Time for a financial wellness checkup?

Four trouble areas, and how a planner can help

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns have created plenty of financial stress for individuals and families. Temporary or even permanent income loss has been only partially mitigated by relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). In any case, these programs are not permanent and will be wound down eventually. Feeling stressed? This is a good time to take stock of your situation with a financial wellness check in four key areas.

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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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New grads facing financial challenges

Paying down debt, building savings, emergency benefits

This year has been particularly challenging for new graduates of post-secondary schools. Because of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the last semester for most students was likely done online, as were exams and other final submissions. Graduation ceremonies have been postponed. But at least marks and certificates could be mailed out. So congrats to all the new grads! But what’s next? As lockdowns lift and things slowly return to normal, you’ll still have to deal with some “real world” matters – and these are mostly financial.

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Retiring now? How to avoid pandemic panic

Coping with withdrawal risks and benefiting from RRIF rule changes

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many retirement plans into disarray. The collapse of the stock market in March, volatility in bond prices, the crash of energy markets, and the shutdown of virtually all economic activity naturally is causing a great deal of anxiety for those who were planning for retirement this year. But even now, there are financial strategies for pre-retirees and those in the early phases of retirement that can help protect your nest-egg and secure your income streams.

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How to apply for Canada’s emergency financial benefits

Federal government’s CERB program up and running

Effective April 6, the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides eligible employed and self-employed Canadians whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic a defined amount of financial support. The benefit provides $500 a week for a four-week period ($2,000) for up to 16 weeks.

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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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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

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