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A rising rate survival guide for home owners and buyers

A sign advertises a house for sale as Canada's central bank announced its first interest rate hike in nearly seven years, on a residential street in midtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 12, 2017.

CHRIS HELGREN/REUTERS

Homeowners, prepare for higher interest rates when you renew your mortgage. Fixed rate mortgage costs started to rise last week, and variable rate mortgages will be affected by the rise this week in the Bank of Canada benchmark lending rate by 0.25 of a point. The increase is widely expected to be followed by another one later this year. If the economy keeps improving, expect more rate increases in 2018 or later.

Now's the time to figure out how you'll handle higher borrowing costs. For help, try the new rising mortgage rate worksheet we created. Tell us a bit about your current mortgage and we'll help you estimate how much your payments could rise based on different rate outcomes. If you're looking to buy a house, our worksheet will show you what your mortgage payments would be as rates rise.

A comprehensive package on house affordability is available on the Squawkfox blog, including an appropriately skeptical look at how lenders size you up for a mortgage (they'll lend you more than you should probably accept). Whether you're buying a home or already own one, our Real Life Ratio calculator can help you see if your housing-related costs are reasonable or out of bounds.

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Bike vs. bus

Here's how much a blogger is saving per year by riding her bike instead of using the bus. I ride to work now and then in the summer – each round trip saves $6.70 in bus fare. Never mind the latte factor. There's bigger savings in riding a bike.

Retired, but not old

Some thoughts on an interesting question – what should we call people who are over 65, but not yet elderly? We'll have to deal with this at some point because longer lifespans mean more retirees who are still in great shape.

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The dark side of defined benefit pensions

The Sears Canada story highlights how a financially struggling company's pension plan can be vulnerable. Sears has asked a court for permission to suspend certain payments to its employee pension plan. One expert says that if the request is granted, Sears retirees could end up receiving less in benefits than they expected. The big appeal of a defined benefit pension is supposed to be that you can count on set payments for life. If you have a DB pension, find out how well funded it is.

Throw this stuff out – right now

I'm anti-food wastage, but there are limits. Example: Popsicles and packs of hot dogs or hamburgers from last summer.

Today's featured financial tool

Tips on protecting yourself if interest rates rise from the federal Financial Consumers Agency of Canada.

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Ask Rob

The question: "Not knowing much about online brokerages like Questrade, Qtrade and Virtual Brokers, I wonder about how protected my money is in the event they go belly-up or face cash crunches. Banks can be backed up by CDIC protection so I know my money is safe. Is there something equivalent for brokerages?"

The answer: "Yes – it's called the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and it protects the assets in a brokerage account for up to $1-million per eligible account should a member firm go bankrupt. Note that CIPF doesn't guarantee the value of your investments. Rather, it ensures that you don't lose the shares, funds and other investments you own if your broker fails. Here's a link to a CIPF member directory.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can't answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance stories

– How can this couple make sure they're prepared for retirement?

– For some millennials, minimalism is the path to happiness

– It's summer – use your time off to spruce up your financial plan

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About the Author
Personal Finance Columnist

Rob Carrick has been writing about personal finance, business and economics for close to 20 years. He joined The Globe and Mail in late 1996 as an investment reporter and has been personal finance columnist since November 1998. Rob's personal finance columns appear in The Globe on Tuesday and Thursday, and his Portfolio Strategy column for investors appears on Saturday. More

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