Financial literacy: How to escape the credit card debt trap

How to control spending and cut credit card balances

November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. And this year’s theme is “Take charge of your finances: It pays to know.” That little slogan was never more true than when dealing with personal debt, especially credit card debt. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, as of December 2016, credit card debt made up about 5% of total household debt. And about 40% of those with credit cards carry a monthly balance. According to a survey last year by TransUnion, the average credit card debt in the third quarter of 2016 was $3,954. READ MORE

How to thwart cyber-thieves, fraudsters, and scammers

Key cyber-security principles to keep your money safe online

October was Cyber Security Awareness Month in Canada. It’s traditionally the time industry experts and governments have set aside for talking up all things related to online security in your everyday life, including your financial transactions. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I’ve found the other really good months to maintain security awareness to be November, December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September. Here’s why. READ MORE

Avoid Market Excitement Syndrome!

Stock markets are setting records daily. Ignore it!

“The market will fluctuate.” That old bit of market wisdom is ascribed to Gilded Age financier J.P. Morgan, and is as true today as it was a hundred years ago. The primal emotions of fear and greed are ultimately at the bottom of all market movement, and they take turns confounding market watchers, analysts, and investors. Trouble is, no one ever knows when there will be a market top (or bottom). READ MORE

Now’s the time for RRSP planning

Don’t wait until the last day of February!

Typically, you’ll get the RRSP contribution song and dance starting somewhere in January and lasting until the end of February. It’s really just a marketing push by financial institutions to scare you into giving them money in the first 60 days of each year. But that’s no way to do any serious RRSP planning. The better way is to start thinking about your RRSP contribution right now. You have lots of time to weigh the pros and cons, consult with your financial planner, and come up with some cash to contribute. Here’s what to do. READ MORE

Marriage on the rocks: strategies for the newly single

Tips for post-divorce financial planning

The stress of a divorce, with its hearings over settlements and custody arrangements if there are children involved, can quickly eclipse any thoughts of financial planning for yourself. But it’s something you shouldn’t ignore, because you definitely have to deal with “what comes after.” Working with a number of such clients over the years, I’ve developed a set of basic principles to help those who find themselves in this challenging situation cope with the financial stress. And to ensure much-needed stability now and into the future. READ MORE

Option strategies as an income-enhancement tool

What’s a “covered call write” and how do managers use it?

Portfolio managers increasingly use stock options to enhance income, using something called a “covered call writing” strategy. But to many investors this sounds mysterious and slightly risky. In fact, when used properly, the strategy can help investors boost income and manage risk. Here’s how it works. READ MORE

CCPCs under attack, but IPPs remain untouched

Individual Pension Plans a tax-efficient retirement savings tool

Given the current effort by the federal government to clamp down on some of the income “splitting and sprinkling” tax benefits of Canadian-Controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs), there’s definitely a lot of uncertainty among executives, business owners, and professionals about the tax benefits of incorporation. But one item remains untouched (so far): the Individual Pension Plan (IPP) is still an excellent way to considerably boost your retirement nest-egg if you own a CCPC. READ MORE

School’s in session: time to break open the RESP

How RESPs pay out for post-secondary expenses

If you have kids going off to college or university this fall, you’ll be tapping into any savings you’ve made through a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). But those payments aren’t treated like a bank account. There are plenty of rules about how they’re administered. READ MORE

Financial principles for young singles

Read Robyn’s advice on how to stop being broke

Young singles are a special breed. Definitely independent, confident in their ability to fend for themselves. And with a career underway, they’re thinking about growing that nest-egg for their retirement years. But how and where to start? READ MORE

Is it time to look for active bond management?

Bond ETFs retreat as rates edge up

You might have noticed that the shorter-term returns of the broader index-tracking bond ETFs, such as the iShares Core Canadian Universe Bond Index ETF (TSX: XBB), have been sliding recently. Is it time to switch out of passive, index-tracking bond funds, and look for something more actively managed? READ MORE