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

Black Friday binge, Red Monday remorse

Financial literacy and the art of budgeting

Black Friday. It’s become a pop culture phenomenon. In fact, it’s one of the cleverest marketing gimmicks of all time. For U.S. retailers, the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving Day has typically been the day they become profitable for the year. In other words, their ledgers go out of the “red” and into the “black.” Some clever marketers seized on this as a way to create excitement and ramp up pre-Christmas sales. They called it “Black Friday,” promoted it like crazy, and watched the frenzied crowds mob the stores. It’s now even caught on in Canada. For most consumers, though, it’s often a case of “Red Monday Remorse,” the day you realize you’ve blown your budget out of the black and (deeply) into the red. And it hits you right in your wallet, purse, bank account, and credit card statement, in about a month’s time. READ MORE

A business of her own

What successful businesswomen know about start-ups

Many women dream of starting their own business. And there are plenty of advantages. First, you are your own boss, and in control of your own destiny. Then, you get to produce that product or service that no one can do as well as you. You get the satisfaction of seeing your business grow. And there are plenty of tax advantages, too, including lucrative deductions, credits, writeoffs, and income-splitting opportunities. READ MORE

Putting a price tag on your dream home

Crunch the numbers before you make an offer

The big question for young couples just starting out is whether to move out of that downtown condo unit and borrow to buy a home. This becomes especially critical if you’re planning a family or if a baby is already on the way. Those new little people with all their gear take up an amazing amount of space, and suddenly the need for more room becomes pressing. READ MORE

Financial planning for newlyweds

How a financial planner can help with “the money talk”

There’s a lot to think about when you’re preparing to get married. And very likely, financial planning isn’t at the top of the list. That’s where a good financial planner can be invaluable. In my own practice, I counsel young couples on these and many other financial matters that will be specific to each couple. Setting out in marriage should be a happy occasion. And it will be a whole lot smoother if you get the “money talk” out of the way now. A Certified Financial Planner can provide invaluable help for young couples just starting out: READ MORE

Have GICs become an investment choice to consider?

The lure of rising rates and market-linked returns

Current 5-year GIC rates are being advertised as high as 3.50%. Given that most savings accounts offer much less than 1.00%, some investors have been wondering whether it’s time to move funds into GICs as part of their risk-free allocation. Others go a step further and are considering GICs linked to a market index that, according to the marketing sheets, offer much more than 3.50%. Have GICs become a good investment choice now? READ MORE

Real-world advice for new grads

A (very) short post-graduate course in personal finance

Here’s a commencement speech you won’t hear at most graduation ceremonies: As a new grad, the most important lesson you’ll have to learn after leaving school is to live within your means and not spend more than you earn. You do not need to make a six-figure salary to be financially successful, but you do need to be smart about spending and to set out a diligent savings goal and investment plan. READ MORE

How to take advantage of the Home Buyer’s Plan

A source of funds for first-time home buyers

Looking for a source of funds as a down payment on your first home? If you have a good chunk of money sitting in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), you may be eligible to use some of it towards the purchase of a home under a federal government plan called the Home Buyer’s Plan (HPB). Naturally, there’s a long list of rules and regulations, but if you’re a young couple, it could mean as much as an extra $50,000 to tack on to a down payment. READ MORE

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