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Guest Columnist

Cut your reno costs

With only a few more months of warm weather left, every home owner should be considering if they need to do any reno projects before the cold weather arrives. Whether you own a condo or a house, making it energy efficient before winter is a great way to not only invest in the resale value of your home, but also help you save on monthly energy bills. It’s really a win-win.

Costs & Loans & Rebates, Oh My!

The biggest concern people have when thinking about home renovations is obviously the price tag associated with the work involved, and with good reason. Some renovations can cost a pretty penny (or nickel now that the penny is defunct) for high quality results, not to mention the expense of new appliances. However there are several solutions to these issues. 


Don’t be scared off by the term. You can take out a personal loan from a trusted financial institution and with flexible rates and terms you can pay it back over time so the cost of renovations won’t hit your wallet all at the same time. Whether you need a few hundred or a few thousand dollars, this is a great way to not break the bank.


Did you know that if you’re renovating your home to make it more energy efficient, you may qualify for rebates from utility companies? Visit your service provider’s website to find out more about the different rebates they offer. Examples of some rebates include $500 for a new electric heat pump, up to $1,000 on an Energy Star® water heater or receive $100 when you purchase an energy efficient washing machine. When you add up a few different upgrades, that’s a whole lot of nickels back in your piggy bank. 

Understanding the Numbers

It’s great to hear everyone talk about energy efficiency and saving money, but what does it actually mean to you, the consumer or homeowner? 

Simple. Based on a Natural Resources Canada report on BC residential energy use, just over 50% of homeowners’ energy use goes towards heating with approximately 25% of that same bill going towards heating water. Put another way, installing a water efficient shower head could save you $40 per year all on its own. So think about what an energy efficient washer and dryer, dishwasher and hot water tank can do for your annual utility bill. 

What Else Can I Do? 

Old windows are energy guzzlers. Because they let in heat in the summer and cold air in the winter, the windows in older homes are one of the biggest sources of wasted energy consumption and as a homeowner, you pay for that. So even though windows are a big ticket item, you will definitely see a big return on your investment when you realize how much money you were wasting on higher energy bills.

With the Okanagan winter around the corner, making updates during the summer is a great idea and shopping for energy efficient appliances before the big rush when temperatures start to drop may also yield you a pre-season discount. So not only will you be sitting pretty when Old Man Winter comes knocking, you’ll be laughing when you get your utility bills and see the savings. Savings that will help you repay the money you borrowed to update you home even faster.

Prospera Credit Union is a full service financial institution that prides itself on building relationships, we serve our members through sixteen branches; online and mobile banking; and a locally-based contact centre.

Updating your home or buying a new car? Investing in your RRSP, TFSA or consolidating debt?

Prospera Credit Union can help you. Visit us in branch or online at


Personal loan right for you?

From purchasing a vehicle to renovating a home to covering an emergency, we all have different financial goals. For those without the immediate funds to achieve these goals, taking out a personal loan can be the right way to go.

Let’s examine a few situations where a personal loan might be something for you to consider:

You want to renovate your home:

Improving your home is almost always a wise investment. If you have a project in mind that will add value to your home (such as an extra bathroom or a revamped kitchen), a personal loan can be a great way to finance it without tapping into your equity. The right home renovations can definitely provide a solid return on your investment.

You run into unexpected emergency expenses:

If an emergency expense blindsides you, consider borrowing from a line of credit. A line of credit gives you access to a pool of funds that you can use whenever and however you need. You're free to borrow for any reason, at any time. You’ll save yourself a lot of stress by getting immediate access to funds to cover your expenses.  

You want to purchase a new or used vehicle:

Many of us don’t have the cash upfront to pay for a vehicle outright. In these instances, an auto loan can be an appropriate way to finance the vehicle. As an added benefit, having a paid-off auto loan on your record often means you will get a better rate when it comes time for you to take on a mortgage, as this finance writer figured out.

And of course, each of these loans offer another bonus, if you are able to repay on time—an improved credit rating.

Prospera Credit Union offers distinct loan types based on your needs. As outlined in this Bankrate article, getting a loan through a credit union instead of a traditional bank can be a far smoother experience for the consumer. Credit unions have the reputation of being friendlier and more community-oriented than traditional banks. They’re interested in serving their members, and can help you with a loan.

Here are some guidelines to heed when taking out a personal loan:

  • Generally speaking, taking out a loan for something like a personal vacation is not recommended.
  • Before you decide to borrow money, think about your motivation for wanting the loan. Will the money be used wisely or impractically?
  • Limit the number of loans you apply for. Most loans leave a “footprint” on your credit record, which lenders will check before approving your latest loan. Having lots of applications on your record might make you seem like someone with perpetual financial difficulties, which causes lenders to view you as more of a risk. 
  • Make sure you can pay the loan back on time, but also be aware that some lenders apply an early repayment charge if you settle your loan ahead of schedule.

Wearing plastic bottles

Are you wearing a former plastic bottle? You could be, if you’re wearing a fleece jacket or vest. Fleece clothing is made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate — or PET. But how does a plastic bottle go from your recycling to a cozy new fleece jacket? 

After your recycling is collected, it’s sorted with similar materials and compacted into bales. It’s important that bales consist of only the same material to optimize their recyclability. Bales are sold to material remanufacturers who process the contents into something that can be used again. For example, bales of PET are shredded, washed, and pelletized.

These pellets are heated and spun into fibres, which are then processed into fleece clothing and other new products. Fewer new resources are required in the manufacturing process when starting with recycled materials. 

There are many different end-uses for plastic containers, which depends on the type of plastic. Milk jugs — high-density polyethylene — are used in new packaging for shampoo or detergent bottles. Plastic bags — polyethylene — are used in plastic decking. Margarine tubs — polypropylene — are used to make storage bins. Each of these plastic types — or resins — follows a similar process of being shredded, washed and pelletized before they can be used again.

Metal cans continue on to become new products or new cans. In fact, anything made from steel in North America has some recycled content, and recycling metal uses less energy than producing new metal. That means your empty can of peaches could re-enter your home when you replace your next appliance. Like plastics, metals need to be sorted into different types. Once sorted, the metal packaging is shredded and smelted. It can then be rolled into sheets, wire, or bar, and used to make new cans, car parts, or construction materials.

Paper is pulped and pressed into fibres that become cereal boxes, egg cartons, and cardboard boxes depending on the mix of papers.

Recycling residential packaging and printed paper in British Columbia is made possible by Multi-Material BC (MMBC), a non-profit organization that collects fees from the retailers, manufacturers, and other companies that sell or provide packaging and printed paper to residents. MMBC manages the recycling and collection of the packaging and printed paper on behalf of these companies removing the financial burden from municipalities. This is called extended producer responsibility, or EPR.

There are over 20 EPR programs in BC, for materials such as tires, batteries, lights, electronics, and more, each of which provides BC residents with management options and avoid disposal, filling up landfills. Help give your packaging and printed paper a second life by recycling it.



Truth about consolidation

Debt is a drag. Every month, multiple bills clutch at your purse strings, demanding your full attention. Staying on top of each one can be a daunting task. A debt consolidation loan might be the solution you’re looking for. It involves managing one monthly payment instead of several payments.

Here’s how it works: A financial institution extends you a loan that equals your outstanding debts to some or all of your existing creditors. You then use the loan to pay off your debts to those accounts, and are left with a single loan to repay to the financial institution.

If you’re interested in merging everything into one easy-to-manage payment, here are some of the advantages of a debt consolidation loan:

One payment per month makes budgeting easier

Replacing multiple payments with a single payment should make it easier to plan your budget each month. One payment equals less time spent planning.

Save money with a lower interest rate

Most consolidated loans have lower interest rates than credit cards do, so you may be able to reduce your interest payments by consolidating. This will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Protect your credit score

A consolidated debt loan can also improve your credit score. If you often make late payments on your accounts, your credit score will certainly take a hit. Streamlining to one payment and staying on top of it will help you rebuild a damaged credit rating.

Get some peace of mind

You’ll also feel less stressed. We all know that debt is a real soul-sucker, and one of the most common causes of stress. Knowing that you only have one payment to make each month allows you to feel more in control of your financial situation.

You’ll want to shop around for the right debt consolidation loan, as the interest rates offered by assorted banks and credit unions can vary. It doesn’t cost anything to apply for the loan itself, but a fee may be charged to open your file with the lender. This is where tools come in handy. Prospera Credit Union offers a debt consolidation calculator that helps you determine whether consolidating your debt into a single loan is the right choice for you.

A final tip: Prospera recommends applying a portion of your consolidated loan’s monthly payment savings to the balance of the loan itself. You can save hundreds to thousands of dollars doing this, and knock years off of your loan. Find out how to do this with their debt accelerator.


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