The right financial advice doesn’t cost, it pays

Choosing the best financial advisory team

Once you’re established in your profession or career, and you’re accumulating a sizeable nest-egg, getting financial advice from your second cousin or the bank teller just won’t do. You need to get some professional money advice. But where to begin? There seem to be so many people offering advice, and you often read of people losing their investments through fraud or incompetence. Begin by asking yourself what you think you might need a financial advisor to do. Very likely, you’ll be running across some of these experts. Here’s a look at what they all do. READ MORE

Investing: How to deal with market risk

Can you really “live with the risk”?

In this day and age of “robo-advisors” and passive index investing, many investors seem to have forgotten the single immutable truth that equity markets are inherently risky. That’s simply because the share prices of stocks traded on markets are influenced mostly by expectations of future earnings growth. Many factors can come to bear on these expectations apart from a company’s competitive position, financial strength, and industry outlook. These include shorter-term geopolitical events (not as important) and longer-term economic and monetary policies (more important). Put it all together and it adds up to market-wide trends, oscillations, and fluctuations, which are often characterized by a wide amplitude from top to bottom. This is what’s broadly called “risk.” And it’s what most investors have trouble dealing with. READ MORE

How to cut the cottage-sale tax bill

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The ABCs of the ACB

Thinking of selling your cottage, cabin, or recreational property? Unless it’s truly your principal residence, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will want its share of any capital gain you make on the sale. It calculates the capital gain as the proceeds of the sale minus the cost of selling and the adjusted cost base (ACB). Here’s where you can find ways to cut the tax take. But a note of caution: The CRA are fully aware of ACB games people play with cottage sales, so ensure that all the components of the ACB are documented and are all bona fide. READ MORE

Money Makeover: No plan and a high-risk portfolio threaten their retirement security

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Victor and Shelly, who hope to retire next year, but have a risky investment portfolio and no plan. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice on how this couple can use their substantial pension income along with a sizable inheritance to ensure a financially secure future.

Businesses increasingly use DPSPs and Group RRSP combo benefits

Employer contributions and tax savings can really add up

Employers often use group benefits as a way to attract and retain their best employees. The most popular group benefits typically offer the most flexibility for employees and the lowest costs for employers. That’s why employers are increasingly turning to the flexibility and low costs characterized by Deferred Profit Sharing Plans (DPSPs) and Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs). READ MORE

Oops! The CRA wants more – now what do you do?

You can fight with a Notice of Objection

Taxpayers start getting tax refunds from the Canada Revenue Agency in April and May. That may be a cause for celebration. But if you get a Notice of Re-assessment, it can contain a nasty surprise, complete with demands for more tax payments along with penalties and interest to boot. But if you think you’re in the right, there is a way to appeal that Notice. 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

Compare apples to apples when benchmarking performance

How to compare your portfolio with an index

A benchmark is a market yardstick independent of your portfolio against which your performance can be evaluated. It’s usually an index that tracks the performance of the broader market, like the S&P/TSX Composite Index or the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and so on. But with the growth of financial products over the past 20 years or so, especially exchange-traded funds (ETFs), indexes have sprouted like mushrooms, tracking ever-finer slices of this market or that. Many indexes have been created solely to provide a benchmark for just one ETF or one investment fund or pool and are therefore virtually useless as a gauge of broader market performance. READ MORE

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