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March/April 2008

Commentary - Hans H. Mathisen

What to do when you've had a car accident - LIFE LETTER for March suggests this: Do you carry a pad and a writing instrument that works in your car? And a camera? This is simple, down-to-earth advice.

The basics of financial planning - LIFE LETTER for April sets the record straight.
How many of these points are part of your financial plan? Is it time for you to
revisit your financial plan?

LIFE LETTER MATURE - Exercise is recommended for all, but maybe even more for those of us who are over 55. And Beware of "tax-free cash from RRSPs " schemes applies to us all. Not only to seniors. Beware!

THE STOCK MARKETS - It appears that the world-wide reaction to the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis is over. The decline of the major indexes have abated. As of
March 31, the year-to-date performance of the major indexes are: S&P TSX is
at -3.49%; Dow Jones stands at -7.55%; S&P 500 is down 9.92%; and NASDAQ has fallen 14.07%. In Europe, the situation is worse: Germany's DAX is down 18.99%; France's CAC 40 declined 16.16%; and England's FTSE 100 fell 11.69%. In Asia, Japan's NIKKEI declined 19.53%; and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 17.85%.

The fact that the Canadian S&P TSX Index is down less than all other major
indexes in the world may not impress you. After all, the Canadian market is
down by 3.49%.

But, look at the other side of the coin: Where else in the world would your
investment have fared better than in Canada?

Hans Mathisen





What to do when you've had a car accident

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, there are about
160,000 car accidents each year, resulting in 2,800 to 2,900 fatalities.
The vast majority of collisions are relatively minor with the drivers
nvolved being able to "walk away" or drive their vehicles from the scene.

Unfortunately, some drivers try to avoid their responsibility when involved
in a collision. Here are some things you can do to protect your rights and
make the handling of the aftermath of a car accident go more smoothly:

Write it down - Start by carrying a pad of paper and mechanical pencil
in your vehicle. Pens can run out of ink or freeze up in winter and wooden
pencil tips can break off. If you are involved in a collision and are not
seriously injured, make notes about and draw diagrams of the incident.
Often the settling of a car accident comes down to "she said he said" and
you will be in a better position if you have made notes.

The information you record should include:
- Date and time of collision. This can be important in determining if the
other driver involved may have been using their cellular telephone at the time.

- Location of collision. The street address, intersection roads or highway
location should be written down. Diagram the location of the collision,
the directions of the vehicles involved and the final location of vehicles
after they have stopped.

- Driving conditions. Were the streets dry and clear, wet, or snow and ice
covered? Was it sunny or cloudy? Was it raining or snowing at the time? Was
it windy or calm? Were there any obstructions?

- Names, addresses and telephone numbers. Record this information of all
people involved including drivers, passengers and witnesses.

- Drivers licences, insurance and registration cards. These documents
verify identities and insurance information. Make sure the registration
matches the licence plate on the vehicle. - Licence plates, VIN and vehicle
number. A licence plate and registration are easy to switch between vehicles,
but the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is not. Confirm that the numbers
match. If a company vehicle is involved and has identifying marks or is
numbered, record them.

A thousand words - Most cellular telephones have built-in digital cameras.
Small cameras are also very affordable. Take pictures, as many as you can.
The pictures you take should include all angles of the accident site, the
vehicles involved and the damages, licence plates, identifying markings and
numbers of company vehicles, and occupants of the vehicles.

Don't sign - Even though a collision is minor and people think they are unhurt,
soft-tissue injuries may take a few days to appear. Don't sign away your rights
to make a claim later.

Report the collision to the police. Note that damages may
have to be a certain estimated dollar amount before police will accept a report.
Sometimes a driver or vehicle owner may try to "settle" the damages without
involving the authorities or the insurance company and deny involvement later.
Notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.

Want help with your lifestyle protection needs?

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

Copyright 2008 Life Letter. All rights reserved

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The basics of financial planning

Before a sky scraper can reach for the clouds, it needs a very strong foundation.
Once the building is complete, the foundation is virtually unseen. The same goes
for our financial plans. Following are the basics of a strong financial foundation:

Budget - Governments and businesses use budgets to properly allocate resources.
It's known as good business. A budget can help you figure out where your hard
earned income is going and to identify ways to cut spending or increase savings.

Rainy day and opportunity fund - Unforeseen emergencies and opportunities catch far too many of us by surprise. Such things as job loss, major repairs or
investment opportunities are much easier to deal with if we have the funds
available at the time. Debt is not a good way to handle these events. A minimum
of three months income is recommended. Six to twelve months is even better.

Insurance - Various forms of insurance are generally the most efficient ways
to manage risk. The costs of car accidents, property damage or loss, death,
sickness or injury, and medical and dental expenses can be offset with proper
insurance coverage.

Manage credit card debt - Credit is easier to get now than ever before. However, credit cards usually have very high interest rates if the bill is not paid by the due date. If you are carrying a balance, stop using the card until the debt is paid as new purchases start attracting interest charges as soon as they are made. Consider a low interest consolidation loan. Get into the habit of not carrying a balance. Yes, that means saving the money to make a purchase rather than financing it with a high interest credit card.

Pay yourself first - It's your money. Why give it all away before trying to save what's left, if any? It's easy to set up a monthly savings plan that withdraws the deposit each month from your bank account. Adjust the amount as your income changes. A payroll deduction RRSP works well because contributions are made before taxes are deducted.

Set goals - How can we expect to hit a target if we don't know where to
aim? Establish a financial plan to identify the steps necessary to reach your goals.
Review your plan on a regular basis or whenever there is a major change in your
situation. Don't make your goals too easy to reach.

Tax efficiency - Take advantage of as many tax savings as you can. Some may not seem like much of a savings, but a few percentage points can make a big difference over time.

Estate plan - The cornerstone of a proper estate plan is the preparation of several important legal documents. These include:

- A Will, which deals with all of your affairs when you
die. A few hundred dollars today can save your beneficiaries thousands in the future.
- An Enduring Power of Attorney, which deals with your financial affairs when you cannot.
- A Personal Directive, or Living Will, which deals with your health care affairs
when you cannot.

Want help with your financial plans ?

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

Copyright 2008 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