September 2020: Consider what risks you can protect yourself from:
· Mortgage insurance (Who are you protecting? Your family, or your bank?)
· Travel insurance (Out of country medical expenses can be devastating). Be careful about COVID19 exclusions.
· Critical Illness protection (Tax free cash to pay for the extra expenses if you become seriously ill)
· Disability insurance (What if you could never work again? Is your Group coverage adequate?)
· Life Insurance (Is the amount still right? Do you have more or less responsibilities/needs? If you didn’t come home tonight, would your family or business be OK?)
. Creditor protection for your assets
· Long term care insurance (Who will pay for the care you will want)
None of us knows what the future holds, and as we've seen, the world can change drastically without notice. Review your needs and current protection with a professional financial planner
August 2020: Termination and Severance Options are important to understand and are often presented at a time of stress and uncertainty. Did you receive proper notice or pay in lieu? Did you have a contract? Was your dismissal Without Reason or was is a Constructive Dismissal? Should you defer part of the payment, or transfer part to your RRSP? Different types of payments have different tax implications (Salary Continuation, Retiring Allowance, Damages, Employment/Vacation/Sick pay).
Regardless of the circumstances, when leaving an employer, do you need to replace lost benefits like Extended Health, Vision and Dental, and your insurance (Life, Disability, Critical Illness)? What are your best options for your Pension and Group RRSP? Should you transfer them or are their other important aspects to consider?
Getting personalized professional legal and financial advice is critical to ensure you make the best decisions for you and your family’s specific needs.
August 2020: Women may now need even greater financial advice and planning as they face different financial challenges than men. Pre-pandemic, women earned $0.87 for every $1 earned by men. Besides holding demanding jobs, women often play a primary caregiving role for both children and aging parents which often translates to more time out from work, less money saved, and smaller pensions for retirement. The pandemic has escalated these challenges as many of the lost or impacted jobs have been those held by women, and lost day care and the need to educate children from home has largely fallen to women which further inhibits their ability to return to work or have meaningful incomes. Women also live longer than men so have longer periods of retirement to finance. Lastly, women also have higher disability rates than men and may incur costly long-term care needs as they age. Sadly this pandemic will likely have a long term or permanent impact on many women’s financial futures so getting good professional advice and a plan to address real life issues and goals is even more important.
July 2020: Be aware of COVID19 related fraud. North American securities regulators have acted on more than 200 pandemic-related schemes to defraud investors and consumers, many of them in Canada.
June 2020: A regular question I am asked is whether there is an inheritance tax, to which the answer is no. However, there are 3 other levels of tax on death, some of which many are unaware of or haven’t planned for. The first is the tax payable on your final tax return which includes not just your regular income, interest, capital gains and losses. CRA considers it as if you sold everything the day you died, which then triggers all capital gains/losses to your date of death as well as your RRSP/RRIF values. The second tax is probate fees, which your executor has to pay upfront to the court so they will grant letters of probate and your assets can be distributed. The third tax is trust tax on income, interest and capital gains/losses accumulated after your date of death until your estate is distributed to your beneficiaries. If assets are distributed before all these taxes are paid, your executor may need to go back to your beneficiaries for unpaid tax, or may even be personally liable themselves. Working with your Certified Financial Planner and team of tax and legal professionals can help you minimize your taxes, expedite distributions, allow you control of your assets, and help ensure sufficient cash is available when needed.
May 2020: The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is extending the payment due date for 2019 year end individual, corporate and trust income tax returns — including instalment payments — from Sept. 1 to Sept. 30.
May 2020: British Columbia has proposed legislation that would enable courts to accept wills that are signed electronically and witnessed remotely.
April 2020: Seniors face greater health risks with COVID-19 as well as greater isolation and abuse risks. Many safety checks – such as regular friend or family visits– have ended.
While many have stepped up to help, most with best of intentions, a small segment of “helpers” have other ideas.
Ask questions to help assess any potential for abuse. How are they feeling, both mentally and physically? Do they have the care and support they need? How is their family being impacted? Are they worried about their finances, or those of family members? Are they giving or loaning money to children who aren’t working?
While you can’t always predict who are most vulnerable, there can be warning signs: Capacity issues: seniors with an overly trusting personality or declining mental capabilities; New relationships like a “new friend” or a “sweetheart” appears or a previously distant family members becomes involved in their life; Caregiver takes on additional roles like handling day-to-day finances; Being “coached” by someone to request unusual withdrawals, or investment or beneficiary changes.
If you suspect the financial abuse of a senior consider contacting a trusted family member, their power of attorney, the Public Trustees office, or even the police.
April 2020: A March 2012 Ipsos-Reid national poll found that 86% of Canadians had not heard of advance care planning, and less than half of Canadians had a discussion with a family member or friend about what healthcare treatments they would want if they were ill and unable to communicate. With this year’s National Advance Care Planning Day event taking place in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is perhaps more important than ever that Canadians make their advance care plans and appropriate legal documents.
March 2020 - As a result of this pandemic, many people are updating their wills, powers of attorney and representation agreements, and if worried whether their family might be vulnerable if something should happen to them, they are also buying life insurance. For those self isolating and social distancing, life insurance companies are becoming more flexible by offering more digital channels, relaxing some medical underwriting requirements and coverage extensions. Depending on your age and the amount of insurance you apply for, medical testing might be waived in favor of doctor’s reports or medical records. For those with past medical issues, life insurance may still be offered with exclusions or other measures. Some insurance is also available without any medical evidence of insurability. Most insurance companies now have technology such as e-applications and e-signatures to conduct non face to face business. Some insurers are also offering extended grace periods allowing for a 90 day payment delay, rather than the usual 30 day delay. Missed payments are only deferred, and must be paid once people get back to work. If your policy lapses, you may not be able to re-qualify for new insurance, and any replacement coverage won't be on the same terms.
March 2020 - Mortgage Default Insurance protects the bank only, not you. Normally banks can only lend up to 80% of the purchase price of a home or its appraised value. If you are putting down less than 20% and otherwise meet the bank’s regular lending qualifications you may be able to qualify to buy mortgage default insurance from an insurer like CMHC (required to compensate your bank if you default on your mortgage) It does not protect you or your interest in your home nor does it cover your mortgage payment if you are unable to pay it, or if you pass away. The bigger your down payment, (and other factors) determines how much your insurance premium will be. You can either pay this up front, or add it to your mortgage and pay it (with interest) over time. It can however allow you to buy a home sooner with a down payment as low as 5%. Be sure to get professional advice to understand what makes sense for your specific situation. Owning a home is not always your best option. Disability insurance helps you if can’t make your mortgage payments due to illness/injury. Personal life insurance helps your family repay your debts if you pass away and offers greater flexibility and benefits than insurance that your bank will offer you to protect themselves (not your family)
March 2020 - The Federal Government announced an economic package to help Canadians which included: For Individuals: • reducing RRIF minimums by 25% for 2020 • extending tax return filing due dates, and taxes payable deadlines for individuals (and trusts). • deferring for all taxpayers, until after August 31, 2020, the payment deadline for tax liabilities that are owed on or after March 17, 2020, and before September 2020 • additional benefit payments under the GST/HST and Canada Child Benefit (CCB) programs • providing various income support for workers and other individuals, including introducing an Emergency Care Benefit, Emergency Support Benefit and relaxing rules for EI.
February 2020 - Take special care not to get caught up in one of the many scams taking advantage of people's concerns during COVID-19. Companies do not have special filters to clean your ducts of the virus. Yoga studios are not OK because there really is no 'supposed virus'. Hydro is not cutting you off because you haven't paid your bills. We all need to stay alert and to help others around us. Stay calm and rational during this stressful and unnerving time. Good choices are rarely made under duress.
February 2020 - Another exciting trading day took place on this beautiful sunny day. Given all this volatility it's important to remember that we have experienced many disruptive events like this in the past and that there is no reason to panic or freak out. Focus on the facts and not the media’s sensationalization of the news. The media’s terminology is scaring the public unnecessarily. Don’t obsess and get tempted to make this short term decline something permanent that you can’t recover from. My advice? Talk to your professional wealth advisor. Turn off the news. Go for a walk. Pour yourself a glass of wine (or dram of good scotch). Watch a good movie or read a good book. Pet your dog. Enjoy some ice cream. Better days are ahead. Really.
February 2020 - Women need to accumulate more for retirement. Besides all the common challenges faced by most everyone, women face additional challenges unique to them. Women typically live 5+ years longer than men. This means more retirement years and health related expenses to fund. And, if married, what happens if their spouse’s own health related needs drain the family resources? While higher education and thus better paying career options have increased many women’s incomes, many still earn less. This compounded by their need to take time from work (or retire early) to care for children or their own or spouse’s elderly parents, often greatly diminishes women’s ability to ensure they have sufficient assets for retirement. One further challenge is that women often have a lower risk tolerance when investing. This frequently leads to choosing investments which offer low returns that do not keep up with inflation, let alone grow to meet their future needs. Everyone needs to better understand the long term consequences of the financial choices they make. Getting good professional advice and increasing your own understanding of at least basic financial related issues will significantly improve your ability to live well and enjoy a comfortable retirement.
When markets get scary, people tend to overreact and as a result, turn a temporary problem into a permanent problem by selling without regard for their long term plan. If we let ourselves get caught up in every daily or monthly market move, we are guaranteed to lose sight of the bigger picture.
February 2020 - Here are some tips to discuss with your financial advisor to make the most of your RSP • Plan your retirement goals- what kind of lifestyle do you want to live in retirement, and when? Start making goals now to ensure you enjoy the long and fulfilling retirement you expect. • Invest early so your money has time to benefit from tax-sheltered growth. • Make the most of your tax refund. Rather than spending it, do something constructive with it like reinvesting it back into your RSP or paying off high interest debt. • Contribute now & deduct later: You don’t have to deduct your RSP contributions in the same year you make them. If you expect your future income will push you into a higher tax bracket, you can defer claiming deductions until later to benefit from a higher tax refund. • Excess contribution room that you haven’t yet used can be carried forward indefinitely for use in future year. • Once retired, reduce taxes by shifting up to 50% of eligible pension income from a higher income spouse to a lower income spouse. (You may also be able to elect to share up to 50% of your CPP income too)
January 2020 - As of January 1st, Canadians experiencing a breakdown in their marriage/common-law partnership may qualify to withdraw up to $35,000 from their RRSP without incurring a tax penalty, to buy a home if at the time of the withdrawal, they: -are living separate and apart from their spouse/common-law partner because of a breakdown for at least 90 days, and began living separate and apart in the year of the withdrawal or four preceding calendar years; and -where they own and occupy a home that was their principal residence at the time of the withdrawal, either: that home is not the qualifying home that they intend to acquire with the funds obtained from the withdrawal, and they sell the home (or dispose of their interest or right in the home to their separated spouse/common-law partner) before the end of the second calendar year after the year of the withdrawal, or they otherwise acquire the interest or right of their separated spouse/common-law partner in the home no earlier than 30 days before the withdrawal and no later than September 30th of the year following the withdrawal; and if they have a new spouse/common-law partner at the time of the withdrawal, the new spouse/common-law partner does not own and occupy a home as their principal residence.
January 2020 - The last day to top up or make your RSP contribution for 2019 is March 2nd 2020 • 2019 maximum RSP contribution limit is $26,500. Your 2018 Notice of Assessment (from last year’s tax return) will give you the exact amount of your 2019 RSP room. • If you’ve been contributing throughout the year consider topping this up before the March 2nd deadline. If you’ve had a pay increase, don't forget to increase your regular contributions too. • If you don’t have funds readily available, or want to catch up on a large carry forward of RSP room to meet your retirement expectations, a low interest rate RSP loan, or Home Equity Line of Credit might be a solution. • You can transfer assets from your Cash or TFSA account to your RSP, but take care as this may have tax consequences. • The 2020 the maximum RSP contribution room is $27,230. • Rather than wait for a tax refund, file a T1213 with CRA so your employer doesn't have to deduct tax at source on the amount you contribute to your RRSP. Why give the government an interest free loan of your hard earned money?
January 2020 - New Home Buyers Plan Rules for 2020 Effective January 1st, 2020, Canadians experiencing a breakdown in their marriage or common-law partnership can qualify to withdraw money from their registered retirement savings plan, without incurring a tax penalty, to buy a home. Individuals, who make a withdrawal in the year a breakup occurs, or in the four preceding calendar years, can access the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP), even if they are not a first-time homebuyer. The HBP allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $35,000 from an RRSP to put toward a down payment on a home without having to pay tax on the withdrawal.
As of January 1st 2020 we can add another $6000 to our Tax Free Savings Accounts, and replace any money taken out in previous calendar years.
• The cumulative TFSA contribution total as of 2020 is now $69,500 (plus growth).
• Don't forget there are a wide variety of investment options available for these tax free savings accounts, including high interest savings accounts for your emergency fund or short term needs. For longer term investments though, maximize the advantages of greater tax free growth and consider mutual funds, segregated funds, ETFs and managed portfolios to provide you with greater tax free growth potential.
• If you don’t have cash available, consider transferring investments from a taxable account to your TFSA. There may be tax consequences so be sure to get professional advice to make sure this makes sense for you.
December 2019 - If you’re worried about future market returns and want to lock in your current values but don’t feel today’s low interest rates will secure the income you need for a worry free retirement lifestyle, annuities are an option well worth considering. They can provide guaranteed lifetime income for you (and your spouse), can be structured to increase for inflation, and even provide an estate value if you so choose. Having guaranteed lifetime income to cover at least the cost of your essentials (housing, food, health, etc.) is a smart retirement strategy.
December 2019 If your child is turning 15 years old this year, you must start to save in RESPs before the end of the year in order to be eligible for the government’s 20% matching Canada Education Savings Grant. Children aged 16 or 17 can then continue to receive the grant. Grants are also retroactive, subject to maximums, and additional funds may be available depending on family income.
November 2019 - Avoid the Old Age Security (OAS) Clawback. In this low interest rate environment everyone is anxious for yield. However, after age 65, regular dividend income can be a seniors worst enemy when it comes to the dreaded OAS clawback. As with other government benefits and entitlements, OAS is income tested using the grossed up amount of your dividend. Even though you get a tax credit to offset tax on the higher grossed up amount, you may lose all or some of your OAS because of how the overstated dividend income is reported on your personal tax return. While "income" in the form of dividends and interest impact OAS, distributions from corporate class funds and Return of Capital from T Class do not. If you are investing outside of a registered plan (RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, etc.), the impact of taxes on your investments is an important concern. You can enhance the tax efficiency of your investments with Corporate Class. As always, get professional advice to see if this income solution is right for your situation.
November 2019 - Subject to certain conditions, a Canadian resident can 'transfer' their US 401(k) and IRA to their own Canadian RRSP on a tax deferred basis. These "Transfers" do not impact your RRSP room, and are in addition to what you can normally contribute to your RRSP. There are US tax consequences to be aware of as there are mandatory withholding taxes on the withdrawal, but a foreign tax credit or similar deduction will offset this when you file your Canadian tax return. If your 401(k) is not eligible for rollover directly to an RRSP (i.e. benefits were not attributable to services rendered by you or your spouse while a non resident of Canada) it can be rolled into an IRA that qualifies for transfer to an RRSP. The rules for transferring an IRA to an RRSP are very similar, although any employer contributions will not qualify, and you do not have to be a non resident for your contributions to be considered eligible. It is important to consider the implications of transferring a 401(k) or IRA from the US to a Canadian RRSP. Plans may have stipulations to consider first. Get professional advice to make sure this strategy is right for you.
November 2019 - If you are 65 or older and receiving RRIF income, you can claim the pension credit on your federal tax return for up to $2,000 of RRIF income. (A similar credit is also available provincially.) The federal credit is worth $300, and can be used to offset tax payable on any form of income. The credit cannot be carried forward to a future year, so be sure to claim the credit when available. You can also split this income with your spouse if they are in a lower tax bracket, which may result in being able to double the pension credit if your spouse is also 65 or older.
October 2019 - When splitting pension income with your spouse, don't forget to consider the Old Age Security (OAS) clawback threshold to ensure that income-sensitive OAS benefits and other government entitlements are not reduced. For 2019, OAS benefits are reduced once an individual’s net income exceeds $77,580.
October 2019 - Consider how 'home biased' you are as an investor. Do you know what the right split between Canadian and foreign investments should be? With Canada being only 3% of the world's market, and our limited exposure to industries beyond financials, energy and materials (i.e. commodity price and consumer risk), we need exposure to other countries to diversify and manage our overall risks and improve our portfolio's growth potential. Currency exposure forms part of the decision process as well. Get professional advice on the right degree of exposure given your specific goals, risk tolerance and time horizon to ensure you have the right mix for your situation.
October 2019 - Be aware of how your past experiences impact your current investing decisions. Those who begin their lives during an economic downturn (2008 Financial Crisis, Great Depression, etc.) often remain pessimistic and risk averse over the course of their lifetimes, resulting in fewer stock investments and business ownership, and greater investment in low-interest savings accounts and home equity. Interestingly, even those who don’t actually experience financial loss are still emotionally affected by a ‘crash’ even if it doesn’t affect their bottom lines. And, even a present-day stock market loss can remind an investor of a previous loss and influence or reconfirm how they now choose to behave. Unfortunately the consequences of such negative biases is that many investors will not achieve their financial goals. Early financial planning to identify any shortfalls, and working with a professional advisor who can create a custom portfolio within their risk tolerance and time horizon can help investors overcome their concerns and become more comfortable investing to ensure the future they desire.
September 2019 - Understand your goals and objectives when it comes to managing and evaluating your portfolio. Is protection or growth of assets more valuable to you? Are taxes, global uncertainty and/or the rising cost of living worrying you? Are social and environmental issues of import when you decide how to invest? Do you worry about outliving your money or not maintaining your current lifestyle in retirement? Is charitable giving and estate planning an essential part of your financial plan? Having a clear picture of what you hold dear will help simplify and steer your decisions and how you feel about accomplishing what’s important to you. A professional advisor can help.
September 2019 -Charitable Giving has become even more flexible and attractive as creating your own Charitable Giving Trust is now an option starting with as little as a $10,000 donation. The many benefits of these charitable giving programs include: • Tax Efficiency: You receive an immediate tax receipt for your donation. Unused credits may be carried forward for up to 5 years. No capital gains taxes are realized on gifts of long-term appreciated publicly-listed stocks, bonds and mutual funds. • Low Cost Alternative: Compared with the expense of setting up and maintaining a private foundation, these programs are an inexpensive way to manage a sizeable gift. • Flexibility: You can recommend grants to any number of charities or other institutions each year, with minimum grants of only $250. • Convenience: All the administrative tasks are handled for you (i.e. issuing cheques, record-keeping, grant reporting and tax receipts) If creating a lasting legacy and helping your favorite causes is important to you, it's worth exploring the new options now available.
September 2019 - Do you know that in BC marriage no longer revokes a Will? It's important to keep your will, power of attorney, representation agreements, beneficiary designations, pension and insurance contracts all current. Whether a blessing or a curse, none of us know what the future holds.
August 2019 - Take care not to over contribute to your RRSP. Your current year’s RSP room is calculated and reported on CRA’s annual Notice of Assessment, which also includes RSP contribution room still available from prior years, and reflects previous contributions made but not yet deducted. Many are unclear on how RSP room is determined. The basic calculation is 18% of your prior year’s earned income, up to the current year’s maximum dollar limit, ($26,500 for 2019), plus any company sponsored pension plan contributions, and any pension adjustments or past service pension amounts reported on your T4 slips. 'Earned income' commonly includes salary, bonuses, gratuities, net business income, taxable support payments received, net rental income, CPP disability pensions, spousal and child support income. Employment expenses, net business losses, deductible support payments made, net rental losses, and union dues then reduce 'earned income'.
August 2019 - As you receive your semi annual mutual fund statements, be careful not to confuse "Book Value", "Cost Base", and "Market Value". For mutual funds or pooled funds, "Book Value" and "Cost Base" are not how much you have invested. Rather, these are terms used for tax purposes and include: • What you have invested, plus • Interest you earned and re-invested, plus • Dividends you earned and re-invested, plus • Capital gains distributed and re-invested. For example: You invested $100,000 in ABC Mutual Fund. Over the years, your fund distributed and re-invested interest, dividends and capital gains totalling $60,000. The market value today is $170,000. Your book value would be $160,000 ($100,000 + $60,000), and your market value would be $170,000. This means your actual gain (profit) is $70,000, not $10,000.
August 2019 - If you are turning 71 this year, and have a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you must close this plan before December 31st or the entire amount will treated as taxable income for 2019. You have two options to avoid this. You can either transfer your RRSP to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), or buy an annuity, then start taking taxable income by no later than next year. A RRIF will allow you the most flexibility and control over your investments and income, and potentially provide an estate value. An annuity will provide you with the most security as it provides you with guaranteed lifetime income for you, and your spouse if you so elect, but has no estate value beyond any guarantee period. Be sure to get professional advice before making your decision as you will have several options on how to you wish to set up either type of arrangement. Take care though. While you can transfer your RRIF to an annuity at a future time, once you buy an annuity it is non reversible. Before finalizing your arrangements get professional advice and discuss whether making one last RRSP contribution before transferring to a RRIF/annuity makes sense for your situation.
July 2019 - If you are turning 71 this year the government requires that your RRSP be closed by year end. While you can close your RRSP and take the cash, or transfer your investments to a TFSA (if you have room), either option will result in the entire value being taxable to you in 2019. Alternatively, you can transfer your RRSP to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) tax free, at which point you will then be required to start income each year starting in 2020. The government sets a minimum amount you must take out each year based on your age (or your younger spouse’s age) and the market value of your RRIF each January 1st. You can choose to have this paid to you monthly, quarterly, semi annually or annually and you can take out more than this minimum any time. All money withdrawn will be fully taxable to you. Another option is to buy a life (or joint life) annuity with your RRSP, and receive a fixed amount of taxable income for life. While a RRIF can provide you with a variety of options, including an estate value, an annuity does not allow you to change your mind or request additional money. Guarantees are available though. Be sure to get professional advice before making your decision.
July 2019 - Make sure you have your own credit history. If you are a secondary on a credit card established by someone else, or have any joint debt (credit cards, car loans, lines of credit, mortgages, etc.) and the primary on the card or loan dies, all debts become demand loans. This means as the secondary person you will need to re-apply and qualify to continue the card or loan. Otherwise, the full amount is due and payable instantly. This can be a serious problem if you don’t already have your own credit history established. How will you pay your bills or stay in your home? If this is you, and you don’t have your own credit history, don’t wait. Apply now for a credit card or small loan, even if you don't need money, then make sure you make all payments on time and repay it in full. As you prove your credit worthiness, your credit limit will increase so that if and when you may need to stand on your own, having access to money and credit won’t be a problem.
June 2019 - The majority of Canadian parents worry how supporting their adult children is impacting their retirement savings and how they may need to postpone their retirement plans entirely because of this. If this sounds familiar, it's probably time to have very frank discussion with your adult children about finances, plans and expectations. While parents want to put their children first, to balance everyone’s needs, it's important that everyone understands and considers the whole picture.
June 2019 - Once again a recent survey reminds us how many Canadians are part of the ‘Sandwich” generation. Not only are we still providing some degree of financial help to our adult children, but many are also worried about supporting their elderly parents. Many believe they will need to postpone their retirement to financially care for them, and/or have taken time off work or have even had to quit their jobs to care for them. Women are more likely than men to take time from their work to care for their own parents and/or their in-laws. This often seriously impacts their ability to financially secure their own retirement needs, particularly given their longer lifespans. There are various forms of financial assistance available to help care for aging parents including tax credits associated with dependent parents, and grants, loans and rebates for those renovating homes to accommodate elderly parents.
June 2019 - Leaving your place of work can be stressful, regardless of whether it is by your choice or not. Knowing what to do with your Employer’s Pension or Group RSP likely adds to the stress. You want to be sure to make the best decision based on your personal circumstances. Some options are more attractive if you’re retiring, versus others may be better choices if you’re younger and will be continuing to work. Depending on the type of plan you have, the usual three options include 1. Keeping the pension plan with your employer to have lifetime income, with no market risk, and perhaps inflation protection. 2. Transferring the pension to a Locked In Retirement Savings Plan (LIRA) so you can manage your own investments, then choose the type and timing of your retirement income at a later date. 3. Transfer the RSP/pension to a single (or joint) life annuity to ensure guaranteed lifetime income without the worry of outliving your money. Getting good advice from a professional is critical so you can be sure you understand all the variations and potential consequences of each option and choose what's right for you and your family.
May 2019 - Remember the golden rule: Spend less than you earn. If you are struggling with debt, or trying to live within your means, try writing down everything you spend for a month to see exactly where your money is going. Using only cash helps too. Being more aware of what you do with your money can help you reduce your spending.
May 2019 - For families with disabled children, ensuring their lifetimes will be protected is challenging. Registered Disability Savings Plans are one good option. Setting up a Henson Trust may also be worth investigating and considering. Be sure to get good legal and tax advice to ensure government benefits and support will not be affected.
May 2019 - Retirees, and those approaching retirement, need to know the options available to them to protect their lifestyles. Many of us worry about running out of money in retirement, or being unable to maintain our standard of living. The reasons include our increasing longevity, potential long term health care costs, lack of employer sponsored defined benefit pension plans, lower interest and global growth rates, and uncomfortable market volatility. Retirement income conversations typically focus on withdrawal rates for savings/investments, and don't include the various guaranteed lifetime income options also available. Having guaranteed lifetime income usually eases worry for the retiree, but also for their spouse, who especially if younger, may worry there won't be sufficient money left for their lifetime needs too, and for their children who worry they may need to support their parents. Guaranteed income solutions can be custom designed to address whatever the need: maximizing steady lifetime income for you and your spouse; providing liquidity, inflation protection, and tax efficiency; and estate goals.
April 2019- More than half of millennials don't have any life insurance… …and only a third have even thought about it. Many believe it’s too expensive or that they only need it if they have dependents. However, the best time to buy it is when you are young and healthy. Life insurance can be both flexible and affordable, and will protect your loved ones from outstanding debts, including a mortgage. It will also ensure that if you later have dependants who need support, you won’t have to worry about future lifestyle or health issues that may make insurance unaffordable or unattainable when its most needed.
April 2019- For those worried about liquidating investments to create income in retirement, consider whether using your life insurance makes sense. Selling stocks or equity funds during a market decline can have a devastating effect on how long your investments can support your retirement income needs. Selling bonds or bond funds when interest rates are rising can also have the same effect. However, if you have cash available in your life insurance policy (the Cash Surrender Value: CSV), you can avoid market risk by using some of the CSV to secure a line of credit. Interest does not have to be paid monthly, and there is no income test, which can be a problem for retirees not earning income. The capital and interest can be repaid anytime without penalty, or it will be repaid from the insurance proceeds upon your death. This leaves the remainder of your life insurance, investments and other assets for your loved ones. As always, get professional advice to be sure this makes sense for your specific situation.
March 2019- As you file your personal tax return, make note if you paid too much tax throughout the year and now have to wait for CRA to pay you back for the interest free loan you gave them. You may be able to reduce or eliminate this by filing a TD1 with your employer to reduce the tax at source based on your personal credits. You can also file a T1213 and send it to CRA annually, so they can give you an approval to have your employer reduce your tax at source. If you do get a tax refund, recognize this isn’t a bonus. Its your hard earned money, so make good use of it by paying off high interest debts, contributing to your RRSP, or making an extra mortgage payment.
March 2019- Stay tuned for more details on the 2019 Federal Budget proposal for two new types of annuities for registered plans introduced to focus on addressing longevity risk and providing more flexibility. Currently we must convert our RRSP to a RRIF or life annuity (single or joint with your spouse) by the end of the year we reach the age of 71, and then start taking (taxable) income the following year. The budget proposes two new annuity options for RRSPs, RRIFs, DPSPs, and RPPs. An Advanced Life Deferred Annuity will allow us to defer taking income on a certain amount of our registered funds until we reach age 85. A Variable Payment Life Annuity will provide payments that vary based on investment performance. Both proposed measures will apply starting 2020.
March 2019- Thinking of Spring Break already? Think about paying for post secondary education too. Opening a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) allows you to save for education related expenses, but also collect the government's 20% matching Canada Education Savings Grant (up to $500 year, or $1000 year if you are eligible for retroactive grants). You can set up regular contributions to make savings easier, which also often results in achieving greater long term growth too.
February 2019- In this day of easy internet access to virtually everything, investor surveys continue to reveal that the more time investors spend checking their portfolios, the less likely they are to keep to their plans. Loss aversion (the fact that we dislike losing money more than we like making it) is exacerbated by regularly checking our portfolios, which too frequently then affects our risk tolerance. Periods of volatility often increases our risk aversion, which then compels us to make poor decisions and sell investments at the worst time. Studies show that the more frequently people trade, the less they actually earn in the long run. Just because you can check your portfolio more easily and often doesn’t mean you need to do so. Remember your goals and don’t agonize about short term market volatility.
February 2019- When considering your estate plans, do you realize you have three choices? You can arrange for it to go to family, charity, or the government. Since you can only choose two, which two do you choose? If you’re like most, you would like to choose family and charity, but have you done anything to ensure this happens? Donations provide tremendous tax benefits. Besides outright gifts now, through your personal charitable trust, or through your will, you can also name a charity as the beneficiary of your life insurance, RRSP, RRIF, TFSA and segregated fund. Creating a legacy sets a wonderful example for your family as well. Your professional financial planner can help you decide and arrange how best to realize your wishes.
February 2019- Don't forget the last day to top up or make your RSP contribution for the 2018 tax year is little more than 3 weeks away: March 1st 2019. The 2018 maximum RSP contribution limit is $26,230. Your 2017 Notice of Assessment (from last year’s tax return) will give you the exact amount of your RSP room. Its never to early to make your 2019 contribution either. The maximum for 2019 is $26,500.
February 2019. While the market increases we’ve enjoyed in January have been most welcome after the past few months, this is likely a good time to revisit what your risk tolerance and true goals really are. Risk tolerance refers to the balance between fear (the ability to sustain losses) and greed (the pursuit of gain). When referring to “risk’, many confuse volatility with absolute loss of capital, and as such, many unsophisticated investors suffered great angst recently. This is where time is a very important factor. A short term market decline may not be relevant unless you have near term needs and have to actually realize a loss. If your goals is longer term though, a short term decline may be a great opportunity to take advantage of discounted prices on quality investments that will produce greater gains in the future, when they are needed. Understanding your risk tolerance, financial situation, needs and expectations is critical when planning your investment portfolio. Get good advice from a professional.
January 2019- Start the new year on the right foot and review your retirement plan now. Depending on your age, hopefully you have time to make up any shortfalls or losses that can affect your retirement plan. If you wait too long, you may find out too late that you need to make some difficult choices such as: -working longer so you have more time to save, and more time for your investments to grow or recover, before you start drawing on them -cutting back your spending, so you can save and invest more now -retiring as planned and learning to live on less than you expected or prefer.
January 2019- Its been quite the ride in the stock markets these past few months, particularly since over the past few years we haven't experienced much volatility Its important to remember what volatility is all about, and why its a normal and essential part of investing for growth.
January 2019-TFSA Reminders: •As of January 1st we can add another $6000 to our Tax Free Savings Accounts, and replace any money taken out in previous calendar years. The cumulative total as of 2019 is now $63,500 (plus growth). •A wide variety of investment options are available for Tax Free Savings Accounts, including high interest savings accounts. For longer term investments, consider mutual funds, segregated funds, and managed portfolios to provide you with greater tax free growth potential. • If you don’t have cash available, talk to your financial advisor to discuss whether transferring investments from a taxable account to your TFSA makes sense for you.
January 2019-Consider your retirement income strategy. Many retirees worry about creating reliable income that will last the rest of their lives. While some are lucky enough to have defined benefit pensions, most of us have to create this for ourselves. A study shows that those approaching or in retirement are more afraid of running out of money than they are of dying. With Canadian seniors living in poverty increasing (especially single women), this is most concerning. Many seniors have not saved enough for retirement and investing conservatively has almost a 23% probability of running out of money before dying by withdrawing 4% (adjusted for inflation on a joint and last survivor basis) of initial capital every year. Guaranteed lifetime income options to supplement government pensions should be considered to ensure at least your basic income needs will be met. Fortunately, there are good options available that are worthy of consideration.
January 2019-Get good financial advice sooner than later. Half of seniors worry about not having enough money to retire, running out of money before they die, not being able to pay for long term care, having to sell their house, or needing to depend on their children for financial support. In fact 20% of seniors 60+ are still working. Fortunately some just love their jobs, but many work because they don’t have a company pension plan, can’t afford retirement, have too much debt (mortgages, credit cards, car loans), not enough savings, or are still helping their children financially. A financial plan needs time to make a difference. Don't wait until its too late to do something meaningful.
December 2018 - Consider whether tax loss selling makes sense this year (selling investments with accrued losses at year end to offset capital gains realized elsewhere in your portfolio). December 27th is the last day to settle trades by December 31st. Net capital losses that can’t be used this year, can be carried back 3 years or carried forward indefinitely to offset net capital gains in other years. Don’t forget that if you sell U.S. or other foreign securities, foreign exchange needs to be considered. With the big currency swings we’ve experienced, what looks like a gain could actually turn out to be a loss. Lastly, remember that if you repurchase a security sold at a loss within 30 days, you will be subject to the superficial loss rule. This means your capital loss will be denied and added to the adjusted cost base (tax cost) of the repurchased security so that any benefit of the capital loss will only be obtained when the repurchased security is finally sold. Be sure to talk to your tax advisor before taking action.
November 2018 - Black Friday is no longer just an American tradition. Now its the beginning of the holiday shopping season for Canadians too. Unfortunately, before it even begins, many Canadians know they are going to be in the red, and in fact over half of those with a budget think they’ll overspend this holiday season. Canadians are anxious about their holiday spending and often feel obligated to spend more than they can afford. The true meaning of the holidays – spending time with family and friends – is getting lost. Heidi’s tip? Don’t go into debt to buy gifts for family and friends and don’t let the holiday season undo all the good financial decisions you’ve made throughout the year.
November 2018 - The government has just announced that the TFSA contribution limit for 2019 will be $6,000, up from $5,500 in 2018. This means the total room available in 2019 for someone who has never contributed and has been eligible for the TFSA since its introduction in 2009 will be $63,500. Tax bracket thresholds for 2019 have also been released: • The federal 33% tax bracket will begin at $210,371 in 2019, up from $205,842 in 2018. • The basic personal amount for 2019 will be $12,069, up from $11,809 in 2018.
Novernber 2018 - ‘Grey Divorce’ refers to those over the age of 60 getting divorced later in life, often after children have left home and couples find they are not happy together. Divorce is devastating to your finances at any age, but later in life it can be even more so as there isn’t enough time, or perhaps ability, to replace income, assets, investments, CPP and private pensions lost as a result of having been divided with your spouse. The impact on your standard of living in retirement will likely be significant, so getting good advice and help (which may include a reality check) is crucial.
November 2018 - Results from a Cdn survey done in advance of Financial Planning Week: • 65% don’t use financial planners mainly because they feel their portfolios are too small • 22% don’t know who to trust • 20% are too confused and overwhelmed to consider the matter • 19% are embarrassed about finances • 33% doubt their bank accounts could withstand a financial emergency • 28% aren’t confident they can achieve their financial goals • 62% rarely or never maximize RRSP contributions; and • 64% don’t have access to employer-matching retirement savings programs. So are you prepared for the future, or are you one of the many who fear outliving your money?
October 2018 - A lot of factors are at play as to why global markets have been so volatile recently. Whether its rising interest rates, contracting labour markets, rising oil prices, rising bond prices, trade or political tensions, it’s always important to be properly diversified across different asset classes and sizes, industries and geographical regions. Professional portfolio managers have the discipline to see past the emotion that often compels investors to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, and instead use sell offs like this to pick up great companies at bargain prices. Don’t miss this chance to rebalance your portfolio and take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves. And as always, don’t forget your objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon. When in doubt, consult your professional wealth advisor.
October 2018 - If you have been living and working in the US and have now returned to Canada, Canadian tax law will permit you, as a resident individual living in Canada, to transfer a foreign pension plan, such as a 401(k) plan or IRA, to an RRSP on a tax-deferred basis. Several considerations and conditions apply so its important to talk to your financial advisor first.
October 2018 - If you are turning 71 in 2018, you need to transfer your Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) to Registered Retirement Income Plans (RRIF) before December 31st. This includes LIRAs and LRSPs which must be transferred to a LIF. You can start income now, but are not required to do so until next year. At that point, the government has a prescribed taxable minimum withdrawal being a percentage based on your age and RRIF market value each January 1st. If you prefer the security of having guaranteed lifetime income, you can instead transfer your RRSPs/LIFs/LRSPs to life annuities or variable annuities. Unused RSP room must be contributed to your own RSP before year end. However, if you have a younger spouse, you can still make contributions to a Spousal RRSP up to their age of 71. This applies to current unused RSP room or future RSP room from future earned income. (You still get the tax deduction, but your spouse gets the money) If you have earned income this final RSP year, talk to your tax advisor about whether you should make an early 2019 RSP contribution before the transfer. It will be considered an overcontribution for one month (subject to a 1% penalty), but next year's tax savings may more than offset this.
October 2018 - For those in ‘Back to School mode’, we know that one of the best ways to ensure our child’s success is through post-secondary education. Higher education often leads to higher future earnings; and with higher earnings comes a more secure financial future. However, it doesn’t seem to matter if our children are beginning pre-school or university, the cost of this post secondary education usually comes to mind. Starting early is the key to make it affordable, and using a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) will certainly help. Your savings will receive a 20% matching Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) up to a maximum of $2,500 in a given year ($7,200 lifetime). You may also be able to apply retroactively for missed CESG grants and qualify for additional government bonds. BC has a Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) as well. Don’t miss the opportunity to invest early so your contributions, grants and bonds grow and compound over as much time as possible.
October 2018 - Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Is the bulk of your retirement plan selling your home to fund your retirement? Are you counting on rising home prices? What if real estate prices are down as a result of rising interest rates or taxes, a poor economy, or unforeseen issues? What if your children/grandchildren have returned home (or never left)? Will your home (and other debts) will be paid off by then? Will there be sufficient home equity to cover the retirement lifestyle and type of new home you expect? What if you have to retire sooner than expected due to job loss or poor health? Will you have money for long term health care expenses for both you and your spouse? Obtaining and supporting mortgages and other debt can present problems, particularly if you can’t show lenders sufficient retirement income to cover payments. Your retirement plan needs to contemplate this.
September 2018 - Zero-risk bias is one of several Behavioural Finance examples of what influences many investors. Sociologists find that people love certainty, making many choose assets with immediate guarantees versus needed future growth potential. Understanding your own bias' may help you overcome making choices that will be counterproductive to reaching your goals. Professional advice helps.
September 2018 - When you buy life insurance from your bank or lender to cover your outstanding mortgage, who are you really wanting to protect? Your bank or your family? Mortgage insurance protects your bank by paying them off for their mortgage to you. Nothing is left for your family. For usually the same cost, you can instead buy personal life insurance to protect your family by providing them with money to use as its most needed. They can pay off the mortgage and have extra money left over for other expenses, or pay none or only part of the mortgage outstanding, then use the money to provide them with income or for other purposes. Comparing the costs is easy. I can shop the market for you so you can decide what best fits the needs of your family. After all, its your family's financial security that's most important.
September 2018 - Why do studies continue to show that advised investors have significantly greater assets than those who do it themselves? Advice can increase long term returns, improve savings and investment behaviour, improve tax efficiency and cash flow, create asset mixes appropriate for your objectives, goals and risk tolerance, and provide peace of mind. When your Wealth Advisor is also a CFP, their advice can include other missed financial opportunities as well as personal, family, business and health related risks.
September 2018 - Check your group disability policy. It may be relatively inexpensive or even free but are the benefits sufficient, or do you need to supplement it with your own individual policy? Three most common shortfalls include a maximum benefit much lower than your income, a benefit period that may not run to age 65, and how your policy defines disability. Most policies change the definition after 2 years, so if you are still disabled, but can perform ANY meaningful work, you may not qualify for further benefits. Know what you have. Top up coverage can be affordable and protect your future plans.
August 2018 - Surveys continue to show that few of us are saving enough for our children’s higher education. Prioritizing this early can mean that compound growth, along with perhaps government grants and bonds, can not just avoid enormous lines of credit and student debt when our children graduate (and thus help them get a head start on reaching their own goals) but also allow us to better save for our own retirement plans. Financial planning helps maximize your options.
August 2018 - Many ask me how much they need to save for retirement without first having considered what their retirement needs and lifestyle over that typical 20 to 30 years will actually be. How much will you need for your fixed expenses (food, housing, insurance, tax, debt repayments, clothing, transportation, health care, etc.). How will you spend your time and what will it cost (travel, hobbies, entertainment, helping family, etc). How much guaranteed income will you have (CPP, OAS, employer defined benefit pensions, foreign pensions, annuities, etc.) If you have a shortfall, I can calculate how much you need to save to fill the gap, then plan how best to create secure income. You want to be sure you have at least enough guaranteed lifetime income to cover your ‘need to have’ fixed expenses, then we can review your best options to create additional income for your ‘nice to have’ lifestyle expenses. Fortunately there are many good options available to generate both guaranteed lifetime income and steady tax efficient income. The challenge is planning early enough to ensure you have enough time to achieve what you both need and want, so you don't need to revise your retirement expectations.
August 2018 - Less than 10% of family businesses actually survive being passed to the third generation. The first generation creates it, the second stewards it, and the third generation consumes it. Successful transitions require careful planning including long term strategies, meaningful communications to understand shared goals and objectives, and everyone's commitment to follow through.
August 2018 - With so many demands for our money, many think insurance isn’t a priority until you have kids or buy a house. However, as you get older, insurance gets more expensive and is harder to qualify for. Even if you have group coverage at work, there are limits to basic life insurance, disability and critical illness coverage which often is not sufficient for your needs, and it ends when you leave your employer. Whether you need to protect your income in case of accident or sickness, provide income for your family or to pay off your mortgage if you die early, or provide you with the extra money you'll need in case of a serious illness, now is always the best time to buy insurance. Putting off this important decision not only results in higher premiums later, it also presents the risk that you may not even be eligible to buy insurance later because of changes to your own or family's health. There are many good options at varying price points, many which offer future flexibility to vary benefits as your life or income changes. I can help by reviewing your needs and current protection, and if you have a shortfall, present you with the best options available within your budget to cover off your risks. Don't miss out on the opportunities you have now.
July 2018 - Divorce is nearly as destructive a factor to retirements as the 2008 Great Recession was (according to a new study from Boston College's Center for Retirement Research). From legal fees to higher housing costs and living expenses, not to mention new child and/or spousal support payments, divorce can quickly drain retirement savings. This coupled with the division of assets and pensions can radically changes retirement plans and expectations. Working with a professional CFP can help both parties come to terms with their new normal and develop strategies to rebuild the money they need to retire.
July 2018 - When we consider our Estate plans, most times we are ok leaving our money without any strings, but sometimes we have some legitimate concerns. What if our beneficiary is too young to be responsible, or has gambling or substance abuse issues, or simply is a spendthrift. Perhaps we have a child in a relationship that’s deteriorating or on the verge of a breakup, in which case we may not want to give them a lump sum of money that may be divided in a breakdown settlement. Trusts can often be a great solution. We can set out how the trustee is to manage our money, and when and to whom to give our money. While there are costs to setting up and maintaining a trust, alternatives using various no cost solutions offered by insurance companies may also address our concerns. An estate settlement transfer provides that our beneficiary will receive installments based on our instructions, rather than a lump sum cheque. Should situations change later, we can change the terms we’ve laid out, including the beneficiary(s), when and how our money will be paid, and also provide the flexibility that not all our beneficiaries have to be treated the same way. Both trusts and insurance solutions have pros and cons so its important to get good advice.
July 2018 - Often it's the little things in life that can make the biggest difference. Whether its $10 a week, or $500 a month, saving money early in life, doing it consistently, and increasing the amount when you're able to can help you live the life you want in retirement. Regularly saving even a little bit more can add up over time. Consider that while an extra 1% is a small percentage of your annual earnings today, after 20 or 30 years it can make a big difference when you retire. That's because the longer you give your money a chance to grow, the better. And it works no matter how old you are—or how far off retirement is. And don’t lose out on the opportunity to make the most of your savings by not investing them for the long term growth you'll need to last you throughout your lifetime.
July 2018 - Evaluate your insurance needs annually to make sure you have both the right amount and type of insurance you need to cover unforeseen circumstances that can derail your finances. If your family is growing, you might need to increase the amount of your life insurance to protect your loved ones. Life insurance is mainly designed to replace lost income. As you get older, there are fewer years of income in the future, so the amount of income to replace decreases. If you decide to reduce your life insurance, apply the savings towards your retirement plan or perhaps consider long term care insurance. Don't forget to check your beneficiary designations.
July 2018 - Don’t miss out on tax saving opportunities (and perhaps some government grants) by not maximizing your contribution room to Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Tax Free Savings Plans, and Registered Education Savings Plans. If someone in your family is eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, contribute to their Registered Disability Savings Plan. If you expect to have excess wealth that you want to pass on, your estate plan should include using the tax exempt features of life insurance policies which will build greater wealth. Work with a professional financial planner to help you maximize all your opportunities.
June 2018 - Don't wait too late to start planning your retirement. Have you considered more than when you plan to retire and how much you think you'll need? Have you actually done a detailed budget for your retirement lifestyle expenses? Where will you live? Do you have adequate health insurance? What are all your sources of income and will you work to supplement this? Is your emergency fund adequate? Have you incorporated inflation over the 25 or more years you will likely be retired? Do you need life insurance to ensure both you and your partner will have enough money in case all your assets are spent providing expensive long term health care to the first of you who needs it? A successful retirement doesn't just happen. Professional advice can help ensure yours will be. It needs early planning though.
June 2018 - There is no question that all investors should be well educated about investing (assuming they have the time and interest to do so on a regular basis) and to understand how their personal situations, experiences, objectives, time horizons and risk tolerance dictates what investments and Asset Allocation are appropriate for them. Recently, there are has been a lot of focus on the fees that clients pay for investment advice, but it is important to consider these fees in comparison with the value of professional advice that an advisor provides. Lower fees do not necessarily equate to higher returns, nor a larger portfolio. Experienced professional advice helps investors sleep at night, stick to their plan, or be able to enjoy the lifestyle they expect.
June 2018 - Having a properly drafted enduring Power of Attorney (POA) is an important document that most consider an integral part of their Estate Planning. It allows you to appoint someone to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to do this for yourself (as a result of an accident, travel, incapacity, etc). Beware of the inadvertent revocation of a POA if you sign your Bank’s own POA document.
June 2018 - A recent study gathering the opinions of working and retired Canadians on health, finances and the connection between the two, reveals three main themes when it comes to women and retirement: 1. Women are not saving enough money 2. Women don’t have enough financial knowledge 3. Women would benefit from having an advisor. Women feel they’re at serious risk of outliving their money, say they don’t have the financial knowledge to make a retirement plan, and that they would benefit from meeting with an advisor. Financial Planning is rarely about one large and significant change. More often its about identifying and implementing a series of small changes on a regular basis, which collectively can have a huge impact to your long term outcome. Act now and get the advice and help you need to make sure you're on the right path to achieve what's important to you.
May 2018 - Don't blow a great opportunity to do something meaningful with your tax refund this year. Pay off some high interest debt, make your 2018 RSP contribution early, pay down your mortgage, or better yet, avoid waiting for a tax refund next year by filing a CRA form 1213 Request to Reduce Tax at Source now so your employer doesn't withhold tax that you will then have to claim back.
May 2018 - Amazingly some people still don’t understand the need for Critical Illness protection. While government medical plans cover many of the costs related to most illnesses, critical illness insurance provides you with tax free cash to help you focus on recovery, without worrying about your financial obligations. You decide the best way to use this unconditional tax free cash, whether to help with rent, car payments, groceries, home and/or child care, transportation/accommodation costs while travelling to your treatments, medications, tests or treatments not covered by your government plan, or to replace your lost income (or your spouse’s lost income while they are helping you) or even a vacation. I can show you all the options available to help you choose the best protection within your budget.
May 2018 - As you head off for vacation, don’t forget your Emergency Travel Insurance. Consider a multi trip plan if you occasionally scoot across the border for gas or shopping, as accidents often happen in a split second and the related costs can be devastating. And remember, even if you call your insurer for approval before seeking treatment, also ask exactly what evidence they’re going to want before they will pay the claim. Some hospitals will want your credit card or payment, and expect you to get reimbursed by your Insurance company. It’s a lot faster and easier to get all the needed paperwork while you’re still there, than once you’re home and trying to get copies from afar.
April 2018 - Having the right asset allocation and sufficient diversification are major factors for ensuring your portfolio will help you reach your goals. Unfortunately, many of us suffer from 'home bias' meaning the majority of our portfolios are invested in Canada. This is concerning, especially when you consider that much of Canada's economy is tied to oil which besides being very cyclical, can't make it out to market. Working with a professional advisor can help you build a strong portfolio designed to meet your specific needs and objectives.
April 2018 - Most retirees say their biggest fear is outliving their money. You wouldn’t know it from the way they convert their savings into income. Retirees are loath to take advantage of certain strategies that would guarantee them substantial income for life. Few like the idea of buying an annuity and fewer still wait until 70 to begin collecting their CPP benefits. The most likely reason may be that an even greater fear lurks beneath the surface: the fear that they will leave money on the table in the event of early death. Unfortunately, acting on that second fear doesn’t always lead to the best outcome. There is always the possibility of leaving money on the table no matter what you do. It can happen if you delay CPP until 70 and die young, and it can also happen if you take CPP early and die much later on. Just remember that the odds of dying young could be smaller than you might think. If you start CPP early and live an average lifetime, you’re leaving more money on the table than you think. Unless you have very good reason to think your own situation is special, it is probably better to start your CPP at 70.
April 2018 - Less than half of Canadian workers get disability coverage from their employer. Many would be financially devastated if they had to miss several months of work with no insurance to pay their bills, and some have to come back before they're ready because of money concerns. Those who could purchase independent disability coverage often avoid it because of cost. If you recognize the benefits of having disability insurance but think the premiums might be too high, consider this. If it cost $1000 to replace your after tax income of $30,000 would you rather earn $50,000 per year while healthy but $0 if you get sick or have an accident, or would you rather earn $49,000 per year while healthy but $30,000 per year while sick or injured?
March 2018 - Since most of us will live longer than we expect, do you know if you have saved enough to ensure that you will not outlive your money? Many of us just focus on how much we have saved, without paying sufficient attention to ensuring our budget throughout the various stages of our retirement is realistic. What is your tolerance for outliving your money? Have you hedged this risk?
March 2018 - An increasing number of Canadians want a guaranteed lifetime income supplement in retirement to supplement their government programs. A 2018 Canadian Guaranteed Lifetime Income Study revealed that less than half surveyed were highly confident they will be able to maintain their standard of living in retirement until their estimated life expectancy (which is rapidly increasing) and almost a third aren’t confident they can maintain their standard of living. Unfortunately, retirement income conversations are largely focused around asset withdrawals, dividends or fixed income strategies (which are not tax efficient), and not all the various types of guaranteed lifetime income products that are now available.
March 2018 - Beware of Will kits. They may look easy, free or inexpensive, but can cause a significant problems and future expenses. Many provide opportunities for misinterpretation that can make them completely or partially invalid, and they can miss key elements that can result in your assets tied up in court or not distributed as intended. Will kits also do not address a fundamental requirement being that for a will to be valid, you must have mental capacity. A lawyer will exercise due diligence and ensure you have the capacity to execute the will so it cannot be challenged later. Will kits also do not address issues such as providing for a disabled or spendthrift child, minimizing income tax and probate fees, protecting your children's inheritances in case of divorce, passing along a family cottage or supporting charities.
The February 27, 2018 Federal Budget included several changes to CPP: 1. increasing retirement benefits under the CPP Enhancement both for parents who take time off work to care for young children, and for persons with severe and prolonged disabilities 2. raising survivor’s pensions for individuals under age 45 who lose their spouse, by providing a full survivor’s pension instead of the current reduced pension that is linked to the age of the widow or widower. 3. providing a top-up disability benefit to retirement pension recipients under the age of 65 who are disabled and meet eligibility requirements. 4. increasing the death benefit to its maximum value of $2,500 for all eligible contributors.
February 2018 - Do you know where your income in retirement will come from? Knowing when and how best to access government benefits, registered assets, non registered assets and employer pensions takes careful planning if you want to ensure the retirement lifestyle you have been looking forward to. The sooner you know your options, and what considerations to take into account, the better you can select the best outcome for your specific situation. As a professional Certified Financial Planner I specialize in maximizing income, retirement and estate plans, and minimizing taxes and risks.
February 2018 - Discuss these tips with your tax advisor to maximize your OAS (and minimize income taxes): •Do you expect income over $75,910 in 2018 (the income threshold for the dreaded OAS Clawback)? Perhaps delay starting OAS until your income is lower. Seniors can delay OAS until age 70. If you delay, you can increase your future monthly payments by 0.6% per month for every month after age 65 — to a maximum of 36% at age 70. (Similarly delay your CPP to reduce your taxable income for OAS clawback reasons, or to when you need a larger lifetime indexed pension) • Limit exposure to dividend investments or hold these in a registered account. OAS clawback is based on net income, which includes dividends received from Canadian corporations on a grossed-up basis. • Consider using corporate-class mutual funds which generally have lower distributions than mutual fund trusts. • Consider Tax Efficient Systematic Withdrawals (TSWPs) from your mutual funds to create and minimize tax deferred income. • Consider basing RRIF withdrawals on the younger spouse’s age to reduce the amount you need to withdraw annually. • If you are 65 or older, split your RRIF, CPP or pension income with your spouse or common-law partner. • Consider withdrawals from your Tax Free Savings Account
January 2018 - Low-income seniors no longer have to apply for the Guaranteed Income Supplement to top up their Old Age Security. If you automatically enroll for old age security benefits you will also be automatically considered for the guaranteed income supplement based on your tax filings. Benefits begin one month after you turn 65.
January 2018 - March 1st 2018 is the deadline to top up or make your RSP contribution • The 2017 maximum RSP contribution limit is $26,010. If you’re unsure how much you can contribute, your 2016 Notice of Assessment (from last year’s tax return) will give you the exact amount of your 2017 RSP room. • Its not too early to make your current year RSP contribution too. The 2018 the maximum RSP contribution room is $26,230. • Rather than wait for a tax refund, file a T1213 with CRA to get their approval so that your employer doesn't have to deduct tax at source on the amount you contribute to your RRSP.
December 2017- Parents need a will to appoint a guardian for their minor children. Factors for choosing who best to appoint as guardian may include their relationship with the children, keeping them in their familiar surroundings/schools, the guardian’s own values, emotional, personal and financial capabilities; their age, as well as those of the children; and their willingness and ability to take on the responsibility. If a couple is appointed jointly as guardians, what happens if the couple separates? Is an adult child suitable to act as the guardian for their minor siblings? Both parents should appoint the same guardian under each of their wills to avoid confusion and prevent disputes for contested guardianship if they die at the same time. Parents can detail their wishes in a letter to share their values, educational objectives, extracurricular activities, religion and other matters. Besides leaving a trust for the childrens’ care, financial assistance should also be considered for the guardian who may need to make considerable changes to their life and home. A gift for appreciation may also be in order. And of course, legal advice and sitting down with the proposed guardian to discuss your expectations and their responsibilities always makes good sense.
December 2017- Identity theft is rampant. Be safe! Most fraudulent emails will include at least one link to direct recipients to a website and enter personal information as a means of identity theft. To start, instead of clicking on a link, hover over it with a mouse to display a dead giveaway: a URL that isn’t associated with the bank, financial institution, or company the email is supposedly from As we approach tax season, there is a proliferation of email scams that impersonate the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If you receive a message from CRA –visit the CRA website directly. CRA does not send emails with hyperlinks, nor does it request personal or financial information. In addition to warning alerts often found on the home page, CRA currently provides transcripts of fraudulent emails, phone calls, letters, text messages and refund forms at canada.ca as a frame of reference. Also know that a bank, for example, follows a strict protocol, and would never email an alert asking a recipient to click on a link to change a password; if there were any problems with an account, you would not be contacted directly via email
November 2017- Canadians recognize the important role that guaranteed income can play in retirement planning, and nearly half of us who are retired worry about outliving our money. Few of us have private pension plans with guaranteed income to supplement any CPP or OAS we may be entitled to. With average life expectancies rising significantly, the need for lifetime income guarantees has never been greater. A 65-year-old Canadian will live into their 80s on average, and many will spend 20 to 30 years in retirement. That’s a lot of years that income funding is needed. At the very least, you want to know your basic living expenses (food, shelter, clothing, transportation, tax, health care) will be covered. Many don’t know that there are several ways to use your investments to provide other forms of guaranteed lifetime income, without the financial worry of low interest rates and the volatility of market-based investments. Some options can offer lifetime income for both you and your spouse, or guaranteed annual income with the potential ability to grow by deferring the start date for payments, or investing in portfolios with growth potential. Depending on the product, some may also allow access to your money and/or a death benefit.
November 217- A 2017 Global Investor Study: Even though currently retired respondents from Canada said they stopped working at the age they wanted to—at age 59, on average—the majority (58%) added they wished they had saved more. If investors fail to bump up their savings, they’ll have to work longer. Respondents yet to retire now expect to quit working at age 63. What’s more, 13% don’t expect to ever fully retire. Respondents also indicated they would love to spend their money on travel and home improvements, but that many seniors have children and grandchildren who still rely on them for financial support,
October 2017 - Avoid Financial Pitfalls in Divorce: 1. Negotiate a reasonable settlement. Before accepting an offer, get advice from a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professional (like me) to make sure you’ll be able to live with the financial terms of the settlement – now and in the future. 2. Don’t live beyond your income. Reduce your expenses – or increase your income – so that you are always saving something for a rainy day. 3, Think twice about keeping the family home. Make sure you can truly afford it, and check how much cash you would have available to invest if you moved to a smaller home. 4. Realize that you won’t get everything you want in the property division. Don’t spend months and thousands of dollars fighting over furniture, appliances, or other personal items. Make a short list of “Must-Haves” and be prepared to compromise on everything else. 5. Protect your Retirement Assets. Make sure to have the pension valued by a qualified professional. 6. Use debt sparingly. Get a copy of your credit report and close all joint accounts and all credit that you do not use. Avoid maintaining balances on credit cards.
October 2017 - DON’T FORGET ABOUT DONATIONS 2017 is the final year to claim the First-Time Donor’s Super Credit. Both the federal and provincial governments offer credits that can result in tax savings, but 2017 is the last year that you can claim the Super Credit if neither you or your spouse, or partner, have claimed any donations since 2008. Eligible tax filers will receive an additional 25% credit on up to $1,000 of monetary donations. That means you could be looking at an effective total credit rate of more than 70%, depending on your income and province of residence. Remember that your donations must be made by December 31st for 2017 tax consideration.
September 2017: As you get your kids off to school this week, have you also started preparing for their post secondary education yet? Getting a start on a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) early means even a small amount of money invested has time to grow into something meaningful by the time they graduate from high school. Your contributions also benefit from at least a 20% matching government grant, and depending on family income, may also be entitled to the Canada Learning Bond and additional government grants. RESPs can fund one or more child’s education, children can have multiple RESPs (subject to overall limits) and many forms of post secondary education qualify, including foreign universities, online and trade schools. Grants are even retroactive, so don’t waste precious time. RESPs are far more flexible than most of us think, so talk to me, your financial planner, to learn more about how you can give your child all the advantages you wish for them.
September 2017: Many of us have received inheritances, life insurance proceeds, or have sold a business, won a lawsuit or even a lottery, but few of us really plan how best to use the money. While its natural to want to celebrate your new found wealth, don't blow what should be a great opportunity. Instead, park your money and don't rush. Talk to experts and family. Consider taxes and all the possible uses for your windfall before you make any decisions that might change not only your life, but the lives of those you care about. And don't forget to update your estate plan, including the chance to create a meaningful legacy.
August 2017: If you bought a home, you may be able to claim up to $5,000 of the purchase cost, and get a non-refundable tax credit of up to $750. There are two conditions though. You can claim $5,000 for the purchase of a qualifying home in 2016 if both of the following apply: you or your spouse or common-law partner acquired a qualifying home; and you did not live in another home owned by you or your spouse or common-law partner in the year of acquisition or in any of the four preceding years (first-time home buyer).
August 2017: Good advice from Sun Life Financial’s 2016 Retirement Now report: The top 3 tips from retirees to working Canadians are: Take care of your health, Start saving early, and Live within your means. Sadly, living beyond our means appears to be a trend. The current low-interest rate makes it appealing to spend our way into the standard of living we feel we deserve, instead of saving for the future.
August 2017: Consider these Retirement Planning Truths: 1. You will not decrease your spending during your early years of retirement while you are young, healthy and finally able to do the things you’ve wanted to (travelling, golfing, etc.). 2. Plan to live longer than you think. Today, the average person will retire 61, and live almost three decades in retirement. If a couple is still alive at 67 years of age, one of them will likely still be alive another 30 years. 3. Keep the amount you withdraw from your portfolio as low as possible (under 5%) for as long as possible, and increase it, if needed, as you age. 4. Don’t be too conservative too quickly. While capital protection is important, given how long you will likely live, you need some growth from equities, especially in this low interest rate environment. 5. Plan for your discretionary health care expenses, like retirement housing, cross-border health care, or potential government amendments. Outliving our money is one of the biggest concerns most of us have, and a sadly a likely scenario for those who have not planned properly. Don’t defer. Early financial advice can reduce this risk.
August 2017: Your retirement plans should include funding future health care needs. The majority of retired Canadians did not stop working on the date they planned, many citing personal health as the primary reason for retiring earlier. The probability of a 65 year old requiring long term care is 50% for a man and 63% for a woman. For a couple, the probability that one will need long term care is 82%. The Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) estimates that it will cost almost $1.2 trillion to provide long-term care to baby boomers as they pass through old age. Current levels of funding from government for programs will only cover about half of this. Have you considered Long Term Care insurance as part of your retirement plan?
August 2017: If most of your portfolio is invested only in Canada, consider being more diversified globally with exposure to the U.S., Europe and Japan, and perhaps some emerging markets. A portfolio should have both diversification and growth potential, keeping in mind your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. There’s relatively low diversification in the Canadian marketplace and larger companies boil down to only a few core industries. While Canada has a lot of good companies, globally there are many more to choose from. Exposure to global markets is very important since the benefit of diversification comes not only from individual companies, but also from access to the economies and broader businesses in different parts of the world. Be aware that currency, political stability, taxation and regulatory issues may present risks, so consult your financial advisor before investing.
July 2017: When selling a family cottage to the next generation; don’t try and reduce the capital gain by selling the cottage for a nominal price. The Canada Revenue Agency will calculate the capital gain based on the fair market value (FMV) and when the next generation sells the cottage, their cost base will equal the nominal price, resulting in double taxation.
July 2017: Financial planning basics: Budgeting-Spend less than you earn and prepare for emergency costs, like a medical expense or car repair. Managing debt-Eliminate high-interest debt, like credit cards or student loans. Saving-Save for retirement as early as you can. Make the most of your savings by investing them wisely using RRSPs, TFSAs and tax efficient investments
June 2017: Old Age Security can be applied for as early as age 65, but if you are still working, you may decide to defer applying until age 70 so that your indexed lifetime benefit continues to grow. This may be especially beneficial if your continuing employment income subjects you to the dreaded 'OAS clawback" which starts taxing you 15% of your benefit once your income reaches $119,615. Talk to your financial planner about tax strategies including splitting your RRIF and pension income or sharing CPP with a spouse, which may put and keep more money in your pocket.
June 2017: Do you know how much of a pension you can expect from the Canada Pension Plan? Most people have no idea, or estimate incorrectly. Check out the site and find out what you might get, assuming life plays out as you hope or expect: https://lnkd.in/g5Ht_5S To ensure all your retirement income needs will be covered, lets talk.
May 2017: If you leave Canada, will you still be eligible for OAS? Yes, if you are at least 65 years old, a Canadian Citizen or legal resident at the time your OAS application is approved, and have resided in Canada for at least 20 years. (If not, you still may be eligible if you lived in a country with a social security agreement with Canada, or contributed to the social security system in a country with which Canada has a social security agreement.)
May 2017: While most people buy permanent life insurance to take care of loved ones, pay off debts or final taxes, or to leave a legacy, did you know that it can also be used to provide you with cash or leverage opportunities later in life? Depending on your policy and situation, there may be several options available. Talk to your insurance adviser to discuss if this makes sense for you.
May 16 2017- If you spend your winters, or just a lot of time in the US, be aware of the potential liability to pay US income tax on the same basis as a permanent US resident. Even if you are not a US citizen or Green Card holder, you may still be considered a resident for US tax purposes and have to pay tax on your worldwide income. Tax filing requirements, and residency determination for Canadian Snowbirds can be complex. Make sure you consult a cross-border tax specialist.
May 5, 2017- Why consolidate your assets? One financial planner who knows your entire financial picture can provide you with more complete and better advice to coordinate and diversify all your portfolios within your risk tolerance and time horizon, simplify income generation, reviews and record keeping, incorporate your tax and estate planning needs, and ensure any other risks are identified and covered, if possible. Larger accounts can also benefit from lower fees, especially when family plans can be linked together.
April 30, 2017-Do you remember when your parents sat you down for “the talk”? It likely included some anxious moments and uncomfortable feelings. Is it time to think about another “talk”? This time it would be you initiating a conversation your parents may have been avoiding: how they want their final wishes carried out. If your parents aren’t comfortable talking to you about this, suggest they meet with a lawyer, financial planner or some other professional. Most likely, talking to these professionals will encourage your parents to share important financial information with you.
April 15, 2017- With Vancouver's real estate prices having skyrocketed, so have property taxes. You may want to consider deferring paying the property taxes on your principal residence (until you sell your home, of course). If you are a homeowner 55+ , have and can maintain minimum equity of 25% of your home's assessed value, and have paid all your past taxes, this may be a good option. However, if you have a mortgage, be sure to check with your mortgage provider first as they may have issues renewing your specific mortgage at renewal time. There will be a restrictive lien on your property. The current interest rate charged is 0.7% so using your property tax money may be better directed to paying off higher interest debts, RRSP/TFSA investments, children's education, generating tax efficient income, etc. Always get professional advice to be sure this makes sense for your personal situation.
April 7, 2017 - Wondering what to do with your 2016 tax refund? Why not maximize its value by contributing early to your TFSA or RRSP? For the tax year 2017 you can contribute $5500 to your TFSA , and $26,010 to your RRSP (subject to your personal RSP Room maximum).
April 1, 2017- Studies continue to show that 65% of Canadian households have no insurance, and 35% have only some insurance. If you are part of the 45% who actually recognize that you do not have enough life Insurance, what do you need to see or hear to take to action to protect yourself and those you love? Not everyone can get insurance. Don't wait until its too late.
March 25, 2017 - Are you nervous when the market goes down? Your time horizon, goals, and risk tolerance are key factors in ensuring you have the right investment strategy for you. Even if your time horizon is long enough to warrant an aggressive portfolio, you have to be comfortable with the short-term ups and downs that will regularly occur. If watching your balances fluctuate is too nerve-racking, or causes you to do the wrong thing at the wrong time, you may need to re-evaluate whether your investment portfolio is right. Set realistic expectations and remember that being too conservative too soon may not provide the growth potential you need to achieve your long term goals, especially when you consider inflation and a longer life expectancy. Professional advice is proven to help.
March 15, 2017 - Invest regularly despite market volatility. By investing regularly over months and years, short-term downturns will have far less of an impact on your overall performance long term. Rather than buying and selling based on market conditions or RSP deadlines, make your investments weekly, monthly, or quarterly to avoid the perils of market timing. Investing through downturns won’t guarantee you gains or that you will never experience a loss. However, when prices fall your regular contributions buy you more, so that when the markets eventually recover, you have taken advantage of the sale price and end up further ahead.
March 8, 2017: Wondering when to collect CPP or OAS? Depends on if you have an employer pension, RRSP, TFSA, non registered investments, plan to work part time or retire completely. Taking CPP early at 60 will reduce it, waiting until 70 (with or without additional employee/employer contributions) will increase your lifetime benefits. Deferring OAS until age 70 will also increase your benefit. CPP and OAS are inflation-indexed which is important if you don’t have an inflation-indexed pension. OAS claw back and other tax considerations should be reviewed with your tax or financial advisor before deciding what makes sense for your specific situation.
February 27, 2017: Individual Pension Plans (IPPs) allow incorporated business owners or professionals over the age of 40, receiving T4 income, a way to contribute significantly more to their retirement savings plans with added benefits including creditor protection, corporate tax reductions, and greater tax efficient withdrawals at retirement. They take time to set up so talk to your financial advisor now to see if an IPP makes sense for you for 2017.
February 21, 2017: Helping parents manage their money can be awkward, but it’s often inevitable. 60% of older adults worry about burdening their family with helping them manage their finances yet 80% of children actually want to be involved. Keeping parents in their home and safe from fraud and elder abuse are adult children’s main concerns. Financial elder fraud can happen to anyone, and those who have a higher level of education and obtain more wealth are actually more vulnerable. It happens to everyone, and the shame that people typically feel is universal.
February 2, 2017: The age you start investing really matters. It's never too late, but earlier is much better. If you started saving $5500 a year at age 25, then stopped after 10 years, assuming a 7% return, you would have $618,951 at age 65. However, if you didn't start saving $5500 a year until you were age 35, even after 30 years of saving, assuming the same 7% return, after 30 years, you would only have $555,902 at age 65. The power of compounding is an integral factor for retirement success
January 18, 2017- Don't forget that rather than wait for a tax refund, you can also file a T1213 with CRA to get their approval so that your employer doesn't have to deduct tax at source on the amount you contribute to your RRSP.
January 9, 2017- While March 1st 2017 is the last day to top up or make your 2016 RSP contribution, you may want to start considering this now, or get a jump on your 2017 RSP contribution. For 2016 the maximum RSP contribution limit was $25,370 and for 2017 the maximum RSP contribution room is $26,010. (Always check your personal CRA Notice of Assessment to find out your exact RSP room)
January 18, 2017- Don't forget that rather than wait for a tax refund, you can also file a T1213 with CRA to get their approval so that your employer doesn't have to deduct tax at source on the amount you contribute to your RRSP. January 9, 2017- While March 1st 2017 is the last day to top up or make your 2016 RSP contribution, you may want to start considering this now, or get a jump on your 2017 RSP contribution. For 2016 the maximum RSP contribution limit was $25,370 and for 2017 the maximum RSP contribution room is $26,010. (Always check your personal CRA Notice of Assessment to find out your exact RSP room)
January 3, 2017- The new year brings the opportunity to contribute up to a $5500 maximum to your TFSA for 2017, and replace any contributions you may have withdrawn in a previous calendar year. The cumulative total is now to $52,000. Don't forget that in spite of the name (Tax Free Savings Account), a savings account is NOT the only option available to you. Review your investment objectives, risk tolerance and time horizon with your financial advisor to see if investments offering greater growth potential (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, segregated funds, etc.) are more appropriate for your needs.
December 29. 2016 - Life insurance is an important part of financial planning. There are many types of life insurance, each with its own pros and cons. To determine what’s appropriate you need to identify your short-term needs, which may be satisfied with 10 or 20 year renewable term coverage, or if all or some of your needs are really longer-term, including for estate-planning purposes, then Universal Life, Whole Life and Term to 100 may be better choices. Work with an insurance licensed CFP to ensure you understand what your real needs are, and how best you can protect what’s important to you
November 23 2016: Why contribute to an RRSP each year, then wait until you file your personal tax return to have your tax over-payment refunded to you? Instead complete a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) form T1213 ‘Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source’ now. Sending this to your regional CRA each year will allow you to get their approval so your employer can withhold less tax from every pay cheque. Why give CRA an interest free loan of your money, when you can be enjoying it through out the year?
November 16, 2016: As opposed to low interest bearing term deposits and bonds, which are 100% taxable, consider that Eligible Canadian Dividends are taxed at a preferred rate (maximum tax rate in BC is 31.30% and nil if you make less than $46,000/yr). Be sure to first check with your tax advisor as this form of income can affect your government entitlements, especially if you are 65+.. The ‘grossed up’ amount of the dividend is used for income testing purposes. Income paid as Return of capital may be a better option for seniors.
November 9, 2016: The last day for capital gain/loss selling is December 23rd. In anticipation of this, its a good time to check your taxable investment portfolios and discuss your 2016 tax position with your tax accountant. There may be strategies you want to consider while you have time.
November 2, 2016: In a recent national survey by Leger Research, 39% of Canadians expressed that they do not believe they donate enough money to charity; yet only 6% have discussed charitable giving with an advisor. Did you know you can set up your own personal charitable giving trust for as little as $25,000, and continue to direct the investments and annual donations, leaving a lasting legacy that will survive you? There is still time to set one up and receive a 2016 donation receipt.
July 6, 2016: Canada Pension Plan income is not eligible for pension splitting. However you can apply to share your CPP with your spouse. The portion you can share is based on how long you and your spouse have lived together during the total contribution period. Check with your tax advisor first, in case sharing income to reduce tax results in lost government entitlements.
June 1, 2016 – The value of naming a beneficiary can be significant. Funds will pass directly, thus avoiding delays, public disclosure, probate fees, legal and accounting costs. By passing the estate, this also means avoiding Wills Variation claims and creditors. This applies to not only RSPs, RIFs and insurance policies, but also non registered investments including savings, GICs and investment funds.
May 2, 2016 – Executors are liable for settling estate debts in a particular order before they distribute any assets to beneficiaries. The province where the deceased lived dictates the order. Generally: 1. Secured creditors (mortgages/car loans). 2. Funeral expenses 3. Estate admin expenses (executors, lawyers, professionals) 4. Debts with legislative priority (child maintenance, rent, employees’ wages, employment insurance, municipal taxes) 5. Taxes (some provinces stipulate if federal tax is prioritized) 6. Unsecured creditors (treated equally/pro-rated)
April 26, 2016 – Getting a tax refund may sound great, but realize that this means you gave the government an interest free loan. When you do get your tax refund, do something meaningful and constructive with it. Pay off high interest debt, contribute to your RRSP or TFSA, make a lump sum payment on your mortgage, start a RESP for your child or grandchild, upgrade your home, etc.
March 30, 2016 – KNOW FRAUD’s WARNING SIGNS: NO RISK=The higher the returns, the higher the risk.; PROFIT LIKE THE PROS=Pitched opportunities known only to a select few. OFFSHORE; TAX FREE=Move your money outside Canada to avoid taxes (and where you can’t access it offshore); GET IN NOW=Pressure to make a quick decision; YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY CAN’T BE WRONG=Scam artists target religious, ethnic, or close-knit groups by working their way into organizations and befriending members so you will trust them. For more fraud warning signs visit InvestRight.org
March 15, 2016 – AUTOMATIC ENROLLMENT FOR OAS AND GIS BENEFITS. By 2016, all eligible seniors will be automatically enrolled for OAS and GIS and notified by mail. This replaces the old system where seniors had to apply for benefits. Now, if you do nothing, the automatic enrollment goes ahead, so if you wish to defer these payments, you must let Service Canada know. These payments are part of seniors’ tax filing, so it’s important to understand the process
March 10, 2016 – 2015 Tax Tips: File your return, even if you have no income. You may be eligible for GST/HST tax credits and Child tax benefit. Report all income. If you’re missing tax slips, get a duplicate or use the CRA’s My Account service to gain access to electronic copies. Even if you can’t pay your taxes, don’t file late. The penalty is 5% of the balance owing, plus 1% of the balance owing for each month you are late (max 12 months). Don’t miss out on new tax credits, benefits, and deductions. Visit www.cra.gc.ca/getready for new ways to save money. Keep all records for at least 6 years.
March 1, 2016 – Its RSP season all year! Over the long run it usually makes more sense to make your RSP contribution at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting until the deadline 14 months later. Making your contribution early means an extra year of tax free growth (compounding). Alternatively, regular periodic contributions are a great way to ‘dollar cost average’ into the market, often resulting in a better average price. Another good option is to take advantage of market dips by making your contribution at times when good investments can be purchased at a discount
February 12, 2016 – RSPs can be used to help fund a new home purchase. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 and your spouse or partner may also be able to withdraw $25,000, for a combined total of $50,000. To take advantage of the HBP, you must be a first-time home buyer, which means you can’t have owned a home in the past five years. Keep in mind you must repay the funds to your RSP or suffer tax consequences, and that the funds withdrawn are no longer growing and compounding towards your retirement. Be sure to talk to your financial advisor first to make sure this makes sense for your personal situation.
January 26, 2016 – Shareholders and Executives can increase their retirement savings opportunities using Individual Pension Plans (IPPs) rather than RRSPs. If you are at least 40, and have T4 employment income, you can enjoy higher contribution limits, and a contribution for past service. Pension income can later be split with your spouse, and IPP assets have several layers of protection. They do require lead time to set up, so plan to take any action early in the year
September 10, 2015 – The new one time $1200 BC Training and Education Savings Grant is now available to BC residents for children born in 2007 or later, if at the time of the grant application the child has turned 6 years old and has a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Just as with the other education related grants and bonds, it too can be used towards post secondary education at any qualifying education or training program. A large selection of RESP options are available to maximize your children’s education fund. Don’t miss out.
August 28, 2015 – Estate Planning strategies exist that may eliminate or reduce the requirement of having assets probated, as the process can be time consuming, complex, expensive and open to public scrutiny. Ask me about the opportunities available to avoid or reduce probating assets on death, and possibly safe guard wishes that could be contested or cause friction
August 19, 2015 – Life and Critical Illness insurance are valuable resources to reimburse expenses incurred due to the loss of a business owner or key executive. It can provide much needed cash for debt payments, hiring interim or permanent management/sales help, or to fund the purchase or sale of shares
August 7, 2015 – Studies show that half of us worry that our deaths will create a financial hardship for our families, yet despite these anxieties, many of us remain underinsured. Many in fact don’t own any kind of life, travel, accident, disability, critical illness or long-term care insurance. Life is unpredictable. What would happen to you or your family in the event of a death or a serious illness or accident?
August 4, 2015 – Even with pension income splitting rules, Spousal RRSPs can still make sense. Spousal RRSPs allow you to split more than 50% pension income to a lower income spouse, and they can provide a means to split income before the age of 65 (as long as no contribution has been made to any Spousal RRSP in the year of withdrawal or the two preceding calendar years)
July 31, 2015 – Prioritize paying off debt as quickly as possible. While Canadians think they will be debt free by age 56, more than half age 65 and older still owe money (credit cards, mortgages, car loans, student and personal loans) into retirement. Carrying debt late into life can severely limit your ability to save for retirement and have the cash flow needed to enjoy a comfortable retirement.
July 28, 2015 – Don’t forget to maximize the $2000 pension income tax credit. If under 65, this applies to employer pensions, or if over 65, this also applies to RRIF income, RSP annuities and income from GICs from a life insurance company. If you and your spouse are 65, you can double the tax credit by investing twice as much in an insurance company GIC then splitting the income
July 20, 2015 – The number one concern expressed by retirees is whether they will outlive their money. The latest life expectancy tables on survival rates from FPSC reveal that a 65 year old couple can expect that one of the two will survive to age 96. People who do not use tobacco, people from younger generations, people who are more financially comfortable, and who have shown evidence of good health are likely to survive even longer. So have you planned accordingly?
June 24, 2015 – Changes announced in the recent federal budget received Royal Assent today. Its now official that the Tax-Free Savings Account annual contribution limit has been increased to $10,000, effective for 2015 and subsequent years, and that the minimum withdrawal factors for Registered Retirement Income Funds have been reduced to permit seniors to preserve more of their retirement savings to better support their retirement income needs.
June 18, 2015 – BC Probate fees are $6 for every $1,000 or portion of your estate’s value over $25,000, $150 + $14 for every $1,000 or portion in excess of $50,000, and an additional $200 flat fee for estates exceeding $25,000. To avoid this, consider the value of insurance products that allow you to designate a beneficiary (insurance proceeds, annuities, managed investments, term deposits, etc.) so that your money can pass privately, quickly and easily, and bypass these probate fees, and other legal and accounting costs.
June 17, 2015 – Do you know how long your investment portfolio needs to provide for you? Most of us underestimate how long we’re ‘expected’ to live. Here are the averages (remember half of us will live longer than this, and if we’re a couple, one of us will survive longer than the other): If you live to 60, your life expectancy is 83; if you live to 65, its age 84; at 70, its age 85; at 75, its age 87; at 80, its age 89; at 85, its age 92, and at 90, its age 95. Proper planning to make sure you can maintain your lifestyle is critical.
June 8, 2015 – If your mortgage is coming up for renewal, shop around before you sign your renewal notice. Over 50% of mortgage holders just renew with their mortgage lenders, without doing the research that could save them thousands. This applies to mortgage insurance as well. Don’t automatically buy what the bank offers. Personal life insurance often costs the same, but always provides your family with significantly more. Consult your life insurance advisor first.
May 27, 2015 – The recent federal budget increase to Tax-Free Savings Accounts limits now allows for a more attractive option for cash flow. With accumulated contribution room of $41,000, or $82,000 per couple, and a 5% return, this can generate $4100 a year in extra (tax-free) income to supplement other income sources. Of course, this assumes the new limit remains in place (Liberals have said they would drop it back to $5,000 if elected).
May 14, 2015 – When it comes to investment returns and income, its not just what you make, but what you get to keep, and for seniors, how it impacts government entitlements. I help investors who aren’t aware of the results based strategies and innovative options that work to improve both their immediate and long term financial needs and goals.
May 12, 2015 – The top 3 priorities of investors are risk management, beating the market’s performance, and losing less when the market is down. Small reductions in downside performance can make a big difference in long term returns. Volatility matters significantly when retirement income is drawn during market losses. Your ability to recover becomes significantly more challenging, especially if the downturn is of any duration. Professional active management becomes more critical.
May 7, 2015 – For older parents, financial planning can be challenging. Just as your children are heading to college, you’re readying for retirement. How do you choose between tuition and RRSPs? Your child can go to college using loans, scholarships, or paying their own way, but there aren’t a lot of ways you can retire. Working longer isn’t a reliable strategy as many end up retiring before they planned, and you can’t borrow to fund your retirement. If you haven’t saved enough, you could become a burden on your children just as they’re having their own children.
May 5, 2015 – You can name a beneficiary for your RRSP or TFSA either by completing a form with your financial institution, or in your will. Both are equally effective under BC law. By doing this, your assets pass directly, outside your estate, so there are no delays, costs or probate fees. This also means your assets are not subject to a wills variation claim by a disappointed spouse or child. Insurance and insurance products (i.e. segregated funds, term deposits, savings) enjoy these same benefits too.
May 1, 2015 – ‘Safe’ portfolios can be risky. With interest rates so low, many buy dividend stocks for consistent income, potential market growth, and tax advantages (unless you’re a senior). This frequently translates to a very concentrated portfolio of only 1 to 3 stocks and no realization of the dangers of big losses and volatility. Spread your risk by holding a variety of stocks in different companies, industries, and geographic areas, and hold other forms of income generating investments, including foreign bonds, and those that provide guaranteed income for life.
April 24, 2015 – If you’re happy to be getting a tax refund, think again. A tax refund is a sign of poor planning. You’ve given the government an interest free loan of your hard earned money, rather than keeping it to invest or enjoy. Instead, complete CRA form T1213 “Request to Reduce Tax Deductions at Source,” to list all your tax deductions, and mail it to CRA every year. Once approved, you can give it to your payroll department so they can reduce your tax deducted at source.
April 23, 2015 – This week’s federal budget increased TFSA contribution limits to $10,000 per year, effective 2015. This brings the cumulative total each of us can contribute to a TFSA to $41,000. If you haven’t maximized this yet, keep in mind that you can transfer in existing assets to avoid tax on future earnings. (Consult your advisor first, as this could trigger tax on unrealized gains)
April 13, 2015 – Consider the value of consolidating your investments and assets in one place. Besides simplifying reporting, investing and cash flow, having a complete picture of your financial situation allows you and your advisor to plan better, invest more effectively (better asset allocation and diversification which then reduces risk) and manage your taxes and estate plans better.
April 9, 2015 – Retirees seeking income are faced with challenges in this ever low interest rate environment. Market volatility is scary, as is researching and monitoring a quality portfolio that can provide higher returns. Strong, professional management is key to finding low volatility income that is dependable, tax efficient and will last throughout our lifetime.
April 1, 2015 – Retirement planning often addresses issues like safe withdrawal rates, government pension strategies, and creating tax efficient income. However, the financial, emotional and practical issues surrounding housing choices also play an important role and should be carefully considered as well.
March 25, 2015 – Estate planning includes a will, power of attorney (for financial decisions) and a representation agreement (for health and personal care decisions). Giving assets away before you die, taking actions to minimize taxes, and buying life insurance to take care of loved ones or debts may form part of the plan too. Its important to regularly review your documents to reflect changes in assets, health, family, estate tax laws and regulations. Professional advice is key.
March 18, 2015 – If you’ve ever worried about Identity theft, do you know there is affordable insurance that will provide you (and your spouse) with current and regular consumer credit disclosure(s), and if there is fraud, will work with you to restore your good name and credit.
March 11, 2015 – When should you take CPP? Its not an easy decision. Taking it early means a reduced benefit, while deferring it until age 70, means not just an enhanced benefit, but the opportunity to continue paying into it if you’re still working, and perhaps having your employer pay in too. This can mean a considerably larger indexed lifetime pension. Plus, you can elect to share your CPP with your spouse, which can have great income splitting tax benefits too. Get good advice, as once you make your election, you can’t change your mind.
March 3, 2015 – Why buy insurance on the life of your child? Investing in an insurance policy with investments that grow, can later result in no more payments. When your child is 19 or older, you can transfer the policy to them with no tax implications. They will then own the policy on their own life, and can use their investments for a down payment on a home or some other purpose. Alternatively, if they want to contribute more to the policy themselves, they can leave the investments to grow (for their own retirement?)
February 25, 2015 – Ever wonder what you would do if you suddenly had a windfall? Don’t rush; resist spending; pay off debt; talk to experts and your family; set priorities; get professional financial and estate planning advice; consider charity; splurge a bit, but be careful not to blow the opportunities now available to you.
February 17, 2015 – Have a lawyer or notary prepare your will to avoid the serious problems often encountered by those choosing to do it themselves: failure to name both an executor and an alternate executor; failure to account for all assets; Gifting more than you have; failure to appreciate the legal rights of spouses and dependents; and improper wording or invalid provisions that can void your will. Don’t forget that besides a Will, you also need a power of attorney, and should consider a representation agreement (for health & personal care).
February 4, 2015 – The last day to make an RRSP contribution for the 2014 tax year is March 2, 2015. If you’re like many of us, finding a large lump sum of money after the holidays can be a challenge. Instead, why not make regular contributions each month or pay? Besides being easier on the pocket, its often a smarter way to invest too. Setting this up is quick and easy, can be customized to suit your needs, and be changed or suspended as needed.
January 21, 2015 – Many Canadians will live longer than age 90, and worry about outliving their money. That’s why its important to create enough guaranteed income to cover your basic expenses for life, then ensure your assets are invested appropriately, and can sustain the additional income you want for the lifestyle you deserve.
November 25th 2014 – Business insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. Typically it boils down to asking the right questions like when the owner dies, will their executor have enough cash to: 1. Pay their debts, taxes and costs; 2. Pay an income to the surviving spouse and family; 3. Transfer the assets to the children/partner, with a minimum of conflict; 4. Keep the ongoing business healthy. Working with a trusted and experienced insurance advisor can keep things simple and avoid creating complications for your family, and/or destroying your business.
November 19, 2014 – Beneficiary designations can be used with life insurance, various annuity contracts, segregated fund investments, RRSPs, RRIFs and TFSAs. These allow your assets to transfer outside of your will quickly, privately, and without dispute, delays, accounting, legal and probate costs. You can also name contingent beneficiaries. Remember to always keep these current to reflect changes such as divorce, remarriage, deaths, incapacity, new children, grandchildren, or minor children reaching the age of majority and no longer requiring trustees. Changes to your will do not override beneficiary designations.
November 10, 2014- Advance Health Care Decisions: What medical care would you like to receive if you were unable to express your wishes? Have you shared this with your loved ones and medical professionals? Planning for future incapacity can be difficult, and discussing it with your loved ones may be uncomfortable, but clearly setting out your wishes on the types of medical care you wish to receive will not only lessen the likelihood of conflict amongst your loved ones, but will also allow them to make hard decisions knowing the decision is truly in keeping with your wishes.
October 27, 2014 – A Dalbar study found the average US fund investor underperformed the S&P 500 by 7.4% annually over the past 30 years. Why? Sadly, its because investors sell when things are bad, and buy after a period of good performance. This “buy-high, sell-low” behavior causes investors to have a lower average return than the investment itself. Chasing performance is an affliction of many investors. What’s important is time in the market, not timing the market.
October 20, 2014 – To avoid identity theft: Keep hard copies of financial information in a storage safe, be selective when using your debit card, only carry necessary ID and one credit card, and don’t provide your SIN unnecessarily. Create strong, unique passwords for every online account, password protect your cell phone, don’t access important personal information through open, public wireless connections, and only open e-mail from sources you know.
October 7, 2014 – Numerous studies have proven the advantages of working with a financial planner, including feeling better prepared, accumulating more assets, having more retirement income, paying less tax, enjoying greater government entitlements in retirement, riding volatile market conditions with less stress, and improving investment results over the long term.
September 25, 2014 – Only 9% of business owners have a documented transition plan in place, and yet 70% of small business owners plan to transition in the next 10 years. Have you talked to your family, partners, key personnel, tax, accounting and financial advisors about your succession plans yet? Success requires careful planning. I can help
September 17, 2014 – Consistent withdrawals from your portfolio during market declines can potentially be devastating. By the time markets turn around, you may not have enough assets remaining to recover and make you whole again. Guaranteed lifetime income and low volatility investments become significantly more critical in protecting your retirement lifestyle.
September 10, 2014 – Turns out the impact of the global financial crisis is still on many investors minds, making risk management as important as ever. If protecting your money from a Bubble or Crisis is important to you, consider the benefits of active and disciplined professionally managed portfolios, versus buying passive indexes that allocate more to over valued stocks, even when they reach staggering heights.
September 3, 2014 – Retirement planning should go beyond your investments and pension income, and include safe withdrawal rates, CPP/OAS claiming strategies, the impact of low interest rates, as well as the financial, emotional, and practical sides of your housing choice (cost of housing and living expenses, use of your equity, changing needs that come with aging, proximity to key people and services, etc.)
August 29, 2014 – Low interest rates are the chance to pay down your mortgage faster, unload high interest debt and be in a good position when rates do rise. Sadly, Canadians are in more debt than ever. We seem addicted to the idea that low rates will last forever, and are not using this opportunity to make a higher payments now. Rates will go up; its only a matter of when. Paying more towards principal now means paying far less later at higher interest rates. And always pay your higher interest debt first.
August 27, 2014 – This relentless stock bull market makes it hard to justify balanced portfolios since clients have grown increasingly ambitious about returns. As the 2008 crisis fades, investors are now less realistic and more greedy. However, over a 10 year or even 20 year time horizon, balanced portfolios have done nearly as well as pure equity portfolios, but with less volatility. Crisis regularly happen without notice, and declines often outlast investors’ resolve. Don’t risk more than you need to, or can afford to, especially if you’re drawing income now or soon.
August 21, 2014 – We still don’t know when kids will be going back to school this fall, but we do know that eventually most will require help with their post secondary education costs. A Registered Education Savings Plan grows your money faster on a tax sheltered basis, plus you can benefit from the government’s 20% matching grants. And, for those who qualify, you might also enjoy additional bonds. Timing is everything though, so talk to your financial advisor now.
August 14, 2014 –Senior victims of financial fraud say they are more willing to make risky investments, says a study presented at the Retirement Research Consortium in Washington, D.C. The University study could not determine if the fraud had whetted the investors’ appetite for risk, or if they just wanted to recoup losses from the scam. However, people were only willing to risk so much for greater gain. ( Before contemplating any investment, you should review your financial situtaton, objectives and risk tolerance with your trusted investment advisor)
It was noted that life expectancy increases mean we need to save more for retirement than our parents did. Working longer can substantially improve your retirement prospects.
July 31, 2014 – Out of all Canadian household debt, 1% is from investment loans versus 21% from credit cards/lines of credit for various consumer purchases. While borrowing to invest, versus spend, is a far better choice, its definitely not for everyone. However if used responsibly (i.e. surplus cash flow and long time horizon), it can build wealth. Plus interest costs are often tax deductible, and estate protection is possible if the right investments are chosen.
July 17, 2014 – If you own shares in a private business, the Capital Dividend Account (CDA) is a great tax planning tool to access tax free funds. Beware though; corporations that misuse this account and pay tax free dividends beyond what’s available in the CDA are subject to a steep 60% tax penalty.
July 9, 2014 – Snowbirds already know they have to keep track of how many whole or part days they’re in the U.S. and outside Canada, or they may be subject to adverse tax and non-tax consequences. If this is you, know that as of June 30, 2014, both Canada and the U.S. are sharing information in real time when and where people entering and leaving.
July 3, 2014 – If you have a pension and quit work before retiring, be sure to get professional advice and understand all your options before deciding what to do with your pension. There are numerous variables that will affect your choice, which is usually irreversible. (i.e. family situation; tax considerations; transfer options; flexibility, income and/or security needs; investment options; pension solvency; company benefit entitlements. )
June 25, 2014 – Do you qualify for the pension income tax credit? It’s not just for seniors. If you receive an employer sponsored pension, RRIF and/or certain types of annuity income, you may be eligible to claim up to a $2,000 tax credit (or $4000, if you split your pension income with your spouse). Talk to your advisor to make sure you’re not missing out.
June 10, 2014 – Successful investors shift their focus from news that affects short-term stock prices, to what’s important; their long term investment needs (homes, education and retirement). Longer lifespans require higher long-term returns than 3% in bonds, and remember, cash is not risk free. As at April 30th, the five year return on Canadian equities (TSX) was 12.7% and on US equities (S&P500) it was 19.1%. A well diversified portfolio that includes the right mix of assets appropriate for your risk tolerance and objectives is your best option if you’re going to achieve your goals.
June 5, 2014 – Parents often have so many financial demands, that finding extra money for their children’s education can be tough. The vast majority of grandparents think it’s important to help pay for their grandchildren’s college education, and more than half are currently contributing, or planning to. Registered Education Savings Plans and In Trust accounts can be great ways to accomplish this. Each has its own advantages, so get good advice and start saving early.
June 3 2014 – Expect a lot of press over the coming months, regarding future Regulatory changes to investment fee disclosure. It will become increasingly important to know what you’re getting for the fee, so you can determine whether you are in fact getting good value from your advisor. All inclusive fees should cover not just the many related expenses, but include added benefits and services important to ensuring your financial success. Cost is only an issue in the absence of value
May 22, 2014 – Retirement is not one singular stage of life. “The Prosperous Retirement, Guide to the New Reality” book suggests that retirement consists of 3 stages: “go-go” stage, the first 10 years when retirees spend more on travel and other luxuries; “slow-go” years, when retirees stay home more and spend less on luxuries; and “no-go” years, when retirees may do even less but now spend more on health-care and related costs. Its important to plan carefully, and not generalize with abstract rules of thumb.
May 8, 2014 – Risk aversion is a big risk. Most Cdns are highly risk averse, which can be the biggest risk to meeting future income goals. So called risk free GICs, government bonds & high-interest savings accounts are actually loaded with risk since interest rates are at historic lows that won’t even keep up with inflation, let alone grow your money. We live longer now, so we need more money for a longer retirement. To avoid running out of money, retirees can either work longer, reduce spending, or grow their investments by taking on a little more risk pre-retirement. A financial planner will help you determine how much you need, and implement a personal plan to ensure your comfortable retirement.
April 30, 2014- Research shows that investor risk tolerance is most often extremely low. We all want two things in life: one is to be rich, and the other is to not be poor, however, not being poor is more important than being rich. When investors say they can take risk, is it because they really can take risk, or because they believe they have superior investing skills and are being overconfident? During periods of market exuberance, investors think they are geniuses.
April 28 2014 – A new marriage should trigger a thorough review all your documents. Have you updated your Will, Power of Attorney, Representation agreement, and your beneficiaries for RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, insurance policies(including segregated funds), health insurance policies, and pension plans? Do you need a new joint bank or joint investment account?
April 15, 2014 – Investors, regulators and the media have become so obsessed with costs that they have lost sight of the big picture – what really counts is value for money. Higher-priced investments should not be rejected based on cost alone, and you should not buy second rate ETFs because they have a low MER. You must be selective. Cost is always a consideration but it should never be looked at in isolation. If a higher price pays off with a superior return, tax efficiency, and/or less volatility (so you can sleep at night) then the extra expense is worth it.
April 1, 2014 – B.C.’s new Wills, Estates and Succession Act comes into effect today. Changes cover the process for when a person dies without a will; simplifies transfer of the spousal home; details the sequence for finding heirs; provides more latitude to ensure a deceased person’s last wishes will be respected; and allows 16 year olds to make a will.
March 21, 2014 – Registered Education Savings Plans – is it best to deposit the lifetime limit of $50,000 and take advantage of the tax deferred compounding, or does it make more sense to make annual contributions and maximize the 20% Canada Education Savings Grant? Depending on a number of factors, one is likely to be a better choice for your situation. Be sure to have your trusted advisor work out the best strategy for you
March 11, 2014 – This is Make-a-Will Week. Hopefully you are one of the 49% of British Columbians who have a signed, legally valid and up-to-date will to take care of the people, charities and organizations you most care about. If not, your assets may not be distributed the way you want, and you risk extra costs, lengthy delays, and potential for litigation. A will also ensures you choose who will raise your young children, if you and your spouse both die. While you’re at it, don’t forget to check that all your RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, segregated fund and insurance policy designations are current too.
March 4, 2014- The average Cdn needs 60%-80% of their income in retirement, depending on their lifestyle expectations. Maximum CPP and OAS benefits total only $19,078, which replaces only 60% of $31,797 income. If you are earning more than this, you will need other sources of income to sustain your standard of living. What are you doing to fill in your income gap?
March 1, 2014 – As of January 1, 2014, CRA dropped the rate for income splitting loans back down to only 1%. Locking in a loan like this is a big opportunity to shift investment income to a family member who is in a lower tax bracket.
February 26, 2014 – When markets are hot, remember: Stick to your asset allocation; take your profits and rebalance so you don’t give it all back; stay focused on fundamentals, not the hype; the ‘Correction’ happens before you get out of bed in the morning; preservation of capital wins over return on capital.
February 19, 2014 – With the 2013 RSP deadline fast approaching, you might be asking yourself why you always wait until the last minute to make your contribution. Lump sums of cash can be difficult to come up with, and typically February is a high point in the market cycle. Instead, consider periodic payments which are usually easier on the budget and a better way to invest.
February 18, 2014 – Although the vast majority of us nearing retirement expect to choose when we retire, that’s not always the case. An RBC poll reveals that over 40% of us will have employers ask us to step down and over 20% of us will have health issues speed up our departure. Since two thirds of us will have one year or less notice, planning your retirement well ahead makes good sense.
February 6, 2014 – The percentage of Canadians with RSPs and the amount they are contributing is slightly up this year. The average contribution is now $4,653, but is this enough? Few of us have pensions beyond CPP and OAS, so having enough invested to make sure you enjoy a comfortable retirement and don’t outlive your money is critical. Do you know if you’re on track for the retirement you’re hoping for?
January 28, 2014 – As of March 31st, B.C.’s Wills, Estates & Succession Act extends the mandatory hold period that an estate executor must wait before they can distribute assets to 210 days after the issue of a grant of probate (unless they have the consent of all beneficiaries named in any will, and consent of all next of kin who would be entitled to a share in the estate if there was no will, even if there is a will and they are not beneficiaries). The hold period extends indefinitely if estate litigation proceedings are outstanding.
January 13, 2014 – An annuity accomplishes one simple goal: guaranteed lifetime income that cannot decrease or stop no longer how long you live. It can be based on your life alone, or with your spouse, jointly. When purchased with non RSP money, it is very tax efficient too (which means you not only pay less tax and keep more, you may also receive more governement entitlements too). Most annuities are not flexibile, so you do need other money available for emergencies or major expenses. You can also buy an insured annuity to replace your capital for your heirs.
January 8, 2014 – A 2012 study reveals again that higher client wealth is attributable to advice, since advisors impart a savings and investing discipline that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Depending on the length of time the household received financial advice, the difference in their financial assets ranged from 1.58 times (4-6 years advice) to 2.73% (15+ years advice).
December 30, 2013 – Retirees say money isn’t what brings happiness. Instead they attribute half to genetic makeup, 10% to circumstances, and the rest to physical activity & play, connecting with friends, family & community, service to others, being grateful, and having had control over the timing of their retirement.
December 18, 2013 – Most people donate cash to their favorite charity, but with the stock markets having provided such great returns this year, consider donating publicly traded securities instead. Not only will you get a full tax credit for their current market value, you’ll completely avoid paying capital gains tax on your profit. Don’t forget that if you want to apply the donation to 2013, December 31st is just around the corner, and holiday closures leave only a few more days to act on this.
December 11, 2013 – Do index funds offer less risk and better returns than actively managed portfolios? Depends what you’re comparing them to. Managers that build portfolios that mimic an index or benchmark, or better than average managers who have an edge using valuation and diversification judgment, and employ forward thinking stock analysis that focuses on buying low and selling high.
December 2, 2013 – Under CRA’s pension income splitting rules, RRIF income can be split between spouses as long as you are at least age 65. Talk to your tax advisor to see if converting part of your RRSP before year end and starting RRIF income this year makes sense. Alternatively, with Spousal RRSPs, you can split income anytime (providing attribution rules don’t apply).
November 27, 2013 – The new First Time Donor’s Super Credit now adds 25% to the charitable tax credit for those who have not claimed the tax credit since 2007. In BC this now means that a $1000 gift will only cost you $360.28! What a great opportunity to help make a difference to your favorite cause or organization.
November 21, 2013 – If you own investments with unrealized losses, talk to your tax advisor about selling them before December 25th, so they settle before year end. It may make sense to apply the loss against your capital gains realized this year, or in a prior year.
November 6, 2013 – 2013 Fidelity Investments Couples Retirement Study reveals that younger women are playing a more passive role in couples’ financial decision-making compared to older women. Boomer women are more likely to be influenced by the feminist movement and want to participate in decision making on an equal or take-charge basis. Younger post-feminist women view their role differently. Given that most women will end up on their own (divorced, widowed or never married) having to take complete responsibility for their finances and future, its important to be involved and financially literate now.
October 31, 2013 – When markets do well, many investors wait for a pull back before investing. Consider the risk of trying to time the market: Getting in too early is not the mistake. Getting in too late is the mistake. If you are standing on the platform when the train has pulled away, it’s not going to back up for you. When a bull market takes off, it’s not going to back up for you either
October 3, 2013 – Consider converting all or part of your RRSP to a RRIF at age 65 (rather than 71): 1. You can claim up to $2,000 as pension income to receive a 15% tax credit. Depending on your other income, this can make sense if you are not already receiving $2,000 or more from an employer pension plan (not CPP or OAS). 2. You can split RRIF payments as pension income with your spouse and pay less combined tax and possibly enjoy more government entitlements. Lump-sum withdrawals from RRSPs are not eligible, but RRIF/LIF payments qualify. Get good advice first to make sure these strategies are right for you.
September 25, 2013 – Women often earn lower salaries, live longer than men, and take time off from work to be caregivers. All of this can interfere with their ability to save effectively and earn adequate pension benefits. And on top of that, as many as nine out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their finances at some point in their lives. Its crucial for women to feel empowered and confident when it comes to making investing decisions. A financial planner can help ensure they can live comfortably throughout their retirement years and have enough money to take care of basic expenses.
September 5, 2013 – When markets plummet or soar, even seasoned investors question the logic of a diversified portfolio. Emotions often compel us to concentrate on either what’s safe or what’s exceeding our expectations. Being disciplined isn’t always easy. Diversification is about long term success: reaching your financial goals within the level of risk and time horizon specific to you.
August 27, 2013 – Don’t keep your TFSA (tax free savings account) in savings or GICs. Zero tax on minimal interest is a waste. Instead invest for greater long term returns with mutual funds, stocks, ETFs and other qualified investments. As of 2013 your cumulative total is now $25,500
August 19, 2013 – Being injured or sick can be emotionally and physically devasting and can lead to significant and unexpected costs not covered by either provincial or employer health plans. That’s why having your own private disability and critical illness protection can help minimize fnancial worries while you focus on recovering.
August 9, 2013 – Investments will pass to your loved ones faster, easier and less costly using segregated funds instead of stocks, bonds, ETFs, or mutual funds. They offer privacy and potential creditor proofing benefits, and come in a wide selection of private investment pools, equity, balanced and fixed income options to fit all risk tolerances and investment objectives.
August 1, 2013 – While ‘Do It Yourself’ Wills appear cheap and easy, they can come with serious risks that can cause significant delays and costs later. Often the kits are too generic, and do not explain proper witnessing, or address complex situations such as second marriages, secondary beneficiaries, dependants with disabilities, spendthrift children, or those you may wish to disinherit.
July 2013 – Insurance protects us if we live too long, die too soon, or become sick and disabled. So if we can improve the quality of our lives by reducing financial stress, why do we hesitate or do nothing to avoid the consequences of potential disasters?
July 27, 2013 – Why is it easier for couples to talk about sex than it is to talk about money? Financial conflicts predict separation better than any other marital issue. In fact, some studies attribute about 1 in 5 Canadian’s divorces as being caused primarily by money. Start talking! Its far cheaper and less stressful than divorce.
July 17, 2013 – Vested pension money transferred to Locked-in RSPs or LIRAs can legitamately be ‘unlocked’ under certain circumstances, depending on which jurisdiction applies. Typically there are four situations where this can occur: serious financial hardship, shortened life expectancy, non residency and accounts with only small amounts. Beware of scams that offer alternative strategies.
July 9, 2013 – Many seniors worry about outliving their money. Life annuities provide a simple guaranteed lifetime income stream based on your age and initial contribution. You can choose features that include joint life income, indexing, and even a cash refund. Annuities can be purchased with money in your RRSP or RRIF, and with non registered money too. Non registered annuities are very tax efficient, making them ideal for income tested government entitlements.
July 5, 2013 – Have a solid retirement plan, and bulletproof lifelong income strategy. Advisor.ca reports that according to a recent study, retirees with a 40% equity, 60% bond portfolio and a withdrawal rate of 4% have a more than 50% chance of running out of money over a 30-year time horizon.
July 3, 2013 – The death of a business owner or key executive can have a major financial impact including lost employee/customer confidence, credit calls and lost revenues. Insuring key personnel provides immediate cash to help with hiring temporary staff, training and recruiting costs to get your business back on track. What would hapen to your business if you lost a valuable employee?
June 25, 2013 – Parents, consider this: More kids think they’ll make a million dollars by becoming famous, than by investing in stocks and bonds; 96% of Canadians think that financially smart kids will result in a stronger economy, but only 18% of parents discuss money with their kids; Kids are fearless about learning and should start understanding ‘values’ versus ‘entitlement’ well before the age of 8; Self control, far more than IQ, school marks, or socio economic status, is the biggest predictor of financial success.
June 18, 2013 – 20% of British Columbia’s have been exploited. Know the warning signs of investment fraud: Guaranteed with no risk? (Be savy-the higher the return, the higher the risk); Fraudsters offering you opportunities based on ‘inside’ information; Offshore,Tax Free (=illegal tax avoidance and inaccessible acounts); Friendly scam artists working their way into ethnic and religious groups by creating ‘trust’. Check out BeFraudAware.ca
June 12, 2013 – New Old Age Security provisions come into effect July 1, 2013, where you can now choose to start payments at age 65 or qualify for higher payments by deferring your start date up to 5 years (age 70). Your life expectancy, other income (OAS clawback), federal/provincial tax credits, and other factors will determine what makes sense for you. Get good advice.
June 5, 2013 – Apparently changes to US legislation are being considered that would allow Canadians 55+ (snowbirds) to spend more time in the US without a visa. If passed, other stumbling blocks remain, including potential provincial health coverage restrictions.
May 29, 2013 – 2 in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. Fortunately many of us will survive, but the financial cost of recovering can be significant Critical Illness protection can provide extra money for treatments, drugs, lost wages, debts, caregivers, home renovations, or whatever helps minimize your stress and the impact on your future plans.
May 22, 2013 – Make the most of your tax refund by either paying off debt, or making an early RSP contribution. If you’re going to be overpaying tax again, then instead of waiting for a refund next year, appy to Canada Revenue Agency for a Reduction of Tax at Source (T1213). Why prepay tax and give CRA an interest free loan? Other good ideas for your refund include contributing to a TFSA (tax free savings account) or an RESP (registered education savings plan) for your children/grandchildren (and receive a government grant too)
May 13, 2013 – With summer vacations around the corner, don’t forget that whether you’re travelling overseas, or just crossing the line for gas or groceries, travelling out of BC can result in devastatingly expensive unexpected emergencies that are only marginally covered by BC health and most employer extended health insurance plans. Private single trip and annual multi trip plans can offer great protection
May 6, 2013 – If you’re turning 71 years old this year and still have an RRSP, you need to make some important decisions before year end. While RRIFs offer the greatest flexibility, life annuities and variable annuities offer valuable guarantees and security. There are many tax, income and estate planning considerations, so get qualified advice before you decide. A combination of solutions may make the most sense, and waiting until 71 may not be your best choice.
April 30, 2013 – Our aging population needs income, which in this low interest rate environment is very challenging. Particularly when many of us are still recovering emotionally and financially from the 2008 collapse. There are creative investment strategies that deliver higher returns without the wild volatility we’re so afraid of. Significant rate increases are years off, so don’t wait further. You could be enjoying more income now.
April 23, 2013 – Do you know the true cost of owning US property? Consider travel costs, extended health insurance, property taxes and insurance, maintenance fees and utility costs, and the impact on your cash flow. This of course doesn’t consider tax on any rental income and when you sell the property, or possible estate taxes.
April 8, 2013 – Once 65, splitting ‘pension’ income with your spouse can mean doubling the $2000 pension income tax credit on your employer pension, RRIF and annuity income, as well as interest on insurance company issued GICs. Besides an extra tax credit, this can also result in paying less overall tax and enjoying more government entitlements.
April 2, 2013 – Regularly check that all your beneficiary designations are current. This includes your retirement savings plans, retirement income funds, pension plans, segregated funds, life insurance and other insurance products. Updating your will or changing your marital status is not sufficient.
March 27, 2013 – April 30th is the last day to file your 2012 personal tax return. If you expect a refund, file early to get your money back as soon as possible. If you’re expecting a large refund, plan to keep more of your money this year and file a CRA form T1213 authorizing your employer to withhold less tax on your pay throughout the year. And of course, if you have to pay, hang on to your money and wait for the deadline.
March 19, 2013 – US investor sentiment survey done by Franklin Templeton shows that every year after the 2008 S&P 500 market decline of 37%, US investors thought that the markets continued to be down or flat. In 2009 66% thought so, inspite of the market being up 26.5%%, in 2010 49% still thought so, when the market was up again 15.1%, in 2011 70% were still mistaken, as the market was up 2.1%, and last year, 2012, 31% didn’t realize again, as the market was up yet again 16%. Be informed, and don’t let emotion keep you out of the market. Work with a financial advisor to plan the right strategy for your goals and risk tolerance.
March 13, 2013 – The 2008 financial crisis changed how Canadians think about retirement, with 60% now expecting to still be working after age 65. Have you calculated how much income you’ll need, and whether your savings will sustain your 25+ years of retirement?
March 8, 2013 – GICs, money-market funds and bonds are considered some of the safest assets available. Sadly, investors are happy receiving their interest and principal without considering that when adjusted for inflation, these so-called safe investments yield a negative real return. The age-old adage still rings true today: “Bonds promoted as offering risk-free return are now priced to deliver return-free risk.”
March 5, 2013 – Check your group and/or personal disability insurance policy to understand the criteria used to qualify for benefits after two years. Often the definition then changes from being unable to do your job, to a much stricter definition of being unable to do any job. Your ability to earn income is your most valuable asset. Be sure you’re adequately protected.
February 26, 2013 – The new Family Law Act comes into force next month. Major changes include common law spouses treated similar to married couples, increases in the value of gifts and inheritances becoming family assets, debts being divided, and best interests of the child being considered prime in all orders and agreements. Getting good advice is a must.
February 20, 2013 – BC’s 2013 Budget introduces a one time grant of $1200 paid to 6 year old’s Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) providing they were born January 1, 2007 or later, and are resident in BC at the time the grant application is made. Note: Parents must apply for the grant before the child reaches the age of 7.
February 14, 2013 – A recent TD poll reveals that 28% of B.C. couples, including those with children, have never even discussed life insurance with their partners. If you died last night, would your loved ones need cash to cover immediate expenses or income to live on?
February 6, 2013 – Don’t miss pension income splitting opportunities with your spouse. You can elect to split private pension income, and if you are 65+, you can also split RRIFand registered annuity income. This strategy may reduce your combined taxes, entitle each of you to claim the $2000 pension income tax credit, and perhaps enjoy more government entitlements. Talk to your advisor about this, and whether to share your CPP too.
January 29, 2013 – Global Finance Magazine’s 2012 ranking of the World’s Top 50 Safest Banks lists the top 10 as being in Europe. Surprising given our impression of Canada’s strong banking system. Our big 5 banks ranked in the top 26. Another good reason to diversify our portfolios outside of Canada.
January 24, 2013 – Effective July 1, 2013 you will have the new option of voluntarily postponing when you start collecting Old Age Security payments. Like CPP, you will be able to defer starting income until the age of 70, and in doing so, receive up to 36% more income. This could be advantageous, but only if you you’re in a ‘clawback’ position. Check with your trusted advisor before you decide if this makes sense for you.
January 16, 2013 – The last day to make an RRSP contribution for the 2012 tax year is March 1st 2013. If you’re not already making regular periodic payments, consider starting this now. Unless you expect a year end bonus or some other windfall, for most of us its easier on our budget to make regular contributions. Plus, its usually less risky than hoping your lump sum investment is made at a good point in the market. Instead, you’re buying more when markets are low, and buying less when markets are high.
January 2, 2013 – Live below your means. Start the new year right and concentrate on building savings to create long term wealth and security (versus instant gratification). And, don’t fool yourself about spending. Discounts are not a good deal if you’re paying creditors interest on credit cards or loans.
December 27, 2012 – Insurance proceeds can bypass your estate and probate fees, plus avoid Wills Variation claims, delays, public disclosure, legal and accounting costs. These significant benefits apply to life insurance, and other insurance products like segregated funds and term deposits. Besides estate advantages, there can be tax advantages too.
December 20, 2012 – Money can make or break relationships. An Angus Reid survey of Canadian couples shows most avoid discussing finances early on, even though they say the status of their partner’s finances is important. Almost one in five couples know next to nothing about their partner’s money matters. Before committing to a serious long term relationship, discuss important money topics includiing assets, debts, and how expenses will be shared.
December 11, 2012 – Effective January 1, 2013 the cumulative Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) maximum contribution will be $25,500. If you file your tax return electronically, and want to know your unused TFSA contribution limit, click the Quick Access link towards the bottom of the page of last year’s return. Once you enter your SIN and some detail from your 2011 return, you can access some basic tax information such as your TFSA and RRSP limits. Know your limit before making contributions to avoid overcontribution penalties.
December 5, 2012 – B.C.’s Wills Variation Act can result in changes to a Will so that your assets may not be distributed as you intend. Simply put, you can’t disinherit an adult child unless they effectively abused or completely cut off their parent for no good reason. Good advice and careful planning can help you bypass this possibility and ensure that your assets go to whom you intend.
November 27, 2012 – Starting 2013, you can now contribute $5500 per year to your Tax Free Savings Account. This means that along with your $5000 annual contributions since 2009, as of January 1st you can have $25,500 earning tax free interest, dividends, and capital gains. Eligible investments include not just low interest savings accounts and term deposits, but stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
November 14, 2012 – Don’t miss the $2000 Pension Income tax credit on eligible pension income. While only employer pension income applies if you’re under age 65, once 65, it also includes RRIF income, annuity income purchased with RRSP funds, and other taxable annuity income, including insurance company issued GICs. If you don’t have $2000 eligible pension income, we can still arrange it before year end, so you (and/or your spouse) can start getting the tax credit for 2012.
November 7, 2012 – Besides having a Will, its important that you also have a Power of Attorney for property (real estate, bank accounts, investments), and consider an additional Power of Attorney for Personal Care. Do not confuse this with the Executor you name in your Will. Your Executor only has power after you have died. While you are living, you need a Power of Attorney to take care of you, if you are unable to do so yourself.
October 30, 2012 – More Entrepreneurs are working after the age of 65. Some because they enjoy their work, others because of insufficient retirement funds. Although almost 70% are boomers, more than half don’t have a succession plan. Essentials include an exit strategy, buy/sell agreement, insurance, and consideration given to family inheritances.
October 17, 2012 – Never confuse investment ‘yield’ with ‘total return’. Yield is a measure of income, ignoring any change in the market value of your investment. Return includes both income and any change in market value. Your total return can be positive or negative, inspite of any income paid to you. After all, what good is a 10% yield, if your capital has gone down 20%?
October 2, 2012 – Saving money for a rainy day has been replaced with reliance on debt as a solution. 92% of Canadians could not even raise $2000 in the case of an emergency! Instead, keep an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months living expenses in liquid assets, so that should something unexpected occur, you can access cash without paying high interest or fees, or triggering a loss or penalty.
September 26, 2012 – If you’re contemplating a new mortgage, don’t just shop for the best rate, shop for the most flexibility too. Most people ‘fiddle’ with their mortgage after the fact by adding lines of credit, changing amortization periods, renegotiating rates, or making extra payments. To avoid a penalty, read this week’s Globe & Mail column: 10 questions to help you avoid mortgage-penalty shock.
September 20, 2012 – Snowbirds remember: to be eligible for MSP (BC’s medical insurance) you must a citizen of Canada (or a permanent resident), make your home in B.C., and be physically present in B.C. at least six months in a calendar year. If you winter in warmer climates, don’t forget to keep track of any other trips outside our province.
September 4, 2012 – When preparing your will, keep in mind that the executor you choose should have the time, skills and knowledge to handle the numerous duties that will be required of them. 2 years is not unusual when dealing with funeral arrangements, evaluations, lawyers, accountants, financial institutions, insurance companies, government and beneficiaries. Any litigation will complicate things even further. Appointing a corporate executor (or co-executor) and hiring an agent for executor are also options.
August 28, 2012 – Even though evidence shows the long term benefits of regularly rebalancing our portfolios, most of us simply refuse to buy low and sell high. When our portfolios have declined, and quality equities are attractively priced, we’re too risk adverse to take advantage of the bargains. Instead, we prefer to wait until our portfolios increase again, then we ‘speculate’ by buying those same quality equities now at high prices. Sadly, this desire to avoid short term risk, and our need for instant gratification, prevents us from maximizing our investment returns.
August 21, 2012 – Snowbirds who regularly spend 4 months a year in the US could be considered US residents. To avoid this, you need to file the IRS Closer Connection (to another country) statement, even if you have no income from US sources. Otherwise, you may have to report your worldwide income on a US tax return.
August 14, 2012 – Don’t forget to repay your RSP for any Home Buyers Plan withdrawals you’ve taken. Annual payments are required over 15 years, otherwise any missed payments will be considered taxable income. Keep in mind that repaying your RSP even faster means your retirement nest egg is growing faster too.
August 7, 2012 – Do you have overdraft protection at your bank, and if so, do you know how much it costs you? Besides paying high interest rates on amounts borrowed, you may also be paying a service fee. Often the combined costs can be far in excess of credit card or payday loan rates! Using overdraft money may be easy in an emergency, but know there may be cheaper and smarter options.
July 31, 2012 – To qualify for CESG grants for Registered Education Savings Plans for the calendar years your children reach age 16 and 17, one of the following must have occurred in the calendar year your child reaches age 15: $2000 has been contributed, or $100 has been contributed in each of ANY four previous years
July 25, 2012 – Does your financial advisor speak to you in Finglish (Financial english), or everyday language? Using jargon and acronyms in any industry is self defeating if the message isn’t clear to everyone. Never hesitate to ask questions so you can make the best informed decision possible for a good financial outcome.
July 18, 2012 – Did the government claw (tax) back your Old Age Security because your income exceeded $69,562? If your investment income pushed you over the threshhold, you need to go beyond traditional tax strategies like defer, deduct and divide. You also should employ new tax strategies that covert 100% taxable interest into 50% taxable capital gains, and treat income paid to you as return of capital. Reducing our reportable income puts more money in our pocket by paying less tax, and enjoying more government entitlements. In today’s tough investment environment, we all need to make the most of every opportunity.
July 11, 2012 – If you have dependant children, hopefully you are protecting your family with enough life insurance on your breadwinner, but have you also insured your stay at home parent’s life too? If something were to happen to them, would your family have enough money to pay for extra daycare or a full time Nanny, cleaning and housekeeping, more food eaten out or ordered in, a babysitter so you can run errands or do chores or to pay someone to do these things for you? Term life insurance is a much more affordable and less stressful option, particularly if your stay at home parent is young.
July 5, 2012 – Investors looking at real estate as an alternative to volatile stock markets need to consider the potential risks, including illiquidity, value declines due to over supply, unemployment rates, poor economic conditions, rising interest rates, tightening credit and increasing maintenance, tax and insurance costs.
June 26, 2012 – Is a reverse mortgage right for you? Discuss your financial situation and objectives with your financial advisor first. While these can make sense in some circumstances, its important to understand what you’re getting into: a mortgage with higher rates and set up costs, with compound interest that’s growing fast. This means that if you have to sell, you may be surprised at how much home equity you have left for other things. And, of course its tax free cash – its a loan. Know what your other options are first. Then make the choice that’s right for you.
June 22, 2012 – Did you know that in the event of a credit union default, the total amount of mortgages, loans and lines of credit owing to the credit union may be deducted from the amount you, the depositor, is entitled to under the Credit Union deposit insurance program? In the (unlikely) event of a default, what would be the consequences to you if not only were your savings tied up, pending resolution of an insurance claim, you found out that your money had been first applied to your debts, perhaps leaving you with nothing afterwards?
June 14, 2012 – Did you know that the leading cause of disability is arthritis (then chronic illness), and that women are more at risk? Be informed about what coverage you have both at work, and privately. Most of us are uninformed and not adequately prepared. Our ability to earn income is our most valuable asset. What would you do if you couldn’t work for a couple of years or ever again?
June 7, 2012 – A $150,000 investment doesn’t necessarily mean you are really a ‘sophisticated’ investor and can afford to lose this amount. Investors should have a sufficient level of financial knowledge to understand the risk they are taking on, and whether it is suitable for their risk tolerance and objectives. Many ‘exempt’ investments can be very speculative, have no liquidity, and require long term commitments. Understand what you invest in.
May 31, 2012 – RRSPs and TFSAs are great for most of us, but there are limits on how much we can invest in them. If we want to invest above this, we have to consider the tax impact. Choosing to invest in tax efficient products makes a huge difference, allowing us to grow our money faster by reducing and deferring taxes for years. With so many great options available, focused on income, growth, and/or capital preservation, its unfortunate so many investors don’t realize what they’re missing.
May 15, 2012 – If you’re having difficulty finding and retaining good people, consider that many employees view a good benefits plan as more valuable than a higher salary. Ask me about the wide range of customized and low cost options available for employers of all sizes, including health, dental, disability, critical illness, and life insurance, as well as Group RSPs and pension plans.
May 9, 2012 – What are the Top 3 Mistakes many of us make regarding Debt? 1. We don’t consolidate debts with a variety of interest rates into one low rate loan 2. We don’t make additional mortgage payments when we have extra money 3. We don’t shop around when our mortgage comes due for a mortgage that has the best features specific to our needs.
May 1, 2012 – The ability to create your own personal pension plan is rapidly becoming more difficult as insurers are stopping the sale of new guaranteed lifetime income solutions, or drastically reducing the benefits on any new plans still offered. While existing plans will not be affected, investors still contemplating a GMWB as a way to secure their retirement income may find they’ve waited too late. If you don’t already have enough guaranteed lifetime income, and worry about outliving your money, the time to talk to me is now.
April 26, 2012 – Don’t let thoughts of “It’s too late” stop you from improving your financial situation now. What’s past is over, so don’t waste time with regrets. Its never too late to make changes that will move you closer to your dreams and goals. Having a financial plan is the first step.
April 17, 2012 – Fewer than one third of Cdns expect to completely retire by age 66, with over 60% of those planning to work after then sighting financial necessity as their reason. Perhaps this is why so many baby boomers have been concerned about the federal budget’s plan to push back OAS entitlements to age 67. Be assured that Government entitlements will not provide the solution you are hoping for. Enjoying the retirement you deserve takes careful planning. If you haven’t started your plan, what are you waiting for?
March 28, 2012 – Make the most of your tax refund by getting a head start on your 2012 RSP contribution, paying back your RSP loan or other debt, contributing to your Tax Free Savings Account or your child/grandchild’s Registered Education Savings Plan. Of course, if you did you get a tax refund, you might also want to consider the reason. If you overpaid tax because of an RSP contribution, apply to CRA to allow your employer to deduct less tax. Why give them another interest free loan of your hard earned money?
March 21, 2012 – Preparing your personal tax return and seeing what tax you paid, or government entitlements you lost, is a good time to review the tax efficiency of your investment income. Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities available to reduce, defer or eliminate taxes and increase the money in your pocket?
March 15, 2012 – Like the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation covers certain Bank, Trust and Loan company deposits, Assuris protects Canadian policyholders against loss of benefits due to the financial failure of a member insurance company. Their brochure details the benefits covered under Insurance products like Life Insurance, Critical Illness, Health Expense, Disability Income, Long Term Care and Annuities, as well as Deposit type products like Accumulation Annuities and TFSAs. It also applies to guaranteed amounts under individual segregated fund policies, including GMWBs.
March 9, 2012 – Is your Spousal and/or Child Support protected? If your financial security depends on your spouse’s payments to you, do you own insurance on them in case they become disabled, seriously ill, or die prematurely?
March 6, 2012 – When filing your personal tax return, don’t forget you can split up to 50% of your ‘eligible’ pension income with your spouse or common law spouse. Besides lowering your taxes, this may then entitle each of you to claim the pension income tax credit too. If you don’t have ‘eligible’ pension income, your financial planner can tell you about options to create it.
March 1, 2012- Registered Disability Savings Plans are tax deferred registered savings plans open to Canadians eligible for the disability tax credit. RDSPs opened this year can now receive significant government grants and bonds retroactive to 2008. Learn more here under my Life Stages Tab: Disabled children, as well as by following my RDSP link to CRA’s website.
February 28, 2012 – Consider setting up a charitable-donation budget for the year so you can give in the most tax-effective way possible by donating appreciated stock or mutual funds directly to charities. Not only will you get a tax receipt for the fair market value of the stock or funds donated, but you also will eliminate any capital gains tax bill on the accrued gains.
You can also establish an ongoing legacy with a Charitable Giving Fund and transfer cash, or stock, mutual funds and insurance (in kind) to your own ‘Foundation’. You’ll enjoy the same tax benefits as above, and can recommend to your ‘Foundation’ where to direct the annual grants
February 27, 2012 – Principal Residence Exemption rules allow a homeowner to enjoy a tax free profit on the sale of their home. But remember, a principal residence is a home you own and you, your spouse or child lives in, and can include a house, condo, cabin, trailer, or house boat. However, if you live in two properties, you can only claim the exemption on one property in any one year. The rules can be complex if you rent or flip a property, or hold it jointly, so be certain you understand all the rules.
February 24, 2012 – GIS and OAS operate very differently. OAS pays up to $540 per month, reduced by 15% for income over $69,562. GIS pays up to $732 per month, reduced by 50% of non-OAS income, and is fully clawed back when non-OAS retirement income is over $16,368. (Due to the combined effect of the GIS clawback and income taxes, low-income seniors pay higher “effective” tax rates on their income than all other Canadians.)
February 22, 2012 – A recent poll reveals that almost half of Canadian have no idea what kind of investment return they need in order meet their retirement goals. As such, most can’t decide on the right investment, and choose low risk, guaranteed or cash options which after tax and inflation ensure negative returns. No wonder Canadians feel financially unprepared for retirement. If this sounds like you, seek professional advice.
February 20, 2012 – If you’re like many investors’ who are disappointed by their year end statements, remember that an investor’s worst enemy is not the stock market, but themselves. Cycles turn around, and often quickly. If you’re waiting to see good headlines (US recovery, European debt issues resolved, etc.) and positive market returns, you’ll probably be too late: you missed the turnaround.
February 10, 2012 – With less than 3 weeks left to make a 2011 RSP contribution, don’t forget that besides accelerating your retirement savings, reducing your taxable income,and getting a valuable tax refund, RSPs can also be used to help you through the Home Buyers Plan, and Life Long Learning Plan.
February 8, 2012- Do you have a Retirement Income Strategy? If you’re like most baby boomers and retirees, running out of money is a top concern, particulary given our longer lifespans, low interest rates, wild market volatility, high taxes and inflation. Join me for a casual lunch and learn Noon, Wednesday, February 22nd to learn how to protect your retirement with guaranteed income for life. (See my Events link for more information)
Heidi’s Tips Archive
January 31, 2012- Ipsos-Reid polls reveal that 60% of Canadians feel they started saving for retirement much too late, and that almost 30% of investors do not even have an RRSP. Of those who do have an RSP, half have only $30,000 or less. If you’re not saving enough to provide yourself with the retirement you’re hoping for (the government certainly can’t) two major steps you can take is to pay yourself first, and to reduce your income tax.
Jan 26, 2012 – Everyone needs their own credit rating. If you’re on your own for the first time because your spouse dies or your marriage breaks down, this is not when you want to find out that no one will give you a loan, credit card or mortgage.
Jan 19,2012 – If this cold snap has you escaping to someplace warm, don’t forget the importance of good travel medical insurance to protect you from the cost of unexpected emergencies that can happen during a trip. Many of us forget how limited our provincial health insurance plans are, and how significant out of country costs can be. Make sure you have $5 million and 24 hour emergency assistance.
Jan 17, 2012 – If reducing debt is your New Year’s Resolution, start with getting a clear understanding of exactly where you are. Identify and list all your debts including mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards, car, personal, student, investment and RSP loans, and any family loans you need to repay. Next, you need to know exactly how much you owe, how much your payments are, the frequency of your repayments, the interest rates applicable, and any amortization schedules. Knowing where you are will help you tackle the next step (stay tuned).
Jan 12, 2012- Start 2012 by reducing and deferring investment related tax and increasing portfolio returns and income. As opposed to traditional stock and bond portfolios that trigger taxes annually, regardless of whether you use any earnings, talk to your advisor about corporate class portfolios to minimize and defer tax, and create tax efficient cash flow. This is an ideal opportunity to make changes now, before markets recover.
Save the Dates:February 1 (Vancouver) and February 20 (Richmond) presentations: Six Mistakes Baby Boomers Make with Their Finances and How to Avoid Them. Topics will include: Not understanding or covering your risks; Failuring to nderstand the stock market; Paying excessive taxes, Having the wrong time horizon, Choosing the wrong retirement income strategy; Not taking care of your family.
Jan 9, 2012- With the new pension income splitting rules, Spousal RSPs can still make sense: to shift income between spouses before age 65; those over age 71 with RSP room can contribute to a younger spouse’s RSP; save for a home and use the Home Buyers Plan (each spouse can withdraw $25,000).
Jan 3, 2012- Don’t forget a new year means another $5000 you can contribute to your Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). Since the program started four years ago, your cumulative contribution room is now $20,000. (And, any withdrawals made in 2011 can be replaced now) Happy New Year!
Dec 28, 2011-Seniors’ monthly government benefits increase January 1, 2012 to $986.67 Canada Pension Plan (at age 65) and $540.12 Old Age Security (15% clawback starts with income above $69,562, and is eliminated at $112,772 or above)
Don’t forget the last day for 2011 RSP contributions is February 29th 2012. The maximum RRSP Room for 2011 is $22,450, increasing to $22,970 for 2012 (maxed at $127,611 income).
Dec 22- Changes to the way employers deduct Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributionsare coming into effect in the new year. Starting Jan. 1, 2012, employers must deduct CPP contributions for all employees aged 60 to 65—even if the employee is receiving a CPP and did not contribute previously. Employers must also deduct CPP contributions for all employees who are 65 to 70 years of age unless the employee elects not to contribute to the CPP by giving you a signed and completed copy of Form CPT30, Election to Stop Contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, or Revocation of a Prior Election. He or she must also send the original to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Employees cannot contribute to the CPP after the month in which they turn 70 years of age.
Dec 20-Think long term instead of letting short-term market volatility sway your investment decisions, and don’t wait until the last minute to meet the February RSP deadline. Investment decisions shouldn’t be rushed.
Dec 15- Here’s another year end tax tip for couples where one spouse is in a lower marginal tax bracket. Talk to your tax advisor about loaning money to that spouse to invest and split future investment earnings (interest, dividends, capital gains). Lots of rules apply, but for many, this can be great opportunity, especially in today’s low interest rate environment.
Dec 5- If you plan to trigger investment losses to offset capital gains this year (or the past 3 years), the sale’s settlement date must fall in 2011. For most securities and mutual fund trades, this means the last day to place your trade is December 23rd, 2011.
Dec 1- The Principal Residence Exemption is one of the most beneficial tax breaks for ordinary Canadians, enabling us to avoid capital gains tax on the sale of our home. For those of us in areas that have experienced large increases in real estate prices, this can be a huge tax break. Tip? If you own more than one property, designate the property with the greatest gain as your Principal Residence.
Nov 15-Did you know that when it comes to investing, people value gains and losses differently? A loss has a much greater emotional impact than the joy of a gain. As a result, people sell winners quickly to lock in their gain, but hold on to losers too long because they don’t want to realize the pain of their loss. Making important investment decisions based on limited information, or reacting to facts and research based on yesterday’s news, is never the way to achieve a successful financial outcome
Nov 10- If you reached 65 in 2011, you should apply for Old Age Security benefits asap. Retroactive payments are only available for up to 11 months, plus the month in which you apply.
Nov 1- If your child is age 15 and you have never started an RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan), consider contributing at least $2000 by year end. Otherwise, your child is not eligible to receive any CESG (grants) at age 16 or 17, regardless of whether RESP contributions are made in those years. (Don’t forget, contributions entitle to you a grant if there is unused grant room from previous years)
Oct 20 – Do you have a retirement income strategy? Many of worry about our risks of longer life expectancies, low interest rates, market volatility, inflation, and the government’s ability to fund our future pensions. If you ‘re unsure about your retirement plans, you’re invited to attend one of my upcoming Lunch and Learn, or Wine and Cheese presentations in Vancouver, Coquitlam and Richmond.
Oct 18 – Not all income is created equal. Income received from bonds and GICs (interest), stocks (dividends & capital gains/losses), mutual funds (distributions, systematic withdrawals, TSWPs), pensions, salaries, RSPs and RIFs (income) , annuities (ROC) and TFSAs are all taxed differently. Knowing how your income will be reported not only determines how much tax you will pay, but how your government entitlements will be affected.