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January/February 2011

Commentary - Hans H. Mathisen

I'm sorry, but until further notice, my usual commentary will not be available. However, I can still provide you the valuable benefits and financial insight of LIFE LETTER and LIFE LETTER MATURE:

Credit card tips and tricks - LIFE LETTER for January offers a few credit card tactics to help keep us from sliding into that bottomless pit of consumer debt.

What if I suffer a critical illness? - February's LIFE LETTER discusses critical illness insurance, as well as the financial and emotional problems associated with a life changing illness or recovery period.

LIFE LETTER MATURE - asks the questions "Will your estate have enough cash" and "What if I need long term care"?

Hans Mathisen





Credit card tips and tricks

Statistics Canada recently announced that the Canadian debt-to-income ratio hit a record 148.1%. This means that for every $10,000 of earnings, we average $14,810 of debt. Yes, that also means that many actually carry far, far more than that.

With interest rates at record lows and the very easy availability of credit, it can be easy to slip into the bottomless pit of consumer debt. At most professional sports venues, we get offered a "free" item, like a shirt, blanket or toque, simply for applying for another credit card, usually with our favorite team's logo on it. But what can we do? Consider the following credit card tactics:

Avoid the minimum payment - Credit card issuers are now required to disclose more to their cardholders regarding time to pay. For example, Greg received his statement for $5,075.23 of purchases. The statement clearly indicates that the interest rate charged if he doesn't pay the full amount by the due date will be 19.99%. It also states, "If you make only the Minimum Payment each month, we estimate it will take 42 years and 4 months to fully repay the outstanding balance."

Choose a card with benefits for you - To encourage us to use the credits cards offered to us, lenders offer a number of incentives. If you are going to use a credit card, there might as well be something in it for you. Choose a card that gives you "points" or "cashback," or one with a fixed, low interest rate. Use the latter if you are carrying a balance from month to month and don't have better borrowing options.

Avoid carrying a balance - It can be so easy to fall into the trap of keeping up with the neighbors - buying things we don't really need with money we don't really have to impress people we don't really like. It is very important to know that if you do not pay the full balance by the due date, any new purchases on the card start getting charged interest (remember the 19.99%?) from the date of purchase.

Avoid cards with annual fees - Some credit cards come with a yearly charge just for the privilege of using it. The issuer charges each merchant a small percentage of every credit card purchase, so there really isn't a need to charge this annual fee. However, some credit cards that offer certain bonus points may still be a good value if the volume of purchases and points earned far outweigh the yearly extra charge. For example, Leanne runs a small business and charges all her business expenses on a credit card that earns her travel points. She pays the balance every month, on time, and earns enough points to cover the cost of her family winter getaway every year.

Time larger purchases - This means being aware of each credit card's closing date. Let's say you are going to buy some new furniture. The statement period for the credit card you will use (and earn points with) ends on the 7th of the month, but payment isn't due until the 29th. Making the purchase on or shortly after the 8th of the month will actually give you free use of the lender's money for up to 51 days, as long as you pay the full balance on the due date. Consider arranging a future payment for the day before the due date as soon as you get your bill.


Want help reaching your financial goals?

Call Hans Mathisen today at (306)242-7042.
or email -

Copyright © 2011 Life Letter. All rights reserved

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What if I suffer a critical illness?

Many falsely believe that they will not be victims of a critical illness like cancer, heart attack or stroke. They also believe that if they do experience a serious illness the healthcare system will look after them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It took Darren, 36, almost 3 years and dozens of chemotherapy sessions to beat his cancer. His wife, Jolene, covered most of the bills during his recovery period. He was too weak to return to his old job and had to take a lesser paying position. It has been very stressful for Darren and Jolene to make ends meet on less income and to pay off the debts that piled up while Darren was recovering.

Sean owns a small business. In spite of his healthy, active lifestyle, it came as an enormous shock when he was diagnosed with cancer. Sean decided to take a year off work to beat this disease and recover from treatments. His employees were concerned about his health and recovery, but they were more concerned with how Sean's being away from the business would affect their jobs.

Sarah, a working mother with two young children, had a stroke. It wasn't a severe one, but the road to recovery was long and difficult. Her disability insurance paid a monthly benefit that helped with the daily living expenses. Her husband, Adam, took a leave of absence from work to look after Sarah, the kids and their home. Of course this was unpaid leave.

Mike lived a fast-paced, high pressure lifestyle. It paid off for him one day by giving him a heart attack. This event was a wake-up call for Mike and forced him to make some life changes. These changes included taking extra unpaid time off and putting in shorter hours once he returned to work.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 52% of all cancer victims survive more than five years. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada tells us that 90% of heart attack victims survive 30 days, and 75% of stroke victims survive the initial event. Medical science has made it far more likely of surviving a critical illness than ever before.

The opportunity exists for you to reduce the financial drain from happening to you and your family should you become seriously ill. It's called Critical Illness Insurance, which can provide tax-free cash you can use for your recovery.

There are no restrictions placed on how you use the insurance proceeds. You decide how best to use the money. If you don't need it for new or unexpected expenses, maybe an extended vacation will help you recover from your ordeal more quickly. Would not having the burden of mortgage payments for a few years help make your recovery less stressful?

If you contract one of the diseases or conditions specified in your Critical Illness Insurance policy, you receive a lump sum of up to $2,000,000. The exact amount will depend on the coverage you choose. Critical Illness Insurance pays a benefit even if you are still able to work and can cover a long list of illnesses and conditions.

Critical Illness Insurance - because its the right thing to do.

Call Hans Mathisen today at (306)242-7042.
or email -

Copyright 2011 Life Letter. All rights reserved

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Mathisen Financial, Inc.
335 Redberry Road
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 4W5
Bus. (306) 242-7042 Fax. (306) 242-4314