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.

Top Ten Questions to Consider for Retirement

You’ve saved well, invested wisely and built a sizeable nest egg. Retirement is within your grasp – or so you think. Here are 10 thought-provoking questions to help you determine your readiness to retire (whatever retirement means to you).

1. When do you want to retire? In a year? Six months? At a particular age?

In retirement, you’ll experience a fundamental shift – from saving to spending. The timing of your retirement is crucial to building your retirement nest egg and assessing how long it will need to last.

These 10 questions can be your roadmap to becoming retirement ready.

2. What percentage of your current income do you expect to need in retirement?

The amount of your current income you’ll need in retirement depends on how much you plan to spend in retirement. Plot out your current budget, then create a projected retirement budget and see where the gaps are.Retirement Checklist

3. How do you plan to spend your money in retirement?

Think about your current spending habits. Are you a penny-pincher or a lover of luxury? These habits will be amplified in retirement, so make sure your savings reflect this. Don’t forget to plan for events that may be out of your control.

4. Have you considered your lifestyle needs in retirement?

Travel lovers, take heed. Your lifestyle needs in retirement play a big part in how you save. For example, buying a condominium and being saddled with condo fees may not be the best idea if you plan on travelling extensively.

5. What guaranteed sources of income can you count on in retirement?

Calculate how much guaranteed income you’ll receive during retirement – such as Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Quebec Pension Plan (QPP), and Old Age Security (OAS) payments. Then, determine how much additional income you’ll need and where this will come from. While investment income is a nice bonus, you shouldn’t rely on it to pay for necessities.

6. Do you plan to work part-time or full-time in retirement?

Perhaps you want to continue using your existing work skills or explore new career opportunities. Debt and family matters may also influence your decision.

7. How do health and wellness factor into your retirement plan?

Retirement is the perfect time to focus on your mental and physical fitness. Leave room in your budget for activities that exercise your mind and body – the good news is that many of them are free!

8. Are you ready for the unexpected events in life?

When you consider retirement planning, make sure to account for unpredictable events – both financial and personal. Check if your retirement savings are strong enough to support you through a future economic downturn, a rise in the cost of living and a long life.

9. How will you keep your money working in retirement?

Think about how you’ll keep your money growing. Talk to me about investment solutions for retirees.

10. Do you plan to leave a legacy?

You might want to leave an inheritance to your family or favourite charity. Once again, I can help you put this in place.

The answers to these questions can help form a dependable roadmap for your retirement. While you can’t predict the future, you can plan for it.

Five Financial Steps for New Parents

While personal finances may not be on your mind (likely getting enough sleep is), here are five important steps for new parents to consider when bringing your bundle of joy home for the first time.

1. A social insurance number (SIN)

To claim children as dependants or set up savings accounts in their name, they must have a social insurance number. Most provinces offer a Newborn Registration Service that allows you to apply for a SIN. In British Columbia and Ontario, you can apply for their birth certificate at the same time.

New Parents Financial Planning

2. Baby comes first – but don’t forget about your other financial goals

Children can be costly: food, childcare and education costs are just some of the expenses you will need to add to your budget. New parents often prioritize those costs over their own financial goals, such as saving for a home, vehicle or vacation. Remember to pay yourself first and benefit from the power of compounding interest (making interest on your already-earned interest) to increase your savings.

  • Congratulations! Becoming a parent is filled with new joys, new challenges, and yes, new financial goals.

3. Start saving for post-secondary education

With the average full-time Canadian undergraduate student paying annual tuition fees of nearly $6,000+, post-secondary education can be an overwhelming expense. A registered education savings plan (RESP) can help get you closer to that goal. Not only does the money grow tax-free within the plan, but the government chips in with substantial grants.

4. Plan to protect your family’s financial security if the unexpected happens

It’s not easy to think about. But you need to help ensure your family will be taken care of financially if you or your partner died unexpectedly. Once you’ve calculated how much you’ll need to pay off your mortgage, help put your child through post-secondary school, and replace your lost income, you can approximate how much life insurance you may need.

Also, consider these basic estate planning steps for new parents:

  • Create an inventory of assets and debts and store it in a safe place that only a trusted person can access.
  • Review your insurance policies and update beneficiaries if any changes are needed.
  • Prepare a will and identify the person you would request to be the child’s guardian.

5. Budgeting for baby

When infants first come home, the financial resources you require to take care of their needs may be basic. But as they grow, previously unconsidered expenses – such as increased health insurance premiums – can surprise parents. That’s why it’s important to start your budget now. Setting up a category just for your child and logging all childcare expenses under it makes it easy to see how much you’re spending.

Getting your finances in order is a great way to manage the challenges of being a new parent. And hey, as they grow up, your child may even pick up a few tips!

Five Common Money Mistakes Students Make

With the cost of post-secondary education rising, many students are feeling the pressure to maintain good grades and a part-time job. With students facing such busy schedules, they may lose sight of the importance of financial security planning.

Here are five common money mistakes many students make:

1. Overusing credit cards

They’re a familiar sight at college and university orientation events across the country – representatives from major credit card companies offering free event tickets or merchandise if you sign up with them. While young people are often excited to get their first credit card, credit card companies know many students won’t be able to make their payments on time.

Prove them wrong by paying off your balance each month before it accrues interest. This can also help build a good credit rating, which will come in handy when it’s time to borrow money for a car or a home later on. Also, keep an eye out for a credit card that offers a low interest rate. Many student cards do.

Common Student Money Mistakes

2. Abusing student loans

Remember that, while student loans offer low interest rates and interest-free terms, they’re designed to help pay for your education, not shopping sprees. If you dip into your student loan too often, you may need to get a part-time job, which could distract you from your studies.

  • Our 20s is a tumultuous time.

3. Not thinking about career plans

Sometimes taking a degree, diploma or certification in what you love means you’ll struggle to find a job once you’re finished school. Unfortunately, an education alone may not be enough to guarantee you a job after graduation.

Talk to people who’ve graduated with the same education. How long did it take them to find a job? What did they wish they’d done differently? LinkedIn was built for this, so use it to your advantage. Boost your resume now by signing up for supplemental courses, internships, a club, or volunteer opportunities. It’s important to recognize that, while all employers will look at your education, they’re also interested in your interpersonal and leadership skills.

4. Giving out financial information

Nearly one-third of all identity thefts happen to people between the ages of 18 and 29. Only use secure networks when sharing personal or financial information. Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address to ensure it’s a secure site.

It’s also important to avoid sharing credit cards and co-signing loans with friends. They may be a friend now but they could be a financial foe tomorrow, potentially leaving you with their debt.

5. Forgoing a spending or financial security plan

Many students spend first and ask questions later – a formula for landing in financial hot water. Budgeting is an invaluable tool for helping you stay on top of your finances. It’s important to cover your fixed expenses (rent, tuition, groceries) before you allocate your variable expenses (going to the movies, dining out, etc.). Budgeting websites can really help with this by categorizing your money automatically, meaning you have one less thing to worry about. These sites can even send weekly updates on your financial situation, keeping you in the loop.

Even at this stage in your life it’s important to identify your financial goals. With my help, you can create a plan that includes saving for all the things you want to do once you graduate.

Going into debt in your 20s isn’t the end of the world; sometimes, it’s a necessity. Although financial security planning is rarely taught in school, if you have the foresight to stay on top of your finances, you’ll have a leg up on many of your peers.

Protect Your Family’s or Business Well-Being

Life is full of risks, and most we simply have to accept. But some we can do something about. Life insurance is an essential tool in protecting a family’s economic well-being if a partner or parent dies.

Life insurance is designed to pay loved ones a tax-free lump sum death benefit if you die. The benefit should be large enough to allow them to have the lifestyle and choices that your financial security plan set out to achieve.

  • Personal insurance policies represent an important part of prudent financial security planning.

The money from the death benefit can be used as needed. Some examples may be to help pay off debts, help ensure loved ones can afford to remain in the family home or pay for the children’s education. The benefit can also be used to help ensure the well-being of a sibling with special needs, or aging parents who lack adequate retirement savings.

Protect Your Family

Good business

Life insurance could also play an indispensable role in protecting a business. If you and a business partner start a company, you should each have a life insurance policy. The reasons make pure business sense.

The death of one business partner may have a significant impact on the company’s operations and life insurance can help the surviving partner manage through the resulting challenges. Life insurance can provide funds to allow the surviving partner to buy out the deceased partner’s share in the company without having to sell assets. Moreover, the deceased partner’s family receives the full amount they deserve from selling their share of the company.

Research tools

There are many online resources and calculators to help you learn about the different life insurance options and coverage needs. The large variety of options allows you to customize a policy to fit your needs, and that may include the flexibility to increase coverage as needed.

Professional counsel

Once you have done some primary research, you can consult me. Life insurance may play a starring role in your financial security planning.

Monthly Savings vs Paying the Bills

Have you ever noticed that your wallet manages to empty out no matter how much you put in there? Sometimes it feels like $80 lasts no longer than $40.

It may explain why that emergency $20 is hidden in one of your shoes. You just can’t trust your wallet.

Okay, you’re the one actually emptying your wallet, but the point remains: we tend to spend whatever is in our pockets. This offers an important lesson for the way we handle all of our finances.

Perhaps the most well-known mantra in financial security planning is “paying yourself first.” It endures because it usually works. Another well-known guiding principle is that paying down debt trumps all. But this one isn’t quite so indisputable.

Monthly Savings

The value of creating a clear spending plan

People living paycheque to paycheque are bound to feel shackled by their financial responsibilities. Even some people making a decent living think they’ll never get ahead. They need a formal process that will slow things down and allow them to put money away.

Creating a simple budget or spending plan is the first step. Make sure to pay your bills on time – especially those that keep the lights on and the water running. Preauthorized payments are a great solution. You also need to pay the rent, buy groceries, get to work and cover other day-to-day expenses.

If you have debt, you’ll need to devise a realistic schedule to repay it. But make sure you leave money aside for savings, even if it takes longer to repay your debts.

  • Putting money aside every month establishes a useful routine for efficiently managing your money.

The importance of creating sensible spending habits

Putting money aside every month establishes a useful routine for efficiently managing your money. First, it creates an emergency fund for a rainy day. Second, treating your savings as a priority allows you to start a financial security plan, the key to getting money to work for you.

Carrying non-mortgage debt is not a good thing. But even more alarming is holding that debt while not having any savings. The debt may cost you more in interest charges than your savings account is generating, but that cash gives you much-needed options.

Why setting money aside is a no-brainer

Setting aside a share of your monthly income needs to become routine. The best way to achieve this is by setting up automatic transfers to build monthly savings. If your pay is deposited into a bank account, arrange to have a set amount transferred right away to a separate place – perhaps a high-interest savings account. Once you have an ample emergency reserve, transfer some to a longer-term investment.

Your workplace may also offer a seamless way to save. Some employers will put a fixed percentage of your gross pay into a group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). You can also tell them to deduct a certain amount of your pay. These programs may even provide a bonus amount if your contributions hit a certain threshold.

Growing your savings with automatic transfers

When your net pay increases, automatically boost the amount you transfer into savings. If you’re prudent, you may hit a point where your earnings allow you to increase your overall savings rate. The sooner you reach it, the faster your wealth can grow.

Flying under the radar

Building savings isn’t easy – after all, there are plenty of fun things to spend your money on. But watching your savings grow can be motivating. And as long as the process is automatic, your wallet won’t notice the money is missing.

Good Savings Habits Lead to Financial Independence

Regardless of what you’re saving for – a down payment on a home, a dream vacation, a child’s education or your eventual retirement – developing good saving habits can definitely pay off. Even relatively small but regular contributions can quickly gain momentum thanks to the power of compounding, or making interest on your interest.

Most people can rationalize buying new bedroom furniture or a better and more reliable car by using small monthly payments spread over several years. However, you can also use this strategy to build hefty savings.

For some, saving is instinctive. Chipmunks know they must save enough nuts and seeds to get them through the winter. They even build storage rooms in their burrows.

But it’s important everyone – even humans – realize the importance of saving.

Good Savings Habits

Deciding on your goals for the future

The first step is determining an investment strategy and that means carefully evaluating your financial goals. After all, saving for a down payment on a house or a new car requires a different approach than long-term retirement planning.

So, ask yourself this: what do you want to do with your money?

Crunching the numbers

Next, set up a spending plan to help you determine how much you can afford to put away each month. Plenty of online tools can help you.

Start by going over your chequing and savings accounts and credit card statements, including ATM withdrawals. Make sure to include everything – even those pricey takeout lunches. This exercise can help you trim excessive spending.

  • Setting up a regular, automatic savings plan is an essential part of anyone’s financial health.

Once you have a better understanding of your income and expenses, determine your savings “payment.” Be bold, as you can always dial it back a bit later on. Or better yet, keep the amount steady and reduce your overall spending. Then, as your income grows, continue to raise the amount you put away each week.

Choosing the right investment solution

I can help you choose the right mix of investments and help you achieve your unique savings goals. Find out more about the features and benefits of various investment solutions.

Why it’s crucial to start saving now

Setting up a regular, automatic savings plan is an essential part of anyone’s financial health. The sooner you start, the better off you’ll be and the sooner you’ll achieve your goals.

Young & Single – Why Do I need Life Insurance?

You’ve made all the right moves and have finally been rewarded. All that hard work at school has helped you land the job that launches your career.

Proper money management is the key to becoming financially independent – it gives you the power to make the decisions that shape your life. Long-term thinking inspires you to create and follow a financial security plan that covers the next 40 years or more of your life.

If you haven’t sought professional help in designing your financial security plan, chances are the only insurance you have is automobile or tenant insurance. But why bother? You’re single and don’t have kids. Surely, there’s no need for personal insurance. Or is there?

The importance of insuring your financial future

A solid financial security plan revolves around your current and future income. In devising such a plan, it’s important to think about your financial goals, like owning a house, having kids and enjoying a comfortable retirement.

Getting your investments up and running at an early age is vital to growing wealth. A fast start could translate into owning your home years earlier. Investing with a long-term vision and diversification helps mitigate risk.

Why do I need Life Insurance?

life-insurance-young-single

Being prepared for unexpected health events

Accidents happen and they could prevent you from working for a few months or even years. A serious health issue could also put you on the sidelines. The probability of either situation happening to you in your lifetime is greater than you might think.

Individual disability and critical illness insurance can address those risks. If you are unable to work due to a serious illness or injury that is covered by your policy, disability insurance provides a stream of replacement income. If you experience a critical illness that’s covered by your policy, critical illness insurance pays a one-time lump sum amount when you need it most, allowing you flexibility and choice to help fund uncovered healthcare expenses, seek the best medical care possible and replace lost income. Both types of insurance can be important parts of your financial security plan and help you continue to achieve your goals if something unexpected happens.

Some considerations about workplace insurance

Many of today’s young people know they face a different career path than their parents. Rather than working the same job for decades, the expectation is that people will switch employers every few years. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does mean you’ll likely lose the insurance provided by your employer each time you change jobs, and a new employer may not offer the coverage you require.

It’s also important to remember that the insurance you get through your workplace normally provides basic coverage and benefits from a set menu of options. As a result, unless you supplement your insurance coverage, it could be significantly short of your actual needs. The human resources department at your place of employment can give you the low-down on your workplace insurance coverage, and your financial security advisor can help you determine if it’s adequate to meet your needs.

  • Getting started when you’re young and healthy can provide many advantages, like lower costs and guaranteed insurability.

The advantage of buying insurance while you’re young

Why do I need life Insurance? Buying personal insurance at a young age generally means you’re getting the lowest possible premiums, since risks increase with age. Moreover, many policies allow you to renew your coverage without additional medical exams. Better still, coverage is guaranteed and, as long as premiums are paid as required, only you can cancel a policy.

Why a permanent life insurance policy may be right for you

Without a spouse or kids, it may seem odd to purchase life insurance. However, there are compelling reasons to buy this kind of insurance coverage while you’re young and single.

Consider participating life insurance (one type of permanent life insurance), a powerful tool for retirement and estate planning. Yes, there’s a death benefit but also a guaranteed amount of money that grows inside the policy, combined with the investment performance of the participating account that can increase the value of your death benefit or help pay for future goals like an education fund, starting a new business, or supplementing your retirement income. Keep in mind what you take out is subject to tax.

Permanent life insurance can play a central role in a financial security plan. I have the expertise to help you decide if this route is right for you.

Keeping dependants in mind

People are depending on you, even if you don’t have a spouse and kids. Take your parents – if they don’t have adequate finances, you and any siblings may eventually be responsible for their health and long-term care.

Here are some other instances where life insurance makes sense:

  • You have a family member with special needs
  • You took out a personal or business loan that a family member co-signed
  • You want to leave a legacy to loved ones
  • You want to bequeath a large donation to a charity or cause

Your decision to start and follow a financial security plan at an early age can help put you on track to financial independence. The right insurance will help ensure you stay on that path.

Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) Increase

The Universal child care benefit (UCCB) is designed to help Canadian families, as they try to balance work and family life, by supporting their child care choices through direct financial support.

The Government of Canada is introducing changes to the law to increase and expand the UCCB. Enhanced payments for the universal child care benefit would take effect as of January 2015 and would begin to be reflected in monthly payments to recipients in July 2015.

Universal Child Care Benefit

The UCCB is increasing for children under the age of six. Effective January 1, 2015, parents will receive a benefit of up to $160 per month for each child under the age of six, up from $100 per month. If the changes to the law pass, parents will receive up to $1,920 per child per year.

The UCCB is also expanding to children aged six through 17. Effective January 1, 2015, parents will receive a benefit of up to $60 per month for children aged six through 17. If the changes to the law pass, parents will receive up to $720 per child per year.

The first enhanced payment will be issued in July 2015 and will include any retroactive payments for the period ofJanuary 2015 to June 2015.

Note
It is the CRA’s longstanding practice to administer tax and benefit measures on the basis of proposed legislation, which has been accepted in principle by Parliament pursuant to a Notice of Ways and Means Motion, unless this legislation or a motion to implement the measures is defeated in Parliament.

Financial Planning Process

FINANCIAL PLANNING PROCESS

  1. Introduction
  • Who I am
  • What I do
  1. Understand Situation
  2. Determine Goals & Objectives
  3. Review Investment and Risk Management
  4. Present Financial Security Plan
  5. Present Analysis and Go-Forward Strategy
  6. Implement Plan
  7. Annual Review and Monitoring

Financial Planning Overview

I work with my clients to create a financial security plan that addresses their concerns in four key areas: financial security at death, living benefits, liquidity and retirement. Their financial security plan will be tailored to their needs, risk tolerance and the goals they want to achieve.

Cash Flow and Debt Management

My financial planning process will involve an analysis of your current cash flow and debt levels through a comprehensive budget review.  I will make recommendations on how you can make the most effective and efficient use of your cash, expenses and what you can do to best structure your debt and most effectively pay it down.

Investment Services

I pride my practice on my commitment to a proven process. Before ever making any investment, I first work with clients to develop a complete understanding of their financial position, concerns, tax position, goals & objectives and estate planning. I then work with my clients to help them determine their financial goals and objectives in short, medium and long term. I create a financial forecaster assessment that quantifies my clients ability to meet their goals and objectives given their current financial realities with varying growth assumptions. I believe this is an important tool in determining how much risk NOT to take and establishes baseline investment parameters. I believe this holistic approach allows me to make unique and tailored investment recommendations.

Risk Management

In most cases, the ability of my clients to achieve their intended financial objectives relies on their ability to earn an income. I work with my clients to help ensure the sustainability of income in the event of a disability or critical illness. Using an innovative array of products designed for families, business owners and professionals. I can help mitigate the financial impact in the event of an unexpected medical event.

Estate Planning

I work with families, business owners and professionals to build an estate plan to help ensure their financial matters are distributed the way they would like them to be after their death. It can also help reduce taxes, so more of the estate is left for heirs.

Insurance Solutions

Unexpected events can leave your family without the cash flow needed for day-to-day expenses. I offer a range of products that can provide temporary or permanent coverage to replace your income, fund expenditures that arise due to a death (ie. taxes or final expenses). I can help determine your needs and decide which insurance product solution is best for you.

However, there are other features of life insurance that benefit families, business owners and professionals depending upon their current and long term financial positions. I provide three basic insurance solutions to my clients.

  • Insurance needs over time
  • Alternative investment vehicle for fixed income
  • A strategy for corporate asset efficiency
  1. Temporary and permanent needs over time

Life insurance meets different needs at different stages of your life. You should update your coverage to reflect important events in your life.

  1. Insurance as an alternative investment asset class for taxable fixed income

The major advantage of using life insurance (permanent participating) as an alternative asset class is:

  • Tax advantage on growth
  • Low fees
  • Asset protection
  • Estate tax reduction
  • Stable yields

Tax advantage life insurance products are structured such that a certain amount of life insurance is purchased to ensure that the policy will qualify under the MTAR rules and therefore remain an exempt policy, while at the same time providing the maximum amount of tax advantage income accumulation.

Depending upon client circumstances, funds can either be used to provide an income stream during their lifetime (living benefits) or enhance the value of their estate upon their death.

  1. A strategy for corporate asset efficiency

Save it – Redirect your company’s excess cash from taxable investments to tax advantaged permanent insurance. Growth inside the policy is not eroded by income tax, within prescribed limits. Save on taxes to keep more money working for you.

Spend it – Access the policy’s accumulated cash value by using the policy as collateral for a line of credit. Use loan advances to provide your business or yourself with a stream of income.

Leave it – At death, the policy’s death benefit pays off the loan. The full death benefit payable to your company (less adjusted cost basis, if any) is eligible for distribution to shareholders – including your successors or heirs – as tax-free dividends.

 

The Team Behind Your Financial Security Plan

My support team consists of specialists in:

–       Retirement and investment –       Living benefits
–       Life insurance –       Employee benefits
–       Banking and mortgages –       Tax and estate planning