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

Money Makeover: This affluent couple can easily regain their financial footing

Robyn Thompson is regularly featured in The Toronto Star’s “Money Makeover” series by Deanne Gage. This month, Money Makeover takes a look at Janaya and Richard, an affluent couple with two young children. But they have a low-performance investment portfolio with a sizeable investment loan, and they are concerned about high daycare costs. Read Robyn Thompson’s advice on how this couple can regain their financial footing, provide for their kids’ education, and get on track for a financially secure retirement.

Sell in May and go away? Not so fast!

Seasonal patterns can be misleading

“Sell in May, go away, and don’t come back till Labour Day.” With the return of volatility earlier this year after many years of an uninterrupted bull market, many analysts are warning that the stock market is due for a correction, and that now is the best time to sell stocks – before the summer doldrums set in. The market’s crystal ball gazers claim to have a window into the future. In fact, no one does, and acting on what might happen can be decidedly bad for your financial health. READ MORE

No, investing is not “free”

The real cost of investing in mutual funds and ETFs

The way the marketing hype has it these days, you’d think investment costs have dropped to zero. What with all the do-it-yourself platforms out there hawking their black boxes and promising, at least implicitly, huge savings on costs, novice investors can be forgiven for thinking that buying mutual funds or setting up an ETF portfolio is somehow cost-free. Just open an online account, press the “trade” button, and it’s done. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. Any economist will tell you that there are costs associated with every good or service. Investments are no exception. Here’s a summary of the costs that you’ll still pay for when buying that mutual fund or ETF. READ MORE

Essentials of family financial planning

Key areas to focus on for creating a workable plan

“Why even bother with family financial planning?” I’m asked that question frequently. After all, the money comes in, the money goes out. The kids have to go to some practice or other. Then there’s the grocery shopping, doctor’s visits, house-cleaning, yard-work, the list seems endless. Who’s got time to worry about finances? It somehow all works. But that’s really relying on a false sense of security. As you your life responsibilities increase – marriage, children, family, home, career, retirement, aging, health –some sort of financial response is needed if only to give you some peace of mind in at least this one area of your life. Here’s a checklist to help you focus on what’s important. READ MORE

Don’t overlook these deductions and credits!

They could help cut your tax bill

Tax-filing season is here, and the deadline for filing your tax return is April 30. There are in fact some 94 personal tax deductions and credits available. Not all apply to everyone. And many are often overlooked, even if they do apply. Here’s a rundown of the most commonly missed credits and deductions. Consult with your tax preparer to see if they apply to you. READ MORE