Golf tips to line you up for financial success

With golf season upon us, you may be looking for ways to enhance your game for the year ahead. In many ways, golf strategy is a lot like the principles of investing. If you have a love for the links, then you’ve already got a head start on how to manage your investments effectively.

Your golf game and investment portfolio require continued tune ups to help bring you positive results. Here are some tips to set you up for success – both on the course and in the market.

Hire a great coach

Golf is a game of precision. Your clubs, stance and swing all play a part in reaching the green. With so many elements to consider, it’s beneficial to consult a pro to make sure you have a strong foundation. Even seasoned golfers can benefit from lessons now and then for tips and tweaks to improve their performance.

Similarly, when building a financial security plan, there are multiple factors to assess to make sure it works for you. I can give you aGolf Tips and Investing primer in all the investment options available to help you achieve your financial goals. It’s always a good idea to touch base with me a few times each year to keep up to date on your financial progress.

Make a game plan

Consider the course layout, terrain, roughs and other hazards you may encounter. Do you have the right club to make the shot? How much risk are you willing to take given the environment and your competition? Should you play it safe, or can you afford to take some risk? These are all important questions to answer before teeing off.

Just as you select the right club for each shot, you should ensure you pick the right types of investments to reach your goals. Once I have helped you cover the basics, you can work together to create your financial plan. It’s also important to consider other key factors like your tolerance for market fluctuations, debt management and your time frame for investing.

In both golf and investing, there will always be an element of unpredictability. Developing a strong foundation of the basics – and revisiting them regularly – can help you master the game.

Don’t psych yourself out

In the game of golf, you can’t be ruled by your emotions. Maybe the front nine was great, but the conditions changed on the back. Even the best laid plans can go awry when ground or weather conditions change. You may be tempted to make a bold move to compensate, but there’s no guarantee it will pay off. Don’t let one bad hole affect the next or make you change your strategy.

Like a stroke of bad luck on the golf course, changing market conditions can cause investors to make irrational decisions. Emotional investors often panic when markets fluctuate and can be tempted to make hasty decisions. A financial plan that is well diversified and suited to your personal investment style can help you manage the ups and downs of the market. I can help you review your plan so you can focus less on changes in financial markets and keep your eyes on the long game.

Reassess your strategy

What are your goals for this season? Are you looking to master a new shot or try out some more challenging courses? Perhaps you’re slicing the ball too often and you need to meet with your coach to revisit the basics. Even if you’ve been happy with your performance, you can’t always base future success on the past. People who take their golf game seriously understand the importance of continual development.

While a solid financial plan can put you on the right path, it’s important to fine-tune your strategy over time. You may need to adapt your plan as your goals and time horizon change. Maybe you had more disposable income when you started your portfolio, but now you’re starting a family. Perhaps you’re preparing for retirement and are starting to consider your options for creating guaranteed income. Whatever your needs, I can help steer you in the right direction towards your financial goals.

In both golf and investing, there will always be an element of unpredictability. Developing a strong foundation of the basics – and revisiting them regularly – can help you master the game.

Make the most of your travel savings

If you’ve got the travel bug, chances are you’re already considering ways to save for your next adventure. With multiple responsibilities, it can be hard to ensure all the pieces of your financial picture are working together to help you meet your goals.

I can assess your individual situation and help you create a savings strategy as part of your financial security plan. Knowing you’re well positioned to save for the future means you can focus on planning your dream Travel Planninggetaway.

Consider these strategies to help you make the most of your travel time and budget. With the right preparation, your money may just take you further than you thought.

Compare airfare options

Theories about the best time to book flights are debatable, but the Airlines Reporting Corporation found that about six weeks before departure, prices are generally below average. Regardless of when you book, make sure you use multiple flight comparison sites like Skyscanner or Kayak to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Don’t forget to check airline websites directly as they sometimes have exclusive promotions when you book direct. Flights with longer connections will often cut costs, but you’ll have to assess whether the time spent is worth the money saved.

Consider a rental property

Sites like Airbnb, Homestay and Vacation Rentals by Owner often provide superior value to hotel accommodations. Staying in a more residential area can provide a unique travel experience, allowing you to discover hidden local hotspots. In addition to considerable savings on the nightly rate, the ability to cook and pack your own meals can help you minimize your dining budget.

The most valuable return on your planning effort is making the most of your time away.

Book attractions early

When visiting a new country, it can be overwhelming to decide which attractions to prioritize. Deciding upon arrival can be spontaneous and fun, but consider the precious time you’ll waste narrowing down the options while away. Before leaving, it’s a good idea to book your “must visit” destinations. Many travellers don’t consider the savings they’ll realize if they book popular attractions in advance, especially if the destination offers a combined admission pass for multiple museums or historical sites, for example. These passes often also allow you to avoid lengthy lines.

Map your route

Once you’ve decided on your top attractions, you may want to plot all your destinations on a map to determine how to cover the most ground per day. Tripomatic is a great app that will help you map your itinerary and visualize the best routes to take. Doing this will not only eliminate wasted time, but also can cut down on transportation costs if you hit destinations in close proximity on the same day.

Plan meals out in advance

While you’re planning your itinerary, take some time to browse nearby restaurants. Looking at various menus online will allow you to assess the average cost of dining, and ensure you don’t wander into high-cost tourist trap restaurants. While it may not be realistic to make reservations for every day, exploring your options will allow you to set money aside for special nights out. Familiarizing yourself with local chain restaurants and grocery stores is also a good idea if you want to stop for a quick, affordable bite, or stock your room with breakfast items and snacks.

Following these tips can certainly save you money on your next vacation, but the most valuable return on your planning effort is making the most of your time away. After all, the more you’re able to fit into one trip the better you’re likely to feel about your travel investment.

Top tips for preparing to sell your home – on a budget

Getting ready to sell your house can be an exciting process, but it isn’t without its stresses – and its expenses. There are ways you can make your home easier to sell and they don’t have to cost a lot. In fact, a big renovation might not always get you the return on your investment you were hoping for. Here are some budget-friendly tips to consider when preparing to sell your home.

Improve your curb appeal

You can’t change someone’s first impression of your home, so make sure it’s positive. This starts before potential Sell Your Homebuyers even walk through your front door. Make sure you cut the grass, rake leaves or shovel the drive, depending on the season. Consider planting flowers or hanging a wreath to make your entryway more inviting. Make sure your porch light works, paint your front door or railing if you haven’t updated recently, and install new hardware on your door to create a strong statement.

Get a new perspective

It can be easy to miss imperfections that you’ve come to accept as part of your home. A friend, real estate agent or professional stager can bring a fresh eye to your house and spot something you might not notice. That statement wall you love might be off-putting to potential buyers. A fresh coat of a more neutral colour may make your home easier to sell.

De-clutter your home

You want to create a blank canvas for people so they can imagine themselves in your space. Since you’re going to have to pack up to move, get started on the process early. Put personal items like pictures or keepsakes in storage, and where possible, try to take about half of the items out of your closets to make them appear larger. People are always looking for more storage, so it’s in your best interest to make it seem like your house has lots of options.

You can’t change someone’s first impression of your home, so make sure it’s positive.

Quick and easy upgrades

When you’re getting ready to sell, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to complete a total overhaul of an outdated room, such as the kitchen or bath, since you won’t always get a good return on your investment. If the rooms needing updating aren’t in bad shape, you may also consider reducing the price of your home to give buyers the option to renovate to meet their needs.

This is where little fixes can have a big impact. Make your house move-in ready by fixing chipped floors, patching cracks or nail holes in the wall, updating hardware on cabinets and doors, cleaning grout, and fixing leaky faucets. Make sure doors and windows are on track and open and close easily. A little TLC goes a long way towards making your house enticing to buyers. They are more likely to want to purchase your house if they don’t have a long list of things to fix when they move in.

Always be ready to show your house

It may be hard for your realtor to sell your house if it doesn’t show well. Having your house in show-ready condition at all times increases the opportunities for your agent to bring potential buyers through. Dust frequently, don’t leave dishes in the sink or dishwasher and make sure your bathroom is in tip-top shape.

Getting your house ready to sell can be an expensive process, but it doesn’t have to be. These tips can help you get the most for your home without spending a lot of money.

Five important money matters to discuss with your partner

When it comes to choosing a partner, everyone has a list of qualities they just can’t live without. A recent poll, revealed that having a financially responsible partner is a priority for both millennial (88 per cent) and Discuss Finances with Partnerbaby boomer (92 per cent) survey participants.

Despite the desire for financial compatibility in relationships, money can be a source of friction for both new and established couples. While it’s best to understand your partner’s financial picture before joining accounts, engaging in regular conversation about your finances is always beneficial.

Open communication and setting clear goals for your future can help you avoid conflict on the topic, but it can be overwhelming to start the conversation if you’re not sure where to begin. Here are five fundamental money matters you may want to address with your partner.

A recent poll, revealed that having a financially responsible partner is a priority for both millennial (88 per cent) and baby boomer (92 per cent) survey participants.

1. Discuss your assets

Having a grasp on your total combined assets (including salary, savings, investments, insurance and property) is important to making financial decisions as a couple. This simple discussion is an essential starting point in making a realistic plan for savings, spending and future goals.

2. Understand your debts

Managing debt effectively is a key aspect of wealth building. It’s important to know the total amount of your partner’s debt (such as credit card, line of credit, mortgage and student loan debt), discuss whether the debt will become a joint responsibility, and determine how it will affect your budget. It’s also a good idea to discuss your partner’s credit score, as it will affect your ability to get credit as a couple.

3. Set a spending plan

Creating a joint spending plan may shine a light on any differences between spending styles – perhaps you’re a saver, but your partner opens their wallet a bit more freely. Taking account of your individual and combined monthly expenses can start a realistic discussion about how to allocate any surplus – even if it involves some compromise.

4. Strategize your savings

Defining your individual and joint savings priorities is another essential part of building your budget, and ensuring that you’re well positioned to meet your goals. It’s also important to discuss which type of savings vehicle will best suit your needs; consider factors such as your tolerance for fluctuations in the value of your investments, and the amount of time you have to invest.

5. Plan for your future

Is travel a priority for you and your partner? Perhaps you’re dreaming of buying that cottage you always wanted, or you just want to make sure you can retire comfortably. If you don’t discuss your goals for the future then it’s hard to make them happen. While your dreams may differ, starting a dialogue can help you compromise so you can set your plans in motion.

Get a second opinion

As you consider these factors with your partner, I can provide a professional opinion on the best approach to help you achieve your financial goals. I can provide a holistic assessment of your joint financial picture, and offer a variety of planning services including cash-flow planning and investment analysis.

Renovations can be an important financial investment

Maybe you just bought your first home. Or maybe you’ve lived in your house for 20 years. In any case, it’s important your home is structurally sound and reflects your personality and taste. Home renovations can be as small as painting a room or as large as remodeling your kitchen. Regardless, you can expect to take out your wallet to make it happen. Thankfully, planning ahead and carefully considering the following issues can help your project run more smoothly.

Financial preparation

First, ask yourself this: Are you ready, financially, to complete the desired renovations? To help you understand what your upgrades are likely to cost, do some research – it may be helpful to speak with a contractor and get an estimate. Develop a budget that reflects your research – one common practice is to include an additional buffer amount of 15-20 per cent to cover unexpected expenses. Don’t forget to include HST. If you’re feeling wary about the cost of your renovations, remember there are laws in place to help protect your finances.

A renovation can increase the value of your home for resale, making it a valuable investment in your future.

Things to consider before renovating

Before getting started, it’s important you consider the following:

Is this a big or small change?

Depending on the scale of your project, the impact on your budget and financial security plan will vary. Understanding the amount of work required will help you create a realistic budget.

Who should do the work?

Your home is one of your biggest financial investments. That’s why it’s so important you find a trustworthy, knowledgeable and experienced contractor for your project.

Another option is to complete the renovations yourself. While this can be enjoyable and a great way to save money, it will only remain as such if you have the tools, time and understanding of building codes and processes necessary to smoothly complete the updates. Give some thought to whether you have these resources available to you before you begin.

Do I know what to look for in a contractor?Home Renovations

If you decide that paid help is the right choice, you’ll want to work with someone that respects both your expectations and your budget. Depending on an external provider for such a large purchase requires a great deal of trust and transparency. Pay special attention to potential renovators’ professionalism, timeliness and communication to decide if they’re the right fit. Ask your friends and family for recommendations.

Return on investment (ROI)

In many cases, renovations actually increase the original value of a home. From a fresh coat of paint to new windows and doors, everything has a value. A common rule of thumb is that a successful renovation will increase the value of your home by at least 50 per cent of what you spent. To determine the ROI of your project, work with an appraiser before and after your renovation. They can tell you the approximate value of your home so you understand the long-term financial impact of your project.

In addition, there are national tax credit programs available to assist with the cost of certain renovation projects. Credits change over time, so be sure to check online or with a government representative to find out what’s available when you begin your project.

If you’ve made the decision to renovate but are unsure where to get started, I can work with you to ensure your budget is worked into your overall financial security plan.

15 Advantages of Offering Group Benefits to Employees

Group broker services

A group insurance broker acts as an intermediary between the client and insurer. The group broker’s responsibility is to match those seeking group benefits with insurance companies that most closely meet the client’s needs.

Group brokers can seek the group benefits plan best suited for their client, from a variety of sources.

In this situation, Freedom 55 Financial, a division of London Life Insurance Company, is a subsidiary of Great-West Life – the market leader in group benefits plans nationwide.

While I’d recommend Great-West Life as a provider of group benefits solutions, they may or may not be the best fit for your company. My responsibility is to work with you to find the right fit.

Companies whose group benefits products I can offer include:

  • Great-West Life
  • Manulife Financial
  • Sun Life Financial
  • Green Shield Canada
  • Standard Life
  • Equitable Life
  • Empire Life
  • Desjardins

Additional services I provide

Plan design and implementation

  • Work with you to design a group benefits plan that suits the needs of your corporationGroup Benefits
  • Solicit quotes from group benefits suppliers that best meet your organization’s needs
  • Engage in a full review of each quote to establish the best fit for your company

Plan reviews

  • Annual review of service rates, employee changes and industry or government developments
  • When appropriate, I will take your group benefits plan to market to make sure the rates and benefits continue to be competitive
  • Strategic approach to market comparisons

Ongoing consultation and support

  • When necessary, I’ll hold employee meetings to communicate and refresh your group benefits material for new and existing employees
  • Answer questions and handle concerns regarding claim payments
  • Help ensure payments are handled efficiently

Individual employee consultations

  • Individual consultations for every employee and their family, if requested
  • Opportunity for your employees to discuss important personal and specific planning needs and to understand how their group benefits plan integrates with their individual financial security plans
  • Convenient, flexible, no-cost consultations

Additional services

  • Retirement planning
  • Life insurance planning
  • Critical illness protection
  • Disability protection
  • Educational saving
  • Mortgages
  • Estate planning
  • Savings plans

15 advantages of group benefits

  1. Life insurance and disability insurance can provide a corporate policy in the event of an employee’s death or injury/illness.
  2. Accidental death and dismemberment benefits can provide a lump sum payment to help ease changes in lifestyle as well as unexpected deaths.
  3. Provides 24-hour coverage for all benefits, including disability insurance.
  4. Health and dental coverage helps keep medical costs down for plan members.
  5. Provides out-of-country emergency care for business or pleasure, so the need for individual travel insurance is reduced.
  6. Drug coverage is available by submission of receipts or through convenient pay-direct drug cards.
  7. Employee assistance programs provide 24-hour counseling services.
  8. Employees get guaranteed levels of coverage without having to submit medical evidence.
  9. Conversion privileges are available for both life and disability insurance products, in some cases.
  10. Less expensive than a raise because there are no additional increases in CPP, EI or WCB payments, and premiums can be tax-deductible.
  11. Helps attract and retain key employees.
  12. Can increase productivity, morale and the quality of employees’ work.
  13. Healthier employees reduce turnover and absenteeism.
  14. Employees and employers receive benefits without having to belong to an association, where membership fees are usually required.
  15. Group benefits are an investment in a company’s well-being, rather than an expense.

Other group benefits solutions for a diverse workplace

In addition to the standard products covered under a group benefits plan, there are a number of other healthcare benefits that are available to meet the growing needs of the Canadian workforce.

Provincial health insurance replacement coverage

For companies who look outside of Canada to enhance their personnel, this product is designed to temporarily replace provincial health coverage until the plan member and their dependants are eligible for government coverage.

Coverage for U.S.-based employees of a Canadian organization

This coverage is available for U.S.-based plan members who reside full-time in the United States. It includes a full complement of benefits, from life insurance to full health and dental coverage.

Coverage for Canadian organizations with employees working abroad

Coverage is available for expatriates, including rotational workers and third-country nationals, who are plan members of Canadian organizations working outside Canada or the United States. It also includes a full complement of benefits, from life insurance to full health and dental coverage.

Employee assistance plans (EAPs)

A healthy workforce is essential in maintaining an edge in today’s competitive marketplace. An employee assistance plan can help your plan members and eligible family members cope with difficult personal situations before they spiral out of control.

An employee assistance program can help prevent absenteeism, reduce stress and poor emotional health and enhance workplace effectiveness.

Group critical illness insurance

Statistics show the chance of contracting a serious illness is more common than most people think. The financial support offered by group critical illness insurance allows plan members who become critically ill to focus on recovering and managing their illness.

Business owners: What happens if your plans get interrupted?

If you’re a business owner, you know it takes plenty of time, work and effort, and you do whatever you can to be successful now, and in the future. For example, you want to protect your business today while making sure you plan for retirement and the legacy you’ll leave behind.Protect your Business with Insurance

But what happens if your plans get interrupted? What would happen if you:

  • Were seriously injured?
  • Battled an illness and wanted to spend more time with your family?
  • Died suddenly and the business had to go to someone else?

Of course these aren’t things we really want to think about, but part of running a successful business means dealing with tough issues – and preparing for the unexpected.

You’ve worked hard to grow your business and make it a success, that’s why protecting it is important.

Protect your business today

While your business may be running smoothly now, you need to be prepared in case the unexpected happens. There are a number of options you can consider as part of your financial security plan; insurance is one of them. The right insurance coverage can help you:

  • Protect your business, if you, or a key employee is suddenly unable to work
  • Pay off business loans
  • Provide you or your business partner with the funds to buy the other person’s share of the business
  • Cover expenses for you or your family

Ensure you have a smooth exit strategy

At some point, you may want to retire and pass on your business. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure a smooth transition. Have you thought about your options?

Leave a legacy for those you care about

It’s important to think about what will happen to your wealth for your family in the future:

  • Do you have a plan in place to help take care of loved ones?
  • Are you growing your wealth in a tax-efficient way?
  • What about your estate? Will it be easy to split fairly between family members?

Insurance is one way to help maximize what you leave behind.

Plan to see the whole picture

You’ve worked hard to grow your business and make it a success, that’s why protecting it is important.

I can show you options that may work best for you, and how insurance and other options can help fund, or plan, for unexpected events.