They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but for Joyce Wayne, fiction turned out pretty well after she retired and reorganized her financial life.
“I left my job as a journalism teacher five years ago. I wanted to write fiction,” says Ms. Wayne, 67.
In the process, she downsized to a condo in Toronto from a larger house in Oakville, and was able to use the proceeds from the sale of her house to fund her dream of becoming a novelist. Since then, Ms. Wayne has become a successful financial blogger and an author of two historical fiction books.
“I look back and think how I could have been sitting in this large home in Oakville,” she says. “My advice is to use your assets to do what you want to do.”
Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, Ms. Wayne tapped into the value of her home to fund her dreams. But not everybody can benefit from the sale of a house, and there are other, easier ways to take advantage of the equity homeowners build up as they pay down their mortgages, says Jeff Spencer, Vice President, Retail Sales and Distribution for Manulife Canada.
The fact of the matter is that “home equity is one of the most attainable sources of financing for those who want to pursue their dreams or develop businesses,” Mr. Spencer says. But he recommends being prudent and well-planned before taking any steps.
One way is to consider a product that allows homeowners to consolidate their assets into one central account. This includes their home, but also any debt, including the mortgage and any lines of credit.
Manulife One, for example, is an all-in-one account which, by combining assets and debt, allows account holders to pay down the mortgage and any other debt directly whenever money flows into the account.
The advantage is that the liabilities can go down faster than if debts are paid separately through monthly or bi-weekly payments. Another advantage is that account holders have access to credit based on their homes.
“Using the value of the whole home makes sense — if you need capital, you couldn’t use just your bathroom or your kitchen to access funds,” Mr. Spencer says.
An all-in-one type account also has added benefits for entrepreneurs because they can be flexible for individuals with fluctuating incomes. Account holders can pay only interest on their accounts during low months, and then pay down debt more aggressively during months when there’s greater cash inflow.
“Manulife One is a product that you can keep in place — and it pays you interest once you’ve paid off your debts and it’s there for you when you need it,” Mr. Spencer says.
Another option is taking out a secured line of credit, such as a home equity line of credit (HELOC), suggests James Robinson, a mortgage agent at Dominion Lending Centres Mortgage Watch in Toronto.
Secured lines of credit can be a favoured option because they can be a “relatively inexpensive way to provide funds to live on and set up your new business during the period that you have little cash inflow,” Mr. Robinson says. They also provide a similar benefit in terms of the freedom to make large lump sum payments on the balance without any penalties.
“Once your business becomes more established and you are receiving revenue, you can then direct some of it back to reduce your borrowings,” he adds.
This option, however, works for some better than others.
Ms. Wayne, for example, did well by preserving the equity in the Oakville home she sold before moving into her new life as a blogger and novelist, Mr. Robinson says.
“If you are heading off on an adventure it makes sense to prepare yourself well in advance and while you still have income to be able to qualify for additional debt.”
Also, like with all debt management, Mr. Robinson stresses that the key when tapping into home equity is discipline.
“It is extremely important, particularly at the later stages of your working life, to be careful with how much debt you take on,” he says. “For many of us, our home is our biggest asset and we want to keep as much equity intact as possible. You really have to ask yourself what your Plan B is.”
Ms. Wayne agrees. “I’m cautious about certain things. We had to be careful about how much we spent on our honeymoon, for example,” she says.
“But we have lots of other things we enjoy. All in all, this is a pretty wonderful time in my life.”
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.