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Saving for your First Home? What are your options?

By: Louai Bibi, Advisor Associate

So many Canadians are saving for their first home. Some of us might be on the brink of making that lifechanging purchase, others may still have some time ahead of them. Regardless of your timeline, we often ask ourselves questions like:

  • Should I invest this money?
  • What account suits my personal circumstance the best?
  • What are the pros & cons of each account?

I’ll preface by saying that if you are considering accessing your money within a 48-month window, we advise against investing in the market. While markets generally trend upwards most of the time (you might not feel like it if you started investing in 2022), we don’t have a crystal ball and we’d rather play it safe & ensure your hard-earned savings stay intact if markets happen to experience short-term volatility.

In terms of what accounts are available for first-time homebuyers, you have four great options:

  • A generic savings account
  • A tax-free savings account (TFSA)
  • A registered retirement savings account (RRSP)
  • A first home savings account (FHSA)

Your savings account is a great place to store your money when we’re on the brink of purchasing your home (think 48-month timeline, as we discussed above). The TFSA, RRSP, & FHSA all generally entail investing your money in the market. So how do you differentiate which account makes the most sense for you?

Well, let’s start with understanding what benefit each account offers a first-time home buyer:

The TFSA

The TFSA offers tax-free growth when you invest, so if your money grows from $50,000 to $100,000, you get to withdraw $100,000 tax-free, with no penalties and/or restrictions. This is pretty great in my eyes, as the last thing a first-time home buyer should be concerned with is taxes when they are going through an exciting life change. If you later decide purchasing a home no longer makes sense for you or that you need to push out your timeframe, you can keep trucking along & growing your wealth tax-free.

The RRSP

While primarily, used for retirement savings, first-time home buyer’s have an advantage when saving within this account. It’s widely known as the home buyer’s plan (HBP), which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP to put towards the purchase of your first home. Generally, when you withdraw from a RRSP, that amount is taxed as income. When a RRSP withdrawal is for your first home, you can withdraw this money tax-free. The catch is that after a couple years, you need to begin paying back 1/15th of the amount you withdrew from your RRSP over the next 15 years. By participating in the HBP, you’ve essentially loaned yourself those funds from your retirement savings & they slowly need to go back to your RRSP to later fund retirement. This isn’t a ground-breaking implication, but you earlier heard me mention that we don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know what the future holds & many homeowners are feeling the stress of higher interest rates impact their monthly payments. While a 1/15th of up to $35,000 per year may not feel suffocating to you while reading this, it certainly can add stress to the lives of others who are adjusting to the associated costs of home ownership.

The FHSA

This just launched in 2023 & the majority of financial institutions can’t even open these quite yet, as they are still building out the infrastructure required to be able to handle contributions, withdrawals & CRA reporting. This account shares a few characteristics that the TFSA & RRSP offer. You can contribute up to $8,000 per year (to a lifetime maximum of $40,000) and use these funds towards your home purchase tax-free. By the time 15 years has passed or you turn 71 years old (whichever comes first), you have the option of withdrawing these funds as cash, at which point it becomes taxable to you, or you can transfer the balance to your RRSP on a tax-deferred basis. While you are waiting for the FHSA accounts to be accessible at all financial institutions, you can save in a TFSA and/or RRSP & later transfer this account to the FHSA, with no tax implications.  Your contributions are tax-deductible just like your RRSP, which makes this unique from the TFSA.

Here are my favourite parts about this account:

  • Remember how I mentioned needing to repay 1/15th of your RRSP HBP withdrawal every year? This concept does not exist when you withdraw from the FHSA for your first home. There is no repayment schedule & I think that will put a lot of minds at ease, especially when we go through times where money is tight.
  • When our annual RRSP contribution room is calculated, its often based on a percentage of our earned income. The FHSA annual contribution limit is not linked to our earned income, but rather a set dollar amount prescribed by the government, which is currently $8,000/year. For those who may be newer to Canada and/or just starting their career & haven’t hit their salary potential quite yet, this may be a powerful tool to save!

When you should connect with us for help

You may want help establishing a savings target or building a roadmap to get from goal to reality. For others, our financial circumstances can be complex & may warrant a deeper conversation, like if you are a US citizen, or if you are just trying to understand where this piece of the puzzle fits in your overall wealth plan. Whether you are new a new or existing client, our door is always open to chat. Whether it is me, Mike, Shawn, or Corey, we’ll be happy to help you make an informed decision. Click HERE to book with us.

Conclusion

At this point, we have a baseline understanding of how each account works for first-time home buyers to make an informed decision. I’ve shared a table below that compares the features of the accounts that we have covered in this blog (click HERE for image source). Each of our scenarios are unique, so we do have to assess the merits of using each account on a case-by-case basis. My objective for this blog is to create general understanding of each account, as well as how they may or may not work in your favor. Buying your first home is a significant achievement & you deserve to have the right professionals by your side. Whether you need our advice, or the advice of a mortgage/tax/legal professional, we’ll put you in touch with the right person.


How does the FHSA compare to the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan and a TFSA? 

FHSA RRSP HBP TFSA
Contributions are tax deductible Yes Yes No
Withdrawals for home purchase are non-taxable Yes Yes Yes
Annual contribution amount is tied to income level No Yes No
Account can hold savings or investments Yes Yes Yes
Unused annual contributions carry forward to the next year Yes Yes Yes
For first-time home buyers only Yes Yes No
Total contribution amount limit $40,000 $35,000 Cumulative
Can check contribution room remaining in CRA MyAccount TBD Yes Yes

 

NEW YEAR! NEW APPROACH!

By: Michael Lutes CFP, CLU

Certified Financial Planner

It’s a brand spankin’ new year, (2023 baby!). The calendar has turned, the slate is wiped clean, you’re at mile zero! You have twelve whole months to kick some butt when it comes to managing your money and financial planning! (Wow, I’m getting energized just writing this!!)

Perhaps you’ve already begun brainstorming ways to improve your finances in 2023. Maybe you’re hunting for new tax-efficient planning strategies. Or you think your investment portfolio could use a revamp. Or, after spending time with loved ones over the holidays, you’re inspired to audit your insurance and estate plans.

Or, like so many of us, you truly don’t know where to start.

Here’s a tip…

Start with your values. Let those values motivate your goals, life objectives, dreams. Whatever you want to call them, start there.

So, what are your values? Seriously, yours, what are they? Take a moment, take a minute, take whatever time you need…

No, no, no, not THOSE values…. those are the values you think you should have. The ones your brother incepted inside of you when you were chatting over the holidays. Or maybe those values are the ones your Instagram feed is telling you to have – fancy cars, fancy food, fancy vacations, fancy clothes, fancy blah blah blah.

Not those.

I’m talking about YOUR values. The ones that truly reflect the deepest sense of what cultivates happiness in you. The ones that make you feel authentically happy to just be. The ones that when you’re living in alignment with them you are at your most satisfied, most at peace, most content, and most fulfilled.

THOSE are your values.

(Ummm, I thought this was a financial planning blog…no?)

How does this apply to financial planning?

While considering all the calculator stuff – tax, investment returns, insurance, etc. – the best financial planning is done in a space where decisions of how to use your money – or capital (more on capital later) – are in alignment with your values. This is where financial confidence builds. This is where the real financial planning magic happens.

In this space, you stop obsessing over moves in the stock market, you don’t really care what shows up in the daily financial news, you can genuinely listen to your neighbor’s stock tip from their cousin who “worked on wall street” and effortlessly separate opinion from truth and move on.

This is the space where you can be totally and completely confident and fulfilled in your financial decision making, because you know it aligns to your values and your life objectives.

So, when it comes to financial planning this year, start with your values – dig deep, be real, be honest, be reflective – and let your values motivate your goals that ultimately drive your decision making.

Do this, and you’ll be kicking butt in 2023!

And if you’re one of us who, like most, need help uncovering their values and articulating their goals, we recommend talking to a trusted advisor who can help you through the process. If you don’t have a trusted advisor, schedule some time with us – we love to help!

Renting vs. Buying a Home

Housing prices have been climbing quickly. This is especially true in major urban centres where most Canadians live. The rate of increase for the average sale price appears to be climbing faster than people are able to save.

Some Canadians see the dream of homeownership vanishing, others wonder if the choice to own is appropriate for them. No matter the situation, objective analysis should accompany the emotional aspects of buying a home.

What You Need to Know

Regardless of the ultimate choice, affordability is an important decision criterium. No one has ever enjoyed being “house poor”, where little money is left after making your rental or mortgage payment. Based on household income and available down payment a maximum purchase price can be determined.

Every Canadian financial institution has an online calculator to determine mortgage payments. Mortgage providers employ additional analysis tools to predict whether a borrower will repay the lender based on their income, total expenses and financial history. If lenders are reluctant or refusing to provide a mortgage, perhaps the timing is not appropriate, yet.

Mortgage rates have been at the extreme low end of their range for several years as central banks around the world have attempted to revive economies through inexpensive borrowing. When interest rates are low more people and businesses can afford to borrow more. When something is on-sale people buy more, but for borrowing, you cannot decide to delay a purchase when prices rise. Payments must still be made.

At some point rates will rise and some homeowners may not be able to afford their new, higher payments. Before buying their first home, borrowers should ask themselves, “if mortgage rates rose by 2%, would I be still able to afford my payments?”. For example, a $400,000 loan with an additional 2% interest adds $8,000 interest charges per year, or $667 more each month.

That increase would sit atop the existing mortgage payment. The same $400,000 mortgage with a 25-year amortization and 2.25% 5-year fixed rate requires a monthly payment of $1,750. Each additional $100,000 adds another $450 per month to the payment.

Lenders typically limit housing costs to 35% of gross income, acquiring a mortgage will ultimately decide if you purchase and the price. If you earn $100,000 then your maximum housing costs are $35,000 per year. Subtracting property taxes, condo fees and utilities will determine the amount available for mortgage payments. If these costs totaled $14,000, then a maximum of $21,000 would remain for mortgage payments. $21,000 divided by 12 equals $1,750 per month, yielding your maximum mortgage of $400,000.

A down payment is also required; the more the better. At least 10%, but 20% is preferred to keep payments lower. In the examples above with a $400,000 mortgage a first-time home buyer should plan on a down payment of at least $50,000 netting a purchase price of $450,000.

An experiment to determine if home ownership is appropriate is to act as a homeowner while renting. That is, make housing costs equal 35% of gross income. Set aside exactly 35% each month, pay your rent and utilities and the rest goes directly into a savings account, an RRSP or TFSA. Set up the deposit like a monthly bill that is paid automatically. If you are able to practice this disciplined spending/saving approach you are able to live at 35%, if not habits may need to be changed or a more modest home purchase should be contemplated.

Continuing the example of $100,000 income, then $35,000 per year or $2,920 should go toward rent, utilities and savings. If rent is $1,800 and utilities are $150 set up an auto-deposit for $970 each month. At the end of one year, you will have nearly $12,000 more set aside. At the very least this test should increase the amount of your down payment.

While you are accumulating your down payment the type of investments you purchase and sheltering it from taxes is also important. First time homebuyers can withdraw funds from their RRSPs, for example. Certain conditions apply, of course.

The Bottom Line

A dangerous emotion during a period of rapid rises in house prices is desperation. “If we don’t buy now, we’ll never be able to afford a home” has led many to overextend themselves financially. After that has occurred owning again can be almost impossible.

Couple the dreams of home ownership with objective analysis to determine the best course of action. Prudently investing your down payment in a tax advantaged way is another important aspect of the home buying and ownership experience. We are happy to help with calculations, scenarios, timing, negotiation advice with lenders and investment recommendations.

Book an appointment with us today! – CLICK HERE

Tips on Retirement Savings Plan

A retirement savings plan is a way of protecting your post-retirement financial lifestyle. However, in recent times, recessions, stock-market declines, housing market bubbles, joblessness, and, most recently, a global pandemic have created a series of challenges for people trying to start, grow, or maintain a retirement savings plan. With all the economic uncertainties, it’s natural to wonder if you’re doing all you can to protect your retirement nest egg. Taking a back to basics approach can instruct you on how to keep your retirement financial plan on track during uncertain economic times and beyond.

Consider these tried and tested tips that most financial advisors will recommend for a secure and enjoyable retirement.

  1. Make Realistic Budget and Lifestyle – Determining your retirement income needs starts with making realistic assumptions about your future. Because of increased life expectancy, retirement years are longer than they used to be. The average Canadian is expected to live to 78.79 years. Longevity can also be impacted by genetics, where you live, your marital status, and your lifestyle. All of these factors into how you plan for your retirement. It’s also good to be realistic about your post-retirement budget and lifestyle. Do not make the mistake of assuming that your post-retirement budget will be reduced. Retirement is becoming increasingly expensive, particularly in the first few years. It’s essential to have a plan to help mitigate expenses when you are no longer earning a paycheck.
  2. Have A Savings Plan – Based on these realistic lifestyle assumptions about your post-retirement days, you can begin to determine what you can do now to sustain yourself financially for at least 25 years post-retirement. The 4% rule is one popular method for working this out. In this model, you commit 4% of your savings for every year of retirement. Another approach is to draw down 2-3% of your total retirement portfolio annually, adjusted yearly for inflation.
  3. Consider Inflation – Speaking of inflation, failing to factor it into your plan could take a substantial bite out of your hard-earned nest egg. Inflation impacts how much your retirement savings will be worth over time, so understanding this is critical to ensuring that you have enough assets to last throughout your retirement.
  4. Grow Your Retirement Savings – Retirement means different things to different people, but the key is to enjoy this time of your life while making sure you don’t outlive your retirement savings. You are more likely to achieve this with a thoughtfully developed plan that allows you to withdraw money from your portfolio while enabling growth over the longer term. You can achieve this by using various investment vehicles with reasonable returns.

Bottom Line

Planning for the future is a complex and sometimes emotional process that is not easy to do without guidance. Financial advisors can help you remain objective and focused on your future goals. They also have the skills and tools you need to plan for a healthy financial future.

Book an appointment with us – CLICK HERE

Electric Cars vs Hybrid Cars

An Electric Vehicle (EV) is powered by electricity either from a power grid, solar system, or kinetic energy from breaking, for power. In contrast, a Hybrid Vehicle (HV) consists of both an electric-powered feature and the gas-powered feature. It can run on gas and on electricity.

Savings

The rise in gas prices gradually makes EVs an option for people in Canada. The number one advantage you get from an EV is how much you get to save on gas. Instead of branching at a gas station every few days, you can plug your car at home to refuel. Same thing with an HV. Depending on your city or province, the electric feature in a hybrid car will save you cash on gas. For example, Vancouver is known for its high price of gas. Though both cars are expensive, you get to recoup your money from the savings on gas every now and then.

With an EV, you get to save money on maintenance. An EV is known to only have a handful of inexpensive maintenance costs compared to cars with Internal Combustion Engines (ICE). no need for an oil change, belt replacement or other expensive maintenance and repairs that are associated with ICE cars. EV maintenance and repair will run you $949 per year, which is $330 less than a traditional vehicle.

Costs

The upfront payment on an HV is known to be on the high side compared to a gas-powered vehicle. Sometimes the difference could be as high as $10,000. Depending on the brand you buy, an HV could be cost-intensive. You should consider the price of gas in your area, how much time you will be driving and how long it will take you to recoup your expenses in gas savings.

An EV is also the same as the price of a new ICE vehicle. In Canada, it is advisable to go for a used EV as they are cheaper than buying brand new ones. You can also enjoy tax credit in some provinces if you buy an EV. Some of them include:

  • Nova Scotia: $2,000 rebate on used EVs;
  • Ontario: $1,000 toward the purchase of a used EV and $1,000 toward the purchase of a used EV if you scrap your old ICE vehicle;
  • Prince Edward Island: $5,000 rebate for a used EV;
  • New Brunswick: $1,000 rebate (PHEV); $2,500 rebate (EV).

Future Trends

The EV and HV market in Canada continues to grow impressively. The world is gradually shifting to green energy and Canada is not far behind. The HV and EV market had total revenues of $1.1bn in 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.7% between 2016 and 2020. The market consumption volume increased with a CAGR of 14.9% between 2016 and 2020, to reach a total of 40,206.0 units in 2020. Even though the EV and HV market declined in 2020 due to the pandemic, with a decline of about 33.8%. There are strong indications that things are getting back to normal, and the market will continue to grow.

To find out more on Incentives for Purchasing Zero-Emission Vehicles, CLICK HERE for information from Transport Canada.

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Should First Time Home Buyers Continue to Rent?

Housing prices have been climbing quickly. This is especially true in major urban centers where most Canadians live. The rate of increase for the average sale price appears to be climbing faster than people are able to save.

Some Canadians see the dream of homeownership vanishing, others wonder if the choice to own is appropriate for them. No matter the situation, objective analysis should accompany the emotional aspects of buying a home.

What You Need to Know

Regardless of the ultimate choice, affordability is an important decision criterium. No one has ever enjoyed being “house poor”, where little money is left after making your rental or mortgage payment. Based on household income and available down payment a maximum purchase price can be determined.

Every Canadian financial institution has an online calculator to determine mortgage payments. Mortgage providers employ additional analysis tools to predict whether a borrower will repay the lender based on their income, total expenses and financial history. If lenders are reluctant or refusing to provide a mortgage, perhaps the timing is not appropriate, yet.

Mortgage rates have been at the extreme low end of their range for several years as central banks around the world have attempted to revive economies through inexpensive borrowing. When interest rates are low more people and businesses can afford to borrow more. When something is on-sale people buy more, but for borrowing you cannot decide to delay a purchase when prices rise. Payments must still be made.

At some point rates will rise and some homeowners may not be able to afford their new, higher payments. Before buying their first home, borrowers should ask themselves, “if mortgage rates rose by 2%, would I be still able to afford my payments?”. For example, a $400,000 loan with an additional 2% interest adds $8,000 interest charges per year, or $667 more each month.

That increase would sit atop the existing mortgage payment. The same $400,000 mortgage with a 25-year amortization and 2.25% 5-year fixed rate requires a monthly payment of $1,750. Each additional $100,000 adds another $450 per month to the payment.

Lenders typically limit housing costs to 35% of gross income, acquiring a mortgage will ultimately decide if you purchase and the price. If you earn $100,000 then your maximum housing costs are $35,000 per year. Subtracting property taxes, condo fees and utilities will determine the amount available for mortgage payments. If these costs totaled $14,000, then a maximum of $21,000 would remain for mortgage payments. $21,000 divided by 12 equals $1,750 per month, yielding your maximum mortgage of $400,000.

A down payment is also required; the more the better. At least 10%, but 20% is preferred to keep payments lower. In the examples above with a $400,000 mortgage a first-time home buyer should plan on a down payment of at least $50,000 netting a purchase price of $450,000.

An experiment to determine if home ownership is appropriate is to act as a homeowner while renting. That is, make housing costs equal 35% of gross income. Set aside exactly 35% each month, pay your rent and utilities and the rest goes directly into a savings account, an RRSP or TFSA. Set up the deposit like a monthly bill that is paid automatically.  If you are able to practice this disciplined spending/saving approach you are able to live at 35%, if not habits may need to be changed or a more modest home purchase should be contemplated.

Continuing the example of $100,000 income, then $35,000 per year or $2,920 should go toward rent, utilities and savings. If rent is $1,800 and utilities are $150 set up an auto-deposit for $970 each month. At the end of one year you will have nearly $12,000 more set aside. At the very least this test should increase the amount of your down payment.

While you are accumulating your down payment the type of investments you purchase and sheltering it from taxes is also important. First time homebuyers can withdraw funds from their RRSPs, for example. Certain conditions apply, of course.

The Bottom Line

A dangerous emotion during a period of rapid rises in house prices is desperation. “If we don’t buy now, we’ll never be able to afford a home” has led many to overextend themselves financially. After that has occurred owning again can be almost impossible.

Couple the dreams of home ownership with objective analysis to determine the best course of action. Prudently investing your down payment in a tax advantaged way is another important aspect of the home buying and ownership experience. I am happy to help with calculations, scenarios, timing, negotiation advice with lenders and investment recommendations.

Talk to us today! Book an appointment HERE!

Five Credit Mistakes You Should Never Make

In our everyday life, we spend so much on bills and other financial expenses we feel like a superhero when we wonder how we have managed to keep things together. One of the ways you can stay afloat and not drown in expenses is by having a credit card account. A credit account is a type of account that allows you to borrow money from your account to cover your monthly expenses.

You are however required to pay back money borrowed with interests and other additional charges. The line of credit you can borrow depends on the level of your debt. You have the option of paying your debt monthly or after each statement cycle. The nature of a credit card account makes it easy to accumulate debt which could be difficult to get out of. It offers a continued balance of debt option which makes it easy to accumulate debt. To avoid this kind of debt situation with a credit card account, here are some tips on the mistakes you should never make with a credit card. 

Mistakes You Should Never Make with A Credit Card

  1. Maxing Out Your Credit Card – When you max out your credit limit, apart from the huge debt profile, you also have other issues to be worried about. You may find it difficult to obtain another credit card account because of your credit score. You will also attract an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) which will be charged on every late payment. It is advisable to set a limit to your account to caution you and prevent you from maxing out your account.
  2. Paying Late – When you make late repayments on your credit card account, it damages your credit score and may put you in the bad books of your credit card issuer. A month’s late payment could reduce your credit card score by as much as 100 points. Imagine you are late for 3 months or more. You also stand the risk of accumulating APR on your late payments which increases your debt profile. The remedy to this is to ensure that you pay your credit card debt as and when due.
  3. Minimum Payment Habits – There are minimum debt payments you are required to meet every month on your credit card account. however, it is not advisable to only pay the minimum payment every month. You are still susceptible to APR charges which will increase your debt profile. To avoid this, try as much as possible to pay more than your required minimum payment.
  4. Not Reviewing Your Account Statement – One common and avoidable mistake you can make on your credit card account is to overlook checking your account statement on a regular basis. Reviewing your credit card account regularly allows you to know the status of your account and prevent reporting or charging errors and potential frauds from taking advantage of your account. if you cannot keep up with a weekly review, you should at least do a monthly account review to keep up with your bills and know the status of your account.
  5. Having Too Many Credit Card Accounts – In the short term, this might be a good idea because it gives you enough options to source for lines of credit to cover your expenses. However, in the long term, what this means is that you will not be able to keep up with the accumulated debt on different credit card accounts. These accounts will also charge APR which means more debts. Also, when you apply for a new credit card, the card issuer makes an inquiry on your credit card and too many inquiries may spook your existing lenders. You can take advantage of Pre-qualification forms which give you the opportunity to check if you qualify for a new credit card without damaging your credit score.

Creating a Healthier Lifestyle

The Covid-19 pandemic has upset the habits and routines of many people. Staying safe and healthy has become a constant concern. The effects of the pandemic are taking a toll on people’s health, both mental and physical.  It is more important than ever to eat right, stay active, and do things that make you happy. When it comes to creating a healthier lifestyle for yourself, getting started is the hardest part. Here are a few tips to help you navigate all the information available on diet, hobbies, and fitness!

Diets-You Are What You Eat!

Health starts with what you are eating, and it is important to follow evidence-based nutritional sources. Fad diets are running rampant on the internet and it can be easy to get lost in the promises some of these diets make. Paleo diet, Keto diet, Atkins diet, Raw diet, South Beach diet, to name a few, all make promises of results that may be unrealistic. People are always looking for a quick fix so it can be easy to be swooned by the hype of the diet of the moment. Do not fall into fad diet traps that promise immediate weight loss with minimal effort. As a rule, you should avoid any of the following:

  •  Diets that promise rapid results
  • Diets that claim you can eat whatever you want
  • Diets that cut out specific food groups entirely
  • Diets that require you to skip meals or replace meals with a product

Eating a healthy diet does not need to be complicated or regimented. Making small and sustainable changes to your eating habits will ensure that you stay on track and meet your goals. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that you simply choose to eat mostly fresh foods that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein.

The internet is overwhelmed with nutritional information. Make sure that whatever claims a source is making are backed up by science and that the publication is showing the sources they used to compile the information.

Here are a few evidence-based nutrition sources to check out: Canada Food Guide, Health CanadaDieticians of Canada, and Nutritional Link Service.

Hobbies

Spending a lot of time at home can be hard on the head if you do not have a hobby or two to occupy your mind.  Covid-19 restrictions have most of us stuck at home and people have gotten creative about keeping themselves busy. People have taken to things such as breadmaking, sewing, gardening, learning an instrument, virtual book clubs, and other do-it-from-home activities.

The internet is rich with tutorials and forums that allow you to become a part of vast communities of likeminded people. Looking for something more local? Most municipalities have a recreation department that are busy keeping people entertained at home; you just must know where to look.  Check out town websites, library websites, and community centers to see what they are offering. In some regions, there may even be opportunities to gather with others to talk about, work on, or develop new hobbies.

Exercise

Starting a fitness routine may be one of the best things you can do for your health. Physical activity, even in small amounts, can reduce your risk of disease, help you lose weight, have profound effects on your mental health, and even improve your quality of sleep! So how do you get started?

Much like dieting, the internet is teeming with fitness pages, accounts, and how-to’s. It can be hard to know where to begin and it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  The first step is identifying what you think you would enjoy. Below are some of the most popular ways people are working on their fitness:

  • Cross-fit: Cross-fit is a type of High Intensity Interval Training that focuses on performing functional movements at high intensity level.  That may sound intimidating but many of the workouts are group workouts that include people of all abilities. This may a be a great start for many people as it provides an encouraging group of people that will help you stay on track and stay committed.
  • Yoga: Yoga has been popular for a very long time and is a great low impact activity. Yoga focuses on body and mind, with lots of emphasis on breathing and stretching. Yoga is something that you can do at home easily as there is very little, if any, equipment needed!
  • Spin: Spin classes are huge right now and do not seem to be going anywhere any time soon.  Usually, spin is taught at a facility in a group setting with an instructor to encourage and lead the class.   If you are unable to attend a spin class due to Covid-19 restrictions, there are stationary bikes on the market now that have spin classes built right into them.
  • Running: Running communities are present almost everywhere.  This makes a great starter activity. It is easy to find running groups near you that offer learn-to-run programs to help get you started. Running can be a very social sport which is great for both your physical and mental health.

Bottom Line

Sometimes organized sport and fitness can be a little intense and that is okay, because there are so many ways to get active without having to commit to one thing. Walking, hiking, skating, intermural sports, pickup leagues, tennis… these are all fantastic ways to start moving in a way that is fun and less intimidating. Regardless of what you choose to do, always remember to work within your limits and listen to your body. If you have health concerns, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor before engaging in a new fitness regime.

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