Financial Planning Centre

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Determining your financial needs for today and the future

Financial planning is a method for determining how you can best manage your financial affairs to achieve your life goals. The financial planning process centers on creating a written financial plan. This plan serves as a comprehensive roadmap that guides you and your family as you navigate through life’s important stages.

Customized money management

We create for each client a customized money management program designed to achieve predetermined wishes and goals. Working with a professional financial advisor makes reaching your goals easy and effortless. As a client we will:

  • Develop an investment plan aligned with your long, medium and short-term objectives, financial circumstances and risk tolerance
  • Create an appropriate asset-mix approach
  • Choose investment types and other financial products
  • Monitor your program with you regularly

Setting financial objectives

Working with your financial advisor to create your plan, you must strive to take into account all the relevant aspects of your unique financial situation and identify and prioritize your key life objectives. Through this process, you will develop a deeper understanding of how your financial decisions intersect with and affect your quality of life, today and tomorrow.

Ultimately, through effective financial planning, you can create order in your financial circumstances and greatly improve the likelihood that you will live the life you want.

Comprehensive Financial Planning

Free Consultation

Now with Comprehensive Financial Planning, you can determine what your financial needs are today and for the future. Our service begins with a free consultation, which will provide you with an assessment of your current situation, and detail areas you should be focusing on. After that, drawing on our expertise in financial planning we’ll create a precise plan detailing how you can reach all your financial goals.

You will learn how to:

  • Take advantage of retirement savings plans
  • Use RRSPs effectively
  • Establish an appropriate cash reserve

From long experience, we can tell you with certainty that the sooner you begin the process of developing a financial plan and saving for the future, the more quickly you will achieve the financial goals you set for yourself.

  • Invest new savings
  • Develop an educational savings plan for your kids
  • Make comfortable decisions about investment risk
  • Adjust your current asset allocations
  • Establish a diversified portfolio of stock and bond mutual funds, including lists of recommended funds
  • Protect your goals in case you or your spouse dies
  • Determine if you have the correct amount and type of life insurance.

Additional Information

  • Financial Planning FAQ

    Financial Planning FAQ In this FAQ, we answer the most common questions asked about financial planning If you have any specific questions, send us an email and we would be pleased to help.

    CONTACT US

    What is covered in a customized financial plan?

    We cover the following areas when preparing a financial plan:

    • Cash Flow Statement
    • Net Worth Statement
    • Estate Needs Analysis
    • Disability Income Needs
    • Retirement Plan
    • Investment Analysis
    • Tax Planning & Projection
    • Education Funding

    How do I get started?

    Start by downloading and completing a detailed Financial Planning Questionnaire. Then give us a call and we will review it with you and prepare a detailed written plan specific to your needs.

    financial planning questionnaire

    How often should I update my financial plan?

    Preparing a financial plan is where our personal service gets started. We provide you with ongoing reporting on all of your investments including:

    • Regular reviews of your personal finances with your financial planner
    • Online access to your accounts
    • Access to state-of-the-art research that is current and specific to your investments

    What if my plans change?

    We created the service with you in mind. You can contact a financial advisor right here through our website with your new information. Or you can set up an appointment to meet in person to discuss your changes.

  • Six Steps to Financial Planning

    Six Steps to Financial Planning

    Financial planning isn’t reserved for those with big incomes or investment portfolios. The whole idea behind planning is to ensure that you’re doing everything that you can to accomplish your goals. Here are the six steps to get you started.

    Setting Goals and Objectives

    Give some thought to your financial goals – some may be short-term in nature (buying a car), others long-term (planning for retirement). Assign each one a time frame and put them in order of importance to you. These goals are the building blocks of any sound financial plan.

    Data Gathering

    Begin by organizing your financial documents:

    • Investment statements
    • RRSP statements
    • Group Benefits Information
    • Latest Pension Information
    • Pay stub
    • Life insurance policies
    • Latest tax return
    • Mortgage information

    Assess your current financial situation by completing a Net Worth Statement and a Cash Flow Worksheet.

    Analysis

    Depending on the goals you have set out in Step 1, you and your financial planner will need to perform some further analysis to define a roadmap to help you achieve your goals. This may include analyzing your retirement, education, debt or insurance and estate planning needs.

    Recommendations

    Now that you have established goals and objectives and your financial planner has analyzed your current situation, you will want to review the recommendations set forth by your financial planner. These recommendations represent the strategy towards attaining your goals. Very important stuff!

    Implementation

    Once the preparatory work of analyzing, determining and calculating is finished, the most important step is implementing the recommendations to ensure your goals are reached. This is where you and your financial planner execute the plan.

    Monitoring and Periodic Reviews

    Finally, monitoring and periodic reviews by both yourself and your financial planner are critical to ensuring your success. Your financial situation should be reassessed at least once a year to account for any changes in your situation. Achieving your goals and objectives are the ultimate measure of success and that is what a financial planner with GP Wealth Management will help you do.

    Download the PDF version of this article

    Six Steps to Financial Planning

Recent Articles

  • Why Prepare a Written Financial Plan?

    The GP Wealth Plan

    Financial planning isn’t reserved for those with big incomes or investment portfolios. The whole idea behind planning is to ensure that you’re doing everything that you can to accomplish your goals.

    Anyone with a financial goal needs the affordable and convenient financial planning offered by GP Wealth Management. With the help of a professional financial advisor, you can develop a plan that is personal to you.

    Benefits

    The GP Wealth Plan is our in-house suite of financial planning tools. Your financial advisor uses these tools to help guide you in your investment decisions, providing real value to you at every stage of your investing lifetime.

    Let your GP Wealth financial advisor put The GP Wealth Plan to work for you. Get started by downloading and completing a Wealth Plan Questionnaire.

    WEALTH PLAN QUESTIONNAIRE

    Here’s where we can help!

    We prepare and then review a comprehensive plan to help you reach your goals, we then help you decide on the best options for investing and building your portfolio.

  • The Importance of an Annual Financial Review

    The Importance of an Annual Financial Review

    Regularly tracking your financial progress is the key to building wealth, and the start of a new year can be the perfect time for an annual financial review.

    Reassessing your finances and updating your goals at least once a year is critical. This process ensures you have a clear roadmap for effective financial decision-making.

    Here are three essential tips for getting more out of your annual financial review:

    If you don’t have a written financial plan, get started

    A good plan will define the amount you must save in both the short-term and long-term and how you may need to change your financial habits to realize your goals. By writing down your goals, you’ll create a picture in your mind of what you’re trying to achieve, giving you greater motivation and focus.

    Establish timeframes with your goals

    Timeframes do more than help you stay on schedule. They allow you to optimize your efforts so that you reach your financial goals faster. For instance, if you work hard to accelerate your debt payments, you’ll pay less interest and, therefore, have more money available to invest in your RRSP.

    Review your performance

    One of the best ways to stay on top of your financial progress is by maintaining a net worth statement. Your statement can be as simple or advanced as you’d like, depending on your preference.

    Let your GP Wealth financial advisor put The GP Wealth Plan to work for you. Get started by downloading and completing a Wealth Plan Questionnaire.

    WEALTH PLAN QUESTIONNAIRE

  • Home Buying

    Home Buying

    Should I rent or buy a home? The benefit of homeownership lies in the fact that your equity in the property will increase over time as the mortgage is paid down. That, combined with regular appreciation in the value of the property, could leave you with a valuable investment after the mortgage is paid off.

    In contrast, renting over the same amount of time gives you no equity in the property. From an investment point of view, however, homeownership might not always be the right decision. When comparing owning to renting, it’s a numbers game: you have to add up all of the figures, including the cost of your home, the size of your down payment, utilities, repairs, interest rates and insurance, and compare them to how much you are currently spending on rent.

    Of course, you also have to place a value on the enjoyment and satisfaction that you will derive from owning your own home.

    Find out more…

    Affordability and Debt Load

    To determine affordability, financial institutions use two simple calculations:

    • Gross Debt Service ratio (GDS)
    • Total Debt Service ratio (TDS)

    The GDS looks at your gross monthly income vs. your proposed new housing costs (mortgage payments, taxes, heating costs and 50% of condominium fees, if applicable). Generally speaking, your GDS ratio should not be higher than 32%. For example, if your gross monthly income is $4,000, you should not be spending more than $1,280 in monthly housing expenses.

    The TDS ratio measures your gross monthly income vs. your total debt obligations (including loans, car payments and credit card bills). Generally speaking, your TDS ratio should not be higher than 37%. Keep in mind that these numbers are prescribed maximums and that you should strive for lower ratios for a more affordable lifestyle.

    Here are a few other things to consider…

    Before buying a home, you should create a detailed budget and calculate your debt-service ratios. As a rule of thumb, a home purchase should cost less than two and a half years’ worth of your income. To calculate how much you can reasonably afford to pay for a home, start by adding up your household’s gross annual income (salaries, wages and taxable income before taxes).

    Then multiply the sum by 2.5 (assuming an 8.5% mortgage interest rate).

    For example, a household with an annual income of $60,000 can reasonably afford a $150,000 home.

    Below is an at-a-glance guide that matches family income to house prices:

    Family IncomeAffordable House Price
    $50,000$125,000
    $60,000 $150,000
    $70,000 $175,000
    $80,000 $200,000
    $90,000 $225,000
    $100,000 $250,000
    $110,000 $275,000

    Your Downpayment Options

    Probably the most difficult challenge you will face as an aspiring homeowner is saving enough for a down payment. Keep in mind that the more money you can put down, the less you will pay in the long run due to lower mortgage interest costs.

    In order to obtain a conventional mortgage, homeowners are required to pay at least 25% of the purchase price or appraised value (whichever is less) as a down payment. Programs are in place to assist people with the challenge of saving for a down payment.

    Below are two options to consider.

    Getting a Mortgage

    Start with a mortgage pre-qualification meeting and be sure to determine not only the cost of your mortgage but also other expenditures such as closing costs. A good rule of thumb is to budget about 2% of the purchase price of the home for closing costs, including land transfer tax, legal fees and other disbursements.

    People who buy new homes from builders also pay 7% GST, which is often included in the purchase price. Once the mortgage is pre-approved, the interest rate is frozen for 60 days (90 days on new-home construction). If interest rates drop, home buyers get the lower rate, but if they rise, the home buyer still receives the frozen rate. There is no obligation to actually obtain a mortgage through the institution that pre-qualifies you.

    Pre-qualification is a service offered at no cost. You can continue to roll over your pre-qualification certificate if you don’t find a home within the 60-90 day timeframe.

    CHMC 5% Down Payment Option

    Mortgage insurers such as Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Genworth Canada may insure your mortgage against default for up to 95% of the lending value of the house. Therefore, as a purchaser, you only need a 5% downpayment. Eligible borrowers include anyone who buys a home in Canada and intends to occupy it as his/her principal residence.

    A few things to be aware of when considering mortgage insurance…

    Purchasers can use up to 35% of their gross family income for payments of mortgage principal and interest, property taxes and heating. A buyer’s total debt load (including consumer loans, etc.) cannot exceed 40% of gross family income.

    If you insure a mortgage loan with CMHC or Genworth, you will pay an application fee and a premium. The application fee ($75 – $235) covers the costs incurred by the insurer to review the application.

    The premium is based on the loan amount. Premiums range from 0.5% to 3.75% of the mortgage loan amount and can be added to the principal amount of the mortgage.

    Home Buyers’ Plan

    The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs towards the purchase of a home purchase. The withdrawn amount must be repaid within 15 years, subject to a minimum annual repayment that is 1/15 of the amount withdrawn.

    If you don’t repay the amount due in a particular year, it gets included as income for that year. For more information, please refer to the Canada Revenue Agency’s Home Buyers’ Plan (RC4135).

  • Why Open an RDSP?

    Why Open an RDSP?

    The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was established by the federal government to help parents and others save for the long-term financial security of a person with a disability (one who qualifies for the Disability Tax Credit).

    Benefits of an RDSP Account:

    • Tax-Sheltered Growth
    • Flexible Investment Options
    • Canada Disability Savings Grant Available
    • Canada Disability Savings Bond Available

    A big advantage of RDSPs is that, like RRSPs, they allow your money to grow tax-free. Plus, the beneficiary of the account will not pay tax on earnings until the funds are withdrawn. That could add up to a lot of savings.

    As the beneficiary of an RDSP, you can access your money two ways — annual payments or periodic lump-sum withdrawals.

    Also, if you save your money in an RDSP, you’re still eligible for other programs. Income payments from RDSPs don’t affect Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplement and the Canada Pension Plan, and in most provinces and territories, you’ll still qualify for existing provincial social assistance programs.

    The total lifetime contribution for each beneficiary is $200,000, with no annual contribution limits.

    If a parent or grandparent passes away and has a financially dependent child or grandchild, they can transfer up to $200,000 of their RRSP/RRIF or RPP to the dependent’s RDSP on a tax-deferred basis.

  • RRSP Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)

    What’s the RRSP Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP)?

    If you have an RRSP and are thinking about going back to school, you can help fund your education by borrowing from your RRSP with the LLP option. Whether you want to enhance your existing credentials or embrace a new career, the Registered Retirement Savings Plan Lifelong Learning Plan (RRSP LLP) can help you pay for the education or training you need.

    With the LLP you can withdraw up to $10,000 per year to a maximum of $20,000 tax-free from your RRSP for you or your spouse to pay for a full-time program (or a part-time program, if the student is disabled). But keep in mind that you can’t use the program to finance your children’s post-secondary education — that’s the function of the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

    Whether the program you select is considered full-time depends on how the educational institution you are enrolled at characterizes your participation. However, because you can take courses by correspondence or through a distance education program, you could conceivably be deemed a full-time student even if you continue to work full- or part-time.

    Paying back your RRSP

    You have up to 10 years to repay your RRSPs under the LLP. Typically, you must repay 10% of the total you withdrew each year until you have repaid the full amount. You do not have to pay any interest on the money you withdrew.

    The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will send you an LLP Statement of Account each year, showing your LLP withdrawals, how much you have repaid so far, how much you still owe and how much you have to repay the next year. The deadline to start repaying your RRSP under LLP depends on how long the CRA considers you a full-time student.

    For example, if you made an LLP withdrawal any time in 2010, and you qualified for the education amount (a tax deduction) every year since, you have until March 1, 2015 to make your first repayment installment — 60 days following the fifth year after your first LLP withdrawal. That’s the longest deadline. If you’re like most people, however, you won’t be eligible for the education amount for the full five years, so your repayment period will start sooner. (For more information, see the CRA rules for when and how to make a repayment.)

    If you miss repaying the required installment in any year, you will have to pay taxes on that amount. You can keep withdrawing money from your RRSP until the January of the fourth calendar year after your first LLP withdrawal, as long as you are still a full-time student (or part-time student, if you are disabled) and you have not exceeded the $20,000 maximum or the 10-year repayment period has not begun.

    You can participate in the program as many times as you wish over your lifetime, provided you have fully paid back previous LLP withdrawals. You can also participate in the LLP at the same time as your spouse; if you do so, the family withdrawal maximum will total $40,000.

    Can you combine an LLP withdrawal with the Home Buyers’ Plan?

    LLP withdrawals are also permitted if you have previously pulled money out of your RRSP under the Home Buyers’ Plan and haven’t yet fully repaid it. If you do not have an RRSP, you cannot set one up and then withdraw from it immediately.

    Your contribution must be in the RRSP for 90 days before you can deduct it from the income on your tax return. You can continue to make contributions to your RRSP and deduct them from your income on your tax return after you have made an LLP withdrawal.

    However, you may not be able to deduct contributions you made before the withdrawal. For further details, see the CRA rules on Effect of LLP on RRSP deductions. In a 2006 report (Canada’s retirement income programs), Statistics Canada found that in the first few years since LLPs were introduced in 1999, they were not particularly popular.

    Until the end of the 2004 tax year, only 49,000 individuals took part, withdrawing close to $363 million from their RRSPs. Compare this to the nearly 1.4 million holders of RRSPs aged 25 to 64 who cashed in all or part of their RRSP savings between 1992 and 2004 under the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan.

    Alternatives to LLP

    One of the reasons the LLP program may not have attracted many takers is that if you’re unemployed with little or no income in the year you go back to school, you can simply make a regular withdrawal from your RRSP with negligible tax implications.

    And unlike an LLP withdrawal, a regular withdrawal does not have to be paid back. Also, with the availability of tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) since 2009, people may prefer to use TFSA money for education costs, because the funds can be withdrawn tax-free and the contribution room freed up and carried forward.

    Furthermore, there are no penalties or taxes if the money is not replaced in the account. Whether it makes sense for you to use the RRSP LLP will depend on how much you have in your RRSP, whether you have TFSA savings and how much you are still earning when you go back to school.

    Your financial advisor can run the numbers to help you develop a personalized, tax-effective approach for financing your planned course of study.

  • Maximizing Financial Support for Loved Ones with Disabilities

    Maximizing Financial Support for Loved Ones with Disabilities

    When your child or someone important to you has a disability, you want to do everything possible to help them live a normal life. Perhaps the most important thing is to ensure the right financial supports are in place to cover the costs of health care and other expenses.

    The hard truth is, people with disabilities in our society are particularly vulnerable to financial hardships.

    The Rick Hansen Foundation estimates that 4.4 million Canadians, including 200,000 children, have a disability. But only about 50% of those with a disability between the ages of 25 and 64 are employed, compared with 79 percent of those without a disability. As well, nearly 15 percent of Canadians with disabilities live under the poverty line.

    Fortunately, a number of government programs and estate-planning tools are available to help bridge the financial gap.

    Registered Disability Savings Plan

    The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is an excellent choice for saving to cover future expenses. Like money invested in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), the funds you put into an RDSP grow tax-free. In addition, the government tops up your savings through two programs, the Canada Disability Savings Grant (CDSG) and the Canada Disability Savings Bond (CDSB). These grants and bonds can add up to $90,000 per individual over the lifetime of the RDSP.

    Benefits of an RDSP Account:

    • Tax-Sheltered Growth
    • Flexible Investment Options
    • Canada Disability Savings Grant Available
    • Canada Disability Savings Bond Available

    Henson Trust

    Trusts are another useful savings tool. A Henson trust is a type of trust designed to benefit disabled persons. It allows beneficiaries to receive gifts of any amount while preserving the right to collect benefits from provincial or territorial disability programs.

    It’s important to understand the complexities of trusts because poor planning can result in disqualification from provincial disability benefits.

    Everyone deserves to be financially secure. Speak to your financial advisor about ensuring financial security for your loved ones who have special needs.

  • Home Buyers' Plan

    Home Buyers’ Plan

    The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) allows first-time homebuyers to withdraw up to $25,000 from their RRSPs towards the purchase of a home purchase. The withdrawn amount must be repaid within 15 years, subject to a minimum annual repayment that is 1/15 of the amount withdrawn. If you don’t repay the amount due in a particular year, it gets included as income for that year.

    For more information, please refer to the Canada Revenue Agency’s Home Buyers’ Plan (RC4135).

    RRSP home buyers plan helps first-timers

    If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you can borrow from your RRSP for the down payment— but you have to pay it back, or take an income tax hit. If you are a first-time homebuyer or you already own a home but need a more accessible residence for yourself or a dependent relative, the Registered Retirement Savings Plan Home Buyers’ Plan (RRSP HBP) can help you come up with the down payment.

    How does the RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan work?

    The Home Buyers’ Plan works like this: You can borrow up to $25,000 from your RRSP to buy or build your first principal residence. Couples (legally married or common-law) can withdraw up to $25,000 each for a total of $50,000 towards the same home purchase.

    Do I qualify as a first-time homebuyer?

    To qualify as first-time buyers, you must be able to show that neither you nor your spouse has owned a home that you occupied as your principal residence in the past five years. If you’re borrowing from your RRSP to buy or build for yourself or a dependent relative with a disability, the first-time buyer condition doesn’t apply. (See the Canada Revenue Agency’s rules: Persons with disabilities)

    Pay your RRSP back over 15 years

    You don’t have to pay income taxes on the money you take out of your RRSP, as long as you pay it back to any of your RRSPs, a new RRSP or a Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) within 15 years. The 15-year repayment period begins two years after the calendar year in which you make the withdrawal.

    For example, if you pull money out in 2015, you generally must purchase a qualifying home before October 1, 2016, and the first annual repayment will be due by the end of 2017 or within the first two months of 2018. If you do not make the minimum repayment one year, you will have to include the amount you did not repay as RRSP income on your tax return.

    What if you don’t need the money for your down payment?

    Even if you already have enough for a down payment, it may make sense to take advantage of the HBP. If you have contribution room, you can deposit the money you have saved for your down payment into your RRSP, get the tax deduction and use any tax refund you receive to repay the RRSP or cover other expenses related to buying your home.

    But remember: You can only deposit money to your RRSP, get the tax deduction and withdraw funds in the same year if the money has been in the plan for at least 90 days before you withdraw it.

    Outstanding repayments mean a tax bill

    According to the latest available data (2011) compiled by the Canada Revenue Agency, about 1.8 million people had outstanding withdrawals from an RRSP under the Home Buyer’s Plan and over 840,000 (47%) did not make the entire required repayment for the 2011 tax year. As a result, income tax was assessed on this amount at each individual filer’s marginal tax rate.

    While borrowing money from your RRSP to help finance a home purchase may seem like an attractive option, it is important to understand the potential downside of this strategy:

    • You will forgo earning the tax-sheltered, compounding interest on the amount withdrawn until you pay it back.
    • If you borrow the maximum allowed for a couple, repaying your RRSPs at $3,333.33 a year for 15 years may add an unmanageable burden on top of the hefty mortgage, tax and utility payments.
    • Your ability to make regular annual RRSP contributions could be compromised until the HBP loan is paid off.

    Consider using your TFSA

    If you have saved money in a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) it may make more sense to use that money as a down payment for your new home instead of borrowing from your RRSP. You will not benefit from the RRSP tax deduction on contributions, but withdrawals are tax-free.

    You can also choose to re-deposit the money or not on your own schedule, without any further tax implications.

  • Special Needs Planning

    Special Needs Planning

    People with disabilities and their loved ones face a distinct set of financial challenges throughout their lives. To help address these challenges, in 2008 the Government of Canada introduced the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

    Designed to help build long-term financial security for disabled persons, the RDSP makes it easier to accumulate funds by providing assisted savings and tax-deferred investment growth. Be a guiding force to help clients plan for the long-term care and financial security of a loved one with a disability, or for their own needs in living with a disability.

    Your proactive advice can help set the financial foundation for a lifetime. Backed by industry leadership in investment management and more than two dozen eligible mutual funds to choose from, you can build a portfolio within a Mackenzie Investments RDSP to suit your precise recommendation.

    And, when the time comes to withdraw income, flexible payout options help deliver needed cash flow.

    Benefits for you to introduce or advise on an RDSP

    • Deepen client relationships by offering a long-term savings and investment plan that will build a better future for eligible clients and their families.
    • Help clients prepare for succession needs by working to maximize RPP, RRSP, RRIF and RESP tax-deferred rollovers into RDSPs.
    • Generate referrals to those who may be new to or unfamiliar with financial and investment planning.
    • Offer a valuable service to centres of influence such as agencies and advocacy groups specializing in disabilities.
    • Provide comprehensive investment choices from a selection of Mackenzie Investments funds.
    • Get paid for the service you provide. Commissions and trailing commissions are payable on the Mackenzie Investments funds you use.

    Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the RDSP.

  • Tips for Keeping your Financial New Year's Resolutions

    Tips for Keeping your Financial New Year’s Resolutions

    January is a time to think about what you want to improve in your life. Making a New Year’s resolution to improve your finances is easy. Keeping it is the hard part. Like any resolution, the trick to keeping a financial resolution is finding ways to stick to it after the January fanfare — and when the going gets rough. Here are some tips for keeping your financial New Year’s resolutions:

    1. Start by creating a financial plan

    With a financial plan in place, you have a solid foundation for reaching your financial resolutions. Creating a financial plan helps you see the big picture for you and your family. Once you know where you stand, it’s much easier to set short- and long-term financial and life goals.

    2. Make your financial resolutions about things you really want to achieve

    For some, it might be paying off a student loan early. For others, it could be saving for a down-payment on a home or reaching a milestone in your retirement savings. Avoid making financial resolutions you can’t realistically accomplish. Instead, focus on those that are both meaningful and achievable.

    3. Pace yourself

    If your resolution is dauntingly large, consider breaking it into smaller goals that are steps along the way to your larger goal. For example, if you need to save $1,000, focus on saving a smaller amount every week or month. Similarly, if your resolution is complex, such as buying a new home, focus on the individual steps involved, such as getting an agent, determining your price range, saving your down-payment, and so on.

    4. Make SMART New Year’s resolutions

    Popularized in the business world, where vague, ambiguous goals are to be avoided, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive. Here’s an example of a vague goal: spend less and save more. Now here’s a SMART goal: Cut spending by $100 each month by bringing lunch to work and contribute $100 monthly to my RRSP. Whatever your SMART goal, be sure it’s obtainable and one that you can stay motivated to achieve.

    5. Automate for success

    If your objective is to increase your RRSP or TSFA savings, set up automatic payments to your account. Simply calculate how much you need to put away each month to reach your savings goal and make the necessary arrangements with your bank or financial institution. This way, you’ll be less likely to get distracted and wind up putting your money to other purposes or spending it on things you don’t need.

    6. Don’t get over-ambitious

    Limit your list of New Year’s resolutions to a realistic number. It’s probably best to make a few resolutions that you can keep and feel good about accomplishing, rather than making too many and dooming yourself to failure.

    7. Get a goal buddy

    It’s all about accountability. Sharing the experience of pursuing a financial goal with another person will help keep you responsible and focused. Whether it’s your spouse, your child, a relative or a friend, find someone you trust to hold you accountable. You’ll be more likely to keep your financial resolutions and enjoy the benefits thereof.

  • Rightsizing Your Home

    Rightsizing Your Home

    Rightsizing your home is just that — making your home fit your lifestyle. Not the other way around.

    Maybe your financial situation has improved, and you want more space for your growing family. Or, perhaps, your kids have flown the nest and you’re ready for a smaller home. Whatever the case, you need to feel comfortable in your environment.

    Downsizing your home when the time is right can also be part of your financial plan. Many homeowners arrive at a point when it makes sense to sell their existing home, purchase a less expensive house or condo and put the savings into investments for their retirement years.

    With a smaller home, you’ll also typically pay less in property taxes, utility bills and maintenance costs.

    Where to start

    The rightsizing process should begin with a review of the rooms in your house and how they’re being used. Questions to ask include:

    • Are you really using all the rooms?
    • Are some spaces being used more for storage than any other purpose?
    • Is your guest room underused or do you need more guest rooms for when your children visit with their children?
    • Are routine activities, from cooking in the kitchen to pursuing hobbies in the basement, constrained by lack of space?

    In the end, you know what’s best for you and your family. By rightsizing your home, you’re able to leave behind the past and focus on the road ahead.

  • Is your Home Protected Against Overland Flood Damage?

    Is your Home Protected Against Overland Flood Damage?

    The flooding that occurs when a body of water, such as a river, overflows onto dry land is known as overland flooding. Across Canada in recent years, the incidence of this type of flooding causing damage to family homes has been increasing.

    Indeed, according to a report by the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, basement flooding has emerged as the biggest climate change-related cost Canadians are currently dealing with.

    Flood Consequences

    For individual homeowners, the consequences can be devastating. Last year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada estimated that the average cost to repair and remediate a flooded basement was $43,000. We urge you to check your home insurance policy to determine whether it protects against overland flood damage.

    Most policies offer protection against things like sewer backups and burst pipes, but not overland flood damage. You may need to purchase a separate insurance policy to ensure you have protection against overland flooding.

    As always, we’re here to help. Call us if we can be of any assistance.

  • Does your Financial Life Need a Spring Cleaning?

    Does your Financial Life Need a Spring Cleaning?

    April 2022

    It’s quite easy to end up with investments in different places. You might have joined a group Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) through an employer. Or opened a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) or Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) at a bank. It could be other investments too, like a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

    This is where spring cleaning enters the picture. It’s difficult to make your investments work together when they’re scattered in different places. You may want to clean up by putting them all under one roof.

    The consolidation solution

    When you consolidate all your investments with me, you benefit in a variety of ways. First, you’re better able to ensure your assets are appropriately diversified, which minimizes risk, maximizes potential returns and smooths-out performance.

    Also, you’re better positioned to re-allocate your investments among registered and non-registered accounts to make them more tax-efficient. Another possible tax advantage is having fewer tax slips to manage when filing your return.

    View your investments at a glance

    With scattered investments, trying to monitor everything can be cumbersome. But when you have a consolidated statement, viewing your investments is clear and easy – and you save time. It’s also a more efficient way for us to help you. We can ensure your investments are aligned with your goals and recommend changes as your needs evolve.

    Review your financial plan

    A good financial spring cleaning should also include a comprehensive review of your financial plan and, if your financial circumstances have changed, the updating of your goals. Ideally, you should write down your financial plan and review it at least once a year, as this ensures you always have a clear roadmap for making financial decisions.

    If you don’t have a written financial plan, now is a great time to get started. An effective plan will state your short-term and long-term savings goals and define how you may need to change your financial habits to realize your goals. By writing down your goals, you’ll create a detailed picture in your mind of what you’re trying to achieve, giving you greater motivation and focus.

    Do a personal retirement gap analysis

    When planning for retirement, it’s essential to determine where you stand today and what your life will look like in retirement.

    A gap analysis is a financial planning exercise that can help identify any shortfalls in your financial situation or your strategy for reaching your retirement goals.

    A gap exists when a shortfall is predicted between your income and expenses.

    It’s only after you’ve conducted a retirement gap analysis and fixed all the gaps that you can be confident in reaching your retirement goals.

    Here’s where we can help!

    We prepare and then review a comprehensive plan to help you reach your goals. As part of this process, we can assist you in consolidating all your investments so they’re easier to manage and work more effectively for you. We then help you decide on the best options for investing and building your portfolio.

    Get started by using our RRSP calculator to estimate how much your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) will be worth at retirement.

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