A Guide for First-Time Home Buyers

Written by: Jennifer Sullivan | Member Advice Specialist | Parkhill Branch

Are you considering buying your first home? Do you feel like you have a lot of questions and are unsure about how to navigate the mortgage and home financing process?

Mainstreet advisors are experts in providing you with mortgage advice and can help walk you through this exciting time and the necessary steps when purchasing your first home.

Here are a few important first steps when considering buying your first home.

Down payment and closing costs

In Canada, your down payment must be between 5-20% of the home’s total purchase price. If you have saved 20% or more you can avoid paying mortgage default insurance. Any down-payment under 20% is subject to taxable lender protection insurance. Premiums are based on both the down payment and the size of the mortgage. Note: If your down payment has been gifted, it must be accompanied by a letter stating that. 

Another item to consider as a first-time homebuyer is government programs that are available to assist with your down payment. The Home Buyers Plan (HBP) allows you to access funds from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to put towards the purchase of your first home. There is also the First Time Home Buyers Incentive which offers 5 or 10% of the home’s purchase price as an addition to your down-payment. If you are interested in any government programs we can discuss this together at your mortgage appointment.

With saving funds for your home purchase in mind, don’t forget to budget and save for added closing costs. Closing costs are not a factor that initially comes to mind as a first-time homebuyer. These costs include legal fees for your lawyer, title insurance, taxes, inspections, and appraisals. Closing costs can quickly add up, so make sure to include this in your savings plan.

Pre-Approval

A great first step on your journey to preparing to buy your first home is to speak to a Mainstreet mortgage expert by booking an appointment online, visiting a branch, or speaking to a Member Experience Centre (MEC) representative.  Gather your supporting documents and bring them to your meeting. Together we’ll discuss your home-buying goal, review your financial background/credit, and determine the best price range for your income and budget that suits your needs. After the pre-approval meeting, it’s happy house-hunting! Don’t fear your Mainstreet mortgage, a financial expert will be by your side from start to finish, available for questions as you need us by email, phone, or in person.

As first-time home buyers we know this can be an overwhelming experience, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek advice. All of us at Mainstreet Credit Union are here to help our members and you realize your home-buying dream.

Am I Retirement Ready?

Written by: Marc Pranger – RIS, QAFP™ | Wealth Management Advisor | Mainstreet Credit Union |
Credential Asset Management Inc. | Chatham

As a financial and wealth planner I am frequently asked the question “am I retirement ready?” Every time I’m asked this, I wish I could offer this person an easy answer. Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as a specific dollar amount or age that makes you automatically “retirement ready” – it truly differs person-to-person. A big consideration though as to when financially you may be ready to retire is your lifestyle and how much it costs. More specifically, how you plan to live out and enjoy your retirement years.

If you have the travel bug and want to see the world, you very likely need a different amount saved for your retirement compared to someone looking to spend their golden years on hobbies like reading or spending time with loved ones.

Despite not being able to provide a ‘one size fits all’ approach and answer, I do have a solution. It involves capturing a snapshot of your current pre-retirement spending. By taking a moment to understand what you spend on your current lifestyle, you can then remove items that you plan on no longer paying for once retired (i.e. mortgage or student loans, work related expenses, childcare costs, etc.) and add in the expected costs that will be part of your retirement like that travel fund, golfing or other recreation costs, hobbies, in-home support, etc.

Upon completing your list, you will have a good idea of the amount you will need to spend to live your ideal retirement life.

In retirement, your income may come from multiple sources – not just your personal savings. You might have a pension with your employer, and you may also qualify for annual retirement income dollars from the government via the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). As you plan for retirement it is important to review your retirement income sources and the amount each will provide you. From there, we can calculate the surplus or shortfall between your retirement income and the amount you will need to spend to live your ideal retirement life (while factoring in inflation that will occur over the years).
To assist in determining your retirement income surplus or shortfall, a helpful tool you can use at home is Mainstreet’s Retirement Planning Calculator found on our website.

If you are wondering if you are retirement ready, connect with a Mainstreet Advisor. We can assist you with creating a savings and financial plan to achieve your goals, prepare you financially for the retirement you envision, provide a second opinion on existing investments, and discuss different product solutions that are the right fit for you and your goals from RRSP’s and TFSA’s to virtual wealth and online investment solutions. Take the first step today to prepare for your journey of tomorrow.

TFSA: Short-Term vs. Long-Term Savings

Written by: Braeden Nicholson | Wealth Management Advisor | Mainstreet Credit Union |
Credential Asset Management Inc. | Sarnia-Lambton Region


A Tax-Free Savings Account is a great versatile tool that can be used for many mid-to long-range saving needs and goals throughout your lifetime, including saving for retirement.

There are many reasons why anyone aged 18 and older should open a TFSA and take advantage of this great tax-free savings opportunity.


Benefits of a TFSA

Your money grows and compounds, for any timeline that fits your situation, tax-free.
Your savings and interest are not subject to income tax.
Unlike an RRSP, a TFSA does not provide tax benefits when you save/contribute to it; however with a TFSA you are not taxed when you withdraw funds from it which can be beneficial for all ages, not just those looking to reduce their taxable income now.
You can easily access your savings and withdraw funds from your TFSA at any time, and tax-free.
With a TFSA there are no mandatory withdrawals. You can withdraw from it when it suits you. An RRSP in comparison requires you by age 71 to begin to withdraw from it.
Like an RRSP, you have many options for how to invest your TFSA savings, including: bonds, individual stocks, mutual funds, index funds, GICs, and a savings account (cash).
Annual contribution limits are the same for all individuals over the age of 18, regardless of income level.
TFSA’s began in 2009, for anyone age 18 or older. If you did not contribute the maximum amount any/each year, that unused amount carries forward and you can contribute that amount at a later time to your TFSA. To determine your available contribution room, login online to your MyCRA, or by call the Tax Information Phone Service (TIPS) at 1-800-267-6999.
TFSA withdrawals do not affect government income sources such as OAS, CPP or GIS, since withdrawals are not taxable. It can benefit the holder of the account to set up a withdrawal plan to best suit their needs.


Note: Don’t forget to designate a beneficiary on your TFSA account to ensure your estate wishes can be executed in the most tax-efficient manner.


A Mainstreet and Credential Asset Management Inc. Advisor can help you with: setting up your TFSA account and savings plan, recommend a TFSA investment plan that is best suited to your needs and achieving goals. For further information or to open an account: book a meeting with an advisor or visit our website.


Mutual funds are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc. The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete. This material is for informational and educational purposes and it is not intended to provide specific advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, tax or similar matters.

What is an RDSP?

Written by: Delia Terpstra | Wealth Management Advisor | Strathroy Admin

An RDSP is a Registered Disability Savings Plan that is intended to help parents, guardians and qualifying participants save money for the welfare and financial well-being of someone with a disability. 

How does it work?

An RDSP is a tax-deferred savings vehicle that allows the holder to invest up to $200,000 over the lifetime of the plan. The federal government will match anywhere from 100%- 300% of your investment depending on the investor’s household income, or the income of the beneficiary if they are over 18 to a maximum yearly amount.

Simply opening an RDSP can help to qualify you for $1000 annually paid to your RDSP, depending on your income.

Who can open an RDSP?

To open and RDSP you must qualify for the disability tax credit (DTC).

Other requirements for eligibility include;

  • Canadian resident at the time the RDSP is open
  • Under the age of 60 (unless transferring from another RDSP)

Am I eligible to receive grants?

In order to be eligible to receive government grants you must meet the following criteria;

  • You must be under the age of 49
  • You must be a resident of Canada
  • You must have a social insurance number
  • You must be eligible for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)
  • Up-to-date filing of your tax return. If under the age of 18, parents or guardians must file their income tax returns for the past 2 years and future years

How will an RDSP affect my Ontario Disability Support Program?

At this time the RDSP payments do not affect your eligibility or the amount of money you receive for income support from ODSP.

See website regarding this: Financial eligibility: Treatment of income (gov.on.ca)

How much grant money in available?

The maximum grant you can receive through Canadian Disabilities Service Grant (CDSG) is $70,000 up until the end of the year the beneficiary turns 49.

The maximum Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB) you can receive is $20,000.

For more RDSP information visit this website: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individuals/topics/registered-disability-savings-plan-rdsp/canada-disability-savings-grant-canada-disability-savings-bond.html

How can I set up an RDSP?

To set up a RDSP, you can book an appointment with one of our knowledgeable Credential Asset Management Inc. Wealth Management Advisors at Mainstreet here.

Mutual funds are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc. The information contained in this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, we cannot guarantee that it is accurate or complete. This material is for informational and educational purposes and it is not intended to provide specific advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, tax or similar matters.

Top 10 Things to know about Mainstreet Online Banking

By: Jodi Ritzer | Member Experience Supervisor | Chatham

Get the most out of our online banking service with the following top 10 tips and tricks:

1. To be able to see the password you have entered, you can click on the ‘eyeball’ icon on the right side of the Personal Access Code field.

2. To set up a new debit card on your mobile banking app, open the app, click “log in” followed by “log into a different account” in the bottom left and fill in the account details. Be sure to check the remember me box for quicker access to this new log in. You can also delete any existing logins by selecting “manage login profiles” and clicking the trash can beside the account you wish to delete.

3. Did you know that you can deposit a cheque to your account by using our mobile banking app? Simply login to the app, touch Deposit on the home screen and follow the prompts. Note: Your cheque may be held for up to 5 business days after depositing. PRO TIP: write ‘deposited by phone’ and write the date on the back of the cheque so you don’t accidentally try to deposit it again.

4. If you have to pay business taxes (i.e.: current source deductions, corporate income tax, etc.), expand the ‘Payments’ menu and select Pay Business Taxes. You can remit and pay all in one spot!

5. Protect your account! Set-up Alerts so you can monitor your account access! In online banking desktop, click on Messages and Alerts, and select Manage Alerts, and on the Mobile Banking App, swipe left on the home screen and touch Alerts and then touch Manage. You can set alerts so you are notified immediately if someone tries to login to your account, sets up a new e-transfer recipient, sets up a new payee to your bill payments, and more!

6. You can add a new payee to your bill payments listing. Under the Payments heading, select Add/Delete Payees, then select Add Payee. You can search the company by name, or enter the type of business for a list of suggestions.

7. If you need to view account transactions older than 6 months, you can do this by clicking on My Accounts, then selecting View e-Statements. Select the year and month of the statement you wish to view. The information is available for 7 years!

8. Tax Receipts. Are you tired of waiting for your tax receipts to come in the mail? They are available online! Click on My Accounts, then select View e-Documents and select the receipt you want to view and/or print.

9. You can re-name your accounts! Are you saving for a car, a wedding or something else. You can label your accounts so you know which one is which! Click on My Accounts, then Rename Account, select the account you want to Rename, and label it!

10. Downloading your transactions to a bookkeeping program is easy! Go to My Accounts, View Account Activity, select the account you wish to download, then go to Export to… on the right side of your screen and select from the drop-down list of programs.

11. BONUS!!! You can get your account information for direct deposit or pre-authorized debit online! Click on the account for which you wish to get the information, it will then show on the top right side of your screen under the heading Account Details and will include your transit number, institution number and account number!

If you are looking for more helpful tips and tricks, visit a branch or speak with the team at Mainstreet Credit Union. We are here to help!

A Savings Strategy: Pay Yourself First

Written by: Lynda Edington | Financial Advisor | Sarnia (London Rd.) branch

You try to set aside money every paycheck for your savings but by the time you pay your bills, buy groceries, gas and go out for dinner a few times it feels like there is nothing left to save. Maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

First, know where your money goes.

Track your spending- whether it is using a spreadsheet, writing it down, or reviewing a few months of bank statements. This activity will help you understand where your money is going and may open your eyes to the real expenses of your day-to-day.

After reviewing your budget, the next step would be to set your financial goals…

Determine what you would like your money to provide for you. This could be the goal of early retirement, a family trip, building your emergency savings, the purchase of a new boat, or car, or other important life goals. Having a budget and measurable goals will help you know where you are going to allocate your paycheck.

Once these two steps are complete, we move into implementing your plan through a strategy we like to call “paying yourself first”.

Essentially, paying yourself first is a reverse budget. Which means you are treating your own savings like it’s a bi-weekly or monthly bill. Instead of saving what you have left, you are saving a specific amount first so that your financial goal can be reached in a set time frame.

For example, if you bring home $4,000.00 monthly, automatically save 15% ($600) towards savings. This will leave you $3,400.00 to pay your bills and make your goals a reality. The strategy of savings makes saving easy because you are no longer spending any time figuring out if you have any money left to save. Instead, you can be confident you are getting closer to your goal – as long as you stick to your budget.

We realize that paying yourself first or setting up a reverse budget may be tough, so we are here to help! The expertise of a Mainstreet Advisor can help get you on track and closer to where you need to be. We can meet with you to review your different goals, how to make them work best for you, and how investing may make them achievable sooner than you think. We can also help you set-up automatic withdrawals from your account every pay going to your savings so your pay yourself first savings happens automatically.

To get started reach out to a Financial Advisor at Mainstreet Credit Union today by calling us or book a meeting online.

Building a bright financial future for your child

Written by: Joan Battram & Linda Kew | Member Service Representatives | Parkhill Branch

When a child is born so many responsibilities come with raising this child. One thing that can easily be taken care of is their education. Opening an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan) could be one of the smartest decisions that you will make, however, there are a few details that you’ll want to understand prior to doing so.

An Education Savings Plan or Registered Educations Savings Plan (RESP) can help parents, family and friends save towards a child’s future post-secondary education.  At Mainstreet Credit Union we can assist you in not only understanding what an RESP is, but more importantly, how to personalize it to suit your needs.

Here are a few important tips that you’ll want to consider before opening an RESP:

Invest Early

The earlier you start, the less you would need to contribute each month. Invest early and watch the RESP grow with interest over time along with your kids.

Save What You Can Afford

The amount you save will be unique to you. Remember every little bit is a step in the right direction!

Be consistent

Set-up a monthly automatic contribution, even if it is a small amount, this way the savings happens without thought given how busy we all are.

Make it Flexible

You have options for education savings. Perhaps you want to look at a TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) which can be withdrawn tax free for any purpose and does not have to go towards education. Or perhaps an RESP family plan vs an individual plan to offer flexibility.

Gain More Than Just What You Put In

The government will add 20% annually to the first $2500 contributed, a $500 bonus every year!

Know Your Facts

The lifetime contribution limit for each beneficiary of a RESP plan is $50,000

Taking the first step of opening an RESP, or other savings plan for your child’s education, can help your child have more choices in life and set them up to achieve financial independence. It is never too late to start. Encourage children to save their earnings of cash gifts from family to add to the plan and start showing them how to get their money working to maximize opportunities for their future.

Note: Parents aren’t the only ones who can open an RESP for a child. If you have a grandchild, niece, or nephew, you can open an RESP for them. In fact, anyone can get an RESP for a child. You could even open an RESP for one of your friends’ children if you’re feeling generous!

Reach out to Mainstreet today to get started! Book a meeting with a Mainstreet advisor today.

Building a Financial Plan

Written by: Marc Pranger |Wealth Management Advisor | Credential Asset Management Inc. | Chatham branch

Financial planning is so important for our future, yet many of us find it to be a difficult process with not understanding the necessary steps to take or how to wade through the financial jargon. Taking care of our financial health is as important as taking care of our physical and mental health. Much like a coach creating a daily training plan for their team, we are here to create a financial plan that builds on your current scenario and guide you in realizing your goals and dreams.

What is a financial plan?

Simply put, a financial plan keeps you on track to achieving your needs, wants, and visions.  Having an expert who is invested in you is the key to success. At Mainstreet Credit Union, our advisors can help you determine your goals, and guide you on which goals to prioritize and when. Ensuring they are all specific, measurable and obtainable can help you navigate a budget, and find funds to put towards your goals. We want to help you ensure that your greatest asset- your income, is well managed and working for you.

What tools are right for me?

We are here to help educate and advise on the tools at your fingertips and how to use them to your advantage. Tools like Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) and Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), GICs, Mutual Funds*, and even do it yourself online brokerages* are among some of the products we can discuss with you. We will review their pros and cons as well as their tax efficiencies in regards to your unique financial plan.

Risk tolerance

This refers to how much market change and fluctuation someone is comfortable with for their investments. There are multiple factors that help us determine your individual risk tolerance and we then work closely with you to select investment options that suit your risk level, investment time frame, and ensure that you continue to maintain your lifestyle and ensure that your investment choices don’t keep you up at night.

Wealth Management Advisor’s can also assist you in breaking through barriers of tough conversations with your immediate and broader family, such as: estate planning and what happens if you were to pass away.

To get started on your financial planning journey book a meeting with one of Mainstreet’s Wealth Management Advisors online or call your nearest branch.

*Online brokerage services are offered through Qtrade Direct Investing, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Qtrade and Qtrade Direct Investing are trade names and trademarks of Aviso Wealth Inc. and its subsidiaries.

Mutual Funds and related financial planning services are offered through Credential Asset Management Inc.

Financial Goals- Short-Term, Mid-Term and Long-Term

By: Tiffany White | Sr. MSR | Mount Brydges

Annual financial planning with your financial advisor gives you the opportunity to review and update your goals and check-in on your progress to achieving them. It helps you reach financial goals that you want to achieve – short-term, mid-term and long-term. Let’s breakdown the difference between each type of goal.

Short-Term Financial Goals

Your short-term goals should consist of setting a budget, reducing your debt, and starting an emergency fund. There are plenty of free online budgeting tools to help you learn how to budget. Once you figure out a budget, it’s important to start thinking about how you can reduce your debt. If you have an overwhelming debt load, you may want to consider talking to an advisor about consolidating so that you can spend less on interest and pay it down quicker. You could then put that money saved towards some of your mid-term and long-term goals.

Mid-Term Financial Goals

Mid-term goals are what ties your short-term and long-term goals together. Some mid-term goals may be to finish paying off your student debt, saving for your wedding, saving for your first home, or even doing renovations to your current home. Keeping with your budget and paying off the majority of your debt during your short-term goals, will give you more cash flow to set aside into a savings account to make some of your mid-term goals a reality. Something that is often overlooked is to plan for the unexpected and ensure you have adequate and appropriate insurance for your needs (such as life and disability insurance). This way, if the unexpected happens, you are covered, which can offer you some peace of mind.

Long-Term Financial Goals

Some examples of long-term goals include: paying off your mortgage, saving for your child(ren)’s education, and retirement.

When you have children, you always feel like you have forever to start saving for their education fund; however, in a blink they are eighteen and graduating high school! Setting up an RESP as a long-term goal will help you prepare for that day, and lessen the burden of adding in the extra schooling expenses all at once.

A popular long-term goal is to be mortgage-free before retiring. Once that financial freedom happens, it allows you to set more money away, allowing you to enjoy your golden years to the fullest.

Lastly, saving for retirement is the most important long-term goal. When you are twenty with your first job, retirement seems so far away, but before you know it, the day is here! Setting up an RRSP at a young age ensures that you’ll have a more comfortable retirement and the financial freedom to enjoy it!

Meeting with your financial advisor and receiving financial advice and coaching to your goals regularly is essential in realizing your short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.

We can help. Book a meeting with an advisor today to get started.

How To Manage Your Side Hustle

Written by: Adele Mineau | Commercial and Agricultural Account Manager | Ailsa Craig & Parkhill branches

Side hustles have become a popular way of supplementing income from a full or part time job, and they’re only getting more common during the Covid-19 pandemic.

A good side hustle should be scalable, flexible, and well paying. Income can be used to pay-off debt, or put away more into savings, while doing something you love.

Some popular side hustle ideas are: tutoring or teaching a skill, renting out a property through Airbnb, selling arts or crafts, and podcasting or blogging.

When beginning your new business it’s best to think of it as its’ own entity:

Open a separate bank account that makes tracking the income and expenses easy for tax time.

Be sure to have a schedule. Are you going to devote an hour a day to your business, every Saturday, or is it seasonal?

Have a business plan with short-term and long-term goals with a timeline. How many students do you want to teach a day, how many crafts need to be for sale each month, how many days per week are you renting out the cottage?

Don’t spend money the buyer won’t see, only spend money where it improves the quality of your product or efficiency. Think about if you need supplies before you order them or can sell the extra items a new system would allow you to produce.

Keep administration and infrastructure simple. Can you get by with a spreadsheet and an invoice template?

Let Mainstreet know what kind of side hustle you are starting. We are interested in your ideas and can provide advice on how to begin, how to manage day to day, and how to grow.

Book a meeting with an advisor today to get started.