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

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

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

What you should know about your credit score

What’s in it, who can see it, and why it’s important

We often hear financial experts advising people to check their “credit score.” It’s a good idea to do that every year. That will give you an idea of what kind of risk lenders think you are. It can also signal if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and fraud. But very few people actually have a good idea of what a credit score is or how it’s compiled. Here’s my summary of what goes into a credit score, who keeps track, who can see it, and what you can do to raise a low score. 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

Black Friday binge, Red Monday remorse

Financial literacy and the art of budgeting

Black Friday. It’s become a pop culture phenomenon. In fact, it’s one of the cleverest marketing gimmicks of all time. For U.S. retailers, the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving Day has typically been the day they become profitable for the year. In other words, their ledgers go out of the “red” and into the “black.” Some clever marketers seized on this as a way to create excitement and ramp up pre-Christmas sales. They called it “Black Friday,” promoted it like crazy, and watched the frenzied crowds mob the stores. It’s now even caught on in Canada. For most consumers, though, it’s often a case of “Red Monday Remorse,” the day you realize you’ve blown your budget out of the black and (deeply) into the red. And it hits you right in your wallet, purse, bank account, and credit card statement, in about a month’s time. READ MORE

Putting a price tag on your dream home

Crunch the numbers before you make an offer

The big question for young couples just starting out is whether to move out of that downtown condo unit and borrow to buy a home. This becomes especially critical if you’re planning a family or if a baby is already on the way. Those new little people with all their gear take up an amazing amount of space, and suddenly the need for more room becomes pressing. READ MORE

Financial planning for newlyweds

How a financial planner can help with “the money talk”

There’s a lot to think about when you’re preparing to get married. And very likely, financial planning isn’t at the top of the list. That’s where a good financial planner can be invaluable. In my own practice, I counsel young couples on these and many other financial matters that will be specific to each couple. Setting out in marriage should be a happy occasion. And it will be a whole lot smoother if you get the “money talk” out of the way now. A Certified Financial Planner can provide invaluable help for young couples just starting out: READ MORE

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