Financial harmony on St. Valentine’s Day

Cents and sensibility

Valentine’s Day can be gushingly romantic, stressful, and exciting all at the same time. For many couples, it can often lead to proposals of marriage or other forms of co-habitation. If you find yourself in that happy situation, congratulations! But before things get too far advanced, it might be an idea to sit down with your significant other and talk about your financial future, too. When I meet with young (or older) couples getting ready to tie the knot, I offer these key financial planning principles to help them get off on the right foot financially. READ MORE

RRSP still the best choice for most Canadians

Powerful tax-deferred retirement savings plan

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are still the best retirement saving and tax-deferral opportunity available for most Canadians. Trouble is, many of us just don’t use RRSPs to their full advantage. Unused RRSP “contribution room” – that is, the amount of eligible RRSP contributions that have not been made – is currently over a trillion dollars. That’s a lot of contribution money that isn’t being tax-sheltered, and that is not giving anyone a tax deduction either. READ MORE

New year, new you!

Yes, you can spruce up your personal finances for 2020

The beginning of the New Year is often a time to turn a new financial leaf: make a budget; pay down debt; save more. That’s all commendable, but these good intentions are mostly forgotten by, say, mid-February. A better idea is to take stock of your entire financial situation. Review what’s important and prioritize the items you need to take action on. Here’s a guide to help you get started. READ MORE

Quick tips to remedy seasonal spending disorder

How to put your money on a leash

A kind of money madness seizes people at this time of year. The expectation of ever-larger-better-bigger-pricier gifts is aided and abetted by retailers offering deals, promotions, and sales on all manner of shiny baubles and trinkets. Credit card companies have spent the fall season offering to raise your credit limit to make it easy to spend like a billionaire – without actually being one. It all seems like a fairy tale, until the bills come in. Then it’s right back to that Cinderella feeling. Is there a way out of this seasonal spending disorder? Here are a few tips. READ MORE

The seven sins of financial planning

How to stay on the virtuous path

At this time of the year, when Black Friday madness looms, and financial responsibility seems to evaporate for many people, it’s helpful to revisit what I consider to be the most common financial and planning errors most people make. Over the years, I’ve boiled it down to the seven deadly sins of financial planning. I first produced this list in my blog a few years ago. But it continues to be a popular item, so I thought I’d run it again as a refresher on how to stay financial virtuous and scale back the many temptations and excesses of the holiday shopping whirlwind. Here’s my list, then, and some suggestions for how to avoid those deadly financial sins. READ MORE

Budgeting for wealth

Little changes can make a big difference

As this is Financial Literacy month, and the theme is “Take Charge of Your Finances!”, I want to talk about the very foundation of financial literacy, the building block of successful financial management: the budget. I can sense eyes glazing over right now, but before you click away to another more interesting page or a funny cat video, let me talk about lattés instead. READ MORE

Should you buy hard assets now?

Precious metals, gems a risky way to hedge risk

The headlines are hard to miss. There’s the seemingly endless tariff war between China and the U.S. Then there’s the truly endless sabre rattling in the Middle East, most recently between Turkey and the Kurds in Northern Syria. How about the tit-for-tat oil tanker attacks and hijackings between Saudi Arabia and Iran? Brexit anyone? Efforts by Democrats to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump. Mass rioting in Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia. Separatist sentiments rising in Canada following the election of a weak minority Liberal government. For some investors, it’s all a bit much, and many are asking if market risk has cranked up to new highs. Is now the time to switch at least some of your funds to so-called portable hard assets, like gold and gemstones, which tend to keep their value in times of turmoil? READ MORE

Creating an income stream when your RRSP matures

Three basic RRSP maturity options

Unlike a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) does not last forever. In fact, it has a specific date by which you must collapse the plan and choose one of three main options for what to do with the proceeds. Here’s a look at how this works. READ MORE

Protection against investment loss is hard to come by

Guarantees are expensive, insurance is limited

As stock markets gyrate alarmingly in this season of market volatility, novice investors often start to have second thoughts about their investment strategy, especially those novices who don’t have a financial plan, an investment strategy policy, or a clue about their real tolerance for risk. That’s when financial advisors start to get questions about “guaranteed” investments and deposit insurance and segregated funds, and other types of vehicles that seem to offer safe haven or some protection against loss. Let’s take a look at some of these, and see what’s really involved.

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Do you need all that insurance?

The big business of life, mortgage, and critical illness insurance

Insurance is a numbers game. Anyone who has ever purchased any kind of life or health insurance knows this firsthand. But here’s one number you won’t often hear about: $4.7 trillion (no mistake, that’s a “T”). That’s how much life insurance coverage is owned by the 22 million Canadians who have policies, according to the Canada Life and Health Insurance Association 2018 report. In 2017, that represented $21.4 billion in premiums. And the average coverage per household is $417,000. Health insurance added another $43 billion in premiums. No doubt about it – insurance is big business in Canada. Here’s a quick look at the types of insurance advisors are asked about most frequently. READ MORE

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