Debt Is a Four-Letter Word

Debt Is a Four-Letter Word

Debt today is so common, you might say it can’t be avoided. Most people are not in a position to purchase a house or car for cash, while those who can buy such things outright may prefer to finance and keep control of their capital.

The truth is, while most of us see debt as a bad thing, any money borrowed to generate income or increase net worth can be considered “good debt.”

If the amount borrowed is invested for an overall gain, the debt is a tool. Borrowing to further your education, for example, is good debt since an education generally increases the likelihood you will earn more in the future. Most often, too, the interest paid on this type of debt is tax deductible.

Examples of Good Debt:

  • Education. Student loans for university, college or trade school education can be good debt. As mentioned, interest rates are usually quite low, and repayment is commonly deferred until after graduation. In general, educated workers earn considerably more than uneducated ones, making the cost of borrowing easier to repay. A student loan is the first experience many Canadians have in borrowing and in managing (i.e., paying back) a large fiscal obligation.

  • Business ownership. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses with borrowed funds. For a person with a strong business plan, good entrepreneurial instincts and a desire to succeed, assuming such a loan can be the best investment an individual can make.

  • Real estate. Whether a primary residence or revenue property, real estate has proven to be a prudent long-term investment.

  • Investing. Borrowing to invest allows you to put more money into your investment in an effort to earn extra returns.

This is not to say good debt is without risk. If you take out a leverage loan and your investment fails, you will find yourself owing the borrowed amount plus interest, regardless. Real estate markets can fall, businesses often fail, and there are no guarantees that an education will result in higher income or stable employment.

With that in mind, it is important to think about insuring your loans to protect your family and estate from unwanted liabilities if you die, become critically ill, or disabled.

Bad Debt

Unlike good debt – borrowing to acquire assets that are likely to increase in value – bad debt is incurred when we purchase assets that will decrease in value. Some examples:

  • Automobiles. As soon as you drive that shiny new car off the lot, it loses value and continues to do so for as long as you own it. Unless you use your vehicle for business purposes, paying interest on a car loan makes little sense.

  • Credit cards. If you use credit cards to buy clothing, consumables and other goods or services, you are building a balance of bad debt. Credit card interest rates are extremely high, and rewards cards often charge additional annual fees, making any balance you carry a prohibitively expensive liability.

  • Vacations. Travel now and pay later is simply a bad idea. Once the joy of the vacation wears off, the borrower is left with a high-cost travel loan.

In between good debt and bad debt lies the consolidation loan. Although it is used to merge all “bad” debts, it makes the burden easier to bear by lowering interest costs and monthly payments.

Get Rid of Debt!

Two plans often recommended for getting out of bad and consolidated debt are the debt snowball method and the debt stacking method.

Debt Snowball Method

  1. List all of your debts in ascending order from the smallest (by amount owed) to the largest.

  2. Pay the minimum payment on every debt every month.

  3. Determine how much extra you can pay each month; begin paying off your smallest debt with this amount plus your minimum payment.

  4. Continue to pay this amount until your smallest debt is repaid.

  5. Once the smallest debt is paid, add your minimum payment from debt #1 (now retired) plus the extra you were paying on it to the minimum payment due on debt #2, your second smallest amount owing. Each time one debt is paid off, your payment amount “snowballs,” grows larger, as it is added to the next.

  6. Continue doing this until each debt is retired.

Debt Stacking Method

  1. List all of your debts according to their interest rates.

  2. Continue to make all minimum payments on each balance.

  3. Work out how much additional money, over the minimum payment, you can afford to pay each month, and add this to your minimum payment being made on the loan with the highest interest costs.

  4. Once the highest-interest balance is repaid, start paying the debt with the next highest interest rate.

  5. Continue until all bad debt is retired.

Whichever strategy you use, make sure non-deductible-interest debt is paid off before you tackle the “good” debt.

Anyone concerned about debt load is well advised to seek the advice of a qualified financial planner who will help develop an action plan and recommend risk-management steps. As a qualified planner, I would be most happy to assist you in your debt-management efforts. Please feel free to call me at any time.

What the Wealthy Know about Life Insurance

What the Wealthy Know about Life Insurance

If you have ever thought that life insurance was something you wouldn’t need after you reached a certain level of financial security, you might be interested in knowing why many wealthy individuals still carry large amounts of insurance. Consider the following:

  • A life insurance advisor in California recently placed a $201 million dollar life insurance policy on the life of a tech industry billionaire;

  • Well-known music executive David Geffen was life insured for $100 million;

  • Malcolm Forbes, owner of Forbes Magazine, was insured at the time of his death in 1990 for $70 million.

While life insurance is most often looked upon as a vehicle to protect one’s family or business, the question that springs to mind is why individuals with wealth need life insurance?

The most common factor connecting people of wealth is that they have a substantial amount of deferred income tax that must be paid upon death. In addition, they often have a strong desire to make a substantial donation to a favourite charity or educational institution.

“Life insurance is an efficient way to transfer money to your heirs.” – Malcolm Forbes

In Canada, individuals are deemed to have disposed of all their assets at fair market value when they die, which often results in taxable capital gains and other deferred taxes coming due. Paying premiums for insurance that will cover these taxes is almost always less expensive and more efficient than converting assets.

When allocating your investment dollars, it is helpful to understand what investments have the highest exposure to income tax.

Fully Tax Exposed

Investments which are taxed at the highest rate of income tax:

  • Interest-bearing instruments such as bonds, savings accounts and guaranteed investment certificates;

  • Rents;

  • Withdrawals or income from registered plans such as RSP’s or RPP’s.

Tax-Advantaged

Investments which are taxed at lower rates of income tax:

  • Investments which are taxed as a capital gain;

  • Dividends;

  • Flow through share programs;

  • Prescribed annuity income.

Tax-Deferred

Investments on which income tax is deferred until the asset is disposed of or the investor dies:

  • Registered Savings Plans;

  • Individual and Registered Pension Plans;

  • Investments producing deferred capital gains.

Registered plans, in addition to having the growth tax-deferred, also have the added advantage of the contributions being tax-deductible.

Tax-Free

Certain investment assets are totally free of income tax:

  • Principal residence;

  • Tax-Free Savings Accounts;

  • Death benefit of life insurance policies.

Life Insurance as an Investment

While the death benefit of life insurance policies is tax-free, it is important to recognize that this also includes the investment gains made on the cash value portion of the policy. With this in mind, many investors have discovered that by allocating a portion of long term investments to a Universal Life or Participating Whole Life policy, the results can be significant when compared to tax exposed or tax-advantaged investments.

Life Insurance for Estate Planning

One of the main objectives of estate planning is to maximize the amount we leave to our families or bequeath to our favourite charities. What many wealthy families have learned is that one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to reduce the portion of the estate which is lost to the government to pay taxes at death.

While this helps explain why many individuals of wealth maintain life insurance, it also underscores the advantages of life insurance to anyone who will have taxes or other liquidity needs at death. In addition, using life insurance as part of a charitable giving strategy can provide significant benefits to both the donor and the charity.

As Malcolm Forbes alluded to, for providing capital to protect your family’s future financial security, paying taxes at death and creating a charitable legacy, nothing is more efficient or effective than life insurance.

Please feel free to share this article with anyone you think would find it of interest.

Copyright © 2020 FSB Content Marketing – All Rights Reserved

Protecting Your Family

Protecting Your Family

Let’s face it, raising a family today can be financially challenging. The cost of living continues to increase, housing costs are rising along with education and extra-curricular activities for our children. It is tough to make ends meet and still have something left over at the end of each month.

Most families today require both parents to work to afford the lifestyle they enjoy. Losing one of those incomes through premature death, illness or a disability is a real risk that many families would have a difficult time facing emotionally and financially.

How do you protect your family?

  • Life insurance is designed to protect your family by providing the resource to replace income, pay off debt, and fund future education costs in the event that one of the parents dies.

  • Disability, or income replacement insurance, is designed to replace lost income if an individual is not able to work due to accident or sickness.

  • Critical Illness insurance will pay a lump sum benefit in the event of a diagnosis of many major illnesses.

If you and your spouse work for a company that provides employee benefits, you may already be insured for both life and disability insurance and in some cases critical illness. Be aware that for the most part, employee benefit programs provide only a minimum amount of life insurance, usually based on one or two years of income. If long term disability coverage is provided it may be enough for personal needs but that is not always the case. Each situation is different, so it’s important that you and your spouse review your respective plan information to ensure that you have sufficient coverage in place. There are options to top up your coverage either through your group insurance or individually.

How much life insurance do you need?

If you or your spouse dies, the family will require a lump sum of capital to replace earned income. You should aim to have enough cash for the following needs:

  • insurance to pay off any outstanding debts and mortgages

  • enough income from the invested capital to replace the lost income

  • an amount to cover future education costs

Think life insurance premiums are too expensive?

Term insurance is an affordable solution for a growing family with a tight budget. A 35-year-old non-smoking male can purchase $1,000,000 of ten-year renewable term insurance for less than $40.00 per month. A non-smoking female of the same age would pay less than $30.00 per month for the same coverage. A relatively small cost to protect a family for a total of $2,000,000 of tax free benefit in the event of an untimely death.

Let’s have a discussion about how we can build a program of protection specifically designed for your needs and circumstances. Knowing what the needs are and what protection is in place goes a long way to providing peace of mind.

Copyright © 2023 FSB Content Marketing Inc – All Rights Reserved

Whole Life Insurance – A Whole New Asset Class

Whole Life Insurance – A Whole New Asset Class

The recent developments in investment markets and the volatile performance that has resulted have brought about a new appeal to an old workhorse. For investors looking for a diversification in their investment portfolio and a more tax-efficient fixed income investment alternative, a compelling argument can be made for the use of Whole Life Insurance.

Why is Whole Life Insurance a good investment?

  • The tax-advantaged steady growth, combined with significant estate benefits, are the primary reasons why Participating Whole Life is now being thought of as a new asset class.

  • Unlike other accumulation policies such as most Universal Life policies, mutual funds and other equity investments, the cash and dividend value of a Whole Life policy cannot decrease as long as premium payments are made.

Who should consider Whole Life Insurance as an investment alternative?

  • Anyone looking for stable returns on their investment portfolio.

  • For those that have corporations and are accumulating surplus, the use of Whole Life in the corporation not only provides the same stable, tax-deferred returns but also provides opportunities for Capital Dividend Account planning.

What Is Whole Life Insurance?

  • It is permanent life insurance protection – meaning it won’t expire before you do!

  • It has level guaranteed premiums for the life of the policy. (Shorter premium paying periods are often available.)

  • It has tax-advantaged cash value growth.

  • It can pay annual dividends (participating whole life).

  • Dividends can be taken in a number of different ways but the option most often selected to provide the maximum tax-advantaged growth is “paid-up additions.”

  • The assets of the participating pool are professionally managed and largely in fixed-income investments. Management fees are extremely low (some as low as 0.07% management fee), and the funds have very little volatility.

  • This combination of guaranteed cash value and the non-guaranteed portion from the dividend account grows tax-deferred. At death, it is paid to the beneficiary tax-free.

Can I access the cash value of the policy?

  • During the lifetime of the insured, the cash values can be accessed by way of partial or total surrender or policy loan.

  • Income tax may be payable on withdrawals. However, one alternative to avoid paying income tax is to use the policy as collateral and borrow from a third-party lender. And if structured properly, the interest on the loan may be tax-deductible.

Favourably compares to a long term, high yield bond

  • Today most portfolio managers recommend that a prudent investor have a diversified portfolio with a significant portion in fixed-income investments, such as bonds, term deposits, etc.

  • Many investment managers suggest one-third to 40% of an investment portfolio be in these types of investments for balanced growth.

Including participating whole life in your portfolio can produce some significant results and reduce overall volatility.

Whether investing as an individual or via a corporation, the significant results that can be achieved by using Participating Whole Life are worth investigating.

Connect with me if you think you would benefit from this strategy, and as always, please feel free to share this article with anyone you think would find it of interest.

Copyright @ 2023 FSB Content Marketing – All Rights Reserved