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

Side hustle do’s and don’ts

Don’t forget: It’s a business

A side hustle can be a good way to bring in some extra pocket money over and above your full-time job. But don’t forget: It’s a business. That means accounting, invoices, receipts, and taxes. Here’s a look at what’s involved in creating a business on the side. Handle it right, and it could become your full-time hustle. 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

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

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