3 min read

Do I really need to start saving for my child’s education this early?

By Kyle Conahan on Sep 1, 2022 12:03:22 PM

Whats the Big Deal?

The news coming out of the USA that up to $10,000 of student debt was being eliminated for most students by the government has dominated the news these days as we once again approach the beginning of school.

And it’s no wonder why that’s such a big deal as post-secondary costs continue to rise not just in the USA, but right here in Canada.

Topics: Financial Literacy RESP Financial Advice Financial Planning
2 min read

The 5 Best Ways to Raise Your Credit Score

By Sarah Bujacz on Jul 28, 2022 8:45:00 AM

As life continues to return to “normal”, whatever this new normal looks like, we are seeing an increase in people asking about improving their credit score. Your credit score may have been impacted throughout the pandemic for a variety of reasons, but let’s focus on moving forward and improving it.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Credit Financial Advice Truly Local Articles
4 min read

I’m a millennial who grew up in Niagara. Will I ever be able to buy a home here?

By Sarah Bujacz on May 31, 2022 3:31:54 PM

The Reality

It seems that every day we read how expensive housing is becoming in Niagara and beyond. 

If you’re not hearing about it as you scroll through Instagram or TikTok, you might hear from your parents or relatives about how much their home is now worth, and how you should buy a house before it’s “too late”.

Because we all have $100,000 sitting in a savings account ready for a down payment, right?

Topics: Financial Advice Buying a home First Time Home Buyers Truly Local Articles
2 min read

5 reasons to choose a Credit Union

By PenFinancial Credit Union on Nov 16, 2021 1:34:11 PM

When it comes to personal finances, Canadians have a lot of choices. It can be overwhelming. While there are plenty of options to choose from, have you considered a credit union?

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Budget Financial Advice Financial Planning
4 min read

Should I pay off my mortgage or invest more?

By Thomas Rathonyi on Jun 24, 2021 9:58:21 AM

With the current low mortgage rates, I am finding a lot of my members have the same question: should I try pay down my mortgage faster, or should I start/continue investing in my future? My answer is always the same: it depends! The reason I cannot give a definitive answer is due to the number of factors that make each of us unique. In this blog, I would like to share some of the factors I consider when giving advice to my members, and I am hoping I am able to help more people make the decision that is right for them.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Budget Financial Advice Financial Planning
4 min read

Why is everything so expensive?

By Trevor Lagerwerf on May 10, 2021 3:20:03 PM

Do you remember the good old days: $5 footlongs at Subway, Toonie Tuesdays at KFC or a BigMac extra value meal for less than $5? The price of these delicious meals long ago versus the prices now are examples of inflation. Sadly, this has drastically affected my fast food addiction. In this blog, I am going to do my best to describe inflation, how it can hurt your future self and some options you have available to reduce its effects.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Budget Financial Advice Financial Planning
4 min read

Protect yourself from the wolf in sheep's clothing

By Mike Bertrand on Mar 1, 2021 10:01:47 AM

Fraud. It includes a lot of faking. Fake companies and employees. Fake messages or emails. Fake fines or balances. All of that faking can amount to real problems. Financial fraud can result in lost money, added stress, and more embarrassment than most would like to admit.

Topics: Fraud Prevention Truly Local Articles
3 min read

Stop ducking and start 2021 with a plan

By Thomas Rathonyi on Jan 11, 2021 3:48:25 PM

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” So said Benjamin Franklin, who didn’t have to live through 2020 and eat his way through 32 pounds of home-baked bread. But he was on to something. What he suggested was that we should deal with a problem by putting in a bit of time and planning upfront, instead of constantly ducking like we’re living in a real-life game of whack-a-mole.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Budget Financial Advice Financial Planning
4 min read

Planting roots in Niagara

By Kerry Ould on Nov 30, 2020 5:00:55 PM

Recent events have created an opportunity for many people to re-examine where they choose to call home.  With the increase in our ability to work remotely, no longer are we tied to the big cities - so suddenly the world is our oyster. Combine this with a desire to slow down and rethink what's truly important to us, and you have the perfect motivation to pack up the kids and find your utopia.  

For me, this also included packing up a horse and a couple of cats and moving to Niagara to enjoy the country life. I couldn't be happier I did it. 

Topics: Buying a home Truly Local Articles
5 min read

Gift giving that gives back

By Kerry Ould on Nov 19, 2020 4:17:20 PM

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s hard to know exactly how this year’s festivities will play out. You may be looking forward to celebrating with a big meal and your little family. Or maybe you’re going to share a drink with friends via video call… and show off the elf outfit you bought your dog. Whatever your plans, the holidays and gift giving are sure to be a little different in 2020.

Topics: Small Business Truly Local Articles Social Responsibility
3 min read

5 Ways to improve your credit score

By PenFinancial Credit Union on Jun 22, 2020 9:31:08 AM

Credit is a staple in our modern world. And many of us have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic over recent months. As businesses begin to open up, we thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss some ways to improve your credit score. Gone are the days of buying a home with two bags of flour and a handshake. You need credit to qualify for big-ticket items like cars and homes, and often for smaller items, like mobile phones. Your credit score determines whether financial institutions and other lenders will give you money for such purchases.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Credit
4 min read

What should I do with my investments?

By Linda Larouche on May 7, 2020 12:25:34 PM

The global pandemic has changed our lives. As we stay home and adjust our lives to suit our new physical and financial realities, many of us are wondering about our financial future. Every week I hear from Members asking important questions: What will happen to my investments? How can I plan for life after the COVID-19 crisis? The good news is you can plan for life after the pandemic.

Topics: Financial Advice Investing Advice Financial Planning
3 min read

Weathering the storm during COVID-19

By Jim Risko on Apr 2, 2020 3:47:02 PM

The global pandemic has brought many changes to our community. As we settle into our new "normal," whether it's school closures, social distancing measures, or job loss, what is certain is the ripple effects of COVID-19 will continue for some time.

One thing our Members can count on amidst the uncertainty is that as a values-based credit union, PenFinancial is always committed to improving the lives of our members and strengthening our communities. This turbulent time is no different.

3 min read

Responsible investing: Giving back and getting more

By Sarah Bujacz on Mar 12, 2020 2:10:58 PM

Have you heard of responsible investing (RI)? Maybe you’ve heard of socially responsible investing, or sustainable, impact, or ethical investing. They’re all the same great idea: a type of investing that aligns your values with your money to give back.

Topics: Investing Advice Truly Local Articles Social Responsibility
2 min read

Funding your child’s future: Canada Learning Bond

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Nov 14, 2019 1:43:04 PM

Saving for your children’s education can be tricky. For low-income families it can be even trickier. The Canadian government has a program to help those families: the Canada Learning Bond (CLB).

Topics: Saving for the Future RESP
3 min read


By Trevor Lagerwerf on Oct 7, 2019 1:38:10 PM

From our previous blogs What is a TFSA, really? and What is an RRSP? you can learn both offer tax advantages to help you reach your savings goals.

Topics: Saving for the Future Retirement Planning TFSA RRSP
4 min read

What is an RRSP?

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Sep 25, 2019 5:25:25 PM

An RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is a type of account you can use to defer income taxes until you retire, when you will theoretically have less income. Similarly to a TFSA, there are different types of investments you can direct your plan towards, including mutual funds and GICs. You are allowed to contribute 18% of your earned income such as salary, commission, bonuses and business income to your plan each year, up to an annual maximum determined by the Government. This contribution room accumulates if you don’t use it.

Topics: Retirement Planning RRSP Investing Advice
4 min read

What is a Tax-Free Savings Account, really?

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Sep 17, 2019 3:16:50 PM

A Tax-Free Savings Account, or TFSA for short, is a registered account that was launched by the Federal Government in 2009 with the goal of helping you grow your savings without paying taxes on the interest or investment income you earn. Although they’re tax-free, the government keeps track of your contributions and the earnings you accrue on your investment. It’s a bit of a deceiving name choice as there are many different investments you can hold inside a TFSA, aside from a savings account. You may hold as many TFSA contracts (or accounts) as you want, as long as you do not exceed the cumulative contribution limit. Let me break it down:

Topics: Saving for the Future TFSA Investing Advice
3 min read

How the First Time Home Buyer Incentive can help

By Jim Risko on Sep 2, 2019 12:01:26 AM

Looking to buy your first home? You aren’t alone. Young people all over Canada are looking for a way to move on up from basement rentals. But, like many Millennials, you’re probably on a tight budget. Well, this is your lucky year! In its 2019 federal budget, the Government of Canada announced a way to help you: the First Time Home Buyer Incentive.

Topics: Mortgages Buying a home First Time Home Buyers
3 min read

Living with your investments and yourself post-retirement

By Trevor Lagerwerf on May 26, 2019 5:19:50 PM

At PenFinancial, we know that retirement is both a goal and a destination. I meet many people that have planned for how to get to retirement, but have no idea what to do with their finances or their time when they get there. They struggle to answer when I ask what their plans are for retirement. Some say they’ll enjoy staying home every day. It may sound great for a while. Lounging in your robe and not having to deal with coworkers is great. But what happens when you start to go stir crazy? What happens when you want more from your retirement? Staying home every day isn’t as great when you don’t have enough money to do anything…or any idea of what you want to do.

Topics: Saving for the Future RRSP Investing Advice Financial Planning
3 min read

Curveballs and dreams: Investing in your pre-retirement years

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Apr 25, 2019 10:16:07 AM

As a kid, I thought that hitting a baseball would be easy. Until I tried to hit a curveball. I wanted that homerun. So I had to learn how to adapt to the ball that was thrown at me. Then I had to learn how to hit a fastball. With each pitch, I learned it wasn’t about just hitting a baseball, or avoiding being hit by that baseball! It was about hitting the baseballs I was thrown. And running the bases with all my heart.

Topics: Retirement Planning Financial Advice Investing Advice Financial Planning
5 min read

Learning and becoming involved: How to be an empowered young investor

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Mar 30, 2019 4:12:39 PM

Ben Franklin said, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." When I found that quote I realized something: it sums up PenFinancial’s wealth advising nicely, especially for young investors. We offer a personalized education to empower you and help you achieve your dreams.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Budget Financial Advice Financial Planning
4 min read

So, what exactly is a Wealth Advisor?

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Feb 7, 2019 1:17:27 PM

The banking world is full of helpers and specialists. Member Services Representatives. Financial Services Specialists. Wealth Advisors. The list goes on. Who are these people and what do they do? Well, that depends where you go!

Topics: Financial Advice Financial Planning
3 min read

Tips for First Time Home Buyers

By PenFinancial Credit Union on May 3, 2018 12:17:38 PM

5 Things you need to know before you buy your first home

Are you ready to make the leap from renter to homeowner? You’ve saved your nickels. You’ve been watching the housing market and found a neighbourhood you like. You’ve gotten tired of lugging groceries up 6 flights of stairs every time your elevator is out. Buying your first home is an exciting time. It is also a huge decision. Here are the five things you should think about before you buy.

Topics: Mortgages
3 min read

Building blocks for your future: Learning to invest in your 30s

By Chris Heckley on Apr 10, 2018 7:26:08 PM

Welcome to your 30s! You’ll be spending less money on fun and more money on necessities. You’ll be spending less time with friends and more time at work. Your 30s are a time defined by one thing: change.

Topics: Saving for the Future Personal Budget Financial Planning
3 min read

Small Business accounting: Count on it being important

By Shane Chipman on Mar 1, 2018 3:51:56 AM

It’s everyone’s favourite time of the year: tax time! Get ready for the banners and balloons and celebrations… or hide your paperwork in the closet and hope the receipts magically sort themselves out. That sounds more realistic! You may want to hide from your finances, but you can gain a lot by dedicating adequate time and resources to bookkeeping and accounting. This is particularly true for business owners.

Topics: Small Business
4 min read

When is it time to switch financial institutions?

By Shane Chipman on Jan 12, 2018 1:01:51 PM

Financial institutions are not all created equal and neither are their Members.  As a member of the team at PenFinancial Credit Union, I get to see how unique our Members and their needs are and how we can help them everyday. 

Topics: Small Business Credit Unions
5 min read

Cold feet and a warm financial plan

By Catherine Palmer on Oct 13, 2017 1:26:08 PM

Millennials. Gen-X & Y’ers. Baby boomers. Canada is a mosaic filled with diverse cultures and multiple generations of wisdom. I was reminded of this recently when a member met with me to plan for her joint finances with her common-law husband. Did you automatically picture a young person sitting across from me? Bright-eyed and rosy cheeked and damned if she was going to make the same mistakes as her mother? You’d be wrong. Debbie was a 56-year-old divorced woman who had “shacked up” with her new partner, Ron, a year earlier. It seems that millennials aren’t the only ones skipping the walk down the aisle these days.

Topics: Financial Planning
2 min read

Living on coffee, hope, and noodles: Budgeting for student life

By PenFinancial Credit Union on Aug 27, 2017 1:17:30 AM

After your parent’s made you read Catherine’s blog on how to fund post-secondary education, you may think you’re all set for school.

Topics: Personal Budget
4 min read

Finances and the other F word: Fraud and your money

By Jason McSpadden on Jul 24, 2017 12:25:59 PM

Have you ever wondered how people fall for fraud scams? Well, it’s a lot easier than you may think, and it can have you using a few other choice F words if it happens to you. In our busy, automated world, it is easy to accidentally click on a pop-up ad, open a random spam or phishing message, or download an infected file. You may think you’re replying to an online shopping order confirmation, but with a simple click, you may download malware that accesses your personal data or unwittingly share information with a scammer.

Topics: Fraud Prevention
3 min read

Vacationing on Veranda Beach: Where to escape and explore in Niagara

By Catherine Palmer on May 18, 2017 12:21:21 PM

Finally – Spring has sprung in Niagara. Birds are chirping. Plants are growing. Mud is everywhere. Warmer winds are blowing. But when we look out our front windows at the sun on our verandas, we can imagine the glory of summer. And the fun of summer vacations! 

Topics: Saving for the Future Personal Budget
3 min read

Solve your banking woes: Trust a credit union

By Claire on Apr 18, 2017 12:15:43 PM

A growing problem

Many Canadians trust their finances – and a large portion of their livelihood – to one of five major banks in Canada. They trust the banks, and their employees, to offer solid advice and good products and services to manage their money.

Topics: Credit Unions Truly Local Articles
4 min read

Women in business in Niagara. It’s awesome.

By Claire on Mar 23, 2017 12:03:36 PM

Fun fact: I’m a woman. And I work in business in Niagara. There are a lot of us here in this fair region. You’ve probably seen us running small businesses. Working in retail and service jobs. We’re pretty versatile and hard working. If I do say so myself!

Topics: Small Business
5 min read

Holiday gifts that keep on giving

By Catherine Palmer on Dec 19, 2016 10:16:47 AM

I believe in social responsibility and values. As a credit union employee, I get to put those values into action every day. I help members achieve their financial dreams.  I educate and empower my community. I get to skip through rows of pine trees and chop down the best Charlie Brown tree to decorate my office. Ok, that may not be a credit-union sanctioned activity, but it is fun!

Topics: Managing Debt Financial Planning
3 min read

The power of financial literacy: Breaking the cycle of poverty

By Chris Heckley on Nov 29, 2016 1:03:09 AM

Team ENERGI is changing lives. ENERGI stands for “Enterprise Niagara for Employment Resources and ‘Green’ Initiatives” – and a whole lot more. Since 2009, the Team ENERGI program has delivered life skills workshops, employment supports, and hands-on work experience to youth facing barriers to employment in Niagara.

Topics: Financial Literacy Truly Local Articles
4 min read

Never Have I Ever: The financial edition

By PenFinancial Credit Union on Nov 17, 2016 12:42:33 AM

Let’s play a game that you may have seen on Ellen: Never Have I Ever. Raise your hand (and hide behind it if you have to) if any of these apply to you!

Topics: Financial Literacy
2 min read

Investing 101: Socially responsible investing

By Chris Heckley on Nov 2, 2016 6:22:13 PM

Investing:  [verb] confusing process involving magic and midwifery, in which your money is swept away today with the hopes of producing more money in the future. See related terms: dreams, confusion, fees, retirement, and future.

Topics: Investing Advice Truly Local Articles Social Responsibility
3 min read

Making the most out of post-secondary education

By Catherine Palmer on Sep 19, 2016 12:53:39 PM

They’ve picked their program. They’ve said goodbye to their high school friends. They’re excited to kick start their future at college or university. They’re also a bit nervous.

Topics: Personal Budget RESP
4 min read

Investment strategies: Empowering yourself

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Aug 9, 2016 11:52:50 AM

Investing: [verb] confusing process involving magic and midwifery, in which your money is swept away today with the hopes of producing more money in the future. See related terms: dreams, confusion, fees, retirement, and future.

Topics: Financial Advice Investing Advice
3 min read

Investing 101: Explaining the magic

By Trevor Lagerwerf on Jul 26, 2016 4:40:29 PM

Investing: [verb] confusing process involving magic and midwifery, in which your money is swept away today with the hopes of producing more money in the future. See related terms: dreams, confusion, fees, retirement, and future.

Topics: TFSA RRSP Investing Advice Financial Planning
5 min read

Hawks, vultures, elephants, oh my: Predatory lenders vs. credit unions

By PenFinancial Credit Union on Jun 1, 2016 12:35:38 AM

It happens to the best of us: poor credit. It isn’t hard to develop. One unpaid $100 mobile phone bill and 4 years later, and your credit history is poor enough to make a banker shut their laptop so fast it blows your hair back. No loans for you. No mortgage.  No line of credit. No further questions.

Topics: Financial Literacy Personal Credit Managing Debt Financial Planning
5 min read

Tax refunds: Putting the F-U-N back in tax season

By Catherine Palmer on May 19, 2016 6:43:24 PM

It’s the happiest time of the year! The trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, and your income tax returns are due. Ok, tax season may not seem like a good time, but hear me out – there are plenty of positives associated with filing your taxes.

Topics: Tax Planning
4 min read

Be a squirrel: Budgeting tips from our bushy-tailed friends

By Chris Heckley on May 9, 2016 1:29:04 PM

Budgeting tips from your mother

This weekend was the big day: Mother’s Day. The day all moms look forward to as their annual chance to live like queens…or the day they don’t have to do quite as many household chores. Let’s be realistic, that’s probably what happened.

Topics: Personal Budget Financial Planning
3 min read

Planning for the end of the rainbow

By Chris Heckley on Mar 17, 2016 1:21:25 PM

March: a time of great commitments. Commitment to spring breaks. Commitment to cold weather complaining and spring dreaming. Commitment to shamrock headbands and “Kiss me — my father’s second cousin was Irish!” shirts. But you don’t need to rely on the luck of the Irish to save for your retirement.

Topics: Saving for the Future Retirement Planning Financial Planning
4 min read

Frankly Scarlett, you should give a damn!

By Catherine Palmer on Mar 9, 2016 5:31:07 PM

The winds in Niagara are blustery this month, and they were really whipping around as I attended the International Women’s Day event. I braved the winds because I was excited to attend this annual event put on by the Women in Niagara council. The event is a great opportunity to empower, educate, and celebrate women. Kind of like I do everyday, but in this venue with a room full of inspiring women.

Topics: Financial Literacy Financial Planning
3 min read

Debt is not a dirty word

By Catherine Palmer on Feb 10, 2016 6:12:24 AM

March: the month that Niagara residents carry spring coats and parkas in their cars because the weather changes hourly. The month when green occasionally appears on the ground and more often in local pubs on the 17th. The month when debt worries become overwhelming because it is well past Christmas and you still haven’t paid down what you’d hope to on your credit cards. Ok, that last one may not appear in your Facebook feed, but take a gander at the bankruptcy trustee billboards that sprouted like dandelions on your neighbours lawn. Debt is a big issue in Niagara and you are not alone if you count it among your daily struggles.

Topics: Managing Debt Financial Planning
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