A 5-point prescription for healthy finances

Don’t let pandemic woes infect your bank balance

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many families’ financial plans into disarray. And while restrictions are gradually being lifted, activity is still far from normal. And, if the experts are right, there’s still the threat of a secondary wave of infections to contend with in the fall. Most everyone is washing their hands frequently and using masks in public spaces to stay healthy. But what about your finances? Here are five smart ways to sanitize your finances to make sure your bank balance doesn’t end up in the ICU.

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You can’t ‘save’ a million – but you can retire rich

Escape the shackles of the savings account trap

You may as well face facts: You can’t “save” a million dollars. A recent survey of the market showed that the highest rate paid in a standard, plain-vanilla deposit savings account (the kind that most banks and large financial institutions offer as a place to put your cash) was around 2.8%, while the lowest was, believe it or not, one tenth of 1%. Believe me, with this kind of return, you will not be able to “save” a million dollars. But another fact is that you can still retire rich, possibly with much more than a million dollars in your nest egg, once you unshackle yourself from the savings account trap. Here’s how.

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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

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

School’s in session – and it costs!

How to cope with higher education’s sticker shock

There’s no two ways around it: The cost of a post-secondary education is high. For some, it’s a real challenge to make ends meet while attending college or university. In fact, students can expect to pay a total of about $60,000 for an average four-year post-secondary education program, including tuition, books, board and lodging, and living expenses. It’s more than double that for professional degrees like law, medicine, dentistry, and engineering. READ MORE

Is $1 million enough to retire on?

Let’s say you’ve accumulated a nest egg of $1 million at age 65, through pension plans, perhaps a significant RRSP, TFSA contributions, some inheritances, and possibly some money left over from downsizing your home. You’re ready to retire, and you have to decide what to do with it to make it last through retirement. Here’s what you need to know. READ MORE

How to retire with $1 million

Reach that magic number even if you start at 40

It’s sometimes said that you need at least a $1 million retirement fund to maintain the kind of lifestyle you want after age 65. But starting at, say, age 40, can that even be done? The good news is that it is possible to build a million-dollar retirement fund. But there five important principles you have to follow. READ MORE

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