What you should know about your credit score

What’s in it, who can see it, and why it’s important

We often hear financial experts advising people to check their “credit score.” It’s a good idea to do that every year. That will give you an idea of what kind of risk lenders think you are. It can also signal if you’ve been a victim of identity theft and fraud. But very few people actually have a good idea of what a credit score is or how it’s compiled. Here’s my summary of what goes into a credit score, who keeps track, who can see it, and what you can do to raise a low score. READ MORE

School’s in session – and it costs!

How to cope with higher education’s sticker shock

There’s no two ways around it: The cost of a post-secondary education is high. For some, it’s a real challenge to make ends meet while attending college or university. In fact, students can expect to pay a total of about $60,000 for an average four-year post-secondary education program, including tuition, books, board and lodging, and living expenses. It’s more than double that for professional degrees like law, medicine, dentistry, and engineering. READ MORE

Coping with the single life

Financial planning for the suddenly single

If you find you’re suddenly single again after many years of being part of a couple, the financial challenges can seem overwhelming. But there are some lifelines at hand if you feel like you’re teetering on the edge of financial chaos. Here’s my prescription for settling your nerves and getting your life back on track. READ MORE

Planning for baby

A little financial know-how goes a long way

With a new baby on the way, parents-to-be often find the transition from a free-and-easy twosome to responsible threesome something of a challenge, especially when it comes to personal finances. Luckily, there are some tried-and-true rules to ease the financial transition. So here’s a quick look at some financial essentials for bringing up baby. READ MORE

Three financial guidelines for new grads

You’re in charge – make the most of it!

After the ceremonies and speeches and mortarboard tossing, fresh new grads from colleges and universities have to leave their structured and sheltered life and start fending for themselves in the real world, many perhaps for the first time. It can be a slightly scary prospect, especially if you have to make your own way financially. But if you start with a few foundational personal financial principles, that path can be a lot smoother. READ MORE

Making retirement income last

Managing income streams tax efficiently

Many people on the cusp of retirement are wondering whether they’ll outlive their retirement nest egg. Even those with hefty savings tucked away in Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Tax-Free Savings Accounts have expressed their concerns to me about becoming destitute in advanced old age and have thus decided to delay CPP and OAS payments while putting off RRSP maturity until the very last possible day of the year in which they turn 71. Is this really necessary? When should you turn on the retirement income taps, and how long will your money really last? READ MORE

What to do with the kids in the basement

The failure-to-launch syndrome

More than one in three Canadians aged 20 to 34 are living with their parents according to the most recent census results from Statistics Canada. Worse yet, parents are still financially supporting them. That can lead to a series of problems, including threatening parents’ retirement nest eggs. READ MORE

The role of a financial advisor

Differentiating from robots and algorithms

In this era of robo-advisors and artificial intelligence, it’s easy to believe that the expert, professional flesh-and-blood financial advisor has gone the way of the horse and buggy. It’s even easier to believe if you buy into the aggressive marketing by online portfolio management services that implies a human financial advisor basically sits back, collects fees, and buys a new luxury car every year. Of course, this grossly misrepresents what real advisors (as opposed to algorithms) actually do for their clients. So here’s a quick refresher on what to expect from a “real” financial advisor. READ MORE

Hearts and flowers…and finances

Financial advice for happy couples on St. Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is that annual hearts-and-flowers fest that can be gushingly romantic, to say nothing of stressful. It’s also a time when many proposals of marriage are made – and accepted. Once that initial excitement subsides a bit, it’s time to get down to the brass tacks of planning the wedding. But it’s also a good idea to set aside some time to talk about your financial future together. Here are five tips I offer newly-engaged couples. READ MORE

Six rules for RRSP success

Key investment principles

This year, the RRSP contribution deadline for getting a 2018 tax deduction is March 1. You still have four weeks to make a contribution, and that’s plenty of time to discuss the best strategy with your financial advisor. To make sure you get the most benefit from your RRSP, there are six key rules that apply all the time, and that I advise my clients follow. READ MORE

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