How saving early and often can help grow your investments

How saving early and often can help grow your investments

Saving money can be a challenge at the best of times. But did you know that with a regular savings plan in place, and an early start, you could be much further ahead when it comes time to consider retirement?

That’s because when you start saving early, your money has more time to grow, allowing it to benefit from compound growth. Compounding can help your money grow, in most cases, far beyond the amount you originally invested. So, how does it work?

Compound growth is similar to compound interest. With compound interest you’re essentially earning interest onSaving Early interest – you earn interest on the money you put in at the start, as well as the money you add later, plus on all the interest that collects over time. This gives you a larger total amount to earn future interest on, leading to even more growth. Over time, you have a powerful recipe to help you grow your money.

The concept of compound growth is similar to growing a forest of trees. The forest can grow in two ways – trees can be planted by hand (like your regular investment contributions), while others may grow on their own through seeds that fall from mature trees (like compound growth on your contributions). In time, a few trees planted early can grow into an entire forest without much effort.

To understand how this could affect your savings, consider the journey of $240,000, saved two different ways. If you save $500 per month with an annual return rate of six per cent compounded monthly, beginning at age 25, you would have $1,000,724 at age 651. Conversely, if you tried to catch up on your savings, contributing $1,000 with the same annual rate of return beginning at age 45, you would only have $464,361 at age 652. Under both scenarios, you’ve invested the same amount with the same growth rate, but in the first scenario, your money has twice as long to grow, and you end up with more than twice as much.

The beauty of saving early and relying on the power of compounding is it doesn’t take a lot of money to get started. Relatively small amounts consistently invested regularly, especially when you are young and early into your career, can make a significant difference in the total size of your savings down the road. Those small deposits can be the difference between being confident with your investment success and having to worry about it much later in your life. It can be as easy as sitting back while you let your money do all the work and grow into something much bigger.

The strategy for compounding:

  • Invest early – the longer your money is invested, the more time it has to grow. When it comes to compounding returns, time is on your side.
  • Contribute regularly – regardless of the amount you can afford – the important thing is to start and be consistent. Even small contributions made each month will grow. You can increase your contributions as your financial situation changes throughout your life.
  • Don’t take money out – as your savings grow and earn compound returns, the gains made through compounding will also help you build your wealth.

Whether it’s through a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a tax-free savings account (TFSA), saving early and saving often can give you a head start on planning for retirement. And that planning may allow you to reach your financial goals sooner. I can help you review your financial goals and prepare for the future.

Savers versus spenders – the great divide

Five tips to help couples bridge the gap on their financial attitudes

We’re all different when it comes to our perspectives on spending. Some people have no problem saving all their extra pennies, and some people spend what they have without thinking about the future. While differences make the world go round, conflicting thoughts on money matters can lead to tension in relationships. If you and your partner find yourselves at opposite ends of the saving versus spending spectrum, these tips can help you meet in the middle.

1. Understand each other’s differences

You’re buying a new car together. The spender wants all the upgrades, while the saver is just fine with the base model. When emotions run high, it can be difficult to see where your partner is coming from. The truth is, our Budgeting with Partnerattitudes about money are deeply rooted. Perhaps you or your partner is stingier with spending because there was less to go around growing up. Perhaps the person who is free with money gets an emotional reward from spending. Try to take a step back and discuss the reasoning behind your behaviour. It’s always easier to negotiate when you try to validate each other’s feelings, instead of assigning blame.

2. Set goals you can agree on

As a saver, it can seem irritating if your partner is constantly making purchases you deem frivolous. Creating a spending plan as a couple – with shared goals in mind – can help bring you together around common values. For example, say you agree that taking a trip overseas or buying a home is your biggest priority. You may want to consider how much you’ll need for that expense and factor how long it will take you to save that amount. With that savings goal in mind, it will probably be a whole lot easier to pass up unnecessary indulgences.

It is possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.

3. Establish a system for bill payment

When your bills roll in each month, avoid the last-minute scramble by setting parameters on who will pay each bill if you manage your finances using separate accounts. Perhaps you each cover half of your mortgage or rent, one of you pays the auto insurance and the other covers hydro. Since these expenses are generally fixed, setting up a system for handling bills up-front gives you one less thing to worry (fight) about.

4. Set a threshold for joint purchases

Every couple has a different way of structuring their finances, and sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error. Some people keep separate accounts and split everything down the middle, while others pool all their resources. Other couples have four accounts between them: one joint for savings, one joint for everyday expenses and two individual accounts for whatever’s left (fun money). Whichever system you decide is best for you, you may want to consider setting a limit on the amount you can spend on a joint purchase without consulting each other. Discussing big-ticket purchases with your partner before you take the plunge is an easy way to avoid a disagreement.

5. Call for backup

Sometimes, reaching out to an impartial third party is the best way to solve financial disputes. I can help by talking to you about your goals and determining the best way to structure your finances to suit your needs. With a customized financial plan in tow, you’ll have a solid foundation for the decisions you make about your money.

With a common vision for your future and the right financial action plan, it’s possible for partners with different spending styles to find a middle ground.

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.

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.

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.

Take Emotions out of the Investment Equation

Investing involves risk. But a well-constructed financial security plan contains structural elements specifically designed to address potential risks while focusing on long-term growth. This approach relies on formulas, not emotions.

The foundation for creating a sound financial security plan is determining your risk tolerance. Financial security advisors and investment representatives require you to fill out questionnaires that estimate willingness to accept risk while exploring your financial objectives. The key is finding the right balance – and understanding this process is vital. That’s why emotions need to be taken out of the investment equation.

Why it’s important to start investing at a young age

Time is a powerful tool in reducing risk and an important reason to start investing early in life. Generally, the younger you are, the more aggressive you can be. As you get older, your portfolio should steadily shift to more conservative investing. This is a mathematical process.

Financial markets, especially stock (or equity) markets, can bounce around from day to day and sometimes they take sharp drops. Historically, markets recover over time, albeit with some short-term volatility.

  • The foundation for creating a sound financial security plan is determining your risk tolerance.

The value of mixing it up

Diversification is a bedrock technique for mitigating risk. Holding a large number of investments and types of investments can help lower the overall impact if a particular investment gets into trouble.

Take stocks: Owning shares in several companies spreads out risk. Moreover, you can offset the stocks of newer companies with those of more established companies. Low-risk investors may be willing to invest in a couple of higher risk technology start-ups with growth potential if the rest of their equity portfolio contains larger, more established companies.

Size isn’t the only factor. Investing in different industries adds another layer of diversification. If energy companies are facing short-term problems because a warmer winter is causing natural gas prices to fall, companies in other sectors may benefit from the drop. Investing in different countries is another way to diversify your portfolio.

Mutual funds and segregated funds are common solutions for diversification. They contain shares from a large number of publicly traded companies and may specialize in specific industries or countries. Funds available cover the gamut of risk, from high-risk emerging markets growth funds to conservative funds.

Investment Emotions

Using diversification to your advantage

Asset allocation is another powerful diversification technique. Financial portfolios are divided into three main categories: equities, fixed income (which includes bonds) and cash. Fixed income investments offer less upside but they are generally more stable; this is especially the case when it comes to government or high-quality corporate bonds. Many people invest in bonds indirectly through mutual funds.

Cash is the third category. Cash or cash-like instruments, such as term deposits, offer limited but guaranteed growth. Individuals with a very low risk tolerance – such as people nearing retirement – may hold a significant amount of their portfolio in cash. Cash also offers a safe way to park money for shorter-term goals, such as saving to buy a house.

The financial challenges of getting older

As you age, your investment horizon shortens. At age 25, you have the ability to assume more risk in your portfolio. You can’t rely on time to smooth out bumps once you approach retirement. As a result, your portfolio should gradually become more focused on conserving capital and generating income. That means moving to less aggressive investments and eventually increasing your holdings of fixed income investments and cash.

Why it’s important to ignore irrational urges

Even if you have the best-laid plans in place, investors can find themselves tempted to try something new. Common missteps include:

  • Trying to time the market: Professionals can’t know when prices will go up and down and neither can you.
  • Selling when an investment falls in value: In actual fact, this could be the time to buy.
  • Chasing hot rumours. Best tip ever? Develop a solid financial security plan and stick to it.

Going on autopilot with the right investment plan

If your investment portfolio is set up properly, it should almost take care of itself over the long term. Contributions can be transferred automatically and proceeds, such as dividends, are reinvested.

Thoroughly examine your overall investments once or twice a year to make sure asset allocations remain at desired levels. A jump in stock prices can be good for the portfolio but you may find yourself overly invested in equities and needing to move some of the money into more conservative investment options.

Spending time working with me to customize – and fully understand – a sound financial security plan allows you to spend less time thinking about money. It’s a big part of enjoying financial independence.

Pay Yourself First

You know it’s important to set money aside to reach your investment goals. However, with so many spending opportunities vying for your attention, it can be tough to fit savings into your financial security plan.

  • Paying yourself first means saving a set amount first and only spending what’s left over – rather than the other way around.

“ Pay yourself first ” means saving a set amount first and only spending what’s left over – rather than the other way around. It means making your financial goals a priority by treating saving like any other bill or re-occurring payment.

That’s where a pre-authorized contribution (PAC) plan can help. It allows you to transfer funds automatically from your bank account to your plan.

Pay Yourself First

Instead of saving to invest in one lump sum, PACs spread your saving over regular intervals, helping you balance the effects of up and down market cycles.

Making small, regular contributions can go a long way to helping you achieve your financial goals. For example, if you invest $100 a week for your retirement, you’ll have accumulated $197,000 after 20 years – assuming a fixed interest rate of six per cent.1

Pre-authorized contribution plans make it easier to save for your future. I can work with you to determine which PAC options and schedules work best for you.

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

 

CRM 2: How Do Financial Advisors Get Paid?

Mutual fund investing. There’s a fee for that?

A management expense ratio (MER) is the total* fee you will pay to invest in a standard series mutual fund. It’s important to note that you do not pay the MER directly; rather it’s paid by the fund itself, which reduces the value of your investment accordingly.

How your money gets split out in an MER

You invest $10,000 in a standard series of a typical Canadian balanced fund with an MER of 2.5 per cent. Through the fund you pay a total of $250 in fees for the year, which may be broken out as follows.

  • $121 for the professional management of the fund and fund operating expenses
  • $29 for taxes
  • $100 for administration, compliance and oversight provided by the fund dealer, of which, on average in the industry, $80 goes towards investment representatives for the services provided to clients, including financial advice, and operating and overhead expenses incurred by the firms while providing those services

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*Additional sales charges may apply, as agreed upon between the client and the financial security advisor. Illustration assumes a front-end load structure, with a zero per cent sales charge and a blended tax rate of 13 per cent. A fund’s tax rate may vary as it is a blended tax rate calculated based on the mix of investors invested in that particular fund across all provinces. Additional fees and charges may apply depending on the series and options chosen.

Realizing the value of the right advice

It shouldn’t be surprising that 81 per cent of fund investors have confidence in mutual funds as an investment solution.*

I can offer you choice, flexibility and the comfort of knowing you’re invested in a product that is aligned with your individual goals and aspirations.

Offering the right mix of strategically selected assets is at the centre of every strong portfolio.

Because your investment is managed by experts who follow this principle and manage costs and risks through me, you have access to strong products and solutions that you would otherwise not have access to on your own.

Contact me to review your investment needs or start your planning process.

*IFIC/Pollara, Canadian investors’ perceptions of mutual funds and the mutual fund industry 2013