RRSP contribution rules

Still the most effective retirement savings plan there is

The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is still the most effective retirement saving and tax deferral vehicle available to Canadians. Because it’s such a powerful savings tool, it makes sense for everyone to open a plan a contribute to it regularly. This year, the deadline for RRSP contributions that will be eligible for a 2017 tax deduction is March 1, 2018. READ MORE

Three principles for battling market anxiety

What to do when markets seem to go crazy

When stock markets suddenly begin to drop alarmingly as they did at the beginning of February, many investors will contact their brokers and advisors and start selling things. Others, however, seem not to be so anxious, and while concerned, do not “ride madly off in all directions,” as the old Stephen Leacock quote has it. So what’s the difference here? As financial advisors, we see both types of financial personality, more of the former than the latter. What does it take to get yourself into the group that just isn’t as fussed about market setbacks like this? READ MORE

Volatility returns to markets

More normal trading patterns likely to emerge

Volatility returned to the stock markets, seemingly very suddenly, at the beginning of February. It was hard to avoid panicky headlines shouting about the 1,175-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Monday, Feb. 5. Some are already calling it “Black Monday.” All the other major stock indexes followed suit. Toronto’s benchmark S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 271 points. And the broader U.S. blue-chip S&P 500 Composite Index fell 113 points. At one point during the week, several indexes briefly entered “correction” before recovering somewhat. Is it a “crash,” a “correction,” or a “healthy” revaluation? And what – if anything – should you do about it as an investor? READ MORE

How to choose a financial planner who’s right for you

10 topics to cover during the interview

Increasingly, younger people, especially businesspeople, professionals, and managers, are reaching the stage in their careers where they need the help of a financial planner. But where do you begin? And what kinds of questions do you ask when you interview someone for the very important job of looking after your finances? READ MORE

How to bring order to your personal financial chaos

Decide what you really, really want

Around this time of year, many people are beset by doubts and anxieties about their financial situation – especially after the no-holds-barred holiday spending season. But don’t despair – there’s a way to bring order to your personal financial chaos that doesn’t involve tedious budget lists and penny-pinching. It starts with a look at your financial picture from the top down. READ MORE

How – and why – to review your portfolio

Avoid falling into the unintended investment-risk trap

Looking at your annual bottom-line performance is, of course, key. But it doesn’t tell the whole story. Conducting an annual investment review over and above the pure performance number tells you not only how your portfolio has performed – and whether it has outperformed your benchmark – but whether it’s time to make changes to your holdings. For example, some of your investments might have performed exceptionally well over the past year – U.S. equities, for example – and may have distorted your equity asset weighting well beyond your target level as a result. To properly review your portfolio, look first at four key areas. READ MORE

Which investment expenses are deductible in 2017?

Not everything is, so make sure you claim the correct ones

With year-end rapidly approaching, many investors have been going through their financial statements and slips to see what kind of investment or investment-related expenses they’ve paid through the year, and which ones might be deductible on their personal tax returns. The bad news is that the types of expenses you can deduct are limited. The good news is that they’re typically the biggest ones, so be sure to claim them to get the maximum tax benefit. Here’s a summary of the do’s and don’ts of investment expense deductions. READ MORE

Year-end tax tips

Act before Dec. 31 to get these tax benefits for 2017

The holiday season is fast approaching. And with the lights and festivities, investors and taxpayers will also have visions of year-end tax planning dancing in their heads. Well, maybe not, but there are certainly plenty of year-end tax-planning ideas you might want to consider that could save you big tax bucks come next April. Here’s a summary: READ MORE

Money Makeover: These teachers need a lesson in finance

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Angela and Roy, two primary school teachers who earn high incomes but are clueless about investments.

They need to save for their child’s education and should look for something more than a sales pitch for mutual funds from their local bank branch. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice and plan to ensure the couple can meet their retirement goals.

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