Debunked: 3 Myths About Healthy Living

Good health is one of those things that you either have an abundance of or lack miserably. Things get twice as hard when you start to think that leading a healthy lifestyle is an expensive endeavor that needs special food and equipment to pull off. Being healthy while staying on budget isn’t a myth.

Let’s explore some of the myths that surround healthy living:

Myth 1: Healthy Food is Expensive

If you subscribe to the BS marketing of popular health food products and restaurant chains, then yes it’s super expensive to eat healthy. The truth is, you don’t need ingredients in fancy packaging to cook a healthy meal, nor should you believe that eating food prepared by a “health chef” who knows something about nutrition will make you lose weight and be healthy.

For starters, you can grow your own organic produce if you have a yard big enough. If space is an issue, you can look into hydroponic farming and grow the basic veggies you use all the time. Tomatoes respond well to this. Or, you could just visit your local farmer’s market and buy fresh produce there, instead of the grocery store.

By shopping at your local farmer’s market, you’re helping the local farmers and other community businesses thrive. The next step would be to cook your own food and always bring your home-cooked meals to the office. This way, you’ll avoid eating fast food and hitting the vending machine when you’re hungry.

Myth 2: I Need a Gym to Exercise

Wrong on all counts! While some people find that gyms are excellent places to workout because they have personal trainers and complete equipment, you don’t need an expensive gym membership to exercise for health. You have the best gym in the world: your body!

Your body is all you’ll ever need. Calisthenics or body weight exercises are great to build up your strength and muscle endurance. It’s also excellent for shaping your body the natural way – not exaggeratedly big like a bodybuilder. Using only your body and leverage will help you be more flexible and avoid nagging injuries regular gym goers suffer.

You don’t need to buy an exercise bike, a treadmill, a stair master or any other overpriced contraption for cardio. Let your feet work for you. You can either walk briskly, jog, run or ride a bike, just make sure that you do it at moderate to vigorous intensity so you can enjoy the maximum benefits of being in the aerobic zone. 20 minutes a day and you’re good!

Myth 3: Self-Diagnosis is Cheaper than going to the Doc

While WebMD, The Mayo Clinic and other sites devoted to medicine are good for research or reference purposes, the information on these websites was never meant to help you play doctor and diagnose yourself. This is dangerous, and misinterpreting any information on the site may leave you worse off due to unwanted stress.

Despite all the information you think you know because you read about it, you still need to see a doctor if you’re feeling anything or are displaying symptoms that you have never seen or felt before. What’s in your head is not enough. There’s a reason why doctors slave for years in medical school – so they can give accurate diagnoses and save lives.

If you see or feel that you have something that is potentially harmful to others, be responsible and seek medical attention asap. If you want to be discreet about it, go to a private clinic. You can get STD testing in a private clinic in Montreal, Vancouver or any other city in Canada, but be prepared to pay a little extra for all the secrecy. This will eat away some of your budget, so wear protection the next time. It’s way cheaper.

There are a lot more myths that living healthy costs more money, and that’s just pure hogwash. A healthy diet, regular exercise and good sleep can help you live a healthy life. Just use your common sense when it comes to food, exercise and miscellaneous activities and you’ll be fine.

The Dirty Secret Your Mortgage Broker Isn’t Telling You

I think we can all agree that competition is a good thing.

If it wasn’t for competition, we’d all be drinking $5 bottles of Coke, driving $50,000 Fort Pintos, and our economy would probably look kinda like the old Soviet Union. Competition is what motivates companies to produce their best product at the best possible price.

There are some downfalls to competition, but they’re somewhat minimal. Volkswagen is a great example of a company finding ways around a problem, rather than dealing with it head-on. If there wasn’t so much competition in the auto industry, Volkswagen might have been more motivated to come up with a real solution to its emissions problem, since it would have just been able to raise the price of its cars in response.

Businesses competing for your dollars is a major part of the mortgage broker business. Look at the website of any mortgage broker in Canada, and you’ll see a gigantic list of lenders they deal with, along with proclamations of “shopping hard to get you the best deal.”

On the surface, this makes all sorts of sense. When the mortgage broker gets your application, they can use their expertise to find the best mortgage for you. Some lenders prefer traditionally-employed applicants, while others don’t have much of a problem with folks who are self-employed. Some have great short-term rates, while others excel at five-year fixed mortgages. Others might charge a big penalty if you break the mortgage in a year or two, while don’t. There are a many variables to consider.

This is why mortgage brokers will always get the subprime business. Subprime doesn’t just mean riskier borrowers, at least from my perspective. Think of subprime as less risky, and more odd. If there’s someone with a unique situation, chances are they’re going to a broker.

Most mortgages, however, are pretty straightforward. They involve one or two borrowers with regular job, good credit and a down payment from the usual sources, buying a very average house or condo.

The average borrower goes to a mortgage broker because they want a low rate, at least most of the time. One of the biggest selling points by brokers is they can get you lower rates.

In reality, many brokers don’t really care about finding borrowers the lowest rate. Why? Two words: volume bonuses.

Why volume bonuses are so important to brokers

Essentially, it works like this.

Most brokers work as part of a team. Together, these teams can qualify for volume bonuses if they send enough business a certain lender’s way, and assuming they don’t have many deals that end up getting cancelled, for whatever reason.

The pay on a normal five-year fixed mortgage is about 0.80%, depending on the lender. If a group of brokers channel enough volume through that lender, they can get bonuses that will up the payment to closer to 1%.

On a $300,000 mortgage, a normal commission would be about $2,400. Including a volume bonus, that can be as high as $3,000.

You can see how those volume bonuses make a big difference for somebody that does 30-40 deals per year. They’re a big incentive for a broker to send every possible deal through one or two lenders. We’d all do the same thing in their shoes.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the big issue with this. Is a borrower really getting the best deal if a broker is channelling all their business through a handful of lenders? And can lenders even afford to give borrowers competitive rates if they’re paying volume bonuses?

Fortunately, for consumers, a new batch of mortgage brokers are coming onto the scene. These brokers are willing to forego big commissions by doing things like channelling much of their business to the lowest rate lenders, and telling lenders they’ll accept less in exchange for lower rates. Think of these guys as the Wal-Mart of the mortgage business.

It’s going to be hard for the traditional brokers to compete with these rate discounters. Old-school brokers argue they make sure the borrower has the proper mortgage for their needs, and that discounters care only about the rate. For many borrowers, the mortgage decision should only start at rate.

But if these brokers insist on funneling most of their business to certain preferred lenders even if they have a higher rate, I struggle to see the real value proposition they add.

At a minimum, ask your broker about this, and ask to see the rates available from every lender. There are plenty of websites that have that info easily available. Remember, as much as financial professionals say they’re out to help you, they’re far more interested in helping themselves.