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
March is fraud-prevention month in Canada, and unfortunately thousands of Canadians continue to fall victim to scams perpetrated online and by phone, often losing tens of thousands of dollars or in some cases, their entire life savings. Here’s a look at three of the most notorious financial frauds that are still widely active in Canada, and how to avoid becoming a victim. READ MORE
As society transitions increasingly to cashless transactions, using smartphones and online channels to pay for goods and services, parents have a bigger challenge than ever in teaching children the basics of financial literacy. How do you impress upon younger children the principle of “value” – the idea that the things you buy don’t just magically appear because you can tap, click, or swipe a device. It may sound daunting, but there are some basic principles that never change. And the sooner you start teaching these to your kids, the sooner they’ll become financially literate. READ MORE
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
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
Divorce proceedings are often contentious, emotionally fraught, and never easy. That’s why when going through a divorce, it’s absolutely critical to keep a cool head about your finances and property. Unfortunately, it’s here that there tends to be the most dispute. But that needn’t be the case if you have all your records in order and can show what’s yours personally and what is legally jointly held property. There are three key principles to follow. READ MORE
Some annual housekeeping to keep allocations on track
Concerns about the health of the global economy, the effects of the U.S.-China trade and tariff dispute, rising interest rates, and the flattening yield curve combined to make the stock market slump of the fourth quarter one of the worst in a long time. Toronto’s benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index dropped 11% in the quarter, as a 38% drop in the price of crude oil weighed on energy producers. The index ended the year with an annual loss of 11.6%. Similarly, New York’s blue-chip S&P 500 Composite Index plunged 14% in the fourth quarter for an overall 6.2% loss in the year. So is it time to sell stocks and re-set your portfolio with a heavier weighting to cash? READ MORE
Starting with Black Friday in November and ending with Boxing Day in December, the holiday spending season is just about guaranteed to stretch the use of your credit cards. And come the end of January, you may be singing the credit card blues. You’re in a credit card crunch when you have multiple credit cards that you are unable to pay off in full and are having difficulty making minimum payments on some or all of them. You’re way past the “crunch” stage if creditors are sending past-due letters, calling you, or showing up at your door or place of work. Here are some tips on how to put a leash on your credit cards. READ MORE
Novices especially prone to classic investment pitfalls
Markets go through periods of volatility, and we are in one such period now. Market sentiment has been decidedly sour for the past few weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recently sank into correction territory. And crude oil prices have slumped, hitting the energy sector hard. Economic growth in China is coming in slower than expected rattling exporters and commodity producers. So what’s an investor to do? Do you sell your stocks, get out of the market, and put your money under a mattress? But that would be precisely the wrong thing to do. Investors can go a long way to calming down if they simply avoid these four classic investment mistakes.
Even though most of us are preoccupied with other things at this time of year, there is a handful of year-end investment and tax tips that make a lot of sense to look at now. That’s because they could save you money now and next April, when it’s time to pay your taxes.