing event. So let’s learn from others and let’s share our experience so we too can teach.

One situation that has always remained with me was a gal, a single Mom with young children who was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you may know, not all expenses or needs are covered. If you have not planned with strategies like Critical Illness, Long Term Care or have a group disability plan with work, you are faced with the stress of money. As many would think and say “I’ll just go to the bank for help”.  Well… think again!  They told her there was nothing they could do and that she perhaps might face foreclosure. Sad but true.

She was referred to us. We helped re-arrange her mortgage to reduce monthly obligations. We increased her cash flow monthly so she did have some extra money to deal with her situation. We helped her prioritize her spending and debt repayment. Do you know how much stress that released?  HUGE!! The great news was she survived, kept her home and has a financial plan in place for her and her children’s future.


So why didn’t she do something before she was hit over the head? I call it life’s priorities that are messed up. We do more planning for our vacations, purchase of a new outfit, flowers for our garden than we do for our money and financial future. According to a recent survey, 87% of Canadians wish they had made better financial decisions. Read more at:http://www.fpsc.ca/value-financial-planning/how-is-financial-stress-affecting-canadians

Some immediate solutions are listed below, in no particular order.

  • Get conscious with your cash flow. See worksheet from Article #1
  • Determine what are Needs vs. Wants. Be honest!
  • List your debt with the interest rates. Get help to determine what to pay, how much and in what order.
  • Consider consolidation.
  • Re-write your mortgage.
  • Get a line of credit with a lower rate to consolidate.
  • Consider debt counselling before bankruptcy.
  • Consider cashing out investments, but beware of tax implications and claw backs.
  • Apply to withdraw your LIRA early.
  • Make claims against all insurance policies you own.
  • Ask for compassionate leave for a loved one.
  • Stop contributing to investments for the time being.
  • Get professional help.
  • Ask for help.
  • Don’t take NO for an answer.
  • Never say never.


One of the biggest stressors for many is debt. The key is to not get into the rut of being a debt user. This may be unavoidable if you have not done some planning or if you are just one of the unlucky people who needs to learn one of life’s lessons. Respect money!

A mortgage will likely be one of our biggest debts. The key is to get one that fits with your life style, cash flow and emotions. Although, a variable rate mortgage, statistically speaking, is one of the less expensive in the long run, many people cannot handle the fact that the rate goes up and down with the prime rate, set by the banks and Bank of Canada. If you are on a lower fixed income, then knowing your payment for the next five (5) years may work best for you.

An alternative to financing a home is the option of using a Line of Credit, sometimes referred to as a HELOC  (Home Equity Line of Credit). The debt is still registered against your home, but you may also have an option to pay interest only. The con about this becomes apparent if you are not disciplined enough to pay the principle. You could get yourself on a never, never plan. On the positive side, it can give you the flexibility you need when cash flow might be challenged for a short while.

Try never to get in the habit of using unsecured debt. Why? The rates are high and the only one making money is the banks. I taught my children to do their cash flow and determine their budget. Then advised them to pay their card each month before spending money on food, gas, etc. Only then was it advisable to use their card. A credit card is only about convenience and points. Credit cards will never pay any interest or create a great credit rating.


Now that you have learned perhaps the hard way, please do not leave your financial future or your families to chance. Make the time to ponder about your future, the “what ifs”, the possibilities, the reality, the greatness, your legacy.


  1. Cash Flow, What are your Needs, Goals, Wants. Life is about choice not STUFF!
  2. Have an emergency account for future issues. Set up an automatic plan.
  3. Take a serious look at debt and how you use and/or abuse it. Do you need to change your thinking and spending? Get it paid ASAP.
  4. Review your Protection. Another name for Insurance;  Life, Disability, Critical Illness, Long Term Care, Health Spending Plans, Health Plans, Estate strategies using insurance, and more.
  5. Investment plan for your Goals of Retirement, Legacy, and some stuff! What makes better sense for you? RSP, TFSA, Leverage, Segregated Funds, Annuities, Flow through Shares????
  6.  At the end of the day….if you were to write your Eulogy…What would it say? Actually do that, write it, read it, think about it. It is a life changing activity and if you have cancer, could be your reality. How do you want to be remembered? Some say “It’s not what you buy, or say, it is about what you do.

Stay tuned for our next series on PROTECT WHAT??

About the Author:

Wendy’s mission is to Educate Enrich and Empower the people she serves!As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) she is trained and educated on all aspects of money.  She also specialises in Financial Divorce (CFDS), sometimes a reality for many.  To learn more about Wendy and her work, visit – www.wealthwellness.ca and www.tfds.ca.

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