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Gail Vaz -Oxlade personal finance guru
Gail Vaz -Oxlade personal finance guru

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As businesses cut jobs and working hours every day, we're all worrying about money. How do we spend less, save more and manage debt better?

Every week on her television show, Til Debt Do Us Part, personal finance guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade helps couples figure out what it means to live within their means. Gail is also the author of the book, A Woman of Independent Means.

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Gail says that money is the number one cause of failed marriages. Rare is the couple that agrees on how the pot should be divided and the bills paid. Most families are in debt, and with debt come family arguments, tears, tantrums and marriages on the verge of divorce. You can also check out her blog on

Gail joined us for an online discussion at noon on Friday about keeping your head above water in a recession. She answered your questions in a live email exchange. Your questions and her answers appear in the space below.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Sonali Verma, Globe Investor: Happy Friday, everyone, and thanks for joining us. We have a lot of questions, so let's get straight to them.

Martha D. from Brampton writes: I watch your show routinely. Great show.

Gail, I've been telling friends for 20 years now that the biggest bang for your buck is to make extra payments on your mortage. I was told long ago that the rule of thumb on a 25 year mortgage, with accrued interest, and no pre-payment on the prinicipal outside the bank's small application, was you'd have spent 2.5 times the value of your house by the time 25 years is up. So, a $200,000 purchase will end up costing you $500,000, 25 years down the road. That's a lot of after-tax dollars out the window!

Can you verify this? I think it was based on interest of around 6 or 7%.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade: Martha, in large part it depends on how much of a downpayment you have, but the general rule of thumb is that on a 25 year amortization (at about 7%), you'll pay more than double the cost of the home, and if you take a 40 year amortization (which were being touted just a short while ago), you pay more than three times the original cost of your home by the time the mortgage is paid off. Thank goodness the 40-year-mortgage has gone buh-bye! But the 35-year-mortgage is still alive and well and willing to eat up your money. On a $200,000 house you'll pay over $300,000 in interest! OMG!

There are dozens of ways to trim mortgage costs, the easiest of which is to go with an accelerated weekly mortgage payment. Virtually no pain... Lots of gain.

Kate from Fredericton writes: My boyfriend and I try hard to be smart about our money. We have just purchased out first home. We purchased at the higher end of our price range but we are not struggling to make ends meet as we both have well paying jobs. We are, however, hoping to get married within the next two years.

The issue that we are having is that after the mortgage payment, car payments (2), RRSP investments, insurance, etc there is nothing left over to go into savings. I certainly do not want an elaborate wedding, but would like to have around $12,000 to $15,000 to play with!

Is it wrong to borrow to pay for the wedding? We would prefer to save a large portion of this money, but how do you get water from a stone? We are trying hard to stay out of unnecessary debt as he works in an unstable sector of the economy and don't want to be caught off guard should something happen to his salary.

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