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Optimizing Wealth Through Asset Re-Allocation

If you are an active investor, your investment holdings probably include many different asset classes.  For many investors, diversification is a very important part of the wealth accumulation process to help manage risk and reduce volatility.  Your investment portfolio might include stocks, bonds, equity funds, real estate and commodities.  All these investment assets share a common characteristic – their yield is exposed to tax.  From a taxation standpoint, investment assets fall into the following categories:

Tax Adverse

The income from these investments are taxed at the top rates.  They include bonds, certificates of deposits, savings accounts, rents etc.  Depending on the province, these investments may be taxed at rates of approximately 50% or more. (For example, Alberta 48.0%, BC 49.8%, Manitoba 50.4%, Ontario 53.53%, Nova Scotia 54.0%). Read more

Canada Pension Plan – Should You Take it Early?

New Rules governing the Canada Pension Plan took full effect in 2016.  Under these rules, the earliest you can take your CPP Pension is age 60, the latest is 70. The standard question regarding CPP remains the same – should I take it early or wait?

If you take it at the earliest age possible, age 60, your CPP income will be reduced by 0.6% each month you receive your benefit prior to age 65.  In other words, electing to take your CPP at age 60 will provide an income of 36% less than if you waited until age 65.

CPP benefits may also be delayed until age 70 so delaying your CPP benefits after age 65 will result in an increased income of 0.7% for each month of deferral.  As a result, at age 70, the retiree would have additional monthly income of 42% over that what he or she would have had at 65 and approximately 120% more than taking the benefit at age 60. The question now becomes, “how long do you think you will live?” Read more

Which Term Life Insurance is Right for You?

Once you have decided on how much life insurance you need, your next decision is whether you are going to use term insurance or permanent insurance to provide it.  For many Canadians, while permanent cash value life insurance offers a significant opportunity for them, many initially utilize renewable and convertible term life insurance.  Most life companies in Canada offer 10-year, 20-year and 30-year renewable term policies.   In deciding which one is right for you, attempt to match the need to the term.  While 10-year term might have the lowest entry level cost, the renewal premiums will be significantly higher.  If you have a young family, ask yourself, will I still need protection beyond the 10th year?  If that answer is yes, then a longer renewal period is more appropriate.

In making your choice, it is important to understand how renewable term policies function.  In Canada, the renewal of the coverage is automatic (unless you decide not to renew) and guaranteed.  The premium on renewal, however, will increase dramatically.  Anyone who has 10-year renewable term insurance, instead of renewing it, should re-write the policy for a new term period.  Read more

Prepare in Advance for Next Year’s Tax Filing

Phew! Tax season is over!  You have hopefully just filed your 2017 personal income tax returns.  Was it a satisfying experience for you?  Do you feel a sense of accomplishment or dismay?  For many, the April 30th deadline seems to arrive way too soon.  If this is the case with you, starting the process much earlier would seem to be the answer.

The process should include proper record keeping, taking advantage of the tax saving methods available to you, and, perhaps, finally getting a professional to complete and file your return on your behalf.  The problem with handing your taxes alone is that often people don’t know what they don’t know.  This results in paying more in taxes than was necessary.  The cost of a professional completing your taxes potentially could be offset by the savings that might be gained.

Even if you earned little to no income, filing your return is a good idea and could prove to be advantageous.  This is because there are a number of federal and provincial government programs that you might be eligible for if your declared income is below a certain threshold.  You can refer to the Government of Canada website for the child and family benefits that might be available to you. Read more

Six Important Reasons to have a Will

It has been said that a Will is the last message you will leave your family.  Having a Will can provide clear direction as to what your wishes are and who will get what.  Die without a Will (known as dying intestate) and chaos will likely be the result.  Having a Will allows you to provide for certainty instead of chaos.

Most of the reasons to have a Will have to do with what happens if you don’t have one and that often will depend on what province you reside in.  Each provincial government has its own Wills and Estate legislation which also provides for the rules regarding intestacy.  The following are some of the reasons to have a Will and what could result without one.

  1. Informs your family how and when your property is to be distributed

Your Will affords you the opportunity to give clear instructions as to whom will receive your wealth.  It also allows you to make bequests of certain items such as family heirlooms which you may wish to leave to a specific individual. For those who wish to leave funds to a charity, the Will allows you to do this.  Without a Will, this opportunity may be lost. The bottom line is that you make the call.  Dying without a Will means that the provincial government will make the determinationon how your estate is to be distributed depending on the intestacy laws. Read more

The Importance of Critical Illness Insurance in Retirement Planning

There are a number of obstacles that could potentially de-rail a comfortable retirement. These include marriage breakdown, a stock market crash, and being sued. Another huge obstacle would be the diagnosis of a life threatening critical illness affecting you or your spouse. While it might be difficult to insulate yourself against some of the threats to retirement security, Critical Illness insurance goes a long way to mitigate the financial disaster that could result from a change in health as we approach retirement.

Considering that the wealth of many Canadians is comprised of the equity in their homes and the balance of their retirement plans, having to access funds to combat a dreaded illness could put their retirement objectives in jeopardy. Imagine that you are just a few years into or approaching retirement and you or your spouse suffers a stroke. The prognosis is for a long recovery and the cost associated with recovery and care is projected to be substantial. Statistics show that 62,000 Canadians suffer a stroke each year* with over 80% surviving* many of whom would require ongoing care. Since 80% of all strokes happen to Canadians over 60 those unlucky enough could definitely see their retirement funding jeopardized. Read more

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

8
Aug

Budgeting for University Life

If you  have a son or daughter, perhaps a niece or nephew heading off to university this month, here’s a great article to share with them from Practical Money Skills.

Making the transition from living at home where someone else buys groceries and pays essential bills to living on your own is a big step. How much can you afford to spend on groceries in a week? Are you going to need to work extra hours to pay for all of your books?

Create a Budget

This first step in financial planning will help you answer these questions and is absolutely essential in managing your personal finances. Read more »

16
Jun

Wondering if the new mortgage rules are curbing home prices?

I came across this article in the Globe and Mail and thought it was worth sharing.  It sheds some light on the impact of higher rates and stricter mortgage rules on home prices.

Worth a read.